Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pentax K5IIs Review

Pentax (Ricoh) K5IIs DSLR Review
June 2014, Carl Garrard
Pentax (Ricoh) K5IIs DSLR Review
My preview is already up here on this site so I'm going to cut right to the chase with this review. I have a big history with the K5, so any and all changes made to the K5IIs have immediately become apparent to me while using it. Other than the changes noted in this review, a comprehensive review on other features etc. is available in my K5 review. Oddly as this may sound, I do want to note right away that I think it's stellar that Ricoh/Pentax still include a real comprehensive printed manual with this camera. I'm getting rather tired of the the cost cutting going on with other manufacturers to the point that they aren't including one with the camera. That said, the differences between the K5IIs and the K5 is a short list, but an important one, so lets get started.

Pentax K-5 IIs Body Only Easy Price Check

First off, let us get a quick run down/review on the specs of this camera, just in case any of you have been too busy in the last couple of years to read about the K5 or either of the new K5II/s models (i.e. living under a rock). Then, lets talk about any noticeable differences between this camera and the K5 and move onto the rest of the review. The differences between the K5II and  K5IIs compared to the K5 are in bold for your convenience.

Pentax K5 IIS Review: Stand Out Features of the K5IIs

  • 16mp CMOS Sensor w/no Anti-Aliasing filter (K5IIs only)
  • 7 Frames per second shooting
  • 100% accurate optical viewfinder at .92x magnification
  • Robust Weather Sealing
  • Full magnesium body panels and stainless steel inner chassis
  • New glass panel gapless LCD screen at 920K dots
  • New Safox X AF module
  • Top mounted illuminated LCD screen
  • Pitch and Axis level indicators
  • In Body Image Stabilization
  • Ultra Quiet Shutter/Mirror
  • Hand Held HDR Capture
  • Digital Filters
  • Expanded Customizable Menus and Controls
  • Unparalleled Lens Mount Compatibility
  • Ultra Sonic Anti Dust Mechanism
  • Cold Proof to -10deg Celcius
  • 980 Shot Battery Life (CIPA)
  • And much more... 

There are more features with this camera, but that list is still very convincing, and amazing for what you get for the price these days. I remember not too long ago that a list with just a few features the one above had constituted a pro level camera! Fact is the  K5IIs has a lot more than that list above and is probably one of the most comprehensive DSLR's on the market in terms of capability (less the K3 of course).

Pentax K5IIs Review: Setting up the K5IIs

Personalization is the name of the game with Pentax, so I won't make recommendations to readers on how to set up your  K5IIs in regards to functions and buttons. However, I will suggest a few things that might not have occurred to you that are advantageous, as well as image quality settings for Jpegs that will give you the most detail and output for your card space (if you are going to save 16mp Jpegs, they should have the most detail, right?).

First off, setting up the K5IIs's LCD back ground color to RED will help  you with night blindness. Did any of you know that red keeps the eyes from dilating? In fact, in near darkness, a red shirt will look darker than a black one in the same scene. Bet you didn't know that. So if you want to change it to red like me, go to the tool main menu, scroll down in section 1 to Status Screen, then scroll down to Display Color and arrow through till you see red pop up. Done. Hard to find actually!

Auto Five. I highly recommend using auto focus using the central 5 points for fast moving subjects or in general. I'm primarily a spot AF user (central AF point always), but Pentax did such a good job in the Auto 5 implementation that I find I use it more than spot AF. They seem to prioritize the central spot of the 5 in auto use, which makes a lot of sense.

For Jpeg shooters (those who do not also shoot or develop raw files), I think its best to turn off noise reduction completely, and back off sharpening to its lowest setting. There is still some noise reduction being applied even though Pentax gives an "off" setting (why do manufactures call it off when its not?). This is plenty of noise reduction while still keeping a good amount of detail. Sharpening is best done later since you can decide what kind of sharpening and how much you want applied. Since this camera does not have an anti-aliasing filter, not much sharpening is needed anyhow.

