The Pentax K5 Silver Edition – 1st Impressions by Amy Medina

From Steve: Received am e-mail from Amy Medina who just purchased my favorite DSLR of 2010/2011, a Pentax K5. She bought it in the Silver Special Edition of which only so many have been made. (Does anyone know the number?) This is a fantastic little camera and capable of superb results in such a compact but well built size. You can read my full review of the standard K5 HERE. Amy’s first impressions are below. Enjoy!

Pentax K-5 Silver Edition
First Impressions on a Rainy Day…
By Amy Medina

It’s sort of fun for me that Saturday was the first day I had the K-5 out and about, and it was pouring rain. This was my #1 intended purpose for this camera, as I love to shoot in adverse weather. Of course, I don’t have a weather-sealed lens yet (just the FA 43), but I’d typically have no weather-sealing at all and be out there, so I call it a step in the right direction 😉
First… Friday night I did a test shot of my cat (of course) and it came out great…

… one thing to note though was that It was indoors under tungsten light and the focus was spot-on… HOWEVER, that was before I updated the firmware to 1.0.3… and interestingly enough, after doing the update, I’ve had to do a fine adjustment of +10 to get it back to where it should be. Someone else told me they had a similar experience, so I wasn’t surprised. I will say that before getting the camera I was a little daunted by the idea of doing “fine adjustments” to lenses if they needed them… but it was both quick and easy to do. I actually did it out in the field in the rain on Saturday!

In one day of shooting, this camera has amazed me. It is the complete opposite of the experience I had when I bought the GH2 (which I’ve already since sold). I struggled to be happy with my GH2 images, but am simply blown away by the file quality of the K-5 images… and do not feel the same “battle” in the slightest. Of course, that’s ME… I know others will have different experiences with the GH2; I personally just had a really hard time loving it for a number of reasons… but mostly because of the noise in the blue channel at base ISO, and lack of “pop” in the files (harder to quantify and maybe more personal?…)

Back to the K-5… The amazing dynamic range was immediately obvious to me and the sharpness with the 43mm lens boggles the mind. I am not typically a pixel-peeper in general, but even in ACR at the “fit to window” size these things jumped right out at me. I called my husband and brother over to the computer to see, and they were both “wowed”… my brother even said it made him a little jealous (LOL)! Based on one day with the FA 43, all I can say is I can’t wait to get the FA 31!

I love all the buttons and dials on the K-5… all the tactile controls are right up my ally. The placement of the ISO button is PERFECT and use of the camera is very intuitive. Build quality is outstanding… solid but not heavy at all (which is a big thing to me). It’s physical size is bigger than I expected (or remembered from handling it a few months back in a local store), but not too big for me. The grip is wonderful (and it’s slightly different on the silver version from what I hear).

As a comparison… one of my favorite shooting kits for a while has been the M8 + Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Nokton. That combo weighs in at 1.76 pounds. The K-5 + FA 43mm f/1.9 (with an almost identical FOV to the M8 + Nokton) comes in at only a teeny-tiny bit heavier: 1.8 pounds.

The absolute only complaint I have up to this point is that I wish Pentax made more of their great primes with weather-sealing!

Now some photos…

This one was my favorites of the day, and part of the picture-a-day series. I shot it at ISO 1600 because I wanted a large depth of field (shot at f/11)…

I had to walk out onto a slim dock to get this shot. Along the walk there were these smaller, very narrow walkways and one was going to get me even closer to the steps, but the whole thing started to wobble back and forth and I didn’t want to take a dip with my brand new camera on a rainy day! LOL! I slowly back out and remained on the wider, steadier dock…

This one is a bit of a “typical” shot for me… seascape stuff is one of my favorite subjects to shoots… especially in gloomy weather. My family all think I’m nuts and sit in the car watching me snap away in the rain.

 

The last one I shot before getting back in the car to head home…

So overall, I’m very pleased and am really looking forward to enjoying this camera. Being an M8 and m4/3 (EP1, then EP2) shooter for quite a while, this is the first dSLR in a long time to really get me excited. As a very capable entry-level dSLR, I liked the Kx… but really only used it for my daughter’s theater shows (mostly). That isn’t going to be the case at all with the K5… I have a feeling I’ll be using it a lot!

