19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 15 May 2012
I've now owned the K-5 for about three months and in that time the experience has been nothing short of joyous! There is nothing this camera cannot do (in photographic terms) and the image quality it produces is second to none as far as APS-C DSLR's are concerned.
A few things the K-5 has going for it:
- Great build quality, all metal construction, fully weather-sealed
- Very quiet and smooth shutter - this won't scare the birds or induce camera-shake
- As stated above, fantastic image quality, virtually no noise up to 1600 ISO and very little intrusive noise right up to 6400, brilliant vibrant colours (not overblown)
- Absolutely SUPERB with old manual aperture / manual focus lenses, exposure is spot-on
- A huge range of quality lenses to choose from, as the K-mount is compatible with all Pentax fit lenses back to the '70's
- Stupendous value for money, beats price-equivalent Canon and Nikon models hands down
- Excellent 18-55mm kit lens
- Fast and accurate autofocus
- Huge range of menu options and configurable settings
- Great ergonomics - I do not agree with one of the previous reviews that it is not as good as Canon in this regard
What don't I like? I cannot honestly think of anything significant. This camera is superbly designed and made. I have had no quality issues, no sensor stains, no freezing or locking up and no autofocus issues. It has made my collection of older lenses a pleasure to use (Tamron Adaptamatic 300mm F5.6, SMC Takumar 135mm F3.5, Pentax-M 28mm F3.5, Sigma 50mm F2.8 Macro and more) and the newer Pentax autofocus lenses have legendary image quality and perform brilliantly on this camera (DA L 55-300, DA 16-45, DA L 18-55).
I would not sell or swap this camera for anything currently on the market.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2013
My previous camera was the Pentax K100 D. It was about £330 and was about the best I could afford at he time. However it has served me well for several years, despite the fact that it is only 6mp.. For the past couple of years, I have wanted to upgrade, yet have not had the funds to do so.. Today this arrived, the first part of a 3 piece order.. Of course unlike the old K100D, this camera doesn't use AA batteries, although I have ordered a battery grip, which does but until that arrives in the next few days, I had to wait for the battery to charge.. I have been reading a downloaded copy of the manual for almost 2 weeks now, getting my self acquainted with this new cameras many features/functions/ do's and don'ts, so when the battery was finally charged, I was ready to give it a thorough testing.
First impression was the sheer speed. Focussing in particular.. and the 7 frames per second (which actually puts many pro cameras to shame) even when shooting RAW (which I prefer) was mind blowing. This is the kind of kit I had dreamt of for years.. and to think back when it was first reviewed, it cost over £1000... I could have stumped up a bit more cash for the K-5 II but frankly I couldn't see the value for what it offered above the K-5. After all I'm not a professional, just a very keen amateur . I've been a lover of Pentax for approx 35 years now. and sure Canon and Nikon seem to have the grip of the professional brigade. and sure if money was no object, I'd love to be able to buy that sort of kit
Anyway, I am gob smacked by the quality of this camera, the speed of operation, the feel of the controls, and despite having buttons and dials in different places around the camera body, compared to the K100D and a few others too, everything seemed to be very logically placed.. I was out in the garden snapping away, happier than a kid on Christmas day. Trying all the functions, testing it with my collection of lenses. All Pentax by the way and was loving it...
This was touted as the flagship Pentax DSLR only 3 years ago and I can see why and yes many would say , you can get better and faster, for not much more money. .but as I said, I'm a Pentax guy, they have never let me down yet and from my few hours of playing around with this new K5, I am positive it will give me many many years of satisfaction. Probably the last camera I shall buy, unless a Lotto win or a huge windfall comes my way.
Have just looked through some of the 106 images I shot today and I am very happy with the quality, detail, colour and overall performance of this amazing camera
Would I recommend it.. 150% yes .If your thinking of getting into DSLR, don't have a pro budget or not sure you will use it like one, then this is definitely worth a look.. and of course for those with a collection of Pentax lenses, unless you grab an adapter (the word adapter always makes me cringe a little, as it invariable sounds like someone's solution for getting a round peg into a square hole) then I can't fault this, especially at the price and they seem to be selling pretty fast too, which of course is not surprising.
A well built, quality piece of kit, that would make any amateur photographer happy
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 3 July 2011
I looked at Pentax's K5 partly because it was launched only a little while before I started looking for a new camera, partly because as a teenager I had dreamt of owning a Pentax (or Nikon), as a successor to the Praktica I then used. Some years later I did change, but to a Canon EOS 650, a camera I tried but failed to like. I hadn't entirely appreciated how far Pentax had slipped from the position it once held in the SLR world - others stole a march on it in the digital era. But buying a camera is about more than buying the camera body. Certainly, I preferred the Pentax body against its competitors in the Nikon and Canon stable - but that's largely a matter of taste: all are very capable cameras. What also contributed to my decision for Pentax was the quality and type of lenses available for it. They are far fewer in number than for the Canon or Nikon, but they include some truly outstanding compact prime lenses. If you are interested in the kind of photography that requires as unobtrusive as presence as is possible with a DSLR, the Pentax range is worth close consideration. The K7, the forerunner of the K5, is now very keenly priced if the K5 seems just a shade too expensive. As with any new model, early acquirers have to pay a premium for what are incremental rather than revolutionary enhancements.
