First Impressions: Pentax K-500

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K500 product images official (1 of 1)ISO 100

If you took the brand new Pentax K-50 and stripped it down a bit, you’d have the new K-500. The camera is Pentax’s new entry level DSLR and for the most part is every bit the camera that its bigger brother the K-50 is. However, it only comes in black and can’t be customized to look any way that you want. Additionally, it runs on AA batteries and doesn’t have weather sealing. In many ways, Pentax is giving the entry-level customer a lot of power–but it may be just a bit too much.

Tech Specs

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) (approx.)

Dust Removal: Sensor movement w SP coating on low pass filter

Pixel mapping: Yes

IMAGE STABILIZATION (SHAKE REDUCTION)

Type: Sensor-shift SR (3 stops depending on lens and shooting conditions)

LENS MOUNT

Type/construction: PENTAX KAF2 bayonet stainless steel mount

Usable lenses: PENTAX KAF3, KAF2, KAF, and KA (K mount, 35mm screwmount, 645/67 med format lenses useable w adapter and/or restrictions)

SDM function: Yes, Power zoom function: n/a

FOCUS SYSTEM

Type: SAFOX IXi+ TTL phase-detection 11 point (9 cross type focus points in the center) 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 selection: 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)

Autofocus Fine Adjustment: ±10 step, Uniform adjustment, Individual adjustment (up to 20 can be saved)

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

Type: Electronically controlled, vertical-run, focal plane shutter

Shutter speed: (Auto/Manual) 1/6000 to 30 sec (1/3 or 1/2 steps), Bulb

VIEWFINDER

Type: Pentaprism, Coverage (field of view): 100%

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

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

Diopter adjustment: -2.5m to 1.5m, Eye Relief: Approx. 21.7mm (from the view window)

Depth of field preview: Optical (diaphragm stop-down), digital

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

Display: Field of View approx. 100%, Magnified view (2x, 4x, 6x), Grid display (4×4 Grid, Golden Section, Scale display), Bright/dark area warning, Histogram

Autofocus: Contrast detection + Face Detection, Tracking, Select, Spot

BUILT-IN FLASH

Type: Retractable P-TTL popup flash

Guide number: 12m (ISO 100), Synchronization speed: 1/180 sec

Angle of View/Coverage: Wide Angle (Equivalent to 28mm in 35mm format)

Flash modes: P-TTL, Red-eye Reduction, Slow-speed Sync, Trailing Curtain Sync

High-Speed and Wireless Sync are also available with PENTAX dedicated external flash.

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

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

External Memory: n/a

INTERFACES

Ports: USB 2.0 hi-speed, AV out, Cable Switch

Video output format: NTSC, PAL, USB Connection: MSC/PTP

Microphone: Built-in monaural

PHYSICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Body dimensions (W x H x D): 5.1” x 3.8” x 2.8” (excluding operating parts and protrusions)

Body weight: Without battery or removable memory card: 20.8 oz

With 4 AA Lithium batteries and memory card: 22.8 oz.

With D-Li109 battery and memory card 22.9 oz

Primary construction material(s): Reinforced polycarbonate over stainless steel chassis

Operating temperature: 14-104°F (-10 to 40°C)

CUSTOMIZATION (20 Custom Functions available)

RAW/Fx Button (One Push File Format, Exposure Bracketing, Optical preview, Digital Preview, Composition Adjustment, Select AF Point), USER Mode (up to 2 settings can be saved)

IMAGE FILE INFORMATION

Recorded pixels: 16M (4928×3264), 12M (4224×2816), 8M (3456×2304), 5M (2688×1792)

RAW 16M (4928×3264)

Quality levels (JPEG): ««« Best, «« Better, « Good

File formats: RAW (DNG), JPG (EXIF 2.3), RAW +,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

Green simplified mode available: n/a

Face detection available: Yes

Dynamic range adjustment: Highlight, shadow

Electronic level: n/a     Horizon correction: n/a

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

Interval: 999 shots, 3 sec to 24 hr interval, time delay

HDR: Auto, HDR 1, HDR 2, HDR 3, Auto composition correction function, exposure bracket +/- 1 to 3 EV (1 EV steps)

Cable switch: Yes (sold separately)

