The K-r's movie specification is very similar to what we've seen on the K-x and, compared to the the latest generation of competitors, not specifically exciting. It offers a maximum resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels (720p) when some other cameras in this class come with a 1080p video mode. The manual controls are relatively limited and the camera lacks a dedicated movie button or the ability to autofocus during capture. However, the ability to shoot movies with a large sensor and therefore a cinema-like, shallow depth of field, and interchangeable lenses still allows you to create attractive and professional looking video footage.

Video specification

The K-r comes with standard 1280 x 720 pixels (720p) video recording at 25 frames per second. There is also a VGA mode if you need to keep the file sizes small. Movie files are saved in the high quality, but very large, Motion JPEG format. The rest of the movie specification is pretty basic, too. There is no connector for an external stereo microphone, no wind-cut function and neither continuous nor single AF is available during recording. The camera does not offer any manual controls over shutter speed and aperture but the latter can be fixed before you start recording. Sensitivity is fixed to 'Auto' mode. As an improvement over the K-x cross processing and digital filters can now be applied to video footage.

Sizes 1280x720p: 25 fps (HD)
640x480: 25 fps (SD)
Audio Mono (Internal Mic)
Format MJPEG (.AVI)
File size 5.8 MB/sec (720p), 1.7 MB/sec (VGA)
Max file size per clip 4GB or 25min

Using Movie Mode

Shooting a video on the K-r works exactly the same way as on the K-x. It's a straightforward exercise but due to the lack of a dedicated movie button not quite as comfortable and spontaneous as on other recent DSLRs. You'll have to turn the mode dial to movie mode and press the shutter button to start recording; press again to stop. The only parameter you change during video recording is exposure compensation. AF is not available while recording video, therefore manual focus or pre-focusing by pressing the AF-button before you start recording are the only options. This is not a major disadvantage given that the video-mode AF on all current video-enabled DSLRs quite slow and that Auto Focusing in video mode with a large sensor camera is often a tricky affair. Due to the limited depth of field even the smallest focusing delays or inaccuracies will become immediately obvious and using manual focus is usually the better alternative.

Aperture, shutter speed and sensitivity are all set automatically. You can however choose to fix the aperture before you start the video capture which gives you a degree of control over depth of field.

Like the K-x the K-r does not allow you to take any still images during video recording, you'll have to turn the mode dial to one of the still modes in order to take a picture. You can't change the amount of on-screen information during video capture either. The camera's internal microphone records monaural sound. There is no connector for an external microphone. The optical image stabilization is activated by default but can be switched off.

The lack of a hinged screen on the K-r makes movie shooting a little more awkward than with cameras that offer this feature. Like all DSLRs, its ergonomic design (including the grip shape and button/dial placement) is distinctly optimized for working with the viewfinder to your eye - something that's not an option when shooting movies. Essentially, like on most DSLRs, video on the K-r seems more like marketing-driven bolt-on rather than a ergonomically designed solution to your movie making requirements.

Video quality comments

Like the stills images the quality of the K-r's video output is virtually identical to the K-x. Footage is not quite as detailed as the 1080p output of some of the higher-priced competitors but in-line with other 720p video-DSLRs. The K-r's APS-C sensor is large enough to allow you to create video with cinema-like depth-of-field but the effect is not as pronounced as on full-frame-cameras such as the Canon EOS 5D. It's still much better than any digital compact camera though.

When recording video more or less all functions are automated (you can fix the aperture though) and inevitably the use of higher sensitivities in low light leads to grainy footage. However, the K-r is not noticeably worse in this respect than the competition. You should be aware that the K-r, like the K-x, appears not to be using its full sensitivity range of up to ISO 25600 when recording video. This can result in underexposed video output in very low light.

Like pretty much all other video-DSLRs the K-r suffers from distortion caused by its rolling shutter. The readout of the sensor means horizontal lines of the image are scanned, one after another, rather than the whole scene being grabbed in one go. The upshot is that verticals can be skewed if the camera (or the subject) moves too fast - the top of the image has been recorded earlier than the bottom, so vertical lines can be rendered as diagonals. The K-r is pretty average in this respect. The effect is clearly noticeable but you have to pan fairly quickly to make it too intrusive.

When changing the framing from dark to bright scenes or vice versa the exposure adaption via change of aperture and/or gain is comparatively smooth. Below you'll find some examples of videos taken with the K-x for you to download and draw your own conclusions. Check out the video page of our K-x review for additional samples.

Sample videos

Caution: very large files

Sample video 1

This video shows the Pentax K-r's video capabilities in good light. The footage shows good detail and smooth motion but, like in stills mode, there is a tendency to slightly overexpose high contrast scenes.

1280 x 720 pixels @ 30 fps, .AVI file, 15 sec. 64.7 MB

Sample video 2

This clip shows the camera's performance in overcast, slightly dim conditions. Some image noise becomes visible as the camera turns up the sensitivity but it's well within acceptable limits.

1280 x 720 pixels @ 30 fps, .AVI file, 9 sec. 38.8 MB

Sample video 3

This sample shows the results of applying the cross-processing filter to a a video clip. You can choose from a range of variations.

1280 x 720 pixels @ 30 fps, .AVI file, 9 sec. 45.9 MB

Sample video 4

The 'Retro' filter is only one of various digital filters available in movie mode. You can modify the tones and the size of the frame.

1280 x 720 pixels @ 30 fps, .AVI file, 13 sec. 40.8 MB