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Showing 1-10 of 138 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 177 reviews
on December 9, 2010
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.
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on April 19, 2011
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.
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on May 4, 2011
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!
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on June 3, 2012
The K-5 is really something special. I tried our Nikon, Cannon, and Sony before landing on a K-5. Now granted, Nikon, Cannon and Sony all make great cameras - so I am not going to go into a fanboy war between all the brands - I'll just focus on why I chose the K-5, even though it is about 2 year old technology at the moment (May 2012)

Feel - The K-5 is solid, rock solid. It feels like it could survive the Zombie Apocalypse, and we'll need someone taking photos - right? In all seriousness, this is a tight, weather sealed camera that is built like a tank. It is also much smaller than most DSLRs out there - almost compact (well for a DSLR) It just feels good in the hand and is an absolute pleasure to take photos with. Some have compared it to Leica Ms - but I won't go that far - however, this is a great DSLR for street photography - you wont' be scaring your subject away, especially if you use one of the Pentax wonderful limited primes (the 40mm looks like there is not even a lens in the camera)

Image quality - this baby just takes great pictures. The 16.3 MP sensor is a Sony and it produces great results. Low light performance is very good. Frankly, I don't blow up my shots to life size, so I don't need 24 or 36 MP - more megapixels does not always equate to better photos - that is really up to the photographer. When paired up with a quality lens - the images a stunning. When paired up with an ok lens (kit lenses) - the images are pretty darn good.

Lens selection - some will argue that Nikon and Cannon just offer more lenses - and that is correct. They offer A LOT of lenses, most of which, honestly, you will never use. Pentax offers a great number of lenses and have these absolutely amazing limited primes that exude quality. They are awesome and make the experience just all that much better while giving you wonderful image quality.

But it's Pentax! - Pentax is a quirky company and they have been going through a lot of issues. With the recent acquisition of Pentax by Ricoh, I think the future is bright. And Pentax really focuses (no pun intended) on the photographic experience. Yeah - they may be the underdog, but I can tell you I get just as good, if not better, images with the K-5 and some of the prime lenses than my colleagues with their expensive and heavy Canikon gear.

All in all - this is a great value DSLR. There are better out there - but I have yet to find one that has the feel of the K-5. Cameras are very subjective - so your opinion may vary.
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on May 25, 2017
I purchased this camera to accompany me during my outdoor excursions and backpacking destinations. After using countless point and shoots and camera phones I decided I needed a better camera to take pictures. One that had interchangeable lens and a good flash. Mirrorless camera's were considered but the poor battery life and lack of optical viewfinder on some models pushed me into the DSLR category. The other thing that was important to me was weatherproofing. I needed a camera that I could strap or sling on the outside of my bag so I could take pictures at a moments notice. Obviously weight was also a really important consideration. I lugged around a Canon 5D Mark ii for awhile but after carrying 8lbs of camera and lens, it gets very tiring. The k-5 is small, built like a tank, has good cheap lenses, a great optical viewfinder, is light and weatherproof. The sensor on this camera is also great. However, I won't get into all the image comparisons and pixel counting since there are 100's of other reviews for that. If you want a very good DSLR to travel with get this K-5 and a weatherproof lens, you'll take more pictures for sure.
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on March 19, 2012
The short:

This is an excellent camera that, like all quality tools, steps completely out of my way and lets me experience pure photography with quality results and minimal hassle.

Longer:

I've been shooting with the K-5 for a little over 6 months now and have taken over 10,000 photos with it. I think I'm in now a good position to share my impressions of the camera.

Like:
- Very responsive with excellent ergonomics. Every mode is well thought out and it's easy to quickly change settings in a given mode with only my right hand and no visual cues.
- The sensor is amazing. Excellent high ISO performance, excellent low ISO performance, excellent dynamic range. Very low noise.
- Large collection of older, optically-excellent lenses available second-hand. The build quality of many of these lenses is much higher than you will find today (outside of the pro market). You often lose auto-focus or other features, but a competent shooter can get amazing output and they are fun to shoot with!
- In-body stabilization gives these older lenses image stabilization!
- Excellent prime and zooms available for fair prices. I recommend checking out the Pentax 50mm 1.4 prime, and the Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 zoom as a start.
- The compact, magnesium alloy body gives an immediate (and lasting) impression of quality.
- Weather sealed body, which can be combined with a WR lens for a great outdoor kit.
- Has a full compliment of high-end modes and features

Could Be Better:
- The video mode is high-quality, but basic. Only Motion JPEG is offered, the camera will not refocus automatically, no dedicated video button.
- The availability of high-quality lenses that support quiet SDM focusing is limited.
- Some excellent 300m lenses are available, such as the Pentax 300mm f/4 prime, but not as many as Nikon or Canon
- No current Pentax offerings over 300m, you'll have to go third party or used and this is not the ideal system for those extreme focal lengths.

