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Conclusion - Pros

  • Good detail and dynamic range (even better in Raw)
  • Very low shadow noise in Raw files at low ISOs
  • One of the best APS-C DSLRs in terms of high ISO image quality
  • Very good build quality and handling
  • Maximum ISO of 51,200 at full resolution
  • Excellent burst depth in Raw mode (with firmware 1.0.1)
  • 1080p HD video mode with basic editing built-in
  • In-camera Raw processing
  • Built-in sensor-shift shake reduction effectively stabilizes all mountable lenses
  • Useful electronic level and composition adjustment functions
  • Comprehensive customization options including adjustable NR for each ISO
  • Large, bright viewfinder with 100% coverage
  • Fast contrast detect Auto Focus in Live View
  • Versatile (but poorly documented) Auto ISO function
  • Wireless flash mode

Conclusion - Cons

  • No dedicated movie shooting button (important only if you plan to use the movie mode often)
  • No AF during movie shooting
  • Poorly implemented live histogram in live view/manual exposure mode (doesn't indicate final exposure)
  • No 'live' aperture control during movie shooting
  • Shadow Correction mode doesn't take full advantage of K-5's sensor
  • Jaggies and color error can be a problem along very fine diagonal lines (more so with the K-5 IIS)
  • Noise processing in Raw at ISO 3200 and above prevents use of better software solutions

Overall conclusion

Though they don't represent hugely significant upgrades to the original K-5, the Pentax K-5 II and K-5 IIS still hold their own in the current SLR market, with excellent image quality, solid build, and a proven interface. We appreciate the tight, simple design of the K-5 II, one that offers quick access to a rich feature-set. Where the K-5 II shines, though, is its quality sensor, which seems essentially unchanged from its predecessor. Improvements in autofocus are welcome, if subtle. They were necessary, as slow autofocus was a concern with the K-5, and we found AF to be just about right with the K-5 II, and really quite good in low light.

Choosing between the K-5 II and K-5 IIS is an important decision we tried to explore in greater depth from the outset, and it's clear there is a difference and slightly more danger to choosing the K-5 IIS. The safe play for the general-purpose photographer is the K-5 II, which maintains better control over moiré while still delivering sharp images. Those looking for more detail who think they can deal with the inevitable moiré will likely be happy with the slightly more expensive K-5 IIS. We think it was wise of Pentax to offer both, as Nikon did with the D800 and D800E. The K-5 IIS offers those curious about life without a low-pass filter an inexpensive way to experiment with the concept.

As we have demonstrated, the Pentax K-5 II offers a unique set of photographic tools any enthusiast photographer would enjoy digging into, and it integrates well with several accessories including the versatile GPS and flash to extend a photographer's capabilities.

Image Quality

Thanks to the sensor we liked so much in the K-5 and Nikon D7000, the Pentax K-5 II still turns out excellent images with a wide dynamic range and low noise, while maintaining good shadow and highlight detail. At ISO 3200 and above we begin to see processing applied before Raws are saved, resulting in an apparent improvement in our measured noise graphs, but not necessarily an improvement to real image quality, as it results in slightly softer images. Still, up to ISO 6400, the K-5 II is safe to use for most photographic purposes, and even ISO 25,600 images are acceptable depending on the noise reduction setting applied (or if you're shooting Raw).

Many of our gallery images were shot with the 18-135mm kit lens, and a few of our samples are quite soft, depending on the focal length. We really recommend investing in good quality lenses to more fully enjoy the potential of the K-5 II and K-5 IIS. Pentax's fine 'Limited' prime lenses for example are lightweight, sharp and don't take up a lot of space.

Handling

Small and solid, the K-5 II has the easy portabilty of a Canon Rebel with the gravity of a pro camera, largely thanks to its magnesium alloy body. We admired the tight integration of controls on such a small body. On occasion that tight integration led into some confusion, temporarily blocking controls to allow use of others, but tradeoffs are often necessary on smaller camera bodies. Upgrades to autofocus were apparent in the form of generally faster focusing, but the change wasn't overwhelming in the environments in which used the camera. We'd still like to see a Movie start button for quicker access to the feature.

