Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pentax K-7 review (part 1)

I think it is time I wrote a review of my own on my new camera, so here goes. Be warned that I am a wordy person...


Perhaps it would be a good idea to write few words about me. Especially so, if it is your first visit to this blog and you arrived here by googling "Pentax K-7 review" or some such.

I am an amateur photographer, meaning that I do it or fun, not for profit. Occasionally and may be even accidentally a photo or two of mine would be published in local camera club calendar or somewhere on the net. I have tried myself in a small number of competitions, but that yielded nothing.

I have shot Pentax since 2002. I have shot Pentax digital since late 2004. All together I shot just a whisker less than 10K frames with *istD, a tad more than 20K frames with K10D (bought just before 2006 ended) and now I have K-7. My main lenses are three FA limiteds and DA 21 limited, which probably says more about my income than about my abilities as a photographer, but who knows - perhaps you wanted to know which lenses get mounted on my camera bodies.

I should say that I don't do brick wall/resolution target/etc testing. For a number of reasons. First, it makes little sense as I don't have more than one sample of either camera of lens, so it has no statistical merit. Second - I just dislike it. Thus, what I am going to say below it based on my usual shooting, not anything special.

By the way, don't expect a formal review. There are going to be a number of so called official reviews of K-7 on the net. Instead here I am going to try to write down my own opinion of this camera based solely and only on my shooting experience and habits or style.

Bottom line

Just in case if you like it straight to the point. Pentax K-7 is an excellent camera but it may require quite a learning curve. Also, though really good, the hype and all the rumors that preceded it are much much more than it really deserves. No, Pentax K-7 is not bigger than life, it is just yet another camera from a second tier (Canon and Nikon being the first) major manufacturer.

Good: viewfinder

The best thing is that now it has 100% coverage. So you get what you see, literally. No more guessing what else is going to be in the frame. The not so good thing is that glass wearer such as myself (-6 diopters in each eye) still cannot easily or reliably perform manual focusing with the stock focusing screen.

I will have to buy Katz Eye split focusing screen like I did for my K10D.

Excellent: shutter

Finally Pentax came up with the camera that is quiet. Likely releasing the shutter now is going to attract far less attention than it did with K10D.

When I get a chance to try 1/8000 sec shutter speed, I'd probably just post a picture.

So-so: matrix metering

In my view it does not really matter how the shutter speed and aperture values were determined. So I use matrix metering for 99.9% of my shots.

My specific K-7 sample has quirky or worse yet unreliable metering. Outdoors it is just fine. Indoors it tends to underexpose by 0.7-1.0 Ev. No big deal as it offers -5.0 through +5.0 Ev exposure compensation range. However it means that I am going to keep chimping just like I did with good old K10D. My K10D however has more consistent metering. And if it errs, it is usually by 0.3 Ev, far less often by 0.7 Ev and I cannot recall full 1.0 Ev mistakes.

The fact that K-7 underexposes indoors is even more annoying as the shadow noise is more likely to be more prominent in this case.

So-so: autofocus

Yes, new Safox VIII+ system is not all that good as it is said to be. At least not on my camera.

Again, outdoors and at far distances - no problems whatsoever. It is also quite faster than K10D's AF outdoors as well as indoors. But, indoors it is still imprecise. It seems more sensitive too. E.g. if I set it to use only center sensor, focus, move the camera ever so slightly and focus again, it feels it and refocuses. Yet, I had to dial in some focus correction for my FA 31 limited and with FA 77 limited its focus precision is inconsistent - sometimes it focuses wrong.

Again, buying Katz Eye screen would resolve this issue, but sans focusing speed, which is improved, it gives me no advantages over K10D.

Yes, I tried K-7's AF in some rather dark situations and it focused where K10D would probably give up. However, even with FA 43 limited which so far has been most consistent precision wise, when there is not enough light, it would simply misfocus.

Admittedly I haven't figured out when the green focus assist light is supposed to come for the rescue, as I saw it few times, but I don't yet understand what are the exact conditions for it to kick in.

1 comment:

neil said...

I've had my K-7 for a week now, and something about it has pleasantly surprised me pretty much everyday. The camera feels excellent; much more compact and the build quality is very high (especially compared to comparably or even slightly higher priced Canikon offerings).