Supplied software

The K-5 comes with the PENTAX Digital Camera Utility 4, which consolidates the Photo Browser and Photo Laboratory applications provided with pre-K-7 Pentax DSLRs. Instead of having to use different applications you can select between the Laboratory and Browser tabs to access to the tools previously associated with each package. There is also a custom view which allows you to create your own customized screen with a combination of your most used/favorite functions.

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Digital Camera Utility 4 software is based on the 3rd-party application Silkypix and as such is one of the most comprehensive, if not particularly user-friendly, bundled image software packages around. Of course you get all the usual parameters in RAW conversion but there are also more advanced tools such as perspective correction. The browsing element works well too and it also includes batch processing options. Some photographers might feel the need to invest even more in a new RAW converter after splashing out on their new DSLR, but Pentax Digital Camera Utility 4 offers most, if not all, of the capabilities of 3rd-party options (although it is worth noting that many of them are easier and faster to use than PDCU 4).

This is Digital Camera Utility 4's 'Laboratory' screen. From here you've got access to all the usual image processing parameters such as white balance, noise reduction, tone curve etc. In the 'Browser' view you can apply one, two or three check marks to images, and then run batch processes on the selected images, even if they are located in different folders.
The software includes a perspective correction tool that can, to a degree, simulate the effects of a shift lens. As we's expect from software based on Silkypix, Digital Camera Utility 4 offers a higher degree of control over the application of noise reduction than the in-camera settings.

RAW conversion

As is normal in our digital SLR reviews we like to compare the supplied RAW conversion software with third part option/s and the default JPEG output. In the case of the Pentax K-5 we used the supplied PENTAX Camera Utility 4 as well as Adobe Camera RAW 6.3.

  • JPEG - Large/Fine, Default settings
  • PDCU 4 - PENTAX Digital Camera Utility 4 (version 4.30)
  • ACR - Adobe Camera RAW 6.3 (at default 'Adobe Standard' setting)
  • DXO - DXO Optics Pro 6.5 (at default conversion settings, exposure/geometric corrections 'off')

Sharpness and Detail

At default settings, Pentax Digital Camera Utility 4 gets the most from the K-5's RAW files, although a bit of tweaking of the sharpening settings in both Adobe Camera RAW and DXO Optics Pro 6 yields equally detailed results. As we'd expect, PDCU's color and contrast rendering is extremely close to the in-camera JPEGs, but of course, shooting in RAW mode and processing through PDCU 4 gives you much more control over the niceties of noise reduction and sharpening.

Interestingly, all three images here show some slight but noticeable 'stepping' of diagonal detail. This is only visible at 100% on screen (or perhaps at correspondingly massive print sizes) but is unusual, and suggests that the K-5 has a particularly light anti-aliasing filter. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, since it means that a lot of detail is transmitted to its 16MP sensor, but it is clear that the K-5's JPEG engine has difficulty rendering very fine diagonal lines. Pentax's Digital Camera Utility 4 gives virtually identical results to the in-camera JPEG, but the same effect can be seen in images converted using DXO Optics Pro and ACR 6.3 as well (although it is masked slightly by their lower default sharpness).

DXO Optics Pro 6.5 RAW -> TIFF (Default output settings, all exposure and geometric corrections 'off')
ISO 80 studio scene 100% crops
Adobe ACR 6.3 RAW -> TIFF (Default output settings)
ISO 80 studio scene 100% crops
Pentax Digital Camera Utility 4 RAW -> TIFF (Default output settings)
ISO 80 studio scene 100% crops
JPEG out of camera, High quality setting, manual WB (all other settings default)
ISO 80 studio scene 100% crop


Our test chart contains diagonal lines, but of a relatively low frequency compared to vertical/horizontal, and too low to show up the jaggies visible in the images above (which is why we're only showing horizontal resolution here). As you can see, detail is high from both RAW converters and in-camera JPEG. Remember that unlike the images on our resolution page, for this example we're looking at ACR and PDCU 4's default output settings.

At their respective defaults, both RAW converters are capable of getting slightly more out of the K-5's sensor than its in-camera JPEG engine is, but the difference in actual detail capture isn't enormous. Adobe Camera Raw is able to describe a little more detail up to the Nyquist limit, but only a little. In terms of horizontal resolution, DXO Optics Pro 6.5 gives the best result (accompanied by a little more moire patterning) but only by a whisker.

Adobe Camera RAW 6.3 PDCU 4
DXO Optics Pro 6.5 JPEG Large/Fine

Real world advantages

While we used the converters' default settings for the studio shots above we played with the parameters for optimal results during the conversion of this real life shot. Some careful sharpening in Adobe ACR generates visibly more detail than the in-camera JPEGs. That said, the difference is not enormous. Assuming that you shoot with a decent lens, the K-5's JPEG engine does a good job and squeezes a lot of the available detail out of the captured RAW data.

JPEG from Camera
(default sharpening)
ACR conversion
(Sharpening 70, radius 1.0, detail 35)

RAW files for download

Here we provide RAW files from the sample shots we take, to allow you to apply your own workflow techniques and see whether your experiences match ours.