on December 30, 2010
Here's my story...
I purchased my first DSLR, an Olympus E-420, in May this year, and really caught the photography bug. The great thing about the Olympus, especially with the 25mm pancake lens, is that it is as easy to carry as a point and shoot, but takes GREAT pictures, **as long as there is plenty of natural light**.
When I read the introductory preview of the Pentax K-R on dpreview.com, it got my attention because it was noted for great performance in low light / high iso conditions, such as shooting indoors without a flash, or shooting your daughter/son playing basketball in a gymnasium, where built-in flashes do not have the range. This, plus in-camera image stabilization and very usable 18-55 and 55-300 kit lenses, sounded worth trying. So I found a great deal through Amazon, and bought the Pentax K-R right around Thanksgiving.
The first thing I noticed about the Pentax when I unpacked it was that it felt much more robust than the Nikon D5000 or Canon Rebel that I had checked out at Costco; but it also sounded like it was broken. There was something flopping around inside when I tipped the camera back and forth. This was disconcerting next to my rock solid Olympus. The second thing I noticed was that after I charged the battery and powered up for the first time, the display glitched. I fooled around and took a few shots, and they came out really great, but I was still concerned, so the next day I called Pentax. Pentax tech support was very helpful, and explained that the part moving inside is the sensor, which floats on a magnetic field so that it can compensate for camera movement when taking pictures. The glitch on startup, however, was not normal, and they suggested I return the camera for a replacement.
So I contacted Amazon, and there was only one problem setting up the return/replacement: They were out of stock. So I waited, and kept reading the K-R booklet and reviews online... I wondered if I should wait for the replacement, or just return it and get something else.
Then, earlier today I received an email from Costco that the new Rebel x2ti was available at a substantial discount with an 18-55 and a 55-250 kit. I picked one up on the way home, and when I walked in the door my wife was ready to kill me. The replacement K-R had come from Amazon, so I now had two Pentaxes, the Canon, and the original Olympus...
Long story short, comparing the Pentax and the Canon side by side, the Pentax was the hands down, no contest winner. It is a much more substantial feeling camera, with better buttons, and a much more professional "feel." The lenses seem more solid, and the front element does NOT turn the way that it does on the Canon when focusing, which is important if you use a polarizing filter. It's also nice to have the flexibility of 18-55 and 55-300mm lenses with the Pentax kit versus 18-55 and 55-250mm with Canon. And the Pentax SR image stabilization system works great. I'm taking pictures indoors with the 18-55 f3.5 lens without any flash, and getting perfect exposures without blur. Much better results than I can get with the 25mm f2.8 Zuiko on the Olympus with the same light. I'm sure that once I can afford a higher speed prime lens from Pentax, I will be even happier.
In summary, if you value excellent build quality, lens design, and low light / high iso performance, you will be very happy with the Pentax K-R.
on December 31, 2010
I bought my Pentax K-r online. Out of the box, Pentax does not provide that warm and fuzzy feeling that it is not a refurbished camera. Everything is wrapped in a non-sealed plastic or a bubble wrap, and there are no thin disposable protective film covers over the lens and lcd or that plastic tab over the battery compartment. I confirmed with Pentax that this is how their packaging is done even with a brand new item to ease my thoughts.
On to the camera itself, the shutter release action on the Pentax K-r is quite loud. You can hear the gears turning within. I've tested the Pentax K-r vs the Canon T2i side by side using the automatic mode and feel that the Canon is able to focus faster when quickly trying to capture an event that you have no time to fuss around with. The Pentax even on automatic mode still requires little adjustments and you may sometimes have to ask your subjects to pose a little longer for the camera to snap the shot while you hear the gears adjusting.
The pop-up flash on the Pentax is a little on the flimsy side while the Canon T2i feels more durable. For the price you pay, Pentax should have really put in a little more effort on this piece as it feels very plasticky. The entire body otherwise feels sturdy.
The option for a proprietary battery or the use of AA batteries is nice on the Pentax. I also like the quality of the movie that it takes although you are limited to about 11 mins and 30 secs of capture time. I have never exceeded this time, but it would be an extra bonus to have it be unlimited depending on your SD card capacity.
