Pentax K7 Real World Review in Photos – I have had the pleasure of having quite a few cameras come through my home in the past few months. Compacts, DSLRs, and all kinds of lenses. Some cameras that I try I do not care for at all so I send them right back. Sure I could write up a horrible review but why? I only want to write about cameras and gear that I enjoy and that I feel are worth writing about. For example, I have had a Canon G11 here for a few weeks and just cannot grow to like it. Sure, it has a nice body but for me the image quality just does not do it for me. I achieved much better IQ from the Leica D-Lux 4, which is the same as the $340 Panasonic LX3. Also, with its lack of HD video I just could not get along with it. I think there are much better options out there in the compact camera market. I think the G11 should be a $300 camera, not $500.
But I am not here today to write about the Canon G11. I am here today to talk about the Pentax K7 DSLR which has been out for a while now, but it is new to me and I have sort of fallen for it! Why? Well, for the past year or two I have not been a huge fan of any DSLR’s but this is only because I am not a fan of large bulky cameras. I am a small guy and when I have a big camera I never take it with me anywhere. It’s just too much of a hassle and burden and I do not enjoy it. The Pentax K7 has now changed that. It is the first DSLR I have had through my hands that I actually really enjoyed and have been taking with me everywhere. It is a small 14Mp DSLR, it has a solid pro build, it is weather sealed with 77 seals, it has a great 100% viewfinder, amazing battery life, every feature you could ever want as well as 720P HD video. Oh, and Pentax also makes some VERY nice prime lenses that are small and fast. Just how I like them. The best part? The K7 can be had for under $1000. Yep, a direct competitor to cameras like the Nikon D300 and even the Canon 7D but smaller and cheaper. Hmmm…this could get interesting!
A foggy morning down the golden road – Pentax K7 and Pentax FA 77 Limited lens
Being a Leica shooter I am used to small cameras and small lenses that give me gorgeous files and quality but a DSLR it is not. The Leica M9 is a rangefnder camera and is my camera of choice due to its quality, size, feel, and simplicity but the Pentax has the size, the features, and the versatility that only a DSLR can give. My Leica can not do AF, it does not do video, it does not have any Macro or telephoto capabilities. I thought that the Pentax may be a great companion to my Leica M9 for those times when I want a big zoom, or a macro, or to just get in closer with my lenses. Truth be told, there are at least 3 or 4 times per year that I wish I had a DSLR and I do not really want to spend big bucks on a Canon 5DII or D700 system. Both AWESOME DSLR’s but for my minimal use, they are not only out of my budget, I find them large and heavy when a good lens is attached.
So after some research and reading about how many happy Pentax users there are I decided to investigate. I found that the Pentax K7 was the top dog in the Pentax line so I had to try one out. When I opened the box I was pleasantly surprised at just how small but solid this camera is. It’s a mini tank and it has great ergonomics. I remember the day I got it…I was shooting and testing and told my wife that this was it! This is the DSLR I have been looking for to add as a sidekick to my M9! It’s funny how excited I sometimes get when I try something new for the first time. The bad thing is that usually the excitement fades and I end up finding things about the camera that I do not like. The only camera that has held my passion and excitement is the Leica M8 and M9 and to some extent the Olympus E-P2. Every other camera got old quick for one reason or another wether that was size, weight or quality.
I have been shooting with the Pentax for over a month now and I am still enjoying it. Before I get into my review lets first go over the specs of this Pentax beauty…
The Pentax K7 Features:
Packed with features, the Pentax K-7 Digital SLR Camera brings next-generation technology to the time-tested, world renowned family of Pentax SLRs. Compatible with every Pentax K mount lens (some 25 million are out there), the durable, magnesium alloy body houses a newly-developed 14.6 megapixel CMOS sensor for rich color, sharp contrast, and the very best in image quality. The PRIME II processing engine allows for fast 5.2 frames-per-second shooting – great for wildlife, fast action sports, and adventure photography. Fortified with the 11-point SAFOX VIII+ Autofocus System and Advanced Shake Reduction Technology, the K-7 keeps all of your subjects in sharp focus, even in low-light.
High Definition Video Capture, perhaps the most sought after feature in SLR Digital Cameras, comes to the Pentax System in big way. Smooth 30-frames-per-second 1024p and 720p video are as easy as point and shoot. HDMI output from the body makes sharing your photos and movies on an HDTV possible with a single plug. An onboard internal mono microphone allows you to capture spontaneous audio with video, and the 3.5mm stereo input offers higher quality options for professional applications. From family vacations to professional wedding video, the Pentax K-7 offers everything you need to capture next-generation photos and video!
14.6 Megapixel CMOS Sensor
The K-7 Digital SLR uses a low-power, low-heat 14.6 megapixel CMOS Image Sensor, which yields less image noise and longer battery life. CMOS technology also allows a higher density of circuitry at the pixel level allowing for greater sensitivity, higher tonal range, and superior image quality.
Tough, Rugged Body
Lightweight and highly durable, the Pentax K-7 is weather resistant, dust-proof, and can even operate in extreme cold environments (14°F / -10°C). The stainless steel chassis provides a tough, protective frame while the magnesium alloy shell blocks outside interference–ensuring consistent signal processing for high-quality, low-noise images.
Compatible with All Pentax Interchangeable Lenses
Over the last 60 years, Pentax has manufactured over 25 million lenses. The K-7 can use them all. The camera provides backward compatibility with K, KA, KAF and KAF2 mount lenses directly and is also compatible with screw-mount 35mm-format lenses and Pentax 645 and 67 system lenses with optional adapters. Whichever lens you choose, be assured that your photos will show the warmth, style, and beauty of the Pentax optical system.
Advanced Shake Reduction Technology
The Pentax Shake Reduction (SR) System is an electromagnetically controlled stabilizer built into the body to ensure shake-free photos with any lens. Unlike traditional two-way stabilization systems, SR compensates for movement in three directions–horizontal, vertical, and rotational. By detecting handheld camera shake, sharpness is dramatically increased when using telephoto lenses, working under low light conditions or in any instance where unwanted shake may affect a photograph.
HD Video Recording
The K-7 is the first Pentax SLR to feature full HD recording capability. 1024p or 720p videos are captured at a smooth 30 frames-per-second with sound. Attach an external microphone or wireless receiver for more professional audio options. Full HD playback on your HDTV is easy using an optional HDMI cable.
Live View Mode
Live View mode, with contrast AF, Face Detection, and optional histogram, grid, and bright/dark area display, allows you to quickly compose your images without having to position your eye against the viewfinder.
Electronic Level Indicator
Finding the perfect horizon is fast and easy using the K-7’s built-in Electronic Level Indicator. From dramatic portraiture to wide landscape photography, the level indicator is truly an indispensable tool for hand-held and tripod photography.
SAFOX VIII+ Autofocus System
Nine cross-type sensors, 2 wide angle sensors, and a dedicated AF assist lamp combine for fast one-shot autofocus, as well as AF tracking. From close-ups of flowers to a fast play on the court.
“Working Hands” – Pentax K7 with Pentax FA 31 Limited 1.8 Lens. Converted to B&W with Silver Efex Pro.
Listed above are the main features of the K7 but it is so much more than that. This DSLR is one of the most customizable cameras I have ever shot with, and it is easy to customize. It took me a few days of going through the somewhat generic looking menus but now it is a piece of cake to set up and configure. Here is my first look video I posted a week ago in case you missed it. It is nearly 10 minutes and goes over the camera and its menu.
In the above video you can see how nice the camera looks. I really like its external dials and buttons. This makes it easy to change settings without having to go to a menu to change your settings. The nice thing is that all of these dials and buttons feel solid and have solid clicks, just as a pro camera should have. I also like the battery door which is solid and has a twist out latch. The body of the K7 gets an A+, ESPECIALLY at its price point!
My review here will be another “Real World” review and not a test bench type of review. Basically, the camera and my opinion of it as a photographer, not a gear geek. I will let the camera results speak for themselves here and not by showing a chart that shows how much resolution the camera really pumps out. So I hope you enjoy it.
