Pentax K-x Review

October 28, 2009 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


The Pentax K-x is a new mid-range digital SLR that combines the compact body and simple operation of the entry-level K-m camera with some of the advanced features of the prosumer K-7 model. The 12.4 megapixel Pentax Kx offers an uncluttered design that is particularly well-suited to compact camera owners looking to make the step-up to a DSLR whilst featuring the same 11-point wide-frame AF system with 9 cross sensors and 2 line sensors as the K-7. In addition to Live View, the Pentax K-x also joins the growing list of DSLR cameras that can record video, with a best quality setting of 1280x720 pixels at 30fps. Other key features include a 2.7 inch LCD monitor, built-in Shake Reduction system to help avoid blurry photos, Dust Removal system to prevent dust from appearing, 4.7fps continuous shooting, and a full range of automatic and manual shooting modes. Auto sensitivity control up to ISO 12800, dynamic-range expansion, in-camera High Dynamic Range and built-in digital filters complete the headline specifications of the AA-battery powered Pentax K-x. The Pentax K-x will be available in black, white, red and blue in October for £599.99 / $599.95 with the 18-55mm DAL kit lens (also available in all four colours), and £749.99 / $849.95 with the 18-55mm DAL and 55-300mm DAL double kit lens. An additional kit with the smc PENTAX DA L 18-55mm lens and smc PENTAX DA L 50-200mm zoom lenses is available in the US for $749.95.

Ease of Use

The Pentax K-x is outwardly very similar to its cheaper brother, the K-m, with just a few minor changes. When you pick the K-x up for the first time and attach the supplied 18-55mm kit lens, this little DSLR actually feels quite impressive, despite its budget price-tag and all-plastic construction. Very little about the K-x build quality feels compromised - it even has a sturdy memory card door (typically a weak-point of entry-level DSLRs) and metal tripod mount in-line with the lens. Images are saved to SD / SDHC cards, the most common media format currently available, with a slot accessed via the right hand side of the DSLR, if viewed from the back. The four AA batteries which power the camera are stored in a separate compartment at the base of the handgrip. The K-x is just a little smaller than the Nikon D3000 and the Olympus E-450, definitely fitting into the small and light DSLR category.

As you'd perhaps expect at this price-point, and unlike the more expensive K-7, the Pentax K-x doesn't offer any form of weather-proofing. The camera has a deep, contoured handgrip on the right-hand side, coated in a rubberized compound to aid grip, that enabled me to use three fingers to hold it and my right forefinger to operate the shutter button. There is a generous contoured area where your right thumb sits, with the rest of the body finished in a textured matt black plastic. The K-x also retains the rather strange, thin silver rim around part of the body that in my opinion makes it look cheap rather than stylish (which is presumably what the designers intended).

Just like Pentax's other DSLRs, the shutter release action on the Pentax K-x is quite loud and mechanical, something that you will either love or hate. I liked it, although it isn't great for close-up candid photography as your subject will probably hear you if you get too close. The Pentax K-x is certainly lightweight enough for you to carry around over your shoulder all day, even with the four AA batteries that power it inserted. Using a set of high-powered rechargeable Ni-MH batteries, the Pentax K-x was still going strong after over 2 weeks of intermittent use and 500 test shots - Pentax themselves claim a battery-life of between 1,100 and 1,900 shots, incredible for any DSLR, never mind such an affordable one. This makes the K-x a great choice for long trips away in far-flung climes, as back-up supplies can be easily found and replaced almost anywhere in the world.

The K-x inherits the 11-point AF system of the Pentax K-7, which is a big improvement on the K-m's slower and less accurate 5-point system. Focusing is quick and consistent in good light with the standard 18-55mm kit lens, even with fast-moving subjects that travelled across the frame, which is a marked improvement on previous Pentax DSLRs. The 11-point AF system offers fairly generous scene coverage and the camera also happily achieves focus indoors and in low-light situations. Unlike the K-7, the powerful AF Assist lamp can only be used if the built-in flash is raised. The K-x is also quick to get going. Flick the on/off switch that handily encircles the main shutter button and you're up and shooting in around a second, and with no noticeable shutter delay. The K-x features a newly designed shutter unit which provides a fast top shutter speed of 1/6000th second and a very competitive 100,000 shutter release life-span, a figure more commonly associated with professional SLR cameras.

