The Pentax K10D; The Digital K-Mount World Expands Page 2

In Camera Processing
The Pentax K10D series permits in camera monochrome and image manipulation but not at time of capture. The Digital Filter found in the Playback menu offers Black & White, Sepia, Slim, Soft, Brightness, and Color effects. Only JPEGs need apply; raw images cannot be processed using Digital Filter.

The Black & White filter does what you think it will, and rotating the e-dial wheel lets you apply red, green, and blue digital filters. The Sepia filter applies three different intensities of "sepianess" by turning the e-dial and the Soft filter lets you add a soft focus effect by selecting one of three levels. If your original photograph is a little dark or too bright, the Brightness filter lets you apply eight levels of (plus or minus) brightness to a photograph. The Slim filter changes the image's horizontal and vertical aspect ratio, adjusting the photograph's height or width up to two times the original size. Why? My guess is that this is for home market consumption, just not our home.

The upside of using this process is that when a filter is applied, your color original remains untouched. These kinds of effects can be applied in the digital darkroom but doing it in camera lets you make prints with the effects directly from a kiosk without having to load the files onto a computer. I would prefer that monochrome images be captured directly and appreciate Pentax's logic, but found it inconvenient to capture then convert a file.

The K10D provides three levels of soft focus filter and if there is any effect that deserves not to be done at time of capture it's soft focus. Having three choices lets you choose the one that fits the photograph's mood and many people who I showed this sequence preferred this (highest level of softness) to any of the other color or monochrome versions.
The red filter produces dramatic landscapes. The sky turns almost black and the contrast between clouds and sky is at its maximum. In portraiture, freckles and blemishes are eliminated but lip color is lightened.

Shooting The K10D
Pentax claims that the K10D has a multiplication factor of "approximately" 1.5, although I have seen some wags on the web claim it is closer to 1.6 or 1.7 so I will leave it to the mathematicians in the audience to crunch the numbers. Out here in the real world it means that longer lenses appear longer (although capturing the same angle of view, just less of it) but more importantly wide angle lenses are longer, too. Pentax makes two wonderfully versatile and sharp lenses for their D-SLRs, including the smc P-DA Fish-Eye 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 and smc P-DA 12-24mm f/4.0.

Whether you shoot raw, DNG, or JPEG, the images the Pentax K10D produces are impressive. The camera is well designed and all the switchgear is made to professional standard. Instead of a flimsy rubber cover over its input/output ports there's a solid door that opens and closes like it should instead of flopping in the breeze. The camera's ergonomics are wonderful, whether you shoot with the battery grip on or off. Unlike other battery packs that require you to remove the battery door to attach it, the D-BG2 lets you keep the camera body battery inside, giving you access/back up to two batteries, although only one is in the grip. Get a spare ($49.95), so you can use this feature. Under normal conditions a single battery allows 500 shots per charge and it never let me down, although extensive use of the built-in flash slowed the ability to make rapid sequence flash shots while waiting for the flash to recycle.

Like most in camera sepia effects, Pentax's digital Sepia filter is a bit too orange for my taste. You may like and you can make prints right away at a kiosk compared to taking extra time to manipulate the file in the digital darkroom.
A green filter is also generally used for landscape photography because it lightens vegetation but doesn't darken the sky as much as the red filter. Some people, including me, use it for portraits, and I like the effect of Pentax's digital green filter here.

With the proper filter, such as Singh-Ray's (www.singh-ray.com) I-Ray Infrared, I was able to capture near infrared images with the Pentax K100D. The K10D appears to use a different imager or must have a built-in IR filter, because the on-chip infrared response with the I-Ray produced a weak effect, no matter the exposure. So digital IR fans, you're out of luck with the K10D.

I don't bracket with digital as much as I did with film but sometimes it's just prudent to do so. The K10D makes it easy by providing a bracket button that (for right-eyed shooters) falls under your left thumb. Pressing the button gives you three settings, including off, a three-shot bracket, and a five-shot bracket. After choosing Bracket mode, pressing and holding the shutter release fires all three or five shots in sequence. You can also change the order of exposures with the Custom Function, but I always use the traditional underexposed to overexposed progression.

Long before the Smart car, BMW (note the logo) built this three-wheeled Isetta minicar that helped save the company. This shot was made at the Forney Transportation Museum in Denver with the smc P-DA 12-24mm f/4.0 lens in Aperture Priority mode. Exposure was 2 seconds at f/11 at ISO 400. And no, noise was not an issue with this image.

Like the bracket button, the K10D is festooned with lots of manual control levers, knobs, and buttons, my favorite being the bracket button and my unfavorite being the twist-lock for opening the memory card door. The *ist D models had a similarly horrible feature that thankfully disappeared on the K100D, but now it's back on the K10D, adding what some designer must have thought was a touch of pro panache to a camera that doesn't need it--the rest of the camera already says that. There is a similar twist-lock camera battery door on both the bottom of the camera and the D-BG2, but in these cases it's a really good idea. Nobody wants the battery to fall out.

The Pentax K10D has the look and feel as well as performance of a much more expensive camera. The optional D-BG2 Battery Grip costs $190 and when you purchase the camera be sure to get one. It's indispensable. The K10D body costs $899.95 or as a kit with the redoubtable DA 18-55mm lens $999.95. I know a bargain when I see one.

This photograph was captured at 1/125 sec at f/18 at ISO 200. Lens was one of my favorites for outdoor photography, the redoubtable DA 18-55mm lens at 45mm.

Firmware Update
As we were going to press, Pentax announced a firmware upgrade. Highlights of Version 1.10 include the ability to let the built-in flash wirelessly control external Pentax flashes. In Autofocus Select mode, you can program the AF button to return to the center autofocus point. In Tv or Av mode, you can program the second e-dial to adjust the ISO setting, which is a great idea. In any Exposure mode (except Sv and TAv) you can change the ISO setting with the front e-dial while pressing the OK button. There are a few more tweaks and the updates may be more significant to some users than others, but applying the update is easy. Download the file, copy it to a SD card, stick the card in the camera while pressing the menu button, and "Bob's your uncle."

Technical Specifications
Dimensions: 5.6x4.0x2.8"
Weight: 25.0 oz
Price: $899.95 (body)
Website: www.pentaximaging.com

For more information, contact Pentax Imaging Company, 600 12th St., Ste. 300, Golden, CO 80401; (800) 877-0155; www.pentaximaging.com.

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