Are there drawbacks? Of course, as with any make. The autofocus is fine, but not as good as it could be. The metering likewise. But these are matters of small degree, not glaring deficiences.
To set against these 'drawbacks' are: excellent image quality and colour rendition; well-thought-out design; a strong, predominantly metal construction, with plentiful weather-sealing; a good lens range. In short, a neat camera.... in all senses.
78 of 86 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2012
The K-5, my third DSLR, comes after time spent with both Nikon and Canon. My first "proper" camera was the brilliant Nikon D40 which I used for a long time with just one prime lens attached (35mm f1.8 ) and this made a great lightweight setup that I could take everywhere and get some great results from, especially considering the specs that would be baulked at by my most users today (6mp), but the basics worked well and it produced great images. I picked the camera up on sale while Nikon were offering a rebate for £250, I used it for over three years and sold it for £240 on ebay just over a year ago, to say the camera owed me nothing was an understatement and would whole heartedly recommend a similar setup to anyone starting out today (I guess the Pentax equivalent would be the `soon to be replaced'? K-r and the 35mm 2.4 lens).
Inevitably after some time I was seduced by advertised specs and a want for more features, in particular the video that I had seen coming from the Canon cameras and so like many before me, bought myself a Canon 550D about a year ago. Although my desire for features was met; basic things such as support for more lenses, a direct ISO button and bracketing that Nikon feel the need to omit from their lower end models, as well as video which has been a lot of fun to use, I was underwhelmed by the increase in stills image quality and I could just never get used to the cheap feel of the camera or find any desirable lenses in my price range. The year with the Canon showed that the ergonomics and feel of a camera are much more important than the spec list (to me at least).
An extensive hunt for my new ideal camera started; Nikon D7000, Sony NEX/Alpha 65, Canon 60D, Fuji X100, meanwhile Pentax further dropped the price of the K-5 and announced the cash-back offer that put it in my price bracket and in the frame, so to speak.
So with all the great options currently out there, why choose the Pentax, a company that is seen by many as second best, without proper support, dubious quality control and a `limited' range of lenses?
The biggest reason for me was that `Limited' lens range which offers enthusiasts lenses that are I think are simply designed to be used. Other manufacturers seem to design lenses to be the fastest, best rendering or the cheapest and end up being prohibitively large, heavy, expensive or just feel cheap and nasty in-use, the Limiteds give an affordable range that is small in size, light weight, with great rendering and build, while on paper they look unimpressive, to my eyes are unmatched by anything else on the market for the money (I wish they would release a faster mid-wide though, a small 24mm f2 would be perfect please Pentax). Canon still refuse to properly invest in serious prime lenses designed for APSC and Nikon while having some great cheap lenses such as the 35mm f1.8, the rendering or build can't compete with the Pentax Limited range and even though I admire the images produced with lenses such as Canon/Nikon's 24/35mm f1.4s, I could never justify the expense or want to carry such large heavy lenses around with me all day.
After discounting the Canon and Nikon on the grounds of lens offering (probably the only time you will ever read that) and while rightly or wrongly dreaming of the Leica M9, realistically my choice finally came down to the Fuji X100, the Sony Alpha/NEX and the K5, using them back to back in the store, the K5 was simply the one I found most natural to use, this was really brought home to me when using my Canon the next day, even though I had been using it regularly for a year found myself hunting for the controls of the K5, that had only used for an hour in the store, it is this level of design that can't be put on a marketing spec sheet but is probably the reason for all the great user reviews of the Pentax and the affection it gets from [most of] its users.
It is small functionality that when taking pictures repeatedly, that may seem like small things but become real irritations over time, one such annoyance is the image zoom on the Canons that has to be held down to zoom in to review focus, this is done instantly by a click of the rear dial with the Pentax (I recently found that you can also zoom in and out using the +/- and the green button if you get tired of using the wheel). I thought that I had found one such area that had been missed by Pentax, as initially I couldn't find a way to quickly bring up the histogram when reviewing images after pressing the play button, having to cycle through all the display options with the info button, however I have since found the histogram can be summoned with the info and removed again by hitting ok, as well as giving easy access to an RGB histogram with an arrow key, perfect!. I also questioned the auto exposure options that the camera was choosing, as at default it will try to keep the lens to at least an aperture of f2.8 and a relatively fast shutter speed in low light, while boosting the ISO quite aggressively, not what I would have chosen. However setting the auto ISO setting to `slow' gives much better results and seems to affect both the shutter speed; which is allowed to drop to the focal length of the lens, as well as unexpectedly affecting the behaviour of the aperture; allowing the lens to open fully before boosting the ISO to the extent that it did before. In my opinion this should be the default setting for the camera, but easily changed when you know it's there.
