Pentax's K-x offers an awful lot of K-7 features in what is essentially the same body as the K2000 (K-m). In fact, its high specification and low price are most reminiscent of the much-loved K200D, which could make this a welcome addition to the upper-entry-level market. We were able to borrow a pre-production model so that we could look beyond the various color options to see just what this latest little Pentax offers.

Pentax K-x Brief hands-on
by Richard Butler, September 2009



Based on a pre-production Pentax K-x

The Pentax K-x sits in the slot previously occupied by the company's K200D - one of the best-specified entry-level DSLRs on the market in its time - though that position has now been elevated by the arrival of a new breed of simplified models below it. In Pentax's line-up that means the K2000/K-m designed to entice compact camera users into DSLR ownership with its easy-to-use interface and diminutive scale, and it's that camera the K-x is immediately reminiscent of (they share the same body).

Despite its compact size and use of AA batteries, there is more than a hint of the K-7 about the new model's specifications. It gains the K-7's 11-point AF system and PRIME II imaging engine, along with its abilities to correct for chromatic aberration and distortion when using Pentax DA and DFA lenses. Portrait photographers will be delighted by the re-inclusion of an orientation sensor.

However, the K-m cloning process has meant that although you can now at least select the active AF-point, it's still not displayed in the viewfinder. There is still plenty new about the K-x that is not shared with either of its stable-mates, though.

The camera is based around a 12.4 megapixel CMOS sensor with onboard A/D conversion (a system often associated with Sony), with output fast enough not only for the camera to shoot at 4.7 frames per second, but also for capturing 24 frames of 720p HD video per second. Along with the sensor come higher ISOs - now up to 6400, expandable to 12800. Plus there's a revised version of the K-m's shutter mechanism to allow the high continuous shooting speed, which ups the maximum shutter speed to 1/6000 sec. The camera also features a new 'cross-processing' mode on top of an already impressive range of filters and processing options.

With its decision not to use a Samsung sensor and that Korean company's apparent unwillingness to re-badge the most recent Pentax DSLRs, it's hard not to see the K-x as another question mark over the closeness of the relationship between the two companies and what that might mean for Pentax's future direction.

Pentax K-x Key Features

  • 12.4 megapixel APS-C-format CMOS sensor (total pixels: 12.9 million)
  • PRIME II imaging engine
  • 1/6000th maximum shutter speed
  • 720p HD video (24 fps)
  • 2.7" LCD monitor (230,000 dots)
  • Image sensor cleaning (sensor shake)
  • 11 selectable AF points
  • IS0 200-6400 range (100-12,800 when expanded)
  • 4.7 frames per second continuous shooting (for 17 frames)

In the hand

Because it inherits the K2000/K-m's body, the K-x fits well in the hand and locates all the most important buttons directly where you place your fingers. We rather liked the K-m's ergonomics, which should make K-x a competitive addition to the market - especially considering its very reasonable-looking price-tag.

How the Pentax DSLRs compare:

 

K-7

K-x
K-m
Image sensor 14.6Mp CMOS 12.4Mp CMOS 10.2Mp CCD
Imaging engine Prime II Prime II Prime
Sensitivity 100-3200 (6400 with expansion) 200-6400 (100 and 12,800 with expansion) 100-3200
Continuous shooting speed 5.2fps (40 frames) 4.7fps (17 frames)

3.5fps (5 frames)

AF SAFOX VIII+
with superimposed points
11-points (selectable)
AF-assist lamp
SAFOX VIII
11-points (selectable)
SAFOX VIII
5-points
AE 77-segment 16-segment 16-segment
Viewfinder Pentaprism
Coverage: 100%
Magnification: 0.95
Pentamirror
Coverage: 96%
Magnification: 0.85
Pentamirror
Coverage: 96%
Magnification: 0.85
Movies 1024p 30fps 720p 24fps No
Microphone Mono internal or stereo external Mono internal No
HDMI output Yes No No
Lens correction

Yes

Yes No
HDR mode

Yes

Yes No
Multiple exposure

Yes

Yes No
Orientation sensor

Yes

Yes No
Slow-sync flash

Yes

Yes No
Weight

670g

515g 525g
Cold resistant to -10deg Yes No No
Weather resistant Yes No No

It comes in colors

The popularity of the white limited edition of the K-m has also encouraged Pentax to offer a white K-x as a mass-production model, with red and blue now being available as specials. And, in the Japanese market, will be available in custom combinations from a selection of 20 body and 9 grip colors. The Taste Police prohibit 40 of the combinations, but you're still able to choose from 100 possibilities (A Fushia Pink body and Yellow grip has somehow slipped through, for instance). The option to choose lens colors will also be available. Pentax UK and Europe say they have no plans to extend the scheme to their markets.