Two days after Pentax's entry into the video DSLR game was leaked all to hell, the company has issued a formal announcement. So that 720p video function, automatic HDR, and lush LCD? It's all there.
Built around an all-new, video-capable 14.6-megapixel sensor, the K-7's weather-sealed, magnesium alloy K-mount body helps set it apart, at least somehow, from the burgeoning field of low-to-mid-range video DSLRs from larger manufacturers like Canon and Nikon. Other salient features include an interestingly diverse array of video resolution options (720p, 1536x1024, and VGA), all recorded at 30fps, the automatic HDR mode, HDMI output, a 921,000 dot, 3-inch LCD with Live View function and in-body shake reduction.
Moving on the core camera specs, the K-7 looks solid. It'll shoot 5.4 stills per second, boasts a maximum shutter speed of 1/8000th of a second and supports an admirably high ISO 6400. Dust removal, images processing, AF and metering are all said to be improved over existing Pentax models as well. Of course, impressive numbers and snazzy new feature claims don't mean a thing unless they've been demonstrated to translate into clean, noise-free images, but they're all we've got for now.
Then there's the matter of price. A body-only price of $1300 positions the K-7 a broad step above the sub-grand Canon T1i and Nikon D5000, but well below the high-end Canon 5D Mk II. That said, it's the first camera to address the durability concerns raised by using a DSLR as a camcorder, and it fares well against its cheaper competition on paper. For now, that is—who knows what other manufacturers will have dreamt up by the time the K-7 ships in July. Full release below.
PENTAX INTRODUCES ADVANCED PENTAX K-7 DIGITAL SLR
New Camera Boasts Variety of Technological Firsts and Major Improvements
Over Previous K Series Cameras
GOLDEN, CO. (May 20, 2009)…PENTAX Imaging Company announced today the launch of the PENTAX K-7 digital SLR camera. This latest PENTAX K series camera is designed for advanced photographers seeking high-end design and features without the cost of a professional DSLR system. The PENTAX K-7 features a rugged, yet compact new body design, a new 14.6 megapixel CMOS sensor rebuilt from the ground up, and advanced features such as HD Movie Capture and new, unique-to-PENTAX camera controls. Compatible with every PENTAX lens ever made, the high-end K-7 features an abundance of long-anticipated new and improved features that are exclusive to the camera and combine to make it a tremendous photography tool.
"The K-7 will appeal to many current PENTAX SLR photographers who have been asking for more advanced features, but in a smaller, solid, comfortable-to-hold body," said Ned Bunnell, president, PENTAX Imaging Company. "We also believe the combination of the K-7's smaller, high quality construction coupled with the growing line-up of our Limited compact prime lenses will appeal to serious shooters who currently don't own or previously hadn't considered adding a PENTAX to their camera bag."
The most significant features of the PENTAX K-7 that have never been offered before in any K series digital camera, and in some cases any camera, include:
A compact, magnesium alloy body that is one of the smallest in the advanced photo enthusiast category to reduce bulk and allow users to travel light while maintaining durability and build quality (seven percent smaller than the K20D and up to 25 percent smaller than other cameras in the same class).
A new 14.6 megapixel CMOS sensor rebuilt from the ground up to minimize noise, adds four channel output for fast image capture, and the ability to capture HD quality movies. It is the ideal combination of resolution and file size, allowing very large (poster size and larger) prints and cropping flexibility.
A new 77-segment metering system quickly and accurately determines exposure for even the most complex and dynamic lighting situations.
HD Movie capture features adjustable quality and resolution settings, aperture control, as well as mechanical Shake Reduction, and an external microphone terminal for recording stereo sound.* The K-7 will capture video at the default standard of 1280x720 resolution with a 16:9 aspect ratio (equivalent to 720p), 1536x1024 resolution with a 3:2 aspect ratio, or 640x416 resolution with a 3:2 aspect ratio (equivalent to VGA quality), all shot at 30 frames per second.
An HDMI port with selectable output resolution (1080i, 720p, 480p, and auto) offers high resolution playback of images and video on modern high definition TV's.
A Dedicated AF-assist lamp further improves autofocus response and accuracy in low light conditions.
An Electronic Level function ensures that images have truly level horizons to minimize post-capture editing.
