RightThe strap mount on the right side of the Pentax K10D is inset along the top edge of the side, out of the way of the user's hand. Because the K10D takes SD cards, the media door is small, taking up much less than half the height of the camera, along the back of the side. The door has a full gasket to seal out environmental contaminants. The rubber gripping material on the front of the camera stops midway back on the right side, giving way to hard plastic with a slight texture.
TopThe large mode dial is on the left of the Pentax K10D's top deck, with a lever beneath to set the metering pattern. A narrow, stiff tab on top of the viewfinder adjusts the diopter, and a hot shot for dedicated flashes is at the apex of the viewfinder hump. A wide monochrome LCD takes up the right side of the top, short of the grip. The power switch is a ring around the shutter release. The ring also activates the depth of field preview, to which Pentax has added some useful features. There's a green button between the shutter release and the viewfinder hump. It can be programmed for a number of uses.
BottomThe tripod socket is a nice metal thing directly under the lens axis, which should aid in balancing and aiming the K10D on a tripod. A rubber plug fills up the access port to a set of gold electrical contacts on the bottom of the camera, and the battery compartment door is a substantial piece of plastic with a hearty double-action latch and a full gasket.
****** ********Viewfinder**********Pentax opted for a pentaprism, rather than a cheaper mirror system. Prisms stay aligned better and longer than mirrors and according to Pentax marketing materials, account for the viewfinder's 0.95 magnification – a statistic that helps focusing and composition – the view is larger than on many other cameras. Pentax says it shows 95 percent of the actual image. There is a diopter adjustment for the viewfinder. Without a memory card in the camera, it wasn't clear what information is displayed in the viewfinder, because some features of the K10D are defeated when the SD slot is empty. It's clear, though, that the viewfinder shows exposure data and focus confirmation, and a flash ready light. All of the information is easy to see, along with the image, even for users who wear glasses. **LCD Screen ****The 2.5-inch, 210,000-pixel LCD allows close inspection of focus, and has pleasing color, but a relatively narrow angle of view. Menus and text data are crisp and easy to read. Because we inspected the Pentax K10D at a trade show booth, we weren't able to make a full evaluation. Look for our full review to learn how it performs in bright light, how accurately it handles color, refreshes, and so on. The monochrome LCD on top of the K10D is sharp and contrasty, and large. Again, we couldn't see everything it could do – it clearly shows shooting information including current aperture and shutter speed, exposure compensation flash compensation, burst mode, battery condition and has the frame counter, but without a memory card, the camera wouldn't fully function. Flash The Pentax K10D's popup flash is a small rectangle. Such a small light source casts harsh shadows, and users who rely on flash should get a more power external flash that can be bounce or diffused. Pentax reports a guide number of 15.6 at ISO 200. With a maximum shutter speed sync of 1/180, the popup won't do much for outdoor fill flash, but it could save the day in other circumstances. The popup mechanism seems robust enough – the whole arched cowling comes up, rather than just a pair of arms. Sync modes include auto, forced on, off, red-eye reduction, slow, second-curtain slow, and red-eye reduction slow. Flash exposure can be compensated from 1 stop over to 2 stops below metered exposure. The K10D has a hot shoe for dedicated Pentax flashes, but no PC terminal. ****Zoom Lens**The Pentax K10D will be marketed in a kit with the Pentax 18-55mm f/3.5 to 5.6, or the 16-45mm f/4. The 16-45 will add a couple hundred Euros to the price, but seems like a superior lens. Mechanically, it feels better, and its wider aperture at telephoto makes it a more versatile optic. We were not in a position to compare the lenses' performance, though we will in our full review in the coming months. For that matter, Pentax has a prototype of an f/2.8 lens in a similar zoom range. We typically talk about image stabilization in the lens sections of our reviews, because stabilization has most often been introduced with moving optical elements in the lens. That's not the case with the Pentax K10D, which manages "shake reduction" by moving the sensor. The upside is that stabilization happens no matter what lens is mounted on the camera. The Pentax K10D offers at least some level of function with legacy lenses back to manual-focus K-mount optics, including a means of inputting an old lens's focal length to influence the anti-shake system.
