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Customer Review

28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of features plus high IQ, but..., November 30, 2010
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This review is from: Pentax K-r 12.4 MP Digital SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD and 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and 55-300mm f/4-5.8 Lenses (Black) (Electronics)
--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:

The good:
--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.

The bad:
--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.
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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 7, 2010 10:52:59 PM PST
Apfel says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2010 7:59:54 AM PST
now what says:
Yes, I have ever tried to shoot RAW, and I actually succeeded in doing so. What does that have to do with anything I said in my review? I didn't complain about anything, I stated facts. And although you're obviously far smarter than I am, and clearly superior, I am using the camera properly. BTW, There is no such thing as a scene that requires RAW. Anything in the real world can be recorded in JPEG. And since the RAW burst length is relatively limited, JPEG is the only practical choice for many action shots.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2010 10:11:54 AM PST
Apfel says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2010 3:18:54 PM PST
now what says:
The meaning of your question, "WB, for example?" eludes me. In my review, I said, " I presume that changing WB will do the trick." I also said "I did try moving the WB up into the GB quadrant a bit; that did not have much effect."
Bottom line: I described my experience with the camera, both the good (mostly) and the not-so-good. If I've said something untrue or inaccurate, please point it out. If you have some constructive suggestion regarding a solution to the one technical issue I've raised (the inability of the camera, at both factory and altered settings, to capture an evening sky without the massive introduction of a color that was not visibly present in the actual scene), it would be nice of you to share it. So far, neither has happened.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2010 4:22:42 PM PST
Apfel says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2010 4:52:20 PM PST
now what says:
In other words, you are unwilling or unable to suggest a workable solution. Thanks for sharing.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2010 5:06:26 PM PST
Apfel says:
Let's see: a solution is needed when the hardware has a problem. I am not saying that Pentax is perfect... look at the K-5 and the issue it has. But... you cannot blame Pentax for you not growing with the camera. You have several different parameters possible with the K-r... some of them giving much better color fidelity. Or just, shoot RAW. But you prefer to make a point that "you could not get the colors you wanted"... with a JPG. Come on... be serious.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 10, 2010 9:55:25 PM PST
Mags says:
Why don't you either propose a solution, or leave the guy alone? (I read his review twice, he never said anything about "you could not get the colors you wanted.") All you're doing is telling him he's a jerk. Fine, we get it; you are so smart. But it doesn't sound like you know much. The fact is that shooting in RAW will NOT change the color output to any significant degree (I called Pentax to verify this). Or maybe you should give lessons to the Pentax technicians.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 11, 2010 3:07:13 AM PST
Apfel says:
LOL. So you had to call Pentax to ask something like this? 8 vs 12 bits of information, and no changes made to a linear RAW file, rather than a cooked JPG. You should just ask them something: what's a "significant degree"... :)

Posted on Dec 23, 2010 8:01:30 AM PST
SS says:
Yes,.. I agree with DrSurf,.. jpegs are important to some users like me..
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