Pentax K7 Review
The Pentax K-7 is one tough, compact little camera offering resistance against weather, dust, and cold elements... yes cold, it can withstand weather as cold as 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Even though this is arguably the sturdiest camera we've seen, it's incredibly light, weighing just 26.5 oz if you include the battery and memory card. It's tight, sleek, and durable. Compact cameras usually feel cheap, and plasticky. Not so with the K-7. It feels solid like you're holding a solid piece of metal.
When we took a look at the K-7, it looks remarkably similar to the Pentax K20D, but upon closer examination, the design are very much different. The grip is tighter, and the design overall is a bit angular. In addition to the typical capture modes, the mode dial also has an icon for the movie mode. We found the design is very minimalist - you'll find your standard controls in the rear, and nothing more. More controls may make your camera look expensive, but trust us, it'll also make shooting unnecessarily frustrating.
Shooting with the Pentax K-7 was a joy. We really think they nailed the design. The grip is comfortable, and the camera feels well-balanced. The green button, that is located in the rear of the camera is extremely convenient. As you tweak settings like Program Shift, you can re-center the exposure to the default.
One of the upgrades in the K-7 is the AF system. The AF system still uses 11 autofocus points, but focusing is much faster, thanks to faster AF algorithms, and a light-color sensor which improved accuracy. We tested both the Pentax K-7 and its predecessor K20D, and it's clear: the K-7 is much more responsive.
Live view shooting is also greatly improved, with the K-7 featuring contrast detection AF, as well as face detection. We also love the optical viewfinder in the K-7. It offers 100% coverage and .92 times magnification. At the bottom panel of the viewfinder, you'll find information on various settings such as AF points, flash status, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and much more.
In addition to improving the shooting experience, Pentax also added a few advanced features to the K-7. One of them is shake reduction, which is built into the body. It's incredibly useful, especially when you're shooting in dim lighting. The K-7 gives you the flexibility of 2.5 - 4 stops of slower shutter speed. You can also see the effect of the shake reduction on your LCD using the live view mode.
Image quality is pretty good. Pentax did over-saturate some colors quite a bit, especially green, red and blue. Most companies do over-saturate colors to make them seem vivid to consumers, but for a prosumer SLR, it is over-saturated a bit too much. We suggest tweaking with the saturation settings if you're unhappy with this. The K-7 has 9 saturation settings, 4 above, and 4 below the default one. Overall, our photos looked sharp with very good detail. The noise profile was solid. At low ISO, we noticed almost no noise. Even when we reached ISO 1600, there was only little noise, but details were stilled retained. It wasn't until we went up to 3200 and 6400, that the noise started to intrude, and ruin some of the details.
If you're looking to make prints, you'll be pleased at the size of prints the K-7 will allow. At the lowest ISO, you can make very good 16 X 20 prints. At ISO 200, you can still stick with 16 X 20, and even at ISO 400, this is the case. At ISO 800, you're better off going down to 13 X 19. At ISO 1600, 11 X 14 prints looked solid. At ISO 3200, go down to 8 X 10. At ISO 6400, we were able to get some pretty good quality prints at 5 X 7. For most cameras in this class, 5 X 7 prints probably isn't feasible at such a high ISO, so we were quite impressed.
Performance is solid as well, and shouldn't be an issue when using the K-7. From power on to the first shot take just .6 seconds (shutdown too) - this is about average for a camera of this class. Shot to shot takes .24 seconds no matter if you use JPEG or RAW. Continuous shooting is also quite speedy, clocking in at 5.2 frames per second for both RAW and JPEG using continuous hi mode. If you're using flash, it'll take around 3.5 seconds for the flash to recharge after a shot. Overall, performance is solid.
You usually won't find the K-7 on sale with a kit lens, but if you're looking for a decent Pentax lens, we recommend the 17-70mm lens. It offers a zoom range of 4X, and offers a wider range at wide angle that most lens. Sharpness is great at full wide angle, with very little coma distortion (but some chromatic aberration in the corners). At full telephoto, there was a bit of corner softness, but very little chromatic aberration.
If you're a beginner, or haven't used many Pentax cameras, we still highly recommend you read the manual. There aren't many controls beyond the standard ones, but there are still many features in this camera. If you want to fully unleash the power of the Pentax K-7, it'd be wise to give the manual a read.
- 14.6 megapixels
- 3 inch LCD screen
- ISO 100 to 6400
- Optical viewfinder + live view
- Great design
- Compact, sturdy, durable body
- 100% coverage Optical viewfinder
- Great detailed images
- Better than average image quality in high ISO
- Interface is not easy to learn
- Not easy focusing in dim light
The Pentax K-7 is one of our favorite cameras. It comes packed with lots of advanced features but is priced like a mid-range DSLR.
If you're new to digital SLRs, this camera may be a bit too advanced, and you're better off buying a camera like the Rebel T2i, or Nikon D5000. If you're an advanced user though, the K-7 is a perfect camera for the photographer who does a lot of shooting outside because it's has a compact, weather-proof body.
Rating: 4.7 out of 5
Where to Buy It:
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Prices last updated on: Wed, 28 Jun 2017 00:15:35 PDT