Pentax K-m review

Price when reviewed

At just £287 (£330 inc VAT), the K-m is one of the cheapest digital SLRs on the market, but that doesn’t mean it’s missing features. Resolution-wise, at 10.2-megapixels it’s on a par with many more expensive rivals, and it doesn’t even have a particularly small LCD monitor; in fact, at 2.7in, its screen is just as big as the one on the more-expensive Sony Alpha A330. It also enjoys a feature advantage over the Sony by offering white balance bracketing.

You’ll be hard pushed to spot any major differences in image quality, too. Our outdoors shots at low ISO looked fine compared with much more expensive cameras such as the Canon 500D; the only time we could make a major distinction was at the K-m’s top ISO of 1600 on a long, low-light exposure.

And we like the 18-55mm lens. Sharp and largely free of purple fringing, it’s an excellent starter lens. The K-m defies its low price yet further by offering in-body optical stabilisation. Just about the only missing creature comfort is a live view mode. We prefer its viewfinder to that of the Sony A330, too.

Pentax K-m

There are a few compromises some will be unwilling to accept, however. The K-m, like the K200D before it, doesn’t come with a lithium-ion battery, instead relying on four AAs. This means extra outlay on a set of rechargeable NiMH batteries and a charger (the CIPA rating for the K-m on standard alkaline AAs is a low 360 shots). There are advantages, though. First, if you use high-capacity NiMH rechargeables the CIPA rating shoots up to 1,100 shots. Second, AAs are almost universally available.

We like the design, too. To us, the K-m sits more comfortably in the hand than its budget rival, the Sony Alpha A230. Our only complaint in usability terms is that the menu system isn’t too intuitive. Its burst speed isn’t the best, either: it took five shots at a rate of 3.3 per second, but over five seconds it took just nine, which isn’t as rapid as we’d like.

But we don’t mind. The K-m is well-made, comfortable and it produces excellent images. It doesn’t offer much in the way of modern features, but if you want a cheap, cheerful camera to ease you into DSLR photography, this is a great choice.


Image quality6

Basic specifications

Camera megapixel rating10.2mp
Camera screen size2.7in
Camera optical zoom range3x
Camera maximum resolution3,872 x 2,592

Weight and dimensions

Dimensions123 x 68 x 92mm (WDH)


Battery type includednone
Battery life (CIPA standard)1,650 shots
Charger included?no

Other specifications

Built-in flash?yes
Aperture rangef3.5 - f5.6
Camera minimum focus distance0.25m
Shortest focal length (35mm equivalent)27
Longest focal length (35mm equivalent)83
Minimum (fastest) shutter speed1/4,000
Bulb exposure mode?yes
RAW recording mode?yes
Exposure compensation range+/- 2EV
ISO range100 - 3200
Selectable white balance settings?yes
Manual/user preset white balane?yes
Progam auto mode?yes
Shutter priority mode?yes
Aperture priority mode?yes
Fully auto mode?yes
Burst frame rate3.5fps
Exposure bracketing?yes
White-balance bracketing?no
Memory-card typeSDHC
Viewfinder coverage96%
LCD resolution230k
Secondary LCD display?no
Video/TV output?yes
Body constructionPlastic
Tripod mounting thread?yes
Data connector typemicro-USB

Manual, software and accessories

Full printed manual?yes
Software suppliedPentax Photo Laboratory 3, Photo Browser 3
Accessories suppliedShoulder strap, USB cable

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