Pentax K-x Pentax K-x
Front Rear

The K-x features the same high-speed PRIME (PENTAX Real Image Engine) II imaging engine as the K-7. It takes less than a second to store a single JPEG image at the highest quality setting with no discernible lockup between taking shots, allowing you to keep shooting as they are being recorded onto the memory card. For single RAW images the Pentax K-x is just as fast, again with no lockup between shots. In the fastest continuous shooting mode you can hold down the shutter button and take a very speedy 4.7 frames per second for up to 17 JPEGS or 5 RAW files, or there's a slower 2fps mode available which allows you to shoot JPEGs until the memory card becomes full or 11 RAW files. This makes the K-x the quickest DSLR camera in its class in terms of continuous shooting speed.

The tried and trusted dust removal system works in three stages: first, an anti-static coating on the CCD helps repel dust and other nasties, while secondly, any that do settle are shaken free by a high speed, vibrating CCD-shift mechanism. Lastly, a sticky pad at the base of the CCD collects any stray particles to prevent them from attacking the sensor a second time round. If you've had a bad experience with DSLRs and dust in the past, then the K-x offers a neat feature called Dust Alert which is designed to show exactly where the dust is on the image sensor. A vertically and laterally correct image of the sensor shot at f/16 is shown on the LCD screen, indicating exactly where any stubborn dust particles may be lurking. While this feature won't prevent dust from getting onto the sensor, it does provide a quick and easy way of checking for it. In addition Dust Removal can be set to activate whenever the camera is turned on, and you can also use the built-in Sensor Cleaning function to lift the mirror and clean the image sensor with a blower brush or third-party cleaning solution.

Dust removal is twinned with a shake reduction feature, meaning that any attached Pentax KAF-mount lens immediately becomes stabilized. This works with almost any lens that you attach to the K-7, providing a significant cost advantage over DSLRs from Canon and Nikon, which use a lens-based image stabilisation system (compatible lenses are the PENTAX K-, KA-, KAF-, KAF2- and KAF3-mount lenses; screw-mounted lenses (with an adapter); and 645- and 67-system lenses (with an adapter)). Turn it on in the main menu and the K-x automatically compensates for camera shake, which is a slight blurring of the image that typically occurs at slow shutter speeds. In practice I found that it does make a noticeable difference, as shown in the examples on the Image Quality page. You don't notice that the camera is actually doing anything different when Shake Reduction is turned on, just that you can use slower shutter speeds than normal and still take sharp photos.

When you turn the K-7 on or change the shooting mode, a graphical overview of how that mode operates is briefly displayed on the rear LCD screen. The 2.7 inch LCD screen is identical to the K-m's - it's bright, clear and has a perfectly acceptable refresh rate, although the pixel count of 230K dots is no more than merely adequate by today's standards. The rear screen also doubles as a comprehensive status display, which can be called up by pressing the OK button in record mode. If you then press the INFO button, you can also change all the settings right on the screen using a combination of the navigation pad and the rear e-dial. This ingenious solution spares you the pain of having to enter the menu, and makes most setting changes very simple. The colour temperature of the screen can be modified if you think it doesn't match that of your calibrated computer monitor, but the contrast and gamma cannot be altered.

The large shooting mode dial on top of the Pentax K-x offers dedicated modes for moving subjects, close ups and night portraits, flash off, macro, landscape and portraits – alongside the more creative likes of program, aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual. These are backed up by full auto (the Auto Pict mode) and 10 different scene mode settings. The latter includes a night scene setting, a surf and snow setting, a text mode, food, sunset, kids, pet, candlelight and 'flash prohibited' museum modes. All are indicated via the rear screen by unthreatening cartoon icons.