Pentax K5IIs Review: Feature Differences

Three key differences separate the  K5IIs from the K5, and two differences separate the K5II from the K5. A new Safox X AF module promises more accurate AF, and better low light AF. A new gapless resin mated glass LCD screen covers the backside which gives the user scratchless ease of mind, and better viewing angles. The third difference and only difference from the K5IIs and the K5II is that the sensor is now anti-alias filter free, which allows for more fine detail to be captured right off the sensor. With this benefit however,  the unfortunate influx of moire can be seen in certain areas of the images, but only in certain subjects. Lets talk about the differences.

Pentax K5IIs Review: Auto Focus Report:

The  K5IIs is living up to all expectations on the improvements in Autofocusing and surpassing in some areas (AF accuracy in PDAF for example). Not only is it quick to focus it seems the increased sensitivity is making it one of the most accurate PDAF DSLRS I've ever used to date (in fact I can't think of another that has been more consistent or reliable in accuracy).  Details broke down below.

Autofocus Speed with geared lenses is noticeably quicker through the cycle, that motor is definitely revving faster than the K5's, and subsequently its a bit louder. Using SDM, HSM or other silent motor lenses solves the loudness. Speed depends on how fast the SDM/HSM type lens focuses, but with my Sigma 18-250mm DC HSM (newest model) the combo of the lens and camera focuses extremely fast, fast enough for action subjects of all kinds.

Autofocus Sensitivity in low light is the best I've used in ANY DSLR to date. It's a big improvement over the K5 and you notice it right away. Although the  K5IIs has a dedicated AF assist lamp, it uses it much more sparingly than the K5 did. It AF module is simply much more sensitive at all light levels, especially lower light levels. For fun, I tried several different light sources in very dim circumstances to see when the AF assist lamp would kick in or, the K5IIs would give up focusing. For low contrast subjects it would give up in very dim circumstances, but those were the most extreme cases I could engineer. It's an impressive camera for low light work.

Autofocus Accuracy seems better with the  K5IIs to me, and that could very well be due to the more sensitive Safox X AF module, and the new processing from the Prime chip. Whatever it is, it's better. Hit rates on accuracy are higher for me than the K5 in all light levels. Since the K5 did already very good in this respect, its nice to see an improvement here.

Pentax K5IIs Review: LCD Panel

The rear panel is shaped different around the LCD, and the LCD screen cover is now GLASS, not hard plastic. It's very much easier to read in all circumstances too. I think both of these aspects make a big difference with the  K5IIs vs. the K5 because I use that LCD so much. Also, glass is not only scratch resistant but much easier to keep clean than plastic screens. And since there isn't a small ridge between the glass and magnesium back panel (very tight tolerance and fit now) its even easier to keep your  K5IIs screen looking sharp. In short, I love the "new" LCD screen. It's easy to see in just about most circumstances (bright sunny light on it will be difficult as all screens are), its plenty detailed, and highly tunable for color, contrast, and brightness. It may not be a white magic type LCD panel, but I don't think photographers are going to miss that much.

Pentax K5IIs Review: Sensor Detail 

Finely rendered details, especially when using excellent glass, are improved dramatically (just see test below in Sensor Performance). Just like the Ricoh GR, the lack of the anti-aliasing filter means that every shot is clean right off the lens, blurring via a filter is no longer hindering the performance of the glass in front of the sensor. Although moire (false colors) can be present in repeated pattern subjects, the presence of such in real life shooting is very minimal. Granted I'm shooting mainly natural subjects, but even moire can be removed with a bit of post processing. If moire is something of a major issue for you, then get the K5II or K3 DSLR's.

Benefits of having more fine detail vs. a comparable 16mp sensor with the filter in place include- Larger and detailed print capability, and more cropping capability. Every lens you attach will now show more fine detail, and especially so on really good performing lenses such as one of the many prime lenses that Pentax offers.

