Coming barely a year after the introduction of their fine K-30 model, Pentax was wise enough to not stray from the formula of specifications and features that made the K-30 so desirable in rolling out the new K-50. By the same token, the new camera raises the bar only minimally over performance levels enjoyed by present K-30 owners, principally through the addition of an Eye Fi card capability for wireless transmission of images. The new camera picks up an extra stop of ISO sensitivity, 51200, that will seldom be used and is available in 120 color combinations via special order program. The good news here is that the K-50 retains all the positives attributable to the K-30: very good still image quality, a 6 fps continuous shooting capability, full HD video capability, in-body stabilization, weather sealing, decent ISO noise performance and a fairly capable autofocus system. The better news is the K-50 MSRP is a fair chunk less than that of the K-30 when it was first introduced (and that K-30 bodies are currently deeply discounted, assuming you can even find one).
The bad news is what we didn’t like about the K-30 (which wasn’t much and is largely video related) has not been changed in the K-50: Pentax still hasn’t figured out a way to employ continuous autofocus during video capture in their DSLR. You can reestablish focus manually during video capture, but the process is slow and noisy; the camera is still a little slow to respond when you initially set the mode dial for video capture. The 18-55 f: 3.5-5.6 mm kit lens supplied with the K-50 features a “simplified weather-resistant construction” but produced disappointing sharpness at maximum aperture. This issue is addressed easily by closing down the lens at least one stop when shooting, but at the expense of making an already slow lens even slower. There’s lots of Pentax and third-party glass available for the K-50 and swapping the kit lens for a higher performance model is a viable alternative.
I’m not sure K-30 owners will be rushing out to trade into a K-50 in order to acquire an Eye-Fi capability missing from their current platform, but folks looking for a new or first-time DSLR can rest assured the K-50 is a worthy successor to the K-30, and that’s a ringing endorsement indeed.
- Very good still image quality
- Eye-Fi wireless compatibility
- Good continuous shooting speed
- In-body stabilization
- Weather sealed
- No continuous AF during video capture
- Video on the slow side to initiate
- Kit lens lacks sharpness at maximum aperture