Pen­tax KP

Digital Photograper - - Reviews -

This DSLR tar­gets ad­vanced pho­tog­ra­phers look­ing for a por­ta­ble work­horse – but does it tick the right boxes?

Pen­tax is a com­pany with a proven strate­gic ap­proach to cam­era de­sign. While highly suc­cess­ful in the ana­logue days, it was at risk of fall­ing be­hind with the slew of new, fea­ture-laden digital mod­els re­leased over the last decade. How­ever, in­stead of try­ing to di­rectly com­pete with the Big Two be­he­moths, Canon and Nikon, the firm has suc­cess­fully fo­cused on keep­ing a tight grip on its pre-ex­ist­ing fan­base, ex­ploit­ing the ex­ten­sive sys­tem back-com­pat­i­bil­ity the K-mount of­fers.

The com­pany’s digital SLR cam­eras have be­come renowned for their build qual­ity and the Pen­tax KP is no ex­cep­tion. For a cam­era of its size, the KP feels un­ex­pect­edly solid when picked up for the first time. Its tough body and highly tex­tured, rub­berised con­trol di­als give it an air of pro­fes­sion­al­ism and re­li­a­bil­ity. It also main­tains the high-qual­ity weather-seal­ing of pre­vi­ous mod­els and we felt per­fectly com­fort­able test­ing the cam­era un­der wet con­di­tions. Although there is wide­spread use of plas­tics in the cam­era’s con­struc­tion, this doesn’t seem to neg­a­tively im­pact on the over­all tough­ness – all ports and doors are re­as­sur­ingly thick and flush with the body pro­file. The han­dling of the

KP is gen­er­ally good; the grip is pleas­ingly con­toured and the body is safely con­trol­lable when work­ing sin­gle-handed. The di­als are all well placed and fluid in use – the front dial has an un­usual ver­ti­cal ori­en­ta­tion, but this in no way hin­ders the op­er­a­tion of the cam­era. With the 70mm prime and 20-40mm zoom lenses we paired with the KP for our test images, the cam­era felt fairly bal­anced, but when us­ing larger tele­photo or fast wide-an­gle op­tics, we can fore­see the setup be­com­ing sig­nif­i­cantly front-heavy. An­other slight quib­ble with the body de­sign is the re­moval of a top-plate LCD screen – this is not es­sen­tial, but users of the Pen­tax K-3 II may miss read­ing cam­era set­tings from the top of the cam­era. Pen­tax makes up for this to some ex­tent with a large, bright viewfinder, of­fer­ing 100% cov­er­age.

A main sell­ing point of the KP is the sen­sor. The 24.3MP chip shares the ma­jor­ity of fea­tures with the K-3 II – such as res­o­lu­tion and lack of an anti-alias­ing fil­ter – but is of an up­dated de­sign. The omis­sion of the AA fil­ter al­lows the cap­ture of more de­tail, mak­ing the most of the to­tal res­o­lu­tion, while in-cam­era pro­cess­ing as­sumes the role of

min­imis­ing moiré. Images from the KP are crisp, dis­play­ing plenty of fine de­tail – cer­tainly match­ing those from ri­val cam­eras like the Nikon D7500. Colours are punchy but nat­u­ral straight out of the cam­era and thanks to the new Prime IV im­age pro­cess­ing en­gine, noise is kept at bay well into the ISO range. De­tail re­mains good and images more than us­able for print up to ISO 12,800, with noise only be­com­ing in­tru­sive at ISO 25,600 and above. Over­all, an im­pres­sive per­for­mance for a 24MP APS-C model.

The new pro­ces­sor also per­mits a very use­ful 7fps burst rate. Pen­tax makes great use of the sen­sor-shift tech­nol­ogy, utilised by the ef­fec­tive Shake Re­duc­tion fea­ture, but also em­ployed by the KP’s Pixel Shift Res­o­lu­tion mode, which com­bines a se­quence of shots taken with the sen­sor in mul­ti­ple po­si­tions to pro­duce a com­pos­ite with bet­ter colour and sharp­ness. The new SAFOX 11 AF sys­tem is swift and ‘de­ci­sive’, com­ple­ment­ing the burst rate. Un­for­tu­nately, the dis­ap­point­ing bat­tery life of only 390 shots ap­prox­i­mately pre­vents the KP from be­ing a true ac­tion work­horse – an al­most dou­ble shot ca­pac­ity and 8.3fps shoot­ing makes the K-3 II a bet­ter choice.

Be­low top RE­VISED TOP PLATE Pen­tax has re­placed the top LCD with a new dial Be­low bot­tom AD­VANCED SHAKE RE­DUC­TION The sen­sor-based sys­tem can cor­rect roll move­ments, un­like in-lens SR

Right COM­PACT AND TOUGH No larger than some CSCs, the KP is pro­fes­sion­ally ro­bust Be­low ART FIL­TERS The mono­chrome fil­ters are at­trac­tive but HDR mode images are slightly jar­ring

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