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LCD monitor

The Pentax gains the excellent 920,000 dot screen that now appears on the majority of higher-end DSLRs. Although it's not directly involved in the shooting process, it makes a surprising difference to the experience of using the camera.

And, like its predecessor, the K-7's screen can be fine-tuned to provide a neutral color appearance.

LCD panel

Like most DSLRs in the semi-pro/enthusiast bracket the K-7 features a top LCD panel. It provides a wide range of information about the current camera settings and exposure. The back light is activated by a shutter-button half-press.

A breakdown of information displayed on the LCD panel can be found on the diagram below.

1 Shutter speed 8 Flash exposure compensation
2 Aperture 9 Sensitivity / Exposure comp. value
3 Multi-exposure 10 ISO / ISO Auto
4 Mirror lock-up 11 Flash mode
5 EV-bar / Electronic level 12 Drive mode
6 Exposure compensation / Bracketing 13 File format
7 Battery level 14 Remaining images / USB-connection mode

Viewfinder

The K-7 is another semi-pro grade Pentax with a great viewfinder. The overall size is about the same as that of the K20D (one of the best in any APS-C DSLRs), but it's been redesigned so that it offers a full 100% frame coverage, albeit at slightly lower magnification (0.92x).

This means that, although it's not quite as well suited to manually focusing as the K20D's finder, it's much more useful in terms of composition. With 100% coverage you're much less likely to find that the fence post you were trying to keep just out-of-shot has crept in at the very edge.

A series of alternative focusing screens is available for photographers with specific shooting requirements, including grid and micro scale versions.

Viewfinder view

When looking through the viewfinder you'll see the AF frame and the spot metering frame. Normally the AF areas are not visible, the image below is simulated to indicate the position of the AF points. You can choose from automatic AF-point selection, manual selection or center point only.

The display panel beneath the finder has also been updated, although it still doesn't include the permanent display of ISO sensitivity that some shooters like. However this is displayed the moment you press the easy-to-reach ISO button.

Viewfinder size

One figure hidden away in every SLR's spec is the size of the viewfinder (often in a format that makes comparison between competing models impossible). The size of the viewfinder is a key factor in the usability of an SLR - the bigger it is, the easier it is to frame and focus your shots, and the more enjoyable and involving process it is.

Because of the way viewfinders are measured (using a fixed lens, rather than a lens of equivalent magnification), you also need to take the sensor size into account, so the numbers in the diagram below are the manufacturer's specified magnifications divided by the respective 'crop factors'. The Pentax K-7 viewfinder is just a tad smaller than one of its direct rivals, the Nikon D300, but significantly larger than the Four Thirds viewfinder of the Olympus E-30. It's also slightly larger than the EOS 50D (not shown in the diagram). For reference we are also showing the EOS-1Ds Mark III (currently the biggest viewfinder on the DSLR market).

The K7's viewfinder magnification- 0.61x - is fractionally smaller than the Nikon D300 and a fair bit larger than the Olympus E-30.

Viewfinder crop

While most entry-level DSLRs crop the frame slightly when you look through the viewfinder some, but not all, cameras in the enthusiast bracket offer a 100% viewfinder coverage - in other words what you see through the viewfinder is what you get in the final picture.

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