198 of 200 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2010
Style Name: Body OnlyVerified Purchase
When the Kx arrived, K7 owners who were more than content with their current bodies coveted the superior high-ISO (low light performance) capability of the Kx. At least I did. And while the K7 was a capable tool, I often found myself compensating for its weaknesses (which were limited to high ISO and autofocus continuous (AF.C) performance). Not so with the K5.
I won't go into the specifications since those can be found elsewhere but I'll give my overall impression - what I like and what could be better:
+ Great ergonomics. Love the compact, solid body which is identical to the K7 save for a heightened knob and elongated AF lever. I was even able to use the same split prism focus screen I had purchased for the K7.
+ Fantastic high-ISO performance - clean and offering far more flexibility than the K7. I'd try never to breach ISO 800 on the K7 whereas the K5 is routinely pushed past ISO 3200. While I wouldn't give it equal footing to a full frame camera, it's arguably the best APS-C out there in this application.
+ Outstanding dynamic range -- shoot in RAW and leave your graduated ND filters at home.
-+ Improved auto-focus, especially AF-C compared to the K7, but not quite on par with either the D300s or 7D in AF-C.
+ User-friendly, easy to navigate menu system - white balance adjustments are a breeze.
+ Good WB and JPEGs "out of the box"
-+ Yes, 1080p video but at 25FPS vs. 24 -- surely a firmware update in the future
- Audio records at 32KHz sample rate
- Only has a single SD/SDHC slot - would prefer dual with Compact Flash
- Limited to 1/180 X-Sync speed - but this is ample in most scenarios
- Images shot in portrait don't autorotate on playback - but did on the K7(?) - again, a likely firmware update
+ Blissful near-silent shutter
+ Compatibility with all those great manual K-mount lenses of yore.
Although I'm a long time Pentax user, I considered and evaluated both the Canon 7D and Nikon D300s without bias. While both are outstanding DSLRs, I preferred the Pentax K5.
An all-around excellent camera and a joy to use. A noteworthy upgrade.
160 of 165 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2011
Style Name: Body OnlyVerified Purchase
I've shot with the K-5 for a month now, and I'd like to share my viewpoints on it.
First, the noise level in the high-ISO images really is as excellent as the technical reviews say it is. This means that you can use a higher ISO number and get results equivalent to other cameras at lower ISO numbers. You can take your shot with either a faster shutter time (better motion freezing) or smaller aperture (better sharpness, etc) or just enjoy the reduced noise. This puts the camera at an advantage over all other APS-C cameras and a few of the full frame cameras.
Next, the movie mode is a mixed bag. It has the 1920x1080 at 25fps setting, as well as 1280x720 at 30fps settings, and lower settings too. The 25fps setting is often quoted as a major problem, with videographers wanting to shoot 23.976fps as a "cinema" mode, but it takes only a bit of video conversion to change the frame rate to 23.976 and resample the 32k s/s stereo signal to match. So, if you're desperate you can manage, but even then it is clear that this is not a camera for someone who wants video as a major use. The biggest problem is the inability to autofocus while shooting. The worst-case test of this is shooting a 2-year old running around in a house. Being indoors with available light, the aperture is open and depth of field is short; as soon as the child runs towards you the focus is way out. The camera is simply not usable in this kind of situation. On the other hand, with available light and a subject which is not in wild motion, the results are acceptable, but even then, a much less expensive camcorder often gives superior results. The only place where the K-5 shines in video is if you are outdoors, and you have a 500mm telephoto mounted, and you want video of distant wildlife - then, you have a system giving nice results. However, again, if you want a camera with great video capability and very good but not quite great still capability, go for the Panasonic-DMC-GH2.
