Saturday, January 23, 2010

My K-x Review is Here! (with Measurbations, Tips and Tricks)

To make a "breakthrough" for writing a camera review :-o :->, I would like to write my this review roughly in the order of my practical true experiences with the K-x. I would talk about how I set up the camera, using it, took pictures and videos with it, how I feel about it and will post some sample photos and video produced with it, session by session.

Remarks:-

1. There are two different K-x units that I have used and tested. The first one was kindly lent to me by Fred, a reader of my Blog here - my special and deepest thanks to him! :-)) The second K-x was later on purchased myself, after I tested Fred's unit.

2. Fred's K-x unit is not a HK local version as seen from the product label at the camera bottom whilst mine is the version that are being sold in the China and Hong Kong region.


3. A FA 31 Limited which was also lent by Fred. The other lens I used in the test and producing the samples was my DAL 18-55 Olive on Fred'x Black K-x.

4. When mouse-over on any thumbnail in this review showing a Clickable Symbol means you can Click to Enlarge the image. A new separate Window/Tab will be opened. For detailed shooting information of all samples, please refer to the EXIF, which both the thumbnail the larger images retain.

5. To get full shooting information in EXIF, the latest version of the original Pentax Photo Browser is recommended.

6. Full-sized original samples are *only* available for those photos I posted at the specific Sample Gallery in the Review (Read that relevant Section below for more details).

7. All photos, illustrations and text of this review are copyright by me and nobody should copy mine (or directly linked to, without any acknowledgement) for any use without my prior written consent and agreement, in no circumstances.



The Battery Issue and New Firmware

The first instance I got Fred's K-x in my hands, I inserted freshly charged NiMH batteries, one fully charged set of Camelion AlwaysReady with green battery indicator in my K-m. However, the set was simply unable to power up the K-x! I then asked Fred to give his Sanyo Eneloops (which were also freshly charged) and inserted into his K-x, it shown a green indicator. After that, I re-inserted my Camelions and this time the K-x was powered up, with a yellow half-depleted indicator shown up. After taking some pictures and some use, a green indicator was shown! Amazing?

In fact, these strange and unpredictable behaviours have been recorded and reported by a K-x user already earlier before, just see my previous report on his YouTube video for demonstrating the irregularity.

I asked Fred if he had updated the firmware yet and also checked the firmware version of the K-x at the body and found that it was the original version 1.00. I later on updated the firmware to 1.01 when I backed to home (after I got my fresh and new Lithium batteries and inserted them into Fred's K-x and did the update, to place safe) and the issue was gone!

So, the K-x battery issue is confirmed but fortunately the new firmware resolved the issue, for that K-x unit!

But things are not always going to be the same with different K-x units!

When I bought my K-x at the shop, the salesman just unpacked and used the bundled AA Lithium in the box. I tested the camera in Bulb mode at f/16 (by doing so I can check dust on sensor and dead pixel of both CMOS and LCD, if any), the camera simply turned off itself when I was taking my third picture and the *new* Energizers died!?

The death batteries were then re-inserted into another K-x demo unit and nothing happened. They didn't power up it! But, I am sure that they were new - I saw that guy unpacked/unwrapped the set in front of me myself! Well, was it just the QC issue of the Energizer instead? ;-)

The strangest thing is that my K-x, with original firmware version 1.00, has NEVER suffered from any battery issue with *NiMH* rechargeable batteries! All my Eneloops, AlwaysReady, or the Pentax bundled Energizers 2450mAh are just working fine in my K-x WITHOUT any upgrade!

My above experiences exactly coincide with the poll results of my this previous Poll. So, the battery issue has been verified and confirmed. But, different K-x units do behave totally differently, i.e., there should exist some unknown hardware differences, very possibly - but the new firmware was made to cure/hide this.


Custom Image and Settings

The first thing after I got a new camera is to find the best colour mode and settings for my general usage purposes. If you read my posts long enough, you should know that I am a person who like faithful image and colour reproductions with more detailed reproduction of greys and best preservation of highlights and shadows. In contrast, quite some people like exciting and ex-exaggerated colours, sharpness and contrast, which I usually don't like both (and that's why I chose Pentax in the film days!).

I spent about two days to find the best settings for shooting a wide variety of subjects (people, landscape, close/far objects, indoor and outdoor, tungsten/fluorescent/mixed/mixed with daylight and/or flash and so on..!

