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Pentax K-x Preview

by Josh Root, September 2009 (updated February 2011)


So we learned earlier this year that we would be seeing two new cameras from Pentax and an updated version of an existing camera. The K7 showed up last month and was a new model. Now we get the K-x announcement, which appears to be a replacement for the K-m/K2000. That still leaves us with one more camera to be announced in the next few months. Perhaps a K20D replacement? Who knows…

The new Pentax K-x DSLR

However, onto the camera that we DO know about, the K-x. The shortlist of important features is here:

  • High resolution 12.4 megapixel CMOS image sensor features sensor-shift Shake Reduction for stabilized image and video capture up to 4 stops max.
  • Large 2.7 inch LCD features Live View with contrast, phase difference, and Face Detection autofocus (up to 16 faces).
  • Capture widescreen HD video in full 720p resolution (1280×720) at 24 FPS cinematic framerate, using any PENTAX 35mm lens.
  • Highly compact DSLR body design allows for 1 handed operation and comfort when travelling.
  • True HDR image capture blends 3 bracketed images into a single picture with outstanding shadow, highlight, and midrange detail.
  • Fast 4.7 FPS capture speed and 1/6000 second maximum shutter speeds are possible with the PENTAX PRIME II image processing engine.
  • Responsive 11 point wide angle SAFOX VIII autofocus system focuses quickly and accurately, and can easily track moving subjects.
  • Capture up to 1900 shots with universally available, easy-to-find AA lithium batteries (also compatible with AA NiMH rechargeable and alkaline batteries).
  • Expanded ISO range covers sensitivities from 100-12800 for extreme low light photography.

Where to Buy?

The Pentax K-x is available in multiple color combinations. If you are looking to buy one, please purchase from one of our partners and help support Photo.net.

Want some crazy colors?

So you say that your cameras have just been too boring for your taste? Allow me to introduce you to the Pentax K-x. There are a whopping 100 different body/grip color combos that you can choose from. You thought that the white storm-trooper K2000 was crazy? You haven’t seen anything yet. Go play with the K-x color simulator on the Pentax Japan site and see what you can come up with. The bad (or good) news is that the color combo cameras are only available in Japan. The US gets only four colors: black, white, red, and blue. However, those four cameras will be available with matching 18-55 lenses. The Japanese “spin the color wheel” simulator claims that lens colors are “coming soon”. So perhaps that means you will be able to go even crazier with your choices. But for now, the US cameras are the ones that have matching lenses (as far as I can tell).

Josh’s thoughts:

ISO 12,800? I have to say that I’m excited about that. While I’m pretty much a Canon shooter for my DSLR needs, I have enjoyed using Pentax cameras when I have had the chance. I’ve particularly been impressed with their “limited” prime lens lineup. But I was always a bit annoyed at the ISO choices and the noise at the ISO choices that the cameras did have. With Canon and Nikon racing towards ISO 100,000 or some such thing, it’s nice to see Pentax get moving on this front. Particularly considering that this is an entry level camera.

Having 11 AF points is nice for an entry level camera, However, allowing the user to choose the AF point in the K-x is even nicer and is a very good move for Pentax. It increases the chances that the K-x will become a backup or 2nd body for existing Pentax shooters. There are a lot of things that people are willing to overlook in terms of features and function for their backup body. But not being able to make the camera focus on exactly what you want is one of those things that drives experienced photographers nuts. While some dislike it, I’m always happy to see face-detection AF in cameras of any stripe. As long as it’s a feature that you can turn off, it’s something I like because there are times where it can be really useful. Live-view and HD video are the same sorts of thing. They’ve become one of those “must have” features for DSLR’s these days. But I can’t say that it’s a bad thing in any way. In fact, it would have been stupid for Pentax to release a camera in this class WITHOUT those features.

AA batteries…well, whatever. I know that some people still hang on to the idea that the AA battery thing is some huge advantage because you can get them anywhere. But to be honest, I just don’t see it as a big deal. The number of times I have run out of juice with my cameras and could have been saved by a trip to the store is pretty small. I’ve either got plenty of battery power or I’m close to an outlet to plug the charger in. Most of the times I’ve been screwed have been when I was 10 miles down a hiking trail. It would have taken me just as long to get to a store with AA’s as it would have to find an electrical outlet. But then again, this isn’t one of those features that is a big deal to me. An argument can be made either way for or against. I don’t particularly like that Pentax is promoting a 1900-shots number based on expensive lithium AA batteries that nobody uses. I would like to see numbers based on alkaline or at the very least, high-capacity rechargeable, batteries as well.

