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this to say about the camera:
a popular-class digital SLR camera, the K100D packs an array of advanced,
user-friendly features including a PENTAX-developed Shake Reduction
(SR) system, high-precision autofocus and auto sensitivity control
into a compact, well-balanced body to accommodate a wide range of shooting
and playback requirements. Its outstanding overall performance makes high-quality
digital SLR photography effortless, fun and exciting for all users in
all situations from casual travel snapshots and memorable family
pictures to highly specialized applications. All together, the K100D is
a versatile all-around performer for all levels of photographers
from current digital-compact users who want to step up to digital SLR
photography, to more experienced, discriminating photographers."
You can find more information on their website.
The Camera: a visual tour: (Photos of the camera taken with the Fujifilm FinePix S9600 / S9100).
Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax 35mm film camera - a medium/compact sized 35mm film camera.
Specifications / Features:
Average box contents - There is no memory card provided with the camera. Some kind of case would be very useful.
Battery usage: Battery life seemed good, using Lithium AA batteries, I was able to take roughly 400 pictures before the camera displayed a half-battery / battery running low symbol. With high powered (2500mAh) rechargable batteries, battery life is rated at 430 shots. The camera can also be used with a mains supply.
Operation and Options: The
on/off dial on the right also has the shutter release button and a preview
aperture setting. The top left dial selects the camera mode. This allows
the choice of the following picture taking modes: Auto PICT, Bulb,
Manual, Aperture priority (Av), Shutter priority (Tv), Program, Scene
modes (Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Moving Object, Night Scene Portrait,
flash off, Night scene, Surf and Snow, Text, Sunset, Kids, Pet, Candlelight,
Photo mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen(s) as shown below:
Rec. Mode menu (above, left) - Image Tone (bright or natural), Recorded Pixels (6M, 4M, 1.5M), Quality Level (***,**,*), Saturation (-2,-1,0,+1,+2), Sharpness (-2..+2), Contrast (-2..+2), Auto Bracket, AE Metering (all, center priority, spot), "Swtch dst msr pt" selects the part of the screen to set focus to, AF mode (single, continuous), Flash exposure compensation, Shake Reduction (sets focal length when using a non-recognised lens).
Custom settings menu (above, right) - Setting, Noise Reduction, exposure setting steps, iso correction in auto, iso sensitivity warning display, link af point and ae, meter operating time, ae-l with af locked, recordable image no, ok button when shooting, ael-button on m exposure, superimpose AF area, af in remote control, FI with S lens used, using aperture ring, release when charging, Preview method, magnification to start zoom playback, man wb measurement, colour space, reset custom function.
/ Electronic Viewfinder: In
common with other digital SLR cameras, there is no electronic viewfinder.
The optical viewfinder is clear and has a range of useful indicators located
along the bottom which tell you how fast the shutter speed is and whether
it agrees with your manual focus. Detailed information
- photo mode (above, right)
- shows you current photo settings
Scene modes: As well as the scene modes on the dial: Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Moving object mode, Night scene portrait, Flash off mode; there are further scene modes available in the SCN position, these are: Night scene, Surf and Snow, Text, Sunset, Kids, Pets (with the choice of taking a picture of a dog or a cat! the manual says "the function is the same, regardless of which icon you choose"), Candlelight, Museum.
button brings up the option screen as shown above, left, and give you
the following options:
Playback (Review) mode/menu:
Screen / LCD display in play mode: (shown above, left) The screen resolution with 210,000 pixels is good and pictures look clear on it. The screen is clear and the text and menus are easy to read. The camera can display a review of your picture showing the over-exposed regions.
Playback mode: Playback mode: Scrolling through the photos is quick. Zooming in is very quick and magnifies the image up to 12x. Zooming out shows 9 images at a time as thumbnails. Pressing the down arrow rotates the image 90 degrees. Further photo information (shown above, right) is available by pressing the info button (histogram and then image information).
Playback function menu (above, right) - Pressing the function button lets you select between slide show, DPOF and filter options. Filter options include black and white, sepia, colour, soften, slim (which alters the ratio of width to height), and brightness. In playback mode, the trashcan button deletes images and the lock button prevents this. In both cases you need to confirm the action before it happens.
