Pentax K-5 II review

Seeking a digital SLR with a semi pro build and specification, but not the £1,000+ price tag that usually goes with it? If you’re prepared to forgo costlier choices from Canon and Nikon, then the new Pentax K-5 II at £799.99 body only could be just up your street. As its nomenclature suggests, the ‘II’ upgrades the plain old K-5 from 2010, but, although slightly cheaper, the changes don’t seem massive. Headline resolution is still 16 megapixels from a large APS-C sensor, which is respectable enough. But the real selling point here is the weatherproofed stainless steel and magnesium alloy body with 77 moisture resistant seals. This really is a camera for all seasons and eventualities.

Auto focus (AF) is just one of the features that claims to be improved on this second generation model, with the AF sensor purporting to be able to cope with a wider/trickier variety of shooting conditions this time around. Squeeze the shutter release halfway and it’s as lightning quick to lock onto target as you’d hope a semi pro DSLR to be, so we’ve no complaints there, not that we ever felt the original K-5 was sluggish. Exposure metering settings have also been expanded from -3EV to +18EV, making it one of the best low light DSLRs currently available. There’s additionally a pop-up flash to help out if needs be.

Photos are composed via the aid of the large and bright eye-level glass prism optical viewfinder offering 100% field of view; so what you see is what you get, without cropping or clipping. The other alternative is to utilise the 3-inch, 921k dot resolution LCD screen just below by pressing the ‘LV’ (Live View) button on the backplate; indeed this is essential for composing and shooting video clips. Upon squeezing the shutter release button in LV mode you’re automatically presented with an enlarged view of your subject so critical focus can be checked, which is initially jarring but something you get used to.

Further revealing the camera’s semi pro mettle is the fact we get a second smaller screen on the top plate displaying essential shooting information such as number of shots remaining and battery life. This small LCD also enables the likes of ISO and exposure to be adjusted on the hoof, without having to drill down into backplate menus. With a large moulded handgrip providing space for three or four fingers, all essential controls are within stretch of finger or thumb. 

The upgrade of the K-5 comes with faster auto focus and a wider exposure metering range to deliver detailed shots in a wider variety of conditions

OUR VERDICT

Pentax spoilt us by providing a wide 18-270mm zoom, rather than the standard 18-55mm lens bundled with body for a suggested £869.99. Working in tandem, sensor and lens maintain detail right into the corners of frame at maximum wide angle, and having such a telephoto reach at your fingertips provides a pleasingly broad range of framing options. Colours look particularly vivid straight out of the camera. In short, even the fussiest of photo enthusiasts might want to consider this as a viable alternative to the ‘big two’.

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