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Old Jan 1, 2007, 6:50 PM   #1
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Before I get started on this, I want to apologize in advance for the length of this post. Part of the reason it's so long as I want to be accurate and detailed for people like me who may be considering this camera and need as thorough an understanding of it as possible.


I received the camera last Saturday around noon. I had ordered it the previous Wednesday from buydig.com with free shipping, so that worked out pretty well. I took everything out of the box and snapped the lens on, and made sure everything looked ok and was working properly, which it was.

Sanyo Eneloops - AA NimH batteries

Several weeks ago I ordered 8 Sanyo Eneloop batteries plus a charger for this camera. Those were already charged and ready to go when they arrived, but I topped off the charge anyway.

I don't have much to say about the batteries as I have no idea how long the life is yet. I put in a fully charged set when I put the camera together and used them for all the shots I took that day, which was probably around 200-250 photos. I used the SR for most shots but have yet to use the flash. I also did a lot of playing around in the menus and looking at images in the preview screen, as well as update the firmware. I never saw the battery meter dip down from full, so I'm guessing I could have gotten over 500 shots on the one set of batteries.


The feel of the camera is definitely one of the best things about it. It's about the exact right size, comfortable to hold, most controls are easy to access. The screen is big, bright and sharp, and the viewfinder is decently big and bright and easy to look through even with glasses on.

The most major complaint I have here is that there is no way to change ISO without going into a menu, at least none that I know of. There is a separate menu for changing WB, ISO, shooting mode and flash settings that is accessed by a dedicated buttons and is definitely easy to use. However, I wish I could alter the ISO without leaving the viewfinder. I can, however, view what ISO settings it's on in the viewfinder by hitting "OK", but that almost makes it more frustrating because I want to be able to change it there!

Old, manual lenses - K-mount

Soon after receiving the camera and testing it out, I ran over to a nearby antique store where I knew there were some K-mount lenses available. Normally I would have spent more time playing with the kit lens, but it was so dark, gloomy and wet, I decided to do this first.

I picked up a few manual lenses, an 80-200mm f/4 macro, a 135mm f/2.8, and a 2x macro teleconverter. They all snapped into the K100D's mount easily and appeared to be in decent enough condition.

I mostly wanted the 135mm, but in my haste I failed to thoroughly check the lens before buying (all sales final at the antique store), and it turned out to be missing the aperture blades. This means that I could only shoot wide open. This seriously limits it's usefulness in many shooting situations, but it's not too bad if shooting in the dark.

The 80-200mm was in nearly perfect shape however. It is a push zoom, which I've never used before, but instead of turning a separate ring to zoom, you simply push the focus ring forward and back.

Using a K-mount lens is simpler than I thought it would be. You first go into the custom menu and enable use of a manual aperture ring. If SR is on when you turn on the camera on, it will have you input the focal length of the lens so it knows how to compensate (I don't quite understand what that's for).

Shooting with one of these lenses is done in M mode. You set the aperture on the lens, but it will remain wide open. Then, when you're ready to shoot, simply aim the camera and hit the "AE-L" button. This will quickly stop down the lens and automatically set the shutter speed for a correct exposure. You can use exposure compensation or just manually change the setting afterwards to adjust. Then, snap the picture like normal.

You can also use aperture priority mode to shoot and you won't have to even push the "AE-L" button, but it will only shoot with the aperture wide open. This is pretty much what I do with the 135mm.

When you have the shutter button half pushed, the red AF squares in the viewfinder will blink and beep when the camera thinks you have something in focus. This can be pretty handy, but so far I'm not sure how accurate they are in some situations.


It eventually stopped raining and it wasn't too cold out, so I decided to test out the camera in night conditions. All photos posted here were taken hours after sunset, and since it was so dark, they were all taken with the 135mm lens. They were also all taken in RAW and processed with Photoshop CS 2, so keep that in mind when it comes to noise levels, white balance and exposure. Shooting in JPG wouldn't have performed nearly as well.

This is one of the first photos I took. It's rather soft, but I blame the 135mm lens for this. Also, at 1/15 sec., it may have been a bit much for the SR, however at ISO 800 it does look very clean for a night photo.