Well, after the tests and trials, I re-confirmed that the "Bright" mode does produce more vibrant pictures with more saturated colours, with heavier sharpening. Pictures may look more pop and exciting, but the pushed colours with high saturation just means less accurate and unnatural colours, e.g., just look at the skin tones. Even worse, it would result in individual colour clipping which ultimately results in loss of shades and details. There is also no free lunch on Earth as for the heavier and more sharpening, which cause more noise and more visible digital artifacts and yet again unnatural images. The same also applies to the higher contrast of the Bright mode.

But anyway, since many people and typical users do prefer more "poppy" pictures, I think Pentax is still right to select the "Bright" as the default.

Well, how about "Natural" then? Now, the objects' contrast are just too low to my like and the output pictures are just looking too flat and dull. The following pictures were taken with the same settings except with different Custom Image modes, the Left one is in Natural mode and the Right one is in Bright mode:-


(Left: "Natural" Custom Image Mode; Right: "Bright" Mode)

Well, I finally found the "Portrait" mode. Colour reproduction of the Portrait mode is indeed fairly accurate. It is still slightly more saturated for the colour rendition at the zero/green dot default position for the saturation setting, though. As such, I would turn down the setting by one stop to -1 if I want the colour reproduction to be more faithful (although not that exciting). On the other hand, if I just wish to have a little bit more (saturated) colours, I would leave it at default. Other than that, the contrast, sharpening etc. are all just right at the defaults, so I just leave them all there:-



In addition, with Portrait mode, the Dynamic Range is higher (owing to less contrast than the Bright mode) and noise is not made so visible as in the Bright mode, too.


Operation and User Friendliness

What I would say the operation of the K-x is further improved over the K-m. I have seen Pentax's (software) engineers have spent a lot of efforts, and more importantly, they really put hearts to do their jobs, so as to improve the user interface and enhance every operation and the overall ease of use. I must mention that they are the most careful minded software engineers amongst all camera manufacturers! My Thumb Up!

First, the main status screen is improved, with more key essential shooting information displayed, which can be checked with a quick glance at a time:-



Unlike the K-m, the "Info" button now is not displaying the same screen of above, it goes into a menu for the detailed settings, which for K-m, the "Ok" button is pressed. The "Ok" button is now reserved for choosing the focusing point, which is more direct and convenient:-



Do note that the last two options for lens distortion and CA corrections will be available only for DA and DFA lenses, otherwise, they are disabled.

As for the choice of focusing point and selection mode (auto or manual), I think it is very fast to choose and change and the design is very user-friendly.

I don't agree with the highly and widely complained "red point issue" (the lack of) by many K-x users or even other Pentaxians who have not been a K-x user yet, which this issue has been over-emphasized. Just think in this way: If you wish have full control on focusing, the central AF point should be chosen and used solely. If you just let the camera decides for you, why is it so importantly to let you know what the camera choose? (since you opted to hand the control over to the camera!). So, to me, it is just a "don't care" case in case I just need the camera to do it. What is the Big Deal, then? I just wish to ask.. I repeat, what? (Think yourself, as a *photographer*!)

Sometimes, I would even think it could is just better to have no red point focus indication in finder than when they were there, as that indication design often misaligned and is ugly to see. Just see my this illustration for my K100D in my old K100D full review (dead link now as I cancelled my Yahoo Web Hosting service) below:-



For my that K100D, I just opted to turn the red illuminations off as it is somehow annoying to see misaligned red squares of those. I eventually picked my K100D to the Pentax service centre to re-adjust the projected position, the Pentax technicans tried three times before they succeeded(!?) for *only* to put back the central red square back to the right position without any mis-alignment (but yet the left and right red dots were still shifted)! They actually told me that those projected positions are very rather difficult to adjust and the design is clumsy so that it is nearly impossible to have them correct for all the eleven points! :-(

Besides, just mind you that K-7, which has the red point indication, does suffer from the same long-lasting problem I've just stated above, for quite a number of units that I had used or played with.

Now, let me talk about other things of the K-x software and see how things are carefully and thoughtfully improved. Let's see the playback and review displays. As usual, when the user presses the Info button, the following typical screens toggle:-



Do note now the 3:2 picture is shifted to the top in the 4:3 LCD screen so that some black space are left for the inclusion of basic shooting information like the Tv, Av and file format and number, instead of overlaying it on the centred picture as in previous Pentax DSLRs. As such, the K-x users can now also view those key shooting info at the bottom in the histogram display page, which were previously not available with previous Pentax DSLRs, when the histogram is viewed (not totally sure about if K-7 works like this).

