The front of the K2000 is relatively bare. The grip on the far left is made of rubberized plastic, with a significant depression as a finger rest. About half way up the grip is an infrared receiver for use with compatible remotes. The lens release is on the bottom left of the mount, and the auto focus/manual focus switch is at about 4 o'clock from the lens, on the body. There is a thin silver line that runs around the top of the camera at the point where the sides start to curve in towards the top.
*A *thin silver line provides a design accent.
The rear of the camera has a simple, but effective, layout. The left side is primarily taken up by the 2.7-inch, 230,000-pixel LCD, with the flash deploy button above and to the left. On top of the screen is the viewfinder, which is protected by a rubber eyecup. Unusually, the diopter adjuster above the eyecup is a slider rather than a dial.
Directly to the right of the viewfinder is the control dial. We found the dial position a little bit far left, and so slightly awkward to reach. Beneath the control dial is a column of four buttons. From the top, they are Playback, Info, Menu and Delete. This last one has a small nubbin, to help you identify it, and hopefully prevent you from accidentally deleting something important. The four-way control pad is placed quite far down on the body. During shooting, the Up button controls drive/timer mode, Left is white balance, Down is flash control, and Right is ISO adjustment. Above the four-way pad is an LED, which glows when the camera is processing information to the card. The thumb pad area is not textured, but has a small lip on the right side to help with stability. The final button on the camera's rear is the auto focus point adjuster, located at the very top right corner.* *The silver highlight from the front of the camera does reach around the back, but just barely.
Large buttons and a simple interface are a boon for learners
*The left side of the K2000 is almost completely bare, with the neck strap eyelet at the top, and the USB/AV out port half way up, protected by a rubber cap. The right side is likewise simple, with only the memory card cover, eyelet, hand grip, and a small rubber outlet for the optional AC adapter cable to snake out.
The auto focus motor is housed in the body, saving money on lenses
and increasing compatibility**
*The right side has a rubber grip
Once again, the K2000 demonstrates its highly functional, but minimalist, aesthetic. The flash and industry standard hot shoe are both aligned with the lens. To their right is the large mode dial, which has settings for Manual, Av (aperture priority), Tv (shutter priority), Sv (ISO priority), P (program), Scene, Auto Picture, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sport, Night Portrait and No Flash. There are two buttons on the grip, Exposure Compensation and a dedicated Help function. Between them is the power light. Finally at the tip of the grip is the on/off dial, and the shutter control.
The mode dial offers more choices than normally seen**
The bottom of the camera is nondescript. Beneath the grip is the cover for the battery bay, which takes 4 AAs. The tripod mount is metal lens centered, but doesn't have any surface texture to aid with grip when the camera is tripod-mounted.
The camera bottom is relatively plain
The viewfinder offers 96% field of view at 0.85x magnification. The diopter adjustment runs from -2.5 to 1.5 and is altered by a sliding bar at the top of the viewfinder. There is a depth of field preview function, which can be bound to the Help button.
The diopter adjuster is above the viewfinder
The LCD is 2.7-inch and has 230,000 pixels. During our brief hands-on period, the screen seemed bright and colorful. However, this was under the ample fluorescent lighting of a conference center, so we reserve final judgment until we try shooting under more challenging conditions.
The LCD is bright and clear****Flash
The built-in flash struck as being very bright and quick to charge. Interestingly, the K2000 kit ships with an included external flash, the AF200FG, which retails for $150. It's a fixed flash, so you won't be able to aim it at the ceiling to bounce the light, but it's still a very nice inclusion in a standard kit. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to try out this flash, so we cannot comment on its effectiveness.
The relatively high flash position helps minimize red-eye.
The K200 has a Pentax KAF3 mount, which is compatible with all Pentax lenses. The auto focus motor is housed in the body of the camera, which makes for cheaper lenses, and the ability to use auto focus with most of them.
The bundled kit lens is DA L 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL lens.
While shooting, we found that the shutter felt cheap and insubstantial. This was a pre-production model, though, so this flaw may be corrected in the final camera.
The bundled kit lens
The K2000 has a single, proprietary USB/Video out port, protected by a firm rubber cover.
The only available port ****
The K2000 takes 4 AA batteries (included), which is a boon for travelers, as AAs can be found in any part of the world. Using the included set of lithium batteries, Pentax states that you can take 1650 shots, an impressive claim. An optional adapter can be purchased which mimics the shape of the four AAs , with a slender cord that plugs into a power source.
Four AA batteries make it easy to find replacements
The Pentax K2000 can use either SD or SDHC cards, which are easily found and affordable.
The memory card slot was glued shut, so we can't show it to you.
Model Design / Appearance
The design of the K2000 is fairly standard for an SLR. It's comparatively small, crafted of black plastic, with large well labeled buttons. The only touch of visual flair on the camera is a chrome line running around near the top of the body.
Size and Handling
The K2000 is small and light for an SLR, but with a grip large enough to feel sturdy, and just enough weight to be solid. While it is still an SLR, with the substantial size and shape the format entails, the K2000 will take up less space and weigh less in a bag than many other cameras. The body is 4.8 x 3.6 x 2.7' (12.2 x 9.1 x 6.9cm), and 20.8 oz (590 grams) with the batteries inserted.
While small, the K2000 doesn't feel cramped.
