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05-22-2009, 01:03 PM   #1
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K-7 - Hands-On in Toronto!

Went to the Toronto Photographic' Show this morning to see the K-7.

I prepared a report and images here:
Zenfolio | David Anthony | Pentax K-7 at the Toronto Photo' Show 2009

And reproduced here:

Report:
The Toronto "Photographic, Video & Digitial Imaging Show" (full name) was held May 22nd thru 24th in 2009.

We arrived minutes after opening on the first day specifically to try to catch a glimpse of the new Pentax K-7 dSLR body.

Not only did we get a glimpse we got a full grope. Pentax Canada came prepared, with several functioning samples of the new K-7 dSLR body (only announced worldwide just days earlier on May 20th). I counted three of four K-7's in the booth.

Size & Feel: The K-7 looks and feels great. It's tight and solid. The hand-grip is excellent, it fills your hand in all the right ways. It's supposed to be about the same weight as the K20d, but feels lighter. I imagine that Pentax engineers have tried to concentrate as much as the mass of the body in either the grip-area or the bottom of the camera, so it feels very balanced. However, we only tried it with the new DA 18-55 WR kit lens attached not with any heavier lens. Also, the vertical-grip was not available to try. The K-7 body looks tiny in photos, but it doesn't feel small in your hand the way the K-m does. There are some photos in this gallery of the K-7 versus the K20d versus the K-m.

Function: We weren't allowed to take any shots with it but we could do just about everything else with it. It's very quiet, the shutter is very unobtrusive. The digital-level feature is very cool and visible in both the LCD and the Pentaprism. The 100% viewfinder is good of course. Live-view seems very usuable. Autofocus seems very fast.

New Kit Lens: The new weather sealed (WR) version of the the kit lens (DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 WR) was mounted. It's a winner. It feels great, tight and smooth movements and quality materials. It even looks good, the new knurled-pattern focus and zoom rings look really traditonal and professional.

Other: Kudos to Pentax Canada. The booth was fully staffed, fully stocked and very open and inviting. The K-7's were neither imprisoned behind glass nor shackled to a table but loose and available for hand-on petting. Pentax was the only major manufacturer to not have their cameras tied down, which whether intentional or not was a nice touch. Pentax's simple open-format booth was among the most comfortable as it was very easy to interact with the numerous staff Pentax had on hand at the show. The booths of other camera manufacturers' had the staff entrenched behind counters or glass. The casual format of the Pentax booth was more comfortable for both attendees (us) and exhibitors (them). As well, I got the feeling that the Pentax staff were particularily stoked about the K-7. In particular, we got to chat with Dan Savoie (sp) who is often present in the Pentax Forums.

As well, they had multiple samples of each current Pentax lens. I got to try the DA15/4 Ltd on my own K-m, it was like peanut-butter on jelly.

Images:
The booth, taken with demo DA15mm.


Pentax Canada's Dan S. chats with Brian (augustmoon). (Hope you have your voice left by the end of the show Dan!)


K-7 in-hand:


K-7 with new WR kit-lens:


Size comparo (L-R): K-m, K-7, K20d:




05-22-2009, 01:48 PM   #2
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dave, thanks for the report. we still have to wait a couple of months before we get to see a
K7 here in manila. it takes a while for our dealers' stocks to come in. maybe after christmas (?) i don't know yet. anyway, mark dimo is coming over this july and we'll get to check out his copy. thanks again.

joey
05-22-2009, 01:55 PM   #3
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Great report...

I guess i missed you there... i was there from 12:30 to 4:00pm...

here is my less organized report

I have tried the K-7: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review
05-22-2009, 01:57 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by MightyMike Quote
Great report...

I guess i missed you there... i was there from 12:30 to 4:00pm...

here is my less organized report

I have tried the K-7: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review
Hi Mike, we were there from 10:00~12:00! Feel free to reproduce your report here, this could be one big thread from the Toronto show.

05-22-2009, 02:08 PM   #5
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lets keep them separate as i could get lost in all this... BTW i'm going back tomorrow
05-22-2009, 02:17 PM   #6
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Good write-up Dave!

Several good points, especially about the counter-less style of booth, and the cameras and lenses not being tethered down. Dan and the rest of the staff were very personable and friendly, and very generous about letting us hold, handle and use the cameras.

It was more than obvious from each person I spoke with, that everyone there at Pentax was genuinely excited about the K-7. If they can hold that level of personal attention and enthusiasm through the entire weekend, then they deserve a lot of credit.

My first trip to the Pentax booth, I had a rep asking me if I wanted to see the K-7 and placed one in my hands.