Pentax K5IIs Review: Sensor Performance

DXOMark shows the K5IIs's sensor to be the #23rd ranked overall  of all sensors tested by that site. There are only two APS-C sensors ranked higher than the K5IIs. What does that mean to you though? It just means that a site that tests sensors in a very much consistent fashion, finds that only two other APS-C sensors can perform better across a broad range of testing parameters. In real life, what does this translate too?

Having tested a lot of DSLRS, both FF and APS-C, it actually translates into quite a lot. For landscape shooters, ISO 80 yields the best dynamic range (in raw) of any APS-C sensor - which ranks #6th place in the dynamic range category of ALL cameras on that site. That, is simply amazing. You'd have to spend at least $1,500 to $2,000 dollars or more on a body to get one tenth more DR than the  K5IIs has in raw files. And to get three tenths more DR, you'd have to buy an even more expensive camera.

Keeping this in perspective, as of this writing not one medium format camera shows more dynamic range in its raw files than the K5IIs. Hands down, the sensor performance for the price of this camera, is better than ANY camera DXOMark has tested. Fact is you get a lot more than just a sensor from the K5IIs.

In real life I find the  K5IIs to have enormous amount of shadow detail available with very low noise penalty. So much so, I've never tested a better camera in this regard, only the K5 ties it in most respects. This means that if you expose for highlights, even in very tough lit scenes with a great range of highlights vs. shadows, one exposure may be possible to recover your shadows without a massive detail and noise penalty that you may be used too in other cameras. In fact, I've done it, and the shadows look fantastic- even for sunrise or sunset shots. Fear not, expose for those reds in the sky, and the rest is gravy if you develop your raw files. This is just a sample below, sorry I didn't  include any sunset or sunrise samples  for this part of the review.

Detail with a sharp lens is simply, superb. Please, I employ you to use a good lens though if to really see what you can get from the K5IIs. You don't have to use an expensive lens! The below shot is using a very affordable Pentax DA 50mm f/1.8 at f/5.6, which is around $200.00 USD. The first sample below is a 100% crop of an image below, using Elements 12 from raw (ACR developed), no NR or sharpening was applied at all. Not bad, right?

Now this is the same raw file, with a 301% .3 sub pixel radius sharpening applied (sub radius is the best kind of sharpening for fine detail). The detail is simply ridiculous, and this is not the sharpest lens that can be used on the K5IIs, although it is a very good performer and also hard to beat for the price. You can almost read the letters on that little white and blue sign next the the far left tree in this scene.

For perspective, take a look at the scene before a crop was applied above. I've yet to see detail rival this sensor on any camera up to 20 mega pixels in fact. The detail you get rivals what most 24mp sensors could give you that have an anti-alias filter over the sensor. It's that good. The K3's detail, must be freaking off the chart with a good lens. This kind of detail on the  K5IIs would make for an excellent 30x40" print right from a raw file.

Just remember that if you are going to use the sharpening method I did, to NOT sharpen in ACR before using the Photoshop sharpening tool. Back off the sharpening and detail sliders to zero before finishing your image in Photoshop.

So ok, we know how the K5IIs performs at lower ISO's which really shows no measurable noise at all. So for landscapes, detail and dynamic range are the name of the game here (along with excellent color depth, ranked #35th on DXOMarks site overall in this category). The reason for the lower score than the other two, is likely due to some on chip NR being done before the final processing begins in camera. Some believe this sensor would perform even better had Pentax not chose this method, but who is really complaining? I'm not.

Now when shooting higher ISO's the K5IIs still scores very well here at #38 with only a few APS-C cameras above its ranking. Other than that, its all full frame and medium format cameras owning this category. Even though the low light performance is ranked a bit lower than other tests, keep in mind it ranks 38th out of 269 tested cameras total. And in real life, what does this mean? Totally useable raw files up to 25,600 ISO in color, with 51,200 ISO best in black and white only. This means the K5IIs is excellent from base ISO to very high ISO values which gives you, the user, a lot of shooting options from one single camera.

