So on to the nitty-gritty. The GX-10 is a 10.2-megapixel high-performance digital SLR aimed at the enthusiast or semi-professional photographer. It has a number of advanced features, including built-in moving-sensor shake reduction, a two-part anti-dust system to help keep the CCD clean, a strong weatherproof body with environmental seals on all hatches, a large bright pentaprism viewfinder, 11-point autofocus system and a 22-bit A/D converter. High-speed Samsung DDR2 memory chips give it a fast 3fps continuous shooting speed with no frame limit.
In terms of specification it is hard to compare the GX-10 (or the K10D for that matter) with other manufacturer’s cameras. Perhaps the closest match in terms of price and performance is the Nikon D80, although that camera costs around £680 with an 18-70mm lens and lacks the GX-10’s weatherproof seals. To get another camera that has this feature one has to look at the 12-megapixel Canon EOS 5D, but that costs over £1500 for just the camera body.
The GX-10 certainly looks the part. It is a very solidly made camera, weighing a hefty 710g without battery or card, and measuring 142 x 101 x 71.5mm, making it 10mm wider and 120g heavier than the D80. The controls are sensibly laid out in a pattern that seems to have become fairly standard for most DSLRs, with the four main interface buttons (which are larger than those on the K10D) on the left of the monitor screen and the D-pad and remaining shooting controls on the right. The main exposure options are set via a tall knurled dial on the top right of the body, with the exposure metering options on a smaller collar beneath it. All the buttons and dials press and turn with a reassuringly positive click, including the two command dials for setting aperture and shutter speed. Many people, myself included, will be pleased to note that the camera has a full-sized backlit LCD data display located on the top panel, instead of using the monitor screen for shooting data like many entry-level SLRs. As I mentioned, the card, battery and connector port hatches all have rubber seals to keep out moisture and dust, and the first two also have secure latches with twist locks to make sure they don’t get opened by accident.
Despite its relatively heavy weight the camera handles superbly. It has a large and extremely comfortable handgrip which I found to be one of the nicest I’ve used. The position of the controls will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s used any other digital SLR, and has obviously benefited from Pentax’s vast experience in camera design. Controls such as AE lock, exposure compensation and AF activation are positioned within easy reach of the right thumb, while the exposure setting dials fall neatly under the thumb and forefinger. I wouldn’t recommend trying to use such a heavy camera one-handed, but it is at least possible.
One handy feature unique to Pentax-designed DSLRs is the “Hyper-program” mode. With the camera set to program exposure, turning the shutter speed or aperture setting command dial overrides the programmed setting, effectively putting the camera into aperture or shutter priority mode, very useful for changing exposure settings on the fly.