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03-16-2008, 04:54 PM   #1
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K200D review

Here is my non-scientific K200D review:
(pictures will come later in the week when I get a chance to do some direct comparisions between the K110D and the K200D)

For those stepping up from the K1xx series cameras, or for buying a first-time DSLR, will find quite a few pleasant surprises in the K200D. Certainly not embraced by Pentax supporters with such fanfare as it's 14.4mp big brother (the K20D), the K200D should prove to be quite a capable camera, and a worthy upgrade from the K1XXD or *ist D series.

Build Quality:
Pentax has built a totally solid product here. The K200D is completely weather sealed, unlike the entry level in the K1XX series. I picked up my “old” K110D in a small camera bag and had to check to see if it was there, after I've been playing with the K200D all weekend. It has an optional battery grip which holds an additional 4 AA batteries, so you can shoot twice as much before recharging if you feel like it. It also adds considerable heft to the whole package. It took me a few hours to get used to it, to be honest, after using the K110D for so long.
On that note, the mirror “slap” and shutter noise are noticeably quieter than the K110D I had, and less violent. On my K110D I can feel the mirror shifting the entire camera slightly when I'm hand holding it, even more at slower shutter speeds. The mirror on the K200D feels well damped compared to the K110D, and the noise it does make is much less harsh, and has a much nicer feel even at slower shutter speeds.
One thing I was disappointed in upon reading the specs initially was the same 85% magnification pentamirror viewfinder that the K100 series had. But since my K110D I already had a OM-53 magnifying eyepiece, and the issue is really moot for me. It enlarges the viewfinder up to 100%, which is really a plus since my eyes aren't great. Still it would be nice to have the pentaprism found in the K20D, but they have to skimp somewhere to keep the price down, eh?

Autofocus:
The biggest thing we hear about these days is autofocus speed. Compared to the K100 series the autofocus speed is like night and day. As a matter of fact, I just had my 40mm Limited on both cameras to take some “product shots” of a few lenses and things just to do some tests. My homemade light tent is extremely dim, lit (before flash, thus during autofocus) with a single 75w bulb in the overhead light in the room, and the box is off in the corner. To give you an idea of the bad light here, when set at aperture priority with the K110D at f/2.8 it measures 1/10th of a second. So it's not great light to autofocus by.
That said – my K110D hunted noticeably (at least 3 different shifts of the focus ring) before it zeroed in my beer bottle in the test. I was surprised, to be honest, that the K200D zipped to the focus point and stopped – I waited a second to see if it would change, and nothing. So I changed the focus manually to infinity, and tested it again. Stopped dead on the point I had focused again. Nice!
I tried a few things outdoors too, not with the K110D in hand, but knowing how it handles situations after well over a year of use, and I felt the same way, the K200D was much quicker autofocusing, and seems to be more accurate as well. (I won't go into scientific tests, there are many others out there who will do just that)

Exposure Modes:
Pentax has included for the newbie all the standard scene modes, portrait, landscape, close-up, sports, night scene. You can change the ISO's in these modes, but not the white balance, which I've always found disappointing. But then again, maybe that's why I don't use the scene modes. But for people just starting, this is always a plus I think, when you're unsure of what you're doing. Some people learn by trial and error, but others can be encouraged by the fact they don't have to spend a long time studying the ins and outs of aperture/shutter speed/white balance combinations to get a half decent picture.

Besides that, it includes aperture priority (Av), shutter prioraty (Tv), Sensitivity Priority (Sv), Program (P), Bulb (B) and manual (M) modes. In Program mode, you can change the function of the e-dial to control aperture or shutter speed. Similarly, in Manual mode, you can change the “green button” to adjust shutter speed or aperture, depending on your tastes. Plenty enough exposure modes, for the beginner all the way through an advanced user.
As far as white balance, you have the standard presets, but you can tweak these to your liking as well. Also, when tweaking, it will take the last image you took and simulate the effect while you are fine-tuning the preset.

In-Camera processing:
Now I've only had the camera for 3 days, so I haven't had a chance to try all of the processing options, but I have used the monochrome filters, and I say I really do like them. Sure, you can do most of this stuff in post-processing of a color image if you want to – but you're losing the advantage the digital camera gives you in that you can see what the final output will look like the moment you capture it. You can simulate all kinds of color filters you would use for B&W photography, the popular ones being red, orange, green, yellow etc. There's even an infrared B&W mode, which simulates an infrared exposure. To me, this can be done better in PP, or through use of a R72 filter to take an actual infrared image, but for someone who only takes one every blue moon this will save you some dough.