Pentax claims a battery-life of around 1,000 shots using high-powered NiMh AA batteries and 470 shots with the lithium-ion however I was only able to get about 400 shots (with turning on and off and viewing/deleting pictures along the way) using the proprietary battery that it shipped with.
Overall, the camera is nice with many customizations possible. It does what you expect of a SLR and the quality of the photos are great. If you are a new recreational SLR user, I would lean slightly more towards the Canon T2i which is more user friendly with less adjustments needed right out of the box. Otherwise, if you like tinkering and don't mind the little things mentioned here, the Pentax K-r is a good solid SLR.
on December 19, 2010
Updated (09/2011): This camera has been a disaster. Aside from the front focusing issues - the ring at the back stopped working properly after 4-5 months. I sent it for repair and after a week - the ring again stopped working. I have gone through 1SLR, 2DSLR (including a Pentax K200d) and prosumer and many other digital cameras. This is by far the most defective hardware i have ever received. I wish i could just get rid of my entire Pentax gear at this point.
Amazon was selling the K-r kit with 18-55 and 55-300 lenses for a really good price around Thanksgiving 2010. I had been wanting to upgrade from my k200d for sometime and jumped at the opportunity. 3 weeks with the camera have given me a good perspective on the pros/cons of this upgrade.
My primary motivation for upgrading was the rave reviews about low-light/high-iso performance of the K-r (and K-x). I chose the K-r over the K-x because the high fps and focus point in viewfinder features were well worth the minor difference in price. Here are the pros (+) and cons (-):
+ high ISO performance is excellent. I am shooting ISO1600 indoors all the time. Processed images have no noise at this setting. The performance is comparable (or better) than the k200d at ISO400
+ auto-focus is really fast as promised
+ burst shooting is really fast.
+ camera button controls are much better than k200d (direct iso/flash etc. buttons)
+ it's a much lighter camera (but that's a negative as well)
+ automatic white balance without flash is way better than the k200d (the latter had very warm overtones in tungsten for example - the K-r produces perfectly natural white balance for common indoor and outdoor lighting situations)
+ the supplied 55-300 kit lens is excellent. compared to my current 70-300 Tamron lens - it's much sharper on the long end.
+ live view is cool and allows shooting holding the camera at all sorts of angles. the screen is bright enough to be visible from just about any angle.
- focusing is fast but not as accurate. in particular my camera was front focusing and i found this to be a commonly reported problem on the web. i almost considered returning my camera before reading about the focus fine adjustment option. setting the camera for the maximum front-focus adjustment got rid of the problem for the most part (although it still doesn't seem perfect). not all lenses suffer equally badly - unfortunately my favorite lens (Tamron 28-75 f2.8) does.
- auto white balance with flash feels weird (it seems that it over-compensates for flash)
(updated: i found that (for my home shots) changing the white balance to 'warm white flourescent' in the raw editor (silkypix) largely fixed the issue).
- the supplied software is absolutely terrible. i process RAW images on the PC and the old software was simple but usable. The new one is a labyrinth of features - except the ones u really need (like not resetting the adjustment settings on every new image). Morever it crashes (i cannot even start it on one of my pcs)
- the new 18-55 lens feels cheap to the one that was supplied with previous models (plastic mount and no hood). i am planning to dispose off the new one and hang on to the old one.
- no weather sealing and body doesn't feel as substantial. the k200d used to sell at the same price point but had a magnesium alloy body and was weather sealed. the K-r is neither. The body is not as substantial to hold - in particular the battery compartment is smaller and the hand grip around the compartment doesn't feel as secure as before.
- doesn't take AA batteries by default. this is really lame - i will have to spend extra money to buy a special adapter. rechargable AA batteries are much better than proprietary ones.
