November 11 2008
In the 1960’s Asahi Optical Company started the tradition of easy to use SLR cameras aimed at novice photographers with their Spotmatic 1000. Pentax are hoping their new entry level DSLR, the K2000 will inherit the success of its iconic predecessors.
Pentax followed the Spotmatic 1000 in the 1970’s with the a new model, the K1000,featuring the new K bayonet mount lens system . Thi s replaced the venerable screw mount system that Pentax SLRs used since the 1950’s. Pentax kept producing the K1000 until the mid 1990s, as customers kept demanding a simple easy to use film SLR. Now the K2000 inherits the triple zero name for the digital age, although this is only in the United States, the same body will be available under the PENTAX K-m product name outside of the US.
The K2000 uses proven components from the Pentax parts bin, allowing the designers to concentrate on the control layout of the K2000. The intention is to make it into a one handed camera, with most of the controls on the right hand side of the body. The logic is that the photographer’s left hand cradles the camera and lens, operating the zoom ring and occasionally the manual focus ring of the lens. This leaves the right hand free to operate the shutter and the knob and buttons to do with exposure.
As part of this the K2000 loses the small LCD display on the top right side of the body found on other Pentax K series DSLRs. Simpler controls seems to be the objective with aim to not intimidate novice DSLR users with a confusing array of buttons. To further assist newcomers, the Pentax K2000 includes a context sensitive on board help system to explain the current camera function setting.
The Pentax K2000 has all the expected scene modes and a range of semi automatic and full manual modes preferred by more experienced photographers. This allows photographers to directly control shutter speed and lens aperture, essential features for those learning photography.
Pentax include one of their hot shoe external flash units, the Pentax AF200G, with the system. This is flash is designed to work with the cameras exposure system to control the amount of flash making it easy get properly exposed pictures without the washed out over bright look from simple flash systems, yet has plenty of power when needed for great night snapshots. . The head does not move so to achieve bounce flash use the optional off camera adaptors, or try an add-on diffuser to help soften the direct flash.
Pentax have up rated the K200’s top ISO to 3200 with the same sensor that is restricted to 1600 in the K10D. This sounds more like a marketing move to make the specifications sound good rather than a breakthrough for better low light photography. Anything over ISO 800 with most DSLRs is going to suffer from some noise, but the K2000 still offers a wide range of ISO settings suitable for most photographers starting out in DSLRs. With the AF200G flashgun as part of the kit, there is less need to explore the upper reaches of the K2000’s ISO capabilities.
Because Pentax DSLRs have their image stabilization in the camera body it applies to every Pentax K mount or 42mm screw mount lens ever made, not just more expensive special models. The potential saving may not be obvious at the start but they add up over the years.
The standard lens is a new version of the Pentax’s basic lens that has earned a reputation as one of the best kit lenses for entry level DSLRs. Taking into account the digital crop factor the 18-55m focal length range is well suited to sweeping scenery and mild telephoto effect at maximum zoom is handy for portraits.
The PENTAX K2000 digital SLR system with smc PENTAX DA L 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL lens and PENTAX AF200FG flash will ship in November 2008 at US $699.95.