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back to article Pentax K-7

Last February we looked at the Pentax K-m, a rather tasty entry-level DSLR. Yet the K-7 is a different kettle of fish from the K-m, it’s a more advanced model aimed at the enthusiast/semi-pro market. Pentax K-7 Environment friendly? Pentax's K-7 Measuring up at 96.5 x 130.5 x 72.5mm and weighing 750g with battery and card, …

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Great camera

I have my K-7 since last September, and have had nothing but joy from it. I used mine in sub-zero temperatures, 2,200 metres up a mountain in Austria recently in a snowstorm and it just kept on shooting video and stills, despite being completely covered in snow. In a nutshell, best camera I ever owned.

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Sensitivity priority and it's inverse

Sensitivity priority sounds more like the gimicky feature than its opposite. Nerds might like to hold an ISO setting to minimise noise, but photogs would probably want to hold a specific aperture and shutter speed and let the camera care about ISO.

1024i at 30fps sounds like a weird option. Can't say I'd ever want to use it. Otherwise seems like a top camera.

One of the sample pics was slightly freaky, definitely one of those 'when you see it, you'll ejest bricks' pictures.

One final note on the sample pics: the bookshelf is too colourful to show up noise at a glance. So some people hate the blue door, I don't care, but a more uniform slab of colour helps to highlight noise.

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Sv and TAv modes

I don't use Sv mode much, but it is useful if you quickly want to use Program mode with a specific ISO setting - which is effectively what it is.

"photogs would probably want to hold a specific aperture and shutter speed and let the camera care about ISO."

- You can do exactly that with TAv mode - a mode unique to Pentax, I think.

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Recycled Canon tech?

I couldn't help but notice that the LCD panel on the top is almost identical to the LCD panel on my 15 year old Canon (film) SLR. Nice though that you can read settings from top - I miss that on my 500D.

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re; Recycled Canon tech?

Try the 40D or 50D - nice big LCD on top...

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FAIL

it's all about the lenses...

Unfortunately, Pentax have been pretty absent from the keen amateur scene for several years, so it's unlikely to be a popular choice.

Why choose Pentax, when theres a wide range of new and secondhand Canon & Nikon lenses available? They may pick up some sales to new amateurs, but anyone intending to spend some serious cash will choose a better supported system. I still use EOS lenses on my 5D that I bought over 20 years ago!

However good this is & however it compares with it's peers, it will always be 3rd choice at best - possibly even 5th or 6th choice after Bridge cameras.

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The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

@tangerine Sedge. "I still use EOS lenses on my 5D that I bought over 20 years ago!"

And I'm using Pentax lenses from 20 years ago with my K7 - what's your point?

I concur with the K7's battery-life, ruggedness and weatherproofness. Over Christmas and New Year I took 650+ photos and there was still plenty of charge left. I covered a Boxing Day swim in the Isle of Wight (horzontal rain) and managed to drop the camera too. The K7 still hasn't missed a beat yet.

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Happy

Too right, It's all about the lenses.

I'm using 30 year old lenses on my Digital Pentax SLR.

As a consequence, they've all got shake reduction.

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It's still about the lenses.

So you have an image stabilised auto-focus 300mm f2.8 then?

How about ultra wide angles, soft focus, macro etc etc Nikon/Canon have a multitude of different lenses aimed at different price points, and that's before we start considering the 3rd party lense manufacturers.

Canon probably has more versions of it's 50mm lense than Pentax has different lenses in its entire current line-up!

I was going to compare the results from a well known high-street & online shop, i.e. Pentax vs Canon, but they didn't even have a category for Pentax lenses ;)

If you need to justify why you bought Pentax, fine, but I suggest it wasn't for the wide availability of lenses...

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Where does this stupid idea come from that there is a shortage of lenses for Pentax?

As well as dozens of new ones, there are thousands of lenses on the second-hand market to fit Pentax digital SLRs. All K-mount lenses from the last 35 years can be used, as well as M42 lenses (with an adapter) from even before that.

