Review

The Pentax K-70 is a good DSLR for beginners to go beyond 'auto' mode

The number of buttons on the body may seem daunting to beginners. But the button layout is well thought out.
The number of buttons on the body may seem daunting to beginners. But the button layout is well thought out.ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN

Pentax's K-70 has thoughtful touches that make it easy to set controls for the right shot

The Pentax K-70 is an advanced entry-level DSLR that sits between the entry-level K-S2 and the mid-range K-3 II.

However, the K-70 has features that some mid-range DSLR models of other brands lack. For instance, the K-70 might be of plastic construction but it is dust-, splash- and cold-resistant down to temperatures of -10°C.

The rubberised grip accommodated all my fingers and allowed for a good grasp of the camera.

It feels more like a mid-range and professional DSLR camera grip than that of an entry-level DSLR camera.

In addition, it has a tiltable 3-inch screen that can rotate 270 degrees. Thus, you can easily take selfies with it or compose your shots from low angles.

Furthermore, the screen brightness can be quickly adjusted within two button presses to suit the lighting level of the environment.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $1,088 (body only) or $1,488 (with 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens)

    SENSOR:24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS

    DISPLAY: Tiltable 3-inch LCD screen with 921,000 dots

    SENSITIVITY: ISO 100 to 102,400

    SHUTTER SPEED: 1/6,000 to 30 seconds

    SHOOTING SPEED: Up to 6 frames per second

    WEIGHT: 688g (body only, including battery and memory card)

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

To beginners, the number of buttons on the body may seem daunting. However, the button layout is well thought out.

There is a mode dial on the top right of the camera. The video recording button and the exposure compensation button are sited behind the shutter release, with the power lever around it.

The rear directional buttons double as shortcut buttons for the ISO, white balance, shooting speed and flash settings.

On the left of the lens mount, there is a RAW/Fx1 button - pressing and holding it will quickly toggle between shooting JPEG and RAW. Below the RAW/Fx1 button, there is a lever to toggle between auto-focusing (AF) and manual focusing (MF).

Unlike many entry-level DSLR cameras that have only one command dial, the K-70 has two - one in front of the shutter release and the other at the rear where your thumb rests. This allows you to quickly change aperture and shutter speed in manual mode.

For an advanced entry-level DSLR, the handling of the K-70 is outstanding.

Operation-wise, it is average. Starting up the camera takes 1.2 seconds, while shutting down takes 1.4 seconds. Using an SD card with a writing speed rated at 90MB per second, it was able to capture seven RAW images in 1.4 seconds before the buffer ran out.

For this review, I used the Pentax SMC DA 18-135mm F/3.5-5.6 ED AL (IF) DC WR kit lens.

The K-70 was able to lock on to a focus almost instantaneously in bright sunlight. Under dim lighting conditions, it managed to secure a focus in around two seconds with the aid of the AF-assist light.

Image quality is outstanding, with crisp details. Auto white balance is accurate under most conditions. Colours tend towards the warm side, but are vivid and have nice contrasts.

I saw no image noise artefacts until ISO 3,200. Even so, the images are still good enough for small prints and Web use. But settings higher than ISO 6,400 are not recommended as the chromatic noise and loss of details are too evident.

Battery life is around 400 still images on a full charge. Even for an entry-level DSLR, this is considered average. Some entry-level DSLR cameras' battery can last 500 to 600 shots.

•Verdict: For beginners looking to further their photography education, the affordable but yet capable Pentax K-70 is a great DSLR that they should consider getting.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2016, with the headline 'Good DSLR for beginners to go beyond 'auto' mode'. Print Edition | Subscribe