Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pentax K100D Super and AF-200FG Flash

June, 2007 is Pentax's month for special editions. Announced today, the 6.1MP K100D Super ($595 w. 18-55mm lens, $519 body only - official announcement here, fact sheet here) is a small fusion of K100D technology with 2 features borrowed from the K10D. Essentially, it's an update to the entry-level K100D just in time for Pentax's new lenses and a tweak to introduce some hardware updates; it's not a much different camera the way the Pentax ME Super was to the original Pentax ME back in the late '70s*, but it still deserves the "Super" name because the enhancements are the kind that K100D users will wish they had. Pentax has also debuted the AF-200FG flash ($149, fact sheet fact sheet here) they've been promising for a while, which is a clip-on flash that has greater power and reach than a pop-up flash, won't cause as much vignetting with wide angle lenses, and is less expensive than the bounce FGZ models. Both will ship in August, probably alongside the new DA* lenses.

The K100D has essentially been a retail hit for almost a year, which is a long season in camera years, but the new K100D Super, with a nearly identical look to the K100D, does not have the upgrade to a 10MP sensor that people have been wondering about. With the D40x and Canon XTI all at 10MP, it's a bit strange that Pentax hasn't made their entry-level camera take the megapixel leap to stay competitive. But honestly, the 6MP sensor Pentax has used and developed firmware for over the last few years is at a point where it's probably worth keeping in the market for a little while longer: it's doing a great job with better noise levels at high ISOs than these other 10MP cameras (and most entry-level SLR owners don't really need 10MP, so the arguement goes).

So what's new and why is it better?

Patented Dust Reduction (DR). People need the special dust repulsive coating and CCD shake at start-up if they change lenses with any regularity, and Pentax owners usually have a couple of lenses always up their sleeve. DR is not a fool-proof solution (no camera maker has one, really), but it helps for average use.

SDM Lens Support. Pentax has some new DA lenses coming out this year that encorporate a motorized focus (the DA 16-50mm is probably going to be the most popular), but their motors won't work on cameras that don't have the latest SDM KAF mount. The K10D has one, but the older K100D does not (even though it seems to have the vestige of the motor pin on the mount). SDM lenses promise to be a bit faster all around and this is something a lot of Pentax users have been anxious to see.

* The ME Super introduced Manual mode, different shutter range and sync, magnification, etc. compared to the first ME.

The rest is pretty much the same as the K100D. Same body, same LCD, same anti-shake we know and love. And the flash is pretty cute, even if I wish it was about $50 less, but hopefully with future coupons and online discounts, it'll be close to $100 street price.

PENTAX K100D Super Fact Sheet

PENTAX-Original Shake Reduction Mechanism For Sharp, Blur-Fee Images
The K100D Super is equipped with the PENTAX-original Shake Reduction (SR) system to reduce camera shake for sharp, blur-free images even under demanding shooting conditions such as when using a telephoto lens or when shooting in low light without a flash. The SR mechanism is designed to minimize camera shake by oscillating the CCD image sensor vertically and horizontally at high speed using magnetic force, while adjusting the speed of oscillation in proportion to the amount of camera shake detected by a built-in sensor. As a result, the K100D Super gives the equivalent to approximately 2 to 3.5 shutter steps of compensation. Since this versatile system is compatible with all existing PENTAX interchangeable SLR lenses,* it does not require special anti-shake lenses equipped with add-on optics or devices.
*Compatible with K-, KA-, KAF-, KAF2-mount lenses without an adapter, and screw-mount, 645-system and 67-system lenses with an adapter. Available functions may be limited with certain lenses.

Dust Removal System For Spotless Images
The K100D Super features the PENTAX original Dust Removal (DR) system to prevent dust from sticking to the surface of the low-pass filter in front of CCD image sensor. Through a vapor deposition process, a fluorine compound is applied to the surface of the low-pass filter. This PENTAX-original Super Protect (SP) coating effectively prevents dust and stains from sticking to the surface. Any remaining surface dust falls off when the SR system shifts the CCD at high speed. The dust lands on an adhesive sheet positioned at the bottom of the SR unit, eliminating any possibility of it returning to the CCD surface.

Compatibility With SDM System For Smoother, Quieter Autofocus Operation
The K100D Super’s camera body is compatible with a new SDM system, which assures smoother, quieter autofocusing operation using a built in supersonic motor. When a lens equipped with the SDM system is mounted on the PENTAX K100D Super camera body, the focus mode is automatically switched to SDM-assisted autofocusing.

Auto Sensitivity Control Up To ISO equivalent of 3200
The K100D Super features an Auto Sensitivity Control function that automatically sets the optimum sensitivity up to ISO equivalent of 3200 (the highest automatic setting in its class) based on such data as the subject’s brightness level and the lens focal length. Since this function allows the use of higher shutter speeds in poor lighting situations (such as indoor sports events and night scenes), photographers can effectively prevent blurred images. Users may also manually preprogram a desired level, from ISO 200 to the super-high sensitivity of the ISO 3200.

