Pentax K7

The next episode in the series “everyone except Nikon and Canon is doing interesting stuff” has come out. The newly announced Pentax K7 offers in-camera HDR imaging (by combining three photos), HD video (yawn), rotational vibration reduction, pro-level body construction in at an enthusiast price, pro-level viewfinder coverage (100%), and — zomg — an external microphone jack. It’s also smaller and better looking than its rivals.

And because it has in-body VR, its lenses are all cheaper. E.g. the 18-250mm lens is a little over $400.

It will be a shame if the street price isn’t considerably lower than the $1299 SRP. The street price on the model it replaces (the K20D, which is a very decent machine) is under $700.

Aside: at the Nikon D5000 is available now for around $730. The Canon T1i is around $800. The K20D is around $670 with those silly “add to cart to find out the price” deals, but it’s also out of stock, so it may actually be going out of production. Meanwhile the K7 is listing for $1300, the 50D is $1200, and the D90 is $975 (the D300 is $1700 … cough). If the K7 replaces the K20D with a price of around $900 it’s going to kick some serious butt (it would be $1350 bundled with an 18-250mm lens, which will probably be competitive with the Panasonic GH-1 with its 14-140mm lens, even when its price drops to reasonable levels).

One thing that may not be apparent from the picture above is how “lop-sided” the K7 is. Essentially the camera is really small (think smaller than an Olympus DSLR), but it makes up for this by having almost all of the body on the right side of the viewfinder. So, this camera essentially trumps everything on the market in features (except, aguably, the GH-1’s live view, and the flip-out LCD) while being metal, weather-sealed, small, having a pro-quality viewfinder (100% coverage, 0.95 magnification). And again, unlike Nikon and Canon, it’s not an intentionally crippled camera, so it has things like front and rear control dials, decent focus points, and a really good viewfinder. And, arguably, Pentax has the most interesting range of cropped frame lenses if you feel like spending money on cropped frame lenses which you’ll probably regret in a couple of years when everyone is shooting full frame again.

My only question is how fast and accurate the autofocus “feels”. (I have the same question about the GH-1.)