It is very solidly constructed and the user interface is good out of the box and highly customisable, so you can really make it a tool that works extremely well for you.
Image quality is excellent. High resolution and low noise straight from the sensor if you shoot RAW. The JPEG quality appears very good too (even though i don't use it much).
In body image stabilisation means you get stabilisation even for high-speed primes. Pentax has a number of these in their line up and they are excellent quality. The combination of high speed aperture (with high lens IQ), in body stabilisation, and low-noise high ISO means you can do low light photography better with this than any other camera I know of.
Lens availability is great for high quality primes (which exactly what you can't get from Sigma and Tamron so most important for original manufacturer to cover). Otherwise, most of the lens spectrum except super tele is covered by Pentax, with quality that is generally no worse or no better than the average competitors. The exposure system works fine, and the AF is precise even if it can sometimes hunt a little.
In summary, I believe 1) image quality, 2) usability, and3) availability of high quality lens are the main criteria to evaluate a camera. I think on the first two the Pentax is outstanding, and on the third they real excel in primes, and have a broad enough range for 95% of all applications (super tele being the other 5%, but you could get some from Sigma if you needed).
Not really a problem, but if your main application is something like sport or other things where you need a fast frame rate and very long tele, you should consider other manufacturers. 3fps is fine for what i do, but the competition in this price class generally offers 5+ fps. So, if sports or other fast action shots is what you are after you should probably just buy Canon there is a reason that all the pros doing sport use it.
2008-05-30 - 08:10:34
Here is my K200d review
First some background before I get into the K200d review:
I've been using a Nikon D40 for over a year now. I love my D40, especially indoors, but I've never quite been able to come to grips with the metering on the D40 outdoors or in high contrast situations (inconsistently overexposes with both matrix and center weighted when single AF point selected - AE seems to be coupled to AF point, can't change that in camera settings, unfortunately). Eventually I can get the exposure correct, but for fast action and capturing the moment, the meter is way too unpredictable. Also, I keep wishing it had an internal AF motor for the 50mm 1.8.
I've tried most of the sub-$1000 DSLRs out there (XT, XTI, E-510, K100D Super, D80) looking for a suitable replacement. The D80 was too expensive for a body with no stabilization (and same or worse meter as the D40 as far as I could tell). The XT was nice, but LCD is too small, detail/color faded at high ISO, and poor AF accuracy. Impressive speed, though. The XTI was just rubbish, much worse than the XT at just about everything, save for the LCD. Not sure why it's so popular. The E-510 was very nice, and I almost went with the 4/3 system because of this camera. However, the lack of affordable ultra wide-angle lenses, poor handling of highlight/shadow detail, and the nearly unusable ISO 1600 made me look elsewhere. I also tried the Pentax K100d Super. It performed well outdoors, but indoors it was horrible. The colors were always "off" under artificial lighting. Shooting RAW helped, but it was always a pain getting the color just right. Too much hassle, especially coming from the D40, which always got the color "right".
Anyway, a couple days ago I bought the K200d with 18-55mm II lens. This camera beats all the others I have tried to date in terms of consistent image quality, usability, and features. Some of the other sub-$1000 cameras do certain things better, but they also do at least one thing very wrong. The K200d does not do anything wrong, as far as I can tell.
Outdoors, the metering and image quality of the K200d is better than ANY camera I've tried to date. Metering is consistently accurate even in high contrast scenes. I took some photos of my black Lab against a bright snowy background. The camera consistently preserved the detail of the dog's fur, while not blowing out the snowy background. The D40 has botched this same scenario 80% of the time, either completely blowing out the background and overexposing the dog, or underexposing the scene by 1-2 EV (not consistent).
The K200d has a slight tendency to underexpose high contrast scenes (preserve highlights), but no more than 0.3EV. Nowhere near as bad as the XTI's unpredictable underexposure. I prefer this slight underexposure to the D40's tendency to blow out highlights if not careful. I am shooting in RAW(DNG)+jpeg. There is lots of detail in the shadow areas that can be brought out in post-processing. It is almost as good as the D40 in terms of preserved shadow detail, a little better than the Canons I mentioned, and MUCH better than the E-510. With the 18-55mm II kit lens, images are quite sharp (edges seemed a bit soft, but not as bad as the Canon kit lens). I bumped up the in-camera sharpness and contrast a couple notches, and got very punchy, sharp images. The camera handles blue skies very well. Perfect color.
