Pentax moves up-market with its new image stabilised ten megapixel, weather resistant, K10D DSLR
Read the Pentax Press Release and more Pentax K10D pictures: PENTAX unveils their new flagship product, the K10D
Discuss the Pentax K10D on the new DPNow discussion forum
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The mystery ten megapixel Pentax DSLR shown in prototype form at PMA
back in the spring is now a reality. It's the Pentax K10D and is a significant step up-market for the Pentax DSLR family
Note the two new contacts inside the bayonet at 5 o'clock that will serve future supersonic AF lenses.
It's fair to say that Pentax has earned itself a reputation for producing no-frills, compact and inexpensive DSLR cameras. The introduction of the K100D
a few months ago put paid to the 'no frills' tag through the adoption of an in-house developed electro-mechanical moving sensor anti-shake or image stabilisation system. But the six megapixel K100D still rates a 'budget' camera. Next year, ten megapixels will be the entry level and already Sony, Nikon and Canon have launched ten megapixel models for the low to mid-end of the consumer market. Today it's the turn of Pentax, with the launch of their K10D, the new Pentax flagship DSLR. The Pentax K10D is expected to go on sale some time in October, though no price had been decided at the time of launch.
Pentax' in-house developed moving sensor Shake Reduction system, debuted in the K100D, is now featured in the new K10D.
Above, the sensor size is compared with that of a compact point and shoot camera sensor.
Pro or not?
But is the K10D a 'budget' camera? Its specification is a curious mix of pro-spec and modest spec. We regard the K10D as a feature-rich mid-range DSLR aimed at amateurs and enthusiasts, offering some pro features its immediate competitors don't, but holding back on some advanced features in order to keep the cost affordable.
Here are the K10D features that caught our eye:
Ten megapixel APS-C CCD sensor almost certainly related to the Sony sensors used by Nikon (D200, D80) and Sony (Alpha A100)
22-bit analogue to digital conversion promises smoother colour gradations technically interesting because, in theory the electronic limit for CCD sensors is more akin to 12 or 14 bits
3.3 frames per second continuous shooting not dramatic, but in JPEG mode this rate is claimed to be sustainable until the card is filled
Adobe DNG RAW format files supported in-camera very welcome move!
Pentax-developed electromagnetic moving sensor anti-shake image stabilisation works regardless of lens fitted - first seen in the K100D
Dust resistant coating on CCD low pass filter supplemented by filter shaking system no data on shake frequency, but not likely to be as high as Olympus or Canon (EOS-400D) systems
Professional standard moisture and dust-resistant sealed construction 72 seals, claimed to be a similar level of sealing as a Canon EOS-1Ds, which is very pro-spec
Hybrid plastic and steel frame construction feels solid
SD card compatibility only (SDHC high capacity cards supported) no compact flash support
11-point wide area AF
Top-plate mono segment LCD status display and dual wheel adjustment control
Flexible 'Hyper' programmed exposure options fast switching from even manual to program modes and various combinations of auto adjustment, including ISO
First Pentax DSLR to be compatible with planned introduction of supersonic motor-driven lenses but these new lenses won't be here until next year and we understand they won't work on older Pentax SLRs, including the K100D
First Pentax DSLR with rechargeable lithium ion batteries Pentax says AAs no longer up to the job
Battery grip with portrait mode controls and capacity for two batteries
There are some interesting touches in the K10D there is a RAW button so you can select RAW capture instantly no matter which image type has been selected. Pentax says it is the first DSLR manufacturer to use DDR2 memory, enabling it to sustain full-speed continuous shooting rates. The Hyper exposure mode system lets you juggle the various settings that can be automatically adjusted by the camera and there is a nice option to set the shutter and aperture when in manual mode using the camera's meter at the touch of a button.
Although you will have to wait for them, the news that Pentax is developing new lenses featuring fast adnd quiet supersonic autofocus motors, akin to Canon's superb USM system and others like Nikon's Silent Wave AF, etc., is most welcome. Two extra contacts have been added inside the lens mount throat to facilitate this. Unfortunately, it looks like the new lenses will not operate on cameras released prior to the K10D. Details concerning the specification of the first Pentax supersonic lenses are expected soon.
So how does the K10D compare?
If you compare the K10D with, for example, the Nikon D80 or the Canon EOS-400D, they are even on sensor resolution and shooting rate though the K10D can sustain continuous shooting faster for longer, but the K10D has a sealed body and a metal frame compared to the others' unsealed body and plastic construction. The K10D also has its anti-shake system that works with all lenses, while the Canon and Nikon require IS-equipped lenses to include that feature.
At the time of writing, we don't know the price the K10D, though I did bring a Nikon D200 to the launch event and Pentax personnel were very interested to know how I felt the K10D compared with the D200. Both have that solid feel and benefit from a top-plate LCD status display, something that is getting ever more rare. We only had pre-production K10Ds to try out, but nevertheless, the larger and heavier Nikon D200 has the edge on detail finish and design cues that would impress professionals. The five frames per second responsiveness of the D200 also tells it apart from the slower and more deliberate mechanical operation of the K10D.
Based on that simple comparison, I'd expect the K10D to fall between the prices of the Nikon D80 and the D200.
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The optional D-BG2 battery grip