Pentax K-5 II review
Review Date : Tue, 12 Feb 2013
Author : Matt Golowczynski
The Pentax K-5 II arrives with just a handful of improvements over its predecessor, and it’s launched with a virtually identical Pentax K-5 IIs sibling. But why? Read on to find out in our full review.
|Pros:||Excellent build; Large viewfinder; Very capable AWB; Impressive low-light AF; Reliable metering; Decent customisation and post-processing options; Lower launch price than K-5; Weather-sealing|
|Cons:||Fiddly flash sync cover; Noisy 18-55mm kit lens with softness at wideangle and chromatic aberrations; Awkward focus point selection dial; Not a significant improvement over the K-5|
Pentax has spent the past few years refining its enthusiast DSLR proposition, first by unveiling the Pentax K-7 model before adding a handful of changes for a flagship Pentax K-5 offering, and then finally filtering some of the functionality of these into a more keenly-priced K30. Now the company has turned its attention to the model heading the range, revising its specifications somewhat modestly for a second generation Pentax K-5 II.
But wait – there's more. In addition to a new flagship body, Pentax has released a further Pentax K-5 IIs model alongside, identical in all areas save for the lack of an anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor. This idea mirrors the launch of the Nikon D800/D800E pair last year, and is potentially useful to photographers who only tend to work within specific genres.
Pentax K-5 II review – Features
The Pentax K-5 II is virtually unchanged in specification from that of the Pentax K-5. The new model still has a 16.28MP APS-C CMOS sensor at its heart, which operates across an ISO range of 100-12,800. This can be expanded up and down to equivalent settings of ISO 51,200 and 80 respectively, which compares favourably with its peers.
As has been the case with previous Pentax models, and somewhat unconventionally, a choice of two Raw formats are provided alongside the default JPEG mode: Adobe's DNG format and Pentax's proprietary PEF type, with the former being particularly useful if you already use a Raw-supporting Adobe program.
The Pentax K-5 II's main change is its SAFOX X autofocus module, which is said to offer "the broadest autofocusing EV range in its class". The camera's specifications reveal it to have a working range of -3 EV to +18 EV at ISO 100, which is a two-stop improvement over the previous SAFOX IX system. In practice, this means the camera should be able to achieve focus in even lower light than before, which will no doubt interest live music photographers.
The new system still bears 11 points as before, with nine of these points being cross-type to sense details in both vertical and horizontal orientations. While it's impressive to see the majority of these points being cross-type, some may consider only 11 to be too few for a company's flagship model.
Another change to the Pentax K-5 II comes with the camera's LCD, which now sees a gapless design between the display and the tempered outer panel. This, Pentax claims, helps to reduce internal reflections, and with the anti-glare film on the outer panel helps to improve visibility. The screen measures 3 inches in size and has a 921k-dot resolution, which is the standard expected for such a model.
Just above the Pentax K-5 II's LCD lies the pentaprism viewfinder, which boasts an approximate 100% coverage of the scene - this is impressive for a model of the K-5 II's mid-range billing. And, in addition to its capable core specification, the Pentax K-5 II sweetens the deal with a collection of additional features, such as an intervalometer for time-lapse photography, together with an electronic level and a multiple-exposure option. Pentax has also provided options for processing Raw images in camera (before saving the results as TIFF files, which is welcome to see), as well as basic trimming of movie files.
The Pentax K-5 II and Pentax K-5 IIs each shoot full HD video at 25fps, as well as standard HD video at 30 and 25fps, and VGA footage at the same frame rate. The camera records Motion JPEG files and saves them into the .AVI format, and has a mono mic on board (with a port for stereo microphones). Image stabilisation can also be used while recording.