Live view

The K-x is the the third Pentax DSLR to include live view and, as with most DSLRs, the system seems primarily suited to tripod work. Live view can be extremely useful for macro or studio work (such as shooting test charts!) but the contrast detect AF (with face detection) is, in common with most competing systems, so slow that for 'normal' shooting most photographers would find the use of the viewfinder much more convenient.

If you need a faster AF in live view there is still an option to use the camera's phase-detection sensor, though it does mean the camera has to flip its mirror down, focus, then flip the mirror back up again when you hit the shutter button. All in all the live view implementation on the K-x is very similar to the K-7.

The K-x's standard live view display A live histogram helps you choose an appropriate level of exp. compensation
Like the K-7 the K-x has face detection AF in live view.  

Magnified live view

Live view can be zoomed 2, 4 or 6 times (8 and 10 times magnification is available in manual focus mode). At the greatest setting the magnification is good enough for manual focusing but not very clear. Also note that the magnification area cannot be moved to the extreme edges and corners of the frame.

Live view on the K-x can be magnified by up to 6x for manual focus accuracy. To do this press the INFO button while in live view mode to enter 2x magnified view, and then turn the rear control dial to adjust the magnification.

Changing settings in Live View

Like on the K-7 changing settings in live view on the K-x is a little inconsistent. Some settings such as aperture or shutter speed simply change on screen as you move the rear dial. White balance is laid over the live view image once you press the corresponding button (see below). Flash mode, ISO and drive mode do the same thing as in viewfinder mode. You simply change the setting on a screen with a black background.

Overall handling and operation comments

From a handling and operations point of view the Pentax K-x is in many respects a typical entry-level DSLRs. It one of the smallest DSLRs on the market and therefore a very good option for travelers who are not prepared to do without DSLR image quality. Even in combination with the 18-55mm and 50-200mm kit lenses the camera makes a manageable package for which you would almost certainly find space somewhere in your backpack or suitcase. Fortunately, despite its small dimensions, handling the camera is not problematic at all. Thanks to its good build quality and the (for this class of camera) relatively decent sized hand grip the K-x always feels stable and solid in your hands. However, if you've got large hands it might be worth playing with a K-x before you buy.

Another typical entry-level camera characteristic is the K-x's relatively small number of external controls. The available buttons are fairly well laid out though and after some initial adapting time you should find your way around the camera pretty quickly. All fundamental functions and parameters (ISO, flash, drive mode, white balance, exposure compensation) are accessible via buttons and in addition the Green button can be customized which offers some flexibility. Most other useful functions that don't have their dedicated button are accessible via the control panel (after a press of the INFO button).

The menu system is, despite of the - for an entry-level camera - fairly extensive list of options, well structured and coherent. As with most DSLRs, the K-x's live view mode seems primarily suited to tripod work, such as for product shots in a studio or macro work. For everything else the contrast detect AF is simply too slow. The live view image can be magnified up to 6x which is useful for manual focusing. The magnified view is not very clear but good enough for precise focusing. The magnified focus area cannot be moved right into the corners of the frame though.