Next, color gradient linearity. A partly subjective criteria, not an easy item to quantify, but not too hard for a professional photographer to see. This is the quality of a color image which makes it as lifelike and genuine-looking in the shadows and highlights as in the midranges. A face is a good choice, especially a baby's face - a fair skinned baby should have subtle colorations in the midranges perceivable because their skin is so thin it is nearly transparent. The shadows should look like skin in shadow, not various types of dirty brown, and the highlights should look like brightly illuminated skin not just brightly-colored areas. Being able to set the K-5 with 14-bit linearity may be the key to its terrific color gradient linearity. The K-5 has a wonderfully realistic treatment of living things, and subtle colors which extend from bright to dark look authentic in a way which the eye can see but which are hard to describe - to put a phrase on it, the beauty of the image is deep. The genuineness of the color gradients give a realistic sense of depth which stay in the image even after you have blown it up and put it on your wall. Again, this is hard to quantify, but you won't see this much in the Panasonic GH-2. Or even the Canon Rebel 550D. Pentax has gotten this just so right. I've seen Nikon D7000 shots with similar qualities, but I'd have to still give the K-5 the advantage here. To me, this is one of the deciding features of the K-5, and it has nothing to do with all the technical tests at which it has excelled.
Let me say a few words about the image stabilization, which unlike most cameras is in the camera body. You can put any lens on the camera, including old classics, and get modern image stabilization. If you try this with Canon, you will end up stuck on your tripod. Why don't other manufacturers do this? And yes, it works extremely well. Even for long lenses.
Now, auto-focus. I have to say, when shooting a still subject the K-5 is near perfection. It is fast and positive in bright light, slower but certain in fairly dim light. If it fails to find a focus in autofocus mode, it will not acknowledge the shutter press. The focus-assist LED is excellent and works well for darkened rooms, but only for distances less than about 5 feet, above that it gets a little less reliable. I sometimes take flash shots in absolute darkness of subjects over 5 feet away, and I've gotten good results using a small hand held flashlight to get a temporary focus, then hold it and turn off the flashlight, and take the shot. This gives you the ability to get dramatic shots like an animal in water at night, splashing, with every drop suspended in air. On the other hand - the situation with a baby running around in circles in front of you, the test I gave for the video mode focus problem, remains a worst case. Moving to continuous focus mode, you get excellent sharp shots, but the timing may be awkward - for instance, with the child running in circles, I got many shots at the point the child turned to run away, when I wanted to get the shot a half second earlier. But enough shots were sharp and well-timed to make it a good experience. Doing the same test with the Canon 550D gave an advantage to the Canon's AI-Servo mode focus, which seemed to follow the child much better - but in many cases, the shot, when taken, was not as well focused as the K-5. So summing up the results for the Canon 550D, I got better autofocus speed, but inferior accuracy. Both cameras can give good results, but the photographer needs to know each camera's weaknesses.
I ordered my K-5 from Amazon Warehouse Deals a month ago, and quickly noticed that the front setting wheel was defective. You could turn it and it would sometimes ignore you, other times skip values, so that in manual mode, where you need both the forward and rear wheels, it was difficult to use. As days passed the problem got worse, so I sent the camera back to Amazon (thanks to their excellent return policy). Being an engineer myself, I recognized it as an optoelectronic component failure, not a design issue, so I felt confident that a replacement would not have the problem again, and this did not bias me against the K-5. While waiting for my refund, I spent the time carefully looking at my photos and thinking whether any other camera would better fit my needs. The cameras which came the closest were the Panasonic Lumix GH-2 and the Nikon D7000. But I couldn't avoid coming to the same conclusion. I reordered the K-5 because of its low noise level, wonderful color linearity, unique in-camera image stabilization, rugged weather sealing, and compatibility with the excellent Pentax Limited lenses. To me it was well worth the extra money, because no other camera has these same features.
88 of 90 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2011
Style Name: Body Only
I upgraded from the K-7. K-5 keeps the excellent design, unparralleled build quality, super quiet shutter sound and outstanding ergonomics of K-7, has the best APS-C sensor. High ISO performance is stunning. What worth mentioning is that the Low ISO performance is also outstanding, noticably better than the K-7. Also, the super high Dynamic Range is very helpful. AF speed is not much improved, but much more decisive. For DA* SDM lenses, the speed is not improved at all. All my lenses are SDM, but I find the speeds are fast enough. The AF-C mode is much improved, but can be improved further. The camera is fun to use, I bet everybody who has a K-5 loves it.
I'd like to comment on the following two problems:
1. stained sensor problem was solved already, all cameras having serial number larger than 3973*** are fine. Basically this problem is now worry free.
2. The bad Auto Focus under artificial light condition. I believe this is a relatively unusual problem that happens on a few bodies. Don't be afraid about this, just buy one and try it at home. If it does happen (very little chance), then exchange for a new one.
