Pentax K200D 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera with Shake Reduction (Body Only)

  • 10.2-megapixel resolution captures enough detail for poster-sized prints
  • 2.7-inch LCD display; body only–no lens included
  • Dust-proof, water-resistant construction; comprehensive Dust Removal system
  • Pentax Original Shake Reduction Mechanism
  • Capture images to SD/SDHC cards (not included)

In the last year, twice the auto focus has completely failed to work. I’m currently ready to send the camera off to Pentax for warranty repair, for the second time for the same problem. When I first purchased the camera, the auto focus sporadically stopped working for brief moments with the symptoms progressively worse over time and eventually (auto focus) stopped working all together. I sent the camera off for warranty repair. Upon receiving the camera back, the auto focus symptoms immediately started to happen again and then again (auto focus) died.

The colors are pleasantly inaccurate — that’s correct, the colors are off but with a nice interpretation that tend to skew on the saturated side. That’s the charm of the K200d I learned to like. Also, unless you are shooting in ideal lighting the pictures are on the underexposed side – not much of an issue since I shoot in RAW.

I’m thoroughly impressed with the customer service department; I’ve spoken to them over the phone and through the “live chat” many times. Each time, I’ve received a conclusion and each time the representatives are knowledgeable and friendly.

When the camera works, I love it. It takes great pictures and it’s a joy to use with a solid build and small footprint. I own the 10-17mm, 21mm and 40mm lenses (all DA) — the unusual lens lineup is the main reason for my purchase. My favorite setup: couple the K200d with the 40mm lens and you have a setup that doesn’t attract too much attention in public with decent image quality.

I started out with a K100D and when the K10D came out, I was immediately green with envy. A few years later, the K200D came out, it was competitively priced and had most of the great K10D features. I cut my losses and traded the K100D in for the K200D. I am very pleased with it. The reasons for the trade were for the following features:

+ Remote flash: I’ve always wanted this feature that Nikon users take for granted, it doesn’t work as great and sometimes doesn’t detect the controlling flash. But when within range and everything, it works and am very happy to finally have it.

+ Weather seals: sure, it’s not bullet proof and doesn’t help the lenses at all. But I used to not take my camera out when weather conditions were not fair. The same goes for my friends with canons and nikons. With the K200D, I have no fears of taking it out and actually USING it. I know, it’s totally a psychological thing, but the peace of mind is still a feature to me.

+ Sensor cleaner: The anti shake feature is also used to shake off the dust in the K200D, it doesn’t really work, I never notice it shaking anything off. But I also set it to shake upon power up. I also have a Giottos rocket blower, the combination seems to keep the K200D relatively dust free. Much more so than my K100D. I know it’s not just the weather seals because I know the dust is getting in when I change lenses.

+ Better WB & PRIME engine: the color control is much better in the K200D, an immense improvement and main reason for the upgrade.

+ Shoots in DNG format: I am no longer tied to Pentax’s photolab SW. I can now use photoshop without any plugins or upgrades. Very good feature.

The things I miss on the K100D:

- Battery power seems more finicky on the K200D, I had to switch to Eneloops, which allows me to get 1000+ images per charge. AMAZING, but sad that it only performs with Eneloops.

- The images look under exposed and overly contrasted. These features can be offset easily, but it does take some time to get used to and learn to work around. Once you learn its behavior, it is very predictable and linear.

- My external flash no longer gets perfect exposure every time in any condition. For some reason, the K200D works terribly with the FGZ540. It is very easy to under or over expose an image. I am not sure if this is because I shoot in ISO100 vs K100D’s ISO200. But the end result is I can no longer turn on the FGZ and just shoot. I have to manually set the flash zoom. The flash exposure setting doesn’t seem to do anything either. I’ve gone on forums to see if I have a defective K200D, but in the end, I’ve moved on and have accepted the issue.

I am very very happy with the K200D, as the DSLR market gets more and more competitive, I still find the K200D completely usable for all my needs. If you want a DSLR that just works out of the box, you should stick with canons and nikons. Pentax is really for the dedicated and people with a pentax lens collection. Feature for feature, pentax always loses to canons and nikons, but it is still more than enough for anyone who is serious about photography. Especially if you’ve done film photography, I feel that Pentax replicates the film camera experience better than all other brands. Its simplicity and attention to detail gives it that classic feeling. While other brands focus on speed, specs and little functions that make it completely and totally feel… digital. I do envy those features some times. When I see my friends shoot in 800 or 1600ISO with no noise at all, I am jealous. But then, you really can’t do that with film either. So I’ve come to terms with Pentax’s short comings. I hope Pentax will turn things around with their full frame DSLRs.Firstly, I wanted to give it 3.5 stars, not 4.

