Pentax updates K-5 dSLR, offers AA-filter-free model

/ Updated: September 18, 2012 2:51 PM PDT

Stephen Shankland/CNET

As with the Pentax Q , I never got around to reviewing the Pentax K-5; but the latter I regret a lot more. Pentax makes pretty good dSLRs, and with its traditional dust-, weather-, and cold-resistant body plus comparable specs to the Nikon D7000, it really deserved a look. I hope the same won't be true about its replacement(s), the K-5 II and IIs which include some important updates. Taking a leaf out of Nikon's D800 book, the new model will come in two versions: one standard, the K-5 II, and one without an antialiasing filter on the sensor, the K-5 IIs.

Dropping the AA filter is an interesting move. On one hand, ditching it means more naturally sharp images -- the antialiasing process softens edges to eliminate the jaggies and moiré inherent in color-filter-array-based sensors. (Not a clue what I'm talking about? Try reading this primer.) But without an AA filter you have to post-process at least a little bit to fix any aliasing or moiré that crops up. And I would think that anyone seriously concerned with a small increase in sharpness would also be likely to opt for a full-frame camera. Then again, those don't come cheap. (Yet?)

Though it's the same resolution as the K-5 and K-30, the II/IIs uses a new sensor with a faster readout; I'm not sure how that will affect photo quality, as the unchanged ISO sensitivity range usually indicates no improvement in the midrange sensitivities. (For example, when a camera manufacturer says "now it goes up to ISO 102,400!" It usually means that ISO 102,400 is still unusable but ISO 6400 has gotten better.) But it also has an updated image-processing engine. The other important update is a new autofocus sensor which the company claims improves focus performance at f2.8 and better focus tracking, and it specs with the lowest AF exposure sensitivity I've seen, which theoretically means better ability to focus in dim light.

The cameras have the usual set of features you'd expect from a $1,200 body, but one of the more notable ones is the ability to pull the raw data from JPEG after it's been shot.

Here are some comparison specs:

Nikon D7000 Pentax K-30 Pentax K-5 Pentax K-5 II/IIs Sony Alpha SLT-A77V
Sensor (effective resolution) 16.2mp CMOS
(14 bits)
16.3mp CMOS
(12 bits)
16.3mp CMOS
(14 bits)
16.3mp CMOS
(14 bits)
24.3mp Exmor HD CMOS
(n/a)
23.6 x 15.6mm 23.7 x 15.7mm 23.7 x 15.7mm 23.7 x 15.7mm 23.5 mm x 15.6mm
Focal-length multiplier 1.5x 1.5x 1.5x 1.5x 1.5x
Sensitivity range ISO 100 (expanded)/
200 - ISO 3200/6400 (expanded)
ISO 100 - ISO 12,800/
25,600 (expanded)
ISO 80 (expanded)/
100 - ISO 12,800/
51,200 (expanded)
ISO 80 (expanded)/
100 - ISO 12,800/
51,200 (expanded)
ISO 50 (expanded)/ 100 - ISO 16,000
Continuous shooting 6 fps
n/a
6fps
8 raw/30 JPEG
7 fps
n/a raw/22 JPEG
7 fps
8 raw/30 JPEG
8fps (12fps with fixed exposure)
13 raw/14 JPEG
Viewfinder (mag/
effective mag)
Optical
100%
coverage
0.95x/0.63x
Optical
100% coverage
0.92x/0.61x
Optical
100% coverage
0.92x/0.61x
Optical
100% coverage
0.92x/0.61x
Electronic OLED
0.5 inches/ 2.36 million dots
100% coverage
1.09x/0.73x
Autofocus 51-pt phase- detection AF
15 cross-type
11-pt AF
9 cross-type
(SAFOX IX+)
11-pt AF
9 cross-type
(SAFOX IX+)
11-pt AF
9 cross-type
(SAFOX X)
19-pt phase-detection
11 cross-type
AF sensitivity -1 to 19 EV -1 to 18 EV n/a -3 - 18 EV -1 - 18 EV
Shutter Speed 1/8000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync 1/6000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/180 sec x-sync 1/8000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/180 sec x-sync 1/8000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/180 sec x-sync 1/8000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 x-sync
Metering 1005-pixel 3D color matrix Metering II 77 segment 77 segment 77 segment 1200 zone
Metering sensitivity 0 to 20 EV 0 to 22 EV 0 to 22 EV 0 to 22 EV -2 - 17 EV
Video 1080/24p/ 25p H.264 QuickTime MOV H.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/30p/
24p/25p; 720/50p/60p
1080/25p; 720/30p/25p Motion JPEG AVI 1080/25p; 720/30p/25p Motion JPEG AVI AVCHD 1080/
60p @ 28, 24Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24, 17Mbps, 1080/60i @ 17Mbps; H.264 MPEG-4 1440x1080/30p @ 12Mbps
Audio Mono; mic input Mono Mono; mic input Mono; mic input Stereo; mic input
Manual aperture and shutter in video Yes n/a No n/a Yes
Maximum best-quality recording time 4GB/20 min 4GB/25 min 4GB/25 min 4GB/25 min 29 min
Image stabilization Optical Sensor shift Sensor shift Sensor shift Sensor shift
LCD size 3 inches fixed
921,000 dots
3 inches fixed
921,000 dots
3 inches fixed
921,000 dots
3 inches fixed
921,000 dots
3 inches articulated
921,600 dots
Memory slots 2 x SDXC 1 x SDXC 1 x SDXC/SDHC
(SDXC requires firmware upgrade)
1 x SDXC/SDHC
(SDXC requires firmware upgrade)
SDXC x 1
Wireless flash Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Battery life (CIPA rating) 1050 shots 480 (Lithium ion); 1600 (Lithium) 980 shots
(not CIPA spec)
740 shots 470 shots
Dimensions (WHD, inches) 5.2 x 4.2 x 3.0 5.1 x 3.8 x 2.8 5.2 x 3.8 x 2.9 5.2 x 3.8 x 2.9 5.8 x 4.1 x 3.3
Body operating weight (ounces) 27.3 22.9 (est) 26.1 (est) 26.1 (est) 25.9
Mfr. Price $1,199.95 (body only) $849.95 (body only) $1,099.95 (body only) $1,195.95/
$1,299.95 (body only)
$1399.99 (body only)
n/a $899.95 (with 18-55mm lens) $1,249.95 (with 18-55mm WR lens) $1,349.95 (with 18-55mm WR lens)/n/a $1999.99 (with 16-50mm lens)
n/a n/a n/a $1549.95/n/a (with 18-135mm WR lens) n/a
Release date October 2010 July 2012 October 2010 October 2012 October 2011
The 18-270mm f3.5-5.6 lens Pentax

The biggest continuing weakness in the series is the video, which is still essentially the same as it was two years ago, and still doesn't use a real video codec or support 24p (much less 1080/30p). However, like its predecessor, with the battery grip you can load it up with AA batteries in a pinch.

In addition to the camera, Pentax also introduced a couple of new K-mount lenses. The $799.95 DA 18-270mm f3.5-5.6 ED SDM sounds like a relatively compact option for photographers who want a single, multipurpose lens; it has a minimum focus distance of 1.6 feet. It will be available in November.

That's one long lens. Pentax

The other lens is the $6,999.95 HD DA 560mm f5.6 ED AW -- the "AW" stands for "all-weather" and "HD" is for a new coating which the company claims produces lower reflectance across the entire visible spectrum compared with other coatings. It also has a built-in filter holder and is "an elegant white to minimize heat haze generated inside the lens barrel due to long exposure to the sun." Not just to look like a pro Canon lens. It's slated to ship in December. Pentax also uses the HD coating in a new lens for its 645 medium-format camera, the $4,499.9 HD D FA 645 Macro 90mm f2.8 ED AW SR, its first optically stabilized lens for the system. It ships in October.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Digital camera type SLR
  • Optical Sensor Type CMOS
  • Sensor Resolution 16.28 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical (image sensor shift mechanism)
  • Optical Sensor Size 15.7 x 23.7mm