Customer Review

19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive improvement on predecessors, 12 Sep 2009
This review is from: Pentax K7 Digital SLR Camera (incl 18-55 mm Lens) (Electronics)
I've owned a K10d for quite a while now and absolutely love it. The only thing that I find really irritating about most pentax cameras (my K10d included) is the slow focusing and poor frames per second rate.

I've been having a play around with K7 thanks to a local camera shop and I am very impressed.

The K7 just feels sooo much quicker (than previous pentax dslrs), and surprisingly small - smaller than the K10d or K20d and much smaller than the Nikon D300. The focusing is much quicker and up there with the Nikon/Canon systems. The frame rate, whilst not quite matching the new Nikon D300s (7 fps!), is way better at 5.2 fps vs the 3 fps managed by my K10d. This still is not quite up there with the Canon 50D (6.3 fps) either, suggesting sports shutter bugs might want to look elsewhere, but it is still a big improvement over past cameras.

There are some quite cool features like built in HDR, which kind of works quite well and has different settings. I cannot see it replacing the results you can get from photoshop.

In the hands it feels as well built as the K20d/K10d, which is a good thing. The K7 if anything, feels better, thanks to the magnesium alloy body. It manages to somehow feel light and yet incredibly well built - one thing you notice is the reassuring coolness of the magnesium when you pick it up, sounds a bit of an odd thing to say but it reminds of picking up a metal bodied 35mm slr. The grip is even more comfortable than the K20d. For those used to previous Pentax models, you will also notice how much quieter it is, much less of a clunk when you release the shutter.

Moving around the camera you notice how well thought out some of the additions are. You get a dedicated ISO button on the top, saving the bother of having to go through the menu to adjust it. The exposure compensation button moves up to the top alongside the ISO button, near the shutter release where they feel like they make the most sense. There are some other minor tweaks, but the other most useful one is the white balance button, available at a single press of a button when in shooting mode - much handier than the K10d.

The screen is gorgeous compared to the k20d/k10d and of a much higher res, around 930,000 pixels (versus around 230,000 in previous cameras). Despite being an impressive 3" it does not make the rest if the back of the camera feel cramped. All in all, the K7 retains the best features of the K20d body and improves on it, significantly.

You still get the unique shooting modes (at least I think Pentax are the only ones who do them) where you can have complete control over the aperture and shutter speed but the metering system will vary the ISO to correctly expose the image (called Shutter & Aperture Priority mode). Another mode which I think is unique is the Sensitivity Priority mode, where you choose the ISO you would like, and the camera adjusts the shutter and apertures to expose correctly. They are more useful than you might think, and surprising that more cameras don't have them.

I must admit that I have not used the live view or video so I cannot comment on that, but from what I have heard it is better than the K20d (Live View) and the video is ok but has no aperture control. Personally I'd rather have dedicated video recorders, I use a Creative Vado Pocket Video Cam HD - Camcorder - High Definition - Widescreen Video Capture - black and just carry it around in the camera bag.

Image quality, from what I can gather from the screen, is very good. Noise seems well under control up to about 1600, but noticeable after that. Although I suspect that it would be more evident on a larger screen. I certainly think that the improved metering system makes it much better to get a great shot straight off.

All in all, this is finally a Pentax with the specs, image and build quality to match the higher end Canons and Nikons. If it had a slightly higher frame rate I'd give 5 stars.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Oct 2009 21:53:29 BDT
Last edited by the author on 31 Dec 2009 15:49:54 GMT
Thanks for a useful review. As you say, the metering options are useful; I use sensitivity (iso) priority a lot on my Pentax K10D DSLR. Another good feature is the inclusion of anti-shake on the camera body so every lens benefits from the technology. Why Canon and Nikon don't make this obvious change I do not know. I still use 1970's lenses with my Pentax. Since DSLR bodies are often loss-leaders against often hideously expensive glass, it is nice that so much kit retrofits to current Pentax DSLRs.

So much for the good news. As said, I have a K10D and find the high ISO noise a problem so I have been looking forward to a new Pentax model. However, judging by the tests I have seen, even the cheaper Canon and Nikon DSLRs outperform the K7 with regard to keeping noise under control. In a dimly lit church concert last year I was completely outclassed by a Nikon user because he could ramp up the ISO and still have smooth images at ISO's that the K10 struggled with and the K7 will still struggle with. In fact one reviewer discovered that the noise on the K7 was actually slightly worse than it's predecessor the K20D.

