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It's over eight months since I reviewed the Samsung GX-10 digital SLR, basically a licence-built copy of today's review camera, the Pentax K10D. As I remarked at the time, it was unusual for me to review the copy before the original, but I was fully expecting to receive the K10D at any time, so I wasn't too bothered. However I had no idea that, due to some people not returning their review samples on time, it would take me this long to finally get my hands on a K10D. The camera was launched in September 2006, and may well be replaced in Pentax's model range early next year, which makes this probably the latest review I've ever done, but better late than never, and I'm glad I've finally had a chance to try this excellent camera.
Pentax could have been one of the first camera companies to launch a purpose-built digital SLR. It announced the development of an impressive-looking 6-megapixel full-frame DLSR, codenamed the MR-52, in September 2000, and even had a prototype to show off at the PMA camera show in January the following year. However the camera was deemed to be too expensive to produce and was never launched. The project was finally killed off in 2003, just before the launch of the badly named *ist D, a much less ambitious 6MP DSLR with the now common APS-C sized sensor. Looking now at the dominating market positions of Canon and Nikon, both of whom launched full-frame models early on and now account for about 75 percent of DSLR sales between them, Pentax may have some regrets over its decision. Of the major camera manufacturers, Pentax has the smallest share of the lucrative DSLR market, with just 5.4 percent worldwide, and has seen newcomers Sony leapfrog into third place with just one model, the Alpha A100. This is terribly unfair, because the K10D really does deserve to do much better than it has.
After a series of rather lacklustre entry-level 6MP models under the incomprehensible and ill-conceived *ist brand name, Pentax finally got it right with the K10D and the two other K-series DSLRs, producing the camera that Pentax fans had been waiting for for six years. It is aimed squarely at Pentax's traditional territory in the the enthusiast and semi-pro market, currently dominated by the Canon EOS 30D (and now the 40D as well) and the Nikon D80. In theory it should compete well with these two models, because it offers many of the same features at a much lower price. While it is still available, the EOS 30D with an EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens currently sells for around £600, while the new EOS 40D with a similar lens is closer to £900. The Nikon D80 with an 18-70mm lens is around £650. By contrast the K10D with the excellent 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens shown here will only set you back around £460, which is a bargain price for a camera this good.