CNET First Look
Pentax's entry dSLRs: Lots of features but photos disappointBoth stuffed with semimanual shooting options, the weather-sealed K-50 and the K-500 seem like great deals. But they just don't come through on the photo quality.
As with many of Pentax's cameras of late, you really can't miss the K-50 in the crowd. Notable design-wise for the ability to configure it in a numerable two-toned color combinations, the real appeal of this consumer DSLR is the weather-sealed body and broad photography-oriented feature set, all for a good price. It's cheaper brother, the K-500, is exactly the same but without the weather sealing and comes only in basic black. The body's comfortable to hold even single-handed with gaskets sealing up the potential leak points. It lacks in articulated LCD, but otherwise, it's nicely designed with subtleties like the type of double dials you normally find in higher-end models, and direct access buttons for almost everything, and an interactive control panel for the rest. The camera has Pentax-specific semi-manual modes like shutter and aperture priority mode, which adjusts ISO sensitivity automatically, and sensitivity priority mode which adjusts shutter speed and aperture based on the ISO sensitivity you select. Plus, there are some nice-to-have options like interval shooting. One big drawback, however, is the camera and kit lens are pretty noisy, almost as if the purpose of the camera is to beride camera-like sound effects. While it's not the speediest model in its price class, it's sufficiently fast to keep up with most family and vacation needs. I was a little disappointed with the photo quality, though. The default color setting, bright, completely waxed out the colors. And it seems like Pentax's JPEG processing just hasn't kept up with Nikon or Sony. It's still sufficiently better than a point-and-shoot, at least if you change the defaults. So, if you're planning to step up, you should be okay with it. Video looks pretty metho with lots of moire, aliasing, and even rolling shutter. K-50's a good deal if you need a weather-sealed or multi-colored DSLR. But similarly priced competitors look a bit better in comparison for speed, and video, and photo quality. And the K-500 seems to lose out on all accounts. They're both okay cameras, just not the best you can find. I'm Lori Grunin, and this is the Pentax K-50.