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Old Jul 12, 2009, 2:39 AM   #1
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Default K-7 first impression (w/ test shot)

Had my first outing with my new K-7. First off, I LOVE how quiet and speedy the shutter is. In comparision, the K20D's shutter sounds about 2X louder. The actual shutter actuation in the K-7 is much faster too. It's incredibly easy to fire away shots with this thing, especially once you use Continuous-Hi shooting. Someone noted a possible bug (confirmed on my unit), however, if you use continuous focusing w/ continuous-hi shooting mode; the FPS shows down considerably.

The new button layout isn't my favorite at the moment. My greatest frustration was trying to adjust the focus point. On the K20D, it was simply a matter of switching to SEL then pressing the arrow keys to the desired point. On the K-7, it's slightly more complex; after switching to SEL, you must press the OK button then adjust the focus point. My problem is that I have to first check to see if I'm actually in the point-adjustment mode, which is shown with a tiny indicator in the viewfinder. If I forget to first press OK, then I end up activating one of the 4 menus on the buttons. If I forget to press OK again, then I'll end up adjusting a focus point instead of activating one of the menus. It's probably a matter of me getting used to the mechanics, but I forsee this as an ongoing problem with me.

Exposures straight out of the K-7 are much MUCH better than anything I've taken with the K20D. With the K20D, I usually needed to adjust the EV by +0.7 to get a proper exposure. With the K-7, everything appears nice and bright. In fact, sometimes things seem a bit too bright (probably just me being too used to the darkness of the K20D). I'm sure this will reduce the need for me to change the exposure much in post. The fact that Pentax finally added support for compressed DNGs is also a plus for me, as I used to convert all my photos to compressed DNG in Lightroom; this will also speed up my import process!

The weight and feel of the K-7 is something that takes getting used to. The K20D grip fits my small hands better; The K-7's grip is slightly longer, making it harder for me to wrap my fingers around the grip. Despite this difference, I'm quickly finding that I prefer the K-7's grip. The groove they cut out of the front locks the camera into a specific position in my hand, making it hard for it to slip out. The rear portion of the K20D's grip had a slightly sharp curve that would eat into my hand after extended periods of time; in contrast, the K-7's rounded feel definitely makes the camera more comfortable to hold over time. The weight reduction and smaller package makes the K-7 feel more balanced during operation as well; even with the DA* 16-50 f/2.8 lens (more on that tale of woe later), the kit felt balanced and hand-holdable. If you thought the K20D felt rugged, you'll be amazed at how durable the K-7 feels. The magnesium alloy really gives it the feel of durability.

Autofocus. This is a mixed bag for me, though the camera probably isn't to blame. First off, the AF speed is faster than the K20D, hands down! The speed improvement is most noticeable with screw-driven lenses, but I also noticed an improvement with my 16-50 SDM focusing. There is less hunting, less rechecking, and better tracking. Haven't had experience in low-light focusing, but I'm glad Pentax added a dedicated focus-assist lamp.

Noise. Somewhat of a mixed bag for me. I'm glad that there is less of the color noise. However, I did notice somewhat more grainy images at lower ISOs (as low as ISO 400). Nothing bad, but I didn't notice this with the K20D. I don't have a final verdict yet, as I haven't dabbled beyond ISO 800.

Overall, I'm happy with my purchase. The K-7 is definitely an improvement over the K20D.

This upgrade did come at a cost though (not including the financial cost). I now have to send in my DA* 16-50 f/2.8 for service because I just cannot get the lens sharp on the K-7! Using a focus chart and the AF adjustment, I found that even at an adjustment of -10, the 16-50 f/2.8 was front-focusing. On the K20D, I could (barely) correct the front-focusing issue on the lens. So, with this new camera, I have no choice but to get the lens serviced. In the end, it's something I should have done earlier.

To somewhat alleviate the temporary loss of my 16-50, I purchased a FA 50mm f/1.4 from a clearance at Keeble & Schuchat (they're no longer going to carry Pentax products!). After running this lens through the focus chart, I'm confident that it's usable. Wanting to be sure it's sharp, as well as making sure my strobe triggers work w/ the K-7, I decided to take a test studio shot:

If I can get every shot to look this sharp after my 16-50 is serviced, I'll be a happy man.

In the meantime, I have to play around more w/ this new body...

- Jason

Last edited by Illuminati; Jul 12, 2009 at 2:42 AM.
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Old Jul 12, 2009, 8:18 AM   #2
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Thank you for such a detailed report Jason.
Sorry to hear about your 16-50mm but the good part is, once you get it back you wont need the 50 1.4 anymore and you can send it my way!

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Old Jul 12, 2009, 8:50 AM   #3
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Interesting that you mentioned the continuous AF and continuous shooting together. I've never used this combination on any combination, but tried it yesterday for the first time with the DA55-300. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I didn't think the results worked well. The continuous shooting is VERY fast compared to the K20.
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