Front Tour Image
Back Tour Image
Sides Tour Image
Top Tour Image
Bottom Tour Image
Box Photo
  • Camera body with body mount cover attached
  • 18-55mm lens with rear cover attached
  • Camera strap
  • USB data cable
  • 4 lithium batteries
  • USB data cable
  • Software CD
  • Quick Guide
  • Operating manual

The 18-55mm kit lens has a maximum aperture of f/3.5 at its widest setting and f/5.6 at full zoom, making it fairly slow for low-light shooting. The camera made up for the optics, though, with good results in our long exposure tests, which are shot at shutter speeds between 1 and 30 seconds in dim 20 lux illumination. The mount on the lens is made of plastic, so it's not going to take a lot of abuse.

Lenses mounted on the K2000 have a magnification factor of 1.5x. In other words, the 18-55mm kit lens behaves like a 27-83mm lens on a 35mm camera. That still represents decent wide-angle coverage, and a usable medium telephoto on the flip side, particularly for shooting people without getting this close. Here are three shots to illustrate the zoom range, taken at the widest, midpoint and most telephoto end of the zoom range.

The image sensor features a dust-resistant coating, along with a dust removal system that shakes the CCD to remove errant particles.You can choose whether or not to have the dust removal system triggered automatically each time you start up the camera. There's also an interesting Dust Alert function that displays any spots it detects on the sensor. This will prove useful if the automatic dust removal system doesn't fully solve the problem and you're left to clean the sensor manually.

The viewfinder encompasses approximately 96% field of view, with 0.85 magnification, a reasonable spec for an entry-level SLR. There's a rather prominent diopter adjustment tab inset into a slot on top of the viewfinder (with a -2.5 to +1.5m-1 range). It takes fingernails and patience to adjust accurately (or, if necessary, you can remove the eyecup to get more purchase on the control), yet we managed to change the setting accidentally more than once when the camera brushed against our clothes -- all in all, not the perfect control. One missing element is a cover to close the viewfinder when shooting on a tripod; leaving it open can let light leak in from behind and throw the meter reading off.

The LCD is a bit scrawny by current standards, measuring 2.7 inches with 230,000-dot resolution, though this is not the worst area for cost-cutting. At least the screen is bright and displays colors accurately. The viewing angle is fairly limited, but with no Live View mode, you're not going to be looking at the LCD from odd angles while shooting anyway.

Both the brightness and the color reproduction of the LCD can be adjusted through the menu system. There are 15 possible brightness levels, with a black-to-white gradient displayed on the setting screen so you can judge the effect of your adjustment. As for tuning the color, you can tweak the screen along the green-magenta and/or blue-amber axes, with 15 available settings on each.

When shooting, the LCD displays a full-screen settings summary, as shown below. It's a decent screen layout, though we would have preferred to see the individual settings appear larger, even if that meant shrinking the top section (with shooting mode, shutter speed, aperture, remaining exposures and battery life). If you prefer not to have this screen displayed, it can be toggled off by pressing the INFO button (the LCD can be annoyingly bright when you hold the camera up to your eye, and there's no automatic sensor to turn it off as you'll find on some SLRs). The camera is kind of stubborn about this display, though: every time you depress and release the shutter button (even if it's only to focus, without taking a shot), the screen will turn on again.

A more useful button-press is hitting the OK button, which turns the status screen into an interactive control panel. Move the cursor to highlight a setting in this mode and you can scroll through your options by turning the control dial. Or, if you prefer, press OK again and you're taken to a menu screen listing the available settings for the options at hand.

Secondary Display

As with most inexpensive SLRs, there's no monochrome LCD on the camera top to provide shooting information when viewed from above.

Pentax gives the optimal range of the built-in flash as 0.7m to 5m. When shooting in Auto Pict mode there are five available flash settings: auto, forced flash, auto or forced flash with red-eye reduction enabled, and wireless mode, which can synchronize a dedicated external flash (models AF540FGZ or AF360FGZ). In Auto Pict mode and auto flash setting, the camera will pop up the flash on its own if it figures conditions require it. In the more user-controlled modes (Program, Sensitivity Priority, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority and Manual), it's up to the user to hit the button and raise the flash, so the on-screen menu choices are cut to Flash On, Flash On with Red-eye and Wireless.

