Pentax K-5 In-depth Review
21 Conclusion & Samples
Conclusion - Pros
- Good detail and dynamic range (even better in RAW)
- Exceptionally low shadow noise in RAW files at low ISOs
- One of the best APS-C DSLRs in terms of high ISO image quality
- Very good build quality and handling
- Maximum ISO of 51,200 at full resolution
- Excellent burst depth in RAW mode (with firmware 1.0.1)
- 1080p HD video mode with basic editing built-in
- Useful electronic level and composition adjustment functions
- Comprehensive customization options including adjustable NR for each ISO
- Large, bright viewfinder with 100% coverage
- Fast contrast detect Auto Focus in Live View
- Versatile (but poorly documented) auto ISO function
Conclusion - Cons
- AF system not as versatile as Nikon D7000 (which is a cheaper camera)
- Lockable exposure mode dial can be annoying
- No dedicated movie shooting button
- No AF during movie shooting
- Poorly implemented live histogram in live view/manual exposure mode (doesn't show final exposure)
- No 'live' aperture control during movie shooting
- Shadow Correction mode doesn't take full advantage of K-5's sensor
- Jaggies can be a problem along very fine diagonal lines
We liked the older Pentax K-7 a lot, and our only significant criticism was its relatively poor high ISO performance. The new K-5 brings all the things that we liked about the K-7 - the compact, solid body, and generally well thought-out ergonomics, and excellent feature set - but adds substantially better image quality, in both still and movie modes, and a host of other improvements. In our opinion this makes it one of the best APS-C DSLRs currently on the market.
Image quality is now up there with the best of its competition, and all of the K-5's key systems are reliable and effective. Throw really nice ergonomics into the mixture and you have a compelling little camera that we have really enjoyed using.
We have some minor criticisms, listed in the 'cons' above, but none of them constitute a good reason not to seriously consider a K-5. The most irksome of them is the lack of a direct video shooting button, which hamstrings the K-5's video mode, making it much less spontaneous than it should be.
The K-5 has a very similar sensor inside it to the Nikon D7000's, and like the Nikon, the K-5 displays excellent image quality across almost its entire ISO span. Things fall apart a bit above ISO 6400, but careful tweaking of the NR settings (or even better, shooting in RAW mode) will enable you to get acceptable results out of the K-5 even up to ISO 25,600. The ability to fine-tune noise reduction to every ISO setting is very valuable here.
Detail capture is excellent (although you'll have to put some very good glass on the front of the camera to get the full benefit) and dynamic range is wide. We'd recommend keeping highlight protection switched on by default - the increase in mid-tone and shadow noise is academic at the most commonly used ISO settings, and it really helps to preserve highlight detail.
The K-5 is small but perfectly formed. The magnesium alloy body shell is rigid and the whole camera has a feeling of reassuring solidity which belies its dimensions. In general we love the way that the K-5 is designed. All of the major controls fall easily to hand, and the positioning of the various control points is very sensible. The only issue we have is the relegation of movie mode to the exposure mode dial. Now that the K-5 can capture full HD video we feel that this function is useful enough to be given much more prominence in the ergonomics.
The Final Word
It is hard to find a negative thing to say about the Pentax K-5. Most of our criticisms are very minor, and as a consequence we would wholeheartedly recommend the camera to any Pentax user. It is an interesting camera, with an excellent feature set, and one which is capable of producing images which are up there with the best of its competition. It is fast, responsive, and very enjoyable to use, and its key systems are as reliable as we would expect from a camera at this level and price point.
Speaking of price point though, the K-5 is a very expensive camera right now, and although we consider that it is good value from a Pentax-users perspective, there is no doubt that such a high asking price (currently around $300 higher than the Nikon D7000, which has a similar sensor and boasts a significantly more versatile AF system) will put some people off. It should be noted though that the prices of the K20D and K-7 also started high but soon dropped - the K-5 will almost certainly come down in price in the coming months.
The K-5 is a no-brainer upgrade from a K-x or earlier Pentax DSLR, but obviously, for users of other systems it is harder to justify, and price is only part of the reason for that. Importantly, Pentax has some way to go before it can market a system as complete as those offered by Canon and Nikon. That's not to say that the system itself is at all restrictive, and in some ways (most notably the lovely 'Limited' range of high-quality prime lenses) it's unique. One other thing that we love about the Pentax system is that it is so backwards-compatible; there is a lot of fun to be had in mounting older, manual focus optics on the K-5, both for still and video capture.