Website: www.DangRabbit.com/Photography

Picture-A-Day Series: www.DangRabbit.com/Photography/pad

on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/DangRabbitPhotography

on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DangRabbit

 

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68 Comments

  1. Must tell you about my DSLRs and my wife, who spent lots of time around Leicas, and Hasselblads, in her twenties. On New Year 2010 I bought my first DSLR, a K-x, as I had tired of dust inside compacts. The wife showed no great interest, bought a E-PL1 instead, while I continued to a K-7. Better in almost every way: Magnesium body, next to soundless operation, water-proof, but less capable ISO-wise. The wife showed no interest, but then came the K-5 into our home, and my wife didn’t want to give it back, so I bought a second one. This is as Steve noted, a masterpiece, perfectly married to the FA range of Pentax lenses, lenses orginally designed for Pentax full-format film cameras. These lenses, like the FA31, FA43, FA77, and a few DA, APS-C-optimised, lenses, like the DA15, DA21, DA40 & DA50-135 (water-proof, and with outstanding sharpness) are called Limited, as they are hand assembled. Superb lenses, far cheaper than comparable Leica lenses!

    My overall favourite lenses with the K-5 is the Tamron 17-50, Tamron 70-200/2.8, Tamron SP 90, FA43, FA77, DA50-135, and if I need a long lens, my Sigma 150-500. For candid work the K-x with the minuscle DA40 were superb, but that has been replaced by a Nikon V1 with a handful of Nikon lenses, and a TF1 adapter (the old Nikon 80-200 is the sharpest Nikon ever, according to Ken Rockwell, superb with the V1).

  2. I recently upgraded to the K5 from the istDs, and bought the DA35mm and FA77mm. I useed these two lenses almost exclusively for two weeks in Indonesia. The results were stunning. The detail revealed on night shots using the built in flash and the FA77mm were beyond my expectation. I have posted some of the pictures at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/petergs/sets/72157626705047547/
    I have also done some comparison shots of the FA77 lens on the K5 at:
    http://petergsimmons.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/pentax-fa-77-lens-test-part-1/

  3. Hi Amy great review. I am just starting off and decided to go for the silver Pentax K5 based on this and other reviews. What would you recommend as you first one or two lenses, the FA43 ?
    Thanks Will

  4. You can always get the sigma 30/1.4 for pentax if you want fast and can’t put 1200 usd down on a lens

    • I love that lens. It’s my go-to lens for interior shots, and isn’t too big to lug around outside either. 370$ got me a slightly wide-normal 1.4, with sharpness and decent colors to boot.

  5. Thanks for the review, Amy. I’m glad you’re enjoying the K-5 so much!

    As a Pentax user I would agree with the critiques that there aren’t a lot of fast lenses (less than f/1.8) in the traditional 20-30 mm range. This is a weakness of the Pentax lens lineup, but it is primarily due to the fact that lenses that fast and wide on SLR cameras tend to be very big, and the Pentax limited line is all about small form factor. On the other hand, Pentax’s zooms tend to be smaller than full frame equivalents. My DA*16-50 at 16 mm is roughly the same in form factor as a 24 f/1.4 on a Canon camera. Clearly the DA*16-50 isn’t in the same league optically at 24 mm as the prime is, but I’ve seen very favorable image comparisons with the popular Canon 24-70L.

    This lack of a wide, fast prime had me thinking of buying into a full frame system for a long time, when I realized that would just lead to me owning a bigger camera system, which was the whole point of the reason I like Pentax in the first place. So I solved this by buying the Ricoh GXR 28 mm f/2.5 module, which is actually a very good combo with my Pentax cameras. Looking forward to the M-mount module on the Ricoh GXR as well.

    Finally, if you love the FA43, you’ll really love the FA31 and FA77. Also the DA15 or DA21 are very serviceable for wides. The DA15 is one of my favorite “take on a stroll” lenses ever.

  6. Great that you have that little Silver jewel. I have a black and a Silver K-5 and it is a great camera. No Silver lenses yet, but with black 40mm pancake it looks great. Also with silverish FA*85mm it looks great. Great advertising for Pentax.
    [img]http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/K5SilverFA.jpg[/img]

  7. I am a K-7 user, lusting for a K-5, which is a big step up, due to the amazing new Sony sensor. Both cameras share the same compact body and ergonomics, which put the Big Three to shame. But I want to underline what Amy has said about the Pentax FA43 Limited. I recently acquired one, and I am just blown away by the images that it produces. The clarity and buttery smooth rendering are absolutely wondrous. I consider it the finest lens that I have ever owned, and that includes the other two marvelous FA Limiteds and a slew of Zeiss Contax G lenses. People who value lenses should seriously consider Pentax if only for the Limited series (DA and FA.) I wish that they were weather sealed, but I believe that I can manage with them as they are.