With push to the arrow buttons as hinted you can see more functions, e.g., the new copyrighter and photographer information that can be displayed, or to toggle between lightness histogram to show also the individual RGB ones, as usual:-



Input screens for Photographer and Copyrighter's Information..


Next, change of ISO settings is much ever easier with the K-x, I have to say thank you (again and again :-) hope you don't mind!) to those very careful-minded Pentax software engineers and that they have made the (minor but much useful) improvements whole-heartedly! See this menu page:-



By default, the camera uses Auto ISO. As for its range, the upper limit can now be changed easier by the Left or Right arrow. If manual ISO is required, just press the Up or Down buttons and repeat the Left or Right actions to increase or decrease the ISO. Very brilliant and user-friendly design, which allows the user to change the settings very directly and directly as required! Bravo Pentax! I must say again!


Orientation Sensor

Now the K-x is equipped with an orientation sensor since it was included in the K200D but later on deleted in the K-m, of which in the K-m is omitted, which is a utter stupid thing afterall. An entry level DSLR should be fool-proofed enough and has as much automation as possible for those laymen users. This simple sensor is one of those things which should never be omitted (but not costing much)!



With Canon's Zoom Browser EX software which I have, I can rotate all those images in one batch actually before I give my photos to someone who don't even know how to get a photo viewer which support the EXIF orientation tag to view photos, e.g., most people use Windows' built-in picture viewer to view the photos, but which is unable to view the tag and display the stored orientation correctly.


Video/Movie Recording



Next, what I was interested to try first was the new Movie and also the LV functions of the K-x. In fact, the Contrast Detection AF (CDAF) is quite slow, although I do feel that it is somehow improved over the K-7, which could be even slower!

As for sound recording for the movie recording, a microphone is placed in the front of the camera under the Pentax logo.

In addition, a sound-speaker is placed at the top of the camera body at the left side, which is useful for movie playback and also used to produce PCV beep tone for various operations such as completion of AF, the use of AEL etc. However, the beep tone is just too noisy and annoying IMO and the worst is that the sound is imbalance! I feel that my left hear is being hurt each time it rings my left ear loudly (but now I have adapted to it anyway)! :-(


(Above: Photos of the Speaker (Left) and the Mic (Right))

From the above pictures, you can also see the special texture of the K-x Navy Blue, which is different from that of the White and Red K-xes (and also different from my Olive K-m as well). I do like the finishing and it just like the finished painting of a real vehicle, nice!

The movie mode had shown a bug for one time when I used Fred's unit, in which the recorded movie clip suddenly has no sound at the end of video clip for about 10 seconds. This bug cannot be reproduced afterwards and also cannot not be found with my own K-x so far.

Do note that the recorded movie is in Motion Jpeg format, which is really large and will eat up the card space very soon, even with a moderate capacity 8GB card nowadays. So, my recommendation is with those DSLRs with movie/video recording capability, it would be better to put a 16GB card in for use, and preferably high speeds one!

But anyway I found that the K-x is not very picky in choosing memory cards and should not have high requirements on the card speed. My Class 6 8GB SDHC card just works fine for movie recording and so does my good old reliable Toshiba 2GB "high speed" standard SD card (of white colour).

Although those Motion Jpeg files are large, still the good thing is that it can be played back with slower PCs more smoothly, when it is compared against the H.264/MPEG4 compressed format, of which high processing power is required for real-time decoding for smooth playback. Another advantage of the Motion Jpeg format is that it is easier to edit plus it should contain more "raw" video data as it is not compressed.

Next, what you should note is that CDAF is not available and impossible under the Movie mode, which will be disabled once the movie recording has been started.

For the operation of the movie mode, see the video demo below (no sound):-


(URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2onBlJnIdvg)

As for settings of the Movie mode, some of my remarks are as below:-



Movie Aperture Control: You can either let the camera select the f-stop automatically or to choose it manually yourself. Do note that the chosen aperture, no matter Auto or not, will be fixed during movie recording. I leave the setting at default, i.e., fixed (manual), as I just want to control the DoF, especially consider that the camera is unable to do focusing automatically when movie recording starts. So, a smaller aperture would be useful to make the camera "focus-free", particularly if wide angle lens is used.

