Flash Off • Auto Flash • Red-eye Reduction Flash • Forced On
With LCD Panel
LCD Panel Size
LCD Screen Resolution
LCD Protected Position
Without LCD Protected Position
Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery
2 Sec. • 12 Sec.
Apple Mac OS X • Microsoft Windows 2000 • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Software • USB Cable • Video Cable • Lithium Battery • Lens Cap • Strap
The first pro level digital SLR from Pentax, the K10D has a 10.2 megapixel CCD with the Pentax Shake Reduction system for 2.5 to 4 stops of compensation when shooting in low light or with telephoto lenses. The Pentax K10D also has a rugged weather and dust resistant body with a CCD Dust Removal system. Unique Pentax exposure modes, 11-point auto focus system and 16-segment exposure metering also help set the K10D apart from other digital SLRs..
The $1,000 DSLR space is a real heavyweight, boxing ring. Pentax enters the fray with a camera that quietly redefines the fight. How? By assembling a compelling mix of features and capabilities that work like photographers think. The Pentax K10D measures up to its promise on paper with solid performance-it's a serious photographic tool and an exceptional value for the money. But as with all digital cameras, check out the image quality before you make your final judgment.
Pentax K10D Features
The difficult part of writing a review about a camera like this is trying to explain how some feature is or isn’t so great. As a working photographer, I am always looking for a faster, easier way to accomplish my goals. The fact is, there isn’t any one feature in the K10D that stands out as revolutionary, although the unique exposure modes are “innovative”. There isn’t anything here that will stand the
photography world on its head. However, the design of the Pentax K10D reflects a special understanding of flexible photographic thinking. The result is that the K10D achieves a symbiotic mix of features and functionality that simply gets out of the photographer’s way.
To begin, the K10D mixes automatic and manual exposure control with the Hyper-Manual exposure mode. If you’re like me, you want the camera to do everything, except when you want to take control for creative expression. Actually, I hate that expression “creative expression” but hey, you know what it means - make me look like Ansel Adams without my having to try.
When you're shooting a scene where you trust the ambient light to be consistent, you use the manual exposure mode and just make little changes as necessary. When something changes though, you may need to set a completely new exposure. For those times, the "Green Button" (yes, that is the actual name of the feature-I copied it right out of the User's Manual, page 18)
is an innovative short cut (see Green Button photo, four paragraphs down) that resets the manual exposure settings to the current metered values -a quick one button switch to auto exposure just for a moment. There's also a custom setting that controls the Green Button's metering behavior. You can set it to shift exposure in aperture or shutter priority mode. This makes quick work of resetting your exposure. It's like being in aperture priority mode with full-time AE-lock. This is a subtle conceptual change in manual exposure, but the benefits of the Green Button make for faster on-the-fly adjustments.
Photographers argue about the pros and cons of shooting RAW all the time. If you like to switch back and forth between RAW and JPEG, the K10D gives you an easy way to switch whenever you want. Just hit the dedicated RAW button on the left side of the lens mount to switch - fast and simple. The button can be set to switch to RAW capture for one frame only (and then switch back to JPEG), or it can be set to toggle between RAW and JPEG.
White balance fine-tuning is a common feature now. But the K10D implements it better with a Preview function. Simply enter the white balance menu, flick the on/off lever to Preview and the shutter releases displaying the scene (but no image is recorded on the memory card). Then you can use the four-way pad to adjust the white balance. A handy grid helps you make quick refinements as the camera immediately shows you the results with the preview scene. Get all messed up and want to start over? Just tap your good friend, the Green Button, and you're re-centered.
Automatic exposure takes another step toward fully automatic with the user-defined Auto ISO feature. You determine the ISO sensitivity range and the camera chooses the lowest sensitivity (and therefore lowest noise) level suitable for your aperture or shutter speed settings. (Auto ISO is not enabled in manual, bulb, or flash-sync shooting modes.) And in most shooting modes, quick changes to ISO are possible by holding down the OK button in the center of the keypad and turning the front e-dial.
An un-marketed feature of the Pentax K10D is control dial customization. Do you prefer controlling the aperture by the rear dial instead of the front, or vice versa? Choose your preference in the K10D's custom function menu. Just another example of how the K10D gets out of the way to make photography easier for you.
