Pentax K100D and the DA 18-55 f/3.5 -5.6 AL smc lens (approx. EUR 650)
Pentax ist* series DSLR cameras, apart from having the battiest name, weren’t too successful. However, when Pentax introduced the K100D, they created a lot of buzz. Even the film virgins who never before heard about Pentax started getting interesting. Despite having only a 6 MP sensor, the sensor is stabilised, making it possible to get clear shots at long shutter times. This, combined with the camera's very accessible price, made it very appealing and resulted in tremendous sales. The K100D is a smallish camera with excellent build quality, simple and powerful menu systems, capable of taking a wide variety of old and new lenses, and of course, it has image stabilisation.
The K100D is a direct competitor to the Nikon D40. Comparing the two, I think that the image stabilisation is worth the difference in price. This, of course, goes mainly for those photographers who use longer lenses. This is what makes choosing between these two cameras easier than choosing between 10 MP cameras.
Major pros: Image stabilisation, takes all Pentax KAF2, KA an M42 mount lenses.
Pentax K10D and the DA 18-55 f/3.5 -5.6 AL smc lens (approx. EUR 999)
This camera is in a completely different class than all the others in this overview, and is included only because of its amazing price. It’s a direct competitor to the Nikon D80 and the Canon 30D. However, its amazing price and numerous advanced features are reason enough to present it in this overview of entry-level cameras. (Note that Samsung are collaborating with Pentax, so the Samsung GX-10 is very much the same camera with a different badge9.
The first indicator that the camera is in a class of its own is the body protection. All major water ingress points are sealed off, making it almost impossible for dust and moisture to enter. It'll hold out well in light rain, but don't leave it outside in the middle of a tropical downpour and wonder why it stopped working. While the menus are almost too extensive, they are very customizable. There’s another unique feature, sensitivity priority (Sv) mode. Pentax seem to be the first camera company to realise that in digital photography, ISO is just as flexible a parameter as aperture and shutter speed. This camera too has image stabilisation.
The possibilities this camera unlocks are so vast that I wholeheartedly recommend this camera to everyone who knows they're going to get really serious about photography. Buy the Pentax K10D and you don’t have to worry about selling your entry-level camera when you outgrow it. With the K10D, Pentax drew a line, and they're the only company so far to cross it. If you’re really serious about photography, the only reason not to buy this camera is the huge stack of Canon/Nikon/Sony/Olympus lenses you have at home. However, Sony’s upcoming mid-level camera could change that.
Major pros: Price, image stabilisation, body protection, Sv and TAv modes, takes all Pentax KAF2, KA an M42 mount lenses.