Pentax K200D Digital SLR Review

Matt Grayson takes a look at the K200D DSLR from Pentax. A camera suitable for newcomers to photography and users upgrading from compact cameras.

30/04/2008 - 14:17

Dubai wasn't all about the K20D, although any references to it would leave you to believe exactly that. Pentax also announced the K200D DSLR which is the replacement to the popular K100D Super.

Pentax K200D Pentax K200D: Specification

  • Resolution: 10.2Mp
  • Sensor type: CCD
  • Autofocus points: 11
  • Lens mount: Pentax KAF-2
  • Metering system: TTL
  • ISO min: 100
  • ISO max: 1600
  • Screen size: 2.7in
  • Card format: SD/SDHC
  • Battery model: 4xAA
  • Weight: 630g
  • Resolution: 3,872 x 2,592
  • Sensor size: 23.7x15.7mm
  • Screen resolution: 230,000dots (230,000pixels)
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0
  • Flash type: In-built, Hotshoe
  • Flash guide number: 13
  • Flash metering: TTL
  • Flash sync speed: 1/180
  • Image stabilisation: Yes
  • Integrated cleaning: Yes
  • Live view: No
  • Shutter speed max: 1/4000sec
  • Shutter speed min: 30 seconds

The Pentax K200D shares a playing field with the Canon EOS 450D, Nikon D60, Sony Alpha A200 and Olympus E-420.

The ePHOTOzine shop sells the K200D body only for £469. The Canon is £394 with an 18-55mm lens and the Nikon is £10 less than the Pentax with a 18-55mm VR lens. The Olympus is £379 with the 14-42mm lens and the Sony is the cheapest of the lot at £345.

Pentax K200D Pentax K200D: Modes and features
As a direct replacement to the K100D Super, the K200D has built on the 6Mp sensor and now boasts the 10Mp sensor originally found in the K10D.

In Dubai, I asked our hosts why they had decided to go into the pixel race when fans of the K100D Super actually liked the fact that it had a smaller resolution than other models in the classification.

Marketing Communications Manager for Pentax Europe, Gabrielle Remmers, explained that Pentax aren't entering into a pixel race as they realise that massive resolution is unnecessary for most photographic styles. The problem they had with the choice of sensor was that no-one makes smaller resolution sensors anymore, so they had to go with the larger 10Mp one.

Other changes from the K100D Super include the ISO tolerance being changed. No improvements have been made though, it's simply been shifted over one level. The ratings now range from ISO100 to ISO1600 from the previous ISO200 to ISO3200. I would have liked to see an expansion here of ISO100 to ISO3200. The noise tests will show whether Pentax were correct to leave ISO3200 out of the equation.

The flash guide has decreased to 13, from 15.6 and while this may be seen as a negative point, bear in mind that the K100D has a minimum ISO of 200 and the K200D is ISO100. Flash compensation has been increased to +2EV from +1.

The K200D has been given the Dust alert system that the K20D has fitted. This system will scan your sensor upon instruction and show you the image on the screen. You can then decide if you wish to shake the sensor or not. Conveniently, the camera will save the image it showed you, on your memory card in a folder called Dust.

Not much else has changed apart from the playback zoom being increased from 12x to 16x and the K200D being bigger and heavier, which is a U-turn for usual Pentax policies.

Even the layout of the K200D is the same as the K100D Super. Only the download light has been moved to a more prominent position just above the navigation pad and the screen has been increased in size and resolution to the same 2.7in 230,000 dot (230,000pixels) screen that the K20D has.

The K200D can save simultaneously in RAW and JPEG formats with in-camera processing of RAW also available.

Pentax K200D Pentax K200D: Build and handling
The K200D carries on what the K100D started and is still a better build quality than the nearest rivals with its metal chassis. This does make the camera heavier, but I can let that slide for a more durable camera.

The lens mount is metal which is standard on any camera these days, but the lenses usually have a plastic mount. Kits for the K200D are available and the advantage of this is the 18-55mm lens having a metal mount as well. This promotes longevity and I think it's a great idea which could be a purchasing decider.

Pentax have also been kind enough to fit it with dust and weatherproof rubber seals in the battery bay and card door.

The K200D retains the previous battery compatibility of four AA batteries. This would've been a disadvantage in the past with the lack of power compared to dedicated Lithium Ion batteries that rivals accept.

However, battery technology has increased in recent years and while rechargeable batteries are still not necessarily as powerful, they've attained a significantly higher rate of performance.

