Pentax K-5 II review

Build and handling

Not only does the feature set of the K-5 II cover a broad range of scenarios, but the camera is built to a high standard and its handling is intuitive, too. For a camera of its class, the K-5 II is both small and lightweight, weighing 760g including battery and card. The body is made up of a stainless-steel chassis and weather-sealed magnesium-alloy shell. Pentax claims the camera can operate down to -10°C. Indeed, I recently went out shooting with it on a night when the temperature was close to that figure, and experienced no problems whatsoever. The camera seems more than able to resist a light rain shower, too.

Being a lightweight and small DSLR, the K-5 II can comfortably be lugged around all day. Its pronounced handgrip with its deep cavity ensures a good grip, even single-handed. Key exposure controls are intelligently placed around the camera, with ISO and exposure-compensation buttons a small movement away from the shutter release. The shutter response is near instant and it is tested to 100,000 cycles. It has a maximum 1/8000sec speed and offers a bulb mode on the shooting-mode dial. All in all, every button feels tactile, and the camera is built to last. However, to speed up access to frequently used controls that do not have a direct button, I would like to see more options available for customising certain buttons.

Battery life is measured up to 980 shots, which is excellent. Add the optional battery pack with second battery, and the capacity is doubled. Most of the compact system cameras and high-end compact cameras I have tested recently have a battery life in the region of 300-350 shots, so the advantage to the K-5 II is clear. At the end of a long day shooting landscapes and street scenes, the battery still reads half full.

The K-5 II uses the company's K-mount lenses, which means there is a good number from which to choose. Lenses are securely fixed in place on the metal lens mount, which is weather-sealed. The camera features a built-in flash, which has good clearance from the body and has an output of GN 13m @ ISO 100. There is the usual complement of manual flash modes, and the camera offers basic wireless flash control through an optional external flash unit.

There are a few screens to work through to make user-defined adjustments, but for more frequent adjustments a quick menu is accessed via the info button. An extra press of this button brings up the digital level. It is worth going through each of the 27 options in the custom menu. For example, as a default the extended ISO settings (ISO 25,600 and 51,200) are deactivated. Also, I would advise those who do not want the 7fps high-speed continuous shooting to slow down during capture, to switch to frames per second priority over focus priority.

Pentax's interface may look a little dated now, but enthusiast photographers are likely to find the functions they need, that the camera is responsive across a number of shooting situations and that it is rugged for tough conditions.