Lots of the other specs are unimportant to me, or aren’t really worth commenting on until I have a camera in my hands. In-camera HDR? Cross Processing? I guess we will see if these work well enough to be important to advanced photographers or are easy enough to be important to beginner photographers. But all in all, with it’s stated features and price point, the K-x looks like a very strong entry into it’s target market, “beginners and backups” as I call it.

Speaking of that, the one feature that is going to get the most attention is the one that matters least, the colors. There are a lot of “serious” photographers who look down on the concept that cameras should be anything but black or chrome. These snobs came out of the woodwork when the white K2000 came out last year. But the fact of the matter is, imaging as a whole has moved far away from the button-down black/chrome SLR. IPhones, Flip video cameras, cell phones and so on are charging into the arena. And even if they aren’t the final destination for beginning photographers, these smaller imaging tools get a lot of people used to the idea that a camera can be any color.

Personally, I love the color choices and wish they were going to be available in the USA. I have a feeling that someone is going to do a brisk business on ebay selling some of the more popular color combos on ebay. Given the choice, I would pick the most god-awful garish color combo available. I would proudly rock that thing all over the place. Wedding photography, street photography, extreme sports photography, and so on. All the places where the “You’ve got have a ‘professional’ camera” attitude reigns supreme. It would be a wonderful way to prove to all the snobs that it’s the box behind the camera that matters, and not the one with the lens attached. The camera is just a tool, and tools don’t care what color they are. They just get the job done.

With any luck, photo.net will have a review copy of the Pentax K-x in our hands in short order. Keep an eye on the Photo.net Pentax Forum for details and announcements.

Pentax K-x Press Release

PENTAX ANNOUNCES AFFORDABLE, NEW PENTAX K-x

WITH HIGH-END FEATURES INCLUDING HD VIDEO AND LIVE VIEW

GOLDEN, CO (September 16, 2009) PENTAX Imaging Company redefines the entry-level digital SLR category with the introduction of the K-x digital SLR. This latest PENTAX camera offers high-end features including Live View and HD video. And, since there’s no rule that SLR cameras must come in black only, the K-x will be available in a choice of white or black, as well as special, limited edition red and navy.

Priced at $599.95 USD (for body with DA L 18-55mm lens), the extremely compact and lightweight PENTAX K-x forges ahead on the trail initiated by the popular PENTAX K2000. With a one-handed shooting design and simple, easy-to-use operation, the K-x is perfect for users stepping up from a point and shoot digital camera to their first digital SLR.

The PENTAX K-x offers photographic performance that challenges higher class DSLR models and offers several features that set this camera apart in the entry-level category:

  • High resolution 12.4 megapixel CMOS image sensor features sensor-shift Shake Reduction for stabilized image and video capture up to 4 stops max.
  • Large 2.7 inch LCD features Live View with contrast, phase difference, and Face Detection autofocus (up to 16 faces).
  • Widescreen HD video capture in full 720p resolution (1280×720) at 24 FPS cinematic framerate, using any PENTAX 35mm lens.
  • Creative processing and filter modes produce high quality finished images, while offering the ability to explore artistic freedom through unique special effects.
  • True High Dynamic Range (HDR) image capture blends 3 bracketed images into a single picture with outstanding shadow, highlight, and midrange detail.
  • Fast 4.7 FPS capture speed and 1/6000 second maximum shutter speeds are possible with the PENTAX PRIME II image processing engine.
  • Powerful automatic modes, including PENTAX Auto Picture and scene modes, ensure the perfect shot in any situation, while helping new photographers learn DSLR photography.
  • Responsive 11 point wide angle SAFOX VIII autofocus system focuses quickly and accurately, and can easily track moving subjects.
  • Captures up to 1900 shots with universally available, easy-to-find AA lithium batteries (also compatible with AA NiMH rechargeable and alkaline batteries).

All combined, the PENTAX K-x is the perfect camera for new digital SLR camera users as well as an ideal backup camera for more experienced photographers.