Pentax K-x Pentax K-x


The Auto Pict mode automatically detects scenes that require the Night Scene Portrait, Portrait, Landscape and Macro modes. The camera automatically sets the aperture, shutter speed, white balance, saturation, contrast and sharpness, leaving you to get on with composing the scene and taking the picture. Pentax have also included the Sv mode from the K-m on the K-x. Sensitivity-Priority automatically selects the best combination of aperture and shutter speed for your chosen ISO speed. The sensitivity can be shifted instantly (in 1/2 or 1/3 steps) by turning the rear control dial. This allows you to quickly select an ISO speed without having to access the menu system, which is very useful in rapidly changing light conditions.

Positioned next to the shutter release button is a dedicated button for aperture and exposure compensation adjustment (+/- 2EV), performed in tandem with the command dial that falls under your thumb at the back of the camera. To the right is the Green mode button, which has two uses - firstly, when shooting in Manual mode, a single push of the green button allows you to instantly set the correct exposure for the subject, as calculated by the camera, useful if you need a starting point for your own exposure. Secondly, the K-7 offers a Hyper Program function which instantly switches to either the Shutter-Priority or Aperture-Priority mode from the Program mode, simply by turning either of the control dials on the grip. Pressing the Green button then returns to the Program mode.

To the left of the shooting mode dial is a hump that houses the built-in pop up flash, and as expected you also get a hot shoe for additional illumination via an external flashgun, should it be desired. Just behind this, and above the optical viewfinder – which in itself is large and clear – is a large slider for diopter adjustment. The Pentax K-x's optical viewfinder is pleasant enough to use, offering approximately 96% field of view and 0.85x magnification. The 2.7 inch LCD screen offers good visibility even in bright sunlight and the on-screen menus and icons are legible and easy to navigate.

To the right of the screen are an array of four vertical buttons, including the familiar playback, info, and menu buttons. The Delete button has been relocated (now shared with the button for manually activating the pop up flash, not a particularly logical move) to accommodate the K-x's Live View mode. This is one of the main differences between this camera and the cheaper K-m model, which doesn't have any form of Live View at all. You can use it to hold the K-x at arm's length or mount the camera on a tripod, with a single press of the new LV button on the rear displaying the current scene on the LCD screen. Focusing is achieved by pressing the small AF button on the rear of the camera or by half-pressing the shutter-button.

Live View is fine for use with stationary subjects, but forget it if you want to track a moving subject. The AF system in Live View mode takes several seconds to lock onto the subject, making it much better suited to subjects that don't move. The Face Recognition AF mode works quite well, as promised quickly identifying up to 16 people in the frame, but again it takes a couple of seconds to lock onto a non-moving subject. More impressively Live View can be used in the continuous shooting mode with no restrictions on the 4.7fps rate, as the K-x sets the mirror to the lock-up position.

Pentax K-x Pentax K-x
Pop-up Flash Top

If you grow tired of waiting for the K-x to focus in Live View mode, you can alternatively use manual focus, with up to 10x magnification available via the Info button to help you fine-tune the focus (you can also use the Info button to magnify the subject by up to 6x when Auto Focus is on). Most of the main camera settings are displayed in Live View, including a helpful electronic level that helps to keep your horizons straight, and a small but helpful histogram. You can also change the aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, ISO speed and a number of other settings when Live View is activated.

Live View is also used for the feature that will generate a lot of interest in the Pentax K-x: its movie mode. This is the second Pentax DSLR camera to shoot HD quality video, recording high-definition video at 1280 x 720 pixel resolution at 24fps in the Motion JPEG (AVI) format. Video can also be recorded at 640 x 416 pixels at 30fps. The maximum size of a single video clip is either 4 gigabytes or 25 minutes. There's a built-in microphone for mono recording, but sadly no socket for connecting an external stereo microphone or HDMI port for playback on a HD TV, as on the K-7. You can still connect the K-x to a standard TV set via NTSC/PAL though.

There are some notable drawbacks to the Pentax K-7's video mode. It's quite difficult to actually start recording one. You have to set the Mode Dial to the Movie mode, then press the AF-On or half-press shutter button to set the focus, then press the shutter button to begin recording (with the same button ending the movie). It's not on a par with the one-button system that some rivals offer, and you can't take a still shot during recording either. As with most other DSLR cameras that offer a video mode, you can't autofocus during movie recording. Focusing manually is the only option, although most AF lenses have MF rings with very little 'travel' between their close-focus point and infinity, and in a quiet environment it's also possible to hear the sound of the focusing ring in the video.