Pentax K7 with the 18-55 Kit Zoom
Could This Be The One?
After a few weeks with the K7 I can say that I was almost there! One night after about 3 weeks of use I was sitting at my computer ready to hit the buy button for this camera along with a couple of lenses. I have only a small budget for a DSLR and for the price of a 5DMKII body only I could buy the K7 and two or three nice primes. I was about ready to do it when I started reading about the newer Pentax Kx.
I was enjoying my time with the K7 immensely but I kept hearing that the newer, cheaper Pentax Kx had better image quality, especially at higher ISO. It is true that the K7 does not have the best high ISO performance. Once you hit 800 you can see it creeping in and higher than that it starts to get ugly. At least in my living room test shots it did. Only problem with the Kx is that it does not have the nice solid build of the K7, the top LCD is gone and it is more of a starter DSLR. When it comes to cameras I not only enjoy the image taking capabilities but also the feel and build. I find that when you use a nice feeling camera that you really enjoy holding and looking through then it inspires confidence. With confidence comes better results. But at $530 WITH a newer version of the K7 kit zoom I could not ignore the Kx. So I did not hit that buy button because I want to try out the Kx before I decide.
UPDATE: Just found out he Kx only takes AA batteries which means for me, it is not an option as I hate buying batteries or being out of them.
K7 High ISO Quality – Good or Bad?
Most of you reading this probably are already aware but the one slightly negative thing I found with the K7 is it’s high ISO performance. It is not up to the NIkon D300S or the Canon 7D which are this cameras competitors. It lags a bit behind and as I already stated and by ISO 800 you start to see noise creep in to your images and the noise is not really the most attractive noise I have come across (when shooting in low low light). The K7 is not a DSLR you would want if you were looking for a low light camera. Sure it can do lower light with a fast lens but you will get some grain and noise.
But what the hell. Noise Schmoise….I said SCREW IT! I want to see how it does when taking some “real” photos. I have said it a million and one times…a camera is made to take photos. It is not made to take pictures of brick walls (though I do that from time to time anyway) or newspaper text. So I called up my Mother and said “Hey, lets go exploring!” We took a drive and found an old burned up house. It appeared the fire was recent and we carefully went inside as nothing was blocking it off and the doors were burned off. I set the K7 to ISO 1250 and took some shots…
The next three shots were all at ISO 1250 with the bundled kit zoom lens
Sure these are resized (click them for larger views) but I had no issues with ISO 1250 out in the real world and as a matter of fact I was surprised by how good the images were. I am sure I will still have those of you wanting to see higher ISO testing so for those that want to see higher ISO’s in a more “testy” kind of way, here you go…
Now in these samples the high ISO does not look so bad at all huh? I would go up to 2500 if I had to and is what I am used to with my Leica M9. The M9’s highest ISO is 2500 and I have used it many times. With the K7 that would be my limit as well.
So while the high ISO may not be up to D300s and Canon 7D standards, its not awful. All of this ISO talk had me going back to the Canon D30 (not the 30D) and I remember how noisy it was at ISO 400 yet we were all so thrilled with its 3MP and $2500 price tag.
One thing to remember with high ISO shooting though…the darker it is where you shoot, the more noise there will be. My samples above were shot in my living room in the evening but it was not dark out. Some light was coming in to the house but no direct light. If you shoot the camera in dark areas, say at ISO 3200 or 6400 then this is what you will get…
ISO 3200 in VERY low light – my office with all lights off. It looks bright due to the slow shutter speed and high ISO. This was ISO 3200, 1/8th second at F1.8 with the 77 Limited.
CLICK HERE to download the full size out of camera file
ISO 6400, 1/20s, F1.8 77mm – CLICK HERE for full size OOC file
My thoughts on the K7’s image quality..
One word. Superb! For the money, under $1000, this is one of the best DSLR’s out there, if not the best. I already have talked about the tank like build, the weather sealing, the great ergonomics, and hinted about the battery life, which is up there with the Nikons. I shot a load of images and video and never drained my 1st charge. As I write this I still have charge left on the battery. I have had this for a month! So yea, this camera has so much going for it and I have found that it is a true “photographers camera”. Pentax seems to get it and if they could somehow manage to take this K7 body and put in a full frame sensor…wow, now that would be a camera to beat.
As it is, the K7 has an APS-C sensor which is smaller than full frame but larger than micro 4/3. This means that the K7 has the potential to deliver better IQ than cameras like the E-P2, GF1, and GH1 but it may not have the quality, dynamic range or quality of a full frame sensor camera. In plain English, the bigger the sensor, the better the IQ. The K7 has the same size sensor as cameras like the Nikon D300s, D90, etc. As for the image quality, I feel it is right up there with the Nikon and Canon crop cameras. The Pentax has natural colors and probably the best Auto White Balance I have seen on any digital camera to date. Seriously. The AWB is better than my $7000 Leica M9 AWB. Also better than the Nikon D300s I had through here recently.
Overall, the quality of the images from the K7 are stellar at ISO 100-1000. After 1000 we start to get the noise and slight color loss, but shooting at lower ISO’s will give you rich colorful images with nice skin tones, great reds, and an overall natural look. All of these things can be customized in the K7 but what I am showing you here are all pretty much out of camera results. I do shoot RAW though for best quality.
Here is some gorgeous out of camera color with the K7 and Limited 31 lens
The 77 Limited 1.8 wide open at ISO 640 – Natural colors and beautiful rendering. Some purple blooming but this is a digital thing, not a lens thing.
The 31 Limited at 2.5 where it starts to really come into its element… (you can click here for the out of camera full size file)
Even the kit zoom looks great. Shot at F4, 1/60s, ISO 100, 26mm
So I have no complaints at all with the image quality of the Pentax K7. In fact, it is one of the most pleasing and enjoyable DSLR’s I have shot with in the past couple of years.
Other things I like about the Pentax K7
Besides the magnesium allow over stainless steel build, superb feel, customization options, and all of the other good stuff I also like the following:
The shutter: Wow. This shutter reminds me so much of the old Olympus E1. NOT the E-P1 but the original 5 Megapixel E-1. It is quiet, smooth, and silky. No clunk-n-chunk like the Canons and Nikons. Why can’t every camera manufacturer make a shutter this nice sounding? When I hear it I think “silk”. Very smooth. Also, it is a 1/8000 shutter rated to 100,000 “fires”.
The LCD: 3″, 920,000 pixels. Looks nice, sharp, colorful..really do not need anything better than this on any camera.
DNG RAW: I love shooting in DNG as it is widely supported. Thumbs up for this option in the K7. Yes, it is an option as you can pick between DNG or PEF.
Want action? The K7 can do 5.2 FPS. No it is not 8 FPS but for me, 5 is PLENTY. Depending on what you need to catch it may be enough for you as well.
Shake Reduction – This is in body and works VERY well. When recording video with the wider end of the kit zoom it almost looks like you are using a steadycam. Very nice.
Kit Lens: The kit lens while a cheapie is actually quite good. The first DSLR kit lens I actually like. No it’s not like a Canon L but it does the job nicely.
Customization: You could spend a couple of hours getting this camera set up to your exact needs and wants. It has it all, and this is pretty cool.
External Buttons: No need for menu digging. Everything you need is a button click or dial twist away.
Metering: The new 77 segment metering works well. I had no issues with under or over exposure when using the multi-segment metering.
Viewfinder: 0.92 mag with a 100% view. Nice.
Dust Removal: The K7 has a built in Dust Remover and this is ALWAYS a good thing. We all hate sensor dust bunnies.
AF: Focus is fast and locks on accurately. When I use the FA lenses, AF is slower but the kit zoom is fast. It’s not Nikon good but its very good.
Battery Life: Battery life seems to last a loooong time. Bravo for this.
Electronic Leveler: The K7 actually rotates the sensor to make your images level. Amazing!
RAW button: More cameras should have this. One press of the RAW button and you can go from JPEG to RAW to JPEG/RAW.