I have to admit that the DA 18-55 MKII Weather Resistant lens, was nice to hold as well, the grip is different and it has a nicer feel to the focus and zoom (I had the MKII with my K20D purchase) They said it was the same optics as in the MKII version. I think this new kit lens

Someone else while we were there asked for and got to try out the 60-250. Dave tried out the DA-15 Ltd. and I noticed that he was able to step back away from the booth area and shoot freely for a period of time without anyone impatiently standing over him waiting for the lens back.

I was told that if I had been using a K20D, that the new AF of the K-7 would be a huge improvement and a noticeable one, especially in low light, especially under tungsten as well. It did lock on very quick and very sure in the low light of the trade show floor, even against low contrast subject matter.

For myself, besides the need for improvement in AF speed and accuracy, I was also in need of a higher resolution, more detailed LCD screen, that I could see well in bright light, and because I do so much work with MF lenses, to be able to zoom in and see the detail to know if focus was correct or not, as well as be able to use Live View for macro focusing. It was hard to tell for sure, since the cameras were not writing to any media for review, but in Live View mode as well as Video mode, I could see a huge difference in their new high-res and slightly larger LCD panel. I was also told that the material used in the panel itself was better suited for outdoor usage with the type of anti-reflective something or other, as well as a wider viewing angle.

Really hard to tell about the video mode if one is not able to record and then play back, even if they had one tethered to a HD monitor/TV via the HDMI cable, then maybe that would have helped a bit.

Also hard to tell in the dim and poor lighting of the trade show, about how good the new viewfinder is. It is 100% view of what you are shooting, but the magnification is reduced to show that 100%, so it is now at .92x.

Couldn't tell about whether the SR was better, it was definitely very good in that poor lighting, however.

Improved processing engine optimized for shooting 30P HD video, probably does indeed related to faster throughput of larger data streams from the processor as well as a faster write to the SD media. I think the 5.2 FPS is indicative of that as well.

Segment metering went from 16 to 77, we'll have to wait until there are people shooting with the camera to see how this improves exposure under various circumstances.
05-22-2009, 02:21 PM   #7
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Looks like a very nice size. Kind of like my K100D, only much much more powerful.
05-22-2009, 02:36 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by joey reyes Quote
dave, thanks for the report. we still have to wait a couple of months before we get to see a
K7 here in manila. it takes a while for our dealers' stocks to come in. maybe after christmas (?) i don't know yet. anyway, mark dimo is coming over this july and we'll get to check out his copy. thanks again.

joey
Hi Joey,
We were fortunate to get the opportunity to handle the body so soon after the announcement. However, it's not available here until July (supposedly, hopefully no DA60-250 fiasco). And...the staff were saying that the shops may only be filling pre-orders at first, but won't have enough to keep on stock so might be August/September until they are on the shelves!

05-22-2009, 02:37 PM   #9
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Thank you very much for all the reports and detailed write up. I have two questions that I like more inputs.


1. Is the AF much improved in responsiveness? Any impression if AF.C and AF in general are improved over K20D? I know this is a tough question to quantify but I like to gather your hands-on impressions.


2. With the viewfinder in 100% coverage and 0.92 magnification, do manual focusing on a manual lens seem to be about the same or harder than the K20D?


Thanks,
Hin
05-22-2009, 02:48 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by augustmoon Quote
Good write-up Dave!

Several good points, especially about the counter-less style of booth, and the cameras and lenses not being tethered down. Dan and the rest of the staff were very personable and friendly, and very generous about letting us hold, handle and use the cameras.

It was more than obvious from each person I spoke with, that everyone there at Pentax was genuinely excited about the K-7. If they can hold that level of personal attention and enthusiasm through the entire weekend, then they deserve a lot of credit.

My first trip to the Pentax booth, I had a rep asking me if I wanted to see the K-7 and placed one in my hands.
...
[snip]
...
Someone else while we were there asked for and got to try out the 60-250. Dave tried out the DA-15 Ltd. and I noticed that he was able to step back away from the booth area and shoot freely for a period of time without anyone impatiently standing over him waiting for the lens back.
Thanks for adding some more technical impressions, Brian. I wanted to add a couple of things I forgot to mention:

I believe they said that they only had the samples in Canada a couple of days before the show. The Pentax Canada staff was admirably up-to-speed on the details, considering the short time to prepare.

