251 of 254 people found the following review helpful
Pretty nice bridge camera for the price
, September 23, 2012
This review is from: Pentax X-5 Digital Camera with 26x Optical Zoom and 3" LCD (Black) (Electronics)
I was reluctant at first to purchase this camera thanks to its small sensor (typically smaller sensors show more noise in the images), but, since it is a backlit sensor, similar to the Pentax Q (which I thoroughly enjoy), I decided to try it. The cost helped, too, of course. So far, I have shot nearly 300 images since getting the camera, and, so far at least, I am very impressed with the images I have obtained.
The camera build quality is okay but is nowhere near the level of the Q. Buttons don't have much in the way of tactile feedback and actually seem somewhat mushy on my copy. The camera itself is fairly lightweight considering the amount of glass in that zoom lens, but it is bulky, making it seem (to me) to be bigger than it really is. I suspect those people with small hands might have difficulty with the grip -- it's very deep, but fits my hand pretty well. The battery door, the bane of many modern cameras, seems awfully flimsy (IMO), but perhaps it is better built than it seems -- I've certainly had no problem with it so far even though it is very tight-fitting with batteries installed. The LCD tilts nicely and solidly holds its place, no matter where it is positioned. When I turn up the brightness, the LCD is clearly visible in the direct Texas sunlight I have to cope with. The EVF, while being somewhat low resolution, is actually far better than I had expected, being clear enough for composition and manual focusing. The EVF diopter adjustment can accommodate my terribly myopic eyes. I can even see the entire view with my glasses on!
On my copy of the camera, the exposure is a bit off. I've had to dial in a -0.7 to -1.0 EV to get a better shot. Switching to Spot metering helps a little, but the exposure is still too bright in most situations I have encountered so far. The camera resets the EV setting to 0.0 upon restart, a bit annoying to me, but not a big deal and it may be irrelevant to the average user.
Images are surprisingly clean to my eyes, but when pixel peeping I can see that noise has been handled a little too aggressively by the camera. I suspect it would only be noticeable in huge prints, though, which I don't make very often. Unfortunately, though, the camera provides no RAW saving capability, but the JPG engine is quite good enough for me. I have not bothered trying any ISOs beyond 400; 400 is the max I ever use for my style of photography, even when shooting film.
The lens covers a huge range (one of the selling points of the camera, right?) and the optical quality is pretty good. However, some chromatic aberration creeps in when shooting high contrast scenes (birds against a clear sky, for example), especially at the longer focal lengths. Again, it's really only noticeable to me when pixel peeping. Zooming is virtually silent and reasonably fast. For that matter, once you turn off the annoying shutter noises, the camera is incredibly quiet. Be warned about startup/shutdown and processing times, though. The camera is rather slow to start: positioning the lens takes a second or so and increases slightly if you have the zoom "memory" set -- this is where the camera returns the camera to zoom position it was last at when powered down. Powering down also takes a second or so as the lens has to follow an interesting "dance" to retract into the camera. Finally, even when pre-focused, I have noticed a modest delay in capturing/saving photos. The camera isn't really one for you action photogs, sorry to say. The macro is phenomenal! While many cameras reserve macro for the widest location in the zoom range, the X-5 uses the middle end of the zoom, giving the photographer better composition options, IMO. There is also a 1 cm macro setting that really lets you close in on your subject.
Manual control is implemented better in this camera than in some others I have used. Tapping the EV button on top will switch the control wheel between shutter speed and aperture. This arrangement works quite well for me but YMMV.
What has really surprised me is the battery life. As I wrote above, I have shot nearly 300 photos so far and the battery indicator hasn't changed since I first put in the batteries (Sanyo Eneloops).
All in all, if you are interested in a bridge camera with a long zoom range, you really can't beat the Pentax X-5. While the size might put off some, remember you are getting a zoom lens that goes from 22.3mm to 580mm (in 35mm equivalent focal lengths). It is far from perfect, but, given the cost, it is well worth the money.
I know this is a rather long-winded review, but I hope someone will find it useful.
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