    Rob

  8. I’ve been shooting primarily with Leica rangefinders for 3 years now…first the M8 and I sold it and bought the M9 right after it was available ( got my pre-order in early)! I also wound up selling my much loved Canon 5D Mark ll and my L lenses because it pretty much wound up sitting on the shelf after I got my rangefinders.
    As much as I love my M9 and Leica glass, I did miss having the capability of shooting macro and action but I didn’t feel this desire quite warranted another camera purchase-especially with so much $ wrapped up in my Leica gear….that is until the Pentax K-5…when the special silver and black edition came out, I just couldn’t resist…it also hit a nostalgic spot as my very first SLR was a Pentax K-1000. So I caved and purchased it along with the 15 DA Limited and the 35 DA macro limited and I have not been disappointed! Excellent image quality, superb build, comfortable to hold and shoot with…and this goes for the lenses as well…LOVE the Limited series prime lenses-all crafted from metal and superb so far. This camera holds it’s own against the Canon and my Leica!

    My Leica is getting jealous!

    • Susan,

      Ashwin and I were discussing our Leica’s getting jealous over in another forum… There have been very few cameras along the years that made me want to put my M8 down for any length of time, and I think the K5 will make my M8 jealous some days… without a doubt! The limited series primes are the main reason I went with Pentax… when I sold my Kx a few months ago, I kept my 40 and 70mm limiteds because I loved them so much and knew I’d eventually get the K5. Glad I did… I traded them with someone from NYC for the FA 43mm!… however, I already know I will get the 70mm silver the minute it’s available!

      Enjoy your silver K5 too!

      • I’ve been thinking about getting the DA70 …

        I returned my FA43, because I thought it was too long for indoor work. It was a nice lens though.

        • The DA 70mm is a great lens if you like the focal length. I actually used it quite a bit for video. I’ll definitely buy one again (hopefully in silver) when I have the money. 🙂

        • If size and price are not issues, you should strongly consider the FA77 Limited. Most users of both lenses give the nod to the FA77, which, BTW, is not very large. It has the same lovely rendering qualities as the other FA Limiteds.

          Rob

          • Hey Rob…

            Thanks for your thoughts! I’ve been thinking about the FA 77, but it might just be that little bit too long for me… even 70mm is pushing it’s usefulness, but I did really like it when I owned it. When I’m ready, I’ll definitely give the 77 another look though! Gotta get the 31 first though 🙂

  9. Awesome set Amy !!

    I am really looking into getting one for myself here in Europe in the next days.
    One question i have though…

    How does the silver body look with a black lens on? Do you have any and could post a shot?
    Would be VERY interested in this.

    Thanks a lot,
    Chris

  10. Pentax is so underrated camera! Nice read amy! Also nice to see that you didn’t run with the pack and got the Nikon or Canon!
    I’m still shooting my k20d and it’s a workhorse of the camera. I upgraded from k10d when it got stolen. Whack a Sigma 50 1.4 there (Sigmalux :)) and Bobs your uncle.

    PS: prey that you get a good copy!

    Cheers
    Vlad

    • LOL… I’ve had my ups and downs with Sigma over the years… however, living on Long Island their national service center is like a 20 minutes drive, so it’s easy for me to drop off lenses for calibration 🙂

      Thanks!

      • Then you have nothing to worry about! Really, the 50mm Sigma gives a Canon 50mm f1.2L run for its money. I’m still trying to persuade myself and my wife to jump the boat and get a K5 but my k20d is still running strong and video feature is totally useless for me. And also shooting with fast glass I have no need for any better ISO performance then what I can get from the k20d. Would like to upgrade but my wife thinks a holiday in Sicily is more important!

        Cheers
        Vlad

  11. Great “first impressions” Amy. Thanks for the photos and the write up.

    One thing that has bothered me about the K5 is the constant need for micro-adjustments. I never encountered so much issues with the AF in any other camera. Since getting the K5, I’ve owned at one point or other the DA15, DA21, FA35, FA43, FA100, Sigma 17-50 and Tamron 17-50. I’ve had to do micro adjustments with all but the DA21. Some more than others. When the focus is spot on, the K5 does provide great IQ. However, I’ve found the GH2, EP2 and even the E620/510/410 to have much more accurate AF. At base ISO, the GH2 consistently gives me sharper files than the K5, although the GH2 files seem to be more “clinical” or “digital,” IMO.

    • I’m not sure how it’s on a K5 but on k20d every focus adjustment I did was remembered in the camera as it can be applied to all lenses or a single.

      I heard there was a sensor problem with K5, well it was showing some stains on the early models and had to be sent to Pantax for replacement.

