First Impressions: Pentax K-50

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K50 product images (5 of 5)ISO 64001-50 sec at f - 5.0

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.

Tech Specs

SENSOR

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)

LENS MOUNT

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

FOCUS SYSTEM

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)

METERING SYSTEM

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),

VIEWFINDER

Coverage (field of view): 100%

Magnification: 0.92X (w 50mm F1.4 at infinity)

Standard focusing screen: Natural-Bright-Matte III (interchangeable)

LCD MONITOR

Type: 3.0” TFT color LCD w brightness / color adjustment

Resolution: 921,000 dots

Wide angle viewable: Yes

LIVE VIEW

Type: TTL by CMOS image sensor

Field Of View: 100%

Display Modes: Magnification (2-6X), Grid Overlay (4×4, Golden Ratio, Scale), Bright/Dark

Indication, Histogram

BUILT-IN FLASH

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)

EXTERNAL FLASH

Type: Hotshoe (P-TTL), high speed sync and wireless w PENTAX dedicated flash

Synchronization speed: 1/180 sec

STORAGE MEDIA

Internal memory: n/a

Removable memory: SD, SDHC, SDXC, (Eye-Fi Card compatible)

INTERFACES

Ports: USB 2.0 hi-speed, AV out

USB Connection: MSC / PTP

Video out: NTSC, PAL

Microphone: Built-in monaural

POWER SUPPLY

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

PHYSICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Body dimensions (W x H x D): 5.1” x 3.8” x 2.8”

Body weight

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)

RAW (4928×3264)

Quality levels: ««« Best, «« Better, « Good

File formats: RAW (DNG), JPG (EXIF 2.3), DCF 2.0 compliant, DPOF, PIM III

Color space: sRGB, AdobeRGB

ISO SENSITIVITY

Auto: 100-51200 (1, 1/2, 1/3 steps), auto range selectable

Manual: 100-51200 (1, 1/2, 1/3 steps)

DRIVE MODES

Mode selection: Single, Continuous (Hi, Lo), Self-Timer (12s, 2s), Remote (0s, 3s), Exposure Bracketing (3 frames)

Continuous FPS

– 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

VIDEO CAPTURE

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

CAPTURE MODES

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,

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).

OTHER INFORMATION

FILE STORAGE MATRIX (CROSS-SAMPLE BASED ON 4GB MEMORY)

STILL

RAW

«««

««

«

16M (3:2)

150

421

744

1471

12M (3:2)

569

1005

1978

8M (3:2)

843

1489

2873

5M (3:2)

1387

2413

4641

VIDEO (H:M:S)

 

«««

 ««

«

1080p30

0:16:21

0:20:52

0:23:40

1080p24

0:20:21

0:25:57

0:29:25

720p60

0:16:21

0:20:52

0:23:40

720p30

0:28:18

0:36:00

0:40:45

*maximum movie length is 25 minutes 

Ergonomics

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K50 product images (1 of 5)ISO 64001-200 sec at f - 5.6

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.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K50 product images (4 of 5)ISO 64001-200 sec at f - 5.6

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.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K50 product images (3 of 5)ISO 64001-200 sec at f - 5.6

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.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K50 product images (2 of 5)ISO 64001-200 sec at f - 5.6

 

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.

Build Quality

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.

Autofocus

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.

Image Quality

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K50 image samples (6 of 10)ISO 1001-60 sec at f - 3.5

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.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K50 image samples (1 of 10)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 8.0

 

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K50 image samples (10 of 10)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 6.3

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K50 image samples (2 of 10)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 8.0

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K50 image samples (3 of 10)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 8.0

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K50 image samples (4 of 10)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K50 image samples (5 of 10)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K50 image samples (7 of 10)ISO 1001-60 sec at f - 3.5

 

First Impressions

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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