Pentax K-m entry-level digital SLR
One of the best budget DSLRs available?
Review We’ve all been there: you go into a store with a fixed budget in mind then spot a product that makes you think: 'Hmm. If I spend a bit more, I can get an even better model than the one I had planned for.' Well, if you’re setting out to buy a high-end digital compact, you could well change your mind if you clamp your eyes on the Pentax K-m digital SLR.
Pentax's K-m: one of the best budget DLSRs
Not to beat about the bush, it’s one of the best entry-level DSLRs we’ve seen, and at less than £400 - or £350 if you’re prepared to shop around online - it represents fantastic value for money. Don’t get us wrong: the K-m isn’t perfect, but we think Pentax has done a great job in delivering a DSLR that offers good performance and good specifications at this price point.
So what has Pentax packed into the K-m? There’s a 10.2Mp CCD - the sensor measures 23.5 x 15mm - dust-removal technology based on a protective coat and vibration system; a shake-reduction system; and lashings of automatic and manual features – more on these later.
The K-m is a compact DSLR, measuring 122.5 x 91.5 x 67.5mm and weighing 525g without battery and memory card. It’s not the smallest DSLR around, but it sure comes close. The camera body feels solid, so Pentax clearly hasn’t cut costs by providing a body that’s as robust as a wet lettuce.
The K-m uses a KAF2 lens-mount and the kit comes with an 18-55mm lens. Moving from left to right along the top, there’s a hot shoe, large mode dial, exposure compensation button and help button. If you’re not sure what a particular button does, the latter can provide a text description on the LCD screen.
But not one the fastest camera around
It goes without saying that, after using the K-m for a while, the help button becomes somewhat redundant, so it’s good that you can assign one of a list of other functions to it. The options include a digital preview feature, which displays a histogram for checking exposure. At the very front is the power on/off switch and shutter button.
The (mostly) white one
That (mostly) white model looks like a camera that would look good in a Star Wars trooper's hands...
Psychology is an interesting thing. The 18mm stock lenses of our Pentax cameras are actually the same as 27mm in 35mm film camera terms, due to the sensor size crop factor (which for Pentax is 1.5x). So it would be interesting if your 18mm (I mean, 27mm) shots felt less cramped than the ones from the FZ28.
Are you sure about the AF?
I've got the older model which uses the same AF system.
In my case the camera does tell you which AF spot it's using because it flashes it red, very briefly, when you half press the shutter button.
I'd be surprised if they've ditched this on the newer model so are you sure you haven't just missed it?
Movie mode, wide angle...
A lot of people seem affronted by the idea of movie mode on a DSLR. Sure, you won't be able to use the viewfinder for video, and the handling might leave something to be desired but the benefit of being able to use the same lenses for video and stills, and not requiring two separate devices with somewhat similar components.
I'm not quite sure why people are directly comparing 18mm kit lens to '28mm' on the FZ28. The FZ28 lens is 4.8mm at the wide end... in the context of field of view the two lenses give on their respective bodies, they are both approximately equivalent to ~27mm on a 35mm camera. It's about time people started learning to talk about actual FOV, rather than '35mm equivalent focal length' so that these confusions can be avoided.
a.k.a. K2000, in the US
... in case my fellow colonials want to hunt for it in the pricegrabber. Maybe that was mentioned on one of the several pages I skipped...
Seems to start at $560 for a kit with the DA 18-55mm AL Lens & AF-200FG Flash
('cause we fink brits is aliens over here)
£400 seriously???? I thought most DSLRs sit around £200 mark?