I have hand-on experience of Canon 7D and Nikon D7000, I would say the D7000's image quality (from ISO100 to ISO3200) is on par with K-5, both of which are better than the 7D. 7D's build quality is on par with the K-5 but K-5 is much smaller, D7000 falls behind in this regard.
I highly recommend the K-5.
45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2011
Style Name: Body Only
I just got my k-5, and it is pretty much exactly what I was looking for. I upgraded from the k20d, in the k-5 surpasses that excellent camera in every respect.
The AF is so much faster than previous pentax models. It can still struggle sometimes in very low light when pointed at low contrast area, but so does pretty much any camera ever made. Liveview AF if very fast as well, even faster with the new 1.02 firmware.
The dynamic range is astounding, and equals or beats pretty much any digital camera up to this point (and probably equals the exposure latitude of negative film). I can pretty much dispense with multiple exposures for HDR, because i can now just expose for the highlights and then bring the shadows up in photoshop with almost no added noise. This is probably the most revolutionary feature.
High ISO is fantastic, getting pretty close to the performance of the best FF cameras of the current generation. It is at least 2 stops better than my k20d, and probably closer to 3 when you factor in that you pretty much cant make it produce banding noise at any iso, which makes the files much easier to clean up. I can use iso 6400 at A3 size and it looks great, just a quick pass with noise ninja or topaz. The ISO performance of this camera was unimaginable a few years ago when talking about aps-c sensors.
The build quality is awesome, and it just feels great in the hand (i have average sized hands). Its very compact for a camera in this class (compared to nikon d300s. canon 7d, etc..), but is very solid feeling due to the magnesium alloy shell and steel frame. It is fully weather sealed and very rugged. Try doing this with any other camera besides the olympus e-5 [...] . It somehow manages to squeeze a remarkable number of manual controls in without feeling cramped.
Ergonomics is a particular strong point for Pentax in general, and specifically the k-5 is probably the best pentax yet camera in this regard. All the major controls fall easily under your fingers, with no need to take your eye away to change aperture, shutter speed, iso, metering pattern, af mode, etc.. The great high iso performance makes the pentax TAV mode truly useful finally (lets you set aperture and shutter speed, and changes the iso to get proper exposure within your set auto iso range). More than any other company it seems like the pentax engineers are also photographers, and everything is laid out in a way that is logical and well conceived. Also there is the pentax unique hyper program and hyper manual modes. Hyper program lets you easily switch from your set program mode to AV or SV mode by just turning the control wheel of each. Turn the back wheel and you are in aperture priority, turn the front and you are in shutter priority, hit the green button and you are back to your program mode. In manual mode you can make your adjustments to shutter and aperture, and the green button will take a meter reading and make an exposure suggestion for you, which quickly gets you in the ballpark. Its great.
The shutter/mirror sound is whisper quite, a very nice change from the loud thwack of my k20d. When i shoot with my flash, the flashbulb pop is the loudest sound coming from the camera. Its very refined and unobtrusive. The max continuous speed is an impressive 7 frames per second, and mine can go for an equally impressive 25 frames before the buffer fills. This is all pretty much class leading.
This camera pairs exceptionally well with the tiny Limited primes, making it possible to have exceptional IQ with very small size, yet retaining all the control of a pro camera. Street photographers should seriously consider this combo.
I can recommend this camera to anyone without reservation. It is the best camera I have ever used, and it makes the other cameras in its class feel gigantic and clunky.
14 stops of DR
Clean High ISO, usable ISO 6400
Compact, rugged build
Great color, tonal gradations
AF tracking not that great, but pretty good for all but the most demanding circumstances.
Needs high quality lenses to shine, but why put crap glass on a camera like this anyway?
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2011
Style Name: Body OnlyVerified Purchase
I had to replace my Pentax K20d, which I liked a lot, because of a thief who broke into my car. I really wouldn't have considered spending the money to upgrade to the K5 without this prodding, but although I would gladly consign the thief to jail, I admit to feeling like I wound up winning with the new K5! This camera is so much more of an upgrade to the K20d than I expected.