On the other hand, if you want shallow DoF to get the "cinema film" feel, or the recording environment is dim, you will need to choose a larger aperture. Otherwise, the electronic shutter would be too slow and there will be visible motion lag/blur in this case.

Shake Reduction: It works and does stablise the video (even with tele-lenses, from my actual experiences) but there is some we-wezz/se-se noise that is also recorded together by the built-in microphone. In silent situation, this would be a real annoyance, so it'd be better to turn it off under such circumstance. Otherwise, just leave it on. The SR works quite well for video, but not so for high-resolution still pictures, unfortunately - will discuss this a bit more below.

After all these technical talks, let me share some video samples taken by me with the K-x. I have uploaded two at the YouTube:-


(URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNksCYFrYhA)

If you just want to watch the original AVI video file, here is a shortly cut version that you can download. The cutting was done with Ulead VideoStudio 11 losslessly. So, you can view and compare against the above converted but longer clip in flv (Flash Video) at YouTube.

[Download HD 720p AVI File, 3.08 seconds, 16.392MB!]


(URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5Aclbs30Jo)


Low light ISO performance and IQ

The low light ISO performance of the K-x is very good. Noises are in fine grain forms and they are luminance ones instead of colour/chroma ones. The image details are preserved well, even when NR is activated. Whilst the images are with details and noise are low, I found the pictures are somehow soft with NR turned on, at the factory default medium settings, which is to be started from ISO 800 and Up. If you yet want even more details and sharper images but with more noise, you can tune down the NR setting to "Weak", i.e., one step lower, or simply turn it off!

Here are some low light ISO 1600 samples with default NR, view the EXIF for more information. And, if focal length shown is 31mm, the picture was taken with the FA 31, otherwise, it was with my Olive DAL kit lens.



Well, the FA 31 is wide opened at f/1.8. Still, it could maintain corner-to-corner sharpness for the cropped APS-C frame.

And, some ISO 800 photos:-


The Bokeh is really very nice for this lens! (Click to Enlarge)




Shake Reduction Performance and Reliability (for Still Pictures)

Actually, without anything scientific (as it is difficult for testing the SR - too many variables and factors here), what I would conclude is that the SR performance of the K-x is just so-so. In short, what I would comment is that it is just "better than none". It could usually not be able to eliminate shake very well (but only partially) and the number of stops which it could save is not much!

Here is a failure example, with SR on and kit lens in use, handheld of course (needless to say), which is just about -3.5 stops slower than the "lowest safety Tv", which is much blurred. I am quite sure that even I shot with a MZ-S or *ist D which has no SR, the photo would not be as blur as that!



As fast as high IS/VR/AS/SR performance is concerned, my best workhorse is my Canon 70-200 F4 IS lens, which can usually work up to 4 stops without any problem at 200mm! When it is compared to the SR of the K-x (and K-7 as well), the Pentax SR system is just a joke! (sorry, I have to say that, but honestly!)

And if you ask me if the SR of the K-x is worse than the K-m from my own experiences, I would say Yes! (Yet very unfortunately again!)

Is that the SR system of the K-x and K-7 has been customised for use in movie mode so that to minimise the noise and unwanted sound? I don't know, but that's my own suspect on why the SR is now worse than before (which is actually still nothing that can be compared to those in-lens IS solution offered by Canon anyway).


Metering Accuracy (Ambient Light)

The metering accuracy and consistency of the K-x is the best for any Pentax DSLRs I have used and experienced, including the K-7, which is worse, but a base exposure compensation should be applied beforehand for each different K-x unit. I would brief more about this irregularity below..

Having said that, what I still have to mention is that all my digital lenses are still darker than all of my Pentax film lenses. I guess the average differences are within 1/3EV, quantified unscientifically but subjectively according to my own experience. In fact, my EOS lenses do also suffer from the same problem of exposure deviations, although the differences are also in +/-1/3EV stop (L lens regardless!).

In general, I found that there is no need to impose +EV Exposure Compensation for Fred's K-x under a wide variety of situations whilst my K-m consistently requires a +0.3EV compensation to make the pictures look right. Now, I have to say sample variation does exist just for the two different K-xes I tested, i.e., I do find that mine is darker than Fred's with the same Olive DAL lens of mine. 1/3EV would likely to be the difference that exists, so I consistently apply a +1/3 EV exposure compensation for ambient light metering/exposure on my K-x, just like what I do with my K-m.

