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Pentax K100D

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Pentax K100D Digital SLR Camera

The K100D's $700 price tag (as of November 6, 2006) puts it at the low end of the entry-level digital SLR market, and its 6.1-megapixel resolution lags behind the current state-of-the-art. Nevertheless, this camera offers a feature set ideally suited to beginning shooters plus enough room to grow that intermediate photographers won't sniff at it either.

The K100D is small but well balanced, with a large hand grip that maximizes its stability during shooting and makes it comfortable to hold. In addition, the K100D incorporates Pentax's sensor-based image stabilization technology, which tries to minimize the effect of camera shake by moving the sensor to compensate for jittery hand vibrations.

For an entry-level camera, the K100D doesn't skimp on interface features. You get a bright, 2.5-inch rear-mounted LCD, plus a top-mounted LCD status display. The camera provides a full complement of readily accessible and easy-to-understand controls.

Unfortunately, the model's battery life is not up to par. The Pentax ships with four alkaline AA batteries, rather than with a rechargeable battery. In our battery life testing, the Pentax took only took 265 pictures before running out of juice.

Pentax claims that the K100D has two stops worth of stabilization; but in my shooting, the camera's stabilization fell somewhere between one and one-and-a-half stops. In contrast, lens-based systems consistently offer three to four stops. The K100D uses its sensor-shaking technology as a dust removal mechanism--handy for any camera that works with removable lenses.

The K100D is well designed and comfortable to shoot with, and its essential features are easy to access. Shooting modes include program, shutter- and aperture-priority, full manual, and bulb. The camera adds flexibility to the 13 scene modes by letting you adjust ISO, white balance, and exposure compensation. In Auto Picture mode, the camera analyzes your subject and selects one of these custom program modes. The K100D provides a full complement of manual modes, too, though it lacks a program shift feature for automatically cycling through different aperture/shutter speed combinations that deliver the same exposure.

The 11-point autofocus system works well, and metering on the camera is very good, though the K100D isn't particularly speedy. Powering up takes about a second, as does waking from sleep. The camera's burst speed maxes out at 1.5 frames per second for JPEG images.

The K100D takes very good pictures for a 6.1-megapixel camera. If you don't plan to enlarge pictures beyond 8 by 10 inches or to use zooming or cropping very often, 6.1 megapixels is plenty.

The K100D shoots Raw images and three levels of JPEG images. By default, the camera's JPEG output is a bit soft, so you might want to adjust the sharpening parameter within the camera. Though the K100D offers ISO levels up to 3200, images show substantial noise at ISO 800 and above.

The K100D is a great entry-level SLR camera, with an unmatched price. Pentax offers an extensive array of lenses to buy separately, and the camera's interface and design make for a comfortable shoot. If you want a full-featured SLR with fairly advanced features, it's hard to beat the price and performance of the K100D.

Ben Long

This story, "Pentax K100D" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • Low-priced SLR offers plenty of features. Though its resolution is relatively low, the camera produced high-quality images.

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