on February 22, 2010
I have experience using film SLRs as well as a Nikon DSLR, and I've owned a few Canon compact cameras. After quite a bit of online research, I chose this camera to be my first DSLR, and I am very, very pleased with my decision.
The K-x is small for a DSLR, and I've gotten a few surprised comments from people seeing me pull such a fancy camera out of a small messenger bag. Even so, it has a sturdy feel to it and doesn't feel too tiny in my relatively large hands. I also like the black and white body and have gotten compliments about that as well.
The camera has an AUTO PICT mode for newcomers that takes control of the focus, shutter speed, aperture, and ISO; all you need to do is aim at your subject and press the shutter button. There are also a wide variety of scene modes (macro, portrait, landscape, candlelight, kids, etc.) that are tailored for specific situations. But for people who like to take creative control, there are the typical priority modes (aperture, shutter, and ISO) as well as manual mode. The buttons are few enough that you can easily memorize how to manipulate the camera without having to dig through menus for the important functions. There's even a green button that can act as a shortcut to certain features; I like to use it for enabling cross-processing.
Speaking of which, the K-x features some digital filters (toy camera, high contrast, retro, etc.) that seem superficial but can be very interesting to use. However, my favorite mode by far is cross-processing, which causes the colors, contrast, and saturation of pictures to be randomly distorted, creating some pretty spectacular results from seemingly unspectacular subjects. Enabling this mode adds some unpredictability and fun to digital photography normally exclusive to film cameras (lomography, anyone?) or Photoshop.
Of course, the K-x also packs a lot of serious features comparable with more expensive DSLRs on the market, such as a 12 meagpixel resolution, built-in image stabilization, 4.7 photos per second shooting speed, and a broad ISO range up to 12800. It boasts compatibility with any Pentax lens, which will be useful later on when I get tired of the kit lens. I also deeply appreciate the use of AA batteries, which are cheap to buy, easy to find, and can also be rechargeable. The built-in microphone and ability to record in sharp, 720p 24fps video is also great for spontaneous moments when you need to shoot video and don't have a camcorder handy.
After using the camera for about a month, I've encountered a few setbacks. The camera has difficulty automatically focusing in certain low-light situations, requiring manual focus. Then there is the lack of manual focus assistance in the viewfinder. If you are focusing manually, you have to rely on focusing by sight, which can be difficult. This is compounded by the fact that the resolution of the screen is not extremely sharp, enough so that when you review a picture the subject may not seem blurry unless you zoom in to check. The viewfinder also does not indicate which autofocus point is chosen, making its use a bit of a gamble. Also, there's the faint clicking noise that the image stabilization makes during movie mode, and there is no jack for an external microphone. Recording movies also eats batteries, eats memory card space, and causes the camera to heat up quickly, but these problems are present in all current DSLRs anyway, so don't buy a DSLR solely for its video capabilities. These are all the small problems I've encountered, but they hardly pose major setbacks and can be easily worked around.
Overall, this camera is highly configurable and packs an enormous amount of features for such an inexpensive camera. If you have never owned a DSLR before or are searching for a powerful budget camera, I highly recommend the Pentax K-x.