Pentax K200D: Flash options
The built in flash can work as an auto pop-up flash in preset modes or activated by pressing the flash button on the left shoulder of the camera next to the viewfinder.

Flash sync on the K200D is 1/180sec compared to the Sony Alpha A-200 with a sync of 1/160sec. The Canon EOS 450D and Nikon D60 both share a sync speed of 1/200sec.

The guide number of 13 brings the Pentax more in line with the other models in the same classification. The K100D Super has a higher 15.6 guide, but the lowest ISO was ISO200, which explains the performance.

Pentax K200D Pentax K200D: Performance
The Pentax K200D has a pretty low frames-per-second (fps) rate in comparison to the rivals. It has two different settings of Continuous Hi and Continuous Lo. Hi mode has a speed of 2.8fps with the Lo mode coping with a poor 1.1fps, but this is designed to not use the buffer, so keeps shooting until the card is full.

The buffer has been adapted on the K200D from its predecessor and now allows four JPEG images or four RAW images compared to five JPEGs or three RAW images on the K100D Super.

Luckily, an overcast day provided a good result for the camera. Shot at ISO100 in aperture-priority, fringing is practically non-existant in the usual places. The white bars of the ladder leading into the lock have mild fringing of orange and green and the roof shows a tepid CA result. A good result from Pentax.

The colour chart has shown the processor boosting blue, yellow and red but not so much green. The tones have been recreated nicely.

Portrait mode has reproduced the skin tones really well with no cast to the image on the overcast day.

I took a series of images in different photographic styles to show how the K200D could help the beginner find their preferred style of photography.

I shot the arch at Roche Abbey with the white balance adjusted to fluorescent lights which brought the brown floor out as a lilac colour. The field was shot in aperture-priority which is a great mode as the camera controls the shutter speed, so if you're new to photography, this mode means you have one less thing to worry about.

I shot the waterfall on an exposure of 1sec with a polariser filter to reduce reflections and a tripod to steady the image.

Pentax K200D
A decent result from the colours. The three primary colours are saturated while the tones are clean and crisp.
Pentax K200D
The K200D has adjustable white balance settings to be more creative with your work.
Pentax K200D
Modes like Aperture-priority can help with landscapes.
Pentax K200D
For portraits, a balanced skin tone is produced from the Pentax K200D.
Pentax K200D
The Dust alert feature scans the image, shows you where the dust is on the sensor, then stores it in a file called Dust on your memory card.
Pentax K200D
Making waterfalls look like silk is a technique that can be achieved on the Pentax K200D.
Pentax K200D
The overcast day has helped the green of the grass. Taken in Aperture-priority at f/22.

Pentax K200D: Noise test
The images are quite hazy, which could be put down to the limited Depth of Field (DoF) that the camera has chosen on the lower ISO levels despite a lot of light being available.

If I was to be really critical, I would pull the Pentax up for showing a very mild smattering of noise at full size in the lower ISO settings, but its barely noticeable. It is present on ISO400 however.

The haziness found on ISO100 because of the limited DoF, disappears for a crisper image and petal detail is still excellent at ISO800. ISO1600 is the K200D's highest setting and, given the result, they could've gone up to ISO3200, like the K100D Super.

It's a shame they've limited the camera like this when it would've handled the job better than some others.

Pentax K200D
The ISO100 test.
Pentax K200D
The ISO200 test.
Pentax K200D
The ISO400 test.
Pentax K200D
The ISO800 test.
Pentax K200D
The ISO1600 test.

DxOMark provides objective, independent, RAW-based image quality performance data for lenses and digital cameras to help you select the best equipment to meet your photographic needs.

Visit the DxOMark website for tests performed on the Pentax K200D.

Pentax K200D: Verdict
The Pentax K200D does a great job for what it's designed to do. It manages to create decent shots for any photographic style which is great for the learner trying to find a niche.

My main problem is the price. The ePHOTOzine shop has it at £469.99 body only, which is expensive for this classification. Kits are available if you look around, but are around the £550 price mark.

Now take a look at the video review of the Pentax K200D on here

Pentax K200D: Plus points
Good noise performance
Good build quality
Dust and weatherproofing

Pentax K200D: Minus points
Expensive compared to rivals
Fps performance isn't brilliant





The Pentax K200D costs £469.99 body only (at the moment) and is available from the ePHOTOzine shop here.

Now take a look at the video review:

Got to for more videos.

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