Is a Higher ISO and Larger LCD Worth the Extra $150 for Pentax's K-r?S

It's been a year in the making, but Pentax has released a successor to the K-x DSLR, and while the upgrades aren't astonishing, there's a higher ISO count (up to 25,600) and larger LCD, at 3-inches.

It's got the same 12MP sensor and can't shoot more than 720p video res at 25fps, so you've really got to be a Pentax fan to want to go for this over Canon or Nikon's entry-level behemoths.

On sale in October, the K-r will cost $800 without lens, but if you spring an extra $50 you can grab the 18-55mm lens too. Really, considering the K-x cost $650 last year, I'm not too sure those few small updates are worth an extra $150.

The K-r boasts outstanding performance and versatility, almost the equivalent of more advanced digital SLR cameras, while allowing the photographer to easily deal with different photographic requirements. Its dual-power-source design offers a choice between the standard rechargeable lithium-ion battery and a set of AA-size batteries.

It is also compatible with the IrSimple™ high-speed infrared data transmission system for wireless data transfer to IrSimple-compatible devices, and for swift image data exchange.

What are its key functions?
1. High-quality, true-to-life image reproduction: The K-r incorporates a new-generation CMOS image sensor with approximately 12.4 effective megapixels. It also features the high-performance PRIME (PENTAX Real Image Engine) II imaging engine to ensure accurate and high-speed data processing equal to that of upper-level models
2. Compact, lightweight body: Despite the incorporation of the large 23.6mm x 15.8mm image sensor, the K-r sports a compact, lightweight body, thanks to a trim, stainless-steel chassis, a downsized in-body shake reduction mechanism, and state-of-the-art, high-density packaging technologies that ensure space-efficient positioning and layout of the camera components
3. High-speed continuous shooting at approximately six images per second: The shooting mode records as many as 25 images (in JPEG recording format) in a single sequence at a maximum speed of approximately six images per second - the fastest of all entry-class models
4. High-precision AF system: The K-r's high-precision, wide-frame SAFOX IX autofocus system features 11 sensor points (with nine cross-type sensors positioned in the middle) for pin sharp focusing. Spot beam is also available for difficult lighting situations.
5. Bright, clear optical viewfinder: Thanks to the combination of PENTAX-original finder optics and the renowned Natural-Bright-Matte focusing screen, the K-r's viewfinder offers a bright, clear subject image at 0.85X magnification and a 96% field of view
6. Large, easy-to-view 3.0-inch LCD monitor with wide-view design and approximately 921,000 dots: High-resolution colour LCD monitor with approximately 921,000 dots. Its wide-view design assures a clear view of the monitor image from approximately 170 degrees horizontally and vertically
7. Versatile dual-power-source design: Powered by a standard rechargeable lithium-ion battery or four AA-size batteries using optional AA Battery Holder D-BH109
8. PENTAX-original SR mechanism for sharp, blur-free images: Features the PENTAX-developed SR (Shake Reduction) mechanism, producing sharp, blur-free images even under demanding conditions prone to camera shake; compatible with the full range of Pentax lenses
9. Innovative image-processing functions to produce distinctive photographic expressions: Custom image function for distinctive finishing touches/ Versatile digital filter function/ Cross process mode with three options/ Upgraded HDR (High Dynamic Range) function
10. High-speed infrared data transmission system: The first PENTAX digital SLR camera equipped with the IrSimple™ high-speed infrared data transmission system
11. High-quality, HDTV-proportion movie recording at 1280 x 720 pixels and at 25 frames per second: True-to-life movie clips in 16:9 high-definition TV proportions (1280 x 720 pixels) at a frame rate of 25 frames per second

In addition it has...
• DR (Dust Removal) mechanism, to shake dust off the CMOS image sensor
• User-friendly layout of essential control buttons and levers, all positioned on the camera's grip side for quick, effortless access by the photographer
• Auto Picture mode, for effortless, automatic selection of the most appropriate shooting mode, even during Live View shooting
• Eleven scene modes, including a new Night Scene HDR mode
• Versatile white balance control, featuring a new CTE mode designed to emphasise the dominant colour components of the captured images
• Automatic compensation of distortion and lateral chromatic aberration (available only with DA-,DFA- and FA Limited-series lenses)
• PENTAX Digital Camera Utility 4 software package, with RAW-data processing and browser applications

The PENTAX K-r will be available from October 2010
Recommended Retail Price:
• K-r + 18-55mm DAL - £599.99
• K-r + 18-55mm DAL + 50-200mm DAL - £699.99