Compared to...

As with the majority of our studio image quality comparisons we selected the nearest competition by category, specification, price and feature set. In this case the Pentax K200D goes up against Nikon's compact ten megapixel D60 and the Canon EOS 450D (Rebel XSi) - a slightly more expensive camera, and one with a couple more megapixels, but otherwise similar specs (Live view aside). The fourth camera in our comparison is the Olympus E-520.

Lenses used

For direct comparisons we always use sharp prime lenses stopped down, typically to F9 for APS-C lenses and F6.3 for Four Thirds lenses. Here we have used the Pentax FA 50mm F1.4, Olympus 50 mm F2.0 Macro, Canon EF 50 mm F1.4 and Nikon AF-D 50mm F1.8.

Studio scene comparison (JPEG)

This is our standard studio scene comparison shot. Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI. Crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F).

Pentax K200D vs. Olympus E-520

Camera settings:  

  • Pentax K200D: Pentax FA 50 mm F1.4 lens, Aperture Priority, ISO 100
    JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters, Self-Timer

  • Olympus E-520: Olympus 50 mm F2.0 lens, Aperture Priority, ISO 100
    JPEG Large/SHQ, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Standard), Self-Timer
Pentax K200D
Olympus E-520
4.0 MB JPEG (3872 x 2592)
5.9 MB (3648 x 2736)

The E520 has the same number of photosites as the K200D, but arranges them in a different aspect ratio (4:3, rather than 3:2). Because we frame our scene within vertical targets, the scene uses the Olympus's greater number of vertical pixels and its images appear slightly more magnified.

At first sight the K200D's output (in the default 'Bright' setting) appears very sharp but at close inspection you'll also find quite a lot of sharpening artifacts and jagged lines (check the paperclips) which means that most of the sharpness is 'generated' by the JPEG engine. Although the Pentax image appears sharper than the E-520 it does not show any more detail. Olympus' approach towards sharpening is a little more conservative which results in a comparatively soft but clean image.