In addition you can't set the aperture from the camera during recording, only before, so you will want to use lenses that have an aperture ring if possible. The K-7 can be set to Auto Aperture Control, which removes the flexibility of being able to set the aperture yourself but at least enables the camera to change it during recording to suit the subject matter. The shutter speed cannot be set by the user in movie mode either, so you will have to rely on the camera's auto-exposure system while filming. Handholding the K-7D and shooting video is very difficult, with the DSLR form factor not lending itself well to controlled shooting at arm's length. It's a much better idea to mount the camera on a dedicated video tripod. Casual users hoping to grab some quality footage of the kids may be put off by the inherent difficulties of shooting video using the relatively alien SLR format.

The Menu button accesses the logical main menu system. You're given the choice of four horizontal folders. Image record/capture mode and playback settings are displayed next to each other so you can make decisions and adjustments on the fly. The third folder contains the familiar set up options, with the fourth affording access to a wealth of custom settings. A nice touch is that each folder is split into a varying number of pages, with a maximum of 7 options per page so that you never have to scroll down past the bottom of the screen. To the right of the Menu button is a four-way control pad with central OK button – a similar set up to that found on most digital compacts that will be familiar to those trading up.

Pentax K-x Pentax K-x
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

The Pentax K-x's HDR Capture option (only available for JPEGs) takes three images with different exposures, and then records a single image that combines the properly exposed parts of each one, expanding its dynamic range. It's important to always use a tripod to prevent camera shake from blurring the HDR image, and it doesn't work very well for moving subjects. Similar to Nikon's D-lighting, Sony's DRO, and Olympus' Shadow Adjustment Technology, Pentax's D-Range allows you to correct the highlights (On or Off) and/or the shadows (3 different levels) before taking a JPEG or RAW image. Although this option is always at your disposal, remember that it is meant to be used in strong, contrasty lighting at base ISO. The Pentax K-x also has a multi exposure mode that allows you to combine between two and nine different JPEG or RAW images into a single photo and a new Cross Processing mode that replicates the traditional effect of cross-processing film (remember that?!).

Pentax's Custom Images, similar to Nikon's Picture Styles and Canon's Picture Controls, are preset combinations of different sharpness, contrast, saturation and colour tone settings. You can change the saturation, hue, high/low key, contrast and sharpness for each of the seven options?. The Pentax K-x additionally offers seven different Digital Filters, which allow you to quickly apply an artistic effect to a photo before taking it (JPEG images only). Note that applying the Digital Filters slows the camera down somewhat, as it has to process the image for a few seconds after it's taken. The K-x can also be set to automatically compensate for both distortion and lateral chromatic aberration of any DA- and DFA-series lenses.

Once you have captured a photo, the Pentax K-x has an above average range of options for playing, reviewing and managing your images. You can instantly scroll through the images that you have taken, view 9 thumbnails, zoom in and out up to a magnification of 16x, compare two images side-by-side, and see detailed information about each image by pressing the Info button. You can also delete single or multiple images, view a slideshow, rotate, resize and crop an image, protect images so that they cannot be deleted, and set various printing options, including creating an Index sheet of multiple thumbnails.

There are also an expanded range of digital effects available which can be applied to JPEGs - Toy Camera, Monochrome, Retro, Color, High Contrast, Soft, Extract Colour, Star Burst, Fish-eye, Pastel, Slim, Minature, HDR and a Custom mode. The K-x shows you a preview of what the effect will look like when applied, and the effect is applied to a copy of your image, thus preserving the original intact. You can even convert a RAW file into a JPEG in-camera, with 9 different parameters available - impressive functionality for an entry-level DSLR.

Importantly the Pentax K-x can display a histogram after taking a photo (just press the Info button) which is a great help in evaluating the exposure, plus any areas that are over-exposed flash on and off in the LCD preview to show you want you should be compensating for with your next attempt (you can turn this on or off). If you have never used a digital camera before, or you're upgrading from a more basic model, reading the comprehensive and easy-to-follow manual before you start is a good idea. Thankfully Pentax have chosen to supply it in printed format, rather than as a PDF on a CD, so you can also carry it with you.

