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Compared to...

The Pentax K-x is competing in the 'upper entry-level' bracket of the market with cameras such as the Nikon D5000, Canon EOS 500D, Olympus E-620 or Sony DSLR-A380. With so many options at this end of the market things can easily become confusing for the first-time buyer. A couple of years ago the predecessors of these cameras were the most 'entry level' offerings of Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Sony respectively, but today all these manufacturers offer cameras below these models (EOS 1000D, D3000, E-450, A230) giving consumers almost too many options to choose from.

Despite - or perhaps because - of this the differences between cameras are narrowing all the time. There are maybe 4 or 5 direct competitors to the Pentax K-x but for the purpose of this studio comparison we've limited the the field to a slightly more manageable two; the Nikon D5000 and the Canon EOS 500D.

Let's start with a quick look at how the competitors line up, including those mentioned above plus the Sony A380 and the Olympus E-620 which, despite not featuring a movie mode, are Olympus' and Sony's most obvious rivals of the K-x:

Camera Kit
price
Live
view
LCD Anti
Shake
Sensor
(effective pixels)
Pentax K-x $550 Yes 2.7" / 230k pixels In-body 12.4 MP CMOS (1.5x crop)
Nikon D5000 $650 Yes 2.7" / 230k pixels Lens option 12.4 MP CMOS (1.5x crop)
Canon EOS 500D $720 Yes 3.0" / 920k pixels Lens option 15.1 MP CMOS (1.6x crop)
Olympus E-620 $580 Yes 2.7" / 230k pixels In-body 12.3 MP LiveMOS (2.0x crop)
Sony DSLR-A380 $750 Yes 2.7" / 230k pixels In-body 14.2 MP CCD (1.5x crop)

For the last number of years Pentax' entry level cameras, despite offering attractive features and specifications, have not been able to commercially compete on the same level as their rivals from bigger manufacturers. With the K-x Pentax has combined the K-m's miniscule dimensions with a feature set that is not miles away from the company's enthusiast model K-7. The K-x offers the same resolution as the Nikon D5000 (12.4MP), 720P video and a very high maximum sensitivity of ISO 12800.

On the other hand its LCD only comes with the standard 230K pixel resolution, it has no HDMI output and does not display the AF-points in the viewfinder. All in all the Pentax' specs are in line with the other cameras in this comparison but its main advantage is no doubt the currently very attractive price point. At $550 including the kit lens the K-x is $100 cheaper than the D5000 and $170 cheaper than the EOS 500D which makes it a very attractive alternative to the big players. So on paper the K-x looks like a tempting package. Keep reading on the following pages to find out how all these numbers and specifications translate into real-world image quality.

Pentax K-x advantages

  • Price
  • In-body shake reduction
  • Highest continuous shooting speed (but smaller buffer)
  • Choice of two RAW formats
  • Smallest dimensions
  • Fine-tunable LCD color
  • In-camera RAW conversion
  • Digital filters

Pentax K-x disadvantages

  • No HDMI output
  • Low resolution screen (vs EOS 500D)
  • No swivel-screen (vs D5000)
  • No AF confirmation in viewfinder
 
Pentax K-x

Nikon D5000

Canon EOS 500D
Price
(single lens kit)
US: $550 [check price] US: $650 [check price] US: $720 [check price]
Sensor • 23.6 x 15.8 mm CMOS
• 12.9 million total pixels
• 12.4 million effective pixels
• 23.6 x 15.8 mm CMOS
• 12.3 million effective pixels
• 12.9 million effective pixels
• 22.3 x 14.9 mm CMOS
• 15.1 million effective pixels
• 15.5 million effective pixels
Dust reduction • Anti-dust materials
• Low pass filter vibration
• Low pass filter vibration
• Airflow Control System
• Dust reference image
• Anti-dust materials
• Low pass filter vibration
• Dust reference image
Native image size 4288 x 2848
(3:2 ratio)
4288 x 2848
(3:2 ratio)
4752 x 3168
(3:2 ratio)
Video • 720p24 • 720p24 • 1080p20
• 720p30
Lens support PENTAX K, KA, KAF, KAF2 and KAF3 mount lenses • Nikon F-mount
• Includes DX lenses
• AF only available with AF-S or AF-I lenses
Canon EF mount
• Including EF-S lenses
FOV crop 1.5x 1.5x 1.6x
Body shake reduction Yes No No
Live view Yes, Contrast detect (inc Face detection) or Phase detect AF Yes, Contrast detect (inc Face priority) or Phase detect AF Yes, Contrast detect (inc Face detection) or Phase detect AF
File formats • JPEG (3 levels)
• Compressed RAW (PEF)
• Non-compressed RAW(DNG )
• RAW (compressed)
• JPEG (3 levels)
• RAW (comp. lossless 14-bit)
• JPEG (2 levels)
RAW+JPEG RAW + JPEG (Any quality) RAW + JPEG (Any quality) RAW + JPEG (Fine)
Auto focus

