Entry-level Pentax K2000 announced

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Per an announcement this morning, Pentax is expanding its line of consumer DSLRs to include a true entry-level model.

Pentax K2000

The Pentax K2000 enters the manufacturer’s lineup as the presumptive replacement to the K100D Super. Building on the same 10.2 megapixel CCD imager that has supported several previous Pentax models, the K2000 features a number of carry-over technologies in addition to its sensor.

Updated technologies
A 2.7-inch LCD similar to the spec from several previous Pentax models supports image review and navigation functions. The visual interface has also been refreshed to look slightly more inviting and less industrial; a master screen provides a basic overview that includes exposure information, white balance settings, and file format data. A penta-mirror viewfinder with a matte focusing screen offers 96 percent field coverage an 0.85x magnification – good numbers all around for an entry-level body.

The K2000 also utilizes a version of Pentax’s SAFOX VIII auto focus system with five cross-type sensors arranged in a cross pattern. According to Pentax, the new system realizes improvements in low light focusing performance when compared to previous SAFOX VIII cameras.

In-body image stabilization via a sensor shifting mechanism has been a part of Pentax’s standard approach to DSLR design for some time now, and the new K2000 uses the same CCD-shift Shake Reduction system employed by its predecessors.

Usability improvements
A few improvements and tweaks should improve usability and functionality of Pentax’s latest entry-level DSLR. Dynamic range expansion and shadow adjustment technologies introduced in the last generation of new Pentax models are also featured here. Auto sensitivity control on the K2000 can be configured to take advantage of the sensor’s full ISO 100 to ISO 3200 range. Continuous shooting is also possible at up to 3.5 frames per second (in full-resolution JPEG mode).

Although it retains Pentax’s typical metal chassis under plastic, the K2000 will hit markets as the only current Pentax DSLR to not sport weather/dust sealing as standard fare. The K2000 does feature Pentax’s typical combination of low-pass filter coatings and a sensor vibration mechanism to help keep dust inside the camera’s mirror box from marring shots.

User-friendly interface, power sources
Perhaps the most notable new feature of the K2000 is its user-friendly built-in information system. A dedicated “Help” button provides on-screen explanations for camera modes, settings, and buttons in language that’s easy even for those with limited photography experience to understand. Combined with the K2000’s simple, transparent physical interface – a reduction of the system seen in the K100 series models – the Help button should make this camera more accessible than any effort to date from Pentax.

In spite of smaller size and lighter weight than current Pentax K models, the K2000 continues the manufacturer’s commitment to AA power in its consumer line, utilizing four alkaline, NiMH, or lithium cells rather than a rechargeable lithium pack. While some may be put off by the K2000’s continued use of AA power, the fact that the new model ships with a set of lithium cells that are good for a claimed 1650 shots may be enough to win some converts.

DA L kit lenses launched
In addition to the K2000 body, Pentax is releasing a pair of DA L kit lenses built especially for the new camera. Fully compatible with Pentax’s current K mount variant, the lower cost DA L 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL lens takes the place of the second-generation DA 18-55mm as the kit lens in this application.

Additionally, Pentax is also releasing a DA L 55-200mm f/4-5.6 ED telephoto zoom. Optically similar to their regular DA counterparts, the new DA L lenses appear to differ primarily in terms of build quality.

Overview, pricing, and availability
Billed as a “system designed specifically for consumers who are ready to make the transition from a point-and-shoot digital camera to Digital SLR photography,” the K2000 helps refocus Pentax’s brand on compact size and ease of use at the entry level. There’s really nothing revolutionary here, however, and the K2000’s large number of hand-me-down parts may look a bit tired to some.

That said, a suggested retail price of $699 with the new kit lens slots well with other cameras offering this range of features, including the Nikon D60 and the Canon Rebel XS.

We’ll be posting our hands-on look at the K2000 and new lens a little later in the day. Stay tuned…

Pentax K2000 Specifications:

Sensor 10.2 megapixel, 23.5×15.7mm CCD
Zoom Pentax KAF3 mount; compatible with all K mount lenses
LCD/Viewfinder 2.7″, 230K-dot TFT LCD; Penta-Mirror optical viewfinder (96% coverage, 0.85x magnification) with diopter adjustment
Sensitivity ISO 100-3200
Shutter Speed 30-1/4000 seconds
Shooting Modes Auto Picture, Picture, Scene, Program, Sensitivity Priority, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual, Bulb
Scene Presets Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Action, Night Scene Portrait, Standard Flash-Off, Night Scene, Surf & Snow, Food, Sunset, Kids, Pet, Candlelight, Museum, Stage Lighting, Night Snap
White Balance Settings Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent W, Fluorescent D, Fluorescent N, Flash, Color Temperature, Manual
Metering Modes Multi, Center-Weighted, Spot
Focus Modes AF Auto, AF Single, AF Continuous, Manual
Drive Modes Single, Continuous High, Continuous Low, Self Timer, Remote, Auto Bracket
Flash Modes On, Off, Red-Eye Reduction, Wireless
Self Timer Settings
10 seconds, 2 seconds, Off
Memory Formats SD, SDHC
Internal Memory
File Formats JPEG, RAW (PEF/DNG)
Max. Image Size 3872×2592
Max. Video Size
Zoom During Video N/A
Battery 4 AA batteries
Connections USB 2.0, video output
Additional Features Shake Reduction, Custom Image Functions, Dust Reduction System, dedicated Help button
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