Review: Pentax K10D

Review: Pentax K10D

The K10D has a built-in dust-removal system to keep the CCD speck-free.


Canon and Nikon currently rule the roost when it comes to digital SLR cameras, but lots of other SLR manufacturers are knocking at the henhouse door, and Pentax may be pounding the loudest. With its feature-filled K10D, Pentax has an SLR that no serious photographer should ignore.


The K10D has Goldilocks proportions - it's not too big, it's not too small, it's just right. Its controls are perfectly situated, its grip ample, and many buttons can be reassigned to perform alternate functions to customize the controls to suit the way you work. In addition to the usual shutter priority, aperture priority, and manual modes, the K10D can also be set to shift its sensitivity automatically whenever preset exposure combinations exceed the range of the originally set ISO. This is an immensely handy feature, because so often a photo opportunity comes spontaneously, with no time to make adjustments.


The built-in shake reduction works with any Pentax lens that can be fitted to the camera. The feature not only reduces up-and-down motion, but it also calms jiggles caused by rotational movement, something most other digital SLRs can't do. We particularly liked a special RAW button that, when pressed, not only captured the current image in RAW file format, but also produced a high-quality JPEG photo at the same time. While shooting in RAW mode is not for everyone (RAW images require more storage memory and often need post-processing in a separate imaging application) the format can frequently extend the exposure range of pictures taken under suboptimal lighting conditions. The K10D can also process RAW images right in the camera, allowing correction of under- or overexposed shots and the adjustment of white balance, sharpness, saturation, contrast, resolution, and compression, all after the image has been exposed.


The K10D also breaks with a Pentax tradition. All previous Pentax digital SLRs used AA batteries, which are ubiquitous but don't last very long. The K10D's rechargeable lithium-ion battery lasted 460 shots, or half that number with the K10D's powerful flash, which you have to flip up and down with your finger. That's more than enough battery life for a normal day's shooting.


When we transferred our shots from the 2GB Lexar Professional SD card that we used with the K10D (Pentax doesn't include an SD card), we found tack-sharp images, even after we tightly cropped several photos (an advantage of the 10-megapixel CCD). And picture quality was excellent, even at ISO 1600, though a smidgeon of noise could be discerned at ISOs over 400 on some 13-by-19-inch blow-ups.


We even shot some pictures with a 40-year-old Pentax 50mm lens. With the aperture set at f/1.4 to selectively focus on a foreground subject, the results were superb, with excellent bokeh (the Japanese word describing perfectly round, out-of-focus background circles produced by high-quality lenses).


The bottom line. If there's anything major not to like about the Pentax K10D, we couldn't find it. It's a good-looking, superb performer that'll more than satisfy even the pickiest photographer.


PRICE: $999
REQUIREMENTS: Mac OS 10.2 or later, USB
Superb build. Excellent images. Very low noise at high ISOs.Three-way shake reduction. Dust removal for CCD sensor.
Flash must be raised manually. Lens hood must be removed when using flash to avoid shadows. SD card not included.





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many thanks for the valuable information
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