But still, nonetheless, there are occasions that K-x evaluative meter is fooled and not that "bright". See this example and I think my K-m won - Do read also the differences in Tvs as recorded in the EXIF tags. Interestingly, this confirms the software algorithms used in the K-x and K-m for the "same" 16-segment evaluative metering are different!

Just like me, IF you unfortunately encounter the above underexposure problem, simply always key-in +EV exposure compensation and set the camera to memorise the value. When you change one lens to another with different exposure tendency, you can do the appropriate adjustment accordingly, on the top of the original baseline EV compensation! It is rather inconvenient, I would say but you would have to do it, if you want to have better exposure accuracy!


Flash Exposure Accuracy

As long as flash exposure accuracy is also concerned, Fred's K-x always overexposes subjects with various different lenses of mine, from +0.3 to +0.5EV typically. So I simply dialled in a counter -0.3EV flash exposure compensation at his camera all the time. And yes, the camera can "memorise" it, even after the camera is turned off or even have the batteries are replaced.

Yet, I see once again the QC/QA issue of Pentax/Hoya and their factory again! My K-x in general has NO Problem with the built-in flash for exposure accuracy. The produced results are just fine, accurate and consistent at the zero default, except for darker objects with lower reflectance when overexposure often occurs, especially when they are positioned near the centre of the frame, which is just the sole reason for overexposure, I believe.


(In contrast, mine is set at 0, i.e., *without* any Flash Compensation Required!)

Some flash examples (with the RTF/Built-in Flash):-



Focusing Accuracy

First of all, by design, I really don't like the large covered area by each AF sensor for any Pentax DSLRs with that somehow stupid "SAFOX VIII" design or its variants! The AF coverage per sensor, even the central one, is just way toooo Laaarge so that pinpointing a focus is indeed not possible as such. When you compare the SAFOX VIII against DSLRs of other brands or just the old Pentax film AFSLRs (yes, any, MZ, Z or even the 80s SF!), you can easily notice that practically this is a REAL Issue!

Other than that, I am totally not impressed with the focusing accuracy, precision, consistency of of the K-x AF system nor the Quality Control standard for the proper calibration of the already inprecise system at the factory. Even though assuming the user is to focus on perfectly flat surfaces or objects (you can assume that our faces and our heads are flat then! ;-D), the AF results are in large errors at dimmer environment and consistency of the measured focus is poor - it is easily verified by re-focusing and you'll see the camera would choose an obviously somehow different focus that can be seen, even nothing has been changed for the target and composition (I tried that on a tripod). In fact, the span is large which means that the AF consistency is poor and the AF system is simply guessing the correct focus under those circumstances. Furthermore, there is a tendency of back focusing for both units, that can be seen when very large aperture with shallow DoF is used.

Such poor AF accuracy and reliability decreases much the resolution of a sharp lens which should be of very high resolution originally, of which in my real cases of test are the two Limited lenses FA 31 and FA 43.


Focusing Speed

My *feeling* is that the K-x focuses a bit faster and more responsive than my K-m, for both under bright light or in dimmer environments, which is a good thing btw. For moving objects, the K-x now snaps them better. The AF-A is now more intelligent and usable practically (whilst it is silly and unusable for the K-m, e.g., the focus for still object sometimes cannot be held!?).

I think the AF performance of the K-x and K-7 are close. But if we have to compare Pentax's AF against higher class DSLRs of Canon and Nikon, Pentax's latest AF is still much lagging behind (but anyway for normal use, K-x and K-7 are somehow acceptable for most cases).


