Camera Test: Pentax K10D

With the new 10MP K10D, Pentax has truly arrived in the DSLR category, and the K10D is a serious player in the advanced amateur DSLR game.

Camera-Test-Pentax-K10D
Camera-Test-Pentax-K10D

Camera Test: Pentax K10D27075121508PentaxK10DSince its first unveiling in September, readers and industry insiders alike have been abuzz about the feature set of the Pentax K10D ($920 street, body only). The 10.1-megapixel DSLR sports 22-bit processing, three frames per second JPEG capture-to-card capacity, weather toughness of a pro-level DLSR costing thousands more, in-camera DNG format support, sensor-shift stabilization and sensor-shake dust removal -- quite an impressive list, and that's only scratching the surface. But it's one thing for a camera to look good on paper. What really matters to us here at PopPhoto.com is how it tests in the Popular Photography & Imaging lab tests. After running the K10D through our normal battery of tests and seeing how it performs in real-world situations we can now say with certainty: Pentax has truly arrived in the DSLR category, and the K10D is a serious player in the advanced amateur DSLR game. Overall image quality is Excellent throughout the ISO range. Color accuracy is Excellent. Noise is exceptionally well controlled all the way through, and Resolution is excellent at all ISOs. In fact, there is less than a 5 percent drop off in resolution from ISO 100 (1925) to ISO 1600 (1845), and noise only climbs from Very Low (1.15) to Low (1.95) from lowest to highest ISO.

Since its first unveiling in September, readers and industry insiders alike have been abuzz about the feature set of the Pentax K10D ($920 street, body only). The 10.1-megapixel DSLR sports 22-bit processing, three frames per second JPEG capture-to-card capacity, weather toughness of a pro-level DLSR costing thousands more, in-camera DNG format support, sensor-shift stabilization and sensor-shake dust removal -- quite an impressive list, and that's only scratching the surface.

But it's one thing for a camera to look good on paper. What really matters to us here at PopPhoto.com is how it tests in the Popular Photography & Imaging lab tests.

After running the K10D through our normal battery of tests and seeing how it performs in real-world situations we can now say with certainty: Pentax has truly arrived in the DSLR category, and the K10D is a serious player in the advanced amateur DSLR game.

What's Hot • Sensor-based shake reduction • 22-bit processing • 3FPS JPEG capture-to-card capacity • Weather-tough design • Excellent image quality at all ISOs • Excellent fluorescent color balancing • LCD depth of field preview function What's Not • Autofocus slower than competing models • Magenta color casts in dark shadows • Weather sealing make for slower access to battery and card • No indication of extent of Shake Reduction Image Quality Gallery Click here to see images taken by the Pentax K10D.

Overall image quality is Excellent throughout the ISO range. Color accuracy is Excellent. Noise is exceptionally well controlled all the way through, and Resolution is excellent at all ISOs. In fact, there is less than a 5 percent drop off in resolution from ISO 100 (1925) to ISO 1600 (1845), and noise only climbs from Very Low (1.15) to Low (1.95) from lowest to highest ISO.

Autofocus speeds aren't world beating, but are respectable. AF functions to EV -1, whereas the Nikon D80 and Canon EOS Rebel XTi will go one stop better before AF failure.

There are some minor issues with magenta color casting in shadows, especially in JPEG files. These issues are less of a concern in RAW/DNG capture. We were also working with extremely early production samples, and Pentax may well do some firmware fixes before shipping units to retailers.

In the hands, the camera feels satisfyingly solid. The concave lip/grip below the K10D logo is a great little consideration for times when it's necessary to hold the camera with the left hand. For those unfamiliar with the floating sensor stabilization design, it can be a bit unsettling to hear the sensor rattle around when the camera is off, but you'll get over it when you see the image results, especially at slow shutter speeds in low light.

We've taken the K10D and a slew of lenses out around Manhattan and New Jersey to produce a gallery of image quality shots for your review, explaining how each shot was made and how it relates to the K10D's performance.

The K10D not only proves that Pentax belongs in the big leagues, it's an all-star player.

Also, be sure to check out the February 2007 issue of Popular Photography & Imaging for a 10-megapixel DSLR shootout between the Pentax K10D, Samsung GX-10, Sony Alpha A-100, Canon EOS Rebel XTi, and the Nikon D80, on newsstands Tuesday, Jan. 9.