Left: Pentax K10D Green Button Right: Pentax K10D Fn button and Shake Reduction switch
Image stabilization is all the rage these days, and indeed some photographers rage about whether lens-based anti-shake technology is superior to an in-camera design. Practically speaking, I find that this technology works well either way. The advantage with Pentax’s in-camera Shake Reduction system is that Pentax lenses remain smaller and lighter than image-stabilized lenses. The potential disadvantage is one more thing (and a complex thing) in the camera that can break or wear out. Nonetheless, these potential problems are secondary to the fact that all lenses mounted on the K10D will benefit from the Pentax Shake Reduction system. There are times when hand-holding at 1/10th of a second is either a fun experiment or a necessary technique. And image stabilization offers very real benefits to all photographers (Pentax Shake Reduction sample).
Speaking of similar technology, Pentax joins Olympus, Sony, and Canon by adding a dust reduction system to their newest SLR. The K10D's dust removal system "shudders" the sensor to remove dust at start-up. The sensor surface is also coated to discourage dust from sticking. I still recommend that you exercise plenty of caution when changing lenses. Not getting dust on your sensor in the first place is the best way to keep it clean.
Finally, all the usual techno-wizardry is present and accounted for: Multi-point AF? Check. Bright, hi-res LCD? Check. Easy playback, review, and delete menus? Check.
Pentax K10D Design
The Pentax K10D puts all the photographic control at your fingertips. Or in my case - under my thumb. Usability is excellent all-around:
Front and rear command dials are comfortably positioned for quick adjustment. I especially like the rear dial's left/right orientation. In many ways this feels more "sure" than a circular iPod-like dial. It is also less likely for a bump to accidentally change your settings.
Sports shooters who like to separate auto focus from the shutter release button will appreciate the optional AF button on the back. For large-handed folks like me, it's right under your thumb's knuckle. This is a little awkward at first but you get used to it quickly.
On-screen menu layouts are clear and easy to understand.
Solid latches for battery bay and memory card slot won't pop open inadvertently.
Bright, large viewfinder is critical for seeing details while shooting (especially peoples' expressions in a group photo). Large bright, high-resolution LCD also helps for reviewing focus and composition.
Left: Pentax K10D top lcd and controls Right: Pentax K10D pop-up flash
The build quality of the K10D is on par with the Nikon D80, and clearly feels superior to the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi / 400D. (In terms of fit and finish, keep in mind that all of these cameras are well made.) The K10D feels like the designers paid a lot of attention to how the camera's shape fits in your hands. It has curves and lips on both sides of the body that make it easy to hold. The control buttons on the left of the LCD screen are recessed in a curve that feels like a natural resting place for your left thumb. It's matched by a curve on the front that makes holding the K10D for playback a bit like holding a video game controller. On the right side, your confidence in grasping the camera one-handed is enhanced by little flanges that allow the weight of the camera to rest comfortably between your fingers and the base of your thumb.
One big design advantage the K10D has over its competition is weather resistance. The K10D has rubber seals in the body (and in recently announced lenses). I have heard stories of photographers literally putting their cameras away because a little rain began to fall (here in Seattle, this is a frequent issue!). It is comforting to know that this system won’t wilt at the first sign of water. Of course you always guard against water on the lens, but weather resistance is desirable anywhere water or dust may be present. You never know when you might get splashed.
Using the K10D in both casual and professional situations over the last two months, I've come to appreciate the little Green Button and the camera's easy white balance tuning. When you stop worrying about white balance or exposure in changing light, you can focus your energy on composition and timing. The in-camera shake reduction allowed me to shoot hand-held as slow as 1/10th of a second, and the body ergonomics made it easy to hold the camera steady while releasing the shutter at slow speeds.
One nice thing about the Pentax system is their lens selection. While the range isn't as vast as some other systems, it has several gems that make using the K10D like shooting with a trusty old manual focus camera-and I mean that in all the good ways. Also, Pentax recently announced two new, fast f/2.8 zoom lenses that cover the most popular focal length ranges.
