Sunday, March 23, 2008

K200D First Impressions

Handled a K200D today and below are my observations:-

1. Body is larger and heavier than that I would like, at least noticeably more weight and bulkier than the K100D. The build quality is felt just a little bit better than the K100D, though, which is similar to the K10D and the K20D. Anyway, the plasticky outshell must not be something that I really like;

2. Viewfinder is the same as that of the K100D, for both the image magnification and the brightness, that is, medium image size and medium brightness for an APS-C DSLR - no particular excitement or disappointment here;

3. The AF point red illuminated marks are yet again misaligned, as usual. No real surprise here;

4. AF speed is the same, nothing considered speedy and it will become rather slow and hunt at just lower light conditions;

5. Mirror slap and shutter actions have been improved, smoother and quieter, very similar to the K20D, better than both K10D and K100D. Shutter lag and finder black out time are quite noticeable, close to the K20D for what I could see;

6. Auto ISO does work even when the Exposure Compensation is applied. The function and setting of the Auto ISO is just the same as that of the K10D and K20D. With the launch of the K200D and K20D and the dis-continuation of other older Pentax DSLR models, it has marked a full-stop for the annoying long lasting Pentax DSLR Auto ISO bug since the *ist D, which has been persistent for five year!(?) But yet, my question is: WHY Pentax do NOT release firmware updates for those other older Pentax DSLR models for all we old users so as to get rid of this annoying old problem completely??

7. The operations and settings of the camera are mostly identical to that of the K10D/K20D. Of course, the K200D has only one e-dial, though - but now there is a green reset button, also;

8. The LCD monitor looks the same as that of the K20D, larger than that of the K10D and the K100D but the pixels are now even more obvious as the resolution of the new monitor is yet the same;

9. It should be noted that set price of the K200D is the most expensive amongst the latest 10+ Mega Pixel DSLR offers from the brands C, N, O and S. Nevertheless, the K200D still costs less than half of the price of a K20D;

All in all, I can see a real dilemma here for the existing Pentax DSLR users who just wish to find a better upgrade path, especially for the old K users. The dilemma is that the K200D and the K20D are almost designed and built identically, feature wise and in many characteristics, even for those which are not published, e.g., the improved mirror damping and quieter shutter action (but along with some noticeably system time lag and finder black-out, which are very similar). The major (only) differences, which are obvious or published on paper, between the two latest DSLRs are just on the pixel count (and the new Samsung CMOS sensor) and the new Live View feature of the K20D which is weakest in the market in terms of features and functionality.

It seems that the K200D has a far better price-performance ratio than the K20D but it does not have the Live View (anyway, I think it is not a real concern as far as the K20D's LV is not further improved by Pentax with their upcoming firmwares which are to be issued, if any). But as far as price is concerned alone, the price of the K200D is not really competitive in any sense for a new purchaser whom has no "system concern". The AF of the K200D is indeed slow and the K20D's one is not really fast neither, despite that quite some users have already reported that the K20D has improved software algorithm for the AF-C mode now (it seems that the hardwares are the same) and has improved AF accuracy (which *should be* at the very *beginning*, frankly).

So, if the K200D is proved to have the same debugs as the K20D later on (e.g., so far I could see no more "soft in-camera jpegs" from the K200D and K20D so far), than I would say it is a no-brainer for anyone who want to buy or must buy a new Pentax DSLR now. If it is not, then I don't think it is valuable to get the K20D just for a few of those found debugs - I do believe many of the old Pentax DSLR users do wish for more for that premium price we would pay for the cost of a K20D!

To sum up, my final conclusion and comments are that the K200D is competitive for new users only if it is made smaller, sold cheaper (at least comparable to the D60, A200/300/350, 400D etc.) and should have some unique features, e.g. a better LiveView or tilting LCD or a better one and so on. On the other hand, if a current Pentax DSLR who really need an upgrade, I think the K200D should be the better choice, especially when the P/P ratio must be taken into account, but don't expect a *real* or significant upgrade for what we could get with the K200D, especially when we already have a later generation of Pentax DSLR, e.g., the K100D.

All in all, I do think Pentax should make a real entry level DSLR (which should be sold cheaper, and more importantly, smaller and lighter) and a real advanced level DSLR (like the D300, that has faster and stronger AF and quicker system responses), otherwise they again could seek no further market share at all, with their current somehow "weak" offers which are unable to compete in *any* market segments (Indeed, I really have big doubts about what are the actual *targeted* market segments which the K200D and K20D are positioned for by Pentax?? which is indeed very unclear, at least to me!)

6 Comments:

christian Pfeffer said...

Hi RH,
Thank you for the summary and take on the new Pentax offerings - Your take on the cameras is quite on the mark in my opinion.
I think if Pentax doesn't try to aggressively compete with the big guys out there or carve a market share that will stick with it - I am afraid they may be going down the tube.
In particular the af in dim light is really a concern - but the issue here are most likely patent issues to make this one go faster or more accurate.
Thanks for your take

take care

RiceHigh said...

You're welcome, Christian.

As for the dim light AF weakness of Pentax DSLRs, I don't think it is a patent issue, though. My MZ-30 and MZ-S do both focus much faster and decisively under low light, and the MZ-S is even a bit more accurate with its AF, too.

So, I think if Pentax were willing to do it, they could actually do it. No doubts.

Peter F said...

I take exception with the idea that Pentax should try to mirror that market targets of the other players. The K10d/20d target market is perfect for me, because I want something more solid than the C N S mid-level offerings but don't have the money for a D300-class camera.

Tom Bell said...

Ricehigh
Well Hello , Havent seen you arpund for a while!

Seems to me that the K20D / K200D are a mixed bag ... but you concentrate as ever on the weak points .. to be found in most DSLR..
however for an entry camera to have Weatherproofing is unique. For many Live view is not an issue. FPS rate is poor but for landscape/ general photography not an issue ....
I must say i cant se why you dont just buy a D300 and be happy!!!

Go well

Anonymous said...

The body on the K200D is bulkier than on the K100D because it is weather and dust-proofed, which I personally think is an excellent feature.

peter_s said...

"All in all, I do think Pentax should make a real entry level DSLR (which should be sold cheaper, and more importantly, smaller and lighter) and a real advanced level DSLR "

Yeah, they made the Km and the K7.

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