For my particular situation, nothing in the "could be better" category is relevant to my needs. There is no camera currently available for under $2,500 that I would trade my K-5 for.
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on October 1, 2012
I love my Pentax K5. Sure, it does have a few quirks like no autofocus in video, but other than that, this is my baby and I carry it around with me everywhere. So far, I've shot super sharp video with this, using an external microphone, I've done time lapse photography using an external interval timer (though there's a built-in timer already in the K5), and I've photographed an outdoor concert venue for 6 hours in the rain with my 70-300 lens, though my lens was not water resistant. My K5 did come with a WR 18-55 lens, which I was pleased with, because that's how they are supposed to be shipped. I've seen some sellers, particularly on Ebay, who don't ship the WR lens with the K5, and that 'cheap' price that seemed like a great bargain ends up being anything but a bargain when you have to pay and extre $160-$200 on a basic lens that is considered a "kit" lens.

I'm very happy with my purchase and I'm a loyal Pentaxian.

~UPDATE~

It has been nearly 4 years since I bought this camera, and it's still going strong. No issues whatsoever. The only downside I find with this camera is that you don't get tack sharp images, but you do get good low light images. Pentax has listened to their customer's issues with regarding not having a pull out, movable screen and also lack of auto focus with video. They are soon releasing the K70 that has those features. I'm hanging on to my K5 until it gives out, but will see what happens with the K70 and K1 during the 'honeymoon' phase of production. Though I just bought a Canon 70D (refurbished) as a backup and to shoot high quality video, I'm still paying attention to what Ricoh / Pentax is doing. It looks like they are gaining momentum.
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on January 20, 2012
Well, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot that I can add to all the reviews already submitted. This is a great tool, no wait, maybe a better word would be to describe the Pentax K-5 is that it is a WEAPON. Why do I say that? Mainly because you can take it in the toughest environments, and it can tackle any of them, and have you looking like the hero in whatever photo assignment you find yourself in.

I have been shooting professionally since the days of film when film was king. I have used what are considered top of the line cameras in my career in both the film and digital age. After a period of semi-retirement from the photography business, I decided to give this Pentax K-5 a try. Wow, what a camera. It is packed with several ways to customize it for your shooting taste and tendencies. It is as solid as they get, very easy to handle (I do use the battery grip that you can get for it) and have used it in the rain with a weather resistant lens, and it just keeps going; producing great results. You can buy a Canon or a Nikon and pay more but not gain any real huge advantage over the Pentax K-5. Sure you can get one that will shoot at a higher frame rate, but for most, the ability to shoot a seven frames per second is more than adequate. You can also, maybe, choose a Nikon or Canon for higher ISO capability, but honestly, the noise level at higher ISO's is very good and on par with the competition.

I currently use four lenses with the Pentax K-5: Pentax DA 18-135mm WR f3.5-5.6 lens (a nice sharp, all around lens), Pentax FA 50mm f/1.4 lens (I use this lens quite a bit, beautiful bokeh, great portrait lens), Pentax DA 35mm f2.4 lens (Very inexpensive, but surprisingly sharp with good contrast and color rendition), and finally, the Pentax DA 14mm f/2.8 lens (it amazing how close up you can focus on something with this lens. It helps you get some real neat perspectives on the subject your shooting). What is great about Pentax is that you can use any k-mount lens with this camera, so the possibilities seem endless.

Do I recommend this camera, you betcha. What is even better is that it is affordable. So if you want to spend a lot dough so you can be in the status quo, go ahead, but it won't make you a better photographer. But if you think of the camera as a tool, or as I call the Pentax K-5, a weapon, then when you learn how to use it for what it was intended for (a camera for taking great moments in time), the Pentax K-5 then becomes a mighty weapon in the hand indeed.
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on August 6, 2011
While there are some areas that I think the Pentax K-5 could use some improvement... it is absolutely top-notch in the area that matters above everything else, and that is photo quality.

I really think that if you are not really interested in video, don't have any particular allegiance to Canon or Nikon and simply want a tough, rugged, sub-$1,500 DSLR which will stand up to all the elements and take absolutely top-notch photos (even with the kit lens), then the K-5 is for you.

