Pentax’s first ‘pro-sumer’ DSLR, the K-7, is compact, weatherproof and has a host of novel features, including a self-levelling sensor. In our Pentax K-7 review we find out whether these qualities make it attractive to out-and-about enthusiasts
Viewfinder, LCD, Live View and Video
Main mode dial
This dial is used to select the still shooting mode or set the camera to its video mode. Pressing the shutter release button starts and stops movie recording.
With Pentax DA and DFA-lenses, chromatic aberration and distortion corrections can be applied automatically via this option in the main menu.
All the dials, buttons and controls are sealed against water and dust. This dial has a knurled rubberised finish that is easy to use in damp conditions.
OK and AF
This button confirms setting selections, but it also activates the AF point selection mode when the K-7 is set to the SEL mode. To avoid confusion, a symbol in the viewfinder and on the LCD screen indicates when the AF points can be selected using the four navigation buttons.
The K-7 has a glass pentaprism viewfinder that provides approximately 100% field of view, so all the scene is visible. However, the corners of the K-7 viewfinder are easily obscured by its surround and the eye needs to be kept to the centre of the finder.
This can be tricky when the camera is mounted on a tripod, but fortunately the K-7 has a fully functioning Live View system that displays the scene being composed on the 3in, 920,000-dot (307,000-pixel) LCD screen. This screen provides a good view, and although fixed it has a 170° viewing angle (horizontal and vertical) so the scene can be seen, albeit with foreshortening, when the camera is at a high or low angle. The 10x magnified view is sufficiently detailed to allow precise manual focusing.
During the overcast weather experienced during part of this test, the view through the viewfinder with the smc Pentax-DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL WR kit lens mounted was quite gloomy. I also found the viewfinder data difficult to see in bright light and sometimes I had to cup my hand around the eyepiece to see the level indicator.
Pentax was criticised for the poor execution of its Live View system in the K20D, but the company has managed to make quite a leap with the K-7. As well as putting the K-7’s Live View system on a par with those of other manufacturers, it is the first Pentax DSLR to feature HD video recording. This makes Pentax only the third manufacturer to include HD video technology in a DSLR.
There are three video resolutions available at 640×416, 1536×1024 and 1280×720 pixels, with the latter being equivalent to 16:9 high-definition television proportions and all are recorded at 30fps. Although I found that the camera mic produces reasonably clean sound, an external microphone socket is provided to make it easier to record the subject rather than the photographer’s hands on the camera.
Video footage is smooth and detailed, but the wobbling often seen with CMOS-based video cameras when the K-7 is moved rapidly is visible.