PLAYBACK MODES

Playback View: Single image, Multi-image display (4, 9, 16, 36, 81 segments), display mag. (up to 16x, scrolling and quick magnify available), histogram, bright/dark area warning, copyright display, calendar filmstrip, display, folder display, slideshow, Eye-Fi transfer

Delete: Single image, all images, select & delete, delete folder, delete instant review image

RAW Development: File Format (JPEG), Image Capture Settings(Aspect Ratio, Recorded Pixels, Quality Level, Color Space), Lens Correction(Distortion Correction, Lateral Chromatic Aberration Correction), Custom Image, White Balance, Sensitivity, High-ISO NR, Shadow Correction

VIDEO FILE INFORMATION

Recorded resolutions/FPS: FullHD (1920×1080,16:9,30fps/25fps/24fps),

HD (1280×720,16:9,60fps/50fps/30fps/25fps/24fps),

VGA (640×480,4:3,30fps/25fps/24fps)

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

File format/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, Invert Color, Color

Interval movie: 3 sec., 5 sec., 10 sec., 30 sec., 1 min., 5min., 10 min., 30 min., 1 hr. intervals

4 sec to 99 hr record time, time delay (AVI, MJPG)

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

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

0:36:20

0:40:45

*24/25 fps times longer, maximum movie length is 25 minutes

Ergonomics

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K500 product images (1 of 3)ISO 64001-800 sec at f - 4.0

The Pentax K-500 is a small DSLR targeted at te entry-level crowd. However, this camera delivers loads more performance and features for the photographer that wants to get serious about their photography. But like all other entry-level DSLR cameras, the front of the camera is mostly minimal–but in this case not really.

The Pentax K-500 has a front dial for exposure control, and the shutter button also doubles as the on/off switch.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K500 product images (3 of 3)ISO 64001-800 sec at f - 4.0

The back of the K-500 looks almost identical to the K-50 with the live view button on the top left and the right hand side being where all of the other buttons are placed. Curiously, Pentax decided to give the K-500 dual exposure control dials–which is a feature typically reserved for higher end cameras.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K500 product images (2 of 3)ISO 64001-800 sec at f - 4.0

The top of the K-500 is just like the K-50 in many ways as well: there is the hot shoe, pop-up flash, mode dial, shutter release, exposure compensation button, and the green button to automatically give you the right exposure in manual mode.

Build Quality

I feel like the K-500 is designed for the college art student with small hands. Indeed, my paws were a bit too massive for this camera to be comfortable for longer periods of time, but it wasn’t as bad as trying to grip onto Canon’s SL1. Since this camera also doesn’t have weather sealing, it doesn’t feel as tough as its bigger brothers.

Ease of Use

For the experienced user, you’ll have no problems wrapping your head around this camera except for manually selecting the focusing point. But in the case of the entry level user, you’ll need to spend some time working with it and reading through the manual. Perhaps Pentax is giving a bit too much to the entry level crowd with the K-500.

Autofocus

We mostly used the center focusing point with the K-500 and then recomposed, and for that the focusing worked very well with barely any misses of our targets. We didn’t get a chance to test the outer points but we really do hope that Pentax has improved their system.

Image Quality

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K500 sample images (7 of 7)ISO 1001-40 sec at f - 2.8

The Pentax K-500 that we tested was a pre-production unit, so the image quality and firmware weren’t finalized. However, they’re darn close. As always, we’re stunned by Pentax’s image quality. Here are a couple of samples that we shot.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K500 sample images (6 of 7)ISO 1001-40 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K500 sample images (3 of 7)ISO 1001-60 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Pentax K500 sample images (1 of 7)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 2.8

First Impressions

We didn’t get to spend too much time with the Pentax K-500, but from our initial tests we can without a doubt say that it is a very capable camera. It can focus in very low lighting situations much better than previous Pentax camera models and it also retains the same imaging sensor as was used last year by the company. However, we really wish that Pentax incorporated a new sensor into the camera with the same MP count but better high ISO and low ISO capabilities.

As always though, we’re going to have to save our final say for when the production unit comes in.

The K-500 DSLR will be available at retail outlets nationwide and online in July 2013 with a suggested retail price of $599.95 for the kit including the DA-L 18-55mm lens and $699.95 for the dual lens kit including the DA-L 18-55mm and DA-L 50-200mm lenses.

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