      • K5 remembers the lens that the micro adjustment was applied to. As for the stains, I believe that’s no longer an issue. I didn’t see any stain problems with my K5.

        • I can’t argue with you Armanius… I don’t yet own the K5 long enough to 😉

          With every system I’ve owned (other than m4/3) I’ve ended up with lenses somewhere along the line that front or back focus. I’m glad the K5 offers the ability to do the individual micro adjustments… if it didn’t, I might have ended up with a 43mm lens that was unusable! Adjustments were quick and easy to make, so I consider that a positive rather than a negative.

          As for AF accuracy… at least so far it’s not an issue… though I know Nikon’s AF system is way ahead from what I heard and read. It’s only going to be over time where I can really comment on whether it’s an issue for me or not… though I don’t really expect it to be.

          Sensor stain issues seem to be resolved… and they were never an issue on the silver version 😉

          • Hehe. We won’t be arguing. 🙂 I leave that for my GF and me! LOL! I ended up returing the FA43, because I thought it was too long for indoor usage. Price has gone up by $200 since I returned it! I should have kept it!

  12. I’ll add this question in here for you Amy, so others can read your thoughts.

    First off, thanks for the review. It looks like a very nice camera…however…..

    Does the lack of fast wide primes other you? Nothing faster than 2.8 at less than ~50mm puts me off particularly as it’s a cropper. What would you do for say gatherings with limited space in lower light? Am I missing an option somewhere? I sure wish that 21 wasn’t a 3.x aperture lens. Are focusmscreens available to use legacy glass? I guess that might solve the issue.

    Thanks again!

    • I take it that “~50mm” reference is in EFL? If so, the FA31 is F1.8 and it’s 46mm in EFL. There’s also a FA24 that is F2, which can be found in the 2nd hand market. The FA35 is slightly longer than 50mm in EFL, but it sports F2 max aperture, and it’s nearly as good as the FA31. There are also some Sigma primes that are wide and fast. Other than rangefinder lenses, I really can’t think of any system that offers many wide and fast primes. Canon may have three or so wide and fast primes and Nikon has about the same number.

      • Right, but that SOME. I find it really odd Pentax no longer makes something that works out to be around 35mm @ 1.4-1.8. I guess it is weight/ size concerns.

        Canikon user have some choices, ranging from inexpensive to expensive to anyone who isn’t a leica owner 🙂

        At the end of it, the 31 fa looks like a great lens..but 1200 on a lens that has (as of now) no future on digital full frame, seems an awful lot of money for what ends up being to most an aspc lens. I’m not knocking how great it seems to be on the crop, and as I undertand it on film…but shooting at 46mm indoors is not going to be ideal..and even at good iso 1600 and passable 3200… The flash is going to have to come out at 2.8, wouldn’t you think?

        Anyway, again, it looks like a great camera..but far fewer lens choices, and more expensive, with less of a growth path…I guess one really has to be set on size constraints…not all that much of an issue for me at present.

        • There are certainly more interesting lenses, but they’re not exactly more expensive. Canon’s 50mm 1.2 costs about the same, and the 31mm 1.8 is at least equally highly regarded. Most of the other limiteds are a bargain for what Nikon or Canon would charge for them. Look at Nikons current pricing for they’re 24/35/85mm 1.4 series. You’re looking at close to 2 grand each. Ouch!

          The 1.8 lenses aren’t as fast, but they’re all image stabilized. And like I just heard in an interview with a Zeiss sales rep. A 1.4 aperture isn’t really ‘needed’ anymore, as we have good quality at very high sensitivities, so 1.4 is really more about the look. I’ll take 1.8 over 1.4 when it costs me about half as much, and the quality of the glass is the same (or better).

          Plus that 31 is sweeeet on film!

          • Anything wider than 28mm I’m not sure I’d need something faster than f/2.8… and other than in the Leica world, they aren’t widely available on ANY system really. The FA 31 is my next logical choice of lens.

            Keep in mind that on the M8 I primarily shoot a 35mm and a 50mm lens… nothing else. That’s an EFL of 45.5mm and 65mm. The 31mm and 43mm on the K5 will be nearly identical at an EFL of 46.5mm and 64.5mm. I don’t think I could get closer than that if I tried. If I didn’t want to lay the money down for the FA 31, I could go with the Sigma 30mm f/1.4. I already own an old Pentax SMC 28mm f/2.8 and in the way future may get the DA 21 or older 24 f/2… but wide and fast have never been common nor really an issue FOR ME. Even on Leica, the wider you go the less choices you have for really fast… and I think that would be an issue on ANY system.

