The K100D looks superficially similar to the *ist DL2, but it is in fact a completely new body design. Measuring 129 x 93 x 70mm it is only a few millimetres wider and thicker, but at 660g including batteries it is 55g heavier. In fact, and unusually for a Pentax, it is the largest and heaviest of all the entry-level cameras in its price range, 100g heavier than the Canon 400D, 140g more than the Nikon D40 and a big 190g heavier than the Olympus E-500. The K110D is 75g lighter without the shake reduction system, but is still heavier than all of its competitors.
That bulk is reflected in the build quality. The K100D has a solidly made plastic body over a tough steel frame and feels extremely robust. The body shape and control layout is similar to the earlier models, but has also been revised. It has a large and extremely comfortable rubberised handgrip, a large LCD data panel on the top plate, and a big 2.5in 210,000 pixel LCD monitor screen on the back.
The controls are nice and simple, as befits its entry-level status. There’s a large rotating dial on the top left which selects the main shooting modes, which include the usual DSLR staples of program, aperture and shutter priority and full manual exposure (plus B mode), along with a scene mode with eight options, five special program modes and Pentax’s unique Auto Pict mode. This is a bit more sophisticated than most auto modes, because it tries to analyse the scene being shot and then automatically select the best special program mode for the circumstances. I found that it would normally default to program mode, but several times I noticed it setting sports or landscape mode at the appropriate times, so it does work.
There is a function button on the back for quick access to white balance, ISO, drive/timer mode and flash mode, separate buttons for exposure compensation (handily located next to the shutter button) and AE lock and the usual playback, file info, delete and menu buttons down the left of the monitor, just as they have been on all previous Pentax DSLRs. The shooting menu itself is only two pages, but it has options to alter the saturation, contrast and sharpness, metering and AF modes and flash compensation. In other words it covers all the essentials without being over-complicated.