Pentax K-5 II review

Features

Image: There is a good level of in-camera edits. From the original JPEG image shot at ISO 25,600, a cyanotype filter has been added, the image cropped and the exposure brightened +1EV

There have been many variations of Sony's APS-C-sized 16-million-pixel sensor - think the Nikon D7000, Pentax K-5 and Sony Alpha 57 - and two years later there are still cameras being released that use it. The reason for this is that it is very good. The K-5 II features a revised version of the 16.3-million-pixel Sony CMOS sensor used in the K-5. The company claims the revisions are for improved video use, while stills photographers are unlikely to notice any difference. There is 14-bit raw capture available in the universally accepted DNG format or Pentax's own PEF format, with file sizes in the region of 30MB.

Image stabilisation up to 3EV is provided in-camera through sensor-shift shake reduction, and all K-mount Pentax lenses can make use of this. Other benefits that come from the sensor-shift include basic composition adjustment modes, such as auto horizon correction. Also, with the optional GPS unit attached (O-GPS1), the astrotracer function is available. This function can eliminate star trails during long exposures. We explored astrotracer in more detail in the Pentax K-30 review (see AP 4 August 2012).

The K-5 II offers a host of useful shooting modes. There are seven digital filters, including toy camera, retro and a user-defined effect. HDR capture can be achieved in any one of four strengths or auto, and with an auto-align function enabled through sensor-shift. Provided one shoots in raw capture, though, there is little need to select any of these modes. This is because the K-5 II offers an excellent range of in-camera edits, so all these effects can be applied post-capture. Also, if the last image taken on the camera is a JPEG file, there is even a raw data-retrieval function.

A copy can be made from the original raw file through in-camera raw editing, where changes to the colour mode, white balance, ISO (±2EV), noise reduction, distortion corrections and shadow corrections can be made. The file can then be converted to JPEG or TIFF format.

As well as the picture effects, other in-camera effects include multiple exposure for up to nine frames with the option of auto EV adjustment. Interval timer offers a user-defined start time and up to a 999-frame capture. The drive mode menu is packed with options, too, including remote (for single, delay and continuous shooting), exposure bracketing (which can be combined with delay and remote) and mirror up (which can be combined with remote). Continuous high-speed shooting up to 7fps is likely to please action photographers. Of course, the memory card in use affects the performance of the camera in this mode. With a Class 10 UH-I SDHC card with 95MB/S write speed, I found up to 21-frame burst in full resolution raw + JPEG capture was possible, or a 30-frame burst in JPEG only. For raw + JPEG capture, the buffer takes around 30secs to clear, or less than 10secs in the JPEG-only burst, but the camera can be used while the buffer clears.

All in all, the K-5 II is definitely geared to the enthusiast photographer, who is likely to find all the functions he or she needs.