Indoors, the K200d is a bit of a challenge. Initially, the jpegs I shot indoors looked similar to the K100d Super - colors were way off - greenish cast, tan/brown colors turned bright orange/yellow - even using tungsten preset. Thankfully, the K200d lets you fine tune the white balance, and previews the changes using the last photo shot (need to enable that feature in the custom settings first). I bumped the tungsted WB setting a few notches toward magenta, then a notch toward red. Now color is perfect (not quite as accurate as the D40, but darn close). Shooting RAW (DNG), I can get indoor color just like I want it, but I need to work a bit more than I did with the D40.
Autofocus speed with the K200d is good. I would say it's almost as fast as the D40 with the AF-S kit lens in good light (but the focus mechanism is noisier). It's not as fast as the Canons. It is faster than the Olympus E-510. It is also faster than the K100d super. Under average to low indoor lighting, focus speed is a little slower (not a lot). It does hunt sometimes with moving/low-contrast subjects. However, this doesn't happen often. The D40 rarely hunted in similar lighting. AF accuracy on the K200d is very good even in low light. The camera has taken a few photos in low light that were a little out of focus (even though the camera reported focus lock). 99% of the time, though, it locks focus perfectly. MUCH better AF accuracy than the XT/XTI, but still not 100% accurate like the D40.
I have not tried the continuous AF yet. When I go to the dog park tomorrow, I'll test it and report back.
High ISO performance is very good. ISO 800 and below - no issues. ISO 1600 is very good, but only with the in camera noise reduction set to highest setting. At this setting, it still preserves details, while eliminating chroma noise. I found the lower/no noise reductions settings did not look as nice as the high noise reduction setting (there was some color blotching). This is the total opposite of the settings I preferred on the E-510. No signs whatsoever of vertical or horizontal banding. The only camera I've personally tried that exhibited that was the E-510 at ISO 1600. Never used the K10d. For a subjective comparison, I find the K200d's ISO 1600 to be much better than the E-510, much better than the XTI, better than the XT, about on par with the K100d super, but not quite as good as the D40. But the D40 is awesome at ISO 1600. The extra resolution in the K200d makes up for any differences with the D40 at ISO 1600, I think.
I've covered most of the IQ stuff. K200d has excellent IQ. Now on to the other stuff.
The image stabilizer is good. Probably 2-3 stops worth. I don't have a telephoto lens to test. I can only go by the kit lens. As a comparison, I recently tried a Nikon 18-200mm VR on my D40. The stabilizer in the K200d is not as good as the VR in that lens. Maybe half as good. The K200d's stabilizer is also not quite as good/consistent as the Olympus E-510's stabilizer (after firmware update). This is all subjective. 2-3 stops is better than none. I can consistently get sharp images at 55mm at 1/15th second, but I am very steady to begin with. At 18mm, I've noticed the stabilizer doesn't do a whole lot. With the E-510, I could hand-hold 1/2 second and usually get a sharp image with the kit lens at wide angle. With the K200d, I can only do about 1/8 or 1/10 consistently at wideangle. I plan on buying a Sigma 10-20mm soon. I'll be interested to see how it works with that.
One of the biggest issues I had with the K100d super was the button layout (or lack thereof). Everything had to be done through menus. The K200d is pretty much the same, however the menus just seem better organized, and can be tweaked more. There are too many of these improvements to list, but suffice to say I do not find it a chore to change settings on the K200d like I did with the K100d. The user interface still isn't as good as the D80 or the E-510 (my favorite of all user interfaces), but it's good enough. I wish it had a customizable Function button like the D40 (so I could program it to WB), but I don't miss it that much.
In conclusion - the K200d is excellent. It's the only camera I've tried that has made me think about switching from Nikon. I will be deciding in the next week whether I will make the switch. I will be trying the Pentax 18-250mm lens soon, and the AF-360 flash. If the performance of that lens and flash are decent, then I think I will be switching to Pentax. I'm thinking the Sigma 10-20mm, Pentax 18-250mm, Pentax 50mm 1.4, and the AF-360 will make a pretty nice kit until I can save up for a fast telephoto.
Oh yeah, one last thing! The Pentax PEF RAW files from the K200d cannot be read by Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop Elements 6 (camera RAW) as of today (April 1st). I looked for updates online, but there are none yet. Fortunately, the K200d allows you to save RAW files in DNG format. They work fine with the Adobe apps. However, the file sizes are HUGE (16.5mb) versus about 9mb for the PEF files. I'm sure an update will be issued soon.