Here is a shot in very low light at ISO 12,800 in raw. No NR was done to the luminescence channel, only in the chroma category at 20 on the ACR slider. This is a very fine example of what to expect from the K5IIs. And to throw a nice spin on this, I shot this image 1.3EV lower than I could have for an even exposure. Had I shot this at 1.3ev brighter, the noise would have been even less so apparent. Still, perfectly acceptable by my standards here.

Here is a 100% crop of the same shot above to show the ability to keep detail, even with a very high ISO engaged. Very tight grain structure, kind of "pretty" by grain standards I'd say. It definitely has a more film style grain pattern to it that is pleasing to the eye. In fact, it adds a bit of character that low ISO images just don't have. It's a matter of taste but regardless a very good performing camera here (better than the camera I used for the subject too).

Pentax K5IIs Review: Battery Life 

Pentax rates the K5IIs at 980 shots CIPA standard, and your use will definitely vary based on how often you use live view and lenses with SDM/HSM focusing motors. I find that worst case scenario the K5IIs will shoot as low as 500 shots (roughly, using live view and flash and video modes with SDM/HSM focusing lenses), and 1200 shots best case (managing power very strictly with almost no use of flash or live view). Average I'd say that you can get about 800 shots on a charge without stressing, and that's very good! One battery can last a weekend easily if you manage your power wisely.

Pentax K5IIs Review: Is there bad news?

Fortunately there is very little bad news with the K5IIs. But I did make a few notes during the testing process that are worth sharing.

In a sequence that I cannot duplicate, the K5IIs locked up on me completely which required me to pull the battery out and put it back in. I don't recall what I did... and, this was before I upgraded to the latest firmware. I have upgraded it since then, and I've had no lock ups since... so please update your firmware properly. I've experienced no other bugs of any kind in the K5IIs, shooting in many different kind of circumstances.

One area I think the K5IIs falls short is in processing power. Don't confuse that with buffer depth, because the K5IIs has plenty of buffer even for raw files. No, I'm talking about normal processing after the shots have been made, the little red light stays on too long unless you are shooting Jpeg only. And overall processing for in camera developing or other tasks is a bit pedestrian for this level of camera. I find that if I shoot a sequence of raw files I do have to wait a bit longer than I want to enter menus or perform other tasks. Fortunately I can keep on shooting though, which, is good enough to keep this criticism from entering a "deal breaker" category. 

On occasion, I find the K5IIs to miss focus ironically in live view mode when using the center AF position and the contrast detection focus method. I'm not sure why this happens but when it does the AF is so far off, it's completely noticeable and the camera still gives you an "ok to go".  When it does lock in live view using contrast detect, it is extremely accurate.

Other small quibbles are the fiddly metering switch (too small and hard to move) and the post style strap lugs, which thankfully are located such that they do not push into the hand.

None of the above are big issues in the slightest. The K5IIs has fewer irritations overall than any camera I've tested that I can recall. It definitely bests the K5 too. 

Pentax K5IIs Review: Conclusion

DSLR's have it bad. Its users are a demanding bunch that have a vast array of photographic skill sets and photographic interests alike. If you are a small camera maker, trying to please such a wide array of buyers in one DSLR is well, a daunting task to say the least. Pentax attempted to do just that with the K5IIs, plus, they also attempted to please system camera users by offering a lot of camera in a small space. With the K5IIs, just like the K5 before it, Pentax pulled a weather sealed magnesium rabbit out of its hat.

For this user, the K5IIs is everything I wanted the K5 to be, for the most part. The seemingly subtle changes made in the K5IIs over its predecessor aren't so subtle to me, they are glaringly obvious and definitely appreciated.

Let it be known that I keep my cameras clean. I hate the normal plastic LCD screen covers and worrying about them getting scratched all the time, and don't like buying an aftermarket protectors... it's just been a pet peeve of mine. Thankfully, Pentax addressed that concern with the K5IIs (previously they did the same with some of the limited models), giving us a glass LCD screen cover. No worries about scratching it (for the most part), and cleaning it is a breeze. Viewing the screen has improved too, noticeably with its glass coated gapless design too, which is always good on a fixed screen display. Simply stated, viewing the screen from many angles is quite good, and bests its predecessor.