Flash intensity can be adjusted in a range from -2.0 to +1.0, in either 1/2 or 1/3 EV increments. There's no user-selectable slow sync option, but according to Pentax, the camera will automatically employ a slower shutter speed when shooting dark scenes in shutter-priority and Night Scene Portrait modes (useful for exposing both the foreground subject and background in poorly lit conditions). Maximum flash sync speed is 1/180 second.

The Pentax K2000 is sold in two kits, one of which (the one we used) includes the black camera body and 18-55mm lens plus the AF200FG external flash, which lists for $150 (Amazon has it priced at $89). This sounds a bit juicier than it is in practice, though, because the AF200FG has a fixed-position head. No swivel, no tilt, no bounce, not a lot of usefulness. While the AF200FG does provide additional light intensity and a higher firing position above the lens, you'll still have to invest in a more upscale model (the AF540FGZ or AF360FGZ) if you want high-speed flash sync or a true autofocus assist illuminator.

PENTAX-K2000-flash2.jpg

By default, you can't take a photo while the flash is charging, though this can be overridden in the custom menu.

Flash Photo

The camera can pop up the flash in auto shooting modes.

There is a single port that serves for both USB computer connection and video output. The USB cable is included but, unlike most cameras we receive for review, the K2000 ships without a video out cable. It's available as an optional accessory (cable I-VC28) for $10. You can argue that the camera price is very low, and video output isn't used very frequently with a non-movie-enabled camera. Still, if Pentax can afford to toss the cable in the box for a $120 point-and-shoot, they should have included it here.

The K2000 is powered by four AA batteries, unusual for an SLR (most of the AA-powered models we've seen lately have been point-and-shoot ultrazooms). The AA solution means you can leave the charger home when you take your camera on the road, find inexpensive replacements anywhere you wander, and pick up rechargeables for a modest sum if you like. Pentax says you'll get 1650 shots without flash per set of AA lithium batteries, 1100 with high-capacity NiMH batteries and 360 with alkalines. If you use the flash 50% of the time, those figures drop to 1000, 640 and 260 respectively. Considering the fact that most Lithium-ion rechargeables shipped with SLRs are good for about 800 shots on a good day, we're happy to go the NiMH route with a set of lithium AAs as a backup.

An optional AC adapter is available (K-AC84), but it isn't one of those elegant deals where there's a dedicated DC input port on the camera and you just plug it in. Instead, the power adapter has a connector shaped like two AA batteries, which gets inserted into the battery compartment, with a cable snaked out of the camera via a small hatch ordinarily covered by a removable rubber door. All things considered, we'll stick with rechargeables.

Battery Photo

We're OK with AA for an SLR -- you can always find power and can leave the charger at home.

The K2000 relies on SD/SDHC cards to store your precious photographic moments.

Memory Photo

The K2000 accepts inexpensive, easy to find SD cards.

We found the sweet spot for the 18-55mm kit lens when shooting at the 35mm focal length at f/11, where the lens delivered 1638 lw/ph horizontally and 2098 vertically.

In the charts below, we show actual-size crops taken from the test chart photos at each focal length. As you can see, at 18mm, there's some noticeable chromatic aberration at the edges of the image, and the image softens noticeably across the board when the lens is stopped down to f/22, but the center is tack-sharp until that point. More on how we test sharpness.

The Pentax K2000, like Olympus and Sony SLRs, has image stabilization built in to the body of the camera. This contrasts with the approach taken by Nikon and Canon, who build image stabilization into individual lenses, which are more expensive than similar lenses without stabilization. The benefit of the Pentax approach is that any lens you mount on the camera can take advantage of image stabilization... when there is an advantage. In our lab testing, we discovered that the Pentax system offers modest improvement where it counts the most, when shooting at shutter speeds of 1/30 second or lower. At higher shutter speeds, though, the results are hit-and-miss. In many instances, engaging the image stabilization system produced blurrier photos than turning it off.