First, the CCD sensor is getting a lot of praise for its high ISO capabilities, which was one of the K20d weaknesses. I would do everything that I could to avoid going beyond ISO 800 on the K20, but I have taken shots at 6400 on the K5 that easily rival 800 on the K20d! Why is this important? Because I can shoot in low light conditions that I couldn't have even imagined trying with the K20d. A lens that was marginal in low light now becomes remarkably useful, so a wider range of lenses can be considered, including some lower priced lenses that I might have skipped over because they were not fast enough. A definite win!
Then there is the output quality. I really liked the K20d, but the color saturation seemed a bit dull at times and needed to be pushed either in camera or via software later. Not so with the K5 and using the same lens. Colors are crisper and more vibrant, which means less tweaking needed later.
On the K20d, I found the 'Live View' function to be of very limited use. But with the resolution of the 3" screen on the camera and the ease of switching into Live View with just a push of a button, I use Live View routinely. Want to shoot with the camera held above your head? Touch the live view button and do it!
Others have commented on the focusing improvement and I can confirm that with the same lens, the focus seems a bit faster but more importantly, hunts far less and locks onto targets the first time almost all of the time. Focusing in low light is remarkably improved. So shots that I may have missed before are more likely to be captured.
I really loved how the K20d felt in my hand so I was a bit worried that the K5 would be a letdown since it is smaller, but the K5 feels solid and yet comfortable because of the grip ergonomics and the textured finish. I recently picked up a used Pentax 60-250mm lens that is over 6"long and 2 1/2 lbs, but while it is a heavy combo, it feels balanced and is remarkably comfortable for such a big lens. It is easy to hold the K5 in one hand and reach all of the important functions. With the 60-250mm lens you would definitely want to use two hands after a while - the lens is great but it definitely adds a lot of weight - but taking one handed shots is possible because of the ergonomics of the K5, especially with the in-camera stabilization function.
Speaking of the anti-shake function, there are pros and cons to in-camera vs. in-lens stabilization, but I have to say that I prefer the in-camera version for three key reasons: First, every lens you mount on the camera becomes a stabilized lens; second, non-stabilized lenses are less expensive to purchase than stabilized lenses, and third, a stabilized lens more rapidly uses the battery charge than the in-camera stabilization because you are moving glass lens elements instead of a light CCD sensor. So while you cannot see the stabilization working via the viewfinder, I will sacrifice this slight advantage for better battery life, cheaper lens cost and always-available stabilization regardless of the lens you are using!
There is so much more I love about the K5, but I will highlight just one more thing. The menu system on the K20d was kludgy and a bit hard to work with. The menu on the k5 is much cleaner and easier to use. I can find what I am looking for more easily (and there is a ton of stuff you can do in the menus!)and making adjustments is fast and sure. More importantly, the things I use the most are directly accessed by the wealth of buttons on the camera, but for those occasions where I need to use a menu the K5 is a definite step up. And just for the fun of it, here are a few things in the menus that you can do, many of which you cannot do with the 'big name' brands:
* Fine tune focus adjustment for each lens you own. I checked and my 60-250 front focused just a little bit, but with about 20 minutes of work (using Live View), I was able to adjust this myself and lock in that adjustment for that particular lens. Mount another lens and this adjustment does not apply because the setting is saved as lens specific!
* In camera HDR capability, even hand held, lens correction (based upon the specific lens you are using!), dynamic range enhancement, etc.! (I haven't played with much of this yet, but there are some good comments on this on Pentax forums. And just the ability to have this at your fingertips gives you a lot more creativity to play with.)
* Shooting sports today and landscapes tomorrow? You can set up the camera to 'favor' speed or depth of field. Or you can set the camera to use the MTF scores of the specific lens mounted to the camera to keep the lens in its sweet spot for best performance (assuming you are using a Pentax DA lens). And you can set the range you allow the Auto ISO function to use AND how rapidly it adjusts to higher ISOs.
The K5 seems a bit pricy to some, but considering all of the above plus the weatherized body (and complete system when you use either the kit lens or another lens like the 60-250mm) and you would have to spend a ton more to get a truly competitive camera. The real decision, in my mind, is whether you are stuck on buying another brand because of their name or you already own a lot of their lenses. I can understand buying a 'Canikon' if you have an investment in lenses already, but if you are buying a 'Canikon' just because of the name on the camera strap, DON'T! Give the K5 a try and you will not be disappointed!