Auto White Balance Behaviour and Performance


If "Whiter is Better" under different light sources, I have to say K-x's AWB performance is superb. The AWB algorithms of the K-x is quite aggressive and it has the ability to turn any "white" point and area it decides as white as possible without any annoying colour cast. If you want to have the WB to be closer to what our eyes see, you should select the Custom Function for the AWB as "Subtle" (factory default setting anyway). Still, I cannot see unnatural colour cast with that option! From my experiences, it usually succeeded, and the results is really quite WYSIWYG, usually, as long as there is something close to white for the camera to take as the reference and it will decide. It actually obviously performs better than my aging but still quite reliable workhorse Canon 5D, of which Canon has been famous for so many years for making better AWB than other brands in this department, especially under artificial light sources and mixed lights lighting conditions. In fact, the AWB of the K-x is very reliable and is yet better than the K-m. Having considered that its superior high ISO performance (especially for an APS-C DSLR), when combined with this quite reliable AWB system, the K-x is a true indoor shooting workhorse indeed. With its compactness for a true DSLR, it is a real joy to use and carrying around for travelling. Some direct example in-camera full auto JPEG shots are as follows (Click to Enlarge):-



And, the most surprised thing is that even for daylight bright scenes, the AWB of the K-x is yet more reliable and could produce more accurate and faithful colours to eyes. Here is a pair of photos taken at almost the same time with the same lens and both with AWB, the K-x just produced very good results whilst the K-m's pic is indeed not very accurate in the reproduced colours:-


(Above: Left: with K-m; Right: with K-x)


Live View



Live View is really useful for those difficult situations for composition and viewing through the optical viewfinder. A few days after I had been with the K-x, I encountered such a situation.

The following flower shots are taken with the LV mode, with CDAF, and also only possible with a camera with LV. I could not even come close to the lotuses owing to some obstacles plus fencing positioned between me and the objects. But still, with the LV, I could take the pictures (although with much more hand-shaking):-



The AF accuracy of the CDAF was found to be very good, although focusing is slow.

For the options available under the LV mode, see this:-



Just choose the option according to your own preference and as for the face detection feature, it works somehow but not very fast and not very accurate neither for the detection.

As for the LV CDAF operation and speed, which is very similar to the operation and speed of the movie, just see my posted YouTube Demo Above.

Still, I wish the camera will have articulated monitor so as to make the LV even more useful and shooting could be even more flexible. With an articulated monitor, I believe it can cater for even more shooting positions, which could be difficult for a fixed mon, and to avoid the possible reflection when shooting outdoor, too.


Battery Life

The battery life is good, my first set of Camelion AlwaysReady can server me well for less than 300 shots which include a few video clips recordings in short duration of 2 to 3 minutes, plus extensive review and playbacks. In general, the power supply is stable for Fred's K-x with firmware 1.01 and my K-x with firmware 1.01 with NiMH batteries, solely.

Nevertheless, I still wish the K-x can adopt more powerful and more updated battery technology. I simply don't like the half-depleted low battery warning and symbol shows up most of the time before the batteries are really run out of power. This phenomenon is undesirable as it just defeats the purpose of a battery warning indicator when the "half-depleted" warning is being shown up for prolonged time! Just imagine if you are driving a car which often prompts you in red the oil tank reachs low level, what can you do?

The impowerful NiMH solution can once be confirmed as in LV and Movie modes, under which after a certain period of operation the battery indicator will jump from green to yellow. And with enough "rest", it might come back to Green again!


(Above: Appearance of Yellow Battery Indicator after Heavier Power Demand, e.g., under LV or Movie Modes)


My Best and Recommended Noise Reduction and Sharpness Settings

See my these two recent articles, in which the cases have been fully investigated and are discussed in details:-

K-x Different Noise Reduction Settings and Results

K-x Sharpness Vs Fine Sharpness - Different Settings



Miscellaneous Camera Settings

Besides what have been fully discussed above, screen captures of the current settings of my K-x are as follows:-





Some Additional Remarks:-

1. Expanded ISO: Choose for the sake of having also ISO 100 and 12800. IMO, ISO 100 will give you higher IQ owing to the Expose to the Right rule but at the risk of burning highlights. But as all Pentax DSLRs are having the tendency of underexposure, this may not be a big issue and it would produce better results if the user uses with caution for the "proper" exposure.

2. DR Setting Options, namely, Highlight and Shadow Corrections are not selected and I opted to leave them at factory defaults as I found that they are not really needed and I don't want to have the side effects, namely:-
- If you enable the Highlight Correction, the lowest ISO speed will change from ISO 200 to 400 with normal ISO range and from ISO 100 to 200 for expanded;
- Shadow Correction, whilst can lift up the shadow levels, but it also promotes shadow noise.