Along with the K-x, PENTAX announced the smc PENTAX DA L 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED super-telephoto zoom lens. This lens will be exclusive to a K-x Twin Lens Kit package consisting of a K-x body, this new lens and the smc PENTAX DA L 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 lens. The lightweight design of this zoom lens offers the exceptional optical performance found in all PENTAX lenses for super-telephoto photography with the K-x and other PENTAX digital SLR camera bodies.

The PENTAX K-x is now available for pre-order in black or white on www.pentaxwebstore.com. Limited edition colors of red and navy will become available at select locations to be announced.

The PENTAX K-x (in black and white) will ship in October 2009 in three configurations: options:

  • K-x single lens kit with body and an smc PENTAX DA L 18-55mm lens for USD $599.95.
  • K-x twin lens kit for $699.95 including a K-x body, the smc PENTAX DA L 18-55mm lens and the smc PENTAX DA L 50-200mm zoom lens.
  • K-x twin lens kit for $799.95 including a K-x body, the smc PENTAX DA L 18-55mm lens and the smc PENTAX DA L 55-300mm zoom lens.

PENTAX Imaging Company is an innovative leader in the production of a variety of digital cameras including weather resistant digital SLRs and compact, waterproof cameras, as well as lenses, flash units, binoculars, scopes, and eyepieces. For 90 years, PENTAX has developed durable, reliable products that meet the needs of consumers and businesses. With headquarters in Golden, Colorado, PENTAX Imaging Company is a division of PENTAX of America, Inc.

PENTAX K-x FACT SHEET

12.4 effective megapixels

The K-x incorporates a newly developed CMOS image sensor to assure high-speed image data readout and more flexibility with varying ISO sensitivity levels. With approximately 12.4 effective megapixels, this image sensor accurately reproduces true-to-life images with fine detail and rich color depth. The

K-x offers a wide sensitivity range between ISO 200 and ISO 6400 and allows users to expand the sensitivity range between ISO 100 and ISO 12800 via a custom function to offer greater creative freedom to photographers.

Compact, lightweight body

The PENTAX K-x is one of the most compact, lightweight digital SLR cameras in its class. The stainless-steel chassis and overall design offer a space-efficient layout.

Widescreen HD movie recording at 1280×720 pixels at a cinematic 24 frames per second (720p24)

The PENTAX K-x movie recording function captures true-to-life movie clips in 16:9 high-definition TV proportions (1280 × 720 pixels) at a frame rate of 24 frames per second. Compatible with every PENTAX interchangeable lens ever made, the Video Capture mode opens a new world of creativity for PENTA K-x owners. When the PENTAX K-x’s AV output terminal is used, movie clips are viewed at normal resolution. The data must be transferred to a PC for the playback of movie clips at high-definition TV proportions (1280 × 720 pixels).

PENTAX-original SR mechanism for sharp, blur-free images

The K-x features the PENTAX-developed Shake Reduction mechanism that effectively compensates for the adverse effects of camera shake by as much as four shutter steps. This innovative mechanism extends its benefits to all PENTAX interchangeable lenses, even those designed for film-format cameras. With this SR mechanism, the K-x produces sharp, blur-free images even under demanding conditions such as telephoto lens photography, shooting in dark or low-light setting without a flash illumination, and sunset scenes.

Lenses compatible with this mechanism: PENTAX K, KA, KAF, KAF2 and KAF3 mount lenses; screw-mounted lenses (with an adapter); and 645- and 67-system lenses (with an adapter). Some functions may not be available with certain lenses.

High-speed continuous shooting at approximately 4.7 images per second

The K-x’s high-speed continuous shooting mode records as many as 17 images (in JPEG recording format) at a maximum speed of approximately 4.7 images per second. This is the fastest of all entry-class models. The K-x also features a more reliable shutter unit, which passed a demanding action test of more than 100,000 shutter releases. The top shutter speed of 1/6000 second allows the photographer to preserve sharp, crisp images of fast-moving subjects.

High-performance, high-speed PRIME II imaging engine

The K-x features the newly developed PRIME (PENTAX Real IMage Engine) II, that is an upgrade of the original PRIME imaging engine. This new imaging engine offers greater data processing speed and enhanced capability to produce higher-quality images with richer, more accurate color rendition, as well as faster transmission speed of movie data.