The Video: I find the video quality VERY good on the K7 and prefer to shoot in the 720 P mode.
Lenses: I never realized how many GREAT lenses are out there for the Pentax line. I am talking about primes. The DA and FA line of primes all seem to be stellar lenses and is what I would be buying with the camera. They are made extremely well (the limiteds) and while are not up there with Leica quality they are better than most in regards to build, and they are SMALL! The 77 1.8 is VERY small, very Leica like, and I like it better than the legendary Nikon 85 1.4 on a Nikon camera.
Some things I dislike about the Pentax K7
Live View: I find live view clunky on all DSLR’s, not just the Pentax K7.
Movie Mode is a little Clunky: I would like to see 24 FPS and 1080P and a more streamlined interface. A dedicated movie record button would be nice.
Menu System: This could be improved. When I first received the camera I thought the menu system was a bit generic but I have gotten used to it. Still, it could use some help.
HDR mode: Pure sales gimmik IMO and gives less than desirable results.
Speaking of the K7’s HDR Mode…YUCK!
I tested it out and figured since I did try it that I might as well post the samples here. I did not like the HDR mode at all but some of you may enjoy it.As I stated above, I think its a gimmick to sell more cameras. I would never ever use it.
Ahhhh…Those gorgeous Limited lenses…
I was able to get a hold of two FA Limited lenses this week and absolutely love them! The Pentax FA 31 and 77 Limited 1.8 primes are beautifully made, nice and small and give great color and quality. The 31 is softer than the 77 wide open but by F2-2.5 it really sharpens up. I love the color and contrast of these lenses and can EASILY recommend them to any Pentax user. To me these two FA Limiteds, (especially the 77) are the equivalent of Canon L glass. Basically, these are some of the lenses Pentax users lust for, and for good reason.
IMAGES OF LENSES HERE
Some images from the 31 and 77…
31 at 1.8
77 at 2.8
31 at 1.8
77 at 1.8
77 at 1.8
31 at 1.8
The Pentax K7 is another DSLR with HD video capabilities. BUT, are they any good? The K7 has options for a non standard 1536X1024 as well as standard 12870 X 720, or 640X416. These are saved as Motion JPEGS. No Auto Focus while shooting and Pentax skimped here as all recording is done via a MONO built in mic. You can add a mic by using the 3.5 stereo jack on the camera, so if you really want better sound the options are there. I found the video to be VERY good on the K7, especially when shooting with a wider angle. The image stabilization works VERY well. Much better than the Olympus E-P2 in body IS. Here is a quick video samples showing some test video. I did not have anything cool to shoot so it is just stuff around my house but you can get the idea of how the video looks.
I recommend setting the youtube player below to 720P for the best looking image quality.
BTW, you can manually set the aperture before you start shooting so if you want those cool shallow depth of field effects in your video, it is easy to achieve with a fast lens set wide open.
My Bottom Line Conclusion
My time with the Pentax K7 has come to an end and if you have not already noticed, I really liked it. No, I really really liked it. Honestly, the ONLY weakness I have found with this camera is that it’s high ISO is not up there with the equivalent Nikon and Canon DSLR’s. Even with that said, the ISO performance is not as bad as many make it out to be. Overall I feel that this is the BEST DSLR you can get for under $1000. PERIOD. It’s build, features, quality, video, and size/weight all add up to make this a bargain in the DSLR world. If you are looking to get into a DSLR system and are not yet committed to a particular brand AND do not want to spend a fortune then I highly doubt you would be disappointed in the Pentax K7. I may end up with one myself really soon or I may wait it out, who knows. But for those who want a camera NOW and have been on the fence then I can highly recommend the Pentax K7 and of course any of the FA or DA lenses.
Will I abandoned my M9 for one? NO WAY but I may buy one to add as a companion to my M9 for those times when I want macro, telephoto or video. It has what I have been looking for in a DSLR and that is SMALL size, SUPERB build and HIGH quality!
Buying the Pentax K7
You can buy this camera at B&H Photo HERE and you can also buy it at AMAZON. By using the links here to make a purchase you will be helping to support this growing site so Thank you!
Here are a few more images during my time with the Pentax K7. These are all with the Kit Zoom, 18-55.
18mm, ISO 500, f5.6 – Straight from camera color!
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Outstanding post however I was wondering if you could write a litte more
on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more.
Hi Steve, i my fault was that i did not venture away from Nikkorlandia earlier than i should. My voyage towards Pentax was a long route: Nikon F-> M43 -> Pentax K, which was a necessity since i have come to love the old Takumars/M42 Soviet-era lenses and i wanted to harness their potentials. I can’t focus to infinity with NikonF without sacrificing glass quality so i reckoned the best way is to go with the K-mount. Today i found a near-mint K7 which i have already locked-to-purchase. Intend to use this as my hobby toy for adapting vintage lenses as i have a go-to D7100 for low-light chores. My dilemma now is that i may have to put myself in a straight-jacket as i have a very bad case of G.A.S. (the primes are irresistible). Thanks, you are very inspiring.
I bought the K7 and I like it had Nikon before just keep returning to Pentax and I am happy just have to figure what prime lenses work best. Bought my from Japan so Its a good deal for me only paid 280.00 with shipping and 7000 clicks seems to work well for me I am in hog heaven. Next Camera to buy this summer is Black Magic cinema see how cheap I can get that one just bugs me abut the audio!
A little late to the party but, I have just bought a used K-7 from ebay for $340 and I totally love it! It’s a camera that truly inspires.
Тhere is ԁefinately a lot to know about this issuе.
I love all of the points you made.
PENTAX K-7 FIRMWARE UPDATE VERSION (1.12) improved reliability of recording operation when using SDXC memory card. March 01, 2012
Great real-world review. Shall keep my eye on the Pentax DSLR range and see if they do bring out a new version in the next year or so.
Bet it would be Ian, I sure would like to switch from my K20D. I have been shooting jazz performance and stage performance at 800 ISO and get some very good shots, but your really have to work at it. Lots of discard for blur as you are not getting up to a very high shutter speed. You can see some results here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150391347700664.399438.553045663&l=1b9e0b95e0&type=1
There are some in this set not up to the standards I would like to have my name attached to but are included to cover all the players. On the other hand a few came out quite well at 800 ISO. Most are 1/90 or 1/125 at f/2.8, which is wide open on the SMC DA 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM lens that was the used. Everything I read here and elsewhere has me convinced I could do a lot better with a K7 body.
BTW, hate shooting with flash for the most part, hence the lust for better high ISO.
Thank you for the amazing review. You just convinced me into buying the Pentax K7.
Je viens de lire cette page web très intéressante…J’ai surtout regardé les photos prises avec le 77mm. Franchement très efficace! Personnellement, j’ai eu un k7, mais je ne l’ai gardé que 3 semaines. Commandé avec le 18-55, j’ai été très déçu de la qualité des photos qui manquaient cruellement de piqué! J’apprécie aussi prendre des photos la nuit. Et sur ce point, le K7 s’est montré trop limité. Le bruit était trop présent dès 1600iso. L’autofocus n’était de plus pas très efficace; j’ai donc décidé de m’en séparé…au profit d’un Nikon d90 (+35mm 1.8, 50mm 1.8). Je ne regrette jamais ce que je fais. Et pour l’instant, je ne suis content de mon d90.
Malgré tout, je me rends compte que je me suis séparé un peu hâtivement de mon K7. Je ne me suis fié qu’aux résultats obtenus avec le mauvais 18 55wr. j’aurai surement du attendre un peu et m’acheter quelques focales fixes (j’adore les focales fixes en plus!!). mais bon, ce n’est pas grave!
Autrement, j’ai adoré le look de cet appareil très vintage. La construction était au top! Le bruit du déclencheur très doux, la prise en main très bien étudiée (Pentax a étudié la position, l’inclinaison du déclencheur et des molettes pour que tout soit naturel!), le paramétrage ultra complet de l’appareil, le menu très clair, etc.