Controls:
The controls seem well thought out, and slightly more accessible than the K1XX series. You can change the image processing method (Natural, Bright, Portrait, Landscape, Vibrant, or B&W by using the Fn button, the same place you adjust the ISO, flash mode, white balance, and drive mode. In the flash mode, you can use the e-dial to dial in exposure compensation. Don't know if this pertains to an external P-TTL flash or if that has to be done on-flash, I use old manual flashes, so I can't comment on the PTTL stuff.
There is a RAW button which changes the type of file created, you can set how the file types are changed through the custom menu.
In all, the buttons are located pretty much exactly where they are on the K110/K100 cameras, so there won't be any issues for those who have used those cameras in the past.

Resolution:
I won't go into this much, other people are better at "measurbating".
It's 10 megapixels, so you get a little bit more “croppability” - or you can enlarge a little bit more than the 6MP K100 series could. I don't do line tests. To show a full K110D 6MP image on my screen, I have to reduce it to 45%. To show a K200D 10MP image full screen, it has to be reduced to 34%. That's as far as I go when it comes to measuring, but I feel every little bit helps.

Noise:
I've done a few higher ISO pictures so far, and the noise isn't terrible at ISO 1600. Certainly the color noise seems pretty well controlled, the "grain" is there for sure, but it's finer than my K110D was... I had some shots once in a small theater at ISO 1600 on the K110D, where when you zoomed in close it looked very spotty and lacking in detail. Some of my ISO 1600 shots with my son in a low-lit room seem better detail-wise. Sure, if I could get away with it, I'd use lower ISO's all the time, but I wouldn't be scared to shoot at ISO 1600 with the K200D if I had to.

Other features:
I tested out the expanded dynamic range function, and it seems interesting. It does indeed give a bit more latitude, you can tell when you view the histogram after taking the same shot with it off, and another with it on, the left and right edges are slightly compressed toward the center. Whether it gives you 200% more d-range I don't know, I need to test it out more in conditions that warrant it. (It's been overcast and rainy every since I got it on Friday. * grumble *

Overall: For those upgrading from the K110D (like me) this is a great buy. It has better shake reduction (according to Pentax, 2.5-4 stops), 10MP, enhanced dynamic range, in-camera B&W recording with multiple optical filter simulations in-camera, in-camera RAW processing, better white balance options, better, quieter shutter feel, better autofocus and a few more exposure modes, and an optional grip to extend battery life even further, and give you less strain when taking vertical shots, thanks to the shutter button on the grip.
For those who have the K10 already this isn't really much of an upgrade for you, and in some areas it's a downgrade. (viewfinder, buffer, etc)
But for those upgrading from one of the 6mp pentaxes I feel it's definitely worth it, much more so if you can't afford the $1300 K20D.


ps. To be fair, of course since I bought the camera and I'm not just reviewing a test model, I'm going to say "it's a great buy" - but I really do feel that way, and I'm excited for the weather to break a bit and get some nice shots with my fancy new machine.


Last edited by khardur; 03-16-2008 at 04:58 PM. Reason: added some info
03-16-2008, 05:06 PM   #2
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thanks for the review khardur!
just wondering why you chose to get a K200d instead of a K10d
03-16-2008, 05:10 PM   #3
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Congrats for your new toy. I hope you enjoy it for a long time. I heard a lot of complain about noise at high ISO with the K10D, but never found it to be a big issue for me. So, I guess it is about the same with the k200D. Have a lot of fun!
03-16-2008, 05:33 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by k100d Quote
thanks for the review khardur!
just wondering why you chose to get a K200d instead of a K10d
well, I know all the pluses the K10D has over the K200D, notably the viewfinder, better buffer, and it has the hyper program mode, and multiple exposure capability. But only the bigger viewfinder is something I would like /use. multiple exposures I'd rather do in post processing, to be honest, (control freak)

But as far as my reasons, it has more to do with the type of photography I do mostly, landscapes. Supposedly the K200D has a more updated PRIME processing engine, expanded dynamic range mode (if it proves useful, could be very nice for certain landscape scenes that prove difficult) but as I said I really haven't had a good chance to test it out.
Capturing B&W images in-camera with pretty nice simulation of color filters is awesome too. Not that you can't do that in post-processing just as well, but doing it in-camera, as I said above, allows you to see what your final image is going to look like, not get it back to the computer and think "oh, that really didn't work as well as I thought"
other things that made up my mind: white balance settings you can tweak (though i don't know if this was a feature of the K10D or not) - AA batteries - I have a bunch of NiMH rechargeables, and if I run out in a pinch I could always grab a package of lithium AA's. *shrug* Plus there's something to say about when I explain to my wife about "this camera just came out" as opposed to "they are discontinuing this model, I'm going to run out and buy one before it disappears from the shelves".

So in a lot of aspects, the K10D is still a great buy as well, and it's cheaper for sure. But for what I'm planning on using it for, the K200D is just as good, and has a few features that might prove more useful to my style of photography.

