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Pentax Takes Aim At High End With New Flagship K-7 d-SLR

As other d-SLR camera manufacturers take aim at the entry end of the market, Pentax has trained its sights on high-value, better-featured models in developing the company’s new flagship K-7 camera, which made its debut last month.

The company said the K-7, which will ship in July at a $1,300 suggested retail (body only), was designed for advanced photographers seeking high-end design and features without the cost of a professional d-SLR system. The unit also includes 720p HD movie capture and a 14.6-megapixel CMOS sensor that was “rebuilt from the ground up.”

Pentax sees the camera, which is compatible with the company’s full K-mount lens family, as a competitive answer to such models as the Nikon D90, Canon EOS 50D and Sony Alpha DSLR-A700.

“The K-7 will appeal to many current Pentax SLR photographers who have been asking for more advanced features, but in a smaller, solid, comfortable-to-hold body,” stated Ned Bunnell, Pentax Imaging president. “We also believe the combination of the K-7’s smaller, high-quality construction coupled with the growing lineup of our Limited compact prime lenses will appeal to serious shooters who currently don’t own or previously hadn’t considered adding a Pentax to their camera bag.”

Key features include a new 77-segment metering system, mechanical shake reduction and an external microphone terminal.

Video is captured at a default standard of 1,280 by 720p resolution with a 16:9 aspect ratio; other resolution options include 1,536 by 1,024 pixels with a 3:2 aspect ratio, or 640 by 416 pixels with a 3:2 aspect ratio, all shot at 30 fps. The camera also includes an HDMI port.

A dedicated mirror lock-up function eliminates image blur due to mirror movement during long exposures.

Meanwhile, a programmable embedded copyright function validates still image ownership in image metadata.

The camera also features a 3-inch LCD with 921,000 dot resolution and is weather, dust and cold resistant to 14 degrees F.

The new 14.6 megapixel CMOS sensor has four-channel output that allows a 5.2 fps capture rate, and the ability to capture video in up to 720p HD resolution with better noise control.

The sensor also has ancillary circuitry that can determine the color quality of incoming light, which allows it to adjust autofocus response for optimal performance in any lighting condition.

Video files are captured as motion JPEGs encapsulated as AVI.

Accessories for the K-7 include a D-BG4 ($230 suggested retail) battery grip that may be used in combination with the camera’s rechargeable lithium-ion battery to double battery life. The D-BG4 accepts six AA batteries in an alternate battery tray.

Pentax also announced two weather-resistant d-SLR lenses including the SMC DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL WR ($200) and the SMC DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED WR ($250). All accessory items will be available in July.