The new Pentax EI-2000 is an ‘SLR’ (Single Lens Reflex), which means that you see through the optical viewfinder via the lens which takes the picture, instead of a separate viewfinder. This arrangement means you can see the true depth of field and focus of the picture before it is taken. Although the EI-2000 also has an LCD screen for viewing, its limited resolution and size make it unsuitable for checking fine detail, compared to the TTL (through the lens) viewfinder. The LCD also burns up precious battery power.
The styling of the EI-2000 is a matter of personal taste, but its very curvaceous lines have a definite ‘SLR’ look about them. It’s very comfortable to hold, though it’s quite large. The viewfinder eyepiece has dioptre adjustment for people with short or long sight and it is off-set to the left so right-eyed users won’t suffer the indignity of squashing their noses against the LCD screen. This latter can be lifted up (but not down) 90 degrees for waist-level viewing for that artistic low angle or ‘candid’ shot.
Although there is a bulge on the centre of the camera’s top-plate, this only reveals a pop-up built-in flash instead of the more traditional pentaprism housing for the TTL finder that you’d find in a conventional SLR. A conventional external flash unit can be fitted to a hot shoe should you wish it.
A non-interchangeable 8.2-25.8mm 3x zoom (equivalent to a conventional 35mm format 35-105mm zoom) is provided. Inevitably, one wonders why interchangeable lenses aren’t offered with the EI-2000. There are two main reasons; cost and the fact that the relatively small CCD digital image sensor would not be a suitable match. A strange aspect of the integral zoom lens is that to zoom in and out you must twist the lens barrel left or right. This action is accompanied by a rather unsophisticated noise from the electrically operated zooming mechanism.
One thing the EI-2000 is not lacking is picture-taking options. There are plenty of manual, automatic and fully programmed modes and a very close focus macro mode. The camera uses the versatile, if rather technical, Digita script control system so you have the option of programming the camera’s functions according to your needs. A definite plus point is that the camera is supplied with a long life lithium ion rechargeable battery and even if that goes flat you can replace it temporarily with a set of four AA batteries. Alas, only an 8MB compact flash memory card is supplied, which limits you to about 6 shots at the better image quality setting. IBM’s high capacity Compact Flash-compatible Microdrives are not supported, but a USB link is supplied for fast image downloading.
We were disappointed with the picture quality of the cheaper Pentax EI-200 reviewed earlier (click here to find out why). The EI-2000, however, is noticeably better, not suffering from problems we experienced with the EI-200, like noisy dark regions of the image.
Using Hewlett Packard technology, the EI-2000 also has extended colour sensitivity. Colour tone and depth is impressive as a result. Not so impressive is the fact that this camera only sports a 2.2-megapixel image sensor compared to many rivals’ 3.3-megapixel specifications. Resulting pictures look nice, but closer examination shows the images are quite soft in detail. More HP technology is evident in the inclusion of wireless infra-red printing capability for use with selected HP inkjet printers.
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