The Final Word

Regardless of whether you pick the K-5 II or K-5 IIS, we think you're likely to enjoy the camera and the images you make with it. Though it's been a little more than two years since the K-5 was introduced, the K-5 II is still relevant to today's market. Its sensor at the time broke new ground, but it's easy to argue that its 16 million high-quality pixels still make great images two years later. We don't find ourselves at all disappointed, especially considering the K-5 II's wide dynamic range and ample tools to extend it even further. Pentax took a great camera and upgraded it with a faster autofocus system, an improved LCD, and largely left the rest alone - save for the effective removal of the low-pass filter in the K-5 IIS.

Though the body-only MSRP of the K-5 II was only $100 cheaper than its predecessor at launch, the current online price is closer to $800 body-only, which puts it in the high-value category. We were concerned about the K-5's high debut price of $1750, but that's certainly less of a concern now.

Whether the K-5 II is an essential upgrade for K-5 owners isn't hard to guess: If you own a K-5, unless autofocus speed is an issue in your experience, we'd have to say you don't need to replace your current camera. K-7 owners, or owners of older Pentax bodies might want to give the K-5 II a look though.

For anyone in need of an excellent light and rugged weatherproof option for hiking or other outdoor activities, the Pentax K-5 II combined with one of the company's WR lenses is a natural choice. This combination is not submersible, but it's splash and rainproof. If light and small is all you need, a selection of small prime lenses don't take up much space. Beyond water-resistance, there's probably no compelling reason for those already invested in another platform to switch, but new users or those wanting a second body with any of the features we've outlined needn't hesistate.

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Pentax K-5 II
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Value
PoorExcellent
Good for
Enthusiast and pro photographers, particularly those with leanings toward outdoor photography.
Not so good for
Consumer users who are likely to want better access to, and higher performance from live view and movie modes.
Overall score
80%
A good, solid, weather-sealed camera with a tried-and-true sensor, the Pentax K-5 II remains a solid digital SLR that's easy to recommend. With a decided bent toward enthusiast users, the Pentax K-5 II pairs well with the company's line of Limited lenses, and is good to have along with a weather-resistant lens on a rainy day.

Pentax K-5 IIs
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Value
PoorExcellent
Good for
Enthusiast and landscape photographers, those interested in trying photography without a low-pass filter.
Not so good for
General-purpose photographers who are likely to encounter moiré-inducing subjects like fabric, buildings, and other man-made objects.
Overall score
81%
Bearing all that the K-5 II does, minus an optical low-pass filter, the K-5 IIS is a specialized camera made for those who want a little more detail and know how to handle the resulting artifacts. Its weatherproof design and small, tight build make it ideal for landscape photographers, as well as anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors.

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Comments

Total comments: 20
zos xavius

Even now this camera is amazing. I have a K-3 too and the K-5 IIs still gets regular use. It has been the most faithful and reliable Pentax I've had over the years. It's IQ has never let me down and is better than even the K-3 in certain ways. 16mp and decent lenses have given me beautiful poster sized prints. It's no D800, but its a lot smaller and lighter than one too. Paired with some small limiteds it is really hard to go wrong unless you need absolute speed or shoot sports. The files from the IIs have a crispness that the K-5/K-30/K-50 all lack. Removing the AA filter really makes a difference in a big way and has forced me to upgrade my kit to take advantage of it. Not that moving on to better lenses is ever a bad thing..... :)

There are tons of amazing and fun vintage lenses you can get for pentax for peanuts too. Yeah you can adapt them to other systems, but being able to just slap a lens on a mount and not worry about aperture or AF if the lens has it is nice.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Chood

Why is "Pentax K-5" listed under "Semi-professional" whereas "Pentax K-5 II and Pentax K-5 IIs" listed "Mid Level"?

I'm planning to buy Pentax K-5.

Thanks.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
cgarrard

No mention that I saw on the review that the LCD screen has a GLASS outer layer preventing scratches and the use of those annoying LCD screen covers. The glass screen is an upgrade along with it being gapless (better anti-reflection and no more dust etc. between the screen and protective layer like the K5 exhibited).

The K5II/s are at killer prices now and are 10 times the camera a Rebel or comparatively priced mirrorless camera are. What's not to love about this one?

5 upvotes
Tactical Falcon

I couldn't agree more. I looked at the Nikon, and Canon etc. The K-5II is such a terrific camera bargain.

1 upvote
davids8560

Does the K-3 have a LCD with a glass outer layer too? Thx.

Comment edited 47 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
SgtUSMC

I Have Both The K3 & The K5IIs i did not Like The K3 so i gave it to my Wife and took the K5IIs back ...they are both great cameras but i am use to the K5IIs setup
the K3 is all new inside.....

