Short Reports: Pentax K10D
Lots of great features in a weather-resistant, 10-megapixel D-SLR
You expect the costly pro D-SLRs to be weather- and dust-resistant, but it's rare to find that in a lower-priced model. Yet the rugged, 10.2-megapixel K10D from Pentax features a dust- and weather-resistant body (including 72 seals) and a price under $1,000. You can't actually submerge it, but our test camera got drizzled on for several hours (unforecasted phenomenon) during a hike with no ill effects.
Weather resistance is but one of the K10D's assets. It also has a built-in CCD Dust Removal System that uses ultrasonic vibrations to shake dust off the image sensor on command or whenever you switch the camera on-one of my favorite D-SLR features since I hate spending time cloning dust spots off my images.
Another wonderful feature is the Shake Reduction system, which shifts the image sensor to counter camera shake. Because it's in the camera body, the system works with all lenses, not just special stabilized ones—very cool. The downside is that while in-lens stabilization stabilizes both the recorded image and what you see in the viewfinder, sensor-shift stabilization stabilizes only the recorded image—not what you see in the finder. As one who does nearly all my shooting handheld, I love stabilization, especially for long-lens, close-up and dim-light work. A switch on the back of the camera lets you activate or deactivate Shake Reduction as desired; I activated it for everything except panned action shots.
The 10.2-megapixel sensor's image quality is enhanced by a new PRIME imaging engine and a 22-bit analog-to-digital converter. You can record RAW images in either Pentax's PEF format or Adobe's DNG format and switch from JPEG to RAW+JPEG shooting at the touch of a button.
Since I photograph birds mostly, I'm always switching back and forth between single-shot AF (for perching birds) and continuous AF (for moving ones). With the K10D, I enjoyed the ability to do that via a simple switch by the lens mount instead of pressing a button and rotating a dial while referring to an LCD panel.
The K10D can use all Pentax KAF2- and KAF-mount autofocus and KA-mount manual-focus lenses that have an A position on the aperture ring, as well as the current DA and FA J line that lacks aperture rings. This gives the user access to lenses from fisheye through supertelephoto. The sensor's 1.5x magnification factor means any lens used on the K10D frames like a lens 1.5x its focal length used on a 35mm SLR. Estimated Street Price: $919.
Contact: Pentax Imaging, www.pentaximaging.com.