Last September Pentax replaced the K-5 with not just one but two new digital SLRs, one without an optical low pass filter (OLPF). Looking little changed from the Pentax K-5 and K-7 before that, the Pentax K-5 II retains a very photographer-friendly design, with a good set of controls at the ready despite a surprisingly compact design. Internally, the K5 II gets only a few updates, including a new air-gapless LCD and an improved autofocus system; the latter of which offers a noticeable improvement in AF speed overall, and greater sensitivity in low light. Though the resolution remains the same, Pentax updated the camera’s 16.3-megapixel CMOS sensor with a faster data readout, according to company representatives.
Though Pentax made few upgrades, the K-5 II remains an excellent digital SLR, particularly for outdoor photography, including a weather-resistant body, extreme cold tolerance down to -10C (14F), an optical viewfinder with 100% coverage, sensor-shift Shake Reduction that works with all lenses, an electronic level function, and a seven-frame-per-second frame rate.
As almost a bonus, Pentax also offers the K-5 II S, which is essentially the same camera with the low-pass filter removed. Also called anti-aliasing filters, low-pass filters soften images slightly to minimize pattern interference with the sensor’s own grid pattern. When capturing subjects without repeating patterns, K-5 II S users will gain a slight sharpness advantage; however, repeating patterns do occur in nature, so even landscape photographers are not immune from the possibility of moiré appearing in images. We’ll have a look at the issue in this First Impressions report to see if it’s worth the risk for extra sharpness at a cost of just $100 more.
- 16.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
- 11-point SAFOS X autofocus system
- ISO 100-12800; expandable to 80-51200
- 1080p video at 25fps
- 3-inch, 920K LCD
- Maximum 7fps continuous shooting
- 100% Glass prism viewfinder (0.92x magnification)
- Weatherproof, cold-resistant, Magnesium-alloy body
- Shake Reduction image stabilization built-in
- Handheld HDR image capture
- Built-in Level
- Horizon-fixing 'Composition adjustment' rotates sensor, allows careful composition
That Pentax kept the K-5 II design essentially the same as its predecessors might concern some, but those familiar with the design will be just as happy as they were when the company introduced the K-7 in 2009. We really liked the original design quite a bit, so we're perfectly happy to see it repeated here. The body is tight and small, a little smaller than a large Rebel, but with a metal body rather than polycarbonate.
Pentax says focus acquisition should be faster with the new SAFOX X autofocus system, and our early experience shows that to be true. In low light, the difference is a bit less obvious. Both can still struggle a bit in low light, but the K-5 II takes about half a second, while the K-5 takes more like a second on average. We’ve always admired how Pentax SLRs, even when they were slow, kept at the job until focus was achieved, where other cameras just give up.