Depuis le K5 est sorti, apportant au passage toutes le améliorations nécessaires…
Longue vie à Pentax! Ciao!
It was great to read that I had actually made the right choice when I purchased my PENTAX K7. A purchase that I made to increase the zoom capability of my 100-300 lens I have after purchasing a PENTAX MZ50 kit, a few years ago now. I thank you for reassuring me that I have done the right thing. After very recently completing a one day photography course I was feeling like I should have bought a CANON as they seemed to be very popular, maybe they just have advertising and promotion all sewn up heh !!!!
Thanks again Steve I feel a whole lot better now and I can see that I have potential to become a much better photographer.
K7 Firmware Update: V1.11 SDXC memory card compatibility Jan. 13, 2011
I liked this review very much for the honesty and enthusiasm. I particularly liked the ‘down to earth’ and ‘real world’ emphasis. I was previously almost settled on buying the new Nikon D7000 with 18-200mm lens but am now VERY seriously thinking of the Pentax K7.
Many thanks, Steve.
Thanks for the great review as it is the most honest that i have read since looking at the K7. Up until September i was using a Nikon D300 with two kit lenses and two Sigma lenses, thing for my wife and i had not been running well in the finacial stakes just like many others around the world. As it was coming upto winter I said to my wife that i would sell my kit so as i could feel happy about her driving to work with winter tyres on the car, Anyway i put my kit on ebay and took a massive hit not getting near what i should have. Oh well these thing happen the rough comes ahead of the smooth.
I started to notice the pentax again after all i had an old EP1 many years ago. I have looked at the K7 and i will say that for me it is nearly better than a certain 3 letter word, so i have started saving what little i can and i know it will be a couple of years before i can afford to buy one but thanks to your review i now know for certain what camera i will be buying.
So again Steve thanks for your honesty and your time to bring the review to us whoever we are and from where ever we are.
Steve and all,
I have the K7 and after about 8800 snaps, I found deNoise by Topaz for Photoshop…~140.00 and it is amazing in terms of straighten out the noise. I don’t have the URL, but dl a trial, it is well worth it.
Great review Steve,Thanks.
Currently I have three Leica R-lens (3 cam, a 50mm, a 90mm and a 180mm) from my Leica R3.
Since you are a Leica-ist I would appreciate some advice/help to choose an adapter for using my R-lens on a Pentax K7 digital body. I think that K7 and R-lens would be a good match.
Leitax have an adapter ring but mounting it on an R-lens involves removing the 2 cams and although the process is reversible it is inconvenient if I want to use the lens on the R3 again. Do you know if it exists on the market an adapter that does not require dismounting and re-mounting cams. I am thinking of something similar to the Panasonic R Mount Adaptor DMW-MA3R. Do you know if NOVOLFEX has a similar adapter?
I hope to read your review on the Pentax K5, just announced at Photokina in Cologne.
Thank you very much for your advice. Loc
Hey Steve, great review. I’m an old school K1000 guy getting back into photography. Planning on shooting allot of low light as I have been following a country music group I really dig.
Have been using a 14+ Megapixel Sony point & shoot and it’s dreadful in low light. I’m pretty much “locked” into a Pentax because of 1) Brand Loyalty & 2) I have 3 or 4 old K-Mount Lenses.
Want to stay below $1000 so it’s the K7, Kx or the new Kr…. thoughts?
You ask a great many questions that would be answered by a trip (or six!) to some of the dedicated Pentax Forums. These tend to be less brand-biased than you might expect, since quite a few Pentax shooters also choose other company’s gear for other purposes.
Yes, Pentax is limited to 1/180 flash sync, but that is only half a stop less than Nikon. The K7 does not auto-focus when shooting video but the forecast K-5 flagship camera will have this facility plus complete manual control over video… indeed it will be the only DSLR on the market to do so. Things improve all the time.
I regularly print A3 posters designed with crops out of my K20D images. I would print A2 size of full images with no concern — that is the size you previously asked about. (I use 150ppi myself, since this is good enough for me). One can also up-res but I have no experience with this.
Comparing high ISO noise is a tricky business. Currently the best Pentax camera in this regard is the K-x, but two new models are to be released soon that will top this. You can read about the Pentax K-r on my site. I believe that in the APS-C sensor realm, Pentax has the best overall image, since no excess noise reduction is applied… it is up to you as the photographer to choose how much you want. The images benefit from judicious post-processing.
You should always be shooting RAW and have a tool like Noise Ninja on hand to apply the level of smoothing you prefer. (I hear the newest Photoshop combined with ACR works wonders without the need for extra software.) This is no different than the need to work up a good enlargement of an film negative. Photography only begins with taking the shot.
Of course if you had the money and didn’t mind carrying around a heavier kit, a full-frame camera like the Nikon D700 would work wonders. But the newer Pentax bodies look to be making competitive headway against even this class of camera.
Should I replace my Pentax K10D with the K7 or should I switch to Nikon or Canon? I like everything about the K7 except the grain issues at the ISOs over 800. I have been able to avoid some of that by shooting RAW at higher ISOs. My K10D has picked up some condensation spots on the sensor that don’t want to come off. I have learned that it is weather tight unless you change lenses in a place you shouldn’t. I like that the K7 starts at ISO 100 while the Nikons in the same price range start at ISO 200 but Nikons still take great pictures at ISO 3200. I don’t like that the flash sync speed of the K7 is limited to 1/180 were Nikon goes to 1/250. I don’t know enough about the Canon camera to know what would be considered comparable to the K7. I like that the new Nikon D3100 lenses will continue to focus when shooting video, does the K7? I only have two lenses for my K10D and neither is fast. I was pricing the Pentax DA zoom lens 55-135 f2.8 and they are a big investment. Not one I want to make if I am going to switch brands. Do you know if Pentax is coming out with anything new that can meet my low light and high shutter speed demands better? I love the light weight and compact body of the K10D and it is basically the same body as the K7. I checked out the new menu items for the K7 and it is very similar to the K10D and would be an easy change over where Nikon and Canon are completely unfamiliar to me. You have had the opportunity to try out some great cameras and I would really appreciate your advice. The first picture I am trying to link is a low light situation with no flash ISO 1600 and I forgot to switch to RAW so it was a jpg. Also the edges were slightly cropped. The second shows what I love about my Pentax and the ISO 100. This was shot using a sync adapter on the hot shoe and strobes. The image is unedited but cropped slightly and shot in RAW.
So, what is your suggestion for a camera that will do everything I want, do it well, and do it for the best value?
I am going to get my soon with DA* 15-135 2.8.
I have a K-7 with FA 50 1.4 and TAMRON 18-200.
I am a CANE CORSO breeder, and I shoot my dogs a lot in action.
so I also need a better low light performance and a bit faster AF-C.
So… K-5 baby!!!
I will post here some of my work with K-7 later.
As a K-7 user, I completely agree with your review!
Hello Steve. I really enjoy your reviews, thanks for sharing your passion !
In fact, reading your review of the Oly Pen’s convinced me to buy an E-p2.
I realy love this camera but deep inside something is telling me that an aps-c sensor will give me a better image quality, easier deep of field management, better metering,..
As size and weight are for me not a problem, would you advice to go for a k-7 ?
Thanks again and keep sharing your enthousiasm and love for beautifull objects and technology !
Brian: You’d be looking for the FA31 Limited, though if you don’t need faster than f/2.8 then the DA35 macro has a lot to recommend itself as well. For speed you can still use a 50mm and pick up an older Pentax or Cosina f/1.2. I have both but cannot say when anything faster than f/2 is really a good idea. 50mm becomes the perfect portrait length on APS-C, arguably more usable than it ever was on full-frame.
This is a very helpful review but I am still concerned about availability of quality fast, prime lens such as a f1.4 or f1.8 50mm equivalent (I guess that would be about 35mm for digital). Pentax doesn’t list them and I’ve read spotty reviews for Sigma. Any suggestions?
