After the Pentax *ist D DSLRs were superseded by the K-series bodies, Pentax introduced a new position to the mode dial: "USER". This mode essentially allows the photographer to create his or her own program with customized camera settings that can be quickly accessed. It replaced the *ist D's "Custom Function" system, which back then referred to three groups of setting configurations which could be customized within the menu. The user could then switch between these setting groups as needed for different shooting scenarios. The new user mode made this functionality much easier to access, and was also more logical; today, "Custom Functions" is synonymous to "Camera Settings", although the former phrasing is still used by Pentax.
The K10D, K20D, and K-7 all had a single user mode accessible through the mode dial. With the K-5, Pentax introduced four additional user modes, bringing the total up to 5 User Modes! While there is still only one "USER" setting on the mode dial, Pentax has made it very easy to cycle between the the rest of the modes through one push of a button!
4. The K-5's Five "USER" Modes
To access the user modes, select "USER" on the mode dial. When the status screen appears on the LCD, as shown below, you will then be able to use the left and right buttons to switch between the modes.
It is also possible to do this later on; simply press the menu button, and the user mode selection menu will be the first thing you see. The option is located in the record menu.
The K-5's user modes allow you to create custom settings for just about anything! They're useful when shooting in unusual conditions, wanting to quickly apply particular settings on-the-fly, or even when another person with different preferences shoots with the camera.
When the K-7 was first launched last year, many people complained about the different button layout, and the fact that the bracketing button was removed. At first, we were disappointed with this as well, but we quickly realized that the user mode could be put to use to make access to bracketing just as convenient! Once we set up the user mode for bracketing, surely enough, all it took was a change of the mode dial- no tinkering in the menu or the info screen- and we were ready to bracket away! What if we also wanted to use the user mode for something else, however? With the K-7, we'd have a problem. Luckily, with the K-5, that problem is solved, and we can even set up easy access to multiple different types of bracketing (details on that will be posted in a later article!) while using the remaining modes for something else.
In conclusion, we think that the introduction of multiple user modes has added a great deal of flexibility to the K-5! The user modes allow photographers to apply a custom configuration of settings, program lines, and image properties on-the-fly with the touch of a single button. With this, Pentax has made yet another move in the right direction, and it would be nice if they were to continue along this path by adding more user modes for the K-7 through firmware.