Live View function with Face detection of up to 16 faces

In addition to the camera’s viewfinder, the K-x features a Live View function that allows users to view subjects on the LCD monitor during shooting. The K-x also offers a choice of three different focusing modes in Live View:

PENTAX K-x FACT SHEET (cont)

  • Contrast Auto Focus optimizes the focus based on the subject’s contrast.
  • Face Detection Auto Focus automatically detects up to 16 faces, then selects the main subject’s face from multiple faces, and captures it in sharp focus.
  • Phase Difference Auto Focus accesses the AF sensor positioned in the camera body to optimize focus on the subject.

Innovative Image Processing Functions

Digital Filter function

The K-x’s digital filter function allows users to process recorded images in a variety of creative ways within the camera and produce highly creative visual expressions. With a choice of 16 different filters including Color Extract, Retro, Soft, Starburst, Toy Camera, and more (including a custom filter for building multiple effects), photographers may apply multiple filters to a single image for customized effects.

Cross Process mode

The K-x features a new Cross Process mode that automatically and randomly adds finishing touches to exposures to create eye-catching images with unique, intriguing colors (just like images treated with Cross Process in film photography). This mode adds a whimsical element to digital photography since photographers don’t know the results until the captured image is actually displayed on the camera’s LCD monitor.

High-precision 11-point AF sensor

The high-precision, wide-frame SAFOX VIII autofocus system of the K-x features 11 sensor points (with nine cross-type sensors positioned in the middle) to automatically capture even off-centered subjects in sharp, crisp focus. Photographers also may select one of the sensors as a focusing point to accommodate specialized applications.

Additional features

  • Custom Image modes offer high quality processing for images
  • 2.7 inch, high-resolution color LCD monitor with approximately 230,000 dots of resolution
  • Auto Picture mode for effortless, automatic selection of the most appropriate shooting mode, even during Live View shooting
  • Status screen for easy, at-a-glance confirmation of various settings on the LCD monitor
  • Ten scene modes, including Night Scene, Surf & Snow, Sunset, Kids, Museum, and more, available via simple icon selection
  • PENTAX Digital Camera Utility 4 software package, with RAW-data processing and image browser functions

Where to Buy?

The Pentax K-x is available in multiple color combinations. If you are looking to buy one, please purchase from one of our partners and help support Photo.net.


Text and photos © 2011 Josh Root.

Article revised February 2011.

Readers' Comments


Add a comment



David Scott , September 18, 2009; 12:47 P.M.

Nice preview!

On the topic of AA's, I understand it can be a contentious issue vs. dedicated batteries. But Pentax choosing to quote the battery life for Lithium AA's is smart.

I have a Pentax *ist DL that also uses' AA batteries. I have played with alkalines, all kinds of rechargeables, and finally settled on using Lithiums. They aren't THAT expensive, and their performance is phenomenal. Things like AF performance are the best with Lithiums. Battery life is great too. In casual, day-to-day family photography use, I find a set of Lithiums lasts a good 4 months. This is about the same as the battery life on my previous Nikon F80 film SLR. Replacing the Pentax's AA batteries cost about the same as the F80's slightly more specialized photo-lithium battery. It's also easy to carry an unopened pack of 4 AA Lithium batteries in the camera bag, ready for use in the coming months. In fact, an emergency pack of batteries could be left in the bag for years, because the Lithiums have great shelf life.

Richard Earl , September 18, 2009; 06:55 P.M.

The "pros" of lithium AAs listed before are missing a "biggie" in my view and that is LOW TEMPERATURE USE.

AAs (alkaline and rechargeables) lose a LOT of their power as the temperature goes down. I do a lot of winter shooting, sometimes at temperatures BELOW -20c (-4F). Lithium batteries really don't begin to fade until -40c (also -40F) which is about when I begin to fade as well.

So, fellow cold weather photographers, load all your gear with lithiums and enjoy worry free shooting.

Matthew McManamey , September 19, 2009; 12:21 A.M.

I know the K-7 has an audio in for shooting HD video with an external microphone, but I have yet to find data confirming or denying an audio input on the K-x. Any insight from anyone on this?

Jim McDermott , September 19, 2009; 02:49 A.M.

Strange that people who aren't into day-glo are 'snobs'. Or is that a catch-all term for those who have different opinions than yourself?

Josh Root , September 22, 2009; 01:29 A.M.

Strange that people who aren't into day-glo are 'snobs'. Or is that a catch-all term for those who have different opinions than yourself?

