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Hands On Review: Pentax K-5

by Chris Gampat on 10/28/2010

After seeing the Pentax 645D in action and getting samples from the the K-5 and 645D, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Pentax K-5is essentially a mini-645D with some different features.

Tech Specs (major features from Pentax themselves)

16.3 megapixel CMOS sensor
High resolution 16.3 megapixel CMOS sensor with integrated AD conversion circuitry captures outstanding image detail with pixels to spare.

80-51200 ISO
High sensitivity 80-51200 ISO range with improved noise performance throughout, including ISO-specific noise reduction.

7 FPS
Speedy 7 FPS framerate captures fast action shots in demanding situations.

11 point SAFOX IX+ autofocus system
Highly responsive and accurate 11 point SAFOX IX+ autofocus system features a dedicated AF assist lamp and light wavelength sensor for improved focus speed and reliability.

1080p HD video
Capture widescreen HD video with stunning detail at full 1080p resolution and 25 FPS, including sound via a built-in or external 3.5mm stereo microphone jack.

3 inch LCD
Large 3 inch LCD with 921,000 dots of resolution for responsive Live View and detailed image/video review.

Fully Weather Sealed
Fully weather sealed and coldproof design resists water, fog, snow, sand, dust, and more, for top performance in extreme field conditions as well as in the studio.

Rugged design
Durable magnesium alloy covers surround a rugged stainless steel chassis.

77 segment metering system
Highly accurate 77 segment metering system for perfectly exposed images even in difficult lighting.

100% Field of view
High quality glass pentaprism viewfinder features 100% field of view and 0.92X magnification, for perfect framing accuracy.

Shake Reduction
PENTAX body-based Shake Reduction (SR) stabilization system is compatible with every PENTAX lens ever made.

1/8000 Shutter Speed
A maximum 1/8000 second shutter speed freezes even the fastest action without subject movement blur.

HDMI port
An HDMI port outputs high definition images and video (and sound) to HDTVs.

PENTAX PEF and Adobe DNG files
Native support for both PENTAX PEF and Adobe DNG 14 bit RAW files, includes the ability to retrieve RAW data from JPG files if still present in buffer memory.

HDR
Improved in-camera HDR image capture features more blending options and better pixel registration for easier operation without a tripod.

In-camera image processing and filters
A wide range of in-camera image processing and special effects filters encourages the photographer’s artistic expression.

Customizable RAW/Fx button
Customizable RAW/Fx button allows for easy access to common shooting settings.

Built-in electronic level
Built-in electronic level now features a tilt scale display in Live View.

SDXC memory card compatibility (via firmware update).

Autofocus

Targeted at taking out the Nikon D300s, Olympus E-5 and the Canon 7D, the Pentax K-5 comes in as quite the spartan. In terms of autofocus, the camera actually seemed very, very speed. This was being tested in indoor lighting at the convention center. IF a Pentax shooter is out photographing wildlife, sports etc the K-5 will more than please.

Even better: it’s quiet. And so is the shutter.

During my brief test, I used it in full autofocus, and so did not select any specific points. I did however tested how well it tracked. This seemed to deliver varying results and I’m not comfortable giving a definite conclusion without putting the camera through it’s paces.

Ergonomics

The K-5feels quite a bit like the Nikon D300s and Olympus E-5. In fact, if a person were blind folded it would probably even be extremely hard for them to tell them apart.

A great feature that I do like though is the fact that one can shoot without moving their eye from the viewfinder. These days, photographers tend to fully manipulate aperture, shutter speed and ISO. All of this can easily be done with the press of a button and the turn of a dial. Given the chance, I’d surely take it to a wedding, on a studio set, or for photojournalistic applications with the correct lens and flash combination.

What is really nice is the green LCD screen which I can actually see being very useful in lower-light situations vs Canon’s orange. To be fair though, Canon’s puts the information in an easier to display format.

Something that I’ve always valued about Pentax cameras is the dial: one needs to depress the middle button to switch the shooting mode. Why is this great? Try shooting a wedding and bumping into people or having them bump your dial and switching your shooting mode. You won’t be happy with how the photos come out afterward and will surely need to do more adjustments.

The viewfinder is surprisingly dark. However, it could have been the fact that I was in a darker area. Even so, Canon’s 7Dand Nikon’s D300shave never been that dark in the concerts I’ve shot with them.

Durability

Even though I was on the fourth floor of the center trying it out, I didn’t drop test it at all or give it a full run-through in the bag. But the camera does indeed feel very tough. We’re requesting a review unit to put through the paces.

Metering

Coming from Canon, this is a bit of a weird metering system. It seems like the sensor needs a lot more light to be able to shoot at certain apertures and ISOs. This will in-turn mean slower shutter speeds compensated for by the in-camera image stabilization.

Luckily, the K-5 does have a button to immediately change the metering to the ideal setting for hand-held shooting with a balanced exposure.

More to come in the full review soon.

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