I evaluated the K10D using two of the Pentax fast digital primes: the 21mm f/3.2 AL and the 70mm f/2.4. It was almost a retro-experience using the K10D in Hyper-manual mode with fast primes, swapping lenses quickly with the camera against my torso. The 70mm, in particular, has beautiful bokeh-a Japanese term denoting the aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus portions of a photo.
It's worth noting that part of what makes using the K10D so satisfying is the large, bright viewfinder. If you've spent any time with cameras such as the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D), you may have wished your subject was a little larger and brighter in the camera's viewfinder. Photographers who have used (and remember) 35mm film SLRs know how a good viewfinder helps enhance your connection with the subject. It really adds an intangible, positive quality to this photography thing. Accordingly, the K10D uses a glass pentaprism in the viewfinder; most of its competition does not. (Pentaprisms allow more light to pass though the camera to the user's eye, but are more expensive to manufacture than pentamirrors. Pentamirrors are found on most low-end DSLRs.)
Pentax K10D playback with histogram displayed
Pentax K10D playback mode with image info displayed
Pentax K10D main menu
Pentax K10D Fn menu
There is a lot of discussion and information available online about the sensor Pentax is using for the K10D. Personally, I'm interested in a camera's ability to resolve fine detail and how it renders shadow details. I also pay attention to highlight gradients and skin tones. I think they indicate how carefully a camera's engineers tweak their algorithms for the nuances of light. There are some issues with the K10D's JPEG image quality. But shooting RAW allows for much better quality. Of course, RAW also means you have to put in a little more effort doing RAW file conversions.
The K10D's Resolution is very good, but not up to the 10-megapixel standard set by Canon's EOS Digital Rebel XTi / 400D. Looking at sample files online, you can see the K10D is a strong performer with studio shots up close. But when it comes to fine details in the distance, the K10D and 21mm f/3.2 fall short of the Canon XTi and EF-S 18mm f/3.5-5.6. This surprised me given that prime lenses normally trounce zooms in the image quality department. Landscape shooters should evaluate this carefully. As a general rule, but especially for the K10D, one needs to use the RAW format to extract the most resolution from tricky details like foliage in shadows. I sharpened my RAW files using Unsharp Mask in Adobe Photoshop with zero threshold, 0.5 radius, at 200%. The K10D JPEGs tend to smear the fine detail and the edges just don't pop like you'd expect (hope).
Image resolution takes on a totally different character with the 70mm f/2.4 lens. Both JPEG files and converted RAW files (after capture sharpening during RAW conversion) look naturally sharp. While they still weren't as crisp as Canon Digital Rebel XTi / 400D images, the quality is close and even with a large print it would be hard to tell the difference at normal viewing distances.
Color and contrast in Pentax K10D images are excellent and skin tones are captured well, but there is a little bit of red/magenta in naturally lit outdoor photos. Nonetheless, I actually tweaked the K10D color and contrast less than with other cameras. Better contrast is obtainable from RAW files, as usual.
The Pentax K10D resolves highlights well, and gradients appear relatively smooth and natural. Shadows, on the other hand, feel a bit noisy to me. But this is the case with most digital cameras. To minimize shadow noise, you really have to shoot RAW and adjust your shadow levels and contrast properly. Overall I think the K10D balances the tonal extremes nicely, except for a bit of extra noise in the shadows.
Sensor noise is apparent at ISO 1600 and to a lesser degree at ISO 800. Dark regions of sky or other black colors reveal a pattern that isn't exactly appealing. This noise pattern is most noticeable with night photography and is less problematic with moderately lit situations or sports photography. Personally, I would try to keep the Pentax K10D below ISO 1000.
Finally, an unexpected guest to the party was purple fringing. Strong chromatic aberrations appeared when I used the 21mm f/3.2 lens, and some very minor fringing was even seen in high contrast details with the 70mm f/2.4. I was really let down by these distortions as I like to shoot backlit and side-lit scenes where purple fringing is most likely to be a problem. While it doesn't happen all the time, it says something when a built-for-digital prime lens exhibits such a glaring problem. Again, the solution here is to shoot in the RAW format. The crops below are from a frame shot with the 21mm f/3.2 in RAW+JPEG. I adjusted the RAW file using Adobe Photoshop's Camera Raw. Chromatic abberation (under the "Lens" tab) was set as follows: R/C to -32 and B/Y to +32.