Built in flash is just okay. I've been spoiled with the D40's built-in flash and the SB-400. The K200d's flash is a HUGE improvement over the K100d super's flash. Much more consistent in exposure.
The K200d is a bit expensive right now. Should be about $150 cheaper.
UPDATE: I've noticed that autofocus accuracy drops significantly in low light with darker subjects. Nikon D40 has no issues with same subject/light.
Also, autofocus becomes less accurate when trying to focus on a subject against a bright background, or when there is a bright portion in the frame. It will slightly front or back focus sometimes in that situation. Similar to what I've seen with the Canon XT/XTi. The D40 does not do this.
I'll keep posting more updates as I encounter strengths/weaknesses.
UPDATE #2: I returned this camera because of issues with the autofocus in low light. It simply was not up to Nikon standards. It's not just that it would hunt in low light. Instead, the center AF indicator blinks and the camera beeps indicating it has locked focus, however 30-40% of the time the camera significantly back-focuses. In good light, the AF is quick and accurate.
Also the AF sound of the kit lens is very loud. The 18-250mm I tested had the same sound.
It's a shame - if it wasn't for the AF system on this camera, it would beat most if not all of the sub-$1000 entry level dslr's. As is, it's a runner up to the entry level Nikons (and probably the Canons as well - except for the XTi which is blech).
2008-06-30 - 08:21:30
I have been using it for about 1 month
I have been using it for about 1 month now as my first DSLR and before it I was using compact ultrazooms - mostly by Fuji since I am very fond of low-light shooting + telephoto abilities. Initially I planned to buy S5pro because of my great respect for Fuji, but in the end I couldn't make myself spend that much + on reading many owner's reviews I realized it did have one very important fault - short battery life which made me take a close look at the only new AA-powered DSLR on the market - K200D that can be used anywhere without tethering me to a mains socket. Equally important was the fact that I paid some $400 less for Pentax double kit (inc. 18-55 and 50-200) than I would have paid for S5pro body alone. Also K200D boasts environmental sealing like the Fuji. All the above put together makes it the best choice for anyone who wants to use a camera in virtually any setting without worrying too much about ruining some device the price of a cheap car.
I was quite impressed with K200D low-light abilities and the stabilizer - I managed to take some great outdoor macro shots at 1/8! Colour rendition was also great under most circumstances - I haven't noticed much difference though while using 200% dynamic range mode. ISO 400 is very usable for full-sized prints even though the images are not without some speckling but noticing that takes scrutinizing the images at 100% view. Had some horrible results shooting from monopod – I simply did not realize at the time the stabilizer had to be switched off before using a tri- or monopod.
Obviously the camera has some great features and shooting RAW would bring even better results, but I have generally been too lazy using it only in aperture or shutter priority modes for shooting JPEGS.
I have taken 1/2 off the Construction because there seams to be no weather sealing whatsoever around the flash unit and popping it up means exposing the upper part of the camera body (most subjected to rain or snow as those normally fall vertically from above:-)) to the elements. I can see little point in sealing something from every side leaving the top unprotected.
The reason I took 1/2 off the image quality is poor corner sharpness on many shots made in different lighting conditions. In most cases it is the top right corner that is normally the worst followed by top left. Obviously it can be the kit lenses that are responsible for that, but in most reviews I have read that the 50-200 I use most of the time is more than agreeable quality (despite its inexpensive price). I also read that poor corner sharpness was among the faults of K10D regardless of the lens used and since K200D has the same sensor/processor (and perhaps very similar inbuilt image processing). Focusing can also be a problem even in relatively good lighting such as bright spring evening with sun still high – that mostly happened while shooting 18 and up to 35 mm but never happened at focal lengths any longer than 40 mm.
There also are some issues that I believe originate from some software problems – the first thing is the flash function: sometimes after having used the inbuilt flash for a couple of times on a freshly-charged set of batteries one can see “battery depleted” warning. Last night I had a worse problem while trying to shoot at a night club – even though the flash was popped up it would not go off in very low light while the camera was pointed towards objects several meters away. It would work however with any close large object. Trying to take a friend’s picture with far-away wall as a background was no success apparently because the camera did not consider his head big enough for turning the flash on:-) Switching off and taking batteries out several times did not help the bug. Some time later though the flash started operating properly again.
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2012-06-17 - 06:59:21
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