Although actively ignoring the specs of the camera, I have been more impressed with the Sony sensor than I thought I would be and has provided, to my eye, a bigger jump in IQ going from the Canon 550D (18mp) sensor to the k-5 (16mp), than I had going from the D40 (6mp) to the Canon, which says two things; in real world use mega pixels don't matter that much (unless you need to print at large sizes), something that everyone seems to agree with, yet is still a number that obviously creates sales, as demonstrated by the recent buzz surrounding the Nikon D800, and second; the Sony sensors are currently surpassing that of the Canon by quite a margin, although maybe that will change at some point this year?
I am still getting to grips with my current lightweight combination of k-5 and fa 43mm Limited, but have been consistently impressed with how the camera allows you to take pictures without getting in the way, controls are where you feel they should instinctively be and navigating menus is something that becomes a rarity rather than the norm, features such as the green button which before use may almost seem like gimmicks, leave you wondering why other manufacturers haven't implemented their own version on competing models, such is its usefulness. Another area that has been a real improvement is the 100% viewfinder, which is a night and day difference from the consumer level cameras that I had become accustomed to, something that I wouldn't have thought twice about when first starting out, but find increasingly important in my attempts at that elusive perfect composition. In short I think the K-5 is a true photographers camera, in a world where so many camera companies `bored' rooms must contain talk of how to increase market share, it feels that Pentax's goal for their latest DSLR was a single minded "how can we help users take better pictures", maybe to their detriment in terms of sales, but to the distinct benefit of its savvy owners (right place, right time in my case).
Not all roses?
Every product on the market is a series of compromises and the k5 is no different, although it has a great size/features ratio, it is relatively weighty and works out heavier than either the 550D or D40 and plastic prime lens combination, mainly due to the magnesium build, larger battery and in-body shake reduction system, it maybe not the ideal lightweight travel companion, but I still have absolutely no problem carrying it in a Lowepro Passport Sling (great small bag btw) all day and the level of features and versatility makes the extra few hundred grams well worth it, if I was living out of backpack for six months those few grams may start to take their toll, although you have to wonder how long the plastic camera and lens combo would last in those circumstances.
Low light focusing was an issue that I was aware of before purchase and has been put to the test over Christmas when most of the images I have taken were indoor low light, while I haven't taken any test charts, this really hasn't been an issue in real world use, yes I have had some out of focus shots, as I did with the Nikon and Canon, but haven't had consistent front or back focus like others have reported in certain lighting, although there is definitely a level of light where the camera will hunt for focus and seemingly not able to find anything to lock on to, then takes a guess, normally being out by some margin. This is exaggerated by low contrast subjects, but the level of light needed to induce this, is less than I initially feared after some users reports and a level that is not going to be an issue in most real world situations (I am using a relatively fast lens though f1.9).
The overall level of customisation is excellent, although one aspect of the camera that I have missed from the Canon is the ability to create a custom menu. I like the quick settings screen with the Pentax, although I think that this should itself be customisable and could act as the ultimate user menu, greatly enhancing ergonomics, giving access to individual settings used frequently; the program mode is one that I find myself wishing was on this screen, while I doubt I will ever use many of the in camera filters that are displayed here.
Rendering of reds is another issue that I have come across since using the camera, that I hadn't heard of before purchase. This seems to stem from a number of issues (metering, white balance, JPEG rendering) and doesn't show its-self often but from time to time the camera has a tendency to over saturate and over-expose the red channel when shooting JPEGs, to a greater degree than either the Canon or Nikon. This is something that I am still experimenting with and to this point am not quite sure how to overcome entirely. Canon has a picture styles setting in camera that allows the user to set tone curves to control the rendering of JPEGs and to my knowledge Pentax doesn't allow this degree of control over its in camera processing, I have switched the camera to the natural colour setting and reduced saturation slightly which seems to have helped.
The video is something that I am missing from the Canon, which when combined with Magic Lantern (custom firmware hack for the Canons) is quite special. One of the biggest problems of shooting video with DSLRs though is camera shake, which is something that Pentax's version of in camera stabilisation deals with remarkably well and is much more useful than the in-lens system adopted by Canon for video. If Pentax would start to take video a bit more seriously they could have a really unique product - maybe something they have realised with the recent announcement of the K-01 with its video specs, which is set to be the only APSC video camera with manual control and in body stabilisation (that I know of); here's hoping they have put sufficient effort into the down-sampling of the sensor to make it really competitive.
The other concern that I had before purchase was quality control and if I had taken heed of all the warnings on the net, I could have expected a whole host of issues that have been well documented, which by and large I chose to ignore and may well regret saying this, but to this point (6 weeks use and 2k images) the camera has worked flawlessly, the real test I guess, will be if I can say the same thing in a few years time.
Ultimately which camera to get comes down to a compromise between image quality, features, price, size and weight, range of lenses, and brand reputation among other smaller aspects unique to the individual. Even with the recent announcement of the new NEX-7 and the Fuji X-Pro1 which have been designed for the enthusiast market (unless real world samples are vastly superior to what I have seen thus far), Pentax in my humble opinion still makes the best enthusiast "compact" camera system on the market today, and one that I am enjoying shooting with more than ever, which at the end of the day is the reason we buy cameras, right?