3. The power lamp of the K-x is dimmer than the K-m by default, so I have left it at "1" now. Well, it seems that Pentax did have read my comments in my previous K-m Review! They changed quite a number of minor issues that I "complained"! :-D

4. As for the reasons and the rationale behind for other common Custom Settings that existed in the K-m, read more details about these in my previous K-m Review.


Other Sample Photos




Full Sized / Original Samples

If you just wish to pixel peep or measurbate for full sized original sample of mine, here is the Sample Gallery:=

http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v313/RiceHigh/K-x_Review/Samples/

Instructions for Downloading:-

1. Click on the interested Thumbnail;

2. Mouse-over at the Enlarged Picture to see the "Download" menu;

3. You will see two Drop-down items, pull down to the "high res image" and click;

4. You will be asked to open or save the image, both options will get you to the original full sized image!

Happy measurbation and pixel-peeping, but hopefully not to the end of the days!! ;-D


Other Specific Quality Issues

I have inspected quite a number of K-x units (different colours and at different shops) before I bought mine. I am yet not impressed with the QC standard at the Pentax's factory, I would still say. Particularly, the RTF (built-in flash) are poorly assembled, with misalignment and plays when the flash is closed (sometimes it shifted to the left, sometimes to the right and sometimes backwards with a large gap and play in front and sometimes forward but still with a large play up/down!). The silver shutter buttons are prone to scratches even when the units are new and the material used is not quite sturdy against what is desired (the same "minor" issue that I complained years ago since the *ist D back to 2003). How is it so difficult for Pentax to make a better silver painting/chrome plating? ..Especially even a cheap to very cheap P&S can have better material!

As a side note, and to be fair, I found that Nikon DSLRs which are produced in Thailand suffer from the same issue for the plays of their built-in flashes, which even includes the much more expensive full frame D700, which is yet an unfortunate thing for today's Japanese products which are made overseas. Sometimes I just wonder the QCs and designs of those stuff made outside Japan are just too loose and inferior when they are compared to the old glorious days of those Japanese home-made products! :-( Too bad, indeed..

As for the exposure errors (ambient light and/or flash) and the assembly errors, if you are lucky enough, you can have a "perfect" camera, I dunno, but I think it is very unlikely. At least for the two K-x units I tested and own, the flash and ambient light exposure differences are both about 0.3 to 0.5EV, with the flash is always brighter. What I need to do is either to apply and memories -EV compensation for the flash (on Fred's K-x) or to constantly apply +EV exposure compensation for ambient light metering (as for my own K-x).

Since the K-x is actually having the ability to memorise the compensation values but different units do behave differently for the exposure, why not Pentax designed the firmware to calibrate for this and just set the right values inside each camera('s firmware) before they are shipped out from the factory? This would make the exposure accuracy perfect if so - as it is looked, at least the hardware errors will become transparent/hidden to the end-users! Bottom line: Calibrate the K-x yourself when you first receive it and before you take it for actually shooting! (Well, just think that DIY is actually good! ;-D)


Camera Operaton Sound Tracks and Additional Measurbations

1. Continuous High "Drive" Mode (AF in AF.A (AF.S) Mode):-

[Download Sound (.wav) File]

Measured Statistics:-

- Maximum Number of High Frame Rate Burst in a Chain: 11 Shots
- Actual Average Period: 0.2497 second
- Actual Frequency / Frame Rate: 4.00 Hz / fps

Remarks: Card used: Transcend SDHC Class 6 8GB; Batteries: NiMH (Sanyo Eneloop); Battery Indicator: Green

Well, both the frame rate and the maximum shot number of burst is lower than specified.

2. Continuous Low:-

[Download Sound (.wav) File]

Measured Statistics:-

- Maximum Number of Shots in a Chain: Not Broken for Tested Time (The actual tested time is longer, the sound file is cropped.)
- Actual Average Period: 0.5695 s
- Actual Frame Rate: 1.76 fps

3. Live View Contrast Detection AF

[Download Sound (.wav) File]

Mirror Up to right before PCV Confirmation Tone: 7.88 seconds (!)

AF Motor Focusing Time: 3.998 s

Remark: Lens under test is FA 31 Limited; Focused from Infinity to Near Distance at about 0.5m

4. Phase Matching AF

[Download Sound (.wav) File]

AF Motor Focusing Time: 0.516 s

Well, it is much faster (and of course).

Remark: Lens under test is FA 31 Limited; Focused from Infinity to Near Distance at about 0.5m, i.e., exactly the same focusing distance as the LV CDAF above.