            The other problem in my experience is this: compared to Leica, a LOT of other systems’ lenses wide open aren’t very usable… they are not sharp at all. It really doesn’t matter if you can buy an f/1.8 lens if it doesn’t sharpen up until f/2.8. We get spoiled by Leica because their lenses are SHARP SHARP SHARP even wide open. If all I can get is an f/2.8 lens but it’s sharp from it’s starting point, that matters more than a mushy f/1.8.

            At the end of the day, I love to play with DOF, but low-light performance isn’t my #1 deciding factor. I don’t shoot a lot of indoors or a lot of low-light subjects. However, for when I do, I have no doubt with the K5’s amazing high ISO capabilities that it isn’t going to be an issue for me at all. It is worlds ahead of the cameras I already own in that regard (M8, EP2) and it does exceptionally well against full-frame tests. I can totally understand now why a lot of the reviews out there call it the best APSC camera to date.

          • “Look at Nikons current pricing for they’re 24/35/85mm 1.4 series. You’re looking at close to 2 grand each. Ouch!”

            @Mark S: Ouch? They’re worth every penny. They’re also “cheaper” (as in “less expensive” than equivalent Leitz glass. Not that I find that relevant 😉

          • You’re comparing apples to oranges to fit your argument, fwiw.

            The Pentax lens is a 1.8. On crop it will give roughly an equivalent of 2.8 (yes I understand the dof remains the same, but we are asking effective bsed on fov etc).. That is to say a 2.8 50mm will give roughly a similar image as the 31 wide open. At that point comparing to a canon L is silly, IMO, unless it’s a 2.8 zoom. A 50 1.8 is sharp corner to corner by 2.8 and costs $130. Especially given there is a lack of wide fast on the Pentax system, why wouldn’t you compare the lenses to eq focal lengths on full frame. The offset of having to shoot at 1.8 is high iso.

            I’d guess if you shot the k5 31 ltd wide open at iso 800, and the canon 5d2 with 50mm at 2.8 and 1600, you’d wind up with a toss up image wise…actually probably a bit more detail in the latter image.

            Pentax $1699 lens $1200 ~$3000
            5d2 $2500 lens $130 ~2650 with the 50/1.4 it would be around $3000

            If you actually did decide to spend on the 50L (not too many canon shooters would) you would have to have a 33 .6 to really start comparing.

            Pease correct me if you feel things are misstated.

            The Pentax otoh gets you a much more portable package
            The full frame gets you more detail, and a lot more options

            Price is a wash if you want to shoot even remotely fast it seems. Clearly it’s all about priority. I have been following Amy long enough to understand why she values small. I used to much more than I do now…and it also has to be considered that at 6’5 without a grip I have to do the pinky curl on a 5d2 to make it even remotely comfortable to hold..it’s not finger girth, it’s length.

          • That’s a worse case scenario on the Pentax setup. The 31/1.8 normally goes for $999 street and the K5 is normally a couple hundred below MSRP these days ($1399 street or so.)

            If one were to buy it last month during the rebates and sales you could get the standard version of the K5 (black) for $1299 and the 31/1.8 for $949 so together you would have paid $2248. Well below the 5D Mk.2 body only price for one “strapped for cash.”

            Great review Amy even though I read it on another forum already.

      • For what it’s worth, all the f1.4 24-28-35 dslr lenses that I’m aware of are huge, and their sizes and weights are pretty much determined by the physics of lens design.

        If Pentax made one, it would be the same size, and completely out of proportion to the K5. Kind of defeats the small-light-quick design aim.

        If speed is the problem, the K5 is astonishing at high ISOs. If shallow depth of field is your be-all and end-all for lenses, you should probably be looking at longer focal lengths.

        That said, I would kind of like to see a 24mm f2 for the 35mm equivalent, if they could keep it small.

    • Azx1… why are you talking about a 50mm f/1.8 lens when your argument originally was about fast wides before? Like I said earlier, I could buy the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 for a couple hundred dollars and on APSC get close the the 50mm equivalent with a fast aperture for low light. That kind of thing is available on ALL systems… and 50s are usually a dime a dozen. Fast wides is a-whole-nother store and not widely available on ANY system except maybe Leica.

      We pick the tools that work for us… the K5 will work for me because of it’s size and file quality. If the 5DM2 works great for you, awesome. However, it was (when I had it) too big for me). It also didn’t give me access to the great Pentax Limited primes. That’s what I was after… you may be after something different. Nothing wrong with that.

