A good bang per buck DSLR

Started Jan 12, 2012 | User reviews
Barry Fitzgerald
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A good bang per buck DSLR
Jan 12, 2012

I owned a K-x for just over a year.
At the time the K-r was rather well featured for an entry level DSLR it has a solid strong spec which is clearly a cut above most other makers at this price point

Lots of things to get stuck into the K-x actually has a more mid level spec compared to most other models in this price range.

Decent enough build though the "silver plastic" rim around the top cheapens the look a little

4.7fps is fast enough for many action wise whilst the raw buffer is fairly small (5 shots) the jpeg isn't bad at all really around 24 with a fast SD card, not a bad budget sports camera

AF performance: I was happy overall with the AF in various lighting conditions it's quite fast and snappy, less so low light (all cameras slow down) but accuracy was good overall no real issues here most times (certainly better than the K-r which I replaced it with)

Live view mode: Decent but not fast for live view you'll likely use it for tripod work mostly. (K-r was much faster here)

Video: Fairly standard video at the time it was good for this segment it's fine for most users who just take the odd clip now and then

Features: Quite a lot to get stuck into lots of customisation and features. Tons of filters and effects to play with make this a good camera to learn on or for more experienced shooters on a budget.

Good jpeg quality with NR options to turn the NR down

Rated 100k shutter which should inspire confidence

Fairly simple controls are quite easy to get into, though the back D pad buttons are fairly small.
Body is a touch small for me but it's fairly comfortable to use

Viewfinder: Quite good at this price point it's no big semi pro Pentaprism, but bigger and better than most Penta mirror ones from rivals. Matte screen is quite good for manual focus too

Has good features such as wireless flash and MLU very useful (though flash system is dated with Pentax)

AA batteries. I found power from the AA's worked well and I liked the fact you could use AA's. Shots isn't bad probably 450 or so for normal use depending on make of battery. I was ok with this though it's not "great" battery life wise I have loads of AA's around so had plenty of power. LV and video sucks the power quite a lot

I found I once I had the camera set up in the custom menus (quite a lot of options here) I rarely had to dive into the menus very often this is a good thing for many users and for bodies with less controls (ie in this price range)

Overall a very nice compact DSLR, do take a look at the system though as there are some interesting limited lenses, but for budget (K-x type users) outside the kit lenses Pentax don't have a lot of choice for affordable primes esp a problem (V Canon and Nikon) I regret selling the camera as I replaced it with a K-r (which had big AF problems) overall the K-x is a safer s/h buy for most users, and quite a cracking little camera for a very modest outlay. Despite some quirks and issues there is little to really complain about and a very good price.

One of the best cameras Pentax have released for some time, though note the issues below

Problems:

No AF points in VF: I didn't find it a big issue, but it does mean you'll likely just use the central AF point for most shots as the VF won't show which focus point is being used. Not a "deal breaker" (at this price point) but it rather wastes the potential of an 11 point AF system

Mediocre kit lens: Not bad wide end in fact quite good for landscape shots stopped down a bit. Tele end (above 35mm) is weak and mushy wide open. Needs to be dropped down quite a lot at 55mm to get sharper images and even then not very good sharpness across the range. Kit lens is now showing it's age (though this copy was better than the one I got with a K-r)

Auto WB: Good in most situations with a strong correction option for tungsten which hits the spot quite well v many other cameras (often an issue in this light) However a notable to strong green/magenta cast to images which needs watching, more so than with most cameras. This can play havoc with skin tones so watch this one

Mirror slap: I didn't notice a problem on my unit (I bought later in production) some users report mirror slap issues which cause images to have camera shake even with SR on (seems to interfere with the SR mechanism) One to watch out for s/h buying wise.

Cooked raw.: Some unavoidable NR going on in raw files. This is nowhere near as severe as the A700 was it's mostly colour NR and it appears some sharpening. But raw should be raw and not processed you can't turn this one off strange move from Pentax

Colours: Quite nice in some cases but bright is too punchy and saturated for my own tastes, natural is a far better bet. As it's a lower end model the colours have quite a bit more saturation, even raw files are more saturated than higher end models. Down to taste with some tweaking to the settings can help a lot

SR: Probably not as efficient as the Sony/Minolta in body AS quite difficult to accurately measure this but I'd say 1 to 2 stops max, where Sony get's to around 3 (real world use) not a problem as some in body AS is better than none

Can't bracket with the remote as it's a separate mode to use the infra-red remote and a separate mode for the bracketing (strange oversight) No wired remote option either (not unexpected at this price point)

Green button: Should be a pro but unfortunately as the K-x lacks a DOF preview button, you can assign it to this but then you can'd do P shift! For some reason Pentax have a very odd implementation of P shift you have to set it to the green button! Thus whilst you can assign other functions to the green button (such as raw) you'll lose both or something else. If the K-x had a dedicated DOF preview button that would be better. P shift should just start using the control dial as other cameras have. Minor quirk but the potential of the green button is a lot less than it could be

Battery indicator: Despite a firmware update the battery life indicator isn't very accurate

Barry Fitzgerald's score
4.0
Average community score
4.5
bad for good for
Kids / pets
okay
Action / sports
okay
Landscapes / scenery
okay
Portraits
okay
Low light (without flash)
okay
Flash photography (social)
unrated
Studio / still life
acceptable
= community average
Pentax K-r Pentax K-x Sony Alpha DSLR-A700
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