Pentax adds K-7 to its high-end DSLR line

The 14.6-megapixel Pentax K-7 boasts a 23.4-by-15.6mm CMOS sensor

It's DSLR season again, and Pentax has announced a new flagship model for the highest end of its professional camera line.

The 14.6-megapixel Pentax K-7 boasts a 23.4-by-15.6mm CMOS sensor, which the company says offers new video capabilities and four-channel output, as well as better low-light performance. The K-7 has an ISO range of 100 to 6400.

The K-7 also offers an 11-point autofocus system, a revamped metering system that features 77 light-metering points, a built-in flash, and the new Prime II image processor. Shutter speeds range from 1/8000 second to 30 seconds.

The high-end DSLR also features the same user interface as the lower-end K2000 DSLR, as well as body-based image stabilization. That sensor-shifting system means that the K-7's shake reduction feature will work with any Pentax K-mount lens, not just more-expensive stabilized lenses. A supersonic dust-removing vibration system is also part of the K-7's feature set.

The K-7's 3-inch-diagonal LCD features live view, the ability to use the larger display as a viewfinder in addition to the camera's traditional optical viewfinder. Pentax is also touting the K-7's viewfinder as having a field of view of 100 percent and heralds the K-7 as a highly weather-resistant camera, thanks to an entirely weather-sealed and weather-proofed body.

Although this is the company's highest-end DSLR, it does have some point-and-shoot-like features. Unlike some DSLRs, auto-focusing while using live view keeps the LCD video feed intact, and you can apply image filters (fish-eye, color extraction, toy camera, and custom filters among them) in real-time while composing a shot. The K-7 can also run on AA batteries (six of them). It also has a dedicated RAW mode button for on-the-fly toggling between RAW and JPEG formats when saving shots.

The K-7 also has a unique, nifty feature that uses the camera's accelerometers to create an "electronic level" for perfectly straight shots. Depending on the tilt of the camera, a read-out on the camera's screen shows the user whether the K-7 is perfectly level or slightly tilted to one side. The camera's menu system also allows the user to adjust the tilt of the camera's shot composition from within the camera.

In a growing trend for true DSLRs, the K-7 also offers the ability to shoot 720p high-definition AVI video at 30 frames per second and has an HDMI port for viewing video and images on an HDTV. The K-7 uses SD and SDHC cards to store images and video.

The Pentax K-7 is slated to ship in July with a list price of US$1300 (body only).

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