• 11-point TTL
• 9 cross-type sensors
• Range: -1 to +18 EV
• Contrast detect AF in live view

• 11 area TTL
• Cross-type at center
• Range: -1 to +19 EV
• Contrast detect AF in live view
• 9 area TTL
• Cross-type F2.8 at center
• Range: -0.5 to +18 EV
• Contrast detect AF in live view
AF illuminator Flash strobe, must be raised Built-in lamp Flash strobe, must be raised
Metering sensor • 16-segment metering
• 1-21.5 EV working range
• 420 pixel RGB sensor
• 0 - 20 EV working range
• 35 pixel sensor
• 1 - 20 EV working range
Metering • Multi-segment
• Center-weighted
• Spot metering

• 3D Color Matrix Metering II
• Center-weighted average
• Spot

• Evaluative
• Partial
• Center-weighted average
• 4% spot
Exp. comp. +/- 3.0 EV +/- 5.0 EV +/- 2.0 EV
Sensitivity • ISO 200 - 6400
(with 100 and 12800 equiv)

• ISO 200 - 3200
(with 100 and 6400 equiv)

• ISO 100 - 3200
(with 6400 and 12800 equiv)
Auto ISO Auto (100-12800) User definable maximum ISO and minimum shutter speed Auto (100-1600)
High- ISO NR Yes (4 levels) Yes (4 levels) Yes (4 levels)
Shutter speed • 30 to 1/6000 sec / Bulb
• 1/180 sec flash-sync
• 30 - 1/4000 sec / Bulb
• 1/200 sec Flash sync
• 30 - 1/4000 sec / Bulb
• 1/200 sec Flash sync
Continuous
shooting
• 4.7 fps
• 17 JPEG frames
• 5 RAW frames

• 4 fps
• 67 JPEG/Fine frames
• 11 RAW frames

• 3.4 fps
• 170 JPEG/Fine frames
• 9 RAW frames
Flash Electronic release pop-up Electronic release pop-up Electronic release pop-up
Viewfinder • Pentamirror
• Frame coverage 96%
• Magnification approx. 0.85X
• Natural-Bright-Matte II focusing screen
• Pentamirror
• Eyepoint 18 mm
• Frame coverage 95%
• Magnification approx 0.78x
• B-type Bright View Clear Matte Mark V
• Pentamirror
• Eyepoint 18 mm
• Frame coverage 95%
• Magnification approx 0.87x
• Precision matte screen
LCD monitor • 2.7 " TFT LCD
• 230,000 dots

• 2.7 " TFT LCD
• 230,000 dots
• Hinged/swivel

• 3.0 " TFT LCD
• 920,000 dots
Mirror-lockup Linked to self-timer No (exposure delay mode) Custom function
Other features • In-camera retouching
• RAW development
• D-Range
• Multi-exposure
• Digital filters
• HDR capture
• In-camera retouching
• Active D-Lighting
• RAW Development
• Interval shooting
• Stop motion movies
• Multi-shot self-timer
• Image verification data
• Auto Lighting Optimizer
• Highlight Tone Priority
• Remote Live view shooting (via USB)
• Eye sensor
• DOF preview
Storage SD/SDHC card SD/SDHC card SD/SDHC card
Battery AA-batteries EN-EL9a (7.2 V, 1080 mach) LP-E5 (7.4 V, 1050 mach)
USB USB 2.0 Hi-Speed USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
HDMI-output No Yes Yes
Vertical grip No No BG-E5 (option)
Dimensions 122.5 x 91.5 x 67.5 (4.8 x 3.6 x 2.7 in) 127 x 104 x 80 mm
(5.0 x 4.1 x 3.1 in)
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
Weight (no batt) 515 g (1.1 lb) 560 g (1.2 lb) 480 g (1.1 lb)
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