      • I thought that you had the 5DMK I not MKII, the two are very different, maybe take a look over at the review for the K5 on DPreview and take a look at there raw comparison between the K5 and the D7000, 60D, both the Nikon and Canon show better sharpness and detail.

        as far as the crop v FF goes take a look at how the K5 compares with the D3, there is a world of difference, the detail in the D3 raw file is a world better.

        the K5 sample raw file looks very very soft

        • I’m really not all that interested in exploring full-frame cameras since they aren’t what I want, as most are way too big for me (other than the M9 which I’d buy in a second could I afford it). The K-5 pushes close to what my size limits would be as it is and I could not go for even an ounce heavier or 1/2″ bigger.

          Like I said, we pick the tools that work for us. If you demand full-frame, go for full-frame. I’m not sure what you were looking at that shows anything soft out of the K-5, but it absolutely is not soft… at least not with the FA 43mm prime on it! LOL

          We don’t need to have the “full frame vs. APS-C argument” either… my review wasn’t about that at all… it’s was my personal experience with the K-5 in the first 24 hours of ownership. It’s a camera that looks like it’s going to work well for me… there’s no reason to argue otherwise. 🙂

          • I understand that but I wasn’t the one who brought up the crop v ff argument, I was just pointing out the facts, reidreviews did a side by side with the K5 and 5D mark I and the 5D clearly shows a lot more detail, the DPreview raw comparison again shows a lot more detail coming from the Nikon and Canon crop sensors.

            I’m not bashing the K5 by any means I’m just pointing out the facts

            also I’m not sure that weather sealing comes in to play here given that the lens you are using isn’t weather sealed.

            either way if the K5 is right for you then thats good, for others it might be too small and lack quality

      • You’re right, we were talking about fast wides..my comment was in response to the above, not your comment.

  13. Steve planted the Pentax seed in my head with his K7 review. Since then (and recently) I sold my 5D2 and bought a Pentax K5.

    After a lot of experience with the 5d2 and the D700 I came to realize full frame is pretty over rated. Its great, but it’s not an additional $1k great.

    The Pentax is SMALL, like a small format camera should be! It’s also rugged, has amazing, unique lenses, and the weather sealing is fantastic. I’m loving my choice. It’s making me very happy. I am also jealous of your silver edition, totally sexy.

    Also if you want a WR lens, the 18-55 or 18-135 are decent. Keep your cam out of the rain without a WR lens.

    • I think for some one who uses standard kit zoom lenses the extra $1k wouldn’t be worth it to go full frame.

      having shot with the 5DMK2 & K5 and high quality fast primes I can say for sure that there is a world of differance, not to say that the K5 isn’t great for a crop sensor camera because it is it.

      Build quality and the limited lenses set the K5 apart from the Canon 60D and Nikon D7000.

      Great review Amy, I think you had an excellent choice

      • If you say there is a world of difference lets see it. Where are the pictures that prove this?

        Like I said, having owned two previous full frame bodies that difference has not yet revealed itself to me. Except that there is less depth of field, and more classic primes on other systems.

        Based on what I’ve seen the 5D2 is worse in low light, and has much less highlight recovery, and just forget about bringing shadows back. It was also larger, and when you put the 24-105 on it it’s as big as a Hasselblad. Plus you can’t go as many places with it because 1. it’s not built to withstand harsh conditions, and 2. it’s got the “I’m paparazzi steal me” look written all over it. Also the third reason why you can’t take it anywhere is that it’s so freakin’ huge it gets in the way of enjoying yourself!

        Seriously full frame only gets you the look of full frame. Your lenses are without magnification factors if they’re FX and you get less depth of field. Outside of the D3/D3S/D700, I’d challenge anyone to find a full frame camera with more dynamic range, detail, or less noise. And I’d take my K-5 up against a D3/D700 any day. It’s smaller, quieter, and has great lenses, plus I shoot it up to ISO 6400…which is exactly what I did with my D700 when I owned it before my 5D2. I’d say it’s at least as good as the Nikons, and better than the 5D2.

        • Oh, the old full-frame vs. crop sensor argument… I’ve been hearing it for years. Yes, full frame has it’s benefits without a doubt. I owned a 5DM1 4 years ago and sold it and all my lenses for the M8 (*gasp* a crop sensor!). I have never once missed the 5D.

          For me, if I can get the FOV, tremendous dynamic range and low-light performance in a smaller, lighter, weather-sealed package, crop sensor or not, that’s really all that matters. We pick our tools according to how we like to shoot, and the K5 fits the bill for me. For someone else, it’ll be the 5DM2.