Playback menu (above, left) - Playback display method (images, image + histogram, image + detailed info, last memory), Instant review, Preview Display, Digital filter (details above), Slideshow (delay: 3, 5, 10, 30 seconds)
Set-up menu (above, right) - Format, Beep, Date adjust, World time, Language, Guide display, brightness level, video out, transfer mode, auto power off, folder name, file number, sensor cleaning, reset.
Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures:
As shown in the table above, higher quality images take a large amount of memory, so a high capacity memory card is definitely recommended. Having said that, the larges JPG images recorded by this camera were rarely above 3mb and so hundreds of images can be recorded onto a 512mb card.
A large memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 256mb memory card, and preferably a 512mb memory card, especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to be away from a computer for a long time (such as when going on holiday) then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in. This camera takes only secure digital memory. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Pentax K100D:
latest prices for SD memory cards at Amazon.co.uk: 256mb: £6.54,
1gb (1000mb): £14.32,
2gb (2000mb): £24.99
Speed: The camera is quick to switch on and take photos, being ready in less than 1 second (excluding auto-focus time). Focusing is precise and rapid, although slower in low-light. As expected from a camera of this class, you can take the photo the instant you push the button and then take another in less than a second. In rapid shot mode (continuous shooting mode) it takes nearly 3 frames per second and will take 5 shots in a row before slowing down. Flash recharge time is pretty impressive too, taking just over a second. Playback mode is quick, and its easy to zoom in on your last shot and check for blur with the zoom control. Moving from picture to picture is quick but you can also get an overview of 9 shots at a time if you zoom out one more notch. Moving around the different menu options is rapid and clear.
Ease of use: Surprisingly for a camera of this complexity, the camera is easy to get to grips with. The majority of the useful functions are located in logical places and so little use of the manual was required except for advanced functions. The AUTO mode is obviously the most straight-forward and the other scene modes are well explained in the manual and make it very easy for a beginner to use. The menus are easy to read and although some are slightly cryptic and a quick read of the manual is required to find out what the option does. In addition to the viewfinder display, there is also a helpful LCD display which lets you know how many shots you have left, what the current shutter speed would be, whether the battery is about to die on you. Overall, the camera is well laid out, and logical, which makes using it really straightforward and enjoyable, with some of the more advanced features requiring use of the manual.
Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc.) I was impressed with how easy the camera is to hold, even with only one hand, even in less than ideal conditions - It has a rubber grip for right handed people which meant I could hold it completely securely with one hand. The buttons were easy to reach although advanced users may find changing aperture, overriding compensation and doing a focus lock shot all at once a little tricky (but not impossible). The buttons of use are all within easy reach and in logical positions. Not having to go through menu screens to turn off auto-focus or use the flash makes using the camera so natural. The buttons don't seem overly small. I thought the camera felt very good ergonomically, with an excellent size hand-grip. The mode dial is unobtrusive and the shutter release, zoom, focus lock are very well positioned. The camera feels like a solid, robust and well-built camera and I am especially impressed with the ease of use of the manual focus, thanks to the analog manual focus ring on the kit lens.
Image Quality: Here are some real world sample photos taken in various settings, such as Inside, Outside, Macro, to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the Pentax K100D Sample Photo Gallery!
Inside: The camera has very good colour - It took a good "Heather and Flower" photo - there is no red-eye in the photo, and there is none in other group photos. It has a decent flash, and copes well with group photos, and on AUTO ISO, the ISO setting was kept at the lowest setting in these photos. The camera did a good job at focusing most of the time even in low-light. Colour is richly saturated. Exposure was good, however, the flash photos had a tendancy to be slightly under-exposed, I suspect the camera is setup this way to make sure that there are no blown-highlights in areas of white colour. This can be altered using exposure compensation or altering the flash strength.
ISO Noise Test - Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos, and you may use higher ISO settings as light levels get lower, particularly indoors. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels, and manual ISO settings (ISO: 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200).
Below you'll find the noise test image (taken indoors in low light without the flash, unless otherwise stated), plus actual pixel crops from the image taken at different ISO settings, compared with the 6 megapixel, Fujifilm FinePix F30, (which is currently the benchmark compact camera for noise tests due to it's excellent high ISO performance), and the 10 megapixel Olympus E-400 in order to show the difference between the Pentax K100D Digital SLR and other current digital cameras.