71 of 78 people found the following review helpful
Style Name: Body + 18-55mm Lens
This is quite simple the best camera I've ever owned. It takes great photos and is very well built. I wasn't going to upgrade yet. I'm the type to wait until a new electronics product has been out for a while and dropped in price, but the reports I've seen about this camera triggered my choice to take a chance.
The first thing I noticed is how petite the K-5 looks, though looks are deceiving. This baby is dense and weighs much more than you'd expect from the size. I'm sure that the magnesium body and extensive weather seals have a lot to do with that. This is one solid piece of kit. The camera has plenty of external controls, about what you'd expect from a body in this price range. I've shot with my sealed K20D in the Pacific Northwest rain a lot with no problems. My two shoots with the K-5 in the wet show it to be as least as good. Though Pentax has dropped the multiple exposure button. You can program the custom program button to duplicate that feature. As far a programming, the K-5 has the extensive customizability I came to love with my K20D. The feature list is extensive and way too long to go over in a short review.
And the photos! This camera has a huge dynamic range, over 14 stops! Even at ISO 800 it has the same exposure range of my K20D at 100 ISO. The tonality you can get from a print is beautiful. Another nice feature is the ability to choose 14 bit as opposed to 12 bit RAW files. It's a small thing but brings the camera in line with Nikon's offerings. I can't comment on the many shooting modes and effects available. They only apply to JPEG images. I don't understand why anyone would buy a camera this costly and capable and throw away so much potential image quality by shooting JPEG. That's not to say that the JPEGs from the K-5 aren't perfectly fine. They are. It's just that RAW files from this camera hold so much more information than a JPEG can. And that information translates into a very real difference in what you can print if you take the time and care to. My experience seems to mirror the incredible sensor abilities that DXO Labs has published for the K-5.
One other huge advance is the focus speed. This is the fastest and most accurately focusing camera Pentax has ever built, easily in line with Canon and Nikon's offerings in the price range. One small disappointment is that the fast focus and 7 fps capture rate makes the camera suitable for sports and wildlife photography, but the camera has a somewhat limited buffer. The 40 frames of JPEG is reasonable but the 15 image RAW buffer is a bit cramped. But then Pentax doesn't make the long lenses for that kind of photography anyway. Though Sigma does make some with Pentax mounts. With the few ballgame or bird photos I take, I haven't found the buffer limit to be a problem.
Looking at my histograms shows that the K-5 has a tendency to underexpose about a third of a stop. That's really no problem as I've pulled usable photos out of totally black portions of the initial image, great reason to shoot RAW. Another is the great low ISO capability of the K-5. the quality of my 6400 ISO photos is slightly better than what I get with the K20D at 1600 ISO, easily 2 1/2-3 stops improvement depending on situation. And the camera focuses much faster in low light, too.
If I were a video shooter I might find a problem with the lack of autofocus in video mode. The newest Canon and Nikon cameras have that ability, though the autofocus is slow on both during video capture. That's the nature of phase detection focusing that true DSLRs use in Live View or Video. The couple of videos I've shot look great. It's enough for me. And the camera does allow for an external microphone.
It was commented that this review is to impersonal and that I use terms that people don't understand. To make this more clear:
14 stops of DR means in the real world is that my photos look better than any I've ever taken. Color gradations are smoother and more subtle. It means that I'm able to pull usable details out of parts of the image that I would have given up on before because they were too dark. It means that I can take single shots in situations where before I would have used HDR or exposure blending to pull in detail in both bright and dark areas of a scene. It means that I can the same tonal range at ISO 800 that I get with a K20D at ISO 100. It means that this is a terrific camera. I guess I'm a bit excited that a Pentax camera finally gets great press. I'm a bit tired of having equipment that I very much like ignored by most photographers.
40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Style Name: Body OnlyVerified Purchase
Image quality is amazing.
AF system still lacking, albeit improved *UPDATE: Download the 1.03 Firmware and reset your camera to fix low light front focus *
This camera is what the K-7 should have been 1.5 years ago. This is a superb Pentax, definitely the best APS-C Pentax to date. However, I can't help feel that the camera is overpriced, even though the image quality does make it almost worth the asking price alone. Again, if this camera were released 1.5 years ago instead of the K-7, I would have given it 5 stars. The market has changed since then.
