This new mid-level DSLR offers a highly competitive feature list that will please current Pentax owners and new users alike, but does it have enough clout to ruffle the competition?

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Pentax K-r

AWB Colour:
LCD viewfinder:
Dynamic Range:


Pentax K-r review


Price as reviewed:


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Pentax K-r at a glance:

  • 12.4-million-pixel stabilised CMOS sensor
  • Prime II image engine processor
  • Pentax K mount
  • SAFOX IX 11-point AF system
  • 3in, 921,000-dot LCD
  • 16-segment TTL metering
  • 720p HD video capture
  • Street price around £510 with 18-55mm lens

Pentax K-r review – Introduction

Pentax had quite a prolific 2010, bolstering its DSLR range with three new cameras at a time when most manufacturers struggled to update more than two models apiece in their ranges. The new K-5 and K-r have doubled Pentax’s existing DSLR range, while the 645D created a new medium-format DSLR category to cater for the high-end or professional photographer.

This expansion has been a welcome sign for Pentax users as it has reinforced the company’s commitment to the DSLR market and gives users confidence in the future of the brand. It also makes the Pentax K-mount system more appealing to new users, as there is now a wide range of models for them to choose from and upgrade to.

The Pentax K-r sits as a mid-level model in the range, above the entry-level K-x but below the K-7 and flagship K-5. It has a compact body, much like the K-x, and yet it offers a more advanced feature set so it stands apart. With a street price of around £510, the Pentax K-r is competing with many competitors’ entry-level offerings, and this could be its strength.

It brings some strong features from higher in the range, such as the SAFOX IX 11-point autofocus system and a large, high-resolution LCD monitor, as well as an innovative new battery compartment that can house either a dedicated rechargeable unit or four standard AA batteries with an adapter.

It also offers the second highest ISO sensitivity in the Pentax range, with a maximum expanded ISO equivalent of 25,600. This all sounds encouraging, although the Pentax K-r does retain the same 12.4-million-pixel sensor and 16-segment metering of the earlier K-x, which is likely to show as a significant weakness against the competition.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Features
  3. 3. Dual Battery choice
  4. 4. Build and Handling
  5. 5. White balance and Colour
  6. 6. Metering
  7. 7. Autofocus
  8. 8. Noise, Resolution and Sensitivity
  9. 9. Dynamic range
  10. 10. Viewfinder, LCD, Live View and Video
  11. 11. Our Verdict
  12. 12. The Competition
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  • Thornrider

    Admittedly written when the street price was still very high, but I have one of these now and reckon that the review is suffering from AP’s tendency to constrict all ratings in a range from 7/10 to 8/10. Taking an example “Build and Handling” 8/10 – this is in my view grossly conservative and deserves a 9/10. With AP rating everything at 8/10 and 27/30 for virtually every camera tested then the end result is that all cameras are ranked equal.

  • thornrider

    Bought one with the 14-42 power zoom because this was the most compact option for the use I had in mind. I use it when I am out on my bikes (the type with pedals!!) because it gives me a compact body but a fairly big sensor compared with the Sony HX9V I used to carry in the back pocket of my cycling jacket. A Manfrotto Nano 2 pouch fits it perfectly without adding bulk. Photos in raw are excellent although it took a while to get used to Silkypix since Aperture 3 needs snow leopard on my Mac to recognise this camera – and I haven’t got it !! I use Bridge to upload from the camera to a file on the desktop – then save to a second desktop file before I import into Aperture 3 with the rest of my albums. Bought this camera because it seemed to me at £549.95 better value than the currently overpriced Sony RX100 compact. A very good buy for the times I can’t use a DSLR.