Because usability is such an important element of photography for me, it’s a shame the Pentax K10D comes across as a bit soft. I really expected the edge detail in my images to be more crisp. Clearly, the lens plays a big role. Perhaps the K10D is so good it ruthlessly reveals lens flaws?
But, this begs the question, how much is enough? For most prints and online viewing, the detail I’m concerned with is probably too small for anyone to see. I have a 15x27-inch print over my desk made from an 8MP point-and-shoot and it looks great from a normal viewing distance.
For me, the most compelling features of the K10D are its unique exposure modes. These new modes enable you to choose the priority of the camera's automation based on your shooting style and situational requirements. These subtle changes to the basic camera controls offer flexibility that may result in faster, more confident shooting.
Overall, the Pentax K10D has a compelling feature list and competitive specs. With so much going for it, the K10D draws inevitable comparisons to other cameras in its class. It's tempting to obsess over what the K10D lacks versus its competition. And indeed, despite all its virtues the K10D is not a Canon or Nikon-killer. In some ways, I think that kind of comparison misses the point: For many serious photographers, pro and amateur alike, the K10D stands on its own as a well-rounded photographic tool that can be used for many types and styles of photography. While some may take issue with the K10D's image quality, other photographers may not be as trapped by the endless pixel obsession cycle (see Ken Rockwell's "measurbators"). And finally, Pentax has begun to expand its lens arsenal, with dedicated primes that set it apart from other manufacturer's systems.
Who Should Buy The Pentax K10D
The Pentax K10D will appeal to photographers who value a well-built and well-designed camera. People who get their hands on the camera at their local retailer will gain a sense of what I'm describing here. The K10D is suitable for just about anyone except sports shooters/serious birders wanting a variety of fast long lenses or anyone wanting a huge system of lenses to choose from. The K10D also won't please two other types of photographers: Event/wedding shooters who avoid using the RAW format, and those who demand best-in-class resolution.
Everyone else will likely find the K10D to be a very comfortable fit. Existing Pentax owners will be happy stepping up to the K10D's features. People photographers will appreciate the fast handling and fast prime lenses. Travel photographers will appreciate the weather sealing and lens selection. Studio and macro shooters should have no problems setting up the K10D to suit their styles.
If you are looking for an all-around DSLR value, the K10D should be high on your list. The dedicated digital lens selection is growing and the pricing makes high quality available to the masses. And, discovering the K10D's valuable ability to just get out of your way is something you will appreciate over time.
- end -
Contents of the Pentax K10D.
Pentax K10D Digital SLR Body
DA 18-55mm Lens
USB Cable I-USB17 (39233)
Video Cable I-VC28 (39262)
Strap O-ST53 (39323)
Hot Shoe Cover FK (31040)
Eyecup FP (30184)
Body Mount Cover (31016)
Finder Cap for ME (31011)
D-LI50 Lithium-ion Battery (39581)
Software (CD-ROM) S-SW55
Battery Charger D-BC50 (not pictured)
About Laurence Chen Laurence Chen is a freelance editorial, commercial, and wedding photographer based in Seattle, Wash. His clients have included Fortune Magazine, Sunset Magazine, and America 24/7. Visit his portfolio at www.Lchenphoto.com and buy his e-book, "Take Control of Buying a Digital Camera", at http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/buying-digicam.html.
Strengths: - Image quality in RAW (depending on lens of course)
- Built quality
- Manual settings range (modes, program lines etc.)
- Features (shake reduction, dust removal)
Only one improvement would be welcome: dedicated button for WB and ISO
Pentax K10D (and K20D now) is the best camera on the market! Had that camera been produced by Canon, it would cost well over $2,000.
This camera is without any doubt a proffesional tool and when mounted with the top pentax lenses (especially the limited series) it delivers just perfect results. What is the best and also quite strange about this camera is the following: I used it on several photographic workshops and when we compared the same scenes taken by K10D to Canons (40D, 450D) and Nikons (D300, D80) we all agreed we just LIKE IT BETTER - don´t ask me why....:o)
As this is a proffesional camera, you have to shoot RAW of course and process the images (Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are the best combination probably) in your PC. Never shoot JPEG unless you are shooting your family for your gradma....