Ultimately, we have no hesitation in recommending the Pentax K-5 to anyone - not only existing Pentax users, and despite its high cost (for the moment- we expect it to drop once the K-7 leaves dealers' shelves) it earns a solid gold award. A note on categories though - the K-5 is a hard product to categorise. Although it competes with the Nikon D7000 and even the Canon EOS 60D in some respects, it's introductory price clearly indicates that Pentax wants the K-5 to be viewed alongside the likes of the Nikon D300S and Canon EOS 7D. For this reason we have classified the K-5 as a semi-pro model (as we did the K-7), and scored it accordingly.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.
Category: Semi-professional Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
The Pentax K-5's compact, solid body, generally well thought-out ergonomics, comprehensive feature set, and excellent image quality, in both still and movie modes make it one of the best APS-C DSLRs currently on the market.
There are 30 images in the samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. A reduced size image (within 1024 x 1024 bounds) is provided to be more easily viewed in your browser. As always the original untouched image is available by clicking on this reduced image.
Pentax K-5 Review Samples
Importing, culling and tagging photos is about to get a whole lot faster and look a whole lot better with the impending arrival of Photo Mechanic 6.
On its own, the FTZ adapter retails for $250 and when bundled it dropped the cost to just $150. Now, Nikon is offering it for free with all Z6, Z7 purchases in the United States.
Profoto said it spoke with Godox back at Photokina 2018 and continues to contact Godox in an effort to stop it from marketing its V1 light.
Product renders in Italian publication Notebook Italia show an unusual design that conceals all cameras with the help of a slider mechanism.
Canon says its new EF 400mm F2.8L IS III and EF 600mm F4L IS III lenses can suffer from an intermittent flickering when shooting video in M or Av modes with certain cameras.
Leica recently announced the Q2, a digital rangefinder with a fixed 28mm F1.7 lens. It's a heck of a lot of fun to shoot with, but is it right for you? Based on our time with the camera, and its specifications, we've examined how well-suited it is for common photography use-cases.
Now that our Panasonic Lumix S1R has final firmware, we couldn't wait to get out shooting with it - and we also tried the high-res mode, which combines files to get 187 megapixel images. Because sometimes, 47 megapixels just isn't enough.
DroneShield has announced a partnership with NASCAR to use its trifecta of drone-disabling technology at events held at Texas Motor Speedway.
In this article, travel and landscape photographer Mitch Green encourages us to spend more time in the the field.
the lens lacks any electronics whatsoever and is constructed entirely of glass and metal. Of course, that comes at the expense of weight — this thing weighs in at 1.1kg / 2.43lbs.
Drones can be useful tools in urban areas, where they're utilized for everything from news reporting to building inspections, but flying in these areas requires careful preparation. Here's what you need to know to do so safely.
Hasselblad has released a new cable release and USB double battery charger for its X1D medium format camera .
After a report published by NBC News, Flickr has taken heat for allegedly letting IBM 'scrape' photos for use in its facial recognition datasets. But the problem isn't what it seems on the surface.
Samyang has announced the impending arrival of the AF 85mm F1.4 FE lens for full-frame Sony cameras.
Some Photoshop shortcuts are simple and obvious. Others, not so much. Here are 15 shortcuts that are actually useful.
Twitter has redesigned its in-app camera for easier access from the timeline screen.
Independent cinema lens manufacturer SLR Magic has announced it will offer all of its existing MicroPrime range in the Fujifilm X mount and has even created a Fuji-specific 12mm lens.
We've updated our buying guides with three more cameras: the Canon EOS RP, Nikon Z6 and Olympus E-M1X.
CFexpress 2.0 cards will come in three different form factors, each of which will offer different maximum speeds.
Lensbaby has added a third tilt lens to its Optic Swap system, this time a 35mm lens, adding to the existing 50mm and 80mm options.
Sigma has released firmware updates for a number of its lenses as well as its EF-E adapter to address various errors and features with Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras.
We've added the Fujifilm X-T30 and Sony a6400 to our 'Best Cameras under $1000' buying guide. These two mirrorless models pack in a lot of features for just $900 body only.
Instagram, Facebook and other Facebook-owned services are down for users around the world.
Think Tank Photo has unveiled its new Vision series of shoulder bags, including the Vision 10, Vision 13 and Vision 15.
The OPPO Reno series will be launched on April 10 but some details have already been spotted on the web.
Insta360 has unveiled its latest camera, as well as a new VR headset app and a specialized smartphone cover that makes it possible to view 3D video on standard smartphones.
A fresh crop of ready-for-anything compacts has been added to our buying guide – just in time for Spring Break.
At the Hydrogen One launch RED promised a range of bolt-on modules designed to expand the device's feature set. However, there is now doubt if those modules will ever be released.
Due to growing concerns about drones around regulated airspace, no-fly zones in the United Kingdom will be more than four times larger than before starting March 13.
Huawei clearly hasn't learned its lesson and once again has been busted for trying to pass off DSLR photos as images taken with one of its upcoming smartphones.