Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Second Tests on the K-m and Observations

Further to my first trial on the K-m previously, I tried the K-m recently for three more times, with a DAL 18-55 kit, my (crippled) 43 Limited and FA 24-90 on the body respectively, separately for 3 different K-m demo units at different places. Here are something interesting or special to share:-

1. AF is overall fast and smooth. Even for my FA 43, which has been renowned as one of the most slow (and noisy) focusing lens for its AF (mechanism). Hunting was non-existent and minimal when it came near the final focus point, especially when the lens was at f/2.8 or wider. Since that 43 Limited lens has a particularly long run for its AF range, and it's also noisy, I could feel well and note more clearly about the speed control of the whole AF process, by the K-m's "new" AF system. I found that the control was more precise and speed changes were smoother - the best I have seen for a Pentax DSLR ever! Now, the K-m feels more like my Canon (5D), although the AF motor speed is slower, as long as a fast AF lens is used.

2. Exposures were found to be very accurate under white light environment, whilst under yellow light, it still underexposed a bit, unfortunately.

3. Since both of my above Pentax lenses used had the aperture coupler removed, I could easily checked about the exposure accuracy and consistency of the K-m's stop-down metering. I tried with my 43 Limited with apertures set from f/2.8 to f/11 at each f-stop. To my really BIG surprise, the results were *dead* accurate, for the first time for a Pentax DSLR (which I have used all, for all major models!). My experiences were that my *ist D/DS and K100D used to underexpose more (and much) when stopped down (more) and the K10D/K20D did overexpose (more and much) when stopped down (further). So, this must the greatest improvement I have ever seen for a Pentax DSLR as long as exposure accuracy is concerned!

4. Viewfinder is yet bright and easy to see until f/5.6. But since its magnification is not high, the DoF could not be easily seen, though. Anyway, it would be fairer to mention that the finder's view is yet noticeable larger than that of the D60 and the EOS 1000D and of course far better than the super tunnel view of the 4/3 E-520.

5. Build quality is very good and I found it to be the best if it has to be compared against other entry level DSLRs like the D60, 1000D, E-520 etc. I found the K-m felt more solid than my K100D which I have owned for long. The RTF (built-in flash) can be closed very tightly without any play for one of the demo units (whereas the other two are okay). So, if you have the luck, you can get a perfect one.

6. Size is the smallest amongst the above competing entry level models mentioned (and actually I compared them size by size for all of them). The K-m is even smaller than the 4/3 E-520, although not lighter. The DAL 18-55 kit lens is smaller (and lighter?) than the Canon and Nikon ones. The Oly standard kit is smallest and lightest but the Pentax's is an APS-C lens anyway instead of the smaller 4/3 format anyway.

7. Weight is *acceptable* with NiMH AA rechargeables. With AA Lithums, it feels less heavy.

8. Last but not least, I found that overall the K-m's ergonomics are good to excellent. The body's grip is very good to hold despite the small size of the K-m, better than my "small size" Pentax DSLRs like the *ist DS, D and K100D. The overall balance of the body felt very well as the heavy AA rechargeables in the grip yet contributes to stability at the right ;-). And, contrary to some K-m users reported, I found no problem in operating the column of standard four DSLR buttons which are now re-located at the right side, and can now be operated easily by the thumb, which I found it to be even a good thing just in one hand, with the right hand only. :-)

9. Finally, FIMW mentioning, the external colour LCD display, which is the only LCD display in the camera now (since there is now no top monochrome status LCD panel), will be turned on when the shutter release button is *first* half-pressed. When the shutter release button is half-pressed again, the external LCD will be turned off. If the user has already looked through the viewfinder, it will do the AF and AE as usual and turn off the external LCD at the same time as it may be a nuisance when the eye is looking at the finder, especially in dark environment. In fact, I carried out the above operations smoothly and naturally without any problem and I think Pentax's engineers have done a good job with a thoughtful design.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the K-m after my second series of trials with it. I particularly feel excited for the improved exposure accuracies, particularly for the 1st time reliability for stop-down metering which has not been seen for a Pentax DSLR before! (needed to be verified more fully - I cannot guarantee here 100% unless I have owned the camera!).

All in all, I would say the K-m is a very good DSLR, which I can see Pentax should have paid a lot of efforts in debugging their line of (somehow problematic, frankly) DSLRs, despite that they have made it very late, I think still "Late is better than None"! Still, I would give Pentax a "Well Done!" comment here, at my Blog! (which is not easy and should be very "valuable"! ;-D)

As my last remarks, for anyone who is considering the K-m (including me of course :-)), I would still like to remind that there are still two (might be important things, depending on usage) are omitted and missing in the K-m, namely: 1. There is no cable switch socket; 2. There is not an SR on/off switch/lever - The SR on/off is now to be selected via the camera's menu. And, as usual, the SR is recommended to be turned off when the camera is mounted on a tripod or when the user is doing pan shots.

11 Comments:

Vojtěch Liška said...

When you shoot on tripod, you usually have 2s timer or wireless remote for triggering the shutter. In that case, SR automatically turns off. So you're left with turning it off for panning.
Btw I'm very pleased with my K-m too :)

Anonymous said...

Rice, Is it YOU?
Cruel critic of Pentax? I can't believe...:)
Maybe we will se good words for K30D?

RiceHigh said...

I commented good for the good things, bad for the bads, why you didn't believe? :-D

Btw, where is the "K30D"? When?

Anonymous said...

He must be on drugs - it is a Pentax.
btw: I love my K-m

PeterZheng said...

Rice, Happy Chinese New Year!

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1036&message=30848058&changemode=1

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PeterZheng

Jan said...

Hello, I own a K-m and I decided to buy it before any DPR review, and I'm happy I did!
I did not own Pentax DSLRs, but am shooting with film Pentax cams for a long time.
Jan de Vreij (from Holland)

Anonymous said...

some one said there are some focusing issue when you have lens like DA40mm on a K-m, that makes me hesitate in doing the purchase

lillian said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Ann

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RiceHigh said...

Thanks, I'm glad that you like it. See you.

Anonymous said...

no problem with the K-m and the DA40 here. Focus is fast and reliable.

Anonymous said...

K-M is a very good entry-level DSLR. Just bought one with two kit lenses.(from China)

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