Pentax K-50 review

Pentax DSLR offers semi pro features including weatherproofing for an entry level price

You don’t see a Pentax DSLR for ages and then two arrive at once; the K-50, which we’re reviewing here as a mid to entry level option, alongside the £100 cheaper K-500. At £599 for a weatherproofed camera body with 81 separate seals – the kind of spec you’d expect from a semi professional model – plus weather resistant 18-55mm zoom lens to go with it, the 16.2 megapixel K-50 reads like great value on paper. Especially when a comparably rugged model in the Nikon D7100 with the same APS-C format sensor retails for £1299 with kit zoom.

If we’re looking for corners that have been cut, the K-50 is a little drab and utilitarian in its all-black design, with larger than average controls aiding beginners but making it look chunkily unsophisticated next to closer priced rivals in the Canon EOS 100D and 700D. That said an unusual point of differentiation comes via the ability to ‘pimp’ the design by requesting the Pentax body, lens and handgrip in differing colours. Up to 120 different colour combinations are available for the K-50 – a gimmick that will undoubtedly prove more successful in the Far East than the West, but shows its manufacturer thinking outside the proverbial box. That singular thinking also extends to the fact that there is space in the handgrip for either the supplied lithium ion battery – good for 410 shots from each charge – or a quartet of AA batteries as a fall back. 

Chunky it may be, but a weather sealed body will appeal to some, as will the Pentax’s value-added price tag of £599.99 with equally protected 18-55mm zoom 

On the K-50 the 3-inch, 921k-dot resolution LCD is non-angle adjustable (unlike the Canon 700D and cheaper Sony A58). Whilst this means it isn’t as flexible as we might have ideally have liked for recording video when using said screen as a viewfinder in Live View mode, or when attempting photos from awkward angles, it’s not a deal breaker. The visibility is good, even in sunlight, and the larger than average menu icons simplify navigation; plus there’s always the large and bright traditional eye-level optical viewfinder as an alternative for framing shots, which provides 100% field of view.

More positives come in the fact that the K-50 is very quick as regards its response times: powering up nigh instantly and determining focus and exposure about as swiftly as your eye can blink. Again the kind of performance we’re more used to from a semi pro DSLR rather than one costing what this does. Image quality is also superb – an area in which Pentax DSLRs traditionally excel, but lack the marketing power of the majors with which to shout about it.

OUR VERDICT

The Pentax K-50 is so nearly a great camera, but a slightly bland design and lack of adjustable LCD when used as viewfinder let it down. There are more svelte alternatives with that feature and others that match it in this price range. However if you plan on using this camera in the rain and snow, the semi pro level of ruggedness makes for a worthy investment.

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