Note that because of the near-identical specification and identical design of the K-5 II and K-5 IIS, the commentary in this review refers to the 'K-5 II' throughout, and except where specifically noted, the term 'K-5 II' should be taken to refer to both models.

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 form factor. Internally, the K-5 II gets only a few updates, including a new air-gapless LCD and an improved autofocus system; the latter of which Pentax claims to offer a noticeable improvement in AF speed overall, and greater sensitivity in low light.

Though the resolution remains the same, Pentax has updated the camera’s 16.3-megapixel CMOS sensor with a faster data readout, according to company representatives.

K-5 II/S Key Specifications

  • 16.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor (K-5 IIS lacks an AA filter)
  • 11-point SAFOS X autofocus system
  • ISO 100-12800; expandable to 80-51200
  • 1080p video at 25fps
  • 3-inch, 920K dot 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 

Though Pentax has made few upgrades, on paper the K-5 II looks like an excellent digital SLR, particularly for outdoor photography, thanks to a weather-resistant body, and extreme cold tolerance down to -10C (14F). Other highlights include 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. 

Alongside the K-5 II Pentax also announced the K-5 IIS, which is essentially the same camera with the low-pass filter removed from its sensor. 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 IIS users should 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.

Pentax K-5 II compared to K-5 and K-7

The table below shows the major specification differences among the three generations of Pentax's flagship APS-C digital SLRs. Significant changes are few, as the table makes apparent.

 

K-7

K-5

K-5 II/S
Image sensor 14.6Mp CMOS 16.3Mp CMOS 16.3Mp CMOS
Imaging engine Prime II Prime II Prime II
Sensitivity 100-3200 (6400 with expansion) 100-12800 (51200 with expansion) 100-12800 (51200 with expansion)
Continuous shooting speed 5.2 fps (40 frames) 7.0 fps (40 frames) 7.0 fps (40 frames)
AF SAFOX VIII+
11-points (selectable)
SAFOX IX+
11-points (selectable)
SAFOX X
11-points (selectable)
AE 77-segment 77-segment 77-segment
Viewfinder Pentaprism
Coverage: 100%
Magnification: 0.92x
Pentaprism
Coverage: 100%
Magnification: 0.92x
Pentaprism
Coverage: 100%
Magnification: 0.92x
LCD screen 3.0 in, 920k dots 3.0 in, 921k dots 3.0 in, 921k dots,
air-gap-free
Movies 1536 x 1024 30fps 1080p 25 fps 1080p 25 fps
Microphone Mono internal and stereo external Mono internal and stereo external Mono internal and stereo external
HDMI output Yes Yes Yes
IR simple No No No
Cross process mode No Yes Yes
Night Scene HDR No Yes Yes
Movie custom images modes No Yes Yes
Battery Rechargeable lithium-ion battery Rechargeable lithium-ion battery Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Cold resistant to -10deg Yes Yes Yes
Weather resistant Yes Yes Yes
Weight (body only)

670g

664g 676g