Almost a year with the Pentax K-50.

Started Dec 10, 2015 | User reviews thread
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The Squirrel Mafia
The Squirrel Mafia Regular Member • Posts: 479
Almost a year with the Pentax K-50.

About a year ago, I was on the fence about getting a Sony A77II DSLT to replace my Sony A200 DSLR. However, the A77II was a bit pricey & I figured that I wasn't ready to spend that much on a new body alone, plus a couple of my Sony lenses had seen better days. I started to look around at other options & saw the K-50. I looked at the specs, read some reviews, & decided that I was going to get a couple of them along with some lenses.

What can I say? It has been very good. The K-50 is such a capable underrated camera. You can get the body alone for about +-$250 or about +-$300 with the 18-55 kit lens brand spanking new if you search hard enough on Google. The prices are dirt cheap low. It offers so much bang for the buck that it's almost borderline ridiculous!

Lets see what you get. You get weather sealing! If it rains, who cares! If you get splashed on, who cares! As long as you have a weather sealed lens attached to the K-50, you can shoot at your hearts content. The other 2 do not give you weather sealing at this price point. A 100% large pentaprism viewfinder so you can compose your images well. Basically what you see in the viewfinder is what you get. It's bright & clear. You can't get this from the other 2 DSLR manufacturers within this price range. You get 2 control dials! Count them: TWO! You can change settings faster as you're shooting instead of fumbling with menus or holding an additional button while turning the control dial. Once again, the other 2 don't give you those 2 control dials at this price range. The camera has IBIS (in body image stabilization) known as SR (shake reduction). This means that any lens that you put on the camera will be stabilized to a certain degree. It still takes technique or a tripod for some longer lenses and/or when shooting in low light or near subjects. You have to buy more expensive image stabilized lenses from the other 2 DSLR manufacturers. A relatively fast shutter speed of 1/6000. It's more faster than the average 1/4000 cameras out there at this price point. This means you can stop the action pretty well or shoot a wider aperture in more light with the faster shutter speed. One final thing. You can use all Pentax K-mount legacy glass from long ago! Yes, you will have to fiddle with a few camera settings to get some of them to work, but you'll be able to use those old lenses that are lying around the house or those dirt cheap manual primes that you can score on eBay. The other 2 can't really offer that at this price point. These are just some of the awesome features that you get in this camera. The video feature in this camera is the only thing that is not so great. Get a video camera instead. Enough said.

What about image quality? The 16MP Sony sensor is an excellent sensor. The jpegs that that you get out of here have pretty good color rendition. Often times people seem to find the K-50's OOC (out of camera) jpegs more pleasing than lets say out of a Nikon or Canon. This is coming from Nikon & Canon owners that I know.

What about high ISO performance? Well, this is where the OOC jpegs get tricky. The ISO 100 to 800 OOC jpegs look pretty great & ISO 1600 OOC jpegs look good, but once you start hitting ISO 3200, the image quality starts degrading. The images look blotchy even with the noise reduction turned off. If you turn on the noise reduction, the fine detail is completely wiped out. However, if you shoot in RAW, you can get some really good looking ISO 1600 to ISO 12800 images after post processing the RAW files in Adobe Lightroom, RawTherapee, Darktable, or whatever you use. You regain a lot of the lost fine details & the reds are handled better. I will shoot up to ISO 6400 when I have to & use ISO 12800 in a pinch, but I try to stay in the ISO 100 to 1600 range most of the time.

How large can I print? It depends on if you're willing to post process the RAW file to get a larger print or settle with the OOC jpeg for a smaller print. These sizes are without cropping the photo.

OOC jpegs:
ISO 100 to 200 = 24x36
ISO 400 = 20x30
ISO 800 = 16x20
ISO 1600 = 11x14
ISO 3200 = 8x10
ISO 6400 = 5x7
ISO 12800 = 4x6
ISO 25600 to 51200 is useless

If you are willing to post process the RAW file carefully, this is what you can get out of the K-50. These are on the extreme end of what I consider good looking prints. These sizes are without cropping the photo.

Processed RAW images:
ISO 100 to 400 = 30x45 (borderline pixelation at this size, but look great when viewed from a reasonable distance)
ISO 800 to 1600 = 24x36
ISO 3200 = 20x30
ISO 6400 = 16x24
ISO 12800 = 11x17
ISO 25600 = 8x10
ISO 51200 = 6x9

Even though the RAW files are 12 bit, the amount of detail that you recover from a high ISO RAW file is incredible. The post processed print sizes will give you an idea of how much detail is recovered. There is a bit more grain in the processed images, but it's a really fine pleasant looking grain. Adobe Lightroom seems to produce the best results. Depending on the democaising & noise reduction used, RawTherapee & Darktable will also deliver very good results.

The other 2 manufacturers do give you more megapixels, but this comes at a cost of having larger file sizes. When you have larger file sizes, it takes a bit longer to process them in your favorite program & they take up more space on your hard drive. Unless you want to print larger pictures or plan on doing some heavy cropping, the 16MP Sony sensor will satisfy the majority of people that print normal sized pictures without having extremely large files.

How well does it shoot? This camera can autofocus pretty well most of the time. It will struggle a bit in very low light. Sometimes you will have to flip the switch to manual & focus the lens yourself. For the most part, most people shouldn't have problems shooting subjects with this camera. Catching your kids around the house is relatively easy with this camera provided there is enough light. The autofocus speed also depends on the lens being used. The screw drive lenses are a bit loud when focusing. Continuous autofocus is OK, but it's not that great. It's not a high action sports or a BIF (bird in flight) camera, but it does OK in those areas. Autofocus is the one area where Nikon beats the pants off of Pentax. Pentax still has a bit to catch up in autofocus capabilities, but it's not bad. One more thing, the shutter produces a heavy "thwack" sound that might be a bit loud at times.

As for me, everything about the K-50 has been a step up from my old Sony A200. I loved that Sony camera, but as the ISO climbed, the noise got worse. To give you an idea, ISO 6400 on the K-50 looks a tad bit better than ISO 1600 on the A200. My old A200 topped out at ISO 3200 & it was pretty much unusable. However, now I can shoot up to ISO 12800 on the K-50 & the images still look a tad bit better than the ISO 3200 images from the A200. The only 2 things I miss from the Sony A200 are the eye sensor on the viewfinder that would shut off the rear LCD screen when I put the camera to my eye & ISO 100. There is something magical about the 10MP CCD Sony A200 sensor at ISO 100. There is virtually ZERO noise at ISO 100 & the colors are amazing, but I can't get a 30x45 print out of the A200. The K-50 wins again.

Overall, this is a great inexpensive rugged camera that can deliver good images. If you're looking for a cheap camera that is very capable at producing some excellent stills for very little money, look no further. This is the camera that you have been looking for.

 The Squirrel Mafia's gear list:The Squirrel Mafia's gear list
Pentax K-50 Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM Pentax smc DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL WR Pentax smc DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED WR Pentax smc DA 35mm F2.4 AL +1 more
Pentax K-50
16 megapixels • 3 screen • APS-C sensor
Announced: Jun 12, 2013
The Squirrel Mafia's score
Average community score
bad for good for
Kids / pets
Action / sports
Landscapes / scenery
Low light (without flash)
Flash photography (social)
Studio / still life
= community average
Pentax K-50
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