Shaking up the market: Pentax K-70 Review
The Pentax K-70 is a mid-level DSLR that takes the basic architecture of their existing K-S2 and adds a new 24MP AA-filterless CMOS sensor with on-sensor PDAF, and a slew of other improvements. The sensor is cradled by Pentax's famous 'Shake Reduction' in-body image stabilization system, and is protected from the elements thanks to weather-sealing and dustproofing. Clever use of the 'SR' unit enables the Pentax to perform a few tricks, such as the AA-filter simulator that reduces moiré and Pixel Shift Resolution that cancels out the Bayer color filter array by shifting the sensor one pixel in each direction, resulting in improved color detail and less noise.
There's also an improved image processor that enables the K-70 to shoot 14 bit Raw at 6 frames per second, which works in tandem with an 11-point autofocus system. The central nine points of the AF system are cross-type, and are sensitive down to -3EV.
Just this handful of headline features should make the K-70, at its starting price of $649.95 for the body, good value for money. Its competition, the Nikon D5500 and the Canon EOS Rebel T6i, don't offer up nearly as many features for the price. Let's take a closer look:
|Pentax K-70||Canon Rebel T6i||Nikon D5500|
|Launch price (with long zoom kit lens)||$899.95
(18-135mm F3.5-5.6 WR)
(18-135mm F3.5-5.6 STM)
(18-140mm F3.5-5.6 VR)
|ISO range||Auto, 100-102400||Auto, 100-12800 (expandable to 25600)||Auto, 100 - 25600|
|Focus Points||11 (9 cross-type)||19 (all cross-type)||39 (9 cross-type)|
|Articulated LCD||Fully articulated||Fully articulated||Fully articulated|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||410||440||820|
|Live View Hybrid AF||Yes||No||No|
|Weight||688 g (24.3 oz)||555 g (19.6 oz)||420 g (14.8 oz)|
(0.63x in FF terms)
(0.51x in FF terms)
(0.55x in FF terms)
As we can see, the Pentax represents a serious value for money. It offers complete (twin-dial) DSLR controls in a segment where most make do with just one. It has the largest viewfinder here and is the only one to offer full coverage of the scene. Plus, it is the only to offer in-body stabilization and on-sensor phase detection autofocus.
As a consequence of the big, prism-type viewfinder and internal stabilization, it also ends up being the heaviest camera and comes with with the shortest battery life. On the face of it, the autofocus system appears behind the other two in terms of number of points, with the Nikon leading the way. When cross-type points are taken in to consideration, the Canon takes the lead with its 19 cross type points, while the Pentax and the Nikon both have only 9 cross-type points. On the other hand, the Pentax is the only one to offer the increasingly necessary (with DSLRs) AF fine adjustment. More on that later.
For those that would rather not mess with adjusting autofocus, there are plenty of mirrorless options for the price of the Pentax. The quick Sony a6000 comes to mind, as does the similarly well equipped Olympus E-M10 II (IBIS and twin dials). If weight is an issue, the mirrorless options as a whole will offer a big decrease in weight and size, and in some cases a great increase in overall operation speed. For those wanting something more traditional and chunkier, though, the Pentax seems promising.
What the mirrorless options, and even the DSLR options, won't be is a near indestructible, weatherproof camera. So, is the Pentax K-70 as good as its features promise?
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