Between them, Nikon and Canon have the mid-range dSLR market pretty much sewn up, so it's refreshing to see Pentax bounce back with a promising-looking offering. At around £1,050 with a standard 18-55mm kit lens or about £950 for a body-only version, the K-5 is rather expensive but comes with some high-end features. Can it take on its rivals in the image-quality stakes, though?
The K-5 is a tough-looking customer. It's kind of like the camera equivalent of Lee Marvin in Point Blank. It's by no means the biggest or burliest of dSLRs, but you probably wouldn't want to double-cross it and leave it for dead on Alcatraz Island.
There's nothing particularly revolutionary about the device's outward appearance. The body is, however, solidly constructed from a stainless-steel and magnesium alloy and has the benefit of being 'weatherproof'. That's to say the casing uses 77 special seals to keep out dust, rain, cold temperatures and the like.
The grip feels firm and the unit is well balanced and easy to hold steady. Various rubber covers conceal an SDHC card slot, USB/AV port, HDMI connection, sync socket and a stereo microphone input. There's also a DC input socket on the camera itself, as well as an external battery charger. The supplied battery is fairly long-lasting, allowing for around 980 shots between charges.
A pentaprismic viewfinder with 100 per cent coverage perches on top of the camera. It's great for composing shots, and they'll turn out exactly as you see them. Detailed status information is also available via an electronic readout within the viewfinder, as well as via a backlit, monochrome LCD on the camera's right-hand shoulder. On the rear of the unit is a high-resolution, 921,000-pixel, 3-inch LCD screen, which can either be used to display the camera's composition-assisting features, such as an electronic spirit level, or for live view composition.
There are plenty of dedicated buttons, switches and dials scattered over the K-5's body -- everything from a mode dial to a pop-up flash button. Somehow, though, none of these get in the way of operation. Placement is so well thought out that it's pretty hard to press something by accident.
Under the hood, a 16.3-megapixel CMOS sensor handles all the image-capturing duties. The camera uses an image stabiliser that works on the sensor itself, so you can attach a wide variety of lenses without worrying about the wobbles. A built-in dust-removal system cleans away any gunk that somehow makes it through the seals on the case.
The ISO range is an impressive 80 to 51,200 in extended mode. Equally notable is the camera's 7 frames per second continuous-shooting mode.