Here's the front of a nearby church:

This one was a bit soft as well, but it doesn't really show in this resized photo. It was taken at 1/6 sec., which is rather impressive at 135mm, even if it is a bit soft. The SR might not have even been the problem though. The problem may be that focusing to infinity on this lens either focuses extremely far away, or perhaps it doesn't quite fit the mount, but I later found that for subjects a few hundred feet away, I need to focus a bit closer than infinity.

Shooting at closer subjects was less problematic:

The first shot was taken at 1/8 sec., and is a bit soft. I'm not sure if it's camera shake or just a bit out of focus, but it looks pretty sharp for such a slow speed.

The second shot shows a lot of detail in the bricks and the wings, but the arms are slightly out of focus. This will be a common problem with a lens that can't be stopped down... It was taken at 1/30 sec. Both were at ISO 800, but the second shot was underexposed and then corrected in Photoshop. Despite that, noise never became noticeable.

Shake Reduction

Before I continue, I want to post my observations on shake reduction at this point, as the camera continued to exhibit these charcteristics throughout the night and the next day. Keep in mind, I've only really tested it with the 135mm lens and I don't know if that had some kind of impact other than being a somewhat long focal length.

My previous camera was the Panasonic FZ30 which has it's own anti-shake mechanism built in, and which I found to be rather impressive. I was able to shoot at 1/13 up to 450mm equivalent, and could even manage 1 second exposure at 35mm equivalent.

Comparing the K100d to the FZ30 at about 200mm equivalent, it seems like the K100d is probably a bit worse. I've managed shots at 1/8 sec and even 1/6 sec with the K100d that are about the limit of what I could do with the FZ30. However, I also see the SR fail at shutter speeds 1/30 sec and faster, which the FZ30 would never do. Attribute it to operator error if you wish, but with as much practice as I've had stretching the shake reduction on the FZ30, I think I know what I'm doing by now.

In some of those instances, I've turned the SR off to compare and couldn't see any signifcant difference from one shot to the next. It makes me wonder if the SR mechanism may be faulty and somehow freezing up in some situations.


There was a manger scene in front of the church in a lit encasement. All 3 of these shots were taken at ISO 400, 1/15 sec.:

I liked the way these turned out, but again I wish I could have stopped down the 135mm lens a bit. I do like the 3D feel of the last shot though.


Here's a Christmas snowman decoration. Nothing to note about it, I just kind of liked the picture.


Here's a photo of an old stone building. This was shot at ISO 800 at 1/6 sec. The white balance was off, but easily corrected in Adobe Camera Raw.

The SR did a pretty good job here. Here's a 100% crop:

Also notice that the noise levels are quite reasonable. It's ISO 800, but at 1/6 sec. the noise would be significantly higher than at a more typical shutter speed like 1/30 sec.

White Balance

One thing I've read about and definitely appears to be true is that the auto white balance leaves something to be desired. When shooting in artificial light, you'll tend to get orange looking images, though sometimes it seems to get it right for whatever reason. This can be a bit of a pain when shooting under street lights at night as you get all sorts of different colored lights mixing together and sometimes none of the preset white balance settings are adequate.

The solution is of course to shoot in RAW mode whenever you can't be 100% certain. However, I've noticed a quirk in the RAW files which I've never seen in any other camera's RAW images. Typically, if you shoot a bunch of RAW files using different white balance settings in the same lighting condition, you can pull them all into Adobe Camera Raw, find the correct temperature and tint, and apply it to all images. That isn't the case here.

For whatever reason, temperature and tint in ACR appears to be relative to the white balance setting used in the camera, so if each white balance settings was different, you'd have to correct each image individually. If auto white balance was more accurate this wouldn't be an issue, but together they make for a rather irritating pair-up. I haven't tried using the software that came with the camera though, so maybe it's less problematic there.


There is a basilica in the area that makes for some nice photography, and is somewhat lit up at night. I couldn't get a decent shot of the building as a whole as I didn't bring any wider angle lenses along.

This angel holding a trumpet was pretty far up. It was shot at ISO 1600 at 1/15 sec., was underexposed and needed a few adjustments. Even so, the fact that I could get it to look as good as it does was rather impressive. Printed to 4" x 6", I doubt you could tell it was ISO 1600.

Here's a shot from the front of the building, lower to the ground and more brightly lit:

This was at ISO 1600, 1/60 sec. It looks pretty sharp, though maybe not the best image to analyze for noise due to the lack of color.