Excellent is the variability of manual setting, especially the range of available modes.
I like the shake reduction - do not have to carry a tripod when I am lazy...:o)
Dust and weather-proof camera helps you not to worry when rain starts to fall, mist appears or sand is blown by the wind - excellent feature!
The built quality is just amazing, it is so lovely to hold the camera. Thank you Pentax for not competing on size and weight - when I imagine a solid camera, Pentax K10D is what is see.
Everything you need when working with the camera is very quickly and easily accessible, maybe ISO and WB could have a dedicated button, but going to the Function menu is also very fast and easy.
Similar Products Used: Shortly tried some Canon and Nikon
Type of photography: Outdoor
Date Reviewed: March 8, 2008
Strengths: Dependable construction.
Weaknesses: Too much automation. I like everything manual.
Excellent camera. Before purchasing it I bought the cheapest SLR I could get - istDL. Recently I bought the K10D. This is the right tool for me - robust construction, and I can use same FA lenses I used on my LX and MZ-5n. Some say, K10D underperformes in JPEG conversion. Well, I do not know if its true, because I never use JPEG. I take time working with RAW and shoot only RAW. (By the way, if it were cheaper, I would gladly buy a similar camera without even having any JPEG conversion. I have not even installed the Pentax software supplied with the camera, PhotoShop CS2 is so good!)
Strengths: This camera feels much more solid in my hands compared to my Rebel XT. So far its biggest plusses are the image quality in RAW and the dust buster. Tripod shots in low light and low ISO (up to 400) produced very silky results.
Tested for sensor dust against a blue sky and noticed one small speck out of the box. Used my bulb blower once, then shot again. Result: THE CLEANEST IMAGE SENSOR I'VE EVER SEEN! One less thing to worry about when swapping lenses on hikes.
Weaknesses: Just two things:
At ISOs over 400 there is clearly vertical pattern noise. And it's not just in the shadows like I've read. I enjoy shooting in low light and my Canon made this very comfortable because the results were acceptable at ISO 1600. Granted, I'm no pro, but I do wish that my top-line Pentax camera was able to handle high ISO shots as good as my 2-year-old mid-priced XT. Eh, go figure.
My other gripe is just with the fact that the camera and kit lens were not packaged with genuine caps/covers. Pentax just packed a pair of cheesy plastic pieces to keep things covered until I got the lens on the body.
I don't have many hours on this camera yet to write a complete review, but I can say a couple of things about the K10D:
The dust buster really works
The camera feels solid in my hands
RAW output is gorgeous
Verical Pattern Noise is a reality at ISO 1600 (especially in shadows)
Strengths: I like a big, heavy, well built camera that feels like you can take it, throw it over a mountain into a river and it would survive. I think this thing can. Feels, looks and acts as pro camera. The bad thing, Pentax doesn't have the rep of being a pro DSLR, at least not yet.
Weaknesses: Poor marketing of the line makes it feel like it's a prosumer set up. But things seem to be chaning and soon I'll think this and newer Pentax DSLRs will rival the other two companies.
I like to keep it simple and short. As a professional photographer (and an avid Pentax man), this is a GREAT camera! Total control over what ever you need with outstanding results! The big two companies?? Well here comes the third at a much better value.
Strengths: I like the feel. The controls are easy to reach. The guys that did the ergonomics on this thing were obviously photographers. I shoot all my photos in RAW format, so I like the built-in DNG format. It imports directly into Photoshop. And it has an Adobe color space option, too.
For me, the fact that I can use all my old SMC lenses and dedicated flashes was a big plus.
So far, the battery seems to last forever. I've taken several hundred photos on a single charge with very little drop in the battery indicator. But I rarely use the built in flash.
The image quality is also exceptional. I only use the ASA100 sensitivity, so I'm not sure how noisy it will get at higher speeds. I've enlarged photos to 20"x30" with amazing clarity and without noticeable grain. Of course, that's using my old SMC f1.4 lens, too.
Weaknesses: It's a little heavy (compared to my old film camera body), but it doesn't seem much heavier than my sister's Canon. And it feels more solid than the Canon. The controls have a more precise feel, too. Still, once I put a telephoto lens on this thing, it starts to wear on my neck.