Image quality has improved too, namely detail, with it's anti anti-aliasing filter design. More detail is immediately present off of that already impressive (and still highest overall rated) APS-C sensor, especially when using sharp (perhaps prime) lenses. Now the DSLR I use, rivals my GR Digital (APS-C sensor) pocket camera in detail. The lack of the AA filter means that this already extremely versatile sensor becomes even more versatile, and I welcome it.

From landscapes to low light street shooting, the K5IIs is simply SUPERB. You're not going to get better performance until you really step up to a very nice full frame sensor DSLR for a much higher price tag. It should meet the needs handily for most photographers, and their applications. It's hard to justify the desire for more performance in a sensor at this stage in my photographic career.

Autofocusing is also improved, to the point that lenses sometimes are the bottle neck in terms of AF performance. Just depends on the lens you are using. HSM lenses such as the 18-250mm DC HSM from Sigma focus blazingly fast and accurate on the K5IIs, even for moving subjects. I recommend an SDM or HSM equivalent type lens for action shooters on this camera. That said, the real benefit is for low light shooting. The K5IIs seems to almost see in the dark, and it uses its AF assist lamp sparingly in comparison to other Pentax models I've used in the past. This is very noticeable, and darned impressive in fact.

Otherwise the K5IIs is the full package the K5 was/is and that is quite a feat in itself. This is one packed camera with so many features for the serious photographer that it leaves me confounded they could throw so many controls, features,  and modes in the camera without making it feel heavy on the mind. When I pick up the K5IIs it is with confidence that this little DSLR can handle anything I throw at it, and that it will do so besting all of my expectations. When you pick up a camera that can do that, you can't help but start to admire and love it a bit. It's like, thanks buddy, thanks for doing my bidding so well.

It's hard to write a conclusion about this camera with so many things I could cover that make a meaningful difference to the shooter, myself. I mean, this camera is loaded with goodies that work, it's not a sales pitch- this camera was clearly designed by working photographers to meet the needs of many and do so without creating fuss. That is a major achievement in camera design and I can see why so many shooters love the K5 models out there. To me though, the K5IIs bests them all.

As far as quibbles I have few. Shooting in raw, you may find processing to take longer than you'd want, I do. Although the buffer is good, you can't view images or do most other functions until the camera is done writing to the card- luckily you can still shoot though. Also, I'm not fond of the metering switch location or its implementation- it's a bit fiddly and tedious. A metering switch with less tension and a different shape/size would make a big difference here. Also I would prefer the strap lugs to be recessed much like Canon do on their DSLRS, I find the D-Ring post mounts to be annoying in general. None of these quibbles are deal breakers to me by any respect- Pentax still manages to implement them in a way that don't hinder or annoy me, unlike other makers.

Having said all that, the price of the K5IIs today is simply a steal. It's a remarkable price for the camera you are getting, and deals like this do not come along all that often. Although Pentax is known for jamming a lot of features in their DSLRS, the K5IIs has to be the best value at today's prices that I've ever seen from any DSLR offered on the market. Again, I am factoring features/performance for the price.

If you want one DSLR to grow into, I'd heartily recommend the K5IIs, a nice zoom lens, and a couple to/few primes to go with it. This set up will meet many shooters needs for quite some time. If you'd like more information about the K5IIs that isn't covered here, you can also read my K5 review.

Pentax K-5 IIs Amazon Best Price Easy Check

Keep shooting and be happy (safely)!

-Carl Garrard

**Note: Sample Image Gallery is located at the very bottom of this review, sample images are for viewing only and not available for anything but personal use unless permission is given otherwise by the author of this review.**

Pentax K5IIs Review: Bonus 'Quick' Reviews

A short review was posted on Pentax Forums here: as well as Amazon here:

Pentax K5IIs Review: Awards

For those of you who think my review may be biased that's fine. Just check out the award list of the K5II/s below. Although this may not necessarily sway your opinion, it does speak to a majority consensus of the camera's performance across a broad range of testing methods in the industry.

