Pentax K10D Optics

The Pentax K10D features a Pentax KAF2 bayonet lens mount, and according to Pentax, is compatible with the company's entire series of K lenses. While not all functions will be available with every lens, particularly with older lenses without AF contacts, die-hard Pentax fans who already have a large collection of lenses will doubtless be pleased with the K10D's broad range of lenses. (The camera's Custom menu offers a handful of options for lenses that cannot directly communicate with the camera, such as the use of the aperture ring and display of focus indicators.)

The K10D's autofocus system uses a TTL phase-matching system (called SAFOX VIII by Pentax) with 11 available AF points spread throughout the central portion of the frame. A three-position switch to the left side of the lens mount (as viewed from the rear) puts the camera into Single AF, Continuous AF or Manual focus modes. There's also a switch on the back panel for controlling the main AF point, which offers Auto, Select, and Center options. In Auto mode, the camera automatically determines the main AF point based on the proximity of the subject, while Select lets you choose one of the 11 available points in the spread. Center simply sets the AF point to the very center of the frame. In either case, the selected AF point displays in red in the optical viewfinder, unless this option is disabled through the Custom menu. When using manual focus, you can program the OK button on the rear panel to quickly adjust autofocus, thereby giving you a starting point to manually tweak the focus.

Because the Pentax K10D hosts a wide range of lenses, including those with long zooms, the camera offers Pentax's body-based Shake Reduction technology. Shake Reduction is also useful when shooting under low lighting with a slightly slower shutter speed. According to Pentax, Shake Reduction gives you the flexibility of approximately two steps slower shutter speed without risking blurring from camera movement, though realistically, exposures longer than 1/15 second typically turn out best with a tripod or other method of camera stabilization. Shake Reduction requires some communication from the lens, particularly the focal length setting. However, for lenses that cannot communicate with the Pentax K10D, you can set the focal length from 8 to 800mm through a setting in the Record menu. The Shake Reduction switch on the rear panel enables the function, and will automatically display the Shake Reduction menu if the camera has no feedback from the lens. Note that Shake Reduction isn't recommended for tripod shooting, and will automatically disable in the self-timer modes, remote control mode, Bulb mode, and when using a wireless flash.

Kit Lens

Good performance from the Pentax K10D's 18-55mm kit lens.

18mm 55mm

The Pentax K10D is available bundled with the Pentax SMC-DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. The K10D works with a huge array of K-mount lenses. Results are good at wide angle, with a slight softness throughout the frame. There is some coma distortion and chromatic aberration in the corners, as expected. The lens shows a good deal more detail at telephoto, and is fairly contrasty. This far field performance differs slightly from what you'll see below in the Corner Softness section, where the wide angle lens is sharper in the center and corners and softer at telephoto (which is precisely why we shoot a "far" shot, because lenses are often quite different focused near compared to far).

A small macro area with good detail. Flash performs well up close.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

As with zoom performance, the Pentax K10D's macro performance will depend on the lens in use. However, with the 18-55mm kit lens set to 55mm, the K10D captured a small minimum area measuring 2.60 x 1.74 inches (66 x 44 millimeters). Details are a little fuzzy throughout the frame, with some additional softness in the corners from the lens, but resolution is still good. The flash exposure looked pretty good, with nearly even coverage (though some slight falloff in the lower corners).

Slightly less than average barrel and pincushion distortion.

Barrel distortion at 18mm is 0.74%
Pincushion at 55mm is less than 0.17%

This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto). The Pentax K10D's 18-55mm kit lens produced about 0.74% barrel distortion at wide angle, which is actually slightly less than average among the cameras we've tested, although still noticeable in its images. At the telephoto end, the lens produced about 0.17% pincushion distortion, also slightly less than average.

Chromatic aberration
Moderate to very low distortion with the 18-55mm kit lens.

Wide: moderate but bright,
top left @ 200%
Wide: bright,
top right @ 200%
Tele: very low,
top left @200%
Tele: very low,
top right @200%

Chromatic aberration with the Pentax K10D's kit lens is moderate at the 18mm setting, though fairly bright, showing about 5-6 pixels. At 55mm, the distortion is very slight in the top left corner, and virtually invisible in the top right. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Corner Sharpness
Slight softening in the corners with the 18-55mm kit lens.

Wide: soft in the lower
corners (lower left)
Wide: sharper at center,
though still slightly soft
Tele: stronger blurring in the
corners (upper right)
Tele: still slightly soft at center

The Pentax K10D's 18-55mm kit lens produced slightly soft corners in a few shots. At wide angle, corners were a hint soft, particularly in the lower corners, compared to the center of the frame. At telephoto, corners showed stronger blurring, but the center was also a bit soft. Still, not a bad performance for a kit lens.


A reasonably accurate optical viewfinder.

18mm eq., optical 55mm eq., optical

The Pentax K10D's optical viewfinder proved reasonably accurate, showing about 95% accuracy at wide angle, and about 94% accuracy at telephoto. This is about average for digital SLRs.


The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Pentax K10D Photo Gallery .

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