Certified Test Results:

Overall Image Quality
Excellent at every ISO

Resolution
Excellent 1925 lines average at ISO 100
Maintained 1845 lines, Excellent, at ISO 1600

Color Accuracy
7.66 Excellent

Noise
ISO 100 Very low 1.15
ISO 200 Very low 1.15
ISO 400 Very low 1.4
ISO 800 Low 1.7
ISO 1600 Low 1.95

Highlight/shadow detail
Very high

Contrast (at middle setting)
Normal

AF Speed

|||||||||| |---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---| | EV 11| EV 10| EV 8| EV 6| EV 4| EV 2| EV 1| EV 0| EV -1| | 0.37| 0.44| 0.43| 0.54| 0.97| 1.17| 1.22| 1.67| 2.33| In the box:

Camera only package. Street $920.00
• K10D camera
• D-LI50 Lithium-ion Battery
• Battery Charger D-BC50
• USB Cable (I-USB17)
• Video Cable (I-VC28)
• Neck Strap (O-ST53)
• Fk Hot Shoe Cover
• Eyecup (FP)
• Body Mount Cover
• Finder Cap for ME
• Software CD-ROM (Pentax Photo Laboratory 3, Pentax Photo Browser 3)
• User Guide
• 1-Year Pentax Limited Warranty

With Pentax SMCP-DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL AF Zoom Lens: Street $999.00

4-10-second-f-5.0-ISO-100-SMC-Pentax-DA-10-17-Fish
4-10-second-f-5.0-ISO-100-SMC-Pentax-DA-10-17-Fish
4/10 second f/5.0 ISO 100 SMC Pentax DA 10-17 Fisheye on the Pentax K10D. Twilight and night shooters will love the ability to handhold at slow shutter speeds to make sharp images, due to the K10D's floating sensor.Photo By Jack Howard
1-25-sec-f-4.0-ISO-400-SMC-Pentax-DA-14mm-f-2.8-on
1-25-sec-f-4.0-ISO-400-SMC-Pentax-DA-14mm-f-2.8-on
1/25 sec f/4.0 ISO 400 SMC Pentax DA 14mm f/2.8 on the Pentax K10D. Under mixed lighting, at ISO 400 on Auto White Balance, the K10D shows excellent white balancing and minimal noise.Photo By Jack Howard
3-10-sec-f-5.6-ISO-100-SMC-Pentax-DA-10-17-Fisheye
3-10-sec-f-5.6-ISO-100-SMC-Pentax-DA-10-17-Fisheye
3/10 sec f/5.6 ISO 100 SMC Pentax DA 10-17 Fisheye on the Pentax K10D. The floating sensor enabled a very slow shutter speed handheld at low ISO to capture this twilight scene.Photo By Jack Howard
1-8-second-f-3.5-ISO-100-SMC-Pentax-DA-10-17-Fishe
1-8-second-f-3.5-ISO-100-SMC-Pentax-DA-10-17-Fishe
1/8 second f/3.5 ISO 100 SMC Pentax DA 10-17 Fisheye on the Pentax K10D. With a very short focal length, and the K10D's floating sensor, it was possible to handheld capture this ultrawide fisheye view at a low ISO to minimize noise.Photo By Jack Howard
1-40-sec-f-8.0-ISO-200-SMC-Pentax-DA-14mm-f-2.8-on
1-40-sec-f-8.0-ISO-200-SMC-Pentax-DA-14mm-f-2.8-on
1/40 sec f/8.0 ISO 200 SMC Pentax DA 14mm f/2.8 on the Pentax K10D. Spot metering did a good job of exposing for the middle values of this street scene, shot from the exit of Penn Station, with walkers in shadow and a very overcast sky.Photo By Jack Howard
1-200-sec-f-6.3-ISO-200-SMC-Pentax-DA-14mm-f-2.8-o
1-200-sec-f-6.3-ISO-200-SMC-Pentax-DA-14mm-f-2.8-o
1/200 sec f/6.3 ISO 200 SMC Pentax DA 14mm f/2.8 on the Pentax K10D. Not the world's most exciting image, but the K10D did an excellent job of metering and capturing detail in shadow conditions, along with the brighter sky and background buildings.Photo By Jack Howard
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