Lots of great features in a weather-resistant 10-megapixel D-SLR
By Mike Stensvold
Outdoor photographers often encounter hostile elements, such as moisture and dust, that aren’t particularly good for cameras. And the all-out pro SLR bodies that can handle such conditions cost thousands of dollars. Enter Pentax’s top-of-the-line K10D, a rugged 10.2-megapixel D-SLR with a weather-resistant body and a price under $1,000.
I inadvertently tested the K10D’s weather resistance when an unforecasted drizzle materialized while I was hiking far from cover with our test camera. The K10D took it like a camera built to withstand such surprises, functioning flawlessly during the hike and thereafter. Even the not-touted-as-weather-resistant DA 18-55mm zoom lens that came with the test camera survived the three-hour outing.
But weatherproofing isn't the K10D’s only asset for outdoor photographers. There’s also a Shake Reduction system (introduced in the K100D), which shifts the image sensor to counter camera shake and thus works with all lenses, not just special stabilizer lenses—very handy when you don’t want to haul a tripod through rugged terrain. You can turn Shake Reduction on and off at will via a handy switch; I’d use it for all hand- held work but panned action shots.
The Pentax K10D's Shake Reduction system automatically shifts the image sensor to compensate for camera movement, stabilizing your handheld shots no matter which lens you choose.
A new CCD Dust Removal System, which literally shakes dust off the image sensor at your command (it can also be set to do it each time you switch the camera on), is a useful feature for an interchangeable-lens D-SLR that will be used outdoors. There’s also an SP (Special Protect) coating that keeps dust from adhering to the sensor in the first place.
A new PRIME imaging engine and 22-bit analog-to-digital converter improve both color accuracy and dynamic range, especially important factors in nature and landscape photography.
Other features include a Sensitivity-Priority mode, which lets you change ISOs merely by rotating a thumbwheel, while the camera maintains correct exposure by adjusting shutter speed and aperture; the ability to capture RAW files in Pentax’s PEF format or Adobe’s "universal" DNG format; the ability to change from JPEG to RAW + JPEG recording at the touch of a button; and image preview on the LCD monitor.
The K10D can use all Pentax KAF2- and KAF-mount autofocus and KA-mount manual-focus lenses that have an A position on the aperture ring, as well as the current DA and FA J lines that lack aperture rings. This gives the user access to lenses from a 10-17mm fisheye and 12-24mm superwide zoom through supertelephoto (including the discontinued 1200mm ƒ/8). With the sensor’s 1.5x magnification factor, this translates to a range of focal lengths equivalent to 15-1800mm on a 35mm SLR.