QuoteOriginally posted by augustmoon Quote
For myself, besides the need for improvement in AF speed and accuracy, I was also in need of a higher resolution, more detailed LCD screen, that I could see well in bright light, and because I do so much work with MF lenses, to be able to zoom in and see the detail to know if focus was correct or not, as well as be able to use Live View for macro focusing. It was hard to tell for sure, since the cameras were not writing to any media for review, but in Live View mode as well as Video mode, I could see a huge difference in their new high-res and slightly larger LCD panel. I was also told that the material used in the panel itself was better suited for outdoor usage with the type of anti-reflective something or other, as well as a wider viewing angle.
...
[snip]
...
Yes, there appeared to be an AR coating on the LCD. Dan couldn't confirm it or not, but I just noticed the spec-sheets refer to it:
3.0” TFT IPS (In Plane Switching) colour LCD with brightness/ colour adjustment and AR coating Resolution: 921,000 dots Wide angle viewable: Yes"
(Pentax Canada - K-7)

However, it doesn't seem to be an SMC LCD! Just a "C", no "S" not even an "M"....
05-22-2009, 02:53 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by hinman Quote
Thank you very much for all the reports and detailed write up. I have two questions that I like more inputs.


1. Is the AF much improved in responsiveness? Any impression if AF.C and AF in general are improved over K20D? I know this is a tough question to quantify but I like to gather your hands-on impressions.


2. With the viewfinder in 100% coverage and 0.92 magnification, do manual focusing on a manual lens seem to be about the same or harder than the K20D?


Thanks,
Hin
I saw MightMike's reply in dpreview, the AF seems promising from his impressions

I have tried the K-7: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review

Others, please feel free to give your reports.

Thanks,
Hin
05-22-2009, 02:56 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by hinman Quote
Thank you very much for all the reports and detailed write up. I have two questions that I like more inputs.


1. Is the AF much improved in responsiveness? Any impression if AF.C and AF in general are improved over K20D? I know this is a tough question to quantify but I like to gather your hands-on impressions.


2. With the viewfinder in 100% coverage and 0.92 magnification, do manual focusing on a manual lens seem to be about the same or harder than the K20D?


Thanks,
Hin
Yes the AF is faster to lock and possibly faster moving the elements (since it seemed much faster and the K20D in the same situation would go slow or hunt then yes its better)

i didn't try MF with the viewfinder but LV and MF it was a lot easier to tell what was in focus without using a magnified view
05-22-2009, 02:57 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by hinman Quote
Thank you very much for all the reports and detailed write up. I have two questions that I like more inputs.


1. Is the AF much improved in responsiveness? Any impression if AF.C and AF in general are improved over K20D? I know this is a tough question to quantify but I like to gather your hands-on impressions.


2. With the viewfinder in 100% coverage and 0.92 magnification, do manual focusing on a manual lens seem to be about the same or harder than the K20D?


Thanks,
Hin
It was fairly dark and dim inside the trade show, but, again with the stock, kit lens attached, it certainly felt a lot quicker and more "decisive" at least more so than my K20D feels. I noticed it right off the bat at least. The AF performance was a nit-pick of mine since I switched to the Pentax K20D from a dual Canon 40D and Nikon D200 system about a year ago. Dan Savoie of Pentax Canada was relating that he felt that the AF performance and metering were the two weakest points of the K20D and he said that he feels like this will be a big improvement that will go beyond speculation soon and will be getting a lot of positive feedback from the users on these two areas, and that he said that we was excited about that.

You're right with the manual focusing, I will absolutely have to have a magnified eye piece (I do already with the K20D), the image in the viewfinder, while it was indeed a full view, also seemed smaller and farther away. I had a manual focus lens with me that I got to mount on the K-7 (see here, https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/61123-k-mount-...2-8-k-7-a.html )

I will have to get a focus screen for the K-7 and a magnifier at the very least.

But the LCD is much better to use for Live View and chimping, so at the very very least, I can tell after the fact whether the shot was in focus or not....



P.S. I forgot to ask while I was there whether or not the K-7 will use the same or a different size or different thickness for the focusing screen, or even whether or not Pentax might themselves offer a split-screen or prism combo screen. ( I would if I were them, instead of people buying them from everyone else and being frustrated)

If someone goes to the show Saturday or Sunday, can you ask???
05-22-2009, 03:29 PM   #14
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Dave,
I was hoping you could have taken the SD card out of your KM and inserted it into the K 7 and done some test shots. I was looking at the EXIF data off your KM and was surprised that most of your shots were made without a flash and 200 ISO, couldn't have been too dim at the show great white balance too. I like others hope the production model lives up to the hype and we'll get low low noise levels at least at 1600 ISO
05-22-2009, 03:50 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by shutterpuppy Quote
Dave,
I was hoping you could have taken the SD card out of your KM and inserted it into the K 7 and done some test shots. I was looking at the EXIF data off your KM and was surprised that most of your shots were made without a flash and 200 ISO, couldn't have been too dim at the show great white balance too. I like others hope the production model lives up to the hype and we'll get low low noise levels at least at 1600 ISO

These were "pre-production" units and they were not allowing any capture to media. The camera bodies had their SD card doors thoroughly taped closed, and were not letting anyone insert media cards into these pre-production units, which I was also told were still running an earlier beta version of the firmware.
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