ISO Noise Test Photos - Flash is off. Pentax K100D in the middle, Fujifilm FinePix F30 on the left, and the 10 megapixel Olympus E-400 on the right. The colour difference is due to automatic white balance unless otherwise stated.
The Pentax K100D has very low noise in the test photos taken at ISO200 to ISO800. Noise is low at ISO1600, and acceptable at ISO3200. Noise is lower than the Olympus E-400, and lower than the Fujifilm FinePix F30. You'll also notice that whilst the F30 displays quite low noise, the K100D's edges are much smoother than the F30's, most likely due to the high levels of image processing applied to the F30 images. The camera has excellent abilities, however choosing the highest ISO settings will sacrifice some final image quality. At the other end of the spectrum, it should be obvious that nothing has been sacrificed in terms of quality by not providing an ISO100 mode.
Image Stabilisation: This is the first Pentax Digital SLR to feature in camera image stabilisation, Pentax have implemented an anti-shake CCD sensor, a feature they call "Shake Reduction", this works by moving the CCD sensor to counter any camera shake. The same method of anti-shake is used very successfully in the Konica Minolta 5D, 7D, Sony Alpha A100, and Pentax K10D. It's also used in a number of compact point and shoot cameras, such as the Ricoh Caplio R5. Shake Reduction helps reduce image blur due to low light or long zoom photography. Here are some test photos taken with Shake Reductrion on and off - these photos were taken without flash in low light.
As you can see
- image stabilisation can be very effective for low-light / high zoom,
slow shutter speed photography helping acheive blur free photos in situations
where you normally wouldn't be able to get a sharp image without the aid
of a tripod.
Both shots were taken at ISO200, with the same shutter and aperture settings,
in a room with average indoor lighting.
Shake Reduction didn't always work, for example, if the shutter speed
was too low and when I introduced too much camera shake.
Outside: The camera has rich colour, with good saturation and contrast. There was good detail, and noise was low upto ISO800. The quality was set to maximum to minimise any jpeg artefacts.
Zoom (and lenses): The first kit lens provides a 3x optical zoom starting at wide-angle 18mm (27mm equivalent), zooming to 55mm (82mm equivalent) - it is great for 'normal' everyday photography, but if you want a camera suitable for every situation from wide-angle use to ultra zoom use, then the double zoom kit is worth going for, unless you already have some lenses. The twin lens kit fromis available from £642 - and gives you 27mm - 300mm equivalent. Below you'll find test photos taken with the kit lens. As with all Digital SLRs, digital zoom is not available in camera.
Exposure / metering - The photos of the clock tower seem a little dark in the shadows, because of the very blue sky and lighting, however this can be either compensated for (using EV compensation) or by selecting a different metering mode, the metering can be weighted toward the center of the image. Overall exposure and metering was very good, and was slightly biased towards under-exposure.
Lens noise and zoom: The lens is silent in operation except for motorized focus which is still relatively quiet. The lens gives excellent control over how you frame your subject. The shutter sound is quite noticable, and makes a "clack" type of sound. It is slightly louder the the Olympus E-400, and may be a shock to people upgrading from a silent point and shoot digital camera.
Quality issues: Purple fringing was difficult to detect in the majority
of normal photos. In some extreme test cases, by looking closely at the
images some fringing might be noticed, for example in the wide-angle clock
The manual focus ring allows you to get very good, close-up, detailed macro photos. Custom white balance is also an option with this camera, and best results are acheived using this as auto white balance can be a bit hit and miss. The kit lens allows you to be quite close to the subject.
Video mode: The camera does not feature a video mode (as with all current Digital SLRs).
Summary: The Pentax K100D Digital SLR is a great digital camera. It feels very comfortable in hand, and produces very natural pictures with little noise and rich pleasing colours. This camera is very easy to use (in auto mode), and would definitely suit a beginner. The camera offers good battery life, with very good controls and good build quality. The addition of Shake Reduction through an anti-shake CCD sensor means more photos are likely to come out blur free - image stabilisation is an excellent feature to have and is especially useful indoors in low light. Professional photographers might want to compare the camera with other DSLR cameras before purchase, as some may find the camera's features and options slightly limiting. The K100D with kit lens is available for around £369 making this camera excellent value for money and definitely one of the best budget Digital SLRs available today!
What I like:
What I don't like:
Additional Test Images are viewable in the Pentax K100D Sample Photo Gallery.