An innovative in-camera Lens Correction function that electronically adjusts for Distortion and Lateral Chromatic Aberrations to maximize image quality with DA series lenses.
A dedicated Mirror Lock-up function eliminates image blur due to mirror movement during long exposures.
A High Dynamic Range (HDR) image capture mode captures three images then combines them in camera to widen the exposure gamut to bring out detail in all exposure areas of images.
A composition adjustment feature in Live View allows minor shifts in the framing and composition of images using the Shake Reduction mechanism without having to physically move the camera. This feature is ideal for tripod use.
A programmable embedded copyright function preserves artistic integrity and image ownership during capture via a keypad that may record ownership in metatag data.
*Due to the compact size of the K-7 camera and the in-body Shake Reduction mechanism, a camera mounted microphone is a highly recommended accessory for optimal audio quality when capturing video.
A variety of K series camera features that are significantly improved in the PENTAX K-7 include:
A striking 3 inch LCD with 921,000 dot resolution is perfect for detailed image or movie capture and review using the Live View function.
A weather, dust and cold resistant (to 14° F or -10° C) body makes the K-7 the perfect camera for use in any environment, inside the studio or when travelling in any weather.
Fast 5.2 frame-per-second shooting with a new PRIME II Image processing engine, which features fast circuitry and 4 channel output that is ideal for sporting events or any fast action situation.
A top shutter speed of 1/8000 sec freezes even the fastest action in well lit settings.
Live View mode, now with contrast AF, Face Detection, and optional histogram, grid, and bright/dark area display, allows you to quickly compose your images without having your eye against the viewfinder.
A 100 percent field-of-view viewfinder (92X magnification) and bright focusing screen are ideal for accurate image composition and accurate focus.
The PENTAX 11-point autofocus system features improved focus algorithms over previous generation K series DSLR cameras, providing faster, more responsive AF.
The PENTAX-original Shake Reduction system now compensates for rotational sensor movement improving the sharpness of your images at the moment of capture.
The K-7's Dust Reduction system, improved over previous K series cameras, features a piezo-ceramic vibration action to the sensor's low-pass filter for dust-fee image capture.
A new high capacity battery features extended battery life, ideal for travel photography or video work.
Advanced image capture settings, digital filters, and aspect ratio provide outstanding flexibility and creativity while minimizing the need for computer image manipulation.
Custom Image modes with advanced parameter settings including new Key adjustment allow users to customize the processing mode to suit personal creative style.
Other K series innovations featured on the PENTAX K-7 include:
Multiple exposure settings, including Green, Program, Sv, Tv, Av, TAv, M, Bulb, X-sync, and USER modes, provide extensive creative control over the exposure for photographers of all experience levels.
Advanced white balance settings include highly customizable white balance fine tuning, color temperature adjustment, and post image capture manual white balance selection for perfect pictures in even the most difficult lighting.
Dynamic Range setting with adjustable shadow correction brings out hidden or lost details in both highlights and shadows for even the highest-contrast, dynamic lighting.
Dedicated PC socket for studio flash offers convenience for the studio photographer without adding hot shoe adapters.
Advanced capture options include multi-exposure and interval shooting for creative special effects and time-lapse photography.
Along with the body, PENTAX announced a D-BG4 battery grip for exclusive use with the PENTAX K-7. This battery grip may be used in combination with the camera's rechargeable lithium-ion battery to double camera's battery life. The D-BG4 also accepts 6 AA batteries in a alternate battery tray for added freedom when shooting in the field. With a vertical shutter-release button, e-dials, AE-lock and a new focus button, the grip features the same weather-resistance, dustproof and coldproof construction as the PENTAX K-7.
PENTAX also announced two weather-resistant lens models developed specifically for PENTAX digital SLRs. The smc DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL WR and the smc DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED WR kit lenses feature weather-resistant seals to handle damp, inclement conditions. Complementing K series camera bodies, both lenses blend versatility with affordability, giving the casual photographer a broader canvas without having to carry a multitude of lenses.
The PENTAX K-7 body only will ship in July 2009 for $1,299.95 USD. The PENTAX D-BG4 battery grip also will ship in July 2009 for $229.95. The newest weather-resistant lenses will be priced at $199.95 for the DA 18-55mm and $249.95 for the DA 50-200mm. These products also will ship in July 2009.