  • WDC Gold logo web.jpg
  • CI_5_oscars_K7.jpg
  • Reponses_Photo_K7.jpg
  • reviewedcom-ec-award.jpg
  • Photographyblog_com Highly Recommended
  • ePHOTOzine Editor's Choice
  • award.png
  • DPReview_goldaward_web.png
  • Trusted Reviews - Recommended

Pentax K5IIs Review: For those of you interested in Pentax's Promo Video 


PENTAX RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. is pleased to announce the launch of the PENTAX K-5II digital SLR camera as its new flagship model of the acclaimed PENTAX K series.

This new model is designed to be the successor to the PENTAX K-5 (launched in October 2010), which has been very well received for its compact but solid, functional body and high-quality image reproduction. As the flagship model of the K series, the K-5 II boasts many advanced functions and user-friendly features, including a newly developed AF sensor assuring a broader AF working EV range, to accommodate many kinds of shooting conditions and photographic requirements.

Also launched together is the PENTAX K-5 II s, an Anti-aliasing filter-less variant of the new camera. The K-5 II s is perfect for photographers who prioritize the image resolution over all other factors, with a clear understanding of the function and characteristics of an anti-aliasing filter.

* Within the digital cameras that have APS-C size sensor as of August 31st 2012 (based on PENTAX’s research).

Major Features

A new SAFOX X AF module for the top AF performance in its class

The K-5 II features a newly developed, highly sensitive SAFOX X AF module. Thanks to the unit’s high-sensitivity AF sensor, which performs brilliantly in low-light conditions, this new module offers a broad AF working EV range (-3 EV to +18 EV). SAFOX X can work with luminous flux based on F2.8 levels in addition to that of F5.6. This increase the AF accuracy drastically when using with very fast lenses Coupled with an upgraded AF algorithm, it delivers exceptional AF performance, including such useful features as a select-area expansion function, which automatically tracks the subject even when it moves away from a pre-assigned select point by assessing distance data collected by neighboring focus sensors.

High-quality LCD monitor with outstanding visibility outdoors

The K-5 II comes equipped with a 3.0-inch, wide-view, air-gap-free LCD monitor with approximately 921,000 dots. Sandwiched between the front glass panel (which is coated with an anti-glare film) and the LCD screen is a unique resin layer that cuts down the reflection and dispersion of the light to effectively prevent ghost images and greatly reduce brightness loss. The front panel is also made of tempered glass to keep it free of scratches and abrasions.

High-resolution, true-to-life images with minimal noise

With its large sensor measuring 23.7mm by 15.7mm in size with approximately 16.28 effective megapixels, the K-5 II’s latest-generation CMOS image sensor assures high-speed image data readout. By coupling this high-performance image sensor with the acclaimed PRIME (PENTAX Real Image Engine) II imaging engine, the K-5 II delivers super-high-resolution, rich-gradation digital images free of digital noise over a wide sensitivity range — from ISO 100 to ISO 12800 in standard setting, or from ISO 80 to ISO 51200 when expanded via a custom function.

Bright, clear optical viewfinder with a 100% field of view

The K-5 II features a glass pentaprism finder with a nearly 100% field of view and approximately 0.92-times magnification (with a 50mm F1.4 lens at infinity) to provide a sharp, clear view of the entire image field and improve the accuracy and speed of focusing and image composition. It also comes with the renowned Natural-Bright-Matte III focusing screen to facilitate manual-focus operation.

Compact, solid body with dustproof, weather-resistant construction perfect for outdoor shooting

The K-5 II’s exterior casing is made of sturdy yet lightweight magnesium alloy, while its chassis is made of highly rigid stainless steel. Thanks to the inclusion of 77 special seals in the body, it boasts a dustproof, weather-resistant and cold-resistant construction, assuring reliable operation even under demanding outdoor conditions, and at temperatures as low as -10°C. It also features a dependable shutter unit that provides a top shutter speed of 1/8000 second and the outstanding durability to withstand as many as 100,000 shutter releases.

