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Although the K-1000 was the photo student's camera of choice for decades, Pentax has always been an also-ran in the US consumer camera market.
In spite of this, Pentax has introduced some great cameras. The Optio WP, for example, was a terrific pocket-sized camera. It was easy to use, produced terrific pictures and offered waterproof operation to about 3 meters - at a very reasonable price.
Well, Pentax may have done it again. This time, it's the K-7, their new "prosumer" digital SLR... and it's one worth drooling over. Though it still features the 14.6 MP resolution of the K-20, pretty much everything else is, as they say, "new and improved."
The rugged magnesium alloy body is weather, dust and cold resistant. The K-7 functions down to 14 deg (F). It's also smaller than the K-20. There's a new processing engine, a faster (1/8000 sec) top shutter speed, Shake Reduction, dust reduction, Live View mode, HD video, and more bells and whistles than you can shake an SD card at.
And for the serious photographer? The K-7 offers mirror lock-up. That means no shake - even with super-long exposures. There's a dedicated PC socket for studio flash. A 100% field-of-view viewfinder. A built-in electronic level. There's even a dedicated RAW button, so you can easily switch from shooting JPEG to RAW files on the fly.
Obviously, this is no entry-level camera.. and it's not priced like one, either. But with a street price around $1,300, it looks to be a good value. If you're looking for a solid performer in the prosumer SLR class - without the bulk - the K-7 should be right up your alley.