Pentax doubles its DSLR range to four cameras with its new 16.3-million-pixel K-5 flagship model. We find out what it is about the K-5 that justifies this status

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Pentax K-5

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LCD viewfinder:
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Pentax K-5 review


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One slight niggle with the Pentax K-7 was the slow and noisy AF. The K-5 features a revised Safox IX+ AF system, which maintains the 11 selectable AF points, nine of which are cross-type. The main difference with the new system is that the 11 AF points are spread wider over the frame. The AF uses a dedicated AF assist lamp, which helps in low-contrast light.

Although the AF is still characterised by its noisy motor when it hunts for a focus subject in low-contrast light, the revised Safox IX+ is an improvement on its predecessor. I found it generally responsive and accurate, even in low-contrast light, and the situations in which it struggles to lock onto a subject are less frequent.

As the K-5 offers a shooting rate of 7fps, it may be of interest to action photographers. This makes the autofocus particularly important.

I spent a couple of hours photographing people snowboarding and sledging (and an overexcited dog running) down a hill during the snowy week using continuous AF mode. The K-5 is good at tracking moving subjects, especially if one is in the centre of the frame. Also, as the 11 AF points are set wider over the frame, the Safox IX+ has a larger and more forgiving focus area. The AF will struggle if the subject slips out of the focus area, and the two non-cross-type AF points on the edges of the AF area are of little help.

Although the AF system is quick in low-contrast light for single-frame shooting, in low light and crowded scenes the continuous AF takes longer to find a focused subject. This affects the frame rate.

In raw mode, seven frame per second shooting is available for one second

I took the K-5 to a floodlit football training session and in continuous AF with focus priority setting I could often only achieve two or three frames at a time. In the custom menu you can change the priority to frame rate, but the continual control over focus is compromised.As in the K-7, only manual focus can be used in the K-5 once recording has been started in video mode when the initial auto focus has been made.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Features
  3. 3. Build and Handling
  4. 4. White balance and Colour
  5. 5. Metering
  6. 6. Autofocus
  7. 7. Noise, Resolution and Sensitivity
  8. 8. Dynamic range
  9. 9. LCD, Viewfinder and Video
  10. 10. Our verdict
  11. 11. The Competition
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