In summary the Pentax K-x is an outwardly simple but inwardly very capable digital SLR camera with lots of class-leading features.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12.4 megapixel Best JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.

Rhe Pentax K-x produced photos of excellent quality. Noise is well controlled by the Pentax K-x, starting to appear at ISO 1600 and becoming more easily detectable at the faster settings of ISO 3200 and 6400 when viewing images at 100% magnification on screen (particularly in the RAW files). The fastest setting of 12800 looks better on paper than in reality. Colour saturation is commendably maintained throughout the ISO range.

The 12.4 megapixel JPEG images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpening setting and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting.

Image stabilisation via the camera body is a great feature that works very well when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range. An added bonus is that it works with any lens that you attach to the K-x.

The night photograph was excellent, with the maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds and Bulb mode allowing you to capture enough light in all situations. The built-in pop-up flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and adequate overall exposure.

The Digital Filters quickly produce special effects that would otherwise require you to spend a lot of time in the digital darkroom, although some of them are less useful than others. The D-Range options help make the most out of both the shadows and highlights in a high-contrast scene (and it works for both JPEG and RAW files), while the HDR mode greatly expands the dynamic range of a JPEG by combining three differently exposed images in-camera. The multi exposure mode combines between two and nine different JPEG or RAW images into a single photo.


There are 8 ISO settings available on the Pentax K-x. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting, with JPEG on the left and the RAW equivalent on the right:



ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)


ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)


ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)


ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)


ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)


ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)


ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

File Quality

The Pentax K-x has 3 different JPEG file quality settings available, with Best being the highest quality option, and it also supports RAW (Pentax's PEF format and Adobe DNG). Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

Best (4.69Mb) (100% Crop)

Better (2.84Mb) (100% Crop)


Good (1.33Mb) (100% Crop)

RAW (11.2Mb) (100% Crop)


Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)



The flash modes include Flash On, Flash On + Red-eye Reduction, Slow-speed Sync, Slow-speed Sync + Red-eye Reduction, Trailing Curtain Sync, and Wireless Mode. These shots of a white ceiling were taken at a distance of 1.5 metres.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (27mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (27mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (82mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (82mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On setting or the Red-eye Reduction option caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)


The Pentax K-x lets you dial in shutter speeds of up to 30 seconds and has a Bulb mode as well, which is very good news if you are seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 30 seconds, aperture of f/8 at ISO 100. We've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Shake Reduction

The Pentax K-x has a Shake Reduction mechanism built into the camera body, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with Shake Reduction turned off, the second with it turned on. Here is a 100% crop of the image to show the results. As you can see, with Shake Reduction turned on, the images are sharper than when it's turned off. This feature really does seem to make a difference and could mean capturing a successful, sharp shot or missing the opportunity altogether.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Shake Reduction Off (100% Crop)

Shake Reduction On (100% Crop)

1/6th / 27mm
1/2 / 82mm


Similar to Nikon's D-lighting, Sony's DRO, and Olympus' Shadow Adjustment Technology, Pentax's D-Range allows you to correct the highlights (On or Off) and/or the shadows (3 different levels) before taking a JPEG or RAW image. Although this option is always at your disposal, remember that it is meant to be used in strong, contrasty lighting at base ISO. Below you can see a comparison between Off and both highlight and shadow correction set to on/full strength; the difference is mainly noticeable in the shadowed areas on the left and right sides of the photo.



HDR Capture

The Pentax K-x's HDR Capture option (only available for JPEGs) takes three images with different exposures, and then records a single image that combines the properly exposed parts of each one, expanding its dynamic range. Here is an example which was shot with the three different modes (Off, Standard and Strong). It's important to always use a tripod to prevent camera shake from blurring the HDR image, and it doesn't work very well for moving subjects.




Custom Image

Pentax's Custom Images, similar to Nikon's Picture Styles and Canon's Picture Controls, are preset combinations of different sharpness, contrast, saturation and colour tone settings. You can change the saturation, hue, high/low key, contrast and sharpness for each of the seven options?. They are shown below in the following series, which demonstrates the differences.












