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08-31-2009, 06:17 PM   #1
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K-7: satisfied owner!

Hi,

Here's the story...

After looking at the samples from a pre-production K-7, after developping some RAW files from a pre-production K-7, doing intense pixel-peeping and comparing the pros with the cons, I came to the conclusion that the K-7 would not give me enough additional features, image quality and general performance to justify upgrading from my K10D to a K-7, especially since I could use the money on new lenses I was starting to ache for.

But eventually, my K10D broke and I had to buy a new DSLR immediatly. Here's a thread I started on the dpreview.com Pentax DSLR forums on that subject:

K-7: unwanted upgrade.: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review

Since then, I had the chance to test the camera a bit more and I was able to get used to it very well, so here are my final conclusions about this DSLR... Remember that my conclusions are made in regards of the improvements of the K-7 over the K10D (not the K20D). Also, these conclusions are based on my own, real-world experience, and were not conducted as exacting laboratory tests to come up with an in-depth review of the camera.

Pros:
  • Excellent image quality at low ISO (shooting RAW and developping with Capture One Pro).
  • Very good image quality at high ISO, up to 3200 (again, shooting RAW with NR turned off and using Capture One Pro for developpement).
  • Bright, 100% coverage viewfinder.
  • Great AF speed improvement (and slight accuracy improvement) in AF-S mode.
  • Tough, magnesium body feels like a tank.
  • Improved Shake Reduction and Dust Reduction.
  • Decent Video Mode (aperture control), but perfectible (see "Cons").
  • Lots of very useful features (horizon level indicator, Copyright embedding, etc.)
  • Excellent control over noise reduction level.
  • Number of settings and custom functions almost equal to that of a fully professional DSLR.
  • Improved metering (although initially difficult to adapt to, coming from an underexposing K10D).
  • Much, much quieter shutter.
  • Auto white balance improved under incandescent light.
  • Improved menu layout and ergonomics (buttons for ISO and WB).

Cons:
  • ISO 6400 pretty bad looking (still good for a DSLR using an APS-C size sensor).
  • Needs very good glass to make the most of its 14.6 megapixels.
  • AF speed and accuracy still poor in AF-C mode, way behind competitors with similar specifications or price tag.
  • D-Range results in pretty noisy shadows.
  • Video Mode still needs improvement: jelly-cam effect, artifacts, jittery behavior at times.
  • No user-selectable ISO in Video Mode.
  • Liveview still behind competition (no good magnification, slow AF).
  • Toggle-AF selection still less than intuitive (even after installing the new firmware).
  • Dynamic range improved by about a stop (over K10D), but still a bit limited.

It's all a matter of taste:
  • Noise visible even at base ISO, but has a very film-like, unintrusive look.
  • New grip very comfortable (for my small hands).
  • Lightweight and compact for a weather sealed, magnesium semi-pro body.
  • White balance (in this case, a 5600K preset) a bit too cool for me.
  • A bit over-priced.
  • More DA* and WR lenses needed to match this weather-proof body, especially in the expert range (17-70mm F/4, 16-45mm F/4, 12-24mm F/4, etc.)

Rating:

Features:
9.0 / 10

Handling:
9.5 / 10

Build quality:
9.0 / 10

Performance:
7.5 / 10

Image quality:
9.0 / 10

Overall:
8.8 / 10


My feeling about the K-7 is that the camera is very responsive, has lots of interesting and useful features and has very good to excellent image quality with proper glass (my DA 16-45mm F/4 is starting to show its limits, here, especially in the corners when used wide open). It's a great improvement over the K10D, more than I initially thought so...

The high ISO quality is great when developped using a proper RAW converter (I never shoot in JPEG, so I can't comment on that). The AF is better overall, but the AF-C could use some more improvement.

The unique features of the K-7 (100% viewfinder, Copyright embedding, HDR, in-body Shake Reduction, weather sealing, horizon level indicator, etc.) are not all innovative, but their sum make this DSLR worth consideration for an advanced or semi-pro photographer, along with the often impressive image quality at low ISO and general feel and performance.

All-in-all, a very interesting alternative to the D300 and 50D, but many might wait for the price to drop a bit, or turn to a cheaper camera, as I feel the K-7 is a bit overpriced when compared to similar products: 1600$ vs. 1800$ for the new D300s (both body alone). At least that's the price, here in Canada. I think Pentax is on the right track with the K-7 and that such a line of DSLRs might help them reclaim the fair share of the market they deserve to have, alongside the big two.

So while my upgraded was unwanted, I now confirm that I'm a real K-7 fan. If you think about buying one, I say go for it! You'll be more than satisfied, unless you're shooting sports on a regular basis, in which case the AF-C might leave you a bit... unexcited! But besides that little complain and the rather high price tag, the K-7 is real winner, so don't hesitate if you thinking about upgrading.

Just wanted to share this with you,

08-31-2009, 10:04 PM   #2
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I have to agree with your summary of the pros and cons on the K7. I too upgraded from a K10D altho my motive was to get the better AF performance as I use it for motorcycle racing in a semi pro arrangement. I have found the AF tracking to be quite good, given that motorbikes move in a predicatable way, as compared to birds for example, so the AF tracking isn't having too much demanded of it. Huge quantum better than the K10 however.

I have recently sold my DA16-45 and purchased the DA17-70. It's performance on the K7 is excellent. Sharpness on the K7 rivals my Tamron 28-75 f2.8!

I find the K7 grip to be indispensable, particularly with 1kg of telezoom on the front of the camera hand held! The grip, for me, is much more comfortable, and secure in my hand than the K10 + grip. I have removed the neck strap from the K7 as I find I just don't use it.

If I were completely honest I would have to say that I lust after a Nikon D300 for true AF performance and all those lovely Nikkor lenses but my wallet just can't keep up with my lust

No the K7 will do, and I am not disappointed.
09-01-2009, 09:17 AM   #3
Ash
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Another great review of a fine camera.
Please put this summary in the Pentax DSLR review database under 'K-7' for all to see when they're searching for K-7 reviews.
Thanks for sharing your experience with it.
09-01-2009, 09:49 AM   #4
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A great review thanks. As a K10D owner myself (with a scratched sensor) I am now looking to upgrade and am at that K-7/D300 (and now 7D) crossroads that most Pentax users find themselves at some time in their hobby I suspect.

09-01-2009, 02:54 PM   #5
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Another great review of a fine camera.
Please put this summary in the Pentax DSLR review database under 'K-7' for all to see when they're searching for K-7 reviews.
Thanks for sharing your experience with it.
Oops! My bad, I should have posted my thread in this section first!


Thx for the heads up!
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