The menu system of the Pentax K2000 is similar to that of the Canon SLRs. There are four tabs of menus, each with a number of sub-pages. There's Shooting, Playback, Settings and Custom. The multiple pages for each one can be browsed easily and quickly. The Custom menu allows four pages of options to personalize your experience. As with other Pentax cameras, there is a memory function, where you can define which settings are retained and which (if any) are reset when the camera is rebooted.
The Custom menu
Ease of Use
This camera has a number of features designed to make life easier for those new to SLRs. There's a dedicated Help button (though this is customizable to control other functions) which provides information about the settings currently in use, and Auto Picture mode that will choose the appropriate scene mode for your situation. The scene modes themselves are quite numerous for an SLR, another nod to new users.
The auto mode on the K2000 is called Auto Picture, and attempts to chose the appropriate scene mode based on what it detects through the sensor. It doesn't completely remove control, which we appreciate, and could help people new to using SLRs become more comfortable with the multitude of settings available.
As with most SLRs, the K2000 doesn't have a movie mode.
Drive / Burst Mode**
The K2000 has High and Low speed continuous shooting modes. The first can take up to four images at 3.2 frames per second, the second will take unlimited images at 1.1 frames per second. The self-timer can be set to either 2 or 12 seconds, and there's an option to add a 3-second timer when using a remote control.
Playback mode on this Pentax has a variety of options. For editing there's Resize, Crop, convert RAW to JPEG, Digital Filter (Toy Camera, High Contrast, Soft, Starburst, Retro, Color Extract, Illustration, HDR, B&W, Sepia, Color, Slim, Brightness and Custom). Zooming in during playback provides a maximum 16x magnification, and zooming out displays four, nine or sixteen thumbnails. Calendar, slideshow, histogram, bright/dark indications, DPOF and image comparisons are all available.
Custom Image Presets**
The custom image presets available are Bright, Natural, Portrait, Landscape, Vibrant, Monochrome, Night Portrait, Action, Night Scene, Surf & Snow, Food, Sunset, Kids, Pet, Candlelight, Museum, Stage Lighting (2M JPG), Night Snap (2M JPG), Toy Camera, High Contrast, Soft, Starburst, Retro and Color Extract. This represents an unusually wide variety of image tweaks and shooting modes, for an SLR, which we feel the intended user will appreciate..
Manual Control Options
As an SLR, the K2000 offers a wide variety of manual controls. While not quite to the level of the higher-end SLRs, the essentials are all present. There is also an above average level of customizability, with 23 options available for custom settings through the menu system plus a Help button that can be assigned a programmed function for instant access. All told, this means that you can set up the camera to fit your own tastes.
The auto focus felt exceedingly fast with this camera. Pointing it at objects at wildly varying distances, it took minimal time to refocus. The focal point can be set to Auto, Wide or Spot. Auto focus assist is achieved by firing the flash repeatedly rather than employing a designated auto focus assist lamp. This means the auto focus assist has great range, but is also distracting when trying to shoot candids.
The ISO ranges from 100 to 3200, with the obligatory auto mode. The auto ISO setting can be limited to any level along this continuum.
In addition to manually setting a custom white balance, the K2000 has presets for Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, three types of Fluorescent, Tungsten and Flash. These are each incrementally adjustable as well.
The K2000 offers multi-segment (16 areas), center-weighted and spot metering.
The shutter speed ranges from 1/4000 to 30 seconds, as well as Bulb for unlimited time exposures.
On the bundled 18 - 55mm kit lens, the aperture range is f/3.5-f/5.6.
T**he K2000 offers another, unusual shooting mode called Sensitivity Priority (or Sv). In this mode, you can choose the ISO in smaller increments rather than the usual full-stop levels, and have the camera then automatically set the aperture and shutter speed appropriately.
**The K2000 uses a body-based, sensor-shift image stabilization system called Shake Reduction. Unfortunately, in our brief hands-on period, we did not get a chance to test its effectiveness.
Picture Quality / Size Options
The Pentax shoots JPEG, RAW, and RAW plus JPEG, (saving both an uncompressed RAW file for editing and a more convenient JPEG version for immediate viewing). The RAW mode can be set to either PEF or DNG file formats. Image size is from 3872 x 2592 to 1824 x 1216 at Best, Better or Good quality levels.
Picture Effects Mode
During shooting, a number of filters can be used to add effects. These are called Digital Filters, and the available options are Toy Camera, High Contrast, Soft, Starburst, Retro and Color Extract. During playback, Illustration, HDR (high dynamic range), B&W, Sepia, Color, Slim, Brightness and Custom effects can be added.
**The K2000 has a dust reduction/removal system based around vibrating the sensor.
The Pentax K2000 (called the K-M outside the USA) is an interesting addition to the already crowded entry-level SLR market. It lacks some of the features of its competition (such as Live View), and it doesn't have quite the same extensive support network of lenses and accessories as Canon or Nikon. On the other hand, for $700 you are getting body, lens and an external flash, for the same price as the Rebel XSi. The focusing on the lens felt quick, the body was well crafted, and there are many helpful features designed with new users in mind. The K2000 strikes us as a strong introductory camera for someone considering the jump from point-and-shoot to SLR. The K2000 kit will be available in November 2008 for $699.99, with the body along to be released separately in early 2009 at a price to be announced.
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