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?
The sensor in the K-r is a high-sensitivity CMOS unit with an effective 12.4-million-pixel resolution. It is APS-C-sized with a crop factor of 1.5x on the field of view. This gives an output of 4288×2428 pixels at full resolution in JPEG and raw file formats. At a standard 300ppi size, this equates roughly to an 8x14in print without interpolation.
JPEG files can also be output in 10MP, 6MP and 2MP sizes and with three levels of compression. Raw files remain at full resolution, but can be saved as either a native PEF file or the generic Adobe DNG file type. Video can be captured in 720p HD (1080×720 pixels) in AVI motion JPEG format, with mono sound. The lens mount is a Pentax KAF2 bayonet fitting compatible with KAF3, KAF2, KAF and KA lenses.
The Prime II (Pentax Real Image Engine) processor is the same as that featured across the whole Pentax DSLR range, including the medium-format model. With the K-r this allows a standard ISO range of 200-12,800, expandable to ISO 100-25,600.
The full range can also be selected automatically by the camera and be limited at the top end by any amount, down to ISO 200.
As with previous Pentax DSLRs, the sensor is on a moving bracket to allow for sensor-shift shake reduction when using any Pentax lens to an equivalent of up to 4 stops. This also provides dust removal by shaking the sensor on start-up. Additionally, an SP (Super Protection) coating repels dust and a dust alert function detects particles on the sensor.
The 16-segment TTL metering is coupled with lens and AF information, and although this seems a little basic it is the same system used in the flagship K-5 model, rather than the 77-segment metering of the K-7. This also offers centreweighted and spot-metering options and exposure compensation in 1/2 or 1/3 intervals to ±3EV. Exposure bracketing is available for three frames, also to a maximum of ±3EV.
Autofocusing benefits from Pentax’s latest SAFOX IX AF system, which uses the same 11 points as the SAFOX VIII but boasts quicker and more accurate focusing, and now illuminates the active focus point. The contrast-detection AF has also been improved and now features an automatic zoom to the selected focus area when the shutter is half-pressed to check that focus has been achieved. There’s a choice of single, continuous and auto settings for the focusing as well as manual, and an AF illuminator lamp for low-light shooting.
Exposure modes include the standard array of creative settings, with program, aperture and shutter priority, and full manual. There is also Pentax’s ‘Sv’ (sensitivity value) mode for ISO priority, and green auto picture mode.
These are accompanied by six scene modes and a further 11 via a sub-menu. The K-r also has a range of features and effects that can be added to the image before and after taking the shot. The colour modes give nine colour variations, ranging from black & white to reversal film, for a slide film effect. There are cross-processing settings that can be preset or set to random, and HDR capture options when shooting in JPEG. The digital filters can be applied pre- or post-capture, although pre-capture is available for JPEG only and has fewer options.
Post-capture, there are options to resize, crop and convert files from raw to JPEG. There’s even the option to retrieve the raw information of the last image shot in JPEG and resave as a raw file. The K-r’s IrSimple infrared transmission also means you can share images between two cameras, and even play image-based games with another K-r user.
The built-in flash offers a guide number of 12m @ ISO 100 and provides a range of slow sync and redeye reduction options. It also has the ability to fire external flash devices (AF540FGZ or AF360FGZ) through wireless connectivity. In addition to the self-timer and remote firing functionality, the K-r also features an interval timer that can be set to fire up to 999 shots over periods ranging from one second to 24 hours apart. The camera uses SD card storage and is compatible with SDHC high-capacity cards, although not the newer SDXC cards as yet. In burst mode, the K-r can shoot continuously at up to six frames per second. Using an 8GB SanDisk Extreme III SDHC memory card, write times are around 1/2sec for a JPEG, 1sec for a raw file and just under 2secs for raw+JPEG. When shooting continuously at 6fps, the camera shot either ten raw+JPEG, 13 raw or 35 JPEG files before slowing down.