The latest started DSLR from Pentax offers lots of photographic firepower.
In our ﬁeld tests, the AF system did a ﬁne job of keeping up with subjects moving toward or away from the camera, as well as those moving across the frame. Used with the Pentax smc DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 ED AL SDM lens, the K-r matched pace with cars that were obviously exceeding the 35mph speed limit in Manhattan. However, the AF stuttered a bit when we zoomed while bursting with the camera set to focus-priority continuous AF.
When we shot with the same lens in a living room trying to keep up with a toddler, it fared better and we got some nice shots. Given that many people look to step up to a DSLR for just this type of shooting, this is a good sign. Video in the K-r caps out at 1280x720p and uses the non- standard 25-fps frame rate instead of 24 fps. While the footage we shot looked nice in terms of sharpness and color saturation, we would have liked to see 1920x1080p and a standard frame rate. (Of course, newcomers to DSLRs would probably be happier with the no-nonsense ease of camcorders than any DSLR's video experience anyway.)
Live-view shooting was another matter. While the 3-inch, 921,000- dot LCD screen is ﬁxed, the contrast-detection AF was comfortably speedy by DSLR standards. It can't match what you'll get from an interchangeable-lens compact, such as the Olympus Pen E-PL2. The K-r will focus continuously in live view, but, given its sluggish contrast AF, it won't keep up with fast-moving subjects.
Pentax's K-r is fun to use and has enough resolution for prints as large as most family shooters are likely to want. That it has one more stop of acceptable noise control than Nikon's D3100 and Canon's Rebel T2i adds to its appeal.
If you have older Pentax lenses around from the ﬁlm era, the K-r will accept them. And the sensor- shift stabilization in the body will work with any lens, unlike Nikon and Canon's lens-based stabilization systems. If you don't have any Pentax lenses, you'll have to weigh whether the extra money the Canon Rebel T2i costs is worth it for perks such as low-light focusing.
If you're considering stepping up from the K-x, the K-r will get you an extra stop of acceptable ISO, plus slightly faster AF overall. Not a bad deal if you ask us.
IMAGING: 12.4MP effective APS-C sized CMOS sensor captures images at 4288x2848 pixels each, with 12 bits/color in RAW.
STORAGE: SD/SDHC stores JPEG, PEF or DNG RAW, and RAW+JPEG files.
BURST RATE: Full-sized JPEGs (Best mode) up to 25 shots at 6 fps; RAW, up to 12 shots at 6 fps.
AF SYSTEM: TTL phase detection with 11 illuminated focus points (9 cross-type); single-shot, continuous with focus priority or fps priority in continuous. Tested sensitivity down to EV –1 (at ISO 100, f/1.4).
SHUTTER SPEEDS: 1/6000 to 30 sec, plus B (1/3-EV increments); shutter life not rated.
METERING: 16-segment TTL metering, evaluative, centerweighted, and spot (percentage of viewfinder not available), EV 1–21.5 (ISO 200, f/1.4).
video: Records at up to 1280x720 at 25 fps in Motion JPEG AVI format; built-in mono microphone, no mic input, no AF in movie mode. ISO RANGE: ISO 200–12,800; expands to ISO 100–25,600 (in 1/3-, 1/2-, or 1-EV increments).
FLASH: Built-in pop-up with autoflash and wireless triggering of optional flash units, GN 40 (ISO 100, feet), covers the field of view of a 18mm lens; flash sync to 1/180 sec.
VIEWFINDER: Fixed eye-level pentamirror.
LCD: Fixed 3-inch TFT with 921,000-dot resolution.
OUTPUT: Hi-Speed USB 2.0, composite video, infrared in/out (IrSimple).
BATTERY: Rechargeable D-LI109 Li-ion, CIPA rating 470 shots.
SIZE/WEIGHT: 4.9x3.8x2.7 in., 1.3 lb with an SD card and battery.
STREET PRICE: $600, body only; $710, with 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6 lens.