Digital Filters

The Pentax K-x offers seven different Digital Filters, which allow you to quickly apply an artistic effect to a photo before taking it (JPEG images only). They are shown below in the following series, which demonstrates the differences. Note that applying the Digital Filters slows the camera down somewhat, as it has to process the image for a few seconds after it's taken.

Toy Camera



High Contrast

Extract Colour



Star Burst




Cross Processing

The Pentax K-x has a cross processing mode that replicates the effects of cross-processing film. Here is an example:

Cross Processing Off

Cross Processing On

Multi Exposure

The Pentax K-x has a multi exposure mode that allows you to combine between two and nine different JPEG or RAW images into a single photo. Here is an example:

Example 1

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Pentax K-x camera, which were all taken using the 12.4 megapixel Best JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample RAW Images

The Pentax K-x enables users to capture RAW and JPEG format files in either the PEF or DNG formats. We've provided some Pentax RAW (PEF) samples for you to download (thumbnail images shown below are not 100% representative).

Sample Movie & Video

The Pentax K-x can record HD video in the Motion JPEG (AVI) format. This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1280 x 720 pixels at 24 frames per second. Please note that this 25 second movie is 114Mb in size.

Product Images

Pentax K-x

Front of the Camera

Pentax K-x

Front of the Camera

Pentax K-x

Front of the Camera / Pop-Up Flash

Pentax K-x

Isometric View

Pentax K-x

Isometric View

Pentax K-x

Rear of the Camera

Pentax K-x

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Pentax K-x

Rear of the Camera / Live View

Pentax K-x

Rear of the Camera / Info Screen


Pentax K-x

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu

Pentax K-x

Rear of the Camera / Info Screen

Pentax K-x

Top of the Camera

Pentax K-x

Bottom of the Camera

Pentax K-x

Side of the Camera

Pentax K-x

Side of the Camera

Pentax K-x

Front of the Camera

Pentax K-x

Front of the Camera

Pentax K-x

Memory Card Slot

Pentax K-x

Battery Compartment


The new Pentax K-x occupies the sweet spot between the entry-level K-m and prosumer K-7 cameras, combining the ease-of-use of the former with many of the advanced features of the latter. The 4.7 fps continuous shooting speed, speedy and accurate 11-point AF system, HD movies and an extensive ISO range of 100-12800 mean that Pentax should be onto a real winner with the new K-x.

The K-x offers a veritable wealth of options that will appeal to beginners and more experienced photographers alike. The combination of Live View, small and lightweight design and hand-holding auto modes make the K-x an easy upgrade option for compact camera owners, while the extensive range of manual modes, wide ISO range, fastest shutter speed of 1/6000th, 100,000 shutter life-span and not one but two RAW formats more than cater for the experts. And whether you're shooting in JPEG or RAW mode, there are a wide range of options for getting the best out of your images, with the K-x offering the most in-camera editing options of almost any DSLR on the market.

The inclusion of HD video is sure to generate a lot of interest in this mid-range DSLR, but unfortunately, as with most of the other DSLR cameras on the market that offer video recording, it's not the most user-friendly experience. There's no handy one-touch recording, a reliance on manual focusing, inability to change the aperture or shutter speed during recording, large file sizes that quickly fill your memory cards, and the inherent handling quirks of the DSLR format.

On a more positive note, the K-x's image quality is excellent. The K-x creates noise-free JPEG images from ISO 100-800, only starting to become apparent at ISO 1600, with progressively more noise and colour desaturation at the highest settings of 3200, 6400 and the attention grabbing 12,800 setting. Although the top speeds don't produce very usable results, the K-x certainly holds its own against the main competition from 100-3200.

Exposures were generally around 1/3rd EV stop under-exposed and colours were accurate using the Bright setting, although the default sharpening setting results in images that are a little soft. Shooting in either of the two RAW modes ultimately produced better-looking images than the JPEG mode, especially as you can use the widely-supported DNG format, although you've obviously got all the post-processing overheads that go with RAW.