Our image stabilization testing is conducted using a custom-made rig that precisely shakes the camera in a pre-determined pattern, under computer control. With the test subject mounted in the device, we shoot at two different levels of shake, taking multiple images at all shutter speeds between 1/500 and 1/8 second. Horizontal and vertical shake are tested separately. The resulting photos are processed using Imatest to determine image sharpness, and these results statistically analyzed to determine the effectiveness of the image stabilization system.

The Pentax K2000 reproduced color less accurately than the other cameras in our comparison group, but the results still fall within an acceptable range. Our test images were slightly oversaturated, and while flesh tone reproduction was very good, blue shades were noticeably off-color, with yellows and oranges also problematic.

What we're testing here is color accuracy, not color attractiveness. The K2000, like many SLRs, offers a variety of color modes to let the user match color reproduction to the tones he or she finds most pleasing. For our lab testing purposes, though, we shoot the standard X-Rite ColorChecker chart and use Imatest to determine which of these modes produces the least color error. That's the one we use all of our color accuracy testing. More on how we test color.

For the Pentax, there are five color modes plus monochrome, and the one called Natural produced the best results, with a mean color error of 2.88 and a mean saturation of nearly 108%. It's interesting to note that Natural is not the default setting for the camera. It's set to shoot in Bright mode out of the box, which produces even more intense shades.

It's important to note here that the group of cameras chosen for comparison here is based on the models we've tested under the updated review procedures we instituted in January 2009. For this reason, several inexpensive cameras which compete directly with the Pentax K2000 aren't included.

NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above do not exactly match the originals found on the chart or in the captured images. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the absolute captured colors.

The K2000 comes up short of the competition here, but not so much that it poses a significant problem. It's interesting to note that camera price and color accuracy don't go hand in hand. The Rebel XS, which sells for roughly the same price as the Pentax, beats the far more expensive Nikon D90 and its brandmate Canon 50D here.

The Pentax K2000 provides six Image Finishing Tones, which are roughly equivalent to choosing different film stocks in the old days to provide the color and image quality characteristics you're after for a given subject. The available settings are Bright, Natural, Portrait, Landscape, Vibrant and Monochrome. Each of these settings can be fine-tuned for saturation, hue, contrast and sharpness, as explained in the Picture Effects section below. For the purposes of color comparison, we shot the X-Rite ColorChecker chart in all five color modes and grabbed actual-size crops for each patch, which are presented below.

While it's clearly targeted at a consumer-level audience, the K2000 supports both the sRGB color space used by most shooters and the AdobeRGB color space which is used primarily for commercial printing.

We tested the Pentax K2000 white balance performance in three of its preset modes and also by taking a manual white balance reading, and overall the results were quite good. We test white balance using a Judge II light box from X-Rite, which produces carefully calibrated illumination recreating the color temperature of a variety of light sources. The resulting images are analyzed using Imatest.

Automatic White Balance ()

The automatic white balance system did an excellent job compensating for color shifts caused by fluorescent and daylight illumination. Like most of the SLRs we test, it was common incandescent fixtures that gave the K2000 trouble, producing an unnaturally warm result. At least there's a potential environmental benefit to this effect, since it will encourage Pentax owners to make the shift to compact fluorescents.

Custom White Balance ()

We expect a high level of precision from the manual white balance system in a digital SLR, and rarely find serious flaws in this area. The Pentax K2000 is no exception, producing minimal levels of color error under each tested source of illumination.

Looking at our group of test cameras, we see the automatic white balance system on the K2000 handled daylight illumination nicely, producing inconsequentially cooler results than the ideal.

Under that demanding incandescent lighting, everybody shifted toward the warm side, with the Pentax falling in the middle of the pack.

Between the flicker and the greenish tinge, fluorescent bulbs can be troublesome for an automatic white balance system (witness the Olympus E-30 and Nikon D90 above), but the K2000 produced only minimal color shift.

The overall white balance score combines the results of our preset and custom white balance testing. The K2000 showed some significant muscle here, outperforming both the Nikon D90 and Olympus E-30 to a significant degree, and bested only by the exceptionally accurate Canon 50D.