I have mentioned below the main camera features, it’s rating and a bgjustification. These are the most important points to be considered with respect to the other cameras in competition (Canon XSi and Nikon D60).

1.Weather proof body(4/5):Excellent feature for the price. But, it is of no use without a weather-ressistant lens. But Pentax has recently (May 2009) released 2 weather ressistant lenses (18-55 and 50-200mm) under $250 each. These lenses were not available when I purchased the camera.

2.Processing speed (1/5): Yes!! None of the reviews mentioned this when I bought it(I got screwed!). Try clicking a pic with the shutter open for 6 seconds. The Pentax K200D takes about 7 seconds to process the image and store it in the card (the time taken to store the image is negligible, also considering my high speed Sandisk Ultra card). I tried clicking more snaps with 10, 15 and 30 seconds. The time taken by the camera to process them is 11, 16 and 30 seconds. Until the camera processes the image, you have to wait and cannot click any more pictures.

I compared it with my friend’s Canon Rebel XSi and the difference was very evident. The Canon took less than half time to process the pictures.

This gets really annoying while capturing night scenes, ligtnings, etc.

3. Image stabilization (4/5): The Pentax shifts it’s sensor to compensate for the shake, unlike Canon and Nikon (they shift the lens elements). Since the shake reduction is in the body, any kind of lens (cheap ones, old ones, etc.) can be attached to the camera body and IS can be acheived. Hence, lenses are cheaper for the Pentax. Whereas in Canon and Nikon, the IS (or VR=Vibration Reduction as Nikon calls it)lenses are costly. But the quality of IS is a little better in Canon (no idea about Nikon).

4. Picture quality (4/5): The picture quality is just like any other camera. The contrast is on the higher end and I like it that way. It makes the pictures ready for printing. I went out with my friend who had a Canon XSi. My pictures looked far better than his when we compared them. The Canon pictures looked dull because they are more natural and the contrast is well balanced. The Canon pictures are a bit (about 10%) sharper than the Pentax.

Overall, no regrets with the picture quality. It is almost “awesome”!

5. Lens compatibility (5/5): If you are planning to use a varitey of lenses, then you are in luck! The K200D is compatible with every single Pentax lens produced till date (some older lenses require an additional mount) Also, the lenses are cheaper compared to Canon and Nikon. There are also third party manufacturers like Sigma and Tamron.

6. Other features: There is no need to review the other features like RAW, LCD, Menu, Modes, etc. since they are pretty much the same in all the cameras.

Although, please note that this camera does not come with “live view”, i.e., the LCD does not show the image. You need to use the viewfinder to see what you are capturing.

It also feels like a pro camera, but with the feel comes the weight.It has a small LCD display on the top of the body which are usually present in pro and semi-pro cams. But this LCD cannot be used in situations with low lights since there is no light in the LCD.

CONCLUSION: I would recommend this camera if above features with 4 or more points are very important for the photographer (Weather resistant, lens compatibility, cheap lenses and ready to print pics). The worst part of the camera is the processing speed and the fact that it lacks “live view”. I can live without the live view, but I found it slow. Overall, I am extremely happy with the output (pictures), just wish that it would be faster. Great camera!I was a very active 35mm amateur many years ago and just sort of feel into the point and shoot mode. I decided to get back into trying some creative photography and a DSLR was the way to go but there are so many to choose from. Of course Canon and Nikon are the most popular so I read up on them but Pentax really kept rising to the top due to the fact all Pentax lenses work on all Pentax cameras with the exception of an adapter ring must be used on some, I really liked the idea of having that used market to shop from. Also as I read I found Pentax is tops in Europe and Asia and doesn’t even advertise in America so that explained why I hadn’t seen much on them. I really took my time and the K200D just seemed like the logical choice for me and I’m as pleased with it as I could possibly be. Oh yea, the shake reduction mechanism is in the camera body, not just the lens like the others so you get that great option with every lens you use. Do your research but, you can’t go wrong with this one.BUY this cam. I bought it, went to Europe, and inturn had tremendous pics! The camera is the best deal of any SLR because they don’t have to advertise like Nikon and Cannon.

Price: $599.95   Buy This Camera