- movie mode is pretty much useless because of lack of auto-focus. almost all DSLRs are like this - so it's not a ding against K-r - just dont buy it for taking videos. (Updated: i have found the video to be very jittery even slow moving everyday scenes. it's not clear why that is the case since 24fps is supposedly good enough)
- (Updated) one additional annoyance is that choosing the fully automatic 'A' mode does not reset all the customized settings - specifically the focus point and AF mode. This means i can't simply set the camera to 'A' mode and hand it off to a P&S photographer (since i always leave the camera at center point focus). That's really painful.
there are a lot of new image processing features in the K-r (HDR, shadow lighting, filters etc.) - but these can all be done in software and are not so valuable for me (may be for other users).
if i was shooting daylight/outdoors in good light - the K-r is actually a downgrade from the k200d. however - the gain in low light conditions are exemplary and outweigh the negatives (of which there are many). So it's a keeper for me. Considering that i would give a five star to the k200d - this is at least a four star. (Updated 09/2011 - note that i changed the review to one star because of the unreliability/defectiveness of my camera that was not fixed even after a trip to Pentax CRIS. Please see beginning of review)
For people looking to buy Pentax for the first time - one word of caution. Pentax seems to be falling further and further behind in the choice of lenses available on their platform. For example the Tamron 18-270 lens is still not available and the 18-250 lens has been taken off the market. There's no cheap 50mm prime lens available (the cheapest one is now $350). It's a rather sorry state of affairs and if i was not already invested in some Pentax mount lenses i would have definitely taken a much closer look at the Nikon D5000 that seems really close to the K-r in price/capabilities. At the same time - the supplied kit lenses are very good and if you don't plan to buy a lot of lenses - the Pentax is an excellent value (always more functionality and nicer build per $ than Canon/Nikon).
on April 29, 2011
For those who are unaware, the Pentax K-r has what's called a "front focussing" issue. You won't notice it in most situations, and it has slipped under the radar of virtually all professional reviews. It comes up when you are autofocusing in low light, and is more pronounced when using a faster lens (i.e. a 50mm prime lens). I would without hesitation give this camera a 5 if not for the front focus issue. It needs to be addressed. To give you an idea of how pervasive this problem is, just google "DSLR Front Focus problem" or "DSLR Front Focus issue" (no brand or model) and the first 20-30 hits you get are all about the Pentax K-r. Many K-r owners have addressed these concerns on message boards. Pentax, however, is not acknowledging this to be a "known issue." I called customer service this morning and was told the company is aware of the complaints is looking into it. It's my understanding, and I could be wrong on this, that once Pentax (or any company) acknowledges a "known issue" with a product, they are responsible for remedying it with either a firmware update or a recall (although I'm not sure a recall would apply to this because it's not a safety issue, such as a vehicle). As many have noted in online forums, Japan has much bigger issues than developing firmware updates, and as a human being, I'm more than willing to extend Pentax as much time as they need to address this issue. What myself, and many others are asking is that the company acknowledge this to be a known issue, and promise its customers that they will fix the problem via firmware or physical repair within a reasonable time period. If they need six months to a year to do it, I could live with that. But in the absence of that acknowledgement and commitment to its customers, I cannot recommend this camera.
on December 3, 2010
I had problems with Amazon and with my new camera, a Pentax K-R kit including 18-55 and 55-300mm lenses.
Order was received as promised. An adapter to allow AA battery use is not included. As yet I cannot find them in the US, and they cost about $35. The included LI battery seemed to charge fast and last about 500 frames. I also bought a class 4 SDHC card and reader as none are included and my SD card reader wouldn't work with the SDHC card.
I was happy to be able to use this over Thanksgiving until I discovered the thumb wheel was malfunctioning. When you rolled the thumb wheel control knob the selected values hopped around randomly instead of changing predictably. It got worse over the next few days and now the camera is now essentially unusable.
Pentax answered their support phone and offered to repair it but recommended just exchanging it since it was a week after purchase and they thought exchange would be faster. But... Amazon wouldn't allow exchange from some unknown reason, the website only allowed me to return it for credit. So I had to repurchase it. Dumb idea.
I should have replaced it from a different seller, but I can't cancel the Amazon order so I'm stuck.
The camera sn was 3819488.
