Best Buy
  • Price: £599.99 with 18-55mm lens

  • Company: Pentax

  • Pros: User-friendly yet full-featured; ISO range expandable to ISO 12800 (otherwise ISO 6400); 1,280 x 720 pixels HD video; very fair price

  • Cons: No rechargeable battery; plastic feel and basic control layout; no HDMI-out

  • Our Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10 We rate this 9 out of 10

The Pentax K-x is a feature-packed alternative to the bigger-name brands. Offering a conventional digital SLR design and layout, the 12.4-megapixel K-x won’t baffle anyone trading up from a compact camera, as a point-and-shoot auto picture mode is the most prominent setting among the 14 options on its top-mounted mode dial. The pricing also includes a standard 18-55mm zoom.

The K-x feels lightweight and plastic, though not in a bad way. With a decent, full-sized grip, its sturdiness is thanks to four AA batteries inserted into the base of the grip, plus a stainless steel inner frame. Pentax claims that rechargeable batteries will give enough power for up to 1,900 images; with normal batteries it’s a less impressive 200 shots.

Flick the power switch encircling the K-x’s shutter release button and you’re up and shooting instantly. The rear LCD displays essential information in a clear, colourful format, and a cool blue light illuminates the top plate. A dedicated Live View button makes switching between the optical viewfinder and rear LCD to compose shots easy.

Sample image for this camera

More unusually at this level, you can boost the K-x’s light sensitivity settings to an equivalent ISO 12800 for flash-free photography in near darkness – a setting usually only found on semi-professional digital SLRs. Add HD video recording – at 1,280 x 720 pixels, 24fps –  and in-body stabilisation from Pentax’s own sensor-shifting Shake Reduction mechanism, and the K-x is a winning, affordable all-in-one device.

Pentax offers a range of digital effects – although Digital Arts readers will prefer to tweak their images after shooting. Image-wise, even exposures are the norm. Colours are a little cool – but realistically so – with the camera left on its default settings. In the main, the camera and basic kit lens configuration perform very well.

This review is part of our group test on Digital SLR cameras. Please click here to return to the feature.