The Pentax K-r succeeds the now-discontinued Pentax K-x, which once reigned as experts' favorite budget-priced digital SLR. Reviews say it improves upon the K-x and still offers the best value in its class, although rivals are catching up. Jeff Keller at DCResource.com says the K-r comes "equipped, not stripped," with features you'd expect from a $1,000 camera. It upgrades the K-x's autofocus, adds a bigger and higher-resolution 3-inch LCD screen, a faster burst mode and several new features including interval shooting and much-needed visible autofocus points in the viewfinder, so you can "finally see in the viewfinder where the camera is focusing," DPReview.com's Lars Rehm says.
The K-r also reaches up into the ISO stratosphere with a 25,600 setting -- unnecessary and unusable in reality, experts say -- but it does fine in ordinary low-light ISOs up to 3200. Keller has trouble finding just the right exposure setting in his tests, but overall experts agree that the K-r delivers reliably good photos in a wide range of settings. Its solid build, ease of use and robust features make it a great choice for either first-time or experienced digital SLR owners, and Pentax is the only major manufacturer offering fun colors such as bright red and what Steves-Digicams.com editors dub "Storm Trooper White." But although it's still cheaper than its Canon and Nikon rivals, the Pentax K-r is no longer the slam-dunk choice in this category: The Canon EOS Rebel T3i (*Est. $695 with kit lens) and more basic Nikon D3100 (*Est. $500 with kit lens) both offer a wider range of lenses, and both shoot 1080p HD video (the K-r's is 720p).
We found a plethora of lengthy, detailed, test-based reviews for the Pentax K-r at photography specialist sites DPReview.com, DCResource.com, Steves-Digicams.com, DigitalCameraReview.com and PhotographyBlog.com. Some of the owner reviews at Amazon.com reveal substantial photography experience and are very helpful.
The competition has caught up with Pentax, "making the K-r not quite as good a deal as the K-x was," Lars Rehm says. It's still "a very competent upper entry-level camera," but Rehm names a few good alternatives, including the Nikon D3100 and Canon Rebel T3i.
Review: Pentax K-r Review, Lars Rehm, March 2011
Jeff Keller calls the Pentax K-r "one of the best entry-level digital SLRs on the market" and easily the best value in its class. After thorough testing, he finds it as feature-rich as a $1,000 camera, with very good photo quality.
Review: DCRP Review: Pentax K-r, Jeff Keller, Updated April 2011
In tests here, the Pentax K-r proves to be a competitively priced, robust shooter that produces good images, even in low light. This reviewer would like to see better controls in video mode, though.
Review: Pentax K-r DSLR Review, Editors of Steves-Digicams.com, March 2011
The Pentax K-r is a value-priced solidly built camera that shoots great images, Howard Creech says. Unless you're already invested in Canon, Nikon or another brand, Creech recommends giving the K-r a serious look if you're in the market for an entry-level digital SLR.
Review: Pentax K-r Review, Howard Creech, Dec. 2010
The Pentax K-r earns a Highly Recommended designation at PhotographyBlog.com, where Mark Goldstein says it's "ideally suited to first-time DSLR owners" while still high-performance enough for more experienced photographers. Cheaper than its Canon and Nikon rivals, with excellent image quality, the K-r's biggest drawback is its not-very-user-friendly video mode.
Review: Pentax K-r Review, Mark Goldstein, Nov. 2010
This two-lens version of the Pentax K-r has accumulated the most reviews (over 20) on Amazon.com. (There are few different configurations listed on the site.) Some of the reviews are extremely detailed and critical. The camera earns an average rating of 4 stars out of 5.
Review: Pentax K- r, Contributors to Amazon.com