The HDR mode makes it easy to create images with greatly expanded dynamic range, although you don't have too much control over the final effect and you really need to use a tripod to keep the subject sharp due to the method of combining multiple exposures. The D-Range options help make the most out of both the shadows and highlights in a high-contrast scene, while the extensive range of digital filers, custom images and the multi-exposure mode are nice creative additions.

The Pentax K-x is a small, light and easy-to-use DSLR camera that punches well above its mid-range weight. The only major negative that we can think of is its diminutive size, which for many people will actually be a positive. We're certainly convinced - the Pentax K-x is our new favourite "affordable" DSLR and fully deserving of our rarely-awarded Essential / 5 Star rating.

5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 5
Ease-of-use 5
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Pentax K-x from around the web. »

It's been 9 months since the Pentax K-m was tested here at ePHOTOzine towers and I was really impressed with it. It was easy, fun and well built for a camera of that classification. So how does the new Pentax K-x measure up in terms of upgraded features?
Read the full review » »

Pentax has been a strong name in the burgeoning budget DSLR market for a long time. The Pentax K-m, for instance, is a surprisingly good 10.2MP camera that can be had for as little as £330. The £599 Pentax K-x continues in a similar vein. Indeed, hold both cameras at the same time and it's only the branding that allows you to tell them apart.
Read the full review » »

I approach each new camera with a degree of skepticism. Unlike many out there, I’m not as easily swayed by all the media hype and promotional gobbledygook. I’m from Brooklyn and we need to see that something actually works. So when the Pentax K-x arrived, I looked at it, pleased that they sent me the “white” version, only because it reminded me of the Imperial Storm Troopers from Star Wars (would have been a great fit). I unpacked everything, mated the lens to the K-x body, installed the lithium batteries that came in the box, then added my own SDHC card—none included (also takes standard SD—but why hamper the machine out of the gate!). And I started to play with it.
Read the full review »