You obviously missed my point completely.

People are welcome to like or hate whatever color camera they want. It is those people who think they should get to tell others what camera color to like that I have a problem with. And there are a lot of those people around. Go look at comments around the net about the white "storm trooper" K2000.

Patrick Dempsey , October 04, 2009; 05:34 P.M.

Day-glo? Of the 20 colors offered in Japan, 10 of them are "day-glo" and the other 10 are pretty conservative, business suit colors. Of the four colors offered in the US, the red is the only bright color, and the only thing that makes it more garrish that the infamous red Hassleblad's is the fact that it's red plastic instead of red leather with chrome trim. Personally, I can't believe that anyone besides photo magazines and camera snobs will care. "Vanity" cameras have been around for over 100 years and it's only gotten more popular in PNS circles over the years. Both Kodak and Olympus have made rainbow color varieties for cameras a part of their brand identity. Let's face it, this is the "anything goes" era, and in that environment there is plenty of room for this kind of thing... and besides, the wide variety of color choices are for Japan only... and Japan is a very very different consumer market than the US or Europe.

TS Low , November 18, 2009; 09:39 P.M.

Forget pretty colours! Bloody camera has better high ISO, low noise performance than the 7D or D300S. What was Pentax thinking? Amazing sensor.

Geoff Francis , December 08, 2009; 01:57 A.M.

It seems Pentax has dropped the weather sealing from its mid level cameras. The K200D had some level of sealing but this does not. Pity. I would rather have sealing than a choice of colours.

Benjamin Kanarek , February 25, 2010; 02:26 A.M.

Getting my White K-x today. Can't wait to put it through the rounds...

Bob Irvine , March 27, 2010; 01:49 A.M.

I got to try out the K-x for two days this week that my niece purchased. The sensor/processing engine is amazing. The burst rate for an entry level camera is far better than expected, much faster than my K200D.

But...

The 18-55mm kit lens included uses a plastic chassis. It felt much too light and made me wonder how many times the bayonets would hold out if you were doing many lens changes. The camera has a bulb setting but no cable release plug! Which renders the long exposure feature totally useless! Also, Pentax felt the need to not include a lens hood, and since the store (Henry's) did not carry them, the salesman said she would also need a UV filter to protect the lens.

The camera, like the K200D comes with shake reduction, but instead of a switch on the body, you have to go through 8 button clicks to toggle it off and on. Live View is interesting but it seemed that the AF was really struggling to get a fix in this mode. On a couple of test shots it took up to ten times as long to get a AF lock on a subject in Live View; and in each case the subject was stationary!

My impression is that the sensor, and processing engine used here is superior to what I have seen in other models, but the build is cheap, and Pentax have really cut some corners.

Cheers

Bill Merritt , June 06, 2010; 04:32 P.M.

Have Kx for about two months. Just contacted Pentax because of virtually ineffective SR at all of the setting combinations I have tried. The manual states "it may not fully reduce camera shake when taking close-up shots, slow shutter speeds, panning, shooting night scenes". I wish I knew all of the above before making the purchase. I hope it is a mechanical problem that can be corrected as I enjoy many of the other features. I do mostly candids, so turning off SR is not an option for me.

Just wondering if it is me, or is this a problem more common than I would like to see and hear about?

 

Martin Meszaros , August 12, 2010; 07:24 A.M.

I chose the K-x over the K7 because of its low light performance(being half the price helps as well). I have read reveiws that state the K7 performs slightly worse than the k20 at high ISO levels ( Pentax K-x expert reviews ) . Being an owner of a k20, I can state that the K-x far out performs the k20 at ISO 1600. This camera is perfect for shooting pictures of people and settings where a flash would be considered intrusive. Its relatively fast focus speeds and hd video make this camera the perfect tool for capturing those special moments with my friends and family. I think you can get more candid shots when you don't have a flash announcing that a camera is present. I still prefer my k20 for more formal photograpy where a "hands on" approach is desired, but for everyday use, and at this price, I think the k-x is hard to beat.

Pablo Coronel , May 20, 2011; 11:44 A.M.

Very happy after a year of owning this camera, nicely built and rugged enough for an adv. amateur.

Image quality is excellent and using the modset.492 tweak improved the focusing greatly. 

Coming from a real SLR world, I'd like a split-prism focusing screen though.

 


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