Body and Design

The K-5 II (shown on this page) and K-5 IIS are almost indistinguishable from the older K-5. The body shape, construction quality and control layout are all identical. When we reviewed the Pentax K-5 we were impressed by the reassuring solidity of its magnesium-alloy body and the same is true of the new models. Despite their relatively small dimensions, their excellent build quality and well thought-out user interface makes them feel like a professional tools.

The top of the Pentax K-5 II is simple, with a locking mode dial, metering selection dial, hot shoe, a status display, EV adjustment button, ISO button and power switch surrounding the shutter button.

Side by side

The K-5 II is noticeably smaller than competitive cameras like Nikon D7100, and its modest proportions and angular design lend it a somewhat 'retro' appearance. Pick up the K-5 II, though, and this impression vanishes. The K-5 II has one of our favorite body styles and user interfaces. The K-5 is shown below, but the body size is the same.

In your hand

For a relatively small camera, the K-5 II is solid and well constructed, and has a reassuring weight. All of the major controls fall readily to hand, and we especially like the positioning of the ISO button just behind the shutter release and the physical switch for AF pattern on the rear of the camera. The rear control dial is well-placed too - easy to reach with the thumb of your right hand, but not directly underneath the thumbgrip, where it might get rotated by accident.

Viewfinder specs and view

One figure hidden away in every SLR's spec is the size of the viewfinder (often in a format that makes comparison between competing models impossible). The size of the viewfinder is a key factor in the usability of an SLR - the bigger it is, the easier it is to frame and focus your shots, and the more enjoyable and involving a process it is.

Because of the way viewfinders are measured (using a fixed lens, rather than a lens of equivalent magnification), you also need to take the sensor size into account, so the numbers in the diagram below are the manufacturer's specified magnifications divided by the respective 'crop factors'. The K5 II offers 0.92x magnification and 100% coverage which makes this a very pleasant viewfinder to frame your pictures with.

The Pentax K-5 II viewfinder size is more or less on par with other cameras in the enthusiast bracket. It is marginally smaller than the Nikon D7100's but larger than viewfinders in the entry level class which is represented by the Pentax K-r in this diagram.

Viewfinder crop

Most cameras at this level crop the frame slightly when you look through the viewfinder - in other words you get slightly more in the final picture than you see through the viewfinder. The K-5 II, in contrast, offers a 100% view (approx) of the scene to be captured.

Interestingly, the viewfinder of the K-5 II is some way off being completely neutral in color - it has a distinctly warm color rendition. This is far from unpleasant, and might in fact go completely unnoticed in normal shooting, but it does make the scene in front of the camera look slightly warmer than it actually is. This is worth remembering when shooting on particularly dull days.

Pentax K-5 II: 100% viewfinder.