The K2000 offers ten white balance options in all, including 3 fluorescent settings.

The procedure for setting a manual white balance is a bit unusual. After selecting the custom setting, you take a photo of a white surface under available light. The image you shoot is displayed, and you can choose whether to base the custom reading on the entire image area, or just the spot metering area. And if you choose the spot metering area, it can be moved around the image using the four-way controller). It's a slightly slower system than the usual one-step process, but it does let you base the white balance reading on a section of the scene in front of you, in case you don't have a handy white surface to hold in front of the lens.

A handy feature of the Pentax K2000 white balance system is the image preview displayed while choosing an exposure. When you bring up the white balance adjustment screen, the last photo you took is displayed in the background, and as you change the white balance settings, the effects are previewed using that image (no changes are made to the actual file). If what you're about to shoot is different from what you last shot, no problem: just press the exposure compensation button (there's a reminder of this non-standard button usage on screen) and the camera takes a temporary shot you can use for preview purposes.

White balance settings, both presets and manual, can be fine-tuned along the green-magenta and blue-amber axes, each in 15 steps. This capability is turned off by default, but can be enabled through the custom settings menu. What makes this genuinely useful for demanding applications is the ability to see the effect of your adjustments on-screen as you make them.

When shooting in Auto Pict mode, the Auto white balance setting is used, and can't be changed.

Our long exposure test combines two significant factors when shooting in low-light environments at slow shutter speeds: color accuracy and image noise. Based on its so-so performance on our color test conducted under bright lights, it comes as no surprise that the K2000 lagged the competition in this aspect of our long-exposure test as welll. When it comes to image noise, though, the Pentax did very well here, maintaining image noise well below 1.5% across all five shutter speeds we test: 1 second, 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds and 30 seconds. More on how we test long exposure.

As we often find, long exposure noise reduction proved ineffective, and even slightly harmful, in our tests. Noise is inherently random, but long exposure noise reduction systems are designed to take two consecutive shots and remove the noise patterns found in the second (taken with the shutter closed) from the first. With random patterns, this approach is understandably ineffective.

As with our core color accuracy testing, the Canon Rebel XS leads even its more expensive rivals in our long exposure testing, though the Pentax delivered respectable performance.

It doesn't take an engineering degree to figure out the point at which the camera design team decided to enable noise reduction. The three noise reduction settings are arranged in a useful pattern, allowing the careful photographer to effectively balance the lowering of noise with the inevitable resulting loss of image detail.

The noise patterns are very consistent across all five component parts, red, green, blue, yellow and luma (gray), which is good: a spike in any individual area would be more visible than a tightly clustered color pattern. More on how we test noise.

The Pentax K2000 offers an ISO range from 100 to 3200. The Auto ISO mode is a bit more sophisticated than most. Users can specify the upper limit of acceptable ISO settings in Auto ISO mode, which can be set as low as ISO 125 or as high as ISO 3200. By default, the camera shoots in Auto ISO mode with an upper limit of ISO 800.

The Pentax 2000 performed well in our dynamic range testing. Four out of five cameras in our comparison suite scored within a hair's breadth of one another in this test and, while the Pentax was statistically the lowest of these four, the difference is inconsequential in real-world effect.

Our tests for dynamic range are conducted by shooting a standard 20-patch Kodak Gray Scale chart under controlled 3000-lux illumination, shooting at each available ISO at a range of aperture settings. The resulting images are analyzed using Imatest software to determine how well the tested camera can maintain detail in dark areas and reproduce highlights without blowing them out.

Dynamic range inevitably decreases as ISO settings increase, but for the K2000 the effect is smooth and gradual. The camera starts out at ISO 100 with over seven stops of dynamic range, barely dips below 6 stops at ISO 400 and still produces a respectable result into the noisy realm of ISO 3200 shooting. More on how we test dynamic range.

Aside from the Olympus, the others all display very similar dynamic range performance at ISO 200.

The Olympus had noise problems across the board, and at extreme ISOs produced photos which were simply unusable, which explains its poor performance. The scores each camera received in each section are shown below; a longer bar indicates a higher score.

