Consumer SLR Camera Roundup (2013)
16MP APS-C CMOS Sensor | 6 fps continuous shooting | Uses AA batteries
What we like:
- Simple, straightforward design
- In-body image stabilization
- 100% optical pentaprism
What we don't like:
- AF points not shown in viewfinder
- No rechargeable battery supplied
- Lacks articulating LCD
Taking up the budget position in the Pentax lineup, the K-500 nevertheless offers an impressive feature set, with a 16MP APS-C CMOS sensor, in-body shake reduction and a 100% field-of-view glass pentaprism that's unique at this price level. It's bundled with an 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 lens of reasonable quality, but one we've not yet formally tested.
"Physically, the K500 is attractive, and fits the hand as well as any other inexpensive digital SLR, with good button and control placement"
Image quality is good at low ISOs, looking quite solid up to ISO 800, where it starts to fall off gracefully from ISO 1600 up. Color becomes a bit more saturated as ISO rises, which is to be expected. Noise at 12,800 and up lightens contrast slightly, but the camera avoids blotchy color errors, which we call a good performance.
Physically, the K-500 fits in the hand as well as any other inexpensive digital SLR, with good button and control placement. Where it lags behind any competitive model is with its lack of AF confirmation in the viewfinder. Whereas every other bargain SLR at least tells you which AF point is active, the K500 offers only simple brackets to hint at where AF points might be located.
The other unusual omission is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery; instead the K500 comes with four non-rechargeable lithium AA batteries (which limit the frame rate to 5 fps). That can be convenient on an overseas trip, where AA's are liable to be everywhere, but it's an extra expense. Users can purchase an optional lithium-ion battery that also raises the frame rate by one per second.
Overall the Pentax K-500 is a simple digital SLR that'll deliver good pictures and has reasonable controls, but we seriously question the lack of AF points in the viewfinder. Given the difficulty of discerning focus through a small optical viewfinder, we prefer some kind of visual confirmation.