LIST PRICE: $649 (with 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 lens)
A 2.7-inch, 230,000-dot LCD monitor provides three Live View AF options: contrast-based off the image sensor, face-detection contrast AF, which can recognize up to 16 faces and adjust focus and exposure for the main subject’s (largest/closest) face, and phase-difference AF, which utilizes the camera’s normal, quick AF sensor (faster than contrast AF, but briefly disrupts the live image while focusing).
Like other current Pentax D-SLRs, the K-x offers a sensor-shift cleaning and shake-reduction system. Ultrafast vibrations remove dust from the sensor assembly, and when shake-reduction is activated, the sensor automatically shifts to compensate for handheld camera shake. This system works with any lens on the camera, but steadies only the recorded image, not the viewfinder image (it does steady the live image in Live View mode).
While higher-end Pentax D-SLRs run on proprietary rechargeable Li-Ion batteries, the K-x runs off four AA batteries. It can get up to 1,900 shots on a set of lithium AAs, and also can use rechargeable NiMH AA batteries or even disposable alkaline AAs. This is a great feature for travel, as AAs can be found just about anywhere.
Like all Pentax D-SLRs, the K-x can use all Pentax lenses, even medium-format and old screw-mount models (via adapter). When DA-series Pentax lenses are used, the camera automatically corrects for distortion and chromatic aberration.
STANDOUT FEATURE: At the time of its announcement, the K-x is the lowest-priced D-SLR to offer HD video. It can record 720p video at 24 fps, with any Pentax lens. Sound is mono via a built-in mic; there’s no jack for an external stereo mic.
VERDICT: The K-x is an excellent entry-level D-SLR, combining lots of useful features at a very good price.
For the really budget-minded, the K2000 sells for $200 less than the K-x, yet is a very capable camera. Features include a 10.2-megapixel CCD sensor, sensor-shift shake reduction and dust removal, simple operation and use of widely available AA batteries like the K-x. List Price: $449 (with 18-55mm zoom).
Offering all of the K-x’s features and then some, the top-of-the-line K-7 is an excellent choice for those whose photography budgets are more ample. The K-7 features a 14.6-megapixel CMOS sensor, a weather/dust/cold-resistant body, a stereo mic jack for movie sound, a higher-res, 3.0-inch, 921,000-dot LCD monitor, 5.2 fps shooting, a top shutter speed of 1/8000 sec., and lots more. List Price: $1,299.