I simply cannot wait for Pentax to do something about this because they release new DSLRs so infrequently. So, after using Pentax for 32 years I'm at the point of giving up. The K7 is a brilliantly built piece of kit but the (Samsung) sensor is the heart of the beast and it simply isn't as good as it could be.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Oct 2009 19:13:15 BDT
Gadget Fan says:
Yeah I decided against purchasing the K7 for time being as well, but largely because I found a deal on a Samsung GX20 that I could not refuse. 304 brand new with the kit lens!

So will be using that until K7 drops a bit. Worth noting that the noise appears to be a little better with 14.6MP sensor, and DP review seem to think they (K7 and K20D/GX20 sensors) are very similar. New review is now out for K-7: <a href="http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/pentaxk20d/page34.asp">K-7 DP Review</a>

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Apr 2010 23:39:26 BDT
I read with interest your disappointment about Pentax cameras. Just a few remarks from another Pentax user:

1) It's true the JPEG output from K10D/K20D is on average more noisy than that of its main competitors, but it is also true that if you look at an authoritative review like the one on dpreview.com, you see that with regard to the RAW output, the K20D performs even better than its rivals! so maybe the problem lies with the noise reduction system, or it's just a deliberate choice. It would be worthwhile to shoot RAW and process the files later with third-part software like noiseninja, and check the difference again
2) with the K20D, I can still get decent images in JPEG up to 1600 ISO. Higher sensitivities are seldom required
3) Ironically, even though the K7 does not seem better in that respect, the entry-level K-x is performing very well at high ISO - I'd suggest you check the reviews.

So on the whole even with the known shortcomings, in my opinion the picture is not so bleak.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2010 09:41:35 BDT
Gadget Fan says:
yes actually the Pentax cameras deal with noise in a slight different way - they tend to be far less aggressive, and as a result, have a lot more detail as well as a little more noise. I prefer their approach as it gives me more options when I get home.

Enrico - yes I have also read about the K-x with interest, to the extent that it might a good second camera - it's reasonably fast as well. For me the number one thing I love about Pentax cameras is the ability to use just about any lens ever produced for a 35mm Pentax.

Posted on 29 Apr 2010 22:08:36 BDT
Thanks for the feedback everyone. That's noise discussed.

Shooting RAW (and not jpeg) with my K10D I still find unacceptable noise in the shadows beyond ISO 400 so I'm reluctant to buy another Pentax, despite my decades of loyalty, unless I can thoroughly test one first. The problem is that I do most of my work in poorly lit rooms, twilight or even at night (astronomy images). In the day time my K10D is brilliant but it needs to be brilliant in difficult conditions too.

Another thing that tips the balance is that the battery grip of my K10D won't fit the K7, which may be a bit small for my giant hands anyway. However, I can see that its compact size is an appealing feature really. (I use a grip for my big hands and because the long exposures taken at night drain batteries.)

Next question: will Pentax ever produce a full frame DSLR? Doesn't look likely (and they won't tell us) so, with a heavy heart, I've decided that I will migrate to a Nikon D700 or, preferably, its rumoured replacement. Fortunately, two D700 users have told me I can borrow their kit for a weekend to see what I think. Nice of them to do that.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2010 08:17:00 BDT
Gadget Fan says:
Nooooo! Seriously the K10D was well noisy, I hear you, but the K20D is less so and very easy to clean up afterwards with lightroom or photoshop. The price and lens range make it a no brainer in my view, as I find a K-7 (or 20D) will produce more detail than the nikon because you can choose how you process the image. I've not heard anymore about a full frame dslr from pentax but there is the medium format camera they have produced - currently Japan only but will eventually come this way - looks like a pretty good spec but have not read a proper review on it yet so jury is out.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 May 2011 08:49:51 BDT
In the days of film we has no anti shake and emulsions of 400asa and over were unacceptably contrasty. We took good photographs though. So why now do we moan about 'only' 400asa? I know many of us use zoom lenses with disappointing maximum apertures of f4 or more but surely we are no worse off overall?

In reply to an earlier post on 23 May 2011 22:31:30 BDT
Gadget Fan says:
Good point Doc, although I go further and suggest noise is not always bad anyway, it can really make an image
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