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The digital camera market continues to defy the doom and gloom surrounding the rest of the economy. People are still buying new cameras, and more and more of them are choosing to buy digital SLRs.
Most of the manufacturers in the consumer DSLR market (Pentax, Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Sony, Olympus and Samsung) make entry-level models aimed specifically at first-time users and those making the jump from digital compact cameras.
Pentax's model in this category is the new K-m (known as the K2000 in some territories), a beginner-friendly 10.2-megapixel APS-C camera currently selling for around £360 complete with an 18-55mm kit lens.
Competition in the entry-level DSLR market is fierce, and the K-m will be up against some impressive, popular and competitively-priced rivals. These include the Canon EOS 1000D (£430 kit), the Nikon D60 (£380 kit), the Olympus E-420 (£300 kit) and the Sony Alpha A200 (£290 kit).
The Pentax K-m is priced quite well relative to these other models, especially when you consider that it has built-in sensor shift image stabilisation; of the other entry-level models only the Sony A200 can make the same claim, although the kit price of the Nikon D60 does include a basic VR lens.
The K-m is a very small camera compared to other APS-C models. It measures just 122.5 x 91.5 x 67.5mm. Of the other entry-level models only the Olympus E-420 is smaller, but of course that has a Four-Thirds sensor and lens mount. Weighing 525g the K-m is surprisingly heavy for its size, in fact of the entry-level models listed above it is the heaviest, however that weight translates directly into build quality; having used all the other current entry-level DSLRs, the K-m certainly feels the most solidly made.
It's a nice looking camera, with clean lines and attractive styling. The body is plastic over a metal chassis, finished in matt black with a chrome trim strip, although a rather gorgeous limited edition white version is also available.