The camera itself is very well-made and surprisingly compact next to its competitors in its price range. It is basically like a little tank. The hand-grip is nice but only accomodates three fingers with your index finger resting on the dial wheel above the hand-grip. In practice, it doesn't feel uncomfortable but I do think this is one area where the Canon 60d and Nikon D7000 do a bit of a better job (but of course they are also larger). But overall it's not too bad.

As expected for a camera in this price range, there are many direct access controls for adjusting setting such as the ISO and other nice things like a RAW button for switching to raw from jpeg. Your thumb is positioned very comfortably on the back of the DSLR, making access to most buttons a breeze.

The menu system is the same as most Pentax's of late. It's main menu system is pretty similar to Canon's with respect to how you navigate through it and how everything is laid out. I like Canon's menu system a lot, so this is a good thing. As would be expected, this DSLR is jam packed with features, so a read-through of the manual is highly encouraged.

Photo quality, as I said before, is top notch. What strikes me is the level of detail that is captured in my shots with the K-5, even with the lowly kit lens. Even high-sun shots look pretty decent (well, about as good as you could expect given the conditions). I have experienced excellent noise performance up to ISO1600 but even ISO3200 is pretty respectable. One trademark Pentax trait is very vibrant and saturated colors. In most instances, this works out quite well. Although there maybe some shooting conditions where you might want to dial back the saturation just a little.

If you order it with the 18-55 WR kit lens, you will find that its a pretty decent performer. As well as the 50-200 WR kit lens. There is also the 18-135 WR lens as well, which is alright too. Pentax deserves tons of credit for offering a line of a very reasonably-priced, decent-performing weather-sealed kit lenses. The 18-55 WR (weather-resistant) kit lens is around $150 and the 50-200 WR kit lens is about $210. However, as with a lot of DSLRs, it takes some top-notch glass to bring out the K-5's full potential. So it's worthwhile to invest in at least one lens from Pentax's DA* line.

Now, onto to some annoyances. I think the autofocus system is good but not as decent as it could/should be. It is just a hair slower than the 60d and the D7000 in most instances. But certainly not subpar though. However, I think this is an area where some improvement should be made. Another major irritant is how much time it takes for the camera to display a picture you just took on screen. It is noticeably slower than some other DSLRs and this is also something Pentax needs to work on. Also, the viewfinder is 100% coverage, which is nice. And while it's perfectly decent, it is not as good of a magnification as the 60d's (although the 60d has only 96% coverage) and while it is good, it could be better. I was also non-plussed by the LCD quality. I think its ok, and certainly the resolution number is competitive, but it doesn't hold a candle to the ones found on the Canons.

The video mode is not really great on this DSLR. Still-shooting performance is my top priority so I honestly could care less about the video mode, as I only will need it on rare occaisions. But this is one area where both Canon and Nikon have an advtange.

But, overall, I still give this camera 5 stars due to its photo quality and its ability to take superb photos in just about any condition you throw at it. Something that can't really be said about any of the other DSLRs in this price range. Despite my criticisms, the camera's performance is overall good, but needs improvement in some areas. But if you are shopping in the $1,500 range, this deserves as much consideration (or perhaps even more depending on what you're shooting in) as Canon's and Nikon's competing DSLRs.
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on May 21, 2012
I have been shooting a KX for the past two years, (by far the best digital camera I have owned 'til now). It was time to move up in features, image quality etc. After reading a lot of reviews - including hereon Amazon. I decided on the K5. I could write a one word summary - Wow! It was delivered in one week, (I live at the end of a very long pipeline). Good, solid feel in the hands. All commonly used controls are exactly where they need to be. I've had it three weeks at this point. Have used it in conditions from sunny spring afternoons to snow and freezing fog. Great image quality and no mechanical issues.

I also shoot a lot of parties, shows, etc. I much prefer ambient light to flash during these events, (this is where the KX "Stage Light" program really excelled). Obviously no pre-set on the K5. However the low light capability is outstanding. Fixing the aperture and shutter speed and letting the camera decide on ISO works well. AS an aside - the auto white balance seems to be much better than it was on the KX. No more orange glow to tune out in post.

So, yes I like it and would recommend it to anyone looking for an upper end DSLR. No way you will get this quality at this price level from Canon and Nikon. (And no way you can still use the lenses you bought in the 70s - 90s on your new Nikon/Canon.)
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