********* *****Model Design / Appearance**We like the ist Pentaxes' design, because they had a certain simplicity and restraint. The Pentax K10D has less of that, which is a disappointment. If Batman wants a shot of some evil-doer, Robin may well pull the K10D out of the Batmobile's glove compartment. It has the right kind of gratuitous, swooping edges, and hunched, hooded look. Aesthetics aside, the K10D seems solid and functional. Its environmental seals are a welcome contrast to the gaping cracks in the Canon Rebel XTi/EOS 400. *Size / Portability**At 5.6 x 4 x 2.75 inches and 27.8 ounces with battery and SD card, the Pentax K10D is not a small DSLR. It's nearly the size of the Nikon D200, and weighs about 11 ounces more than the Pentax ist DL. Much of the size is related to functionality – shake reduction, dust removal, and just as important, environmental seals. The K10D has a thorough complement of gaskets on its ports, and the chassis integrity to remain sealed along its stationary seams. *Handling Ability**We found the Pentax K10D comfortable to hold. It was apparent at the Photokina booth that it fits a variety of hand sizes – a rather large man and a petite woman were looking at it together while we were there, and both were pleased with the grip. They said they were *ist owners looking to move up.
Key features in handling are the grippable surfaces for both hands and the fact that the camera strap won't get in the way. **Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size It's always great to see two control dials on a camera – for manual shooters, it means that aperture and shutter speed are both easily adjustable. In program, it's easy to both shift program and vary exposure compensation. The AE lock button is all the way out on the right corner of the back, so the user has to shift her thumb away from the grip to hit it. The 4-way controller is very good, and we like the dial that surrounds it – though there might be a better use for it than simply setting the autofocus site selection mode – it really should turn freely, and actually select the autofocus site. We like the notion of a RAW button – there are plenty of times when we're popping JPEGs and suddenly find a shot that we know will need some processing, and which we could shoot a RAW file conveniently. The latches for the memory door and the battery door are excellent. The word that comes to mind is "positive." There's no chance that either will open accidentally. The on/off switch for shake reduction is also beefy. The push buttons all around seem solid and durable, and easy to use. Menu**The Pentax K10D's menus are easy to read and attractive, but land sakes, they're long. It's not as though we're against cameras having adjustments, but some of this stuff just looks excessive.
Ease of Use **The Pentax K10D has a full complement of controls, as well as significant automation. The physical layout of the controls is for the most part logical (except for the AE lock). The LCD previews for depth of field and white balance are very helpful, in particular for users who are just beginning to experiment with those parameters. In some ways, our attitude toward ease of use is colored by the fact that Pentax intentionally disabled the cameras we were allowed to examine. We expect to have a positive report when we handle a fully functional camera.* ***
**Auto Mode The Pentax K10D has an auto mode that takes over the camera – exposure, ISO, white balance, flash, metering mode, focus and focus mode – what's left is to point the camera, zoom, and press the shutter. The auto mode is activated by turning the mode dial to the green rectangle. Movie Mode**The K10D has no movie mode. DSLRs just aren't built for making movies. **Drive / Burst Mode**Pentax says the K10D will shoot 3 frames per second indefinitely when recording JPEGs, or up to 9 frames in RAW mode. We couldn't verify these figures with the disabled camera at the Photokina booth. The speed is useful for portraits and weddings, but slow for sports. Competing cameras, such as the Nikon D200 and the Canon EOS 30D, hit 5 fps, with longer RAW bursts. The K10D has a self timer that can be set to 2 or 12-second delays. Playback Mode **The limits placed on the demonstration camera limit our understanding of the Pentax K10D's playback mode. It clearly offers magnification high enough to check sharpness – apparently, up to the point where a pixel on the display corresponds to a single pixel in the image. Pentax literature indicates that full exposure and shooting parameter data are also available, as well as red, green blue and luminance histograms. The camera also has a gamut warning There is a slideshow function, and editing functions including 4 types of black and white conversion, 3 choices of sepia toning, 18 color effects, and a slimming filter. We look forward to describing these fully in our complete review. Custom Image Presets**The Pentax K10D does not offer custom image presets in the typical sense, but users can create one of their own with the USER mode. The features usually set by cameras’ presets can be saved in this mode. The lack of presets indicates that Pentax does not see the K10D as an entry-level camera, or one for the casual shooter.