Thanks, Steve, for the Pentax reviews. No one carries the K-7 in my area (did manage to find the k-x, though), so I had to rely on reviews prior to purchasing the camera–and yours, along with imagingresource’s, sealed the deal. Much appreciated the actual K-7 photographs taken in the field–too many sites neglect this obvious test of what a camera (and photographer) can do in the real world. The house fire shots were crisp, indeed (I could taste the charcoal in that oranate door).
The k-x seems like a great deal but felt too toy-like (as did every other sub 1,000 dollar camera I held). Though I’m not a pro (yet!), the weather-sealed K-7 should be better for my purposes, which include shooting Florida seascapes and mangrove islands on the balmy West Central Coast. (Clyde Butcher better watch out!)
Made the purchase via your B&H link, so hopefully you’ll get more than just my thanks.
Im a beginner and have a sony alpha a350 and im planning to buy a new one right now
im thinking of buying a pentad K-7 or the canon 50D but i can’t decide which one to buy.My budget is tight but both of them are within my budget.Can you help me choosing which camera to buy.Thank you very much.
Thanks for the refreshing and enjoyable review. I hope it helps to encourage more people to consider Pentax in these times of Nikon and Canon domination.
One little point on the comment about the K-x’s batteries: The fact that it takes AA needn’t be a reason to avoid it as rechargeables can be used. Rechargeable AAs can be very good these days, especially when used with an inteligent charger. They don’t have such good power to weight/size ratio as lithium ion, but are otherwise ok.
The K-7 is preferable, though, for the extra controls, displays and features, and the pentaprism rather than pentamirror viewfinder.
By the way, I invite Pentax Users to join the http://www.pentaxuser.co.uk forum.
Thanks to you and your fans for the useful comments/observations which for me being a total begginer provided a very useful guide. any advise how to improve photography techniques would be greatly appreciated.
any ideas/advice about online photography couses?
Good wishes to you all
i bought the Pentax K7 with the 77 limited and the 35 limited and a BUNCH of other stuff…used your link- so make sure BandH credited you…order # 1013971997 shipped 6/21 and order #1013952413 order placed 6/18…Hope this helps in some small or big way; your site certainly helps me greatly…Do you offer private coaching via email for a fee? i love your work; i love your site; i pretty much love you!!!!!
Kindest regards and most sincerely and such,
Thank you so much Sori 🙂 Yes, I did get credit for that sale, and believe me, any sale helps me to keep this site going as I have to come up with about $1000 a month just to keep everything going as it is 🙂 Have fun with that K7!
I have owned and photographed with Pentax cameras for over 20 years. I love mine. Everything Steve said is very helpful. Some things to consider: If you own Pentax equipment and lenses then the K7 is a great choice. Also consider that if everyone you know is shooting a Canon or Nikon then choosing a Canon might give you access to friends knowledge and equipment. From my experience if you are shooting in low light with a digital Pentax plan to shoot RAW files for better images, jpg files loose a lot of detail with high ISO combined with high mm lenses in low light (ie. high zoom of a deer in a field at dusk). I have been considering switching to a Canon because I shoot a lot of portraits and Canon does this best. Or a Nikon because I shoot a lot of action, sports, and low light and Nikon does this best. I have shot over 18,000 images on my digital Pentax in the last 2 years. The weight and handling is great. I have shot still lives, portraits, weddings, track, wrestling, belly dance recital, landscape, bugs on flowers and Bambi in the field to name a few. My best images come from a low ISO, RAW file format and interesting lighting. I end up using MF a lot because my Pentax AF is too slow to focus with action shots and ends up with a lot of near misses.
Hey Huda, that is great! Let me know how you like it.
I just got my K7 last week after I read your review. I also wanna thank every one who took their time writing their feedbacks in regards to K7. Thanks again.
Hi iam buying a DSLr for the first time and i have been researching for about 3 months for which DSLR to purchase. there is the canon eos550D and the pentax K7………………. now i like night photgraphy and landscape and wildlife as well so i need a bit of help to choose between the both of them…….. i live in dubai where everyone is a canon or a nikon fan but very few people appreciate and know about pentax lol. so if any one might have a rough idea for which one i should go for and would last me longer and lets say easier to expand my skills with.
Hi – Must endorse other comments here re. Sanyo Eneloop AA batteries which instantly transformed the battery life/characteristics of my Pentax K100D. The K-7 is great but its dedicated battery concerns me so it’s encouraging that the newer K-x uses AA cells. But this seems in keeping with the Pentax tradition of providing practical features for practical photographers. With a bit of planning Eneloop cells make battery failure most unlikely even on trips. I agree with the comment that AA cells are an advantage, especially as they’re easily available worldwide.
Congrats J! Enjoy the K7!
Well I took the plunge last week and bought a K-7, and am loving it so far. Thanks Steve, for the above overview, which I found extremely illuminating and more helpful than anything I’ve read elsewhere (though your site was already my favorite photography site on the web!). It’s my first DSLR. Money was an object and the comparable Nikons and Canons, to which the K-7 probably does yield in a few areas, were so much more expensive. One question I have relates to the often noted relative weakness of the K-7 in low light. Steve experimented by taking some photos at ISO 1250, yet so far as I can tell the camera proceeds by the usual doubling, 100, 200, 400 and so on. What gives? Since I’ll be taking a trip to the CA coast and Yosemite soon, I started with a a wide angle zoom, the DA 16-50, which seems to my amateur eyes absolutely terrific (if a bit heavy), but I already crave some of the prime lens I’ve been reading about here. The next moment I can spare some cash for photographic equipment, that’s where it’s going.
Many thanks again and keep up the splendid work!
The problem that I have with the K-x (and by inference K7) is a rather steep D/log E (H&D) curve that I am not able to modify in-camera (tried adjustments to WB, high/low key, Highlight and Shadow, EV, etc). My failure makes sense after all – as in film, the curve is a characteristic of the sensor. I am not attaching a picture – only I know the reality of the image. Suffice to say that the image includes a long sofa, with a lit lamp at one end. The other end of the sofa is in relative darkness, which the camera renders correctly – however the lamp light is much to bright. This steep transition between dark and light is visible in all the images.
Your photos are great in any case.
I have the Kx and for the money it has to be the best buy in dSLRs right now.
Wanting K7 gave me a lot of pain, it drives me nuts that somehow the Kx has an ever so slight
image(sharpness!?) quality lead, and it’s ISO blows the doors off even those hyper-expensive
“pro” cameras. But the K7’s body and WR is an outdoors delight. By comparison the Kx feels
a bit plasticy. Not bad really, though. And it does have some nice heft. Just don’t want to go
river-rafting with it. I figure that by the time I get unturned in a raft with my Kx the K7 will be a
K8, or whatever.
As for the batteries? Forget it. I would never think of going though boxes of AA disposables.
I invested about $40 in a fairly high end 15 minute charger and 2 sets of rechargeables.
Never am I without power. And I’m not stuck with some proprietary useless batterys and if I
really get stuck, I can just go to any store to pick up a pack of crappy throw-a-ways and just
keep shooting. AAs rock! Just my two cents. Got a drawer full of proprietary batterys that
will never see the light of day again. Just saying. Again, great pics…
You could purchase Pentax D-BG4 Battery Grip for K7, it’ll allow you to use AA batteries in the K7. Hint… hint. 🙂
Mark: Of course I was simplifying for someone new to the system. Because any further explanation, like yours, would be off-putting and make it sound more complicated than it really is. For example, the dreaded phrase “stop down metering” means only that one must press the green button after choosing an aperture. Then the camera meters through the lens for you. And it certainly is true that one can gain new features with old lenses. For instance the ability to use the auto-focus system to tell you when you have the subject in focus, or even to take the shot for you when you get it right (“catch in focus”).
Patrick: You can use the aperture ring on an FA lens in M mode. You will need to use the Green button to stop down after aperture selection. of course, one soon gets good at judging a scene and correcting for light changes, so this process is one that leads to improving as a photographer.