Auto Picture Mode For Effortless Point-and-Shoot SLR Photography
The PENTAX-original Auto Picture mode automatically and instantly selects one of five Picture modes (including Portrait, Landscape, and Macro) to create the most appropriate visual effect for a given subject. While the camera sets all primary parameters (including shutter speed, aperture, white balance, saturation, contrast and sharpness), the photographer may concentrate on picture composition and shutter opportunity.

11-Point Wide-Frame AF To Capture Off-Center Subjects In Crisp Focus
The K100D Super’s sophisticated SAFOX VIII autofocus system features 11 sensor points (with nine cross-type sensors in the middle) to automatically focus on the subject with utmost precision, even when it is positioned off center. The in-focus sensor point is automatically superimposed in red in the viewfinder for at-a-glance confirmation.

Large LCD Monitor To Facilitate Image Viewing And Menu Setting
The K100D Super features a large 2.5-inch color LCD monitor on its back panel. Its wide-view design allows the photographer to check the monitor image over 140 degrees vertically and horizontally, ensuring effortless image viewing even from a diagonal position. It provides 210,000 pixels for high-resolution image viewing, with a zoom display function that lets users magnify and image up to 12 times for easy confirmation of the focus status and the subject’s expressions. The large monitor size allows for large letters, digits and icons on the menu screens to facilitate menu confirmation and camera operations.

Bright, Clear Viewfinder
The K100D Super features a lightweight penta-mirror viewfinder, which combines PENTAX-original finder optics with a Natural-Bright-Matte II focusing screen to deliver a bright, clear subject image with a 0.85-times magnification and a 96-percent field of view.

True-to-Life, Rich-Gradation Images Assured By 6.1 Effective Megapixels
The K100D features a large, high-performance 23.5mm x 15.7mm CCD. By combining 6.1 effective megapixels with a high-performance imaging engine and advanced image-processing technologies, the K100D Super is designed to produce beautiful, true-to-life images that are rich in color gradation. The K100D Super offers a choice of two finishing touches of “Natural” or “Bright” to create a distinctive atmosphere.

Compatibility With High-Quality, High–Capacity SDHC Memory Card
The K100D Super accepts not only the conventional SD memory card as its storage media, but also the newly standardized SDHC card,* which allows users to store higher numbers of large data files, such as RAW-format images.
* SD High Capacity card, with a storage capacity exceeding 2 GB

Compact, lightweight body with optimum holding comfort
The K100D Super has been designed to be compact and lightweight for easy carrying and enhanced maneuverability with an easy-to-hold grip to assure a stable shooting position.

Other features:

  • 19 custom functions to personalize camera operations
  • Consecutive shooting of up to five frames at the speed of approximately 2.8 frames per second (at BEST image quality in JPEG format)
  • Eight distinctive Scene modes to accommodate specific subjects/applications
  • Choice of two preview functions (digital/optical)
  • Choice of 16-segment multi-pattern metering, center-weighted metering and spot metering to accommodate various photographic applications
  • Noise reduction mechanism to reduce digital noise during extended exposures
  • Dual power source (two CR-V3 lithium batteries, or four AA-size batteries)
  • USB 2.0 (HI-SPEED) compatibility for speedy data transfer to PC
  • Five digital filters (Black-and-white, Sepia, Slim, Soft and Brightness) for easy editing of recorded images
  • PENTAX PHOTO Laboratory 3 RAW data and image processing software and PENTAX PHOTO Browser 3 image browser software included on the accompanying CD-ROM
  • Compatibility with PictBridge, DPOF, Exif Print and PRINT Image Matching formats

PENTAX AF200FG Auto Flash Fact Sheet

Main Specifications

  • Guide Number: 20 max. (at ISO100/m). Manual setting: Full, 28 max. (at ISO200/m). Manual Setting: Full
  • Discharge angles: 70 horizontally (78 with wide-angle panel), 53 vertically (60 with wide-angle panel)
  • Focal-length coverage: covering angles of view for 28mm lenses (in 35mm format). 24mm angle view covered with wide-angle panel
  • Flash interval and battery life: Approx. 4-second interval, approx. 300 full-level discharges (with alkaline batteries)
  • Flash modes: (1) P-TTL modes (TTL corrective auto flash, contrast-control auto flash); (2) TTL modes (TTL auto flash); (3) M modes (manual, Full)
  • Flash range (in P-TTL, TTL modes): (1) film speed coupling range: ISO100-ISO1600; (2) Illumination range: 0.7m-3.6m (at G.N.20, ISO100, F5.6); (3) Illumination range: 0.7m-5.0m (at G.N.28, ISO200, F5.6)
  • Flash exposure compensation: -0.5Ev, -1Ev
  • Power source: (1) 4 AA-size alkaline batteries; (2) 4 AA-size lithium batteries; (3) 4 AA-size Ni-MH batteries
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 68mm x 83.5mm x 93mm (2.7” x 3.3” x 3.7”)
  • Weight: 190g (6.8 oz) without batteries

Links: Pentax Announcement, K100D Super Full Specs, Pentax ME Super

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