Pentax K-5 II review


On paper, the new SAFOX X AF system mostly reads the same as the last version. Both systems use the same 11-point set-up, nine points of which are the more sensitive cross type. The new AF system has been made more sensitive, though, which Pentax claims has been expanded to cover a -3EV to +18EV sensitivity range. To put this in perspective, -3EV is slightly darker than moonlight. Only the new Canon EOS 6D focuses down to -3EV, while Nikon's D4 (which we have noted has about the best AF of any camera) focuses down to -2EV (moonlight). So, while 11 points may sound limiting when compared to the Nikon D7000's 39-point set-up, the K-5 II's system is very effective.

When facing challenging situations the AF was not the quickest I have used, but it was reliable, successfully locking onto a subject under some very dark lighting. Certainly, it is a better low-light operator than its predecessor, with the speed of focusing on close-range subjects aided by the AF assist lamp that works when the camera detects dim conditions.

For everyday scenes in bright light, AF is snappy. As mentioned earlier, for high-speed scenes, the K-5 II can struggle a little and I found it necessary to change the camera's setting in the custom menu from focus priority to speed priority because otherwise the camera slows down too much. Using continuous AF in the 7fps continuous shooting mode, it can typically take up to three frames to lock onto a new subject, which is respectable. Object tracking would be useful, which is an AF mode that has become commonplace in other systems. Face-detection AF is possible in live view mode only.