The Pentax K-x was in many ways a breakout product for the company; it delivered exceptionally fast performance, low-noise images, and a robust feature set in a rainbow of colors, all for such a low price that it couldn't help but make waves in a market heretofore locked up by Canon and Nikon. In some ways it's easy to beat them, since they don't release new models at the bottom of the food chain--they just tend to let older models sink in price.
So what's an underdog to do for an encore in the murky step-up market? There you have to compete with Canon and Nikon's current-generation products, plus you have to offer obvious advantages over your cheaper product, but without incurring significant cost increases. Pentax seems to play it safe with its new K-r, basically preserving what's good about the K-x with just enough improvements to attract the more price-elastic buyer.
That amounts to using the same body and sensor, but incorporating an enhanced version of its autofocus system, a larger and higher-resolution LCD, and support for a dual lithium ion/AA battery design. In addition, Pentax has updated the viewfinder to display the focus points (yay), implemented the now-popular multishot Night Scene HDR mode, bumped the maximum shutter speed to 1/6,000 second, and will provide SDXC support via a firmware update later in the year. And, naturally, it still comes in colors, albeit a smaller selection of black; black and white; and red and black.
But the real key will be how the K-r stacks up against the competition. Here's how it fares compared with some current models:… Read more