Pentax K-X Review
The Pentax K-x joins a long list of entry level of DSLRs with its release in 2009. It offers the compact body and the simplicity of the K-m, with the advanced features and great image quality of the K-7. At a very reasonable price, the K-X is a huge favorite of us, delivering good bang for the buck performance and photo quality.
Let's talk about the appearance and design. Its exterior is almost identical to the K-m, both with completely plastic exterior with some rubberized grips, and nearly the same button layout. Weighing just 20.4 ounces, and with dimensions smaller than the K-7, the Pentax K-X is one of the smallest DSLRs in the market.
As we held the K-X in our hands, the grip felt comfortable. With batteries added in, the K-X actually isn't very light. It feels solid, sturdy and nicely balanced. With a stainless steel chassis, it never felt flimsy or cheap.
Like entry-level cameras, the K-x does not have a top LCD, and has few external controls. The K-x has a 2.7 inch LCD screen that features Live View, Face detection autofocus (up to 16 faces), and more. There is a pentamirror viewfinder that provides 96% coverage and 0.85x magnification, which is large and clear, but does not seem to include the autofocus areas.
In fact, as we began to shoot with the KX, it became increasingly apparent what our major gripe was going to be: the lack of any autofocus in-focus indicators. There's really no way for you to tell which AF point(s) are selected, and which aren't. So the camera could be setting focus in the wrong areas of the shot without you knowing it. There are workarounds around this, such as setting the focus point manually yourself. If you're doing burst shooting, you can prefocus, then trigger the shots with no AF enabled. Overall though, the lack of AF in-focus indicators is a serious weakness of this camera, and many who've used the K-X agree with us. We hope Pentax addresses this in future editions.
Using the Pentax K-x is simple and the operation is straightforward, like a point-and-shoot. The display is interactive and allows users to change settings all on one menu. If this is the first time using a Pentax, you’ll see that there are different options, including Sensitivity-Priority option, which automatically adjusts settings according to ISO sensitivity.
There is also High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode that combines three images at different exposures to create one picture with the properly exposed parts of the three pictures. Since you can’t use Shake Reduction in HDR mode, we suggest you use a tripod. However, compared to other cameras with HDR mode, the K-x’s final image isn’t that effective to fix the low-light image problem.
The image quality is excellent. For an entry-level DSLR, there is a great noise profile, and well balanced noise reduction. If you use an ISO less than 800, you will hardly notice any noise. At 800, and even at 1600, noise isn't a huge factor and details are still crisp and clear. At 3200, however, that's when the noise becomes obtrusive, and apparent. At 6400, there's a loss of a lot of shadow detail, and blotchiness in spots, and you probably will want to keep the print size very low if you're making prints of your photos.
If you like over-saturated, punchy vivid colors, you'll like the saturation of the colors in the Pentax KX. Blue, green and red are over-saturated quite a bit, and more than most cameras. You can always change the saturation and contrast if you want, but most consumers actually prefer this bright, vivid look. Hue accuracy is solid, with orange tending to shift towards yellow, and yellow tending to shift toward green. Not bad though.
If you're planning to make prints of your photos, you can manage very good 20 X 30 prints at ISO 100 up to 800, which is amazing. For most cameras, you'll notice way too much softness at ISO 800 for a print this big, but surprisingly details remain very sharp for the KX. At ISO 1600, you'll want to go down to 13 X 19, as the noise artifacts start to become noticeable. At ISO 3200, you can get good prints at 13 X 19. At 6400, stick with 11 X 14. At ISO 12,800, we got very usable prints at 8 X 10, with some noise in shadows. Overall, we were very very impressed with the Pentax-KX. Being able to generate 20 X 30 prints up to ISO 800 is incredible, as well as 8 X 10 prints in the highest ISO 12,800.
The K-x is also really fast for its class. It takes 0.7 second to power up and take a picture, 0.3 second to focus and shoot in the light, and 0.5 second in low light. You can achieve a maximum continuous shooting rate of 4.7 fps, which is very fast for an entry-priced DSLR, even faster than many intermediate-level DSLRs. The only negative aspect of performance is the image stabilization. We have several problems with the camera shake, even when using a very high shutter speed.
Last but not least, the Pentax K-x has the ability to record HD videos. You can choose to record at a resolution of 1280 X 720, or 640 X 416. Video is saved as AVI using the Motion JPEG codec. However, like with many entry-level DSLRs, the recording option should not be the main attraction or the reason you choose a particular camera. DSLRs are not meant for serious video recording. This is no exception to the K-x.
The battery life is superb. What’s interesting is if you open the battery compartment of the K-x, you’ll find battery slots. Except it is not one slot, it is four AA battery slots. This may seem unusual or undesirable, but the battery life will last you for 1100 shots (1900 shots with no flash), which is excellent.
- 12.4 megapixel DSLR with HD video recording
- 2.7” LCD screen
- Viewfinder with 96% coverage and 0.85x magnification
- ISO sensitivity ranges 100-12800
- Uses 11 point autofocus
- HD Video records up to 720p at 24fps
- Battery life up to 1900 shots
- Compact size yet has a large LCD screen
- 96% coverage on viewfinder
- Simple and straightforward operation
- Great image and video quality
- Superb top-rate noise profile
- Very fast
- HD video
- Lack of AF in-focus indicators
- Slow autofocus
- No HDMI connector
The Pentax K-x has its flaws here and there especially the lack of AF in-focus indicators, but is overall still a good camera. Its affordability, compact size, high ISO performance, speediness, and plentiful features make it a very desirable camera for photographers on a budget.
If you find yourself shooting in low light situations often, and don't mind the lack of AF in-focus indicators, the K-X is a great bang for your buck entry level digital SLR.
Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Where to Buy It:
Lowest Price: Amazon for $499.79.
Note: This is a 23% off Amazon coupon and one of the best deals for the Pentax K-X.
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|Amazon||$499.79 (Cheapest Price)|
|Abes of Maine||$516.95|
Prices last updated on: Wed, 28 Jun 2017 00:11:47 PDT