It doesn't take an engineering degree to figure out the point at which the camera design team decided to enable noise reduction. The three noise reduction settings are arranged in a useful pattern, allowing the careful photographer to effectively balance the lowering of noise with the inevitable resulting loss of image detail.

The noise patterns are very consistent across all five component parts, red, green, blue, yellow and luma (gray), which is good: a spike in any individual area would be more visible than a tightly clustered color pattern. More on how we test noise.

The Pentax K2000 offers an ISO range from 100 to 3200. The Auto ISO mode is a bit more sophisticated than most. Users can specify the upper limit of acceptable ISO settings in Auto ISO mode, which can be set as low as ISO 125 or as high as ISO 3200. By default, the camera shoots in Auto ISO mode with an upper limit of ISO 800.

The K2000 uses a five-point autofocus system, which is less flexible than higher-end SLRs. When shooting, we found autofocus speed was a bit sluggish but adequate for most shooting situations. Shooting sports, though, could be a challenge.

The Pentax K2000 does not have a dedicated autofocus assist lamp. Instead, it uses a high-speed series of pulses from the built-in flash; very effective in helping the camera focus, but not perfect if you had some candid photography in mind, or pictures of a sleeping baby.

There are two autofocus point settings. Wide allows the camera to choose the AF point from the five available, while Spot sets the AF point in the center of the screen. There is no option to select an autofocus point manually, as found on some SLRs, but of course you can always spot focus on the subject and maintain that reading by holding the shutter halfway down while recomposing your shot.

Our long exposure test combines two significant factors when shooting in low-light environments at slow shutter speeds: color accuracy and image noise. Based on its so-so performance on our color test conducted under bright lights, it comes as no surprise that the K2000 lagged the competition in this aspect of our long-exposure test as welll. When it comes to image noise, though, the Pentax did very well here, maintaining image noise well below 1.5% across all five shutter speeds we test: 1 second, 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds and 30 seconds. More on how we test long exposure.

As we often find, long exposure noise reduction proved ineffective, and even slightly harmful, in our tests. Noise is inherently random, but long exposure noise reduction systems are designed to take two consecutive shots and remove the noise patterns found in the second (taken with the shutter closed) from the first. With random patterns, this approach is understandably ineffective.

As with our core color accuracy testing, the Canon Rebel XS leads even its more expensive rivals in our long exposure testing, though the Pentax delivered respectable performance.

Here again, the Pentax K2000 more than held its own. achieving a higher score for chromatic aberration than the Sony A900 we tested using a 24-105mm lens that costs as much as the entire K2000 kit. As seen in the images below, the most notable flaws occurred at the 18mm focal length, where there is significant horizontal chromatic aberration from the midpoint to the edges of the image. This flaw largely corrected itself by the time we zoomed out to 35mm, to the point where it wouldn't cause visible problems even at substantial magnification. With this single exception, chromatic aberration is well controlled across the lens.

Shooting at 35mm, chromatic aberration is less of a problem, even at the extremes, and the center looks even better than the already solid results taken at the wide angle setting above. Only the f/32 shots show noticeable softness.

The pattern holds at 55mm, where stopping down to f/40 results in significantly fuzzy edges, but chromatic aberration is negligible and the images shot at f/5.6 and f/16 look nice and crisp from corner to corner.

Overall the Pentax K2000 performed very well in our distortion tests. The only significant problem occurred at the 18mm focal length, where we found an average barrel distortion of 2.08%. Moving out to 35mm there was only a trace amount of pincusion distortion, at 0.48%. And at the maximum focal length, pincushion distortion rose to 0.90%, still a very impressive performance from the kit lens on an inexpensive camera.

The Pentax K2000 doesn't offer up a huge array of buttons, relying instead on the LCD menu system for fast access to many shooting settings. We found the layout generally practical, though the buttons aren't raised very far from the camera body, which was an issue when trying to navigate the camera back by feel alone.

As we're seeing with more and more SLRs today, the Pentax K2000 offers both the traditional hierarchical menus system you reach by pressing the MENU button, which covers all the available settings, and a quick menu system for use while shooting, which makes the rear LCD screen an interactive control console providing fast access to the most commonly changed image settings.

