A great camera ruined by awful autofocus problems & terrible support

Started Dec 10, 2011 | User reviews
Barry Fitzgerald
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A great camera ruined by awful autofocus problems & terrible support
Dec 10, 2011

The Pentax K-r has almost everything you want in a mid level body at an entry level price.
It's got a respectable viewfinder (pentamirror), a good buffer, extensive options and customisation, and on paper a superb overall specification.

Whilst the 12mp CMOS isn't anything amazing resolution wise it's enough for most people, and still an excellent performer in low light. Not as good as the 16mp CMOS but pretty close.
Body wise it's a slightly bigger body than the K-x making it on paper a decent step up for users and for new buyers.

Great out of camera jpegs with very good control on noise reduction. A high res 3" LCD much better than the lower res smaller ones. You can even calibrate the screen colour accuracy wise, you've an interval timer..100k shutter rating. Controls are logical and easy to grasp..the customisation is so complete you'll very rarely take a trip to the custom menus after it's set up for you.

Lots of filters and customisation of colours, hues, sharpness..if you're a jpeg shooter you'll be very happy with results out of the camera

The K-r corrects most of the weak points of the K-x, adding the lighting AF points, a more comfortable slightly larger body, a bigger buffer, 6fps is class leading at this price, even the HDR mode can now auto align it's shots unlike the K-x. AF assist light fitted too (though it does not come on as often as it should), live view AF is much faster too than the K-x

The K-r is an impressive camera and would be worthy of the attention of any DSLR buyer.
So why 1 star? Well read on...

Problems:

The AF performance in daylight is fast and accuracy is impressive you will be pleased.
Unfortunately in lower kelvin light (energy saving bulbs/tungsten lamps) the K-r cannot hit anything with any degree of accuracy. Almost all shots are completely out of focus with a huge degree of front focus so much so no fine tuning of the AF will work.

During 2 shoots one in mixed lighting one in tungsten almost all my phase detect AF shots were completely out of focus. I was forced to use manual focus or live view in both cases. The shots were not slightly out of focus, but so much so they were pretty much ruined.

Alarmed at this and thinking I possibly had a defective body I contacted Pentax UK support whilst they tried to be of some help..they pretty much said that this model has a fault, it is present in all models. Thus exchanging the body for another was not an option. Amazingly Pentax also cannot offer a repair! This sadly leaves you with a body that has abysmal AF in specific lighting conditions..by far the worst SLR I have ever used dating back to 1987 for AF in this light! Yes sadly it is that bad.

The most annoying aspect is that Pentax cannot currently address this issue for K-r users. They admit it has a problem, but cannot fix it. This means K-r users have had a defective body for over a year..yet no solution to the problem. It's alarming that Pentax can continue to sell a product they admit is faulty this speaks volumes about the company IMO. My letters to Pentax have as yet not been replied to

Last I spoke to service they said a firmware update was being "worked on" If that is the case and it's released and fixes this problem, I will update my review to reflect that. Until that point we've a great camera with horrific AF problems in low kelvin light. I would avoid at all costs

Barry Fitzgerald's score
0.5
Average community score
3.7
bad for good for
Kids / pets
acceptable
Action / sports
okay
Landscapes / scenery
good
Portraits
acceptable
Low light (without flash)
awful
Flash photography (social)
acceptable
Studio / still life
unrated
= community average
Pentax K-r Pentax K-x
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