Official Reference - The K-x User/Operation Manual

The official K-x manual in English can be downloaded at Pentax Canada (but not Pentax Imaging of the States as there is always an error), here:-

http://pentaxcanada.com/pdf/o_manuals/om_K-x_e.pdf

If you are a K-x user already, read this and it contains many useful information on all the operations of the camera and some relevant basic working principles are also briefed, with a lot of illustrations on each part, in each session. Sometimes I just wonder why nowadays people are just like to keep asking basic questions on the net and web without even bother to check their own operation manuals themselves! :-0 Especially when Pentax has the printed version of manual bundled in the box (as well as soft copy is available online!), why not just have a look (but keep asking others!)? :-)

If you are not a K-x user but just an interested potential buyer, why not read the publicised official documentation to learn more accurate information before decided? Still rely on those particular review sites or "e-books"? But the authors of those mostly only knew to copy bits and pieces from the manual and catalogue, or reversely, to copy endless, lengthy and in a rather boring way and finally re-packing all those officially provided information. It should be noted that both peoples actually failed to provide any additional input and insight of their own. So, why bother (to read or even buy, as those are simply totally useless, IMHO)?


Conclusion

Indeed, the K-x is a very good camera with very high Image Quality (characteristics of low noise and high details and accurate colour rendition, too.). I can say as long as IQ is concerned, it exceeds much both the K-m and K-7 and is just unbeatable, especially considered that it is just an APS-C DSLR with smaller sensor size than 135 Full Frame. But in fact, it is not much worse than my full frame 5D and I am really impressed (I guess the 5D still has one-stop ISO advantage than the K-x anyway, but the K-m is worse and the K-7 is even worse!).

The second thing I have to give credits to Pentax (actually to their software engineers for writing the firmware) is about the super high level of user-friendliness of their design and their ever improving operation interfaces, with smart and careful thoughts always in mind. And, I appreciate much their hearts for making the interface better and better, endlessly, which makes the K-x to be one of the most user-friendly DSLRs for use ever made in this planet, amongst all brands and models, but yet still with many options of customisation and without sacrificing for many additional functions and features, which you often could not find in the entry level DSLRs of other brands.

I cannot confirm the focusing accuracy issue yet. It maybe a design problem and/or a calibration/QC issue. But as for my (many) Pentax lenses on my K-x, the AF accuracies are quite good. Anyway, as the K-x is just an entry level DSLR, I found it to be totally acceptable for such performance even it contains errors like what I found in Fred's camera with the FA 31 (which is infamous for having focusing errors on Pentax DSLRs anyway) but of course I would always like to see it to be better! :-D

However, as the usual Pentax, exposure accuracies for both ambient light and flash are real issues (although particular fanboys always denied and defend endlessly!), which can be user adjusted for the exposure compensation factors, anyway, for both ambient light and flash.

Quality issues also come into play and some glitches do arise (although those may not be significant enough to affect real operations and taking photographs). But this may or may not affect real operations. Still, I really hope and urge Pentax should do one more step in their QC line to calibrate the camera more tightly and store the adjustment factors in the firmware instead. If so, that would make their cameras more perfect and will give people a better impression/perception for Pentax cameras as being accurate (instead of that they are not so accurate).

Last but not least, as I have been saying for years: Different people are of different requirements and expectations. I might be a somehow picky person, those "minor" QC and (in)accuracy issues do bug me (although I can find my ways to overcome and live with them). No matter that you are just a casual photographer or a real photographer (whom I am not, I am just an online expert or a measurbator at best after all! ;-D), and that you do not mind all those issues that I have mentioned, the K-x is the ideal camera for YOU! And, since I have only used two K-xes but not ALL the K-xes ever produced on Earth (as those "clever" Pentax fanboys always argue like this!), my final statement still is: YMMV!

Good luck, guys! One thing you should note: If a picky measurbator or online expert like me do like about the IQ, features and the operations of such a camera, it should not be that bad actually, or even, excellent! Well, I do encourage that you try out and judge yourself! :-))


Other Related Articles:-

My K-m Olive Vs K-x Navy (ISO Measurbation)

My New K-x Navy

12(.3)M Vs 12(.8)M: APS-C K-x Vs FF 5D ISO Measurbation

My K-m Review, Tips and Tricks

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