Without quite the marketing bite of Canon or Nikon, Pentax has been relying on keen pricing to push its dSLRs to the forefront of consumer consciousness and at £370 for body and 18-55mm lens, the Pentax K100D Super is significantly cheaper than its predecessor.
Not only that, it now sports a CCD-shift based dust prevention system that gives it an immediate advantage over its closest competitor in the Nikon D40, which lacks both anti-dust and anti-shake features.
Given that enticing price, which is almost £100 less than the plain old K100D's kit on launch, it doesn't really matter that not a great deal has otherwise changed on this Pentax. Nothing about the build feels compromised and those AA batteries add a reassuring weight that suggests the camera wouldn't fall apart if you dropped it.
By keeping matters beginner friendly, controls are large and functions obvious. There's even a separate display window on top of the camera displaying key shooting options in addition to the main LCD -- a rarity on cheaper dSLRs. A simplistic mode wheel allows you to point and shoot from the off and move onto more creative functions as confidence builds, with the usual subject and scene modes.
Turn the camera on and it immediately goes to work. An 11-point autofocus system ensures that your subject is sharply in focus no matter where it is in the frame -- locking onto the target with a beep of confirmation -- backed up by built-in Shake Reduction activated via a slider at the back that proves handy when shooting at extreme telephoto settings.
Also impressive is the wide light sensitivity range, starting higher than most at ISO 200, but going all the way to ISO 3,200. Inevitably, there is image noise visible, but even at ISO 1,600 results are acceptable. For the most part, pictures are colourful and crisp -- with the portrait setting delivering just the right degree of warmth to be flattering to your subject.
Okay, so not much has changed over its predecessor. Though it's cheaper, the K100D Super hasn't upped its 6-megapixel resolution -- look to Pentax's K10D for that. Pixel count aside, the four non-rechargeable AAs are one of the few signifiers that this is a budget model, though battery life is respectable.
It's also a moot point whether the K100D Super's target audience -- beginners and family users in the main -- are truly going to benefit from the new dust prevention feature since they're not the type to be swapping lenses with any regularity. Still, it's a nice extra that gives the Super the edge over its nearest rival -- and in a cutthroat marketplace, that makes all the difference.
Though it's always fun finding negatives, the simple fact is that on the K100D Super they're few and far between. It's an old adage that you get what you pay for, and, unbelievably, with the K100D Super you actually get more.
For a beginner with no history of dSLR ownership -- so no old lenses to find a new home for -- the choice of the Pentax K100D Super is a veritable no brainer.
It's built to last, quick in operation, delivers warm and colourful images straight out of the camera that are on a par with 10-megapixel rivals and did we mention that it's a bargain at £370?
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Jon Squire