The first thing I did with the camera was shoot a fund raising gala in a moderately lit banquet hall. The first thing I noticed is how little improvement there was in focus for this situation. The lenses were still slow to lock on and had trouble with the differing light (Sigma 30mm f/1.4, SMCP FA 77 f/1.8, and SMCP 60-250mm f/4). The flash exposure was about the same as the K-7 (P-TTL doesn't work well for bounce flash at any sort of distance), so the first thing I did was change the flash to "A" mode (auto thyristor where the flash sets exposure) and got much better results.
When I reviewed the pictures I was shocked at how noise free they were. Even the ISO 6400 shot from the 60-250mm was relatively clean, probably about like ISO 1600 on my K-7. I could even recover underexposed ISO 1600 shots, something I would never dream of doing on the K-7.
The shutter is like the K-7, and it might even be quieter. Definitely the quietest APS-C sensor camera I have used (quieter than a D300s or 7d), and also refined feeling. Not the squeaky sounding shutter in some of the older Pentax's.
The next thing I noticed when shooting in bright high contrast situations was how much purple fringing it shows. Doing side by side comparisons between it and my K-7, I noticed the K-7 was relatively purple fringe free, where this camera fringed quite noticeably. Think the difference between the K10d and K20d (K20d had almost no purple fringing where K10d had a lot). This shouldn't be a deal breaker for most, but be aware of it. Proper RAW developing can take care of much of it.
This is certainly the best Pentax to date. The image quality is amazing, the feature set of the K-5 is excellent, and the camera is certainly a step up. If it is worth the asking price is a decision each individual has to make. I think with a better AF system it would easily be worth the asking price.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2012
Style Name: Body OnlyVerified Purchase
This won't be a technical review. You can read technical reviews elsewhere, for instance on dpreview. Just 1 comment on these reviews. Most of them praise the K-5 and rank it higher than the very popular and close to the K-5 Nikon D7000 (they share the same sensor). Except for 2 things: high introductory price and lenses availability. Now the price has dropped and K-5 is now cheaper than any of its equivalent competitors. Lenses selection is not an issue in case you know that the lens you need is available (most of us do not need all 100 or 200 available lenses, right?).
It is so common nowadays to ask a lot (more) of a product. I remember when I was choosing my first digital camera and it always seemed like there is no ideal solution - every option was lacking in 1 or more ways. Either the zoom was not enough or the size was too big or the price was too high or the quality was not good enough ... And this theme reappeared every time I was involved in helping my friends choosing a digital camera (including dSLRs)
This is the first time ever I was so satisfied with a product I was not able to find anything extra to wish for for quite a while and even now after owning it for 5 months I can only think of a few very minor extras which could imho be added through a firmware update).
I was shooting film recently and thus "spoiled" by Full Frame (35mm) format. digital FF was out of my price range though. After getting the K-5 I feel I don't need/want FF anymore.
- according to reviews it is better and now also cheaper than any competitor = a win-win situation (closest and imho almost even competitor is Nikon D7000)
- backwards compatibility with all Pentax-made lenses
- the best body for adapting 3-rd party M-42 and M-39 lenses. Infinity focus = yes, focus confirmation = yes unlike Nikon or Canon which are either impossible to adapt or require tricky adapters which do affect image quality as far as I know.
- a unique range of very compact "limited" primes.
- great and tight Pentaxians community
- Pentax is not doing well as a company. It has been bought twice in the last few years and nobody knows if it will recover (personally I'm optimistic)
- Pentax is not very common in the US, which means you will have fewer opportunities to swap lenses with your friends or get first-hand advice from another Pentax shooter you know in person (in my case the closest Pentax shooter I know lives thousands of miles away). This might be a big issue for some.
- consequences of the above is that used lenses for rental are hard to find and Pentax availability in BM stores is very limited.
- biggest issue is maybe lesser selection of lenses than Canon or Nikon. An alarming fact is that 3rd party manufacturers (Tamron, Sigma etc) are disregarding Pentax mount more and more often. Hopefully this will change with newly instituted policies by Pentax-Ricoh. To me personally this issue is balanced by 2 factors: M-42 lenses which work best on Pentax and I have a bunch of them and the fact that the lens I needed was present in the Pentax mount line up (Tamron 17-50 f2.8) at the same price as other mounts.
