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9/10

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Pentax K100D Digital SLR - Pentax K100D

It has to be said that some of the menu items are downright bizarre. What exactly is “Swtch dst msr pt” supposed to mean? It’s an option to change between auto AF area, manual AF area and centre spot AF, so why not just label it “AF area”? Even the manual didn’t explain the abbreviation.

I really must mention that manual. I’ve often criticised certain manufacturers for putting the manual for their complex DSLRs on a CD in PDF format to save money, but despite the K100D’s budget price it comes with a large well-written fully-bound 216-page manual, all in English, with a colour cover and a full index, exactly what you need if you’re a beginner with a new camera, so major Kudos to Pentax. I hope you’re paying attention, Canon…

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While the K110D is definitely aimed at the consumer end of the market, it’s not short on advanced features. At no time did it feel like it had been built down to a price. It has the same fast, accurate 11-point SAFOX VIII AF system and 16-point multi-pattern exposure metering as the *ist DL2, but these are now coupled with an all-new image processing engine which certainly seems to be a massive improvement. The DL2 was by no means bad, but its images always looked a little soft and its high-ISO noise reduction was never brilliant. Both image quality and noise reduction are much improved by the new system, and by all accounts the quality is as good as, if not better than the Nikon D40. Pentax lenses have always had an excellent reputation, and the SMC Pentax DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 kit lens has optical quality at least as good as anything you’ll find on the front of a Nikon D40.

There are several other nice little features that don’t get headline billing but are worth a mention. For instance when using the 2-second delay timer, usually needed to avoid camera shake on tripod shots, the mirror flips up as soon as the shutter is pressed, thus avoiding any mirror vibration when the shutter fires, ensuring a completely blur-free shot. Also worthy of mention is the live aperture preview. Instead of a dim, stopped down preview in the viewfinder, the camera takes a picture and displays it on the monitor without writing it to the memory card.

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On the subject of memory cards, like the *ist DL and DS, the K100D uses SD cards for storage, and in highest quality JPEG mode a 1GB card is enough space for approximately 340 shots, while in RAW mode it’s 93. Like most DSLRs the K100D can shoot in RAW mode, as well as the usual JPEG, but unlike some models it can’t shoot RAW + JPEG, which will put some enthusiast users off.

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