The camera took beautiful pictures, particularly hi ISO such as 3200 when you could get the settings to change correctly. The lenses seemed to be a good value. If I get a good copy of the K-R I think it will be a good camera. It could be just production line problems (the K-R is a new model) but you'd think QC would be tighter on the first production runs to ensure newer products are fully functional.
on November 30, 2010
--Good news, bad news: As noted below, the k-r takes very good, clean images on full zoom; if the light is right you can read a license plate at 450 yards. But I need to use a CPL, and this is another story. I tried two brands of CPL with the Pentax lens and both resulted in horrendous blur and a "ghost image" familiar to B&W TV viewers of an earlier era. (I've used these same CPLs on other cameras with no problem.) I've found online references to an identical problem with long lenses on Canon, Nikon and other cameras. Other users solved the problem by using a high-end filter (retail $75 up). The k-r is so good in every way that if it needs this kind of pampering I'm willing to do it. RESULT: Problem solved with Tiffen CPL ($72 MSRP, $31 at Amazon). (But my CCD-sensor Fuji S100 gets as good or better IQ on a $7 filter!)
--Garish yellow sky: when shooting a beautiful sunset (Manual mode) the beautiful tones of pink, magenta and pale blue-green were all converted to an ugly cartoony yellow. (There was no yellow in the actual scene.) CPL didn't help. This is another problem that I and others have encountered with a variety of cameras (Canon, Nikon, Pentax), both DSLR and P&S. I have not found a total solution (need another sunset for that) but I presume that changing WB will do the trick. I did try moving the WB up into the GB quadrant a bit; that did not have much effect. Next time I'll try the various lighting settings ("Tungsten" for example makes everything very blue). The catch is, of course, that I don't want to turn everything blue; I just want to get rid of the yellow. I don't want to use the preset Sunset mode, because it takes over control of shutter speed and aperture, making it impossible to catch flying birds against the sun. (Any tips on how to fix this problem will be greatly appreciated!)
I just got the Pentax k-r with the two kit lenses (including the 55-300mm) and have only scratched the surface of what it will do. So far, I have no serious complaints.
I take mostly long-range photos of outdoor action (surfing, breaking waves, seals, flying birds) in high-contrast situations. I need good zoom and decent (at least 4fps at full res, with at least a dozen shots) burst capability. To obtain these, I have tried a number of different cameras, including DSLRs with zoom lenses (Sony A550, Canon T2i) and so-called super-zooms (Lumix FZ100, Fuji HS10, Fuji S100, Sony HX1).
I also own a little Canon D10 (12mp, 3x) waterproof, for in-the-water surfing shots and a Canon SX100 (8mp, 10x), which is pocket-sized if you have big pockets. Neither has any burst worth mentioning.
Two zoom + burst cameras have made the cut: the Fuji S100 and the Pentax k-r. The Fuji has great IQ and a great zoom range (28-400mm equivalent) but the burst is marginal (3.7fps at full res, with a 7 shot limit).
Pentax k-r summary:
--NEW GOOD: just fired off over 300 shots of waves, surfers, fishing boats, seagulls, cormorants and pelicans in flight, and one squirrel (not in flight), mainly just to see what the camera would do. Never missed a moment. Caught full range of wing motion and positions in flying birds. Long and short bursts, no waiting for write or save. (I use viewfinder, not "live view" and I also use a Class 10 card; maybe that helps.) Even shot a brief test video. And the battery is still holding up. This is a very good camera for action shooting.
--Solid build, right down to the battery compartment door and SDHC door.
--Nice size, not overly heavy in spite of solid build, good ergonomics.
--Dials are firm yet easy to turn.
--Green button can be set to instantly activate a key setting of your choice.
--Great IQ and great glass. I took a lot of pictures of subjects from 500 yards to one mile away at full 300mm zoom. You can enlarge these images until you're seeing pixels; you don't get distortion, CA, or noise.
--Very good controls and menus. All major functions can be changed with one or two pushes of a button or a turn of a dial. Very user friendly.
--If you make changes to default settings (via the Menu), the changed settings are highlighted in yellow in the Menu. Makes it very easy to go into the Menu and see quickly what you've changed. Nice.
--Burst exceeds specs given in manual. At 6fps, full res, I fired bursts of up to 35 JPEG images, at which point the rate slowed but did not stop. (The stated limit is 25 JPEG images). NOTE: I'm using a Class 10 SDHC card; I don't know if that has any effect in this case. Anyone out there have the answer?
