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Pentax K-7 review: Pentax K-7

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The Good Excellent anti-shake system; extended dynamic range; distortion and aberration correction; durable.

The Bad Coarse and noisy autofocus; produces noisier pictures than rivals at high ISOs.

The Bottom Line The Pentax K-7 is a great camera that's packed with the kind of options you wish other makers would pick up on. But the kit lens is rough and the noisy autofocus lets it down

8.3 Overall

The 14.6-megapixel K-7 is Pentax's new top-of-the-range digital SLR, with a price tag to match. Even with Pentax's pretty basic 18-55mm kit lens, it's still going to cost you around £1,050. You can pick up a very decent Nikon or Canon dSLR for this kind of money, so the K-7's going to need some good selling points.

Built to last
Professional cameras need to be built for the job. The K-7 is, with its stainless steel and magnesium alloy body, 77 weather- and dust-proof seals, and a shutter unit built for 100,000 operations. The camera's designed to work at temperatures down to -10°C, and the 5.2 frames per second continuous-shooting speed means it can keep up -- more or less -- with its semi-pro rivals.

This test shot shows super-rich colours and, thanks to the in-built corrections, no distortion or chromatic aberration -- not even from the rather basic 18-55mm kit lens. Noise becomes quite prominent past ISO 800, though (click image to enlarge)

You get a live-view mode with sensor-based contrast autofocus (so the mirror doesn't need to flip up for focusing) that also incorporates face-detection capability, and you can shoot hi-def movies using the in-built mono mic or an optional external stereo mic. Movies and pictures are composed and reviewed on a rather good 76mm (3-inch), 920,000-pixel LCD display.

This is all pretty much what the K-7's competitors offer. But some of this camera's cleverest features are on the inside. For a start, the K-7 incorporates optional correction for distortion and chromatic aberration -- two of the trickiest problems for digital photographers. Thanks to these corrections, the otherwise lacklustre kit lens turns in some very good results.

Also, while Pentax's previous anti-shake system was already the best of its type, it's been upgraded for this model. The K-7 features the company's dust-removal and dust-alert system too, whereby the camera shoots a special image which clearly highlights any specks on the sensor.

The K-7 is solidly built, and the 76mm LCD is a delightful specimen

The K-7 has an enhanced version of the expanded-dynamic-range system used in previous models. Now, you can adjust the camera to hold onto highlight and shadow detail which would otherwise be lost. This and the chromatic aberration and distortion correction are three of the K-7's best features.

Still on the subject of dynamic range, there's a mode in which the camera shoots three different exposures in quick succession and automatically combines them in-camera to produce a high-dynamic-range image. That's clever, although you need a tripod to make sure the images line up properly.

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