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The Pentax K-m (also known as the K2000) boasts a comparatively small build. At 123 x 92 x 68 mm, it's comparable to the Nikon D60, which was considered as one of the smallest consumer DSLR bodies in the market. In weight however, the K-m is a bit heavier than the D60 at 590 g (the D60 is 523g). For a considerably small body the K-m seems extremely tight and sturdy giving it a great feel from the first time you pick it up.
The handgrip is perfectly deep and well contoured to feel comfortable while shooting. The rubber coating on the grip adds to the comfort factor as well as keeps the camera from slipping.
The camera controls too seem more ergonomic than many other consumer DSLR bodies I've encountered in recent times. The biggest proof of that is the intelligently placed exposure jog dial. While in many cameras you have to get a bit uncomfortable to adjust the aperture size (keep the AV button pressed and move the jog dial), here the AV button on placed right behind the shutter release and the jog dial is on the same line as a viewfinder, making it extremely easy to maneuver in single handed operation as well.
The 2.7-inch screen is bright and clear, but since there's no live-view supported by the camera, it's best use is to review images after shooting. Most of the functional buttons are placed to the right of the camera, so you don't necessarily need both hands for basic camera control or navigation.
The K-m's interface is aimed at being simple for casual users. All the scene modes in the camera come with brief pictorial example. This may be a very common feature in consumer cameras, but for a DSLR, it seems a bit too casual. While new users might appreciate this, advance users may quickly look for an option to turn it off.
The rest of the menus are very simple to understand and it would be a matter of minutes before you get a good hang of it.
New users may want to keep our camera jargon buster handy for explanation of technical terms.
The camera specs are quite similar to the competition at 10.2 megapixel resolution and 5-point autofocus. One thing I found very ridiculous about the autofocus was though the 5 brackets that represent the 5 points of focus were clearly visible through the viewfinder, there was no indication of which point was in use. I found this odd and very inconvenient, considering that after a while you start to depend on these points when framing your shots. Honestly I'd rather use a 3-point AF system with indication rather than a 5-point AF without it.
The camera body carries the image stabilization mechanism instead of the lenses, which explains the slightly heavier weight of the camera as compared to the competition. It also has a sensor dust-removal system, which has become a common feature in DSLR cameras these days.
K-m shoots at sensitivity levels of up to ISO 3200. You can see the results of our ISO tests by clicking the image below.
Though the ISO 3200 seems immensely grainy at full res, its perfectly usable under a lot of lighting conditions, especially for smaller-sized images. The picture below was shot using ISO 3200, and as you can see, the grain isn't even noticeable.
One issue I'd like to get out of the way before we get on to the camera's performance review is that the K-m does not support auto image orientation. This means that the camera by itself does not auto-rotate the images you shoot by turning the camera sideways. This is pretty ridiculous as even some of the basic consumer cameras these days support this bare-bones feature. For the K-m, you'll have to rotate the pictures to their right orientation via software.
The overall image sharpness in the Pentax K-m was better than many other cameras that I've seen in this category. Even the minutest of the details were faithfully captured in my test shots.
Colors seem to be a bit more saturated than normal in the K-m, due to the higher contrast levels. While casual users may enjoy the extra vivid colors; it's generally not considered a good thing. When I'm shooting with a DSLR, I want the colors to be as natural as possible, so I can have the final control on how much I want to saturate or desaturate the image from its natural tone.
The extra burst of color is also obvious in the night shot I took under manual settings (ISO 400, 4 sec, f/3.5). Still, the ISO 400 performance under pitch dark lighting conditions seems very usable.
The K-m shoots at 3.5fps in burst mode, and takes under a second to start up and turn off.
The review piece of the Pentax K-m was sent to us from Japan, as they are currently going through some distribution overhaul. Unfortunately the price and availability of the K-m is not available as of today, but I will update this space as soon as we get the information. As for now you can purchase the camera online through Yesasia for $660 USD (Rs. 36,700 approx), with free international shipping (Not affiliated with Tech 2.0).
So without taking the price into account, the Pentax K-m is a great camera for casual users to start off with, considering its light size and intuitive interface. But enthusiasts and experienced photographers may feel held back with some of the camera's killer flaws.