0 upvotes
mgunt

I see a lot of people asking if the K5 II is a good camera. After becoming too frustrated with point and shoot cameras I took the plunge and bought the K5 II. My wife and I LOVED it. It is true that the camera does not change focus during video capture, but that wasn't important to us. Heck, our little Cannon point and shoot took better video - but that may have just been our ambivalence. It was great at everything we wanted - immediate response, color and sharpness, low light capabilities, burst shooting, etc.. I say "was" because it is no longer with us. It may be water resistant, but it certainly is NOT waterproof - oops! When I can afford to, I will probably buy another.

0 upvotes
waxwaine

There is no DSLR wATER resistant, as you painfully learned. For K-5II users , this is wEATHER resistant, to dust, light rain and snow. Hope you can get a new one soon.

0 upvotes
XT

Could anyone tell me why this is not a good camera for video? I love everything about it, but I would like to make videos too. I am hesitating between this one and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II.

0 upvotes
Leandros S

If your requirement is "would like to make videos too", it may be good enough. You should ask yourself whether you're going to need to re-focus after starting your video. If the answer is yes, you should look at Panasonic and Canon. If you're shooting wildlife, inside churches, or other kinds of stage performances, this may not be a factor. In terms of quality, audio and video are excellent in the K-5 II and IIs.

Comment edited 15 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Lucas1981r

Ok - K-5II have better AF and... and... but why only 80%/ s-81%? If old version K-5 have 83%?
and Nikon D7100 have 85% - but everybody knows - who used this dslr's that Pentax is better...??

3 upvotes
Derma pro

I heard and read alot about this pentax. and I believe it is a very good camera. what I know is that pentax k-5II is better regarding the details of the photo. and D7100 is better regarding the colors and the auto white balance. do you think the pentax is better is other situations?

0 upvotes
Hansel300

DigitalRevtv on Youtube showed the K-5iis trouncing the D7100. I think the colors are better than the D7100 (Imaging resources comparometer). Stabilization in K-5 auto levels, perspective control + tilt shift capable, astrotracking + wides and primes are stabilized. D7100 only has a digital zoom & extra auto focus points (which are superfluous except for sport). Ask yourself how often do you switch from the center AF point? K-3 has got even more AF points- big deal ! I thought the image quality of the D7100 was a backward step from the D7000, high ISO was better too.

2 upvotes
KZMike

The S has everything I need [Time Lapse too], EXCEPT a LCD that moves/articulates. . . ughhh!!!!

0 upvotes
Kfrog

The auto focus in low light is better and the redesign of the rear LCD has been change for better viewing in bright light. Not much else as far as I know. I purchased the K-5II because I often take photos in low light situations and can use all the help I can get!

0 upvotes
dousanmiaography

Seriously, what is the difference between K-5 and K-5II? Every single specification are the same.

0 upvotes
Rutterbutter

The removal of an anti-aliasing filter. this allows for sharper images in the II but sacrifices the tendency to produce moire.

0 upvotes
Old Baldy

errrr. from the review "Pentax took a great camera and upgraded it with a faster autofocus system, an improved LCD, and largely left the rest alone - save for the effective removal of the low-pass filter in the K-5 IIS"

1 upvote
JeffAHayes

It has faster autofocusing, dousan. It has added AF sensitivity, as well, enabling it to autofocus down as low as -3 EV (making it one of only 2 cameras, APS-C OR FF, amateur, enthusiast OR PRO, with such sensitive low-light AF prior to Pentax's release of the K-3, which has the same low-light AF capability). Many Pentax shooters who've had all three cameras say it's the sharpest of the bunch, as far as pics go -- especially at higher ISOs. And, of course, the K-5 IIs also has NO anti-aliasing filter, which DEFINITELY makes for sharper pictures, but could ALSO mean you end up with MOIRE in some pictures (which Photoshop MAY be able to remove, so it's probably not the end of the world in most cases, anyway).

So IF you have a K-5 IIs, it has NO AA filter, which means ALL your shots will be a bit sharper and for most that won't present a moire issue.

Those are the major improvements of which I'm aware. I'm still deciding if I want one as a new second camera now that I have the K-3.
Jeff

1 upvote
PhotoRoy5

Can you see the moire in the view finder? I looking for the K-5 IIs as I already have a K-5 II. I need a second bosy so I don't have to change lenses

0 upvotes
Total comments: 20