Noise levels

One reason I was so interested in the camera was because of it's low light performance, and except for the uneven SR performance, I'd say this camera meets my expectations. Up to ISO 800 images look perfectly clean, and at 1600 they're still good enough for very sharp 4x6 prints. At 3200 you can still get decent images if you're not using slow shutter speeds.

I took some portraits indoors with very little light (a 120v light bulb 10 feet away from the subject with the 135mm f/2.8) at ISO 1600 and was surprised at how clean and accurate they looked (using tungsten white balance). I can't wait to get a brighter 50mm which will allow for faster shutter speeds and lower ISO settings.


Conclusion - to be continued

Obviously there is a lot of territory yet to cover with this camera, but so far I'm pretty happy with it. I wish it had the performance of the Canon XT as far as white balance, JPG processing and continuous shooting, but I don't think I would be happier with that camera in the end.

Ultimately, this camera seems like a very good value and provides a lot for the money, particularly with cheap, used lenses readily available. It seems responsive enough for most shooting situations, and it's performance at high ISO levels is impressive.

My only serious reservation is about the shake reduction. I wish I could feel more confident about it, but it just seems to work somewhat randomly. Perhaps it functions better in conjuntion with a newer, automatic lens, but that will be difficult to put to the test until I get a 70-300mm AF zoom or similar lens, which likely won't happen until spring or summer.

I look forward to posting more photos in the future, hopefully in more ideal conditions than what I have to work with now.
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Old Jan 1, 2007, 7:06 PM   #2
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Looks like that is part 1 of your review . Thanks for taking your time in this exercise. Keep posting and we look forward to seeing more of your input

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Old Jan 1, 2007, 7:14 PM   #3
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Great job and wonderfully detailed. Bravo!

Keep it coming...

I'm of course, still undecided about the K10 vs K100 (at least I've got my lenses picked out!) :-)


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Old Jan 1, 2007, 7:52 PM   #4
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It's too bad you can't stop down the 135mm lens - the M 50mm 1.4 I have is really soft wide open and not good to judge anything with (stopped down a bit and its really sharp). Have you tried to use another lens? The problem could well be the lens, rather than your shooting techniques.

I really like the three Nativity figures - they came out very well.

I'm going to be very interested in your review, part 2.
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Old Jan 2, 2007, 7:21 PM   #5
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Can't wait to read more of this Corpsy! I am seriously considering buying the K100D within the next 6 months (sooner if I can get the money).

I am interested to know how fast the focus is on the K100D, I have been told some DSLR's can autofocus in a fraction of a second, compared to the 2 or more seconds it can take for hard shots on my point and shoot.
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Old Jan 2, 2007, 7:49 PM   #6
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Corpsy, nice job, and nice photos as examples. Too bad about the 135, I have an old XR Rikenon f2.8 that is really a sweet lens (love to have Daniel's FA 135 though).

Keep it coming.

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Old Jan 2, 2007, 9:05 PM   #7
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Edit: Seems to work now. Must've been my isp....

I always found that picture to be amusing
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Old Jan 2, 2007, 9:13 PM   #8
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Mongrelchild, the links work just fine for me, and everyone else who posted apparently. And I hate to be picky, but do you think that image was the nicest way to point out you were having trouble?
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Old Jan 3, 2007, 1:30 AM   #9
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Thanks for the replies. Hopefully I'll have some addendums soon, particularly in regard to the kit lens.

Mtngal, are you referring to the SR issues I saw? I haven't really tested it with other lenses too much. I hope it's just the lens, though I don't see how it could be unless some element is loose, which I suppose is likely since someone probably had to take the lens apart for the aperture blades to be gone.

I'll probably be trying out the SR on the 80-200 f/4 lens I got which appears to work quite well. I wouldn't consider the kit lens a good one for testing though as 55mm isn't really a significant enough telephoto length to really see if the SR is as effective as some claim.

Morag2. I can't really give you a definitive answer on the focusing speed. I suppose it may partly depend on the lens that is used. From playing around with cameras a bit, I did find it to be faster and more accurate than the Canon XT, at least in low light. I took a little walk around the apartment with the K100d with the kit lens, focusing on things just to see, and the slowest I could get it to focus on something was 2 seconds. That was only if I had it prefocused all the way up close and aimed it at something really dark, and it was usually accurate. For more typical use, it seemed to average around 1/2 second or less in a room lit by a single 15w bulb and a computer monitor (yeah, I like my dark).
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