Thursday, October 28, 2010

My K-r First Hands-ons (Tested Twice)

The K-r hit the shelves of camera stores in Hong Kong yesterday. So, I went to try a pink one yesterday evening and then another black one today at another store. I tried both cameras with a DAL 18-55 kit lens mounted on them.

Below are my quick observations and a "surprising" experience (read more below):-

1. The camera feels small and solid, although it is a bit heavy and could be slightly heavier than the K-x with Lithium AA batteries in it. As usual, the black one has better feel for the coating for its rigidity and the white and pink ones are felt more toyish (they are semi-shiny semi-matte plasticky toy materials alike).

2. The new D-LI109 battery is small and lightweight. But its energy rating is in 1050mAh only. I have checked both the battery and charger that they are made in China.

And, how about the performance of the battery and the stability of the power supply? I shall brief it at the end of this post (and I shall tell what I found after completed playing/testing with the camera).

3. The RTF shape and the closed position has been changed from the old K-x/K-m design to more K-7 alike and now the collision problem (which I believe to be a latent defect) does not exist anymore.

As for the closed position, I have inspected four units, one pink and one black which are the newly out-of-the-box but assigned as demo units, and then a brand new white and another pink one "in" the box. Out of the four, only the black one has a tight closed position and does not have larger play. It seems that the plastic mould of the black-coloured body do have less play and the assembly positions are to be more accurate (just my rough impression, though).

Nevertheless, if you are just like me, want to have a more reasonably tight enough closed RTF top of the K-r (which contribute to an overall more solid feel of the body), the lucky rate is 25% according to my this sampling.

4. As for the annoying and persistent shifted AF red-dot issue, as usual, Pentax has never been able to find a solution to it actually. Everything is just random and depends on luck! If you just don't get what I mean, see this illustration, which was drawn when I wrote my K100D full review, years ago:-

That is, the projected red dots and lights are shifted in positions against the focusing screen craved marks. This is particularly ugly for the central red illumination to look like this, when it is viewed against the central bracket mark, IMO. In fact, this problem is somehow an unique Pentax issue, as explained in my K100D review, it is quite costly to make a perfectly aligned projection and assembly for this design, for both mechanically and for the level/standard of and requirement on the factory labours.

Btw, for the two demo units I tested, one has the central red dot shifted to the top right corner and the other is centred left right but shifted upward. So, the failure rate to my QC standard is just 100% (failed)! >:-(

I just wonder, why Pentax still couldn't find a remedial to this little problem after 7 years?! In fact, this was a problem since the *ist D and my first unit of *ist D was returned just because of this problem (and also a leaked silver dot painting on the mode dial).

Well, it can be adjusted manually, but it is not easy. My K100D has been tried for the adjustment for 3 times, only after that the central red dot was aligned!

5. The new VGA monitor is not as impressive as what I originally thought and expected, as it somehow lacks sharpness and contrast when compared to other VGA LCDs of other current DSLRs/ILDCs in the competition. Just say I am quite sure that the one on my Sony NEX looks more impressive. There is no anti-reflection coating of the K-r. It is less prone to oil and dirt but it is not glare and reflection resistant by no means!

6. The Live View CDAF is as fast as that of the K-5 and both cameras should share the same software algorithms. But yet an annoying thing is, as you can see from the K-5 video demo in the above link, that the LV display will zoom into the focusing area and then zoom out after completion of the AF. I found this is to be somehow disturbing indeed. But unfortunately I have checked that by digging into the camera menu completely for several minutes that there is NO option to turn off this! :-( (I have checked all the Custom Function items, also.)

7. As for the (non-LV) AF speed, it is more or less quite close to that of the K-x when Lithium AAs are used. The responsiveness in indoor environment that are considerably bright is more or less the same, i.e., average performance with slight hunting occasionally.

8. The mirror slap and shutter sound and vibration etc. is very close to that of the K-x. At least this is what I have felt for my these two trials on two separate day. It *may* be a little bit gently, with subtle difference that I would find (I am not quite sure as the shops are somehow a bit noisy), but the sound is very familiar and the feel of the time lag is quite close.

9. The K-r's continuous shooting rate is noticeably faster than the K-x with NiMH AAs put in it. With Lithium AA in K-x, the difference is less but I can tell the difference between K-x and K-r is still noticeable. But do note that you will have this machine gun feeling only if the K-r is put in the AF-S mode only, in which the focusing will be only done once, right before the continuous shooting.

10. So, how about if the K-r is put into AF-C then? Oh, I would tell the result is really pathetic once you have switched to AF-C! :-( I slowly panned the camera in 360 degrees around the shop but the actual frame rate was terribly dropped to about 1 to no more than 2 fps that I can tell (nothing scientific but I am almost sure as I have used/played just so many different cameras from time to time!).

So, as I have read through the K-r manual the last time, I know that there is a custom option to choose between "Focus Priority" to "FPS Priority". So, I just changed the setting and re-tried. To my surprise, the result was not much better and I think it was a bit faster, say, something closed to 2 fps at most, I think!

The most disappointing thing isn't the slow continuous shooting rate with AF-C, though. The shocking story is that after my above two tests, in which I think less than 30 continuous shots were made, that brand new K-r demo unit under test hanged up with a terrible continuous and steady wee sound inside with continuous vibration that can be felt. The whole unit just locked up and hanged but yet the vibration was persistent! The "wee" didn't stop even I switched off the unit! So, I just picked out the battery and re-inserted it again and then turned on the unit, that K-r unit was back to normal status then, finally..

Yes, I've discovered a BUG! This bug is terrible indeed. I have never seen similar thing before with any other DSLRs that I have ever put in my hands, except that K-r! >:-( I still recalled that last time I shot more than 60 JPEGs in a chain with my 5D and there was no irregularity of any happened!

11. After the whole course of testing, I found that the K-r did have a weird battery issue! I know that the Li-ion battery out of the box has not yet been fully charged. But the really strange thing did happen (again, even with the latest firmware of the K-x which was claimed to "cure" the battery issue). When the battery was first inserted into the body, the body shown a red status. After I used it more, it turned into Yellow (half-delpeted). And then I used the K-r a bit further, it turned into Green (nearly full)!? And then it suddenly turned into Red again! Oh, my God!

I thought that the K-r should solve the battery issue with the new Li-ion battery. But it seems that some really bad Pentax "tradition" still remains in the K-r!! :-o

And yes, I think I've found another Bug. I actually found two bugs of the K-r in these 30 minutes of use already. How about if you and/or me is to buy one and use it daily?? :-o ;->

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