Pentax K-5 Digital Camera First Impressions Review$1,499.99
- Manual Controls
- White Balance
- Exposure & Metering
- Shutter Speed
- Image Stabilization
- Picture Quality & Size Options
- Picture Effects
There are a good selection of manual and semi-manual controls on this camera, with modes for Program, Aperture, Shutter Priority and a full manual mode where the user sets the aperture and shutter directly. In addition, there is a B (for Bulb) mode on the shutter dial, where the shutter will stay open for as long as the shutter button is pressed down.
The K-5 also offers three unusual additional modes on the mode dial. First is a Sav, or sensitivuty prioriy mode, where the camera works to set the ISO as low as possible. Next is TAv Priority mode, which is a hybrid shutter and aperture priority mode, where the camera picks settings and you can tweak either the shutter or aperture settings directly. The X mode is for shooting with the flash at faster shutter speeds (up to 1/180 of a second) and the User setting offers 5 user defined groups of settings. You can specify which one of the 5 options is the default chosen when the mode dial is set to User in the on-screen menu.
The auto focus of the K-5 is one area where there have been a lot of improvements, with Pentax claiming that it is significantly faster than other cameras. We weren't able to do a full test on this, but it certainly seemed to be extremely nippey in our informal tests, finding the right focus spot very quickly.
The K-5 offers 11 focus points, with the 6 of these nearest the center bieng the cross types that works better in low light. There are three focus modes, controlled by a switch near the lens. In AF-C mode, the system continually focuses as long as the shutter is half pressed down. In AF-S, the camera focusses one time when the shutter button is pressed down. A manual focus mode is also provided, where the user focuses the camera by rotating the front element of the lens.
When the camera is in live view mode, it uses the image sensor to focus. When this is happening, the camera zooms in on the chosen focus spot to show the focussing in action. This can be disabled if you don't like the effect, which is good as it is somewhat disorientating.
K2000 scored well in our noise tests. but we will have to wait to get the K-5 into our labs before we know how noisy the images get at higher ISO levels.
The K-5 offers 8 white balance presets (including 4 variants for fluorescent lighting) and a full auto mode. An evaluative mode is also offered, as well as a mode where you input the kelvin value directly.
Exposure & Metering
The usual options are on offer for exposure modes: a switch below the mode dial allows you to select evaluative, center weighted or spot metering.
The wide shutter speed range of the K-5 goes from a minimum of 1/8000 of a second out to a maximum of 30 seconds. A bulb mode is also offered, which allows you to hold the shutter open for as long as the shutter button is pressed
As an SLR, the aperture range of this camera is determined by which lens you choose. If you go with the kit that Pentax is offering, you will get an aperture range of f/3.5 - 5.6 from the 18-55mm zoom lens that they include. That's an average range for a lens of this type.
Pentax uses an image stabilization system that is based on a combination of sensor shift and post-processing, which means that the image sensor itself shifts in response to camera shake, and the camera processes the images after they are captured to reduce blur. This approach means that the lens is not involved in image stabilization, so it will work with all lenses, both new and old. The downside is that this approach is often less effective than a system using a shifting lens element, but we will have to wait and see until we get a camera into our test lab to test how effective the K-5 is at reducing blur from camera shake.
Picture Quality & Size Options
The largest images that the K-5 can capture are 16.2 megapixels, with a resolution of 4928 by 3264 pixels. The camera does offer three other resolution options though, with the smallest being 2 megapixels (1728 by 1152 pixels). Three quality levels are offered for JPEG images: Premium, Best and Better.
The K5 can also capture RAW images, which capture the raw information from the image sensor, which produces the largest files, but also the highest quality. These files can be saved as either .TK format images (Pentaxes own raw format) or as .DNG (Adobe Digital Negaitve) format, which is more widely supported as a raw format. In addition, there is a RAW+ mode which saves both the RAW image and a JPEG version.
Pentax seems to like putting cute image processing filters on their cameras, and the K-5 is no exception, with 7digital filters including a fisheye distortion effect and a Toy Camera filter that makes the photos taken with the expensive K-5 look like they were taken with a cheap camera from 50 years ago.