Want more professional looking photographs from an interchangeable lens camera without a steep learning curve or the need to forfeit a king's ransom? Pentax's 10.2Mp entry-level Pentax K-m ticks all three boxes, while a solid-feel stainless steel chassis ensures it withstands the odd knock.
Despite this the Pentax K-m remains one of the lightest, most compact and portable SLR cameras available at only 525g.
This is without the supplied 18-55mm kit lens attached, though, (equivalent to 27.5mm-84.5mm in 35mm terms), or the four AAs required for power. And, though not quite as diminutive as Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds G1, the Pentax K-m is nearly £200 cheaper.
The Pentax K-m powers up in just over a second with a flick of the on/off switch encircling the shutter release button. With a large space for the thumb to rest at the rear, it sits comfortably in the hand as your left grips the lens barrel.
Icon-led shooting modes are readily accessed via the Pentax K-m's top plate dial, with key info clearly displayed on the 2.7in, 230k pixel resolution rear LCD when not in review mode. While a 5-point wide area AF is modest, JPEG, RAW or RAW+JPEG format captures are offered, as is a relatively broad light sensitivity range stretching from ISO100 to ISO3200.
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Very useful for novices is an Auto Picture mode whereby the Pentax K-m recognises subjects and automatically adjusts its settings to deliver optimum results, operating in a similarly effective way to the Intelligent Auto Mode found on Panasonic's point-and-shoot Lumix compacts.
Also unusual for a DSLR at this price point is the Pentax K-m's built in shake reduction system that ensures any attached Pentax K mount lens becomes immediately stabilised - thus helping to reduce blur from external hand wobble - plus a dust removal system that shakes the CCD sensor free of any undesirables that may intrude when swapping lenses.
For the most part the Pentax K-m's lens delivers a commendably high level of detail, with colours well saturated; our only gripe being the purple fringing noticeable between areas of high contrast when zooming. That said it's not a bad performance at all for a starter model - delivering good results with minimal fuss and at an attractive price.