My Precious K10D
By Mário Matos
30 Mar 2009
My Pentax K10D is one magnificent piece of engineering and design. It's a fabulous camera, much underrated by the massive competition from giants Canon and Nikon.
This camera gives an unending set of customizable options; it doesn't feature «scene modes», which, for the serious amateur, really aren't worth much, unless you're in a rush. I like to have full control of the camera, and not to rely on predefined modes. I don't like the camera to «think» for me, though I admit sometimes the camera would probably think better than me — but hey, I'm human and I like to keep it that way. I'd rather ruin a perfect shoot opportunity than have a great shot taken by the camera and not by me — if you pardon the exaggeration.
The Pentax K10D — and its successor, the K20D — is a camera that let's me shoot like I was shooting in the old days with my first camera, a completely manual Fuji FX2 — with which I made some great pics... and learned a lot, by trial and error. Of course today trial and error is infinitely much less expensive — in those days of analogue photography, every click cost a couple of cents... And you couldn't do much about it afterward, unless you had your own lab. The upside of it was that you would take time to think and carefully prepare the shot, whereas today you shoot and then spend a considerable amount of time editing in the computer...
The only downside to this beauty is weight and size. It's heavy — almost 1 kg with the 70-300 Sigma zoom shown here! — and a true pain in the neck after a couple of hours hanging from the strap; and it's far from inconspicuous. Furthermore, the shutter is absurdly noisy. So much for candid street photos...
Sometimes I just betray her miserably and take my son's Fuji s1000fd. It's small, lightweight and takes acceptable pics. But... not comparable.
I'm trying to get my hands on a 50mm f1.4 lens for this baby. It's not easy to find them nowadays. But the kit lens that came with it is very good — and much better than most kit lenses other brands ship their cameras with. The only annoying thing about it is vignetting when using it at the wide end. But then again, a bit of post processing solves the problem.
The camera is also very well built, solid and water resistant. So much so that there is a video on YouTube of a guy putting a K10D under the tap... Which I won't do with mine (call me what you want!), but it's nice to know it can withstand rough treatment, in case you need it to.
Shake reduction is achieved through the sensor, so there's no need for much more expensive lenses with built-in shake reduction.
It has a tendency to underexpose a bit — which isn't too bad, since you can then adjust the RAW file in Lightroom or other photo editor — and the detail in the highlights isn't lost. I seldom use JPEGs out of the camera anyway, though it has several post processing options available. But don't count on the included software; it's cumbersome and very limited. I use Lightroom, mostly, and Photoshop, so the proprietary software was quickly uninstalled from my PC.
Some simple and bright ideas have been put into this camera, like the RAW button: if you are shooting in JPEG and want to quickly return to RAW, you just push this button. Nice and simple. No hassling through menus...
I recommend it strongly. Sure there is a limited range of lenses and accessories. But, to be honest, how many lenses do you really need? If you're a gadget freak, get a Canon or a Nikon...
Not that those would be bad choices — I've had a Canon and a Nikon in the analogue times. I particularly loved the Nikon; the Canon was very plasticky and felt fragile. One of the USM zoom lenses staggered miserably when trying to focus and I had to resort to manual frequently — still, I've taken great shots of my kids with it. But Canon and Nikon targets are different, at least at the entry levels.
Finally, a bonus: the Pentax K10D (discontinued, but you can find it for very attractive prices), or the K20D (which is basically the same with a 14 Mp sensor and HDR features), is not as expensive as it might sound. You get a lot of machine for the buck. It's almost a pro camera targeted at the serious amateur level.
So there you have my two cents about my precious K10D.