The standard information display turns into the control panel with a press of the OK button. Once its activated, you navigate from section to section using the four-way controller. When a setting is highlighted, you can move through available options sequentially by turning the e-dial, or bring up a menu with all choices for that setting by pressing OK. The display is logically arranged, easy to read and reasonably simple to use, though the small, barely raised buttons on the four-way controller made it difficult to use effectively when shooting in dark conditions.

The main menu system text can be set to either standard or large type, but that's less useful than it sounds. The standing text doesn't change at all when you choose large type. Instead, the text under the cursor bar is magnified, in a fairly unattractive way. As for navigation, the good news is that the individual menu screens show all the available options at once, so there are no hidden choices you have to scroll down to find. This does mean that several menu sections have multiple screens, so finding the option you need can take some time. And sometimes, it's not intuitively clear which menu a setting will fall under. For example, we'd expect to turn noise reduction on and off in the Shooting menu, or maybe Setup, but those settings are actually found in the Custom menu. Similarly, we would expect to determine what happens when you press the programmable Help button in the Setup menu; it's found under Shooting.

The Pentax K2000 comes with a generous selection of documentation, including a quick-start guide, a 280-page Operating Manual, and a separate 108-page manual for the two software programs provided with the camera. We applaud Pentax for providing a printed software manual instead of following industry standard operating procedure and expecting us to suss out how to use the programs via a tough-to-navigate disk-based help system.

The Operating Manual is nicely presented, with enough white space to minimize intimidation and a good combination of text, charts and illustrations to organize and clarify the material. The order in which material is presented is a bit odd, for those who pick up the manual and expect to thumb through it and learn how to use their new camera. Detailed explanations of histograms and all the sections of the control panel come before the Getting Started section, where you learn how to attach the strap, attach the lens and grapple with the initial settings required the first time you turn the camera on. Delivering all the information on a given topic the first time it appears means minutia about one area -- flash photography, for example -- appears before the basics in another. Still, the writing is clear and comprehensible, and the index was prepared with some care, a noteworthy exception to an unfortunate industry practice. Overall, we think Pentax did a nice job here.

The onboard help system, with its own clearly labeled question-mark button, is an interesting approach to teaching newcomers how to use an SLR. Pressing the button once brings up an explanation of the shooting mode you're currently using. A second press presents a suggestion to 'Press the button which you would like to know.' Follow the prompt and you get a brief explanation of the selected button's function. The information provided is fairly rudimentary, and the system would have been more practical if you could have continued to press buttons and have information displayed one after the other -- instead, you have to hit the question-mark button to escape from the information display, then go through the double-tap procedure again to select another button. Also, the help system doesn't work within the menu system, the very area where a little guidance would be most appreciated. Still, more help is better than less, and when you lose interest in this particular training-wheel function, the button can be assigned to provide direct access to the digital preview function, custom image settings, digital filter selection or RAW shooting.

The Pentax K2000 is a small but substantial handful. At 18.5 oz. (524g) without a lens, it doesn't have the featherweight feel of the Canon Rebel XS or XSi, which is fine with us: a little extra heft helps the camera set well in your hand, yet it's still nearly half a pound lighter than the Canon 50D. The body measures 4.8 x 2.7 x 3.6 inches (122 x 67 x 91mm).

As for maneuverability, the camera would be a more comfortable fit for someone with smaller mitts than this reviewer. The grip is small, not very deep and relatively narrow. This leaves plenty of room for your fingers between the grip and the lens, but it can also create an uncomfortable gap between your palm and the camera body while shooting, which makes balance more difficult. It isn't a dealbreaker, but it's not ideal either.

On the plus side, the shutter is nicely positioned on an angled platform up front,where it falls naturally under your index finger. The smooth plastic thumb rest on the back could use some texture, but it's substantial enough and in the right spot to counterbalance the camera weight effectively.

