Pentax’s brand new K-50 replaces the older K-30: the winner of our mid-level DSLR Editor’s Choice award. And with this new model, not much has changed with the update. Pentax is still using the same 16MP sensor, and the camera is still weather sealed. It sports 6fps shooting, ISO settings up to 51,200 and high-precision SAFOX IXi+ autofocus with subject tracking, a 100% viewfinder, a max shutter speed of 1/6000th, a new interface with the Eye-Fi card, and loads of new colors for you to sport around.
We had some time to play with the K-50 today in NYC at a Pentax event. And so far, we’re not sure if it will be worth an Editor’s Choice again.
Type: CMOS w primary color filter, integrated Shake/Dust Reduction sensor movement system
Size: 23.7 x 15.7mm (APS-C)
Color depth: 8 bits/channel JPG, 12 bits / channel RAW
Effective pixels (total pixels): 16.3 MP (16.5 MP)
Dust Removal: Sensor movement w SP coating on low pass filter
IMAGE STABILIZATION (SHAKE REDUCTION)
Type: Sensor-shift SR w rotational compensation (3 stops avg CIPA, 4 stops max)
Type/construction: PENTAX KAF2 bayonet stainless steel mount
Usable lenses: PENTAX KAF3, KAF2, KAF, and KA (K mount, 35mm screw-mount, 645/67 med format lenses useable w adapter and/or restrictions)
SDM function: Yes
Type: SAFOX IXi+ TTL phase-detection 11 point (9 cross) wide autofocus system w/ light wavelength sensor and diffraction lens
Sensitivity range: EV -1 to 18 (ISO 100)
Focus modes: AF.A (auto), AF.S (single, w focus lock, focus/shutter priority selectable), AF.C (continuous, w focus/FPS priority selectable), Manual
Focus point adjustment: Auto 11 pt., Auto 5 pt., User-Selectable (w Expanded Area AF), Center
AF assist: Yes via dedicated LED AF assist lamp
Focus peaking: Yes (n/a during active video recording)
Type: TTL open aperture 77 segment metering
Sensitivity range: EV 0 to 22 (ISO 100, 50mm F1.4)
Metering patterns (multi, center, spot): Multi 77, Center, Spot
Exposure compensation: +/- 5 EV (1/3 and 1/2 steps)
Exposure lock: Yes
Exposure bracketing: 3 frames, up to +/- 3 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 steps
Shutter speed: Auto: 1/6000 to 30 sec., Manual: 1/6000 to 30 sec. (1/3EV steps or 1/2EV steps),
Coverage (field of view): 100%
Magnification: 0.92X (w 50mm F1.4 at infinity)
Standard focusing screen: Natural-Bright-Matte III (interchangeable)
Type: 3.0” TFT color LCD w brightness / color adjustment
Resolution: 921,000 dots
Wide angle viewable: Yes
Type: TTL by CMOS image sensor
Field Of View: 100%
Display Modes: Magnification (2-6X), Grid Overlay (4×4, Golden Ratio, Scale), Bright/Dark
Type: Retractable P-TTL pop-up flash
Guide number: 12m (ISO 100)
Coverage: 28mm wide angle equivalent
Flash modes: P-TTL, Red-eye Reduction, Slow-speed Sync, Trailing Curtain Sync
Flash exposure compensation: -2 to +1 EV (1/3 steps)
Type: Hotshoe (P-TTL), high speed sync and wireless w PENTAX dedicated flash
Synchronization speed: 1/180 sec
Internal memory: n/a
Removable memory: SD, SDHC, SDXC, (Eye-Fi Card compatible)
Ports: USB 2.0 hi-speed, AV out
USB Connection: MSC / PTP
Video out: NTSC, PAL
Microphone: Built-in monaural
Power source: Rechargeable Li-Ion battery D-LI109 (included), AA battery holder D-BH109 for 4* AA batteries (sold separately)
Recordable images: Li-Ion approx. 480 (410 w 50% flash, CIPA), AA lithium approx. 1250 (710 w 50% flash, CIPA)
Playback time: Li-Ion approx. 270 min, AA lithium approx. 560 min
Movie recording time: 25 min max time per clip
Body dimensions (W x H x D): 5.1” x 3.8” x 2.8”
Without battery or removable memory: 20.8 oz
Loaded and ready: 22.9 oz (Li-Ion)
Primary construction material(s): Reinforced polycarbonate over stainless steel chassis
Operating temperature: 14-104°F (-10 to 40°C)
Ruggedized features: Fully weather sealed throughout body, coldproof
IMAGE FILE INFORMATION
Recorded resolutions: 16M (4928×3264), 12M (4224×2816), 8M (3456×2304), 5M (2688×1792)
Quality levels: ««« Best, «« Better, « Good
File formats: RAW (DNG), JPG (EXIF 2.3), DCF 2.0 compliant, DPOF, PIM III
Color space: sRGB, AdobeRGB
Auto: 100-51200 (1, 1/2, 1/3 steps), auto range selectable
Manual: 100-51200 (1, 1/2, 1/3 steps)
Mode selection: Single, Continuous (Hi, Lo), Self-Timer (12s, 2s), Remote (0s, 3s), Exposure Bracketing (3 frames)
– Continuous Hi: approx. 6.0 FPS (30 JPG, 8 RAW)
– Continuous Lo: approx. 3.0 FPS (unlimited JPG, 10 RAW)
Multi-exposure: 2-9 shots, auto exposure adjustment
IMAGE FILE INFORMATION
Recorded resolutions / FPS: 1920x1080p30/25/24, 1280x720p60/50/30/25/24, 640x480p30/25/24