TIP: Some setting changes will affect the burst. For example, enabling CA Adjustment will slow the burst somewhat and limit the burst total to 6 or 7 images. The manual (p.211) warns you about the reduction in shooting speed, but they don't tell you about the drastically reduced buffer size! (For the record, I haven't noticed any CA at any focal length, I was just trying out the various functions.)
--LCD is very large and high res. Clear and legible.
--You can use the viewfinder and still have the LCD on. Nice.
--Viewfinder is very good to use, bright and clear. Diopter dial is in a good place.
--Slick features: Multiple exposure, HDR feature, lots of filter effects. I wish some of them were available during shooting, not just PP.
--Shot some pix inside the house, with the zoom lens at 55mm. No flash, hand held, got good results.
--UPDATED: The k-r has burst, remote, delay (timer) and exposure bracket shooting. You can't use any of them together. No remote burst, no delayed burst. No remote bracket shots. No long delay with remote (Remote function does have its own 3-second delay option).
--The remote is infrared only (cable can be useful and desirable, which is why Pentax included this option on the higher-end K-7).
--The infrared remote sensor is on the front of the camera. (What's next, put the LCD on the front?) A normal photographer is behind the camera, and that's where the sensor should be. Especially if I want to take a remote shot from the edge of a cliff (which I often do); I don't want to be standing in space like Wile E. Coyote. I'm going to rig a Rube Goldberg mirror attached to the tripod, so I can stand behind the camera or off to the side and aim at the mirror. This should work.
GOOD NEWS: I just got the remote and tried using it. It can be used from a position to the side and slightly behind the camera, about 10 degrees back. BUT you must be on the right hand side of the camera, where the sensor is. You can't do this from the left hand side of the camera, so this is still a limiting factor in many real-life situations. One button focuses, the other shoots. Haven't tried the remote range yet. (BTW, a cheap JJR remote from Goja is what I got and it works fine. Plus the battery is included and is easily replaceable.)
--The remote can't be used for burst shooting. (Every cable remote I've ever seen could.)
So the remote is not good for action shots.
--Fixed LCD. This was almost a deal-killer, but there were so many other pluses that I went ahead and bought it. I haven't used it in bright sunlight yet; this is one reason I ditched the Canon T2i. Sometimes you really do need to get an angle. Pentax claims that the screen can be seen from an angle, so maybe this won't be an issue. I'm more of a viewfinder shooter anyhow, but one likes to have options.
--No cord or string on the lens cap. How hard would it be to include this obvious item? I'll probably drill a small hole in it and thread a string through it. But this is a dumb omission.
Haven't really tried the video yet, except to ascertain that it works (it does); for me it's not very important, but nice to know it's there.
Haven't tried the short lens yet. I assume it's just as good as the telezoom.
Bottom line: I'm very happy with this camera. Images are crisp, colors are nice without any adjustment, zoom is great. There are a lot of upgrades over the k-x. I got lucky and got the k-r kit for only $100 more than the k-x kit. Otherwise I wouldn't have bought it, and frankly, I would have missed out. I'm keeping the Fuji S100 also; it has cable remote and takes great pictures at all ranges. But it doesn't have the same burst capability.
Advice: IF you don't use remote for action shots, and IF you don't use filters--or don't mind spending a bit more for better filters, buy the k-r. It really is outstanding for action shots and distance shots. Don't bother to go below the 200 native ISO; it works fine, no noise, and you gain nothing by using the option to lower it.
on December 17, 2010
Well, overall I love the camera. To be honest, I sold off the kit lenses (don't get me wrong, both a very good deal for the money) to buy a Pentax 16-45mm lens (which is amazing for the price). I sold my Canon 450d and a few lenses to buy into the Pentax platform and I don't regret it a minute.
The K-r is more compact and feels more solid in my hand. The grip is deeper and more comfortable. I wanted to upgrade to a body with better high ISO performance and didn't want to pay $1000 for a 60D body.
There is less noise at ISO 3200 on the K-R than there is at ISO 1600 on the Canon Xsi. I think you get a lot of value for the two lens kit if you buy it cheap enough. I sold the 2 kit lenses to buy the Pentax 16-45mm, which I love.