Working with the controls is comfortable for the most part, though there is some room for improvement. It's a little too easy to accidentally turn the mode dial; we found ourselves shooting in Sensitivity Value mode instead of Shutter-Priority mode more than once. The buttons could also use a bit more click and travel when depressed, and we would have given the Menu button the top position in the four-button Playback/Info/Menu/Erase line-up, to make it accessible more quickly while shooting. The control dial is in a nice spot, next to your thumb but far enough away to avoid accidental adjustments.

Overall, we found shooting with the K2000 comfortable, even with big hands, and would particularly recommend it to those with daintier digits.

Handling Photo 1

Our lovely model has relatively petite hands and found the Pentax very easy to manage.

Handling Photo 2

The Pentax K2000 doesn't offer up a huge array of buttons, relying instead on the LCD menu system for fast access to many shooting settings. We found the layout generally practical, though the buttons aren't raised very far from the camera body, which was an issue when trying to navigate the camera back by feel alone.

Buttons Photo 1
Buttons Photo 2

The LCD is a bit scrawny by current standards, measuring 2.7 inches with 230,000-dot resolution, though this is not the worst area for cost-cutting. At least the screen is bright and displays colors accurately. The viewing angle is fairly limited, but with no Live View mode, you're not going to be looking at the LCD from odd angles while shooting anyway.

Both the brightness and the color reproduction of the LCD can be adjusted through the menu system. There are 15 possible brightness levels, with a black-to-white gradient displayed on the setting screen so you can judge the effect of your adjustment. As for tuning the color, you can tweak the screen along the green-magenta and/or blue-amber axes, with 15 available settings on each.

When shooting, the LCD displays a full-screen settings summary, as shown below. It's a decent screen layout, though we would have preferred to see the individual settings appear larger, even if that meant shrinking the top section (with shooting mode, shutter speed, aperture, remaining exposures and battery life). If you prefer not to have this screen displayed, it can be toggled off by pressing the INFO button (the LCD can be annoyingly bright when you hold the camera up to your eye, and there's no automatic sensor to turn it off as you'll find on some SLRs). The camera is kind of stubborn about this display, though: every time you depress and release the shutter button (even if it's only to focus, without taking a shot), the screen will turn on again.

A more useful button-press is hitting the OK button, which turns the status screen into an interactive control panel. Move the cursor to highlight a setting in this mode and you can scroll through your options by turning the control dial. Or, if you prefer, press OK again and you're taken to a menu screen listing the available settings for the options at hand.

Secondary Display

As with most inexpensive SLRs, there's no monochrome LCD on the camera top to provide shooting information when viewed from above.

The viewfinder encompasses approximately 96% field of view, with 0.85 magnification, a reasonable spec for an entry-level SLR. There's a rather prominent diopter adjustment tab inset into a slot on top of the viewfinder (with a -2.5 to +1.5m-1 range). It takes fingernails and patience to adjust accurately (or, if necessary, you can remove the eyecup to get more purchase on the control), yet we managed to change the setting accidentally more than once when the camera brushed against our clothes -- all in all, not the perfect control. One missing element is a cover to close the viewfinder when shooting on a tripod; leaving it open can let light leak in from behind and throw the meter reading off.

The Pentax K2000, like Olympus and Sony SLRs, has image stabilization built in to the body of the camera. This contrasts with the approach taken by Nikon and Canon, who build image stabilization into individual lenses, which are more expensive than similar lenses without stabilization. The benefit of the Pentax approach is that any lens you mount on the camera can take advantage of image stabilization... when there is an advantage. In our lab testing, we discovered that the Pentax system offers modest improvement where it counts the most, when shooting at shutter speeds of 1/30 second or lower. At higher shutter speeds, though, the results are hit-and-miss. In many instances, engaging the image stabilization system produced blurrier photos than turning it off.

Our image stabilization testing is conducted using a custom-made rig that precisely shakes the camera in a pre-determined pattern, under computer control. With the test subject mounted in the device, we shoot at two different levels of shake, taking multiple images at all shutter speeds between 1/500 and 1/8 second. Horizontal and vertical shake are tested separately. The resulting photos are processed using Imatest to determine image sharpness, and these results statistically analyzed to determine the effectiveness of the image stabilization system.

In addition to the usual shooting modes, the Pentax K2000 provides a Sensitivity Priority mode based on user-selected ISO.