Maybe this is a dumb question, but can you actually use the aperture ring to set the aperture on the FA limited lenses when used on the K7? That would be sweet…
I am thinking of buying a K7 mostly to take pictures of food for my catering business and was wondering what is the best lens to buy for these kinds of shots.
Your advise will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your review, it was very professional and informative. I am using a Pentax K10D which I chose because it allowed me to use my lenses from my K1000 and A3000 film cameras. I am looking at replacing or repairing and your review of the K7 was very helpful. Being able to use my old lenses is a huge benefit. I also like the body because I also have small hands and it fits in my purse if I need to pack light. The K7 looks like the same body with a similar menu set up but with more features. I use my camera for everything: macro, landscape, portrait, studio work, landscapes and sporting events, some in low light conditions. I have considered switching to Nikon or Cannon but don’t like the idea of starting over. I would if it was worth it though. What is the best DSL in the $2000 or less category, that “does it all”, with enough megapixel to print a 16″x20″ photograph at 300 dpi? Not asking for much am I? I love the idea of being able to shoot video with my camera, very convenient. Does the video focus to allow for changing depth of field while shooting? [img]http://www.facebook.com/photo.php? pid=30694573&id=1219103541[/img] This is an image that shows why I need to fix or replace. It must be in my sensor because it doesn’t matter which lens I use and I’ve tried the camera’s dust removal. There are several dark spots. I suspect these were caused by humidity/ changing lenses where I shouldn’t have. Photoshop-ing 100’s of images a month is frustrating. Choosing the wrong camera is frightening on a student/ semi-pro/ pre-professional’s budget. Any advice you can offer would be appreciated.
reaaaally nice review!!!
actually I have an already old K10D haha and I shoot at concerts at iso 1000 do you think that at iso 2500 wouldnt be too noisy?
Hi Steve, thanks for your review. I enjoyed it because it is a photographers review, and not a collection of test data with not much connection to runnig around and taking shots with a camera. I also agree with most of you judgements, except one which suprised me as … well … kind of not very objective and professional:
‘Just found out he Kx only takes AA batteries which means for me, it is not an option as I hate buying batteries or being out of them.’
Speaking for myself i bought my K100 D for exactly three reasons (my first digital SLR, comming from NIKON): #1 No optical stabilized Optics with Pentax (back in 35mm film days the test purists would have gone nuts with moving parts build into a lens!) #2 last 6m pix Model available, the market had moved to 10 and 12m pix already at that time #3 AA Batteries ! I use Eneloop cells and that is perfect. I am an outdoor shooter, and whenever i run out of power the next drugstore or gasstation will help me for the rest of the day. I think people tend to regard that as a non-pro feature, but this is not justified attitude. I am happy with AA cells, it simply makes lot of sense. maybe you missed something with the Kx. detlef
Untrue. With any lenses proceeding the “A” lenses, most auto metering & lens-to-body communication features are non-existent or crippled. With the M-42 screwmount lenses, although in most ways more convenient & accurate than “pre-A” P/K bayonet mounts, you have to stop down to meter. In spite of these limitations, however, most of my shooting is done with M-42 screwmount Takumars.
Thanks a lot for your quick and clear response.
Pari: No problem! With Pentax it is very simple. All their digital cameras are compatible with all previous lenses in both k-mount (bayonet) and M42 (screw), the last with a cheap adapter. No features are lost, and in some cases you gain new features with old lenses, through the use of the green button, which automatically sets the correct exposure based on the aperture you have chosen.
No other brand can claim such backwards compatibility.
Nice article and I am planning to buy a DSLR, i have a SMC Pentax-FA 28-80 and 80-320 lenses which i was using with my Pentax MZ-7 SLR, I though of going with Pentax, Can you please tell me whether Pentax k7 is compatible with these lenses?
Love Pentax Limited lens. Using the 77mm for this shot. But, looking at the Leica pictures, I think I need that camera too!
@Pete I can sync with 1/180 wirelessly.
@Stephan/Hager – I actually bought the k7 to use soley with my m42 lenses and I do get auto-metering in aperture mode. I don’t have to strictly use the green button function. I set the aperture on the lens and the camera picks the correct shutter speed (for the most part) and I can snap away.
I also get focus confirmation when manual focusing which works perfectly with my takumars.
A major issue I feel that Pentax needs to change is the 1/180 sync speed which becomes 1/160 using triggers. And I’m talking about off camera strobist work Maybe I have become spoiled because I use a Nikon D40 for strobist work that has a 1/500 sync speed and can cheat to unlimited for some truly amazing portrait work. Using my Cybersyncs, I can shoot up to 1/2000 with my d40.
Hey Jay, sure, I used MF quite a bit actually. No magnification as I used the viewfinder 🙂 Worked perfectly.
Is the viewfinder bigger than that of a k200d?
I do find focusing a lot more difficult, especially in low light, than with my trusty Spotmatic You just don’t see anything… Too dark, too small.
Furthermore, I miss the microprism ring badly.
Would the k-7 do better?
Steve, Did you tryout the manual focusing on the K7? I wonder how easy it is to use this feature, is there a magnification option for fine focusing? How easy is it to fine tune/override the auto focus with a manual adjustment? It would be interesting to see how the K7 performs with some Zeiss prime lenses.
All of those Pentax lenses will work on Pentax DSLR cameras. Since they are Spotmatic screw mount lenses (Takumars?), though, you will need to buy a M42 screw mount to Pentax K-mount adapter. I suggest you buy this directly from Pentax, as there are off-brand adapters that can get stuck on your camera. I had a harrowing experience with an off brand adapter on my old Pentax K20D.
Here is a link to the adapter from the Pentax web store:
Also, screw mount, K, and M series do not meter automatically on Pentax cameras like modern lenses do. However, if you turn the camera on manual mode and press the green button (on top of the K-7) the camera will find a correct exposure for you based on your aperture ring position and you can stop down or up from there. This also works in aperture priority mode.
Otherwise, old Spotmatic lenses work as normal on Pentax digital cameras. Here’s a rather lengthy thread devoted to Takumar lenses on Pentax Forums.
Great review. I am a novice and have inherited several older pentax lens from a pentax spotmatic (135mm/3.5, 50mm/1.4, 28mm/3.5, 50mm/4, 105mm/2.8) and am interested in buying the K7 as a beginning DSLR camera. Will any of these lens work with the camera? I have been told that there has been a change in lens technology and that they would not function properly (also the light meter may not work) with the digital cameras. This camera body sounds perfect for me if I can use some of these older lens. Thanks for your help.
Great review, but please have a look at the Samsung NX10, I went into store to maybe buy Pentax K7, or Pan GF1 or G1, and got hold of the new Samsung. Please review it, and let us all know as I might just have to buy it this week without your go ahead.
Urs, AWESOME shot!!!! Wow.
Stephen, thanks for the image – what a beautiful setup that would be 🙂
I concur with Scott. The K-7 camera body is a little bit bigger than the GF1 and EP1/EP2, but it’s not that much larger when you combine it with the DA Limited lenses that are specifically designed for their smaller form factor. I wouldn’t say the K-7 is pocketable like a point and shoot camera can be, but it is easy to carry with you like 35 mm film cameras were.
The DA40 is the only true pancake lens, but the DA15, DA21, DA35 Macro, and DA70 lenses are all very compact. I believe the DA35 is the largest of this group and it is approximately the same size as the FA77 lens mentioned in this review. Here’s a picture I found with a K-7 and some of the limited lenses. The DA limited are the four on the right.
This became an expensive review for me as i decided to reshuffle my camera stock into a
Leica Dlux 4, EP2 with some zoom lenses and the Pentax K7 with the two prime lenses 31/77 mm for high quality work. Consequently i sold my Panasonic G1 and the Olympus 12-60 zoom.
I hope this 3 tier approach will work for me. The order for the Pentax setup is placed in Holland as this is the place i live.
Thanks for the tip and will continue to follow your site on a daily basis, just a lot of fun to read.
If you want REALLY small and portable….try the K-7 with the DA 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens. Killer little lens and little does not do it justice!!
