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Operation and Controls

In terms of its operation and controls, the K-5 II is all but identical to the K-5 and K-7 before that. As far as the number and arrangements of control points are concerned, there are no external differences whatsoever. This is good news - as far as operational handling is concerned, these cameras are quite pleasurable to use. We like the balance of manual control and screen-led operation, and unlike similar interfaces in some other DSLRs, the 'info' status screen (shown below) is not only useful but also colorful and unintimidating.

Rear controls

Despite the large 3-inch LCD screen, Pentax has managed to find room for an impressive number of buttons on the back of the K-5 II. As well as the AF pattern switch and live view button, the rear of the K-5 II also plays host to the secondary control dial, AE lock button and - upper left - the playback and delete buttons. All of these buttons have a relatively shallow travel, but without the dry 'click' which characterizes control points on lower-end Pentax DSLRs such as the K-r. If we have one criticism it would be that the buttons themselves are rather small, and as such, can be hard to manipulate precisely with cold or gloved fingers.

Both front and rear control dials can be customized, but by default, the rear dial is the primary control input for aperture in manual exposure, Av and TAv modes, as well as the zoom control in image playback mode.

Also visible in this view is the K-5's AF mode switch. With it set to 'SEL', you can easily change the active AF point with the camera to your eye, simply by using the 4-way controller. A quick press of the OK button flicks the AF point to the center of the 11-point array, while a longer press changes the mode of the 4-way controller to access the functions marked on the buttons. Once you've made any changes, a quick press of 'OK' switches back to AF-point selection mode.

Top right controls

On the top right of the camera we have the front dial, which is angled slightly upwards, and by default, adjusts shutter speed in Tv and manual exposure modes. Behind this is the shutter release button, surrounded by the main power switch which also serves a preview function (optical or digital - live view has its own button on the camera back). Also here are the recessed exposure compensation and dedicated ISO buttons.

Top left controls

As with previous high-end Pentax cameras, the K-5 II has an excellent selection of external controls (including levers to specify metering mode, AF point selection method, and focus mode). It also has an exposure mode dial that plays host to the conventional PASM options (P and M double as Hyper Program and Hyper Manual in collaboration with the green button on the rear of the camera - more on these functions below) and three Pentax-only shooting modes - Sensitivity Priority and Shutter-and-Aperture Priority. Also selectable from this wheel is a customizable 'USER' mode (it is possible to save up to 5 profiles) and movie mode.

The exposure mode dial locks into place at each of its detents, and can be released by pressing the button at its center. We're ambivalent about this - the lockable design prevents accidental rotation, but it also means that there is an additional button to press when you want to change modes quickly.

It's a shame there is no direct movie shooting button on the K-5 body - instead, you must unlock the exposure mode dial and rotate it to the movie shooting position before you are able to capture video. You get used to it, but it isn't the most spontaneous way of working and can result in missed video opportunities.

Hyper modes

The 'hyper' in Hyper Program and Hyper Manual refers to the function of the green button in program and manual exposure modes. In P (hyper program) mode, rotating the front or rear dial quickly switches the camera into shutter priority (front dial) or aperture priority (rear dial) modes. To return back to full Program mode just press the green button on the back of the camera. This simple but effective method of going between the three exposure modes is very clever, and unique to Pentax.

Note that you can change the program-line from a 'standard' one to hi-speed (favors higher shutter speeds), depth-of-field (favors smaller apertures) or MTF (selects the optimum aperture for the lens used). In manual mode, pressing the green button sets the shutter speed and aperture as they would be in program mode (using the metered value and selected program-line).

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Total comments: 22
ranferi rodriguez

I love my K5IIs.

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

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.


Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting

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?

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

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

Comment edited 47 seconds after posting

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.....


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.


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.


a little late, I know, but just out of curiosity, what did you do ? Fall into water or just heavy rain or...?


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.

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

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...??

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?


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.


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


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!


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


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

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

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.

1 upvote

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

Total comments: 22