        • I wouldn’t waste my time trying to argue the crop v FF argument with a gear-head

          buy/sell buy/sell trying to convince yourself that the lastest camera is better than the last.

          save yourself the time and money, if you shot primes and want the very best in quality get an M9.

          • Yea, but the M9 and one Summicon lens is about $10,000
            One Pentax K5 and a really nice 31 Limited 1.8 Prime is about $2700

            If I was going to buy a DSLR right now, it would be the K5 Silver. If I had the cash, it would be purchased today but I have to pay for my X100 this week so Im outta luck (and money)!

            Still…LOVE my M9 and feel its a better camera than the M8 in every way, but it does give a different look and feel to the photos than the M8.

            Steve

          • I know it’s annoying to be a gear head, but some times it’s hard to find gear that really works for you.

            Anyways check out these comparisons:

            http://www.flickr.com/photos/alpi-costerni/5572392577/sizes/o/in/photostream/

            http://www.pentaxeros.com/forum/index.php?topic=39359.0

            That’s exactly why I was never happy with the 5D. Way too much noise in the shadows, and not a lot of headroom in the highlights. Always made me wonder why people said it has a lot of dynamic range.

          • Gear head? LOL
            Ive owned the m8 for 4 years. Jus because I bought the gh2 and didn’t like it, well I don’t thing that makes me a gear head. When I find a camera I like, I’ll own it a long time… I expect the k5 will be in my possession long after it’s successor comes out.

            I dont need the latest greatest, I just need what works for me.

            And like I said, I’d buy the m9 in a flat second if I had that kind of money to spend.

        • if the d7000 is pretty equivalent to the k5, the d700 is at least one stop better at higher ISOs (not a huge difference for $1000)

  14. Just curious… everyone seems to go crazy over the K5, but I haven’t seen a lot of people really excited about the d7000. Why?

    • D7000 great camera…but DPReview rated the K5 even higher…which I think is refreshing for a smaller company topping out like that. Also..if the camera is that good…it is hard to resist the combo of that great body with those SMALL, SHARP limited lenses. The pictures above that Amy shot are impressively sharp and nice contrast and color! Gotta admit.

    • The D7000 is a great camera, and I considered it, before getting the K5. IQ wise, IMO, it’s a toss up between the D7000 and the K5. But ergonomically, the buttons don’t make as much sense as the K5. Like Amy said, the ISO button the K5 is in the right place. In the D7000, it’s to the left side of the rear LCD. Kinda hard to push the ISO button without pulling the camera away from the face.

      • The OTHER thing to consider between a Nikon and a Pentax…while I am intrigued by the Pentax …and impressed with its performance and Limited Lenses…The K5 is limited by its lenses (pun intended). Nikon has been making MANY superb lenses for many years the choices of glass available from their quiver and many aftermarket manufacturers give you many more options for lens selection, pro-quality or bargain.
        Something to think about depending on the depth of your commitment. For most photographers..the Pentax system would be more than adequate…but….LOL!!! 🙂

        • The K-5 is a competitor to the d300s not the d7000… the d7000 is a lower spec body in every way, except the sensor.

        • I look at the D7000 and held it in my hands. It’s bigger than the K5 and ergonomically I liked the K5 better. Since size is so important to me, the K5 was the clear winner.

          Also, the guys in the store told me the D7000 is really on “semi” weather-sealed (whatever that means). That was another consideration considering my purpose for the camera.

          Last but not least, I am a prime shooter primarily. I rarely use zoom lenses. Pentax seems to be known for it’s small, amazingly well performing prime lenses, and their size is hard to beat. For me personally, because of how I shoot, the best choice was the K5 by far!

          😀

          • Thank you for the replies–
            I was just wondering–I purchased the d7000 and agree, it’s not perfect. It doesn’t handle as nicely as the d700/d300, and you can tell the weather seals are not as substantial.

            Nevertheless, the primes are A LOT more affordable. The 31 limited while nice, is very expensive (and isn’t weather sealed). The 35 f1.8 is all of $200, and the 50 f1.4 isn’t much either. Anyways, just for the sake of discussion–the K5 sure looks nice.

        • Actually the K-5 can use any lens Pentax has ever produced. That to me is pretty limitless. I have a manual 50mm f1.7 that I got at a swap meet for $7 that is probably 30 years old and tack sharp. Another thing about the Pentax is you can use old Nikkor lenses. My Dad gave me his 50 year old Nikon F and the 50mm f1.4 that he has and I use without an adapter and only minor fine focus adjustments. Sigma and Tamron make loads of lenses for Pentax as well. I really don’t think that Pentax is limited in ANY WAY!!!

