Even though the Pentax digital SLR cameras were late to arrive, they have introduced some unique innovations.
Canon and Nikon had already started the transition from film SLR cameras to digital, and owners of Pentax lenses were waiting in the wings.
The first Pentax digital SLR finally made its appearance in 2003, and it came with a rather odd name: the *ist D.
After that first camera, Pentax built up steam and has been rolling out new camera models ever since.
Besides its unique name, the *ist D had something else going for it: it was the smallest and lightest digital SLR you could buy.
Don't get me wrong: it couldn't compete with the size of compact digital camera - no SLR can.
But compared to some of the other SLR cameras you could buy back then, the *ist D fit into a small-sized bag and didn't give you neck cramps when you carried for a day.
Pentax has made sure that every camera in their line continues this trend, which makes them great cameras for avid travelers.
Other camera manufacturers have followed suit: competition in the small-sized digital SLR category is heating up.
In 2006, Pentax snuck in a first.
The *ist DL - the Pentax entry-level digital SLR - became the first digital SLR you could buy for less than $600. The previous price barrier was $1,000 and that was broken by the Canon EOS 300D Digital Rebel.
It was the beginning of a downward price trend, making high-end digital SLR cameras more accessible to the average consumer and not just reserved for professional photographers.
In May of 2006, Pentax had another surprise for the digital SLR camera market when they announced the arrival of the K100D.
This camera featured an innovation that at the time was only included on cameras made by Konica Minolta (now acquired by Sony): built-in image stabilization.
This type of stabilization reduced the effect of camera shake with any lens that you attached to the camera. In contrast, only special Canon and Nikon lenses have stabilization - it's not included in any of their camera bodies.
The K100D was the most affordable digital SLR you could buy that included this useful feature.
Not content to merely "keep up" Pentax has continued to add innovations to their line of digital SLR cameras.
The latest one is that many Pentax cameras have complete weather sealing.
This means that you can safely use them in rain, sleet, dust and snow without having to worry about the sensor or other electronics inside the camera getting damaged.
This is why I still recommend Pentax cameras to people who want to take a lot of pictures outdoors without having to fret all the time about protecting their equipment.
Release Date: July 2012
QUICK OVERVIEW: Weather sealed, 16 megapixels, built-in stabilization, 6 photos per second, Full HD movie mode.
If travel is your thing, then consider the Pentax K-30: its 81 seals prevent dust and moisture from getting inside and ruining the camera. Plus, you can also use the K-30 in very cold weather. Built-in image stabilization will help eliminate blur from your photos and a high ISO range paired with a fast continuous speed will ensure that you don't miss the action.
Release Date: October 2012
QUICK OVERVIEW: Weather sealed, 16 megapixels, built-in stabilization, 7 photos per second, Full HD movie mode, ISO from 80 to 51200.
The K-5 II is the successor to the immensely popular K-5. The biggest improvement in the K-5 II is its autofocus system, which is now capable of locking focus even in exceptionally dim available light. The K-5 II still sports the same built-in image stabilization and huge ISO range of the K-5. For those who want to shoot in rough weather, the fully-sealed K-5 II is dustproof, water resistant and cold resistant.
|October 2009||The second Pentax to include video, the K-x can capture High Definition 720p video at 24 frames per second. Like the K-7, it has an 11-point autofocus and built-in image stabilization. What sets this camera apart from many other entry-level models are its body and batteries: the camera body will be available in black, white, red and navy (rather than the standard black of all other DSLRs) and the camera will run off of regular AA batteries (no special charger required) — good news for travelers who like to venture far afield.|
|July 2009||Jumping right on to the digital SLR video bandwagon, the K-7 includes a high-definition 720p video capture mode in addition to its live view LCD, dust control and built-in image stabilization. Like other Pentax digital SLRs, the K-7 is weather and cold resistant and features a fast continuous rate (5.2 photos per second) and an 11-point autofocus system. The icing on the cake: an in-camera HDR capture mode, an electronic level and automatic lens distortion correction.|
|March 2008||The K20D boasts a high 14.6 megapixel count, allowing photographers to make super-size prints. In addition to its dust control and built-in image stabilization, the K20D includes a live view mode (the first Pentax SLR with this feature), expanded dynamic range and an 11-point autofocus system all packaged in a weather a dust-resistant body.|
|April 2008||The K200D offers up something quite rare compared to other cameras in this price range: a weather an dust resistant body. While you shouldn't toss the camera in a lake, you should be able to take photos at the beach and in the rain without worrying about destroying your expensive SLR. Another benefit of the K200D is that it's compatible with every Pentax lens ever made, and the built-in image stabilization will function even with older lenses.|