Would I buy a K-r instead of a K-x? I don't know. I've never compared the two head-to-head. I've heard that the AF performance of the K-r is superior, and the AF assist lamp in low-light conditions and the high-res LCD of the K-r are very nice.
In the end, I like Canon for the selection of lenses, but I think Pentax really delivers more for the money. I hope to soon own a few Pentax primes. Ultimately, I've loved Pentax products so far and can't wait to see what they unveil in the years ahead. This kit is probably worth what Amazon is asking, but I'd wait until the price reduces a bit.
so I went with a Pentax body. I don't regret my decision for a minute. Clarity at ISO 3200 is better than my 450d at ISO 1600 on this sensor.
on April 18, 2012
I owned a Pentax K1000 about 25 years ago. It was a super camera - built like a tank and fun to operate. All manual controls, but that just encouraged me to learn more about the basics of photography. But like an idiot I sold my K1000 and all of my accumulated lenses, filters, flash, etc. about 12 years ago when the digital photography craze hit. Little did I know that I could have used all those lenses now! Pentax has played it very smart, and kept the K mounting specifications the same for all these years. There were some really good lenses made back in the 80s and you can get them pretty cheap on ebay.
I honestly don't know why I waited so long to get back into SLR photography. Wait... yes I do... it is expensive! I dinked around for over a decade with point and shoots and bridge (super zoom) cameras before jumping back on board the DSLR train with my Pentax K-r. But point and shoots only take you so far. There are so many things you can do with a DSLR that you simply cannot do with a P&S or bridge camera. I'll be honest - my wife doesn't like the K-r because she hasn't taken the time to understand it. She would be happy with a cheap P&S that would fit in her pocketbook, and we'll probably buy her one for that purpose. But if you are willing to do a bit of research into photographic technique, and also willing to READ THE MANUAL, you'll be amazed at the quality of photos you can produce.
There is a bit of snobbery on the part of diehard Pentax fans. They dismissively refer to the competition as "Canikon" and scoff at the Canon and Nikon entry level DSLRs as being better suited for amateurs, while Pentax is more appropriate for serious enthusiasts. While this is mostly self aggrandizement, there may be a kernel of truth to it. I test drove the Canon T2i and T3 as well as the Nikon D3100 and D5100 at Walmart, Target, Sears, and Best Buy. I'll refrain from jumping into the debate as to whether "serious" photography equipment should be sold at any of these big box stores and point out that, for better or worse, Pentax cameras are probably not sold at any traditional brick and mortar stores anywhere near where you live, so you'll be purchasing sight unseen. That said, I must agree that of the 3 brands, the Pentax seem the most well-built. I was not impressed by either of the Canons at all... they felt plastic and not very durable. The lenses were even worse... jerky zoom and felt like kids toys. The Nikons felt a bit more high quality, but when I compared the specs of the Pentax K-r, it seemed the K-r was a better deal. The fact that I could start cruising the web and pick up some used specialty lenses at reasonable prices sealed the deal.
I've had my K-r for about 4 months and just love it. All the controls are well laid out, it is easy to operate, and the pictures have been superb. The kit lenses are excellent. The DAL 18-55 mm lens has got to be one of the best kit lenses available on any camera. Though it is lightweight and some of the parts are plastic, the optics are excellent, with sharp detail edge to edge and fantastic all around performance. The 55-300 is equally impressive. I've gotten some wonderful wildlife shots and a few good moon pix with this lens.
I won't go into detail about performance spec comparisons. You can (and should) find and read these on camera review sites. I'll just summarize my review as follows:
1) If you are feeling constrained by the limits of point and shoot cameras and you are willing to learn and experiment, DSLR photography will open up a world of possibilities for you.
2) Pentax is a bit of an underdog because they don't have CaNikon's marketing strength and penetration in big box stores. But the quality of the K-r in comparison to the competition is outstanding.
3) Think about future lens purchases. They add to the cost of whatever brand you buy. Pentax lenses have always been top of the line, and there is an enormous selection of lenses available used (Pentax brand and other quality lens manufacturers such as Sigma and Tamron).