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Good point on shake reduction

Ivan's point is worth calling out. UNLIKE Canon and Nikon, Pentax puts shake reduction in the camera body. Thus, 30 year old lenses work with shake reduction turned on. And brand new lenses can be smaller and cheaper than an equivalent Nikon and Canon lenses which must put shake reduction inside each lens. There are advantages and disadvantages to each system, as with everything in life, but the original big advantage of putting it in the lens is that it worked with 35mm film cameras (before digital even existed). That advantage for Nikon and Canon is now gone and more of a historical decision they continue to live with.

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WTF?

Mine is bigger than yours, ner ner

"So you have an image stabilised auto-focus 300mm f2.8 then?"

Who really cares? Hardly anyone actually buys lenses like that, and if they do, they probably know in advance not to get a Pentax. It's not exactly sort of lens you buy on a whim.

"If you need to justify why you bought Pentax, fine, but I suggest it wasn't for the wide availability of lenses..."

Look! My camera system has more lenses than yours! It MUST be better!

No. Maybe people buy Pentax (or Sony or Olympus or Panasonic) cameras because those systems have the actual lenses they need, along with cameras that have the features they need.

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Pirate

Nice 'Big Picture' view, Mr Myopia

Wow! Guess Pentax should pack it up. I mean, who needs competition when the fave' brands of the great tangerine Sedge have the market sewed up already. In fact, maybe Nikon should pack it in as well, Canon being so super awesome. Now you'd have exactly what you deserve: no competition, no new tech; just the same old thing repackaged each year! Enjoy your Ford Pinto.

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Anonymous Coward

tangerine Sedge

You obviously see a different scene to I do - sure go into the clubs and you will see the normal pro chose Canon/Nikon - but how many people will spend more than £1K on a lens? Filter those out - and the choices become much more comparable with Pentax

Why choice Pentax - better ergonomics than Canon - cheaper than Nikon. Prime Lenses.

Why not chose Pentax - wildlife and sports - very little choice of new fast lenses of 300mm and above

Yes I have a K7 and like it - I also have a 40D & 50D (and might buy a 7D this year) which I love the 400mm F4 lens on but not the cameras

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J 3
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Gee...

I'm sorry for you guys across the pond... You really get ripped off -- the price here in 'Merka is the same digits as there, just change the currency sign.

Anyway, I have a K10D, which is very good, but I'm waiting for the price of the K7 to lower so I can get one. Very nice piece of kit indeed. And I can use ANY Pentax lens made in the past 50 years or more and still have the benefit of image stabilization.

"curiously, Pentax's on-line shop prices at only £30 more than the body-only listing"

Not curiously at all, if you've been looking at Pentax gear. That 18-55 lens that comes in the kit (same as the one that came with my K10D) is the cheapest ass lens they have. It sells by itself for $100 or so. It is quite soft at larger apertures. Take the same picture, perfectly focused (e.g. focus and then switch to manual focus to be sure the comparison is fair), at f2 and f8 or 11. It will look a little out of focus, soft, for the large apertures (f2), looks great for the lower ones. Of course that happens to ANY lens, and optimum sharpness is usually around f8-11, but the degree of that problem varies with lens quality.

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Happy

@ Tangerine Sedge

So you have an image stabilised auto-focus 300mm f2.8 then?

No I don't personally but I do have a 32 year old image stabilised 600mm catadiaoptic that I can hand-hold. (Made by Vivitar as it happens - with a screw mount too.)

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Old lenses

As it happens, Pentax mounts were widely used in the past, by many camera manufacturers, and so were available on most lenses sold. But there were some quite exotic lenses made by Canon and Nikon and Olympus. Canon and Nikon dominated press photography. Some features of the Olympus cameras suited them for quite specialised technical photography. Pentax compatibility, whether from Pentax themselves or from some store-owned badge-brand such as Miranda from Dixons, covered what most people wanted.

I'm trying to figure inflation: this might be cheap, compared to the equivalent Pentax film camera of 30 years ago. But Pentax cameras were at the top end of the price-range, and it was worth putting your moeny into the lens, rather than the camera.

So this is a temptation, but one I shall have to resist. Besides digital camera still struggle to handle wide-angle photography.

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Wide-angle

"Digital cameras still struggle to handle wide-angle photography".

