Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
Nice camera, great bang per buck but a few issues to note
on 21 April 2013
I've owned and used a K-x for a little over a year and shot with one extensively.
My thoughts on the camera are as follows.
Initially I would have given the K-x a 4 stars at least, and many early reviews might have overlooked a few problems that only come to light with extended use. This is still a good camera, and at the time and still today quite a well specified model. But you have to review a product in context and with the good and bad areas fully explored. Camera's don't change people's lives, they are tools we use to take photos nothing more.
My list of good and bad points for the Pentax K-x
+ Excellent 12mp CMOS sensor and Pentax get a lot out of it too, very good in low light as well, jpegs are good too with NR off at high ISO
+ Decent enough build though the "silver plastic" rim around the top cheapens the look a little (quite decent at this price point)
+ AF performance: I was happy overall with the AF in various lighting conditions it's quite fast and snappy, less so low light (all cameras slow down) but accuracy was good overall no real issues here most times (there is no sign of the massive front focus the K-r had)
+ Rated 100k shutter which should inspire confidence (unusual for an entry model)
+ Fairly simple controls are quite easy to get into, though the back D pad buttons are fairly small.
Body is a touch small for me but it's fairly comfortable to use
+ Viewfinder: Quite good at this price point it's no big semi pro Pentaprism, but bigger and better than most Penta mirror ones from rivals. Matte screen is quite good for manual focus too
+ I found I once I had the camera set up in the custom menus (quite a lot of options here) I rarely had to dive into the menus very often this is a good thing for many users and for bodies with less controls (ie in this price range)
+ Overall spec and features/customisation is excellent very little to complain about and above rivals in this price point. Unlike the entry Nikon's the Pentax can do wireless flash, HSS, has a higher shutter speed 1/6000 sec, good exposure bracketing range and overall strong in this area. Neaer enough semi pro spec crammed into an entry body.
+ At the time 4.7fps was pretty fast and way faster than other entry DSLR's, still decent enough even now!
+ I liked the AA battery power, using good quality batteries I was getting 500 or so shots (live view drains them quite fast though) It does add weight to the camera, but I felt it was a good move myself (I have a LOT of AA's around and decent ones Nimh etc)
+ Live view works with either contrast of phase detect you have a choice. Bit slow for AF in contrast AF but accuracy was good
- Mirror blur/slap issue that is quite well known (I didn't spot it for a while as I rarely used SR bar low light) Seems to be a problem in the 1/50-1/100 second shutter range. Turning the SR "off" solved the issue. The problem is I believe related to the mirror action disrupting the SR unit as specific shutter speeds. Results, some double images and blur on images. As this is quite a common shutter speed range it effectively means SR is of limited use. I tried a few other K-x's and they had it too, but the problem varies from moderate, to really quite severe.
- Colours a bit oversatured even in raw quite a bit more than usual, not the end of the world but worth taking note of. Avoid the bright mode too it's pure crayola way OTT
- Metering (multi segment) and AWB were not that great, the older Pentax metering tends to underexpose but in low light it was over 1.5 stops under in some cases needing 2 stops correction. This is below par and not as good as other makers metering (any of them!) AWB is good in tungsten with the strong correction function enabled, but had big shifts in magenta and green, you can tweak the AWB which is good, but still and issue here.
- Green button, sounds great and it is useful to be able to customise this. Sadly the K-x has no DOF preview button on it's own, and if you use this you've lost your custom button, or if you set it to P shift it's gone again on that. Both functions should be available without setting the green button
- Small buffer, esp raw. About 5 shots is quite low (not unexpected for a budget model) about 15 in jpeg maybe a touch more with a fast card (which is fine)
- Cooked raw.: Some unavoidable NR going on in raw files. It's mostly colour NR and it appears some sharpening too. But raw should be raw and not processed you can't turn this one off strange move from Pentax
- Below par kit lens, I tried a few copies ok at the wide end stopped down. At above 30-35mm it's very soft and shows a soft focus effect all the way up to 55mm (getting worse the more you move to the 55mm end) Even fully stopped down tele end it's not sharp across the frame. Out of the 4 major SLR makers the Pentax kit lens is by far the weakest of them all (hint if you're getting soft images this might be the problem, it's not a good lens at all, and the SR issue could explain this too)
- AF points not in the viewfinder, this wasn't a deal breaker. But it should have been there. I mostly used the central AF point locked, it was a bit of a waste of the 11 point AF as you have no idea what point is being used in the VF. As on other Pentax models I've used, AF points are very large this can lead to locking onto other unintended subjects (so take care they are much bigger than rivals)
- Battery level indicator was never that accurate and even firmware updates didn't solve this
Video quality was ok (720p), mono not amazing but not bad either, so not a pro or con for me at the time or price point. LCD was fine 2.7" and not the higher res we have as standard on most models now, but at the time this was what you got I had no problems with the LCD at this price point.
The K-x at the time of it's release was ahead of rivals most of whom were still bashing out cameras with 3fps and CCD sensors that were not so great in low light. In this respect the K-x was a stand out DSLR at the time and offered excellent bang per buck. I enjoyed it to a point, but I have to remove a star based on the SR problem (widely reported too)