4) DSLR photography is expensive, so choose wisely. Do your homework so that you feel confident when you hit the Buy button.
on August 16, 2011
I purchased my camera new directly from Amazon. It arrived in great condition but I was concerned by a sliding sound coming from the camera body. It sounded like it was not solidly constructed and was not happy with the thought of returning the camera. Fortunately, I put in a call to Pentax support services and they quickly answered my questions. The shake reduction feature uses magnetic force to slide the image sensor at high speeds to compensate for camera shake. I took the camera on a taxi bike tour, where I photographed cyclist traveling in the opposite direction. The images were amazingly sharp...I'm so very happy I made this purchase.
on October 8, 2011
I've been shooting exclusively with the Nikon D300 for the last 3 years at work. So that's what I have to compare the K-r to. When it came time to buy a new camera for home and after hours work I wanted the Pentax K-5, however with the economy the way it is I couldn't justify it right now and compromised for the K-r. I've bbeen shooting with this kit for 3 days and here's my thoughts:
Camera Body: The K-r just feels right in my hand. I have big hands and this leads to fatigue and carpel tunnel symptoms when I spend the day shooting with the D300. Not so with the K-r. I shot all day yesterday and my hands felt fine afterward. The menus are setup logically, though turning on auto-bracketing took some poking around. The shutter is noticably louder on the K-r than the D300. You won't be doing any ninja shooting with this camera.
Lenses: At first I was worried because they are so much lighter than my lenses for the D300. However they are of good quality and it will be a long while before I will think to replace them. The bokeh is very good. I find myself looking for excuses to include it in my pictures with this camera. One draw back - I was very surprised that the lenses did not come with lens hoods and that cost my $30.00 more than I expected. This is annoying.
Auto-focus: I had read that focusing on the K-r was slower than other camera in the same class. However I found it as fast if not faster than the D300. The only draw back is auto-focus is louder on the K-r by alot (at least with these lenses). However unless I'm shooting action sequences I rarely use AF so this isn't a real issue for me.
Picture quality: I like the tones. They are richer than the D300. You get about 4% more photo all around than you see but that's not really an issue and it is expected. That's what cropping in post is for anyway.
Software: The software that comes with the camera is adequate. I tried it buy frankly I use Photoshop so I haven't bothered with the software since the first night.
Anyway, that's my thoughts. I'm taking it on a two day professional shoot in two weeks and I plan to use it as the primary. I'll let you know how it goes.
UPDATE: It's been 3 months now and I thought I'd update my review. Just before Christmas I had an oppurtunity to use my K-r alongside the D300 at work. I was covering the Praire Burn that we are requried to do every 5 years. I had my K-r in my car as I planned to go shoot after work. The Praire Burn was wonderful and I spent the 1st 3 hours switching back and forth from the D300 to the Sony EX1R as I was required to shoot both photo and video. At the 3 hour mark the majority of the burn was done and I packed up the EX1R. The D300 was down to about 20 shots left on the SD Card. I went to the project manager and asked him if I could use my personal camera to finish the shoot which was okay by him. So I grabbed my K-r and used it for the last hour. Since I was curious for a true comparison between the D300 and the K-r I took a few minutes to shoot the last 20 shots on the D300 and while shooting the same shots with the K-r. I had a tokina 18-70mm on the D300 and the 18-55mm Pentax on the K-r. When I downloaded the photos and compared I found the K-r had a richer color as well as a nicer bokeh. Even the shots I took later with the 55-300mm on the K-r had better tone. If I had to do that shoot again and could only take one camera - I'd take the K-r. I've been shooting with the D300 for almost 4 years now and its a good camera but the K-r is its equal in my opinion. I also showed the pictures to the graphic artist at work who started as a photographer 20 years ago. I didn't tell him I used two different cameras but the photos he zeroed in on and wanted more info on were all taken with the K-r. He didn't believe me that the K-r took the better shots until I showed him the metadata as proof. Now he wants to borrow my K-r and try it for himself. I agreed as he also has shot with the same D300 and I'm curious to see what he think of the K-r.
Anyway, I'm glad I bought the K-r.