Excellent lenses to provide 10mm rectlinear and fisheye are available for Pentax. On digital, that's equivalent to 15mm on 35mm film. How wide do you want to go?

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Simply VFM

When I switched to digital I went Pentax because I needed a robust camera and I was also attracted to the huge back catalogue of excellent prime lenses. I have a K10D and a K20D, both so far faultless despite some rough handling and the odd accidental plummet onto concrete.

The combination of price and features meant that the comparable Cankon was always between 50-100% more expensive, and that remains the case today.

If you think Pentax lenses are a bit rubbish then perhaps you could check out the enormous prices they fetch used on eBay. I just managed to get a classic 50mm f1.4 F lens, but it cost me an arm and a leg. However, as it was voted the third best prime lens ever made, I'm still a happy bunny.

My neighbour is a wildlife photographer and uses Canon. But the camera body is the cheapest component in his set up - his 400mm lens cost more than my car. And his everyday Tamron 28-300 cost £200 more than the one for my Pentaxes - the extra cost due to the in lens IS.

Horses for courses.

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Pentax system

Interesting review. Pity they only use the kit lens, loved to have seen their comments with a lens that Pentax consider equal to the camera body such as maybe the FA43mm Limited or DA* 55mm as these will surely the calibre of lenses that a Pentax user might want to pair with a K-7. With regards to lens availability as brought up in the previous comments Pentax actually is pretty well sorted. You have the consumer line of kits lenses that come in 3 ranges. DAL, DA and DA WR with the DAL being the lowest grade and lightest with the WRs being marked weather resistant, These come in 18-55 and 50-200 ranges. There is a prosumer range that would include the 10-17 f4.0, 12-24 f4.0, 16-45 f4.0, 17-70 f4.0 and 55-300 f4.0-5.6 lenses. These are all highly regarded but are bulkier and heavier that the kit lenses. I have both the 16-45 and 55-300 and if I also include a FA50 f1.4 that I also have then I have the perfect travelling kit. Nice range, wide to telephoto and speed when I need it.

If I want to spend more money and get weather resistant pro level type zooms then I have the following options DA* 16-50 f2.8. DA* 50-135 f2.8 & DA* 60-250 f4.0 . But then we have to consider Pentax's real area of expertise and probably the best fit that Pentax have in mind for the K-7, the Primes. Starting off with the DA standard primes being the 14 f2.8 you move through to the DA Limiteds.

These are all alloy constructions, small and light with outstanding build quality. You have 15 f4.0, 21 f3.2, 35 f2.8 Macro, 40 f2.8, and 70 f2.4 to choose from. Then there is the DFAs, 50 f2.8 Macro, 100 f2.8 Macro with the 100 being refreshed recently to WR standard with rounded aperature blades. There are also the pro spec weather resistant DA*55 f1.4, 200 f2.8 and 300 f4.0 primes and then finally the FAs being split into standard FA50 f1.4 and the FA Limiteds.... the 31 f1.8, 43 f1.9, 77 f1.8. It is worth buying into the Pentax system for these 3 lenses alone. 3 of the finest quality primes ever made on any system. The 43 stands out for being also sold in Leica format, think about that one, what did Leica want with a Pentax lens ;-)

Saying that, we could always use more lenses, I have 14 at last count and I only started using the K20D (the K-7s predecessor) in Dec 08. And for Pentax people, its always been about the glass, 40 or more years of Pentax compatible glass all stablised, anything from 10mm to 1200mm. You have the Takumars, the Ks, the Ms, the As, Fs, FAs, DAs, millions and millions to choose from :-) also, Zeiss, Voightlander, Tamron, Sigma....... The Pentax system will always be there, its just evolving

S!

ps, there is a stablised pro spec 300, its called the FA*300 f2.8 and it would happily go toe to toe against any rival from Canon or Nikon. It and its big brother the FA*600 f4.0 were until quite recently available to special order from Pentax in Japan.

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Sensitivity priority

For me, Sv mode turns out to be useful when working with a lens which has a long zoom range (in my case, the Pentax DA 55-300mm). It makes it very easy to click the ISO up and down as you move through the zoom range. My camera's set so the ISO is on the rear dial, while the front dial adjusts the program line.

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