**Manual Control Options
**The Pentax K10D offers full manual control for aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, and focus, plus customization options for both the interface and image rendering.
Focus*Auto Focus*The Pentax K10D has 11 autofocus sensors. Nine are set up in a 3 x 3 matrix across the middle of the frame, and the other 2 are at each side. The 9 sensors in the middle are cross-type sensors, which are sensitive to either horizontal or vertical detail. In our testing of other cameras, cross-type sensors outperform unidirectional ones. The K10D's 11 sensors are set up much like the sensors in Nikon's CAM 2000 system, present in that company's top-of-the-line D2X and D2Hs. In casual testing at the Photokina booth, the K10D focused quickly and accurately. We could not test low light performance, and will have more observations in our full review. Users can manually set the sensor site, let the K10D choose, or lock on the center site. Single and continuous autofocus are available as well. *Manual Focus*The Pentax K10D's autofocus can be shut off for manual focus. Pentax's new lenses generally have narrow focusing rings, but their action is smooth. The focusing screen is bright and contrasty, and the lenses we tried snapped into focus easily. This should be particularly important to users who hope to shoot with old, manual focus K-mount lenses. The K10D confirms focus in manual mode. **Exposure The Pentax K10D offers full manual exposure, for the user to set aperture, shutter, and ISO. It adds to that several semi-manual modes: program sets both aperture and shutter, but allows a program shift, aperture priority, which adjust the shutter to accommodate the user's chosen aperture, shutter priority, which sets the aperture to accommodate the shutter speed that the user set. Two unusual modes involve ISO. One allows the user to vary the ISO, while the camera keeps up with both aperture and shutter, and inversely, another mode varies ISO to match the user's chosen aperture and shutter. The exposure compensation offers settings from 2 EV above to 2 below the meter reading, in 1/3 EV steps. The bracketing function allows brackets of 3 or 5 shots, in increments from 1/3 to 2 EV. Metering The K10D offers spot, center-weighted averaging and evaluative metering. The evaluative system reads 16 segments across the frame, and evaluates them to settle on an exposure. Evaluative modes are programmed to handle back-lighting and other challenging lighting, but we have found their results mixed in other cameras. We'll have more to say in a full review of the K10D. The K10D allows the user to link the spot meter to the active autofocus site – we've found this a very useful feature in other cameras, and look forward to evaluating the K10D implementation.
**White BalanceThe Pentax K10D has a full range of auto white balance, presets, manual settings, Kelvin settings, and fine-tuning. The presets are: sun, shade, cloudy, tungsten, flash, and three flavors of fluorescent. The K10D has a sort of live preview for white balance. The user can pull up the white balance menu, throw the depth of field switch, and get a shot to appear on the LCD. The shot is not saved to memory, but as the user scrolls through white balance options, the screen image shows them. White balance can also be bracketed and fine-tuned. **ISO**The Pentax K10D's ISO range is 100 to 1600, in full, 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps. It's easy to set while shooting. Two exposure modes incorporate ISO – one sets ISO to match the user's aperture and shutter speed, the other sets aperture and shutter speed to match the user's chosen ISO. When the user sets ISO to auto, they can set the available range to anything they want -- 100-1600, 100-400, 640-1250 – any contiguous segment of the range. **Shutter Speed** The Pentax K10D has shutter speeds from 1/4000 to 30 seconds, a range that remains constant in all shooting modes. The front dial accesses shutter speed in manual modes. Flash sync maxes out at 1/180, a limitation some users may chafe at – it makes daylight fill flash kind of tough. **Aperture**The rear dial on the K10D controls aperture. This is as good a point as any to plug the upgraded kit lens, the 16-45mm f/4. Though it's not exactly a speed demon itself, the f/4 lens is more useful for indoor available light than the 18-55mm, which drops to a Stygian f/5.6. The K10D sets aperture in 1/2 or 1/3 stop increments. It's also possible to use old manual lenses on the K10D by operating their aperture rings. We'll know more about that when we write a full review.
