Pentax K100D Super review
This is a camera that just feels right in your hands!
I bought my K100D Super at Christmas and have now had the chance to use it for a few months.
It is my first DSLR after coming from a bridge camera (Fuji S5600), and i was also looking at the Canon 400D and Nikon D40X.
Three things swung it for me when originally purchasing:
1) It takes AA batteries
2) It gives you access to a huge back catalogue of lenses
3) It felt really good in my hands
The last was what finally swung it, it really does feel constructed and well-designed for my size of hands (medium). I found the Canon grip very uncomfortable, and i was worried about the lack of decent cheap lenses available for the Nikon.
Now that I've had the chance to use it, I'm very satisfied with my purchase. It isn't as easy to use at first as the D40X but I soon graduated past "beginner" which means I actually appreciate the control that the K100D Super gives you.
The AA batteries have come in very handy as it turns out - I'm often on the road and unable to find enough time to charge. Batteries last for a good 400 shots if I'm not using the LCD and flash too much.
Pictures with the kit lens (da 18-55) are good, although the lens is a little slow (light wise, not AF) and not as good at 18mm. At the mid-range in good light it's really sharp and has given me some great pictures. Amongst a range of cheap second-hand lenses, I've also picked up an FA35/2 which is superb - ultrasharp, great for available light photography. Both lenses are solid and responsive (even if the FA35 looks, well, a bit dated style wise!) and the quick-shift manual override on thekit lens is actually useful when tracking moving objects. Shake reduction is helpful, allowing me about an extra 2 stops and "saving" handheld low-light telephoto shots which are passable at 6x4 when they would be useless without the SR.
The lensfinder is surprisingly good. I am very shortsighted but using my left yeye works well. I'd say the K100D Super is slightly better than the Canon, although the Nikon feels slightly brighter to me. The information display is minimalist but clear and contains everything I need.
Minor gripes: Burst mode isn't great, but I haven't had much need for better yet. Auto White Balance indoors is shocking, but using the manual white balance or playing with the presets gives good results - I now shoot in RAW anyway. I really wish there was a RAW+JPEG option though as it would make getting prints on the road easier. I also wish there was a front thumb wheel as well as the rear one, and a way of storing a couple of "custom" configs which I could switch to quickly; as the RAW, AF-mode and AE-metering options are too fiddly to get to quickly. Having said that, there is the green "AUTO" mode which makes a sensible decision for you in the heat of the moment. Finally, as others have said, AF performance in low light conditions is worse than (in particular) the Canon. It's bearable, but it's something I hope is fixed in a future model! There's also a slight horizon level problem in my viewfinder - I think the markings on my focussing screen are slightly off true. If I use a tripod shots are perfectly level but the image through the viewfinder is off by a small amount.
Another gripe is that prices on ebay for K-Mount lens are now getting ridiculous - my idea of picking up lots of cheap lenses hasn't quite worked! I've just got myself the Tamron 18-250 to replace my kit lens so I'll be doing some comparisons soon.
Finally some may gripe about loud mirror slap - I actually really like it. It reinforces the perception that the K100D Super is a camera that has been built by people who understand people who actually want to take photos and want quality of construction over megapixels.
Only that you should be careful with some old lens which are K-mount but not specifically Pentax, as they occasionally have pins which can jam in the autofocus screw.