Pentax’s K100D Super; The Digital K-Mount Revolution Continues Page 2

The camera has a 6.1-megapixel APS-C-sized CCD and when combined with an 11-point autofocus mechanism and 16-segment multi-pattern metering delivers excellent image reproduction. The bright penta-mirror viewfinder features a 96 percent field of view and 0.85x magnification. The K100D Super has a 2.5" LCD monitor with 210,000 pixel resolution and while that sounds like a lot, I found that really contrasty, backlit images sometimes exhibited a tiny bit of posterization. A user-friendly Mode dial features Auto Picture and Picture modes as well as Scene modes that will help SLR newbies get the best possible image under a variety of photographic conditions.

Pentax provides software for Mac OS and Windows computers that converts its PEF (Pentax Electronic File) raw files into more portable formats. Adobe's Lightroom 1.2 and their Camera Raw 4.2 plug-in supports 14 additional digital cameras, including the Pentax K100D Super. The Adobe Camera Raw 4.2 plug-in is available as a free download for users of Photoshop CS3 and Photoshop Elements 4.0 (Mac OS) and 5.0 (Windows). It will not, however, work with Photoshop CS2 and previous versions.

The K100D Super lets you convert--in camera--color files into monochrome, even sepia, using the built-in Digital Filters. Image was captured with a DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 ED (IF) at 1/400 sec and f/6.3 with an ISO 200. I then applied the lowest Soft filter setting to the sepia-toned file to create this version, leaving three versions of the file on the SD card.

In The Field
The Pentax K100D Super is surprisingly rugged for an inexpensive D-SLR. Sure it's covered in the inevitable fiber-reinforced polycarbonate shell, but it has a stainless steel chassis. Ergonomics are good but because I like bigger rather than smaller cameras, I missed the battery grip that's optional with the K10D. To keep the price down it uses a penta-mirror instead of a prism, but the view through the lens was never anything but clear and bright. I wished the K100D Super had an ISO 100 setting though I usually shoot at 200 anyway, but still... On the other side of the sensitivity spectrum, the camera offers ISO 3200 that produced noise levels that were tight and what you might see with images captured on ISO 800 color negative film. That didn't bother me and if it bothers you there's always Neat Image (www.neatimage.com) to reduce or eliminate digital noise.

The Pentax K100D Super permits in camera monochrome and image manipulation but not at time of capture. The Digital Filters menu is accessible when viewing the specific image you want to work with through the camera's Playback menu and includes Black & White, Sepia, Color, and Soft. A Brightness filter lets you apply plus or minus eight levels of brightness to an image file and the Slim filter lets you change the photograph's horizontal and vertical aspect ratios. After applying any of the filters and clicking the OK button, you're prompted to "Save As" and the file will save the processed image under a new name. The upside of using this process is that when a filter is applied, the color original remains untouched, but I prefer that monochrome images be captured directly. I appreciate Pentax's logic but nevertheless found it inconvenient to capture then convert a file.

This reference shot was made with the Pentax DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 ED/AL (IF) lens with an exposure of 1/60 sec at f/16 and ISO 200.

Like the other Pentax D-SLRs, the K100D Super uses Secure Digital (SD) memory cards. It is also compatible with the SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) subformat that allows capacities in excess of 2GB and uses a different memory addressing method that only works in SDHC compatible devices. Images captured with the K100D Super onto a 4GB SDHC card would not work in my Belkin card reader, so I had to replace it with a compatible reader from SanDisk. Yes, I could have used a direct connection to the camera and that may be the short-term solution for K100D Super shooters who lack a compatible card reader, but with prices around $20 just go and buy a new one.

Digital infrared fans will be glad to know that the K100D Super is--when used with the appropriate filters--IR capable. The two lenses that I used with the camera (see the "New Pentax Lenses" sidebar) have large filter sizes. The 16-50mm f/2.8, for example, is 77mm so for the examples that accompany this story I used an A-sized Cokin 89B filter a.k.a. 007 and held it in front of the lens with my fingers. This is the recommended method to avoid IR dilution caused by using a modular filter holder that would allow unfiltered light to come in from the sides. Yep, sometimes I get my fingers in the shot, especially at the 16mm setting. The best way to go will be with a 77mm filter; a Hoya RM-72 filter costs $262.50, and is the sanest way to go if you are serious about digital IR. A Cokin 007 in "P" size, which should keep your fingers out of the shot, is $45.

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