I own both Pentax K20D and Pentax K-x. I am one of the many who enjoys the K-x very much. But in my view, K-x is never a replacement for K-7 or K20D as it is in a different class of camera. If one holds that view and open minded to it as a back-up and fun and light camera packed with features, one will appreciate K-x for it is good for. I am of course biased for Pentax but I will recommend K-x highly to anyone who are in the market for their 1st digital SLR as an upgrade from p&s, or take K-x as a back-up, traveling buddy along with K10D, K20D or K-7. It excels in high ISO as anyone has noted. It ain't perfect when you compare it to the higher class in K-7 or K20D. No matter how wrong that I do in relying on the red focal point for reference of focus, the missing of it in K-x is the darn-est thing I miss in K-x and it supersedes all the inconveniences that I can do with buttons found in K-7/K20D/K10D and not in K-x.
I didn't hesitate for the decision to take it for my recent visit to Disneyland and SeaWorld in southern California. And the K-x is a real kicker in the dark with low ambient light. I took along my usual traveling 1-lens do-it-most lens with Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 and the high ISO in K-x upped a notch for the zoom
1/125 sec, f/4.0, 63mm, iso 5000 , 0 Ev
jpg, default NR, no pp, no flash
1/100 sec, f/4.0, 45mm, iso 2500 , 0 Ev
jpg, default NR, no pp, no flash
1/30 sec, f/3.5, 35mm, iso 12800 , 0 Ev
jpg, default NR, pp with NR in iPhoto
1/10 sec, f/2.8, 17mm, iso 12800 , 0 Ev
jpg, default NR, no pp, no flash,
on a moving boat, cropped center
1/250 sec, f/5.6, 34mm, iso 100 , 0 Ev
1/125 sec, f/4.0, 63mm, iso 200, 0 Ev
I will show more on the shots taken in the Private of Caribbean boat ride which was even darker and many of the shots in 6400 to 12800 come out reasonable except some with very odd WB from the tricky lighting.
Impressions & Notes
I tune the sharpness setting in my K-x from default to Fine sharpness and +1 from the normal setting. I would imagine some impact to the high iso shots but I want to gain the sharpness by a bit in normal shooting as I do find sharpness in default setting a bit soft compared to my K20D and hence the tuning. More of the my family vacation with Pentax K-x white and Sigma zoom can be seen in this Flickr photo set
- Missing the red focal point
Missing the red dot is almost a non-issue in good daytime shooting as I can rely on the lines and circle imprinted guides on the default focusing screen to roughly center the spot to work with center AF. But that is not easy to do in the low light shooting especially when I have a bi-focal glass and I can hardly see the guiding lines and circle imprinted on the focusing screen when I make shot in the dark. MF is both a non-issue to some but it is a gripe for me as I do rely on the precision of the center point for flower pedals and the precise spot that I want to tell the AF to lock on. I have adapted to consciously looking at the bottom for the green hex but that is NOT my preference in shooting as I move my attention from center to bottom and it is more prone to missing the spot that I am interested in. My Bi-focal glass adds a factor in the negative direction. In the Pirate of Caribbean boat ride, I could hardly hear the AF confirmation beep due to the water fall and the cheers of the boat riders.
- Program Mode
I use Program mode in the trip mostly and I switch to Tv for shots with body movement with faster shutter in 1/80 to 1/125 when body movements are in the shots. The program always swing back to f/2.8 and I have to hyper adjust it smaller aperture to avoid wide open shots but I let it do its thing when it is really dark.
- Auto Focus
The AF in dim light and under tungsten lighting is quite responsive.
- SR unstabilized
One other caveat that seems to happen more with K-x is the slower activation of SR hand signal for readiness of SR. I have SR on all time and yet I find quite a number of my shots with SRResult=Unstabilized in exif. There is a gap of 0.6+ second between the AF hexagon and the coming of SR ready hand signal. One has to pay attention to the SR status in the shooting.
- Auto WB
Auto WB is reasonable though I find tendency of warm and orange type of WB when shooting in the dark with red color. The preset for tungsten lighting seem to elevate the problems a bit; otherwise, the auto WB is quite dependable.
- Matrix Metering
I am not sure if it is improved like the K-7 over the K20D, maybe it does but I can't tell easily, but one thing that I am sure is the tendency of a bit overexposure. It is very unlike K20D that it underexposes by 1/3 to 1/2 stop. I find it accurate for most counts but I also find it varies with lens and the subject to lighting in the background, I have highlight clipped when I use DA 35mm f/2.8 limited on seemingly normal and not harsh lighting. I sometime dial it with -1/3 Ev and pp it similar to K20D. Dpreview does note the clipping on highlight in the "cons" section.