I have the K7 for over 8 months now (used the K20 and K100 before that) I am extremely pleased with its performance and built quality! Its my constant companion with the DA*300 and the 35mm limited lens for my jungle hikes.
How does the noise compare between the K20 and the K7? K5?
Im right there with you Ted and I have both systems here. The m4/3’s are smaller with fun features BUT they are not up to the IQ, speed, build, etc of the K7. The K7 even with the Limited primes will be larger than an E-P2 or GF1 but not by too much. A GF1 with Kit Zoom is $800. A K7 with kit zoom is approx $300 more.
I guess it all comes down to if you want smaller/lighter or the build quality and overall better IQ. As for video, both systems are great with video though the m4/3 may be a little easier to use in that regard.
If you already shoot Nikon and have a DSLR setup maybe m4/3 would be for you? Tough decisions.
Thanks Steve…. I am at a loss as to what to do. I am headed on vacation and have decided to travel light and leave the Nikon SLR at home. I have always traveled with my Nikon equipment in my photo backpack, but am ready to move to something smaller. The E-P2 has been the replacement camera at the top of the list, but your review of the K7 has caused me to reconsider. The K7 and a couple of Pentax primes is an extremely alluring setup.
Hey Ted, I found the focusing of the K7 faster than any of the M4/3 cameras. It’s plenty fast and accurate,
Steve, how does the focusing speed of the K7 compare to the Panasonic GF1?
Pretty nice review, I always told that a camera have to be used for taking pictures, not for comparing pixels 🙂
A can also second to the k-x battery issue, eneloops or the same class rechargeables doing really well. I was using a K200D before the K-7, and with one charge, I took over 6-700 pictures. I think k-x is also capable doing this.
After reading this review, it helped me to decide on the K7. I finally succumb to it and placed an order with a local dealer in Singapore. To show my appreciation, I’ve also placed an order for the FA 31mm limited from B&H via your search link.
Keep the good stuff going. Cheers !!
Hi KT – which dealer did you buy from in Singapore ? I have been looking around today and find few shops that stock the K7.
Really enjoyed this review. Just one thing about the FA Limiteds: Its getting harder and harder to get hold of these little gems nad the prices run up weekly, litterally. Can anyone talk Pentax into taking up production of these lenses? Sigh. Even the actual DA limiteds have gone up in prices recently by up to 50% (street prices) since late 2009. Very fine for those having invested earlier but a shame for the rest of us.
Thanks for the info Gregory!
Hi, my girlfriend and I are both avid readers of your blog. She has an EP-1 and I recently bought a Pentax K-x, so I would love to read your thoughts on the K-x. At first I was very put off by the fact that it only takes AA batteries. So I decided to do some research. I figured that someone had to make rechargeable lithium ion AA’s, but alas no one does, becuase a NiMH charger would make then explode. I was thinking i would put up with nicer NiMH’s like the Eneloops, but even Eneloops can’t sustain the voltage output that Li-Ion’s can. However, right before i bought those Eneloops, i dicovered that there is a new type of battery, NiZn, that actually have a higher voltage output capacity than Li-Ions. They can sustain full voltage that the camera needs to operate until they are completely drained, unlike NiMH’s which drop below usable voltage at 30%. They are sold by a company called Powergenix (http://www.powergenix.com). And you can get enough for two sets on amazon and a charger for ~$30. I have been using them for over two weeks and the indicator is still at 100%, that includes a birthday party where I filled up my memory card, and several photo walks. The EP-1 has had to have its battery recharged a couple of times. With these batteries it makes the AA thing an advantage, because if you some how manage to drain 2 sets of Powergenix, its really easy to get replacements anywhere. Hope this helps.
I am not a big fan of HDR photos mainly because people don’t take HDR photos. The example given is a perfect example. If the original photo isn’t full of total blown highlights and inky blacks then why is anyone trying to use HDR. If the photo fits inside the dynamic range of the camera then all you are doing is going to a lot of effort to flatten out the photos with less control.
@KT haah, I see you did your research. Many people just automatically assume that the K-7 does worse ISO than any other in it’s class. Glad to find someone who’s actually smart enough to think on their for once.
@Dave, thanks. I read page-to-page from DPReview on K7. Apparent for high ISO, when shootiing in RAW, it is on par with D300 (and 50D but lose out slightly to the older K20D). So I guess there is really not many downside to K7 with its excellent size, build and availability of high quality glasses.
Yes, Pentax did produce the FA 43/1.8 in a Leica mount –
@KT, the DA* 50-135 isn’t exactly that fast, but as for a stage performance then it should be more than enough.
How much easier is it to manually focus lenses on the M9 than on the K7? I
Thanks for your reply. Appreciate it.
One question though, do you think K7 with one of those “fast” DA Star lens such as 200mm f2.8 or DA Star 50-135 f2.8 a good combo for stage performance (with direct but low light with movements) shots?
Considering 1.5 crop factor, I would have a reach of 300mm.
The reasons why I am not jumping into Nikon full frame (had the D700 in mind) are cost and size. Though I wasn’t going to use this DSLR as often as my E-P1 but still putting in the kind of money only to use it about half a dozen times a year is quite a waste imo.
Once again, thanks and congratulations on your awesome site.
I have a Pentax K-7. Great camera, big improvement in low-light AF from previous Pentax DSLR’s. One thing you must know is Pentax is one of the very few companies who make in-body stabilized DSLR’s and used the same mount since film, allowing all current 3rd party lenses and manual lenses from 30 years ago to work on this body and still maintain optical stabilization. Huge advantage for Pentax over it’s competitors, but sadly the world is brainwashed by what they see in Best Buy and the advertisements.
Pentax builds cameras for photographers and hobbyists at the best of their ability. Pentax does not create 3 DSLRs in the same class, pricing them one over another after stripping features. Pentax are a loyal company to their loyal consumers; you will never see them screw their consumers over by producing a bunch of half-baked bodies and advertise them as everything. They make one DSLR for entry-level and one DSLR for semi-pro and putting all they have to offer for a more than reasonable price.
Aside from the quality of Pentax’s craftsmanship throughout the years, the superb build quality of the K-7 is not to be forgotten, that Pentax is the first Japanese company to release the SLR and their creativity literally created everything that made the DSLR what it is today. Over 50 years of producing some of the finest film SLR’s and DSLR’s, one of the oldest companies to still produce cameras today, all of Pentax’s innovation and time spent have been put into creating this masterpiece. 77 weather-seals making it resistant to dust, rain, and cold temperatures, this is truly one of the most powerful Pentax built to date.
Sometimes the best just don’t get talked about, in fact most of the best things in life don’t get talked about. Most people can’t think for themselves. Out of all the people in the world, only a very select few who knows what’s best for themselves. People don’t come to realize the best things in life until it’s too late. I’m glad to be part of the few who figured it out for myself. I do things in life that’s best for me, not what others think is best for me. I go Pentax when others say otherwise, because when I held a Pentax in my hands for the very first time, I knew that was it. This camera was it. This company was it. These lenses are it. This is it, this is Pentax.
Thank you for your comment. Very inspirational. It is so amazing that I find good pieces of though out from a site dedicated to photography. I already decided that my next camera will be the newly K-5 which makes many improvements over the reviewed K-7.
After reading Steve´s review and the comment posted here I know I made a good informed decision about my next purchase. I am a Peruvian tropical forester who carry tools in the back pack to the field. Mi camera ought to be strong and apparently only Pentax make cameras and good lenses that I not need to worry about weather or dust.
Hope to post soon some of the shots, Saludos!
The recently announced PENTAX 645D is basically a medium format camera composed of the K7 internals hooked up to a Kodak 40Mp sensor.
The form factor looks a bit awkward for anything but a studio camera, but it’s still an awesome camera compatible with all the usual array of lenses.
Thanks, Steve, for yet another interesting review.
