09 October 2009

Hello K-7, Goodbye K20D

Well after some months of consideration, I finally did it... I upgraded to the new K-7. The K20D had given me sterling service and it was hard to part with it considering that I had the special moulded rubber grip added on by the Pentax agent and that I had also replaced the stock focusing screen with a split image rangefinder focusing screen to aid manual focusing.

But move on we must and the catalyst for change was a meeting a few months ago with Pentax professional photographer Mark Dimalanta as he was en route for an assignment. As fate would have it he had a pre-production K-7 plus a bunch of lenses on hand including the DA* 60-250mm f/4 which had not yet been release for general sale then. Over lunch we had the opportunity to hear first hand about his exciting work plus the opportunity to try out what he had. Simply put I was sold.

To me the standout feature of this new camera was the 100% view viewfinder and the extremely silent camera shutter. Nevermind the fact that in spite of the smaller size compared to the K20D, the camera feels much more solid due to the all magnesium shell on steel chassis that's weather sealed. Much quicker AF with a a higher camera frame rate and with the inclusion of HD video, it's like having both a still and a video camera in a single package.

There are some nifty features the new camera sports like the electronic level that provides a visual indication of whether the camera is level or not as you prepare to take the picture. Then there is also the orientation sensor that automatically rotates the camera information and image. A wider exposure compensation range, AF assist light for low light focusing, Lens Correction function that adjusts for distortion and chromatic aberrations with DA series lenses, improved Live View and 77-segment metering system and a few other feature ensures the K-7 is a much improved camera over the K20D.

One significant improvement is the better white balance, particularly under incandescent lighting. Image quality is roughly on par with the K20D. Noise at high ISOs can be noticeable but this is where Pentax takes a conservative approach, opting for detail retention instead of heavy handed correction. Nothing that a dedicated noise reduction software like Nik Software's Dfine 2.0 can't handle. The larger 3 inch LCD and improved information display is the icing that makes the K-7 a lot better camera in so many little ways.