There are five Scene Modes on the mode dial as well: portrait, landscape, macro, fast action and night portrait. In addition, the final dial position turns off the flash and leaves the camera in Auto Pict mode. This can also be accomplished by pressing the flash button on the back of the camera and adjusting the setting, but the mode dial option is faster, as long as you're happy shooting in Auto.

The K2000 uses a five-point autofocus system, which is less flexible than higher-end SLRs. When shooting, we found autofocus speed was a bit sluggish but adequate for most shooting situations. Shooting sports, though, could be a challenge.

The Pentax K2000 does not have a dedicated autofocus assist lamp. Instead, it uses a high-speed series of pulses from the built-in flash; very effective in helping the camera focus, but not perfect if you had some candid photography in mind, or pictures of a sleeping baby.

There are two autofocus point settings. Wide allows the camera to choose the AF point from the five available, while Spot sets the AF point in the center of the screen. There is no option to select an autofocus point manually, as found on some SLRs, but of course you can always spot focus on the subject and maintain that reading by holding the shutter halfway down while recomposing your shot.

A switch just behind the lens mount on the left toggles between autofocus and manual focus. The focus indicator illuminates and beeps when focus is achieved. The kit lens has an extraordinarily loose feel when focusing manually, though, with practically no friction at all, making manual focus accuracy very difficult.

The number of available file sizes is limited to just three. There are also three JPEG quality settings, Best, Better and Good. When shooting uncompressed RAW files there is a choice of two file formats, Pentax's own PEF files or the standard DNG RAW file format. RAW images can be saved on their own, or with a simultaneous JPEG copy.

There are two continuous shooting modes, Hi and Lo. According to Olympus, the Hi setting should take approximately 3.5 full-resolution JPEGs per second at the highest quality setting, to a maximum of five shots. The Lo setting drops speed to 1.1 frames per second, but allows continuous shooting until the memory card is full. When shooting RAW, the figure drops to 4 continuous frames in a row for the Hi setting and 7 frames for Lo.

The burst mode performance at the fastest setting fell short of the manufacturer's spec, and trailed the field as well. Pentax claims approximately 3.5 shots per second at full resolution, we measured an average of 2.91.

The K2000 supports two self-timer modes: 2 second and 12 second. There is no way to shut the viewfinder when shooting with a self-timer; neither a manual cover nor a built-in iris system is provided. This is a problem, since light can leak in from behind during tripod shooting and alter the exposure reading. The manual suggests using AE lock, but we'd prefer a more elegant solution.

An optional remote control (Remote Control F, $32.95) can also be used to trip the shutter, either immediately after hitting the shutter release button or after a 3-second delay.

The K2000 uses a five-point autofocus system, which is less flexible than higher-end SLRs. When shooting, we found autofocus speed was a bit sluggish but adequate for most shooting situations. Shooting sports, though, could be a challenge.

The Pentax K2000 does not have a dedicated autofocus assist lamp. Instead, it uses a high-speed series of pulses from the built-in flash; very effective in helping the camera focus, but not perfect if you had some candid photography in mind, or pictures of a sleeping baby.

There are two autofocus point settings. Wide allows the camera to choose the AF point from the five available, while Spot sets the AF point in the center of the screen. There is no option to select an autofocus point manually, as found on some SLRs, but of course you can always spot focus on the subject and maintain that reading by holding the shutter halfway down while recomposing your shot.

A switch just behind the lens mount on the left toggles between autofocus and manual focus. The focus indicator illuminates and beeps when focus is achieved. The kit lens has an extraordinarily loose feel when focusing manually, though, with practically no friction at all, making manual focus accuracy very difficult.

Box Photo
  • Camera body with body mount cover attached
  • 18-55mm lens with rear cover attached
  • Camera strap
  • USB data cable
  • 4 lithium batteries
  • USB data cable
  • Software CD
  • Quick Guide
  • Operating manual

Meet the tester

Steve Morgenstern

Steve Morgenstern

Editor

Steve Morgenstern is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.

See all of Steve Morgenstern's reviews

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

Shoot us an email