PENTAX today announced the newest update to its family of DSLRs - the top-of-the-line K-5 camera body. A high-end "prosumer" camera, the K-5 is an evolutionary update to the previous K-7 flagship model. Is the refresh worth the cost? DCR got to spend a little hands-on time with the K-5. Read on for our thoughts.
Pentax K-7...minus two
The K-5 is essentially a K-7 that's been modified to address some of the camera's outstanding issues and feature requests. The body has remained largely unmodified; aside from a few tweaks, most of the K-5's changes are internal.
One noticeable change to the outside body, however, is the increased height of the mode selector dial. Pentax felt that the dial on the K-7 was a little too short to be truly comfortable so they added an additional row of notches, increasing the height by roughly 25%.
I only had a few minutes with the K-5, but the new dial makes a noticeable difference. Comparing it to the K-7 sitting here, the K-7 can be a bit of a pain to change settings with one hand.
All of the rest of the buttons and dials are in the same place as on the K-5's predecessor, so both experienced users and camera novitiates would have no problem switching between the two.
The pentaprism viewfinder offers nearly 100% coverage with a magnification factor of 0.92X.
Like the K-7, the K-5 has a very solid, magnesium-clad, stainless steel body. It's completely weather-sealed, which means that with the right (read - weather-sealed) glass, it's possible to take a few shots even in rain or snow.
The screen on the rear is only slightly different from the previous generation - it's still three inches, measured diagonally, but it does have 921,000 dots instead of roughly 920,000.
Sony style sensor
In the heart of the new K-5 is a Sony sensor said to give performance equivalent to the 645D - Pentax's attempt at a digital medium format camera. At 16.5MP, the new sensor offers a slight resolution upgrade over the previous K-7.
More importantly, however, is the fact that the low-light performance, a weak spot in the K-7 setup, is said to be vastly improved. That was probably important for Pentax, since the low-end K-x was widely considered to have weaker high-light performance but better low-light performance. When your $500 camera can best your flagship, that's a problem.
Other upgrades over the K-7 include a new autofocus system, which Pentax considered to be improved enough to give it a version increase, making this the SAFOX IX+. The K-7 used the SAFOX VIII+, which also had an 11-point system, but slower.
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