Quality levels: ««« Best, «« Better, « Good
File formats (compression): MOV MPEG-4 AVC (h.264)
Sound: Audio gain adj
Custom Image modes: Bright, Natural, Portrait, Landscape, Vibrant, Radiant, Muted, Bleach Bypass, Reversal Film, Monochrome, Cross Processing
Digital filters (capture): Extract Color, Toy Camera, Retro, High Contrast, Shading, Invert Color,
Interval movie: 3 sec., 5 sec., 10 sec., 30 sec., 1 min., 5min., 10 min., 30 min., 1 hr., Recording
time: 4 sec. to 99 hr., Start Interval setting: immediately, from the set time, Motion JPEG(AVI).
FILE STORAGE MATRIX (CROSS-SAMPLE BASED ON 4GB MEMORY)
*maximum movie length is 25 minutes
Depending on which configuration you get your hands on, the Pentax K-50 can either look like a Spider-Man wanna-be (like in the image above) or a damn serious DSLR aimed at a lower market segment. With that said, the K-50 retains much of what the K-30 had, such as dual control dials with one of them being on the front of the camera near the grip. Plus there is the On/off switch and the Pentax logo.
On the left side of the camera are even more controls such as the RAW/fx button, pop-up flash button, and the autofocusing control. There is also a port here for your USB cord.
The back of the camera has a bunch of the controls that you’ll often be using. They’re all placed around the LCD screen in a very typical fashion. The top left is the home of the lonely live view button while the right side houses most of the camera’s controls. Amongst those are the aperture dial, autofocus lock, playback button, ISO control, flash control, autofocus selection, white balancing, info, menu and more.
On the back is also the 100% viewfinder.
The top of the camera is where some of the extra business is conducted. Here you’ll find the hot shoe, pop-up flash, mode dial, exposure compensation button, on/off switch around the shutter release, and the custom function button.
The build of the K-50 feels extremely solid–just the way that its predecessor the K-30 did. Overall, the camera also still feels quite small in my hands and a part of me wishes that it had a larger and beefier feel. In order to get that, I’ll have to move up to the K5 II or the 645D.
In our preliminary tests, the autofocus didn’t seem to be much improved over the previous system in normal lighting but it was exceptional in low lighting–and that was our major gripe about the K-30. To be fair, we often used the center focusing point and recomposed, and we didn’t test the outer points at all. That will be the camera’s biggest test.
Ease of Use
Since not much has changed ergonomically from the K-30, the camera was still pretty darn simple to use. Many people are the event barely seemed to know what they were doing with the cameras but they were still able to get really wonderful photos.
We were playing with a pre-production unit and the camera apparently didn’t have the final firmware or image quality in there despite the fact that it seems to be the same sensor as before. Either way though, we really digg what came from the sensor. Here are a couple of sample images.
Many of these images were RAWs with not much adjustment done to them while others are JPEGs with just a pinch of sharpening and clarity applied.
Though we only had around maybe 30 minutes total with the K-50, we found it to be quite a formidable contender in the mid-level DSLR arena. Its feature set already out does the Canon 60D and Nikon D5200, but in the end it might be a marketing game that makes this camera lose to its competitors.
We had nary a complaint about the image quality and were surprised by how much the autofocus improved when using the center focusing point in low light conditions. My only complaint is that the flash sync speed is so low at 1/160th. I would’ve loved 1/250th–and it would have totally been possible.
Additionally, we would have loved to have seen a more improved sensor rather than sticking with last year’s technology. We also would have loved to have seen a couple more features added in. But we’ll have to reserve our final judgement for the production unit that we get in for review.
The K-50 DSLR is available to order today in a choice of 120 color combinations at pentaximaging.com and retail outlets nationwide in July 2013 with a suggested retail price of $699.95 for body only, $779.95 for the kit including DA-L 18-55mm WR lens and $879.95 for the dual lens kit including the DA-L 18-55mm WR and DA-L 50-200mm WR lenses.
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