Regarding IQ of the K7 vs. KX, I asked a representative from Pentax recently at a trade fair (non-public, merchants only). He explained that the K7 uses a sensor that comes from Samsung while the KX is the “newer” camera and uses a sensor from Sony. He could not provide any information if and when there would be an updated version of the K7, but …. everybody knows that this will happen eventually. Maybe for Photokina trade fair in September? We’ll see.
In the meantime, I am very much looking forward to receiving my Samsung NX10. A new mirrorless DSLR that has received some excellent reviews for IQ recently (APS-C size sensor). Novoflex will offer a huge selection of adaptors to fit all kinds of lenses to the NX10, including Leica M and R lenses.
Kindest greetings to y’all.
Dude… the last thing I need to do is buy another camera right now, but you’ve got me seriously considering it with this review. I was recently out in the pooring rain with my M8 and VERY VERY afraid… I’d love to have something weather-sealed for under $1000!
Every review an Olympus e-620? I’ve got one and like it for it’s small size, but it is not weather-sealed. You’ve got me considering selling it…
I will second Tim’s recommendation of the Eneloop (pre-charged) rechargable batteries. I have used them in a Canon PowerShot P&S with satisfaction. They hold their charge for a good long time so that you will not experience the problem of some rechargeable batteries that lose their charge just sitting there doing nothing. I have used a power converter that plugs into my car’s power outlet to run my laptop or recharge various things off of 110 volts. I have not seen the USB dongle charger that Tim references and so will have to look for it.
Concerning AA battery issue and the Kx, check out using Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries instead of disposables. I hate the idea of disposables and switched everything I own that takes AA or AAA sizes and they’ve been absolutely great. I even have a little USB dongle charger that I use when traveling that can charge 2 AAs or 2 AAAs at a time.
I don’t have a Kx but I’ve read online that people have had good experiences using Eneloops with it.
But yes, I think what everyone is waiting for is an updated K7 with at least the low-light sensor performance of the Kx.
Thanks everyone for the comments! I’m a bit under the weather today so sorry for the delay in responding..
@Richard, the Pentax is a little larger than the old OM bodies which were slim. The Pentax is still a DSLR shape, just smaller.
@Frank – I should have the televid/dlux 4 combo next week Wed. I will be taking a road trip from Chicago to Arizona and will be testing that combo out in AZ, CA and NV!
@Per – yep, fast primes not much larger than Leica glass BUT you have some awesome glass for your M!
@Stephen – I wanted to try the 43 but no way to get it in time. I am sure it is wonderful and is one I would buy if I ended up with a Pentax DSLR.
@Alan – The cookies! My Mom made those and due to me being on a strict workout/diet for another 60 days I could not even eat one. Ugggg. But my son ate one in front of me with a smile.
@pinholecam – If I wanted to do HDR I would most likely use dedicated software for best results. The in cam HDR feature was a let down to me and i did try it more than once. Just not a fan of that look I guess.
@TT – Thanks!
@Ian – Thanks!
@KT – If you need a camera for low light I would be looking at a Nikon or Canon and for best results, a full frame would give you the best high ISO performance. Still, nothing beats a fast lens for low light so find a decent low light camera, add a decent lens and you should be OK. I am not surprised that you found the E-P1 and 45-200 not working well for you in low light. That is a slow lens and the E-P1’s high ISO is not the best. Good luck!
@AV – Thanks!
@Stefan – Hmmm…I liked the E-3 as well but I must say that the Auto White Balance is much better on the K7. The K7 is also smaller and may have even better high ISO than the E3. The files from the E3 were very rich at base ISO but not so much so at higher ISO. If i had to choose right now it would be the Pentax over the E3.
@Dan – Well, as an “everyday” carry, if I did not have my M9 I would probably carry the E-P2/20 but use the DSLR when I wanted DSLR features or that extra quality. The E-P2 is so light, thin, and nice. The K7 is also small but not as small or light as an E-P2. The K7 will give better IQ in any situation though.
@James – Thanks for reading it!
Great review Steve. I’ve been waiting for this one for a while and it was worth the wait.
Thanks Steve for a thorough and fair review. Would you rather carry the K-7 with a limited prime or the E-P2 with the Pana 20mm?
great review and wonderful pics. Thanks a lot. How do the images compare to the Olympus E-3 output regarding IQ, and by this I mean IQ in your definition, not technical: Color, Naturalness etc…
Compliments for an enthusiastic and balanced review of a camera that works the way a camera should: as a tool and spur for creativity.
Kudos for the first camera review I have ever read where the photos are worth the ride on their own.
Steve, do you think the high ISO performance of K7 is good enough for use during indoor stage performances? One example would be my daughter’s school dance night (modern dance performance on school stage), pretty low light and with movements.
I have used my E-P1 with Panasonic 45-200 lens with disappointing results, so, I am in search of a companion camera for use during those special events.
Great little test I have had my K7 since October last year & really am impressed. Most of the filters etc. are a bit gimmicky but for us who like gimmicks they are great.LOVE MY K7. Ian
Excellent review Steve , sounds like the K7 has a few advantages of its rivals.
Thanks for the review on the K7. Glad that you liked it.
I would suggest you do a bit of levels, curves, saturation and maybe a gaussian blur layer set to overlay at 90-127 opacity to the HDR. Its not as lame as a gimmick.
Nice camera and nice primes. I hope Pentax hangs in there and is able to keep making cameras.
What really caught my eye though were those cookies! I bet they were good.
Very nice review, Mr. Huff. I thought you did an excellent job of capturing why I love the K-7, and even the few things I’d like to see improved in an updated version of the K-7. Something about the feel of the camera in my hands makes gives me the urge to go take pictures, which is quite a compliment for a camera, I think.
Did you know that the one FA Limited lens that you did not try (the FA43 f/1.9 limited) was actually produced in the Leica mount as well? I don’t know the full story behind the circumstances, but I have read that the FA43 was developed in the Leica lens mount because one of Pentax’s lens developers felt he could make a better lens than Leica. The FA43 design was also to intended to replicate some of the “Leica look”.
(If I got any of that story wrong, someone reading this can feel free to correct me)
Pentax fans are hoping for a full frame camera eventually, but Pentax is also fairly committed to its DA line of lenses made for APS-C cameras. I bet there will be some new cameras from Pentax this year, but I would be (happily) surprised if one of them is full frame.
Either way, even if I buy a new camera, I’m keeping my K-7 and my FA Limiteds. It’s not just something you trade in.
Great review, Steve. Fast small prime lenses you say? This I like!
But I, and it seems Max too, has the feeling Pentax or someone is going to outdo the k7 real soon, maybe with a new full frame dslr in a similarly small high-quality package. I guess it just boils down to how long you’re willing to hold out. As for me, I just don’t like exposing myself to a high probability of having to sell off something i’ve just recently purchased. That’s a chore which annoys me no end.
It’s also annoying that you keep sparking my interest in such items as the apo-televid 85 and the d-lux 4. So much of my time lost in rolling it over and in my brain: should I or shouldn’t I, why?, why not?, etc. I’ve got to be careful, because your enthusiasm for such good things is catchy.
I found your observations about the accuracy of the multi-segment metering very interesting as Nikon seems to have a lot of trouble with their Matrix metering in the less expensive bodies. e.g. D40 or D90. I find their Matrix metering almost useless when trying to get a first shot exposure right. I definitely is not up to the standards of their last film cameras.
Is the Pentax close to the size of the old Olympus OM series of bodies? I found them very appealing…I still have several. 🙂
Yes, I agree and even stated that the HDR images flat out suck and it is a gimmik. Other than that it is a fabulous DSLR. Best I have shot with in a while for my needs.
I say listen to Max.
BTW, in your examples for the most part, Pentax’s HDR results in dead, faded-out images.
Sounds like a real nice DSLR, especially at that price point…but you know they’ll be out with a “better” one in 18 months and I am sure it will be full frame too. Who knows, maybe it’ll even make coffee 🙂
Great review, as always!
they are releasing a new camera that is apparently 50mp! but i think this will be in the real pro end of cameras like the nikon d3s
Is that 50MB possibly the digital medium format Pentax has released, or is there something else in the wind?