I'm looking at the K-x or the K-7 to replace my LX3. I have owned multiple Sony dSLRs (A200, A700, A900) and a few Nikon bodies (D50, D90), but decided to focus on basics and use the LX3 exclusively. I've enjoyed it, but I really miss the DoF and feel of an SLR. I'd get a Sony, but they haven't updated the A700, and none of their cams offer video capture (which is as important as anything to me). The k-x seems like an excellent value ($600 with kit online) and the K-7 seems like a very solid mid-level SLR at a reasonable price ($1050 with kit lens). I really like the ability to use all the older glass, the video capture, the built-in IS, and the weather sealing.
Obviously I'm not afraid of non-CanNikon stuff, but I've run into a lot of trouble finding a Pentax dealer locally. I live in Seattle and there are a lot of camera shops but all of them (ALL OF THEM!) tell me the same thing when I call to ask about Pentax display units: "Pentax is probably going to go under soon, we literally can't get a rep on the phone, and the units don't sell." Three different stores (Talls, Kenmore, and Glazers) all said this same thing to me.
So, is Pentax (and their mount) going to go the way of the dodo? I don't need a huge stable of pro lenses, but I don't want to be left holding the bag on a $1000 investment into a dead system.
PS Not trying to troll here, I'm honestly confused about this.
IŽve been quite on the fence to answer this post, for quite some reasons.
Fanboyism aside, there are some points I want to make which separates Pentax from the rest of the bodies [not lenses, yet], starting with the handling.
Even if I still use and own a *istDS, one of the less substantial digital machines ever, there is something to it that makes it completely ok. That is its advantage. I remember using, before buying it, Olympus, Canon, Nikon and Konica-Minolta bodies. They were just too convoluted to use. After using the Pentax, metering with the rest was a nightmare, due to something Pentax bodies have and none [NONE] of the others have: hyper modes.
Hyper modes is a sort of dark magic, deeply hidden in the manual, and that most of the reviewers and users tend to forget they have. It is such a simple way to use a camera, that once you try it all the rest of the bodies will leave yourself scratching your head.
Usually, youŽve got the hyperprogramme and hypermanual modes [and, boy oh boy, it has been around since mid nineties]. What they do is allow you to change one of the two main exposure variables, press a button, and the camera will calculate and give the other propper value. Were you on manual mode, and get lost when changing the value of aperture or speed, press the green or AE-Lock button, and there you have the propper exposure according to what your exposure value has been set. Those values tend to stay there even changing the camera mode.
It sounds much more complicated than what in reality is. Try it once, and youŽll never want to go back.
Metering is usually off by a standard -1EV [aknoweledged on the manuals to preserve highlight blows].
Continuing with the very bodies, I have to say that there are other advantages. White balance is usually top notch compared to the rest, even if values are not what raw developers will tell you they are. But keep in mind that it does record the hue of the light of the scene, rather than a propper white. For that very reason the K7 has a very advanced and geeky white balance control.
The sensors are good. The Samsung sensor is very good when recording detail and its results hold post processing very well.
Legacy lens support is very good, and stop-down metering very easy due to the green button again. No adapters needed for lenses with the bayonet mount whatsoever. That is a huge amount of lenses out there: Pentax, Vivitar, Zeiss, CZ, CV, Kiron, Komine, Tokina, Tamron, Sigma, Kiev, Zenit, Industar, Chinon, and being careful, Ricoh.
Depending on your style of shooting, the bodies are always on the smaller size. That being said, unless a raincoat, they are not pocket friendly, even a Kx with the tiny DA 40.
Lenses are another world.
The best lenses for Pentax bodies are Pentax lenses. Period. Not the CZ series, or the CV series [Cosina-Voigthlander] are better than the equivalent Pentax. They are different in rendering and character, but not better. And being a lens nut, I would reccomend them over the Leica R glass [which I found nerveracking at least]. Some contemporary legends: the Macro 35, the DA 70 and the DA 14.
Usually, they are very compact lenses but for the very extremes [DA14 being much, much bigger than the DA 15 limited].
Remember that a wide range of lenses does not mean a good range of lenses.
You can use 645 and 67 lenses on APS-C bodies, with the propper adapter.
HOWEVER, and it is a big problem with the best Pentax lenses: they get very disappointing the first times you use them. I got pretty "depressed" when I spent 550 Euros on a simple 43 1.9ltd lens. It was more than double the price of the fast fifty. Yet the results were not as good. It took me quite a lot of time to learn how to use this lens. And that seems to be the biggest problem with the new 55 1.4 and the 15 4.
Perhaps, as cameras go, their main problem is that they are just allright. No fancy bells and whistles. Job propperly done. Fullstop. No happy birthday tunes, no "look-at-me" bodies.
As for the future of Pentax, I will not really care that much about it, unless youŽll try to change bodies every year or so. They are rugged enough [even the DS has suffered 7 ft. falls, and goes on], and it seems that the megapixel race has slowed down quite something.
As for the future of the brand, who knows. But that happens with very many brands.
My best advice is that, regardless of the brand, choose the one who meets your physical needs and style of shooting. You can easily take a photo in the tube with the K7 and a 43ltd, but a D300s and a 50 1.8 gets quite cumbersome in the same situation.
Rob C. After trying the 67II, I noticed no more mirror vibration than the equivalent Hasselblad or Mamiya. Plus, you can get a wood handle for the 67.