The Pentax X-5 features an impressive 26x optical zoom, full manual control, a tiltable LCD screen and design styling akin to the manufacturer’s range of DSLRs. Furthermore, the X-5 is priced so as not to break the bank and thus is an appealing prospect. As to how is fares in our test, you’ll have to read on to find out…
Design and Performance
Pentax X-5 review – Design
As mentioned previously, the Pentax X-5 bears a lot of similarities to the manufacturer’s DSLRs in terms of design, albeit an understandably smaller version. Inheriting these design characteristics has resulted in both positive and negative features for the X-5.
On an aesthetic level, the X-5 impresses. The angular top plate catches the eye, as does the green flash around the lenses front ring. The lens itself, as you would expect, forms a large part of the front of the cameras body with a rubberised grip around its exterior. There is an issue here – the combination of the green flash around the lens and the rubberised grip section has such a feeling of a lens on a Pentax DSLR that your first instinct is to turn it to zoom or focus. Unfortunately Pentax has missed a trick here as the lens itself is fixed and is lacking in any kind of control wheel functionality, so while it sits well in the hand that’s the extent of it’s use.
Another markedly DSLR feature of the X-5 is the large and protruding handgrip. This is no doubt in some part owed to the fact that the camera necessitates 4 AA batteries to operate, but whatever the cause the depth of the handgrip is certainly welcome especially if you have larger hands. The combination of this rubberised hand grip and rubberised lens both offer a firm grip on the camera and ensure that it feel safe in the hand whatever the shooting conditions.
The rear of the X-5 feels somewhat unnecessarily bulky. This is no doubt due to the implementation of the vari-angle LCD screen, so in some part it can be forgiven. However, the lack of success of the hinged screen is means that this is not entirely excusable.
While on the whole the X-5 impresses regarding design, unfortunately the menu system is something of a let down. All of the functionality that one might want to access quickly is somewhat deeply rooted and rather then being able to quickly flick between the various menu layers, it involves scrolling through each of the individual elements until you get to the one you need.
Pentax X-5 review – Performance
Despite being towards the more affordable end of the scale, the Pentax X-5 delivers generally decent levels of performance.
The model’s focus system offers a prompt enough focus, while accuracy is also respectable. If you want to modify the focus performance and have it more in line with your needs, then the variety of custom focus modes on-board will no doubt prove useful.
Although Pentax quotes some fairly impressive burst mode speeds in the X-5’s specification, unfortunately the two top-end rates are only available in reduced resolution shooting modes. The burst speed at full resolution is fairly pedestrian, although as a result once the images are captured there is little or no delay in the buffer clearing. Another disappointing factor with regards to speed is the model’s start-up speed, which is sluggish at best.
As mentioned previously, the rubberised lens and handgrip mean that you’re given a secure hold over the camera and presented with a comfortable shooting experience. There are signs of the cameras more affordable nature found around the body, however. The body feels a touch plasticky and that it wouldn’t stand up to too much bruising and battering. This is most acutely felt around the model’s battery door that features a slightly worrying level of travel most likely due to being under the strain of the four AA batteries.
The negative to do with penny pinching also extend to the model’s LCD screen. Although it’s not the lowest resolution on the market, it suffers from softening and a low level of quality. Images appear pixelated on the rear of the camera and as a result it’s difficult to get a clear representation of captured images especially in bright conditions. The same is true of the EVF – although it features dioptre adjustment which is of benefit, and its mere presence will most certainly appease many photographers, unfortunately it’s overly small and the quality is such that colours appear over saturated and thus it’s best used as guidance rather than a tool.
Keeping the cost down is one reason for the LCD screen and EVF to be kept to a lower quality, but the presence of AA batteries is no doubt another mitigating factor. As a result battery performance is kept to a reasonable level, although it’s slightly poorer than that found in Li-ion counterparts