03-16-2008, 06:38 PM   #5
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I hope that K200D works out for you...I would have chosen a K10D if it came down to the price...I look forward to seeing some images.
03-17-2008, 12:14 AM   #6
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G'day Dan M,
Thanks for that, very useful for one still perched on top of the barbed wire fence. But I still lean towards the K200D just a little, mainly because of the AA's, I have accumulated a nice collection of Eneloops and I know how convenient it is to travel and not worry about packing a charger, cables etc etc. (just lent a little more).

I too look forward to your pictures, very much so.
Cheers
Grant
03-17-2008, 02:52 PM   #7
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Dan ; Thanks for the initial impressions. Please keep posting your thoughts, as time and use, go by. K200 reviews are rare so far. I'm interested in the auto bracketing feature. How many steps, and will it be good enough for HDR ? Thanks, Ro.
03-17-2008, 05:37 PM   #8
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noise reduction

Noise/Noise Reduction Test:
Okay – here are my first real almost-scientific tests, since I haven't had much time to go “out” to take some real pictures. This by no means is a start
of a career in measurebating. LOL. But This illustrates the noise in the different ISO's. And the noise reduction you can squeeze out of the high ISO modes.

First set: Different noise reduction strengths at ISO 1600:


Second set: ISO comparision across ISO 100-800.

One interesting thing from this test, is that I figure the “Noise reduction at High ISO's” must kick in at ISO 800, because ISO 400 seems noisier to me than ISO 800. (though 100 and 200 are just awesome). So in my little test, it seems if I end up using a higher ISO past 200, I'll just jump 400 altogether and go to 800.

All of these pictures are 100% crops from a set, the full picture of which was the beer bottle shown just below:




Expanded Dynamic Range test:
Actually I didn't expect to get to really check this out today, but this certainly seems like it's going to be useful. First exposure is 1/800 sec at ISO 100, second
exposure is 1/2000 sec at ISO 200 with expanded d-range on. Now I know the ISO 200 exposure is not exactly half of what the ISO 100 was, but that
really shouldn't account for the difference I see here, especially in the highlight areas, specifically the detail in the hat, on the coat, etc.



Last edited by khardur; 03-17-2008 at 05:59 PM.
03-17-2008, 05:41 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by roro Quote
Dan ; Thanks for the initial impressions. Please keep posting your thoughts, as time and use, go by. K200 reviews are rare so far. I'm interested in the auto bracketing feature. How many steps, and will it be good enough for HDR ? Thanks, Ro.
auto bracketing: +/- up to 2 stops, in 1/3 EV increments. (or 1/2 EV increments, depending on what you set in the custom settings)
I haven't done a lot of HDR at all, so I don't know how much is good... if you want to get a wider exposure latitude you can always manually
adjust the shutter speed right?

Edit: On that note, I haven't had a great many keepers, simply because I'm used to overexposing my K110D so much (usually around a stop) and
even then I would sometimes underexpose it. I think the LCD is more accurate, along with the metering. I couldn't trust the LCD on my K110D for anything,
even if it looked bright enough. All I know is every time I think I should bump up the exposure compensation a notch I end up being off, so I think
I'll just let the K200D do its own thing for a few weeks until I really get used to it.

Last edited by khardur; 03-18-2008 at 12:13 AM. Reason: clarifying
03-17-2008, 08:08 PM   #10
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Thanks for the handson review, Dan. Looks like a better camera over the K100D. I'm waiting for the silver one to come out (my wife is crazy about those silver color lenses, she wants a silver body to go w/ them ).

Cheers!
04-18-2008, 05:02 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by khardur Quote
Noise/Noise Reduction Test:
Okay – here are my first real almost-scientific tests, since I haven't had much time to go “out” to take some real pictures. This by no means is a start
of a career in measurebating. LOL. But This illustrates the noise in the different ISO's. And the noise reduction you can squeeze out of the high ISO modes.

First set: Different noise reduction strengths at ISO 1600:
http://mysite.verizon.net/khardur/images/ISO1600NR.jpg[/IMG]

hello :-)

you did this photo in raw or jpeg?
04-25-2008, 07:36 PM   #12
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Those test shots were all done in jpeg, unretouched other than doing the 100% crops (obviously). I wanted to test the in-camera performance, not something possibly tweaked for better or worse by 3rd party software.
10-05-2008, 05:41 PM   #13
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Still like the K200?

Just came upon your March post on the K200D and was wondering how you feel about it after several months? Specifically, I'm trying to decide if it's worth the upgrade from a K100. Thanks for any feedback,
FHPhotographer
10-06-2008, 12:34 AM   #14
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I'll be holding onto my K100D until the K300D appears.

While the K200D is a noteworthy upgrade, I don't think it justifies the price difference.

The K-m looked like a nice buy until I saw the lack of secondary display (which I can't do without, frankly).


I also suspect the K300D will have a new, or substantially improved, AF module.
10-06-2008, 08:02 AM   #15
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I was wondering does the view finder of the k200d better then the k20d?
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