High-speed continuous shooting to capture up to seven images in a second

The K-5 II’s high-speed continuous shooting mode records as many as 30 images (in the JPEG format) in a single sequence at a maximum speed of approximately seven images per second, allowing the photographer to preserve sharp, crisp images of active, fast-moving subjects — such as athletes, stage performers and wildlife — with great ease.

PENTAX-original SR mechanism with user-assisting options

The K-5 II features the PENTAX-developed SR (Shake Reduction) mechanism, which effectively compensates the adverse effect of camera shake by approximately three shutter steps, to produce sharp, blur-free images. This image sensor shift-type SR mechanism works with almost all PENTAX interchangeable lenses — even those designed for film-format cameras.* Thanks to its flexible design, which tilts the image sensor unit in all directions, the K-5 II offers several useful features to assist the photographer during shooting, such as auto level compensation and image-composition fine-adjustment functions. In combination with the optional GPS Unit O-GPS1, it also offers an ASTROTRACER function to simplify astronomical photography.
* Lenses compatible with this mechanism: PENTAX K-, KA-, KAF-, KAF2- and KAF3-mount lenses; screw-mounted lenses (with adapter); and 645- and 67-system lenses (with adapter). Some functions may not be available with certain lenses.

Innovative image-processing functions to produce distinctive photographic expressions

The K-5 II features the custom image function, which allows the users to easily select the desired finishing touch for a particular image, in order to more faithfully express their creative intention or emphasize the prevailing atmosphere. This function offers a choice of nine distinctive custom image modes, such as: Bleach Bypass, which creates a solemn visual effect used in motion pictures; and Cross Process, which produces eye-catching images with unique, dramatic colors. The K-5 II also offers 18 digital filters including Sketch and Posterization to add distinctive visual effects to captured images, without the need of a computer. The user can even apply different filters one after another to a single image to create more inventive visual effects.

K-5 II s achieves supreme resolution

*The K-5 IIs is a model offered without an anti-aliasing filter; this filter, commonly found in DSLRs, helps smooth computer generated imagery by decreasing high frequencies and distortion, but also reduces detail resolution. Without this filter included, the K-5 II s creates opportunities for deeply rich, detailed imagery at supreme resolution levels. Capture stunning landscapes and scenes with maximum depth of field and clarity. The K-5 II s model is the perfect choice for studio and commercial photography where camera settings, lens selection and shooting conditions are controlled.

Other features

  1. 77-segment multi-pattern metering system, for extra-accurate light measurement
  2. Customizable Slow Shutter Speed NR (Noise Reduction) setting, with a choice of Auto, On and Off modes
  3. Customizable High-ISO sensitivity NR (Noise Reduction) setting, with a camera-dependent Auto mode and a user-adjustable reduction strength preset for each ISO setting
  4. Electronic Level function, with a vertical level scale
  5. Automatic compensation of distortion and lateral chromatic aberration (available only with DA-,DFA- and FA Limited-series lenses)
  6. CTE mode, to automatically adjust the white-balance to emphasize the dominant colors of a specific scene
  7. DR II (Dust Removal II) mechanism, to effectively shake dust off the CMOS image sensor using ultrasonic vibration
  8. PENTAX-original Hyper control system, to swiftly and accurately respond to the photographer’s creative intentions
  9. Dynamic-range expansion function, to compensate for both whitewashed (overexposed) highlight area and black-out (underexposed) shadow area
  10. RAW  data retrieve function to save an original raw data of a just-recorded JPEG-format image
  11. RAW/Fx button, for single-action switching of image file format, as well as for assignment and instant recall of a specific function
  12. A choice of three grid patterns while in Live-view mode, including “Golden Section”
  13. Long battery life, for recording of approximately 980 images with full recharge
  14. PENTAX Digital Camera Utility 4 software package, including a RAW-data processing and browser application (based on the popular SILKYPIX RAW-data processing engine developed by Ichikawa Soft Laboratory) and a browser application
HDMI, the HDMI Logo and High-Definition Multimedia Interface are trademarks or registered trademarks of HDMI Licensing LLC.♦ All other brands or product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.♦ Designs and specifications are subjects to change without notice.

