The ergonomics are a definite step up from the K20D. The K-7 feels compact yet dense, like a bulldog. Gone are the extravagant sweeping curves of the top-plate. Gone is the function button to access the key ISO/WB/Drive/Flash settings, to be replaced by direct buttons on the body, and gone is the Shake Reduction switch, which is now in the menu.

Inside, Pentax has managed to incorporate pretty much every major technological innovation of the past couple of years, and improve on some of them. The video mode, for example, offers the highest-resolution video outside of the £2,000 Canon EOS 5D Mk II (and forthcoming Panasonic GH1) as well as the considerable benefit of an external mic input.

This is great news for Pentax owners who have, up till now, had to look on enviably as other brands have launched DSLR after DSLR, with new technologies, while Pentax has remained the least prolific of manufacturers. The K-7 will give owners of existing Pentax cameras a clear flagship model to aspire to, but will also make the brand a more appealing investment to DSLR newcomers, who will see a more complete range with a clearer upgrade path. What's more, it gives the Nikon D300 and Canon EOS 50D, its most obvious rivals, food for thought. On paper, at least. The body we had was a pre-production sample, so we can't show any examples of the still or video image quality, but we will post samples online as soon as we can. wdc

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