While the control panel is easy to use, the menus seem a bit more tedious to plow through than usual. The four basic options--shooting, playback, setup, and custom--expand to about 12 different screens as you cycle through, and the somewhat flat navigation buttons feel as if they require more pressure and concentration to manipulate than normal. The options and structure are pretty typical, however. Interestingly, unlike with most cameras vibrating the sensor to shake off dust at startup is optional and turned off by default. Given that it makes a scary noise that sounds a bit like a horse snorting, perhaps that's not such a bad thing. (For a complete recounting of the camera's features and operation, you can download a PDF of the manual.)
|Key comparative specs||Sony Alpha DSLR-A230||Olympus E-450||Pentax K2000|
|Sensor||10-megapixel CCD||10-megapixel Live MOS||10-megapixel CCD|
|APS-C 23.5mm x 15.7mm||Four Thirds 17.3mm x 13mm||APS-C 23.5mm x 15.7mm|
|Sensitivity range||ISO 100 - ISO 3,200||ISO 100 - ISO 1,600||ISO 100 - ISO 3,200|
Viewfinder (coverage, magnification)
|95 percent||95 percent||96 percent|
|0.83x/0.55x effective||0.92x/0.46x effective||0.85x/0.57x effective|
|LCD||2.7-inch fixed||2.7-inch fixed||2.7-inch fixed|
|Autofocus||9 points||3 points||5 points|
|Body dimensions (WHD, inches)||5.0x3.8x2.7||5.1x3.6x2.1||4.8x3.6x2.7|
|Operating weight||17.7 oz. (estimated)||15.2 oz. (estimated)||20.7 oz.|
|Mfr. Price||$549.99 (with 18-55mm lens)||n/a||$499.95 (with 18-55mm lens)|
|$749.99 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses)||$699.99 (with 14-42mm and 40-150mm lenses)||$599.95 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses)|
The LCD is fine--no better or worse than anyone else's--but the viewfinder is very nice for this class. Though the guidelines don't light up, the viewfinder is relatively big and bright and the focus lock indicator is close to the middle of the bottom LED readout rather than on the edge of your peripheral vision. However, it doesn't display individual focus points or areas because the K2000 limits you to one of two options: wide-area AF or single center point focus.
One of the fastest entry-level dSLRs we've tested, the K2000 can keep up the pace because of a surprisingly zippy autofocus system--despite only having five AF points. It takes a bit longer to power on and shoot than the competition, though it's still only 0.7 second. Focusing and shooting in good light clocks a mere 0.2 second, and in dim light that increases to just 0.5 second. It typically takes 0.5 second for two consecutive shots, though enabling the on-camera flash slows it down to 1.1 seconds, which is on the high side for a dSLR. Its continuous shooting is the only real disappointment; though it can burst for 3.3fps, it can only do so for about five shots before it slows significantly. A longer sustained burst is more like 1.1fps.
Out of the box, I'd have to rate the K2000 photos as mediocre. Pentax uses a default setting of Bright Custom Image for its JPEGs, which boosts the contrast and sharpness and renders some of the worst colors I've seen, plus it exacerbates noise at even medium ISO sensitivities and clips highlight and shadow detail. (Every manufacturer uses some boosted settings to provide more vivid, consumer-friendly photos for its entry-level dSLRs. These go too far.)
However, if you switch to Natural or shoot raw (it supports both Adobe DNG and Pentax PEF), the photos look much better--quite good, for that matter. While you should probably stick with ISO 400 and below for general shooting, I found photos generally usable as high as ISO 1,600, depending upon output size and content. The metering system does a good job, even in challenging high-contrast lighting, and the camera displays a reasonable dynamic range for its class. Though the kit lens can focus pretty closely, which I really like, I couldn't get very sharp images out of the body.
If you're a longtime Pentax shooter with a shelf full of lenses, a cheap K2000 body is a good way to finally move to digital; they should all be compatible, albeit with limitations depending upon the lens. (Check the manual for specifics about compatible functions.) With its aggressive price, as long as you're flexible and intrepid enough to play with the settings before shooting, the Pentax K2000 is a pretty good option.
(Smaller bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Raw shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim light)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)