Pentax K5IIs Review: Random Sample Image Gallery

These shots I made during the testing process with the K5IIs using three different lenses- the (new model) Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC HSM, Pentax DA 50mm f/1.8, and Pentax DAL 55-300mm f/4-5.8. The shots that exhibit the best detail are from the 50mm DA f/1.8, simply because it is the sharpest lens of the bunch. Not one shot I made in the review process exhibited Moire, and that is because I did not shoot subjects that had repeating patterns. It's documented elsewhere that clothing and other repeat pattern subjects will show false colors when you view your images at 100%. A brief explanation is included under each photograph giving basic information.

ISO 800 Sigma 18-250mm @ f/8, 250mm (ACR converted)
ISO 2,000 Sigma 18-250mm @ f/8 250mm (ACR converted)
ISO 32,000 Pentax DA 50mm f/1.8 (ACR converted)
ISO 800 Sigma 18-250mm @f/8 18mm (ACR converted)

ISO 80 Pentax DAL 55-300mm @ f/11 300mm (ACR converted and heavily cropped)

ISO 800 Sigma 18-250mm @ f/8 250mm (ACR converted and heavily cropped)

ISO 400 Sigma 18-250mm @ f/8 250mm (ACR converted, no crop)
ISO 12,800 Pentax DA 50mm @ f/5.6 (ACR Converted)


  1. Hi Carl,

    Thanks for the thorough and informative review.

    I appreciate the time you spent on the review and I am delighted to be able to learn from your experience.


    Brian Sabb

  2. Why can't DPReview make a balanced and comprehensive review such as this?

  3. Great points Carl, I'm glad you also see the improvements in the II series as a big deal. This really is a different camera with the glass screen and safox X! I found af-s mode to update at a faster rate than the K-5 classic; also, the Sigma 18-250 is a bit slower to AF than the da18-135 but tele images show much less color fringing than the Pentax.

    I would cheerfully take a K-3 but for what I do the II series, and especially the IIs, are just right.

  4. Great points Carl, and I'm glad you also see the improvements in the II series as a big deal. This really is a different camera with the glass screen and safox X! I found af-s mode to update at a faster rate than the K-5 classic; also, the Sigma 18-250 is a bit slower to AF than the da18-135 but tele images show much less color fringing than the Pentax. The 18-250 and a bag of primes works well for me.

    I would cheerfully take a K-3 but for what I do the II series, and especially the IIs, are just right!

  5. Nice review. I love mine. Especially the improved autofocus from the original K5.
    By the way, what software do you use that provides 301% sharpening at a .3 pixel level? I find Adobe raw maxes out at 150% at .5.

  6. Hi David, I used el cheapo Elements 12. :)

  7. Thanks Jim and the others for the comments too btw. I did read them all.

  8. Thanks Mr Garrrard for this insightful review of the K5 iis. I have been considering that the IIs would be a worthwhile and cost saving upgrade to my aging k5 and I am now convinced it is the way to go. Thanks again.

  9. You're welcome, glad it was of some value to you. That indeed is the best compliment I could get for the work involved in the review.

    Enjoy it and I hope to hear back from you when you use it.

  10. Excellent review, Carl! I can ditto your conclusions to the fullest. I upgraded from my K-5 legacy to the IIs lst October and the difference really IS all that. Where the legacy model would sometimes let me down with focus, the IIs nails it every time all the time. I usually carry the IIs with the DA*50-135mm/f2.8 and use the Ricoh GR as a replacement second body with its 28mm wideangle. Results from both cameras are remarkably similar, especially in raw.

    The IIs should really be marketed as a full-featured top-level APS-C camera next to the K-3 and doesn't deserve a position of "poor older brother" that Pentax traditionally assigns to an older model once the newest is released.

  11. Totally agree Mike :) It's got staying power and longevity built into its design.