The picture quality of the K-x is generally excellent. Images were sharp and finely detailed and the colours accurate and vibrant. I was particularly impressed by its low light and indoor performance, facilitated by the inclusion of a 30 seconds maximum shutter speed and a Bulb mode. Very good noise control coupled with the built-in shake reduction give terrific night shots, even without the use of a tripod. It is certainly the best low light performance I’ve seen in a camera at this level.
Impressive noise handling characteristics at this price point
The automatic white balance was not always spot on in indoor situations but produced very realistic daytime tones. However it is also worth mentioning the lack of a white balance bracketing system on the K-x – a feature usually included in all DSLRs. The K-x has an ISO range of between 200 and 6400, expandable to 12800. Overall, the ISO tests produced remarkable results, with very limited levels of noise up to 1600 and little distortion all the way to 6400. Indeed, the noise reduction system does a very good job at retaining fine details, resulting in very sharp images.
Apart from the usual choice of shooting programs, Pentax has also included a Sensitivity Priority mode on its main menu dial, which lets you select the ISO while the camera automatically adjusts shutter speed and aperture to give you the optimal exposure. Some might find it a gimmicky addition but I think it could be useful in challenging lighting conditions where time or texture is an issue. For example, if you are shooting fast moving subjects in low light it could be quite handy to set a high ISO as a trade-off.
The K-x is a fast shooter. It clearly outperforms all other entry-level DSLR and several higher end models when it comes to speed. Switch on is almost instant and there is no noticeable shutter delay. More importantly it delivers an impressive 4.7fps continuous shooting, which is an extraordinary step up for a camera of this class.
Pentax has provided this small reflex with quite a bit of in camera processing and cool digital filters that, used sparsely, can produce great creative results straight out of the camera. The K-x features seven digital filters and a number of well-designed post-production editing tools and effects. Amusingly, the watercolour filter turns the image into a cartoon and contributes to what makes this camera really fun to use. The quality of the filters is very convincing and the effects can be adjusted by using on-screen sliders for smoother and more personal results.
Besides a built-in flash, there are numerous effects processing options
Anyone with a film background will appreciate the inclusion of a Cross Processing mode. It emulates a creative development technique in which a film is processed in a chemical solution intended for films of a different type. This process produces high contrast images with surreal colours that are very popular in fashion and advertising.