Pentax debuts entry-level dSLR, lenses

The K2000 slips into the product line below the K200D

Pentax has introduced a new entry-level model that perplexes me a bit. The K2000, which will be known as the K-m everywhere but here, is priced the same as its slightly older sibling, the K200D--that competitive $700 mark occupied by the Canon EOS Rebel XS and the Nikon D60, among others--but makes a few tradeoffs. Here are some basics:

 Pentax K2000Pentax K200DCanon Rebel XSNikon D60
Sensor10.2-megapixel CCD10.2-megapixel CCD10.1-megapixel CMOS10.2-megapixel CCD
AF system5 points11 points7 points3 points
Maximum ISO sensitivity3200160016001600
LCD230,000 dots, 2.7 inches230,000 dots, 2.7 inches230,000 dots, 2.5 inches230,000 dots, 2.5 inches
Viewfinder96% coverage, 0.85x magnification96% coverage, 0.85x magnification95% coverage, 0.81x magnification95% coverage, 0.80x magnification
Image stabilizationSensor shiftSensor shiftOpticalOptical
Mfr. Price$699.95$699.95$699.99$699.95

In exchange for a lighter, slightly more compact but less weather-protected body and a less sophisticated AF system, Pentax includes an extra stop of sensitivity, a bundled flash unit, and an updated user interface. The f3.5-5.6 18-55mm kit lens is also one of Pentax's new DA L series budget lenses, which the company says uses the same optics as the older models but uses less expensive construction. Is a slightly lighter body and a flash worth it to you?

The lens is the first in a series that will also include a 50-200mm model for inclusion in a two-lens kit in early 2009. The single-lens kit is slated to ship in November.

For the high-end lens crowd, Pentax also announced a DA* $1,499.95 60-250mm f4 ED[IF] SDM (ultrasonic motor), scheduled to ship in November, and a $799.95 55mm f/1.4 SDM model for December shipment. The latest accessory is the AF160FC Ring Flash, shipping in October 2008 for $499.95.

Finally, the company announced a DA 15mm f/4 ED AL Limited lens and 1.4X Rear Converter SDM with as-yet unknown pricing and availability.

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