Note: the new owner of Pentax (Ricoh) seams to be doing a lot to rebuild the Pentax brand in the US so maybe soon the above will not be an issue anymore. It looks to me Pentax is on the right track now. Only time will tell if that's really the case though.
How did I personally arrive to buying the Pentax K-5:
I have no brand loyality what's so ever, however my search was driven by what are the most popular models nevertheless.
When I was picking my dSLR in November 2011 I started with looking at FF options first. The by far best value at that time was Canon 5D MarkII, you could get body-only at ~$2000 (now even cheaper). This was definitely out of my price range though, so I started looking at higher end APS-C dSLRs.
I started with Canon and Nikon offerings (Canon 7D and 60D and Nikon D7000). Not only was the Nikon newer than either Canon option, it was also ranked higher by most reviewers and was a better value. 7D looked way overpriced, a bit outdated (it is 1 year older model than 60D or D7000) and seemed to have less features on-paper. It is supposed to be a higher end camera and I'm sure those who know what it offers that the lower-end models do not have can benefit from it. 60D with its plastic body was a noticeably more lower-end than the Nikon. Anyway my conclusion was that unlike with Full Frame Canon doesn't really offer a good option in the $1k-2k price range, unlike the Nikon with its D7000. So I was set to get the Nikon.
While reading Nikon D7000 reviews I've learned of the almost equivalent due to the same sensor Pentax K-5. Reviews were ranking it (slightly) higher than the D7000 (both were the same price at that moment ~$1200 for the body). I was still inclined towards the Nikon, as it was a much more popular and widespread camera. But then there was a $230 discount on the Pentax and I have jumped on it. Lens selection was not an issue, I've glanced at lens options and noticed that you can build your system with either brand at similar cost especially if you consider 3rd party offerings.
I have never regretted the decision to go with Pentax K-5. In addition to being the best in its class and being the best value I got compatibility with my M42 and M39 lenses I have not been fully aware of at the time of purchase.
I will only mention 2 of the presumed technical issues with K-5:
- AF front-focusing in some conditions (tungsten low light) - I have experienced this myself, though it's not a big issue to me and can be easily avoided. There is an extensive analysis on this issue by a German Pentaxian who also holds a PhD in theoretical physics :) Falk Lumo.
- Pentax TTL flash mode is overexposing sometimes. Many reports on it are user error though. I'm not 100% sure that what I have experienced isn't consequence of my errors either. Not a big issue for me as I tend to use manual flash mode more often to achieve the desired flash effect anyway. Flash own exposure mode (the A-mode) works fine.
It seems to be commonly accepted that Nikon offers better AF and better flash system. I don't know how true is that. (Nikon D7000 btw also had some AF issues like the Pentax K-5).
Both issues are easy to go around though unless your needs are very specific and happen to rely a lot on these 2. Note: as far as I know Nikon is not issue free either, so do your research carefully.
At current prices you can't go wrong with Pentax K-5 provided the lens you need is available and its price is competitive with other brands.
Note: Pentax K-5 is not issue free as any other camera.
I give it 5 stars for being exactly what I want. The issues I have mentioned proved not to be limiting to me in any way and thus do not affect my rating.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2011
Style Name: Body Only
This is the third weather sealed Pentax I've owned and I'm happy to say that I have full confidence in Pentax's ability to make a camera that I can take anywhere. Rain storms, freezing rain, snow and blowing sand will not slow me down. Other camera owners dive for cover while I get the shots.
And it's not just about how rugged the k5 is built - it's comfortable, very customizable, responsive and takes great images, even at iso 25600!
The grip is awesome... it feels attached to my hand and it makes it easier to hold over long periods. Plus, it actually feels lighter than what it is - I think it's how the weight is distributed, but it's what ergonomics is about.
I love how I can reassign what a button does, or what a control wheel controls. For example, if I'm in AV mode (aperture priority), I can assign the the front wheel or rear wheel to change the aperture while the other wheel can control exposure compensation, iso, or nothing at all.