The Pentax 18-55mm DA lens that came with the camera is a bit of a disapointment. Compared to all my old SMC lenses, this one seems cheap (to be fair, it is cheap). It works fine, but is doesn't have that really solid feel that you get with the old SMC lenses. I guess you get what you pay for (or at least you won't get it if you don't pay for it).
This is my first Digital SLR. I bought a Pentax ME and several lenses when I lived in Japan in the late 70's, so I went with this body in order to be able to use my fleet of lenses.
Since I have almost no experience with other digital SLR's, I don't really have a baseline, but from the experiences I've had so far, I'm thrilled with this camera. Compared to my old ME-super film body, this thing weighs a ton, but there is a whole lot more stuff in the K10D.
This was a bit of a leap of faith. In addition to the lenses, I have some powerful Sunpak flashes that were made to interface with my old Pentax body. I wasn't sure if all these accessories would work with the new camera. Basically, they do. (sometime you get lucky)
The flashes work great. All the auto synching, shutter control, etc. works as expected. The lenses are another story.
I only had one SMC lens that had an Automatic setting for the aperature (I always wondered what that was for...) That is the only lens that really integrated properly with this camera. All the others have to be operated manually. The only exposure control setting that works with the older lenses is the Hyper Manual setting. None of the others will move the aperature off it's wide-open setting. To use these lenses, I have to put the camera in manual, use the exposure preview feature to check the exposure, then manipulate the shutter speed or F-stop to get the proper exposure. Fortunately, the way the controls are set up on this camera, all these steps don't take too long, but for action shots, it's a bit complicated.
I was torn when I was researching this thing. Since this was my first digital SLR, I thought about going with a Nikon or Canon. The prices are similar. My lens and flash investment pushed me over the edge. I suppose ignorance is bliss, but I'm happy with my decision. This camera is really nice.
I'm not a professional photographer, but I take a lot of photos in my job (marketing engineer). I've taken tens of thousands of photos over the past 30 years and have taken the craft seriously. I am a Photoshop expert as well. Non-professionals like my photos, but I'm a little shy about showing them to pros. I'm a gadget guy, so I study my toys thoroughly and try to get the full use of them. I'm enjoying this one.
Similar Products Used: None. I've been a Pentax film camera guy for 30 years and I've had a few point-and-shoot digitals, but this is my first digital SLR.
I had a pretty nice Panasonic point-and-shoot with a 10:1 zoom. My daughter had her's stolen from her luggage at the airport, so I gave mine to her. That's how I justified buying the K10D. But now I think I might have to buy another point-and-shoot for the times that I don't want to lug my big camera bag along.
Or maybe I'll put that money towards another lens...
I bought a close out [ i.e . reduced ] Pentax K10d when the 20d arrived and was able specifically to buy used manual K lenses 50 f1.7 , 28 f 2.8 , 80-200 zoom at £25 each from my local dealer !
To me , this seemed the ideal way to translate from film to digital on a budget . I could never affo ... Read More »
I am a beginner DSLR but a quick learn and want the most for $750. I've narrowed to two choices:
(1) Pentax K10D body (refurb) with 16-45mm f/4 lens
(2) Nikon D5000 with kit 18-55mm lens
Which is the better deal? I am more interested in best image quality, fast AF, low noise ant hi ... Read More »
Ok so this is my first post and I am really looking for some helping in making my final decision on a portrait lens for my camera. I have been looking at many many reviews on the 50mm f1/4 and have found that most have said that it is better than the 85 that just came out. The reviews that I have ... Read More »
I’m a soon-to-be Pentaxian looking for some advice. I’ve been photographing for nearly 20 years, early on with SLRs and most recently with some Olympus and Canon prosumer digital P&Ss, but now I’m looking to take the dive into digital SLRs. My photography is primarily outdoor nature, oft ... Read More »
Hi folks, I am having problems in shooting with my Pentax K10D (soft 1.3) with DA* 16-50 and 50-135 zooms : auto-focus shots always are unsharp, while in manual focussing OK;
settings on camera : AF.C, on lenses AF; mostly using Tv mode - RAW;
all pictures taken on autofocus (especially on basketb ... Read More »