Editor's Choice 2007: Advanced DSLRs

Editor-s-Choice-2007-Advanced-DSLRs

Editor-s-Choice-2007-Advanced-DSLRs

Ruggedness is an advantage that sets professional SLRs above lesser models. The very affordable Pentax K10D erases that distinction, though. Pentax's top D-SLR delivers pro-grade weatherproofing for hundreds, even thousands, of dollars less than other models with similar cladding. And none of those D-SLRs offers the K10D's combination of image stabilization, automatic dust removal, and in-camera RAW "developing" made possible by a powerful new imaging engine.

Larger, heavier, and sturdier in its construction than Pentax's existing six-megapixel D-SLRs, the ten-megapixel Pentax K10D defies its mid-tier price. No other model in its class is so well sealed against the elements, for example. And its bright, sharp pentaprism viewfinder is among the biggest we've seen in a D-SLR, making manual focusing easy if you're using older Pentax K-mount optics. That said, the camera's 11-point wide-area autofocus system features nine cross-type points for fast and accurate motion tracking.

Another K10D asset -- one that's especially valuable in low light and with slower lenses -- is its sensor-shifting Shake Reduction (SR) system. Because it's built into the camera body, it works with any ordinary, existing Pentax lens. As advertised, it let us shoot handheld and still get sharp results at shutter speeds up to four stops slower.

The K10D's brains match its ergonomic physique. Two innovative exposure modes complement the standards. In Sv (Sensitivity Value) mode -- essentially "ISO priority" -- we set the ISO and the camera chose the shutter speed and lens aperture. In TAv (Shutter and Aperture Value) mode, we manually set shutter speed and lens aperture, and the camera automatically adjusted the ISO to achieve proper exposure.

The K10D is unique in its ability to write RAW images as either Pentax PEF or Adobe DNG files. For us, though, the K10D's biggest "wow" is its in-camera processing capability. It allowed us to take a digital-preview test shot, adjust white balance, and see those changes live, on the LCD screen. We could also "develop" RAW images as new JPEGs and "push" or "pull" their exposure in camera -- or change their size, quality, contrast, sharpness, saturation, and white balance as needed. The Pentax K10D is the only D-SLR available to offer that winning level of sophistication.

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