**Picture Quality****/ Size Options**The Pentax K10D writes JPEGs, Pentax proprietary RAW files, and the open-standard DNG raw format. It's great to see DNG, and we expect K10D users to benefit from shooting that. RAW and DNG files can only be shot at native resolution, which is 3872 x 2592. JPEGs can be shot at full res, 3008 x 2000, and 1824 x 1216. The three JPEG compression settings are Best Better and Good. Good files are the smallest and worst quality. Read our full review for more about differences in the files. **Picture Effects Mode**Pentax literature touts 4 black-and-white, 3 sepia, and 18 color "digital filters," plus special effects and a slim filter. We'll check them out in our full review. The K10D also allows adjustments of contrast, saturation, hue, and sharpening.
**Connectivity***Software The K10D will ship with Pentax Photo Browser 3 and Photo Laboratory 3. We have not tested the programs. *Jacks, Ports, Plugs*The K10D accepts an external power supply, a corded remote control, USB, and analog video out. It has a window for infrared wireless control, and a port on the bottom that communicates with a battery grip, which has vertical shooting controls. *Direct Print Options*The K10D appears to have both PictBridge and DPOF functions. We'll know more for our full review; exploring these options was not possible at Photokina. Battery *The Pentax K10D uses a Li-ion cell, the power source of choice these days for digital cameras. They are small and light, relative to the amount of power they can hold. The battery grip accessory can hold an additional Li-ion cell of the same type, and the user can set how the camera taps the two power sources.
*Memory *Pentax chose SD cards as the media format for the K10D. It seems like a bold move. The established high-end DSLRs all take Compact Flash cards. In fact, Pentax made a wise choice – its other cameras use SD cards, so migrators with brand loyalty will be able to use the cards they have. SD cards are widely-available and no more expensive than any other media. They are available in the large sizes most practical for 10-megapixel cameras.
Other Features*Dust-combating technology – Manufacturers have discovered dust. Pentax touts three systems to keep dust out of K10D images: first, the filter over the sensor is covered with a "nanotechnology based fluorine coating," which reminds us of Teflon ®. The dust just can't stick to it very well. Second, the K10D's shake reduction mechanism is vigorous enough to shake dust off the sensor. Third, the K10D has a sticky strip that holds dust shaken off the sensor. If all that fails – perhaps one sneezes into the camera – the K10D has a function to allow manual cleaning, opening the shutter, and exposing the sensor. Pentax sells its own cleaning wands. *LCD previews – Showing depth of field on the LCD is a nice option, as is the white balance preview.* **Old Lens Compatibility* – The Pentax K10D can work with old K-mount lenses, and has a range of technology to make it convenient to do so. There are a slew of those lenses around, offering Pentax veterans the chance to keep old equipment in service, and eBay watchers the chance to pick up an oddball lens on the cheap, and experiment.
**Value**Value depends to a great extent on image quality, and we can’t be confident of that with the Pentax K10D – we didn't get a look at images. Still, when one considers the package – 10-megabytes, shake reduction, dust reduction, clever interface options, very good environmental seals, convenient manual and automatic controls – all that's left to find out about is image quality. **Who’s this Camera is For?***Point-and-Shooters – The casual user generally wants a lighter, simpler, cheaper camera than the K10D *Budget Consumers – The K10D could be a budget alternative to the Nikon D200. Gadget Freaks – The K10D is a nice bundle of technology, but we're not sure if it distinguishes itself among cameras simply for gadgetiness. *Manual Control Freaks – Wait to find out about the image quality. If it's good, the K10D is a contender for this group. *Pros/Serious Hobbyists – We expect the K10D to be a contender in this category as well, if the image quality is there.
**Conclusion**We're eager to see the Pentax K10D's image quality. Read our likes and dislikes: the "Likes" are important. The "Dislikes" are quibbles. We'd call the K10D an ambitious camera, one that could be a top-end body for many kinds of photographers, including some pros – it could be a fine wedding or portrait camera. And *ist shooters clearly have an inviting upgrade path in the K10D.
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