Hands-On: Pentax K-r

The very first thing I noticed about Pentax’s new entry-level DSLR was its color schemes. I’ve seen hundreds of black SLRs and a handful of silver ones, but white or red SLRs? Madness. It’s just part of the K-r’s entry-level appeal, to make the camera seem as fashionable as a high-end compact while offering all the benefits of a real SLR.

In line with that idea, the body of the Pentax K-ris remarkably small and light. While I didn’t have my Rebel on-hand to compare, the camera felt just a hair more compact than my regular body. It feels solid for its size and category, but its slightly soft, grippy texture is a big change from Canon’s SLR cases.

While an event hall isn’t the best place to put an SLR’s autofocus through its paces, the Pentax K-rseemed to adjust extremely quick as I locked on different subjects. The menu structure and button layout felt suitably simple, like most entry-level SLRs. One thumb wheel, one mode dial, and a handful of buttons on the back offer about the same interface as a Rebel.

On paper, the K-rlooks like a strong competitor to the Canon T2i. While its 12-megapixel resolution is dwarfed by the T2i’s 18-megapixel resolution, it offers a 6 fps continuous mode compared to the T2i’s 3.7 fps, and it can hit quadruple the sensitivity at ISO 25,600. Its video mode tops out at 720p and 25 fps, but that’s still good enough for most users.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take any test shots with the K-r they had on display, so I can’t speak to the camera’s image quality yet.

The K-r looks like a relatively minor upgrade from the K-x, but between both cameras it looks like Pentax is really stepping up its SLR game. The company has made a few long strides since last year’s K-7, and it’s come very, very far since it got into the DSLR market with the hard-to-pronounce *ist D. Pentax loyalists looking for a camera to compete with Canon’s T2i might very well be pleased with this SLR.

Oh, and it comes in white and red.