The Pentax K-5 is one of the best DSLRs with an APS-C-sized sensor that we have tested, so expectations are high for its K-5 II successor. Read the Pentax K-5 II review...

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Pentax K-5 II

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Pentax K-5 II review


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Pentax K-5 II at a glance:

  • 16.3-million-pixel APS-C stabilised CMOS sensor
  • ISO 80-51,200
  • Weatherproof body
  • SAFOX X AF sensor
  • 7fps high-speed continuous  shooting
  • Optical viewfinder with 100% field of view
  • Street price around £800

Pentax K-5 II review – Introduction

As its name suggests, the Pentax K-5 II is a direct replacement for the Pentax K-5, which was tested in AP 15 January 2011. The camera received a high score in the review, and praise has been heaped on it ever since. Many photographers have claimed that it has the best overall image quality of any DSLR with an APS-C-sized sensor, so the K-5 II has a lot to live up to.

In the two years between the K-5 and K-5 II, there has been very little movement in enthusiast DSLR section of the market. The two-year-old Nikon D7000 is still current, as is the three-year-old Canon EOS 7D. We have seen many new cameras and steps forward in imaging technology in other areas, though, particularly professional-level DSLRs and compact system cameras. Some companies are all about the big numbers, such as more pixels, faster frame rates, smaller bodies and the latest in connectivity. It is perhaps the photography enthusiasts – at which the K-5 II is aimed – who are the most demanding audience of all, and the ones who drive many of the changes. From this point of view, the K-5 II comes across as a little disappointing.

A comparison of Pentax’s flagship K-5 II with its predecessor shows there are few changes, but noteworthy developments include the revised sensor, new SAFOX X AF system and brighter LCD display. However, with the cameras side by side they appear virtually identical. On the surface, this seems to be a compliment to the K-5 – that two years on, it is still up there with the best of them – but it will be interesting to see how the new competition shapes up, as and when it arrives.

Perhaps unsurprising is the fact that Pentax has created a second version of the camera, the K-5 IIs. This is almost identical to the K-5 II, except that it has no anti-aliasing filter. We have seen this before in the Nikon D800 and D800E. In short, the K-5 IIs is at a greater risk of moiré patterning in fine image detail, but in return it produces sharper images. At the time of writing we have not had our hands on the K-5 IIs, but when we do we will run a comparison test against the K-5 II to see how the image quality is affected.

  1. 1. Pentax K-5 II at a glance:
  2. 2. Pentax K-5 II review - Features
  3. 3. Pentax K-5 II review - ISO sensitivity
  4. 4. Pentax K-5 II review - Build and handling
  5. 5. Pentax K-5 II review - Metering
  6. 6. Pentax K-5 II review - Autofocus
  7. 7. Pentax K-5 II review - Dynamic range
  8. 8. Pentax K-5 II review - White balance and colour
  9. 9. Pentax K-5 II review - Noise, resolution and sensitivity
  10. 10. Pentax K-5 II review - LCD, viewfinder and video
  11. 11. Pentax K-5 II review - The competition
  12. 12. Pentax K-5 II review - Our verdict
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  • David Robinson

    Excellent images, brilliant low light capability, very low noise even down to ISO 6400. Fast start up and focusing, water resistant, built in antishake, street price little more than £600, the list goes on and on.
    Despite the small sensor it can knock spots off cameras twice its price. So why then do most reviews lean heavily towards Nikon and Canon, I leave that to your imagination.
    There are other manufacturers out there producing brilliant cameras. Start looking at the images it actually produces and less on the specification on paper.
    Come on the K5ii is a brilliant camera.

  • Chris.Nation

    I was cross with Nikon. We all sat around waiting for the D700 replacement and along came the D800, which was not a replacement for the D700 at all, certainly not price-wise. Simply couldn’t afford it so I reluctantly bought a D7000. Nice camera but still DX – not what I’m used to. I must have been looking the other way when the D600 was released because by the time I saw that it existed I was able to trade my D7000 and Sigma 10-20m f3.5 for a new D600 and an as-new Nik 18-35mm for a nett outlay of £460. Money well spent.

    That the D600 has all those scene modes is faintly embarrassing. Anyone who uses them has bought the wrong camera. The D600 reminds me of a remark by advertising photographer Max Forsythe, when I was his assistant on a location shoot, “Nice of Nikon to make disposable cameras.” He was referring to the FE on his tripod. Likewise, the D600 may not be marketed as a pro camera but anyone who makes a living shooting 35mm format photographs will be able to do so with this camera.

  • Mike

    What a load of rubbish!! On the one hand AP compares the K5-II with the same marks out of ten as the EOS 60D, which is not waterproof, sucks in the cold and has an anti-aliasing filter, etcetera, so is not worthy of the same 8/10 marks; the Pentax should have 10 here and it’s also better laid out control-wise.
    Next, or on the other hand, after trying to sound pretentiously lknowledgabel about the K5-II AP says “At the time of writing we have not had our hands on the K-5 IIs, but when we do we will run a comparison test against the K-5 II to see how the image quality is affected.”
    Please, don’t waste my time or yours!

  • Richard Sowersby

    Dust on the sensor has become a big issue with the Nikon D600. Most of it appears on the top left side of the image.
    Had the sensor cleaned 3 weeks ago by a Nikon authorised technician, and the same has happened again.It is now due for a 2nd clean.

    Other D600 users are having the same problem.

    The D600 is a great camera for low light situations.

  • Tord S Eriksson

    I’ve had my D600 for a while, and I don’t regret that I sold off our Pentax gear, including two K-5s, to finance the purchase.

    Main differences is much lower noise at any setting, and better dynamic range!