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Stepping up from a point-and-shoot to a DSLR can seem as daunting as trading in your minivan for an 18-wheeler. To ease the transition, Pentax has placed all the controls on its new 10.2MP K2000 to the right of the camera’s bright, 2.7-inch LCD screen—just like on your favorite point-and-shoot. The K2000 is also lighter and smaller than most DSLRs. It weighs less than 21 ounces fully loaded with batteries and an SD (or SDHC) memory card. And despite its svelte 4.8-x-3.6-x-2.7-inch body, the grip is comfortable for those with both large and small hands.
With a DSLR camera, you compose pictures free of outside distractions—every detail is seen through the lens exactly as it will be captured. Holding the camera to your eye provides great stability, there’s no annoying LCD washout in bright light, and shutter lag’s gone, so you’ll never miss great shots of active kids or pets. You can also swap out lenses, choosing wide angles for candid street photos or landscapes and powerful telephotos to capture wildlife or sports.
Transitioning to the K2000 is effortless. Just put it on Auto and it becomes, well, a point-and-shoot. Then experiment by using more advanced controls like aperture- or shutter-priority modes or manual settings. Next, crank the ISO up to 3200 for those dimly lit arena shots, or freeze action at up to 1/4000th of a second shutter speeds. You can also try RAW capture or get cozy with 23 custom functions. The LCD doubles as a status information center—a nice alternative to the hard-to-read, black-on-green panels found on most DSLRs.
In a welcome change from every other DSLR camera, the K2000 is available in either a black or white body. Both come with a DA-L 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 zoom lens (27-82.5 on a 35mm camera) and have the same powerful image processing engine as the K200, which earned a Mac|Life Editors’ Choice in our Aug/08 issue.
Movin' on up...to a starter DSLR.
The black K2000 can be ordered with either an external flash that gives a longer reach than the camera’s built-in or with an additional DA-L 50-200mm f4-5.6 lens (75-300mm on a 35mm camera). The white limited-edition version is only available with the two lenses. We fell in love with the white K2000; it’s the perfect accessory for our Star Wars Storm Trooper uniform.
Pentax promises more than 1,600 images on four AA lithium batteries. Figure about 1,000, if you shoot flash half the time. NiMH rechargeables will knock that down to 1,100 or 640 with flash, still impressive. Standard alkalines—readily available, but less than optimal for use in cameras—can also be used in a pinch, though your shot count will plummet to 360/260.
If you hate to read manuals (or forget to take one along), a special ? button displays info that tells you everything you need to know, from what each button does to details about scene settings, including Action, Portrait, and Landscape, among others. It also covers photo topics such as ISO, white balance, light metering, and much more. When you’re up to speed, simply reassign the button to another function, such as checking depth of field, customizing color settings, activating special effects filters, or shooting in RAW.
We output vibrant, color-perfect, 13-x-19-inch prints on an Epson Stylus Photo R2880 (5 out of 5 stars) using three test papers: Epson, Hahnemühle, and Red River. Images shot at ISOs of 100 to 400 were virtually noiseless, with beautiful tonal range. Even higher ISO images looked fine at normal viewing distances.With built-in image stabilization, a sensor dust-removal system, side-by-side picture comparison, automatic bracketing, high and low burst rates, and a plethora of other features, the K2000 assures that if you're ready to move up, it can't get any easier.