It focuses quickly, does well at tracking and shoots quickly and quietly. This last point is interesting... the k5 is a small camera and Pentax lenses tend to be smaller and lighter than their competition, especially when you look at their prime lenses. I've noticed when using my larger lenses, the people I'm taking a picture of react much differently than when I use smaller lenses. When a smaller lens is on the camera, they are more relaxed and are less likely to know that I'm taking pictures of them. Plus with the camera shutter being very quiet, I can keep taking photos and they are likely not even aware that I'm taking pictures. I love taking candid pictures since peoples reactions are much more natural. The Pentax K5 helps me get these shots.
Taking pictures indoors can be such a challenge - lighting in most areas is very low which presents photographers with many challenges. Often times it means shooting at a large aperture which means the depth of field will be very shallow - one person may be in focus, but the person next to them won't be. Or shutter speed needs to be dropped which means if your subject moves, you'll get motion blur or even if your subject is still, it makes keeping the camera still enough difficult. And another compromise that can be used is to raise the ISO (sensitivity) higher that often induces static or noise to the image. Pentax has addressed these issues head on. First, the Pentax K5 has image stabilization built in, so if you are shooting at low shutter speeds, you are much more likely to get a sharp image. The rule of thumb has been the shutter speed should equal or greater than the focal length (in 35mm equivalence). So if you're shooting with a 50mm lens and since the Pentax has a crop factor of 1.5, it has a 75mm focal length so I should shoot at 1/75th or higher to get a sharp image. But with the k5 I regularly shoot at 1/20th with a 50mm lens without issue. That means I can decrease the aperture for more depth of field and or reduce the iso to decrease noise.
But the amazing thing is how little of a penalty there is for increasing the ISO on the Pentax K5. I found myself shooting in a very dimly lit Tango Dance Studio where I was needing to keep the shutter speeds at 1/100th or more since people were dancing while keeping the aperture set to f2.8 or higher. This meant I had to shoot at iso 25600 and a lot of those shots were absolutely useable! My previous cameras, I was hesitant to shoot at even iso 3200 because the noise became such a problem. But the K5 has such low chroma noise, the noise reduction feature in Lightroom 3 makes images at this high ISO useable. That's one thing I noticed on my uncles Nikon D7000 - at h4 (iso 25600), the Nikon had much more chroma noise than my pictures with the Pentax k5. And chroma noise is much harder to get rid of and makes images much less appealing.
All in all, I'm so excited about having the k5. Indoor or night shooting will be much easier. Macro shooting will be easier since I can raise the ISO so I can either increase the shutter speed or increase the aperture without penalty. When I'm people shooting, I can be stealthier with a smaller camera that is very quiet. My back will be happier when I go hiking because my gear is smaller and lighter. And I don't have to cower away from nature since I know my gear is up to taking most of what mother nature has waiting for me. Pentax has made an amazing camera that is worthy of all the awards its getting. And I know I'm so lucky to own one!
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2010
Style Name: Body Only
I bought this camera with the kit lens... after having used the DA* 50-135, I know the kit 18-55 will be redundant soon as i save $ for the DA* 16-50... You're probably on the right track here looking at the body only version...
As for the K5... its excellent. The k7 was (still is for most practical purposes) an awesome camera. Great features, customizability, built like a tank... perfect size, weather sealed, 100% viewfinder... k5 is all this with a significantly better sensor, arguably the only lacking aspect of the k7. Apparently there's a new autofocus system too... so far so good.
This one ended up as my choice over the Canon 7D after a fair amount of research for my first DSLR. Reason being the high ISO performance it claimed... Happy with the choice after using it for a few days. I'm thrilled with the kind of shots I'm able to take handheld in a dimly lit indoors (1600-6400 ISO, 1/15 -1/60th shutter, f3.5 on the kit lens or 2.8 on the DA*)... in-body image stabilization comes in handy here as well.... and a good lens, i.e. all the more reason to go 'body only'.
About me... a photography enthusiast, architect by profession and travel at every chance I get... learnt to shoot pictures on a Pentax spotmatic... switched to a Nikon n85 a few years before the film era begun fading. Have used and or . Highly recommend the K5... wish it was a little cheaper. 5 stars none the less... Have to add, I was initially concerned about the choice of pentax lenses but after some looking, they seem to have decent options with the DA* and Limited series. Definitely give this camera a serious look (save the $ and go for k7 if not too concerned about low light).
PS - Don't like the pentax software at all! I use aperture instead, which has its own set of flaws including having to upgrade to version 3 to read pentax RAW...