        • Yes, there are more lens options from Nikon, but I would argue that I don’t really like their options, regardless of the amount. If you want big, heavy, long zooms, then Nikon is probably better. If you want small, light, pancake type primes, then Nikon has no idea how to make them. Go with Pentax.

        • Just wanted to comment on the (oft-repeated) notion that buying a Pentax somehow limits your options on lenses, particularly the misapprehension that the Pentax back catalog of lenses is somehow lacking. Here are some of your choices if you go out tomorrow and buy a new K-5:

          1) Pentax’s current production lineup. This is quite extensive, and not everything currently in production can be found on the English-language website… but here is the Japanese catalog (lens specs in English):
          http://www.pentax.jp/japan/products/catalog/pdf/lenses_accessories.pdf
          Skip directly to page 23 for a complete listing, including field of view equivalents between film and digital.

          2) Pentax’s massive back catalog of lenses, going all the way back to the screwmount Takumar lenses of legendary sharpness and image quality. If you think you love the Limiteds, wait till you try the old Takumars. You can find information on the back catalog on many enthusiast sites, including:
          http://www.pentaxforums.com/lensreviews
          http://www.bdimitrov.de/kmp

          3) For those coming from Leica, many Leica R-mount lenses are easily (and reversibly) converted to K-mount. So you can bring over your Leica R 35mm f1.4 and take advantage of the K-5’s marvelous low-light high-ISO magic. See this site for more information:
          http://leitax.com/

          4) Third party manufacturers have made many fantastic lenses over the years for Pentax: so you have access to current production and the back catalog from manufacturers like Zeiss, Tamron, Tokina, and Sigma. There are many “sleeper” lenses among lesser known brands like Chinon (K-mount) or Mamiya-Sekor (screwmount) as well.

          5) Other, more, unusual conversions are possible… I have read of certain old Nikon film-era lenses converted to Pentax, Contax/Zeiss lenses too. While mount conversion in and of itself is nothing unique to Pentax, there is an active and sizeable community of people who have converted lenses to Pentax and information is out there on the web.

          In short, if there is a focal length/aperture/image quality combination that you are looking for, there is very likely a K-mount or K-mount-convertable lens out there to meet the need.

          For reference as to how fast Pentax lenses generally get, here are some of the fastest full-frame Pentax primes that are both highly-regarded (including both manual and automatic focus) and available for purchase without too much effort to find a copy:

          Pentax A 15mm 3.5
          Pentax A 16mm fish-eye 2.8
          Pentax FA* 24mm 2.0
          Pentax FA Limited 31mm 1.8
          Pentax M 35mm 2.0
          Pentax FA Limited 43mm 1.9
          Pentax A 50mm 1.2
          Pentax FA Limited 77mm 1.8
          Pentax A* 85mm 1.4
          Pentax A* 135mm 1.8
          Pentax (K series) 200mm 2.5

          Anyone buying a Pentax and doing the slightest amount of research on available lenses will soon find themselves a victim of LBA (lens buying addiction). Even if there is something you want that Pentax doesn’t make, there’s someone else out there who’s bound to have made it in a mount that can be converted to K-mount without much hassle. (Personally, I have my eye on that Leica R 35mm 1.4!)

  15. Hi Amy!
    Thank you for this great mini review.
    I currently own a M8 (along with a CV 50mm 1.5) and I am still blown away by the crispness of all low ISOs pictures it produces.
    I am tempted to buy the K5 ( the special edition also) and I was wondering how its low ISO files compares to the one created by a M8?

    Thanks!
    Carlos

    • Carlos… I have’t really done any direct comparisons, but I will say this… Those of us that shoot the M8 or M9 know that there is something special about the files they produce, especially at low ISO (particularly with the M8). I think we get “spoiled” and it’s hard to be impressed by the files we see from other cameras (some comparisons like 5DM2 aside). The K-5 is the first DSLR in a long time to “wow” me the minute I look at a raw file from a photo I’ve taken. Combined with sharp lenses (like the FA/DA limiteds or their 100 Macro), I’d venture a guess you’d be very satisfied with crispness. I’m amazed at how sharp my FA 43mm is… so much so, I’ve had to change my typical sharpening routines.

  16. Love the look of the camera and the Limited Lenses!!!! The reviews for that camera are top end….and it REALLY has a compact size to it also, so it is also user friendly. If I was not so committed to my Canon and Micro 4/3’s systems…I would be looking pretty hard at that camera and its pancake type lenses. Your shots look REALLY sharp. I am impressed with the performance from what I can see here!

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