Camera Type TTL autofocus, auto-exposure digital SLR digital-still camera with built-in retractable P-TTL auto pop-up flash
Type 23.6mm x 15.8mm CMOS with a primary colour filter
Total Pixels approx. 12.9 megapixels
Effective Pixels approx. 12.4 megapixels
Still RAW: [12M] 4288x2428 pixels. JPEG: [12M] 4288x2428 pixels, [10M] 3936x2624 pixels, [6M] 3072x2048 pixels, [2M] 1728x1152 pixels.
Movie [0.9M] 1280x720(16:9),  [0.3M] 640x416(3:2) 
Colour Depth 12 bit x 3 colours
Sensitivity Auto, Manual: 200-6400 (1EV steps or 1/2EV steps or 1/3EV steps).  Bulb mode: up to ISO1600, Could be expanded to ISO 100-12800
Sensor Cleaning Image sensor moving mechanism and SP Coating Dust alert function
Mount PENTAX KAF2 bayonet mount
Usable lenses PENTAX KAF3-, KAF2-, KAF-, and KA-mount lenses.  * Power zoom function is not available. K-mount lenses usable with restrictions.  S-mount lenses, 67/645 lenses usable with adapter and with restrictions.
Focusing System
Type TTL phase difference detection
Functions AF.A(auto), AF.S(single, with focus lock), AF-C(continuous)*, Manual focus.  * Auto Picture and Picture mode: only when the Action mode is selected.
* Scene mode: only when the Kids, Pet, Stage lighting and Night snap mode are selected. 
* P/Sv/Tv/Av/M/B: AF.A, AF.S or AF.C selectable11-point wide autofocus system (SAFOX VIII)
AF assist avaiable (by Built-in Flash)
Type Fixed molded penta-mirror type
Field of View approx. 96%
Magnification approx. 0.85X (with 50mm F1.4 lens, infinity, -1m-1)
Focusing screen Natural-Bright-Matte II focusing screen
Diopter adjustment approx. -2.5 - +1.5m-1
Type 2.7" TFT colour LCD monitor
Brightness adjustable
Wide angle view
approx. 230,000 dots
Playback Single frame, 4-image display, 9-image display, 16-image display, 36-image display, Zoom display (up to 16 times, scrolling possible), Image comparison, Rotating, Folder, Calendar, Slideshow, Histogram, Bright/Dark area, Resize, Trimming, Index
Type Electronically controlled vertical-run focal plane shutter
Speed Auto: 1/6000 - 30 sec. and bulb,  Manual: 1/6000 - 30 sec., and bulb
X-Synchronization Hot shoe, sync-speed: 1/180 sec., P-TTL, high-speed-sync, wireless-sync with PENTAX dedicated flash
Exposure system
Metering TTL open-aperture 16-segment metering (coupled with lens and AF information)Multi-segment metering
Centre-weighted metering
Spot metering
Exposure Modes Auto Picture mode
Picture mode
Scene mode
Program AE
Sensitivity-Priority AE
Shutter-Priority AE
Aperture-Priority AE
Metered Manual
Bulb Picture modes: Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Action, Night scene portrait, Standard Flash-Off Scene Modes: Night Scene, Surf & Snow, Food, Sunset, Kids, Pet, Candlelight, Museum.
Metering Range EV1-21.5 (Standard Output Sensitivity 200 with 50mm F1.4 lens)
Auto Exposure Lock This function can be allocated to AF button in Menu.
Compensation ±3EV (0.5EV steps or 0.3EV steps)
Auto Bracketing 3 frames within range of ±0.5EV,  ±1.0EV, ±1.5EV (0.5EV steps) or ±0.3EV, ±0.7EV, ±1.0EV (0.3EV steps)
Type Built-in retractable P-TTL pop-up flash
Guide Number approx. 16 (Standard Output Sensitivity 200/m) 12 (Standard Output Sensitivity 100/m)
Angle of View Coverage 28mm wide-angle (equivalent to 35mm)
Exposure Compensation -2 EV - +1EV (1/2EV steps)
Exposure Parameters
Modes Single-frame , Continuous (Hi, Lo), Self-timer (12s, 2s), Remote control (0s, 3s), Auto bracket
White Balance Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten Light, Fluorescent Light (W, D, N, L (Light Bulb) ), Flash, CTE, Manual setting, with WB fine adjustment
Digital Filter Rec. mode: Toy camera, High contrast, Soft, Star burst, Retro, Extract color, Fish eye, Custom Playback: Toy camera, High contrast, Soft, Star burst, Retro, Extract color, Illustration(Pastel, Water color), Fish Eye, HDR, B&W, Sepia, Color, Slim, Miniature, Brightness, Base Tweaking, Custom
Recording [0.9M] 1280x720, 16:9,  [0.3M] 640x416, 3:2
External SD memory card , SDHC memory card compattible
File Format RAW (Original/DNG), JPEG (Conforms to Exif 2.21), Conforms to DCF (Design rule of Camera File system) 2.0Motion JPEG (AVI) 24FPSYes. Built in microphoneStill:*(Good), **(Better), ***(Best), ****(Excellent)
Special Features
Features 75 cities (28 time zones)
Interface USB/Video; USB 2.0 (HI-SPEED)Compatible with NTSC and PAL formats
Source Four AA (lithium, alkaline, and rechargeable Ni-MH) batteries Optional AC adapter also available.
Performance Number of recordable images (Lithium): approx. 1900 (Normal Recording)*2 , 1100 (50% use Flash)*1
Playback time: approx. 680 minutes*2 Number of recordable images (Ni-MH 1900mAh): approx. 640 (Normal Recording)*2 , 420 (50% use Flash)*1
Playback time: approx. 390 minutes*2 Number of recordable images (Alkaline): approx. 210 (Normal Recording)*2 , 130 (50% use Flash)*1
Playback time: approx. 350 minutes*2 *1 Recording capacity shows approximate number of shots recorded during CIPA-compliant testing. Actual performance may vary depending on operating conditions.
*2 According to the result of PENTAX in-house testing.
Height 91.5mm
Width 122.5mm
Depth 67.5mm
Weight approx. 515g without battery and SD memory card approx. 580g loaded and ready with lithium battery and SD memory card approx. 615g loaded and ready with alkaline battery and SD memory card

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