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Pentax K-5 IIs vs. K-5 Sample Photos

A peek at the upcoming review of K-5 IIs image quality · Posted on 10-28-2012 in Photographic Articles

We have received a Pentax K-5 IIs and is running it through its paces for our in-depth review which we expect to publish very soon.

It soon became evident from our test shots that the AA-filterless K-5 IIs produces better image quality than the K-5/K-5 II (according to Pentax the K-5 and the K-5 II produce identical image quality so we used our old and trusted K-5 for the comparison).

Below is a 100% crop of a Caterpillar, but first we show the overall scene:


The lens was an smc Pentax FA* 85mm F1.4, set at F5.6. Shutter speed 1/500s, no EV correction, and all image parameters were as per the camera defaults. The photos were taken right after each other.

100% crops from the center of the frame:

Pentax K-5 IIs:

K-5 IIs cat

Pentax K-5:

K-5 cat

The image from the K-5 IIs is visibly cleaner and sharper.

So what about moire (false color patterns)? The K-5 IIs doesn't have an AA filter in front of the sensor so it should in theory be more susceptible to generating moire.

It is not a question of moire or no moire, though. It is a question of less or more. When shooting landscape, buildings and such outdoors we were unsuccessful in provoking moire. Shooting our test chart on the other hand brought out moire in K-5 images as well as in the K-5 IIs images, but significantly more pronounced in the latter case. Regarding contrast and resolution the K-5 IIs again came out well ahead of the K-5.

For this test we used an smc Pentax DA 35mm F2.8 Limited Macro lens set to F4 at ISO 100. Our upcoming review will provide samples at more ISOs and F-stops.

Pentax K-5 IIs:K-5 IIs chart

Pentax K-5: K-5 chart

So there you have it. Unless your work involves making photographs of objects (clothes, textiles, etc.) with fine repeating patterns you might want to consider the advantage in clarity and resolution which the AA filterless K-5 IIs can provide.

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Tord [Delete] Nov 24th, 2012 4:36PM

Interesting to see that some of the moiré is still present with the K-5, so not that big difference, but the IIs is evidently sharper, if having slightly faded colours, easily corrected!

manishved [Delete] Nov 22nd, 2012 1:50PM

I still dont get it - why should something cost more when a part is removed? The K-5 IIs should be cheaper - they removed the AA filter!!!

jonk [Delete] Nov 1st, 2012 9:36AM

What a combo. K-5 IIs on a Sigma 500mm f/4.5. Continuous focus much better than K-5. More keepers.

jonk [Delete] Oct 30th, 2012 12:09PM

I'm very impressed with what I see here. My iis is "out for delivery". I purchased it specifically for use with my Sigma 500mm f/4.5.

hcarvalhoalves [Delete] Oct 29th, 2012 8:20PM

The results are impressive. I guess the IIs would be even sharper with a macro lens in front of it.

robtcorl [Delete] Oct 29th, 2012 12:12PM

"according to Pentax the K-5 and the K-5 II produce identical image quality"

Okay, I'm good then with my K-5 classic.
The IIs pic is very sharp, but for my amateur photos, the classic is all I'll ever need.

michalsmail [Delete] Oct 29th, 2012 9:28AM

And for astrophotography? Would be interested to see a sample. The sharp edges of the Cat's white-on-black lettering intrigue me.

romancos [Delete] Oct 29th, 2012 7:56AM

Patterns, here's when you see ugly face of moire that AA filter removes so sccessful.

Pablom [Delete] Oct 29th, 2012 6:52AM

Frankly, the differences look insignificant to me

Vormulac [Delete] Oct 29th, 2012 3:34AM

This is very interesting and is making me rethink my pre-order of the K5-II. Would it possible to have more side by side comparisons; flowers, clothes, buildings, etc etc?

Alizarine [Delete] Oct 29th, 2012 1:54AM

My K-x produces a lot of moire =)) so it's not a new sight if I get a K-5 IIs. =))

DSims [Delete] Oct 29th, 2012 12:46AM

This "straight out of the camera" comparison is obviously useful because 1) Both the K-5 and K-5 IIs images will improve with sharpening in PP (which other posts have already shown) and the IIs will still come out ahead, and 2) Some applications, including commercial ones, call for shooting only JPGs - so getting better results straight from the camera is significant.

tohax [Delete] Oct 28th, 2012 11:41PM

the details of K5 IIs is good, but not as good as sigma DP1 merryl.

btw, why don't you post the original size image from the camera? and also some shots of fabric (cotton, jeans) would be great.

Paul the Sunman [Delete] Oct 28th, 2012 8:01PM

Direct comparison of straight-from-the-camera images miss the point. The real issue is how well they sharpen in post-processing, without introducing visible sharpening artefacts. There is no point swapping to the IIs if I can get the same effect by turning up the sharpening a notch on the K5 or in pp. Since the anti-aliasing filter actually destroys information, the IIs SHOULD still be better in principle, but is it so in practice?

eastbankflowers [Delete] Oct 28th, 2012 6:22PM

Originally it was stated that the $100 premium for the iiS was because it would not sell as well as the ii. but I tend to differ. the quality shows to me that I would be buying the iis in preference. I expect sales of iiS will outsell the ii. So Pentax, lets swap the pricing around or scrap the premium on the iiS altogether.

oxidized [Delete] Oct 28th, 2012 5:54PM

It would be interesting to see how the cameras compare at apertures other than the len's sweet spot. If you look at the dpreview of the D800 vs D800E they found that the difference in sharpness is only truly significant at F4-F5.8. Wide open aberrations close the gap and past 5.8, diffraction closes the gap in sharpness.

Wired [Delete] Oct 28th, 2012 4:40PM

that is pretty impressive...

i'll wait for the next gen Pentax DSLR though.

Qwntm [Delete] Oct 28th, 2012 3:48PM

K-5/ii sharpened shots are still not as sharp as K-5 iis unsharpened shots.

Class A [Delete] Oct 28th, 2012 3:09PM

@civiletti: The perspective changes slightly between the shots so it seems unlikely that one tripod was used.

Regarding other tests, Adam said that even two different lens copies were used.

BTW, images from cameras with AA filters need capture-sharpening. It does not make sense to conduct comparisons like the one here.

Class A [Delete] Oct 28th, 2012 3:06PM

When you publish your full test, please try to answer the questions I posted in the "Stop Sign: K-5 vs K-5 IIs Comparison Shots" thread.

Please make the results as useful as possible.

Eulogy [Delete] Oct 28th, 2012 2:09PM

Should get some test shots of clothing, such as Denim.

civiletti [Delete] Oct 28th, 2012 1:41PM

How were the images of the Cats focused? Tripod mounted?

goldenarrow [Delete] Oct 28th, 2012 1:39PM

For $1300 you can have a camera that does just as well as a FF camera with an AA filter??? Needs more comparison shots but it is very intriguing.....

goldenarrow [Delete] Oct 28th, 2012 1:36PM

Probably the fashion industry hates moire in their pics and they must have been a big buyer of photo equipment over the years. I think provoking moire could become a new artistic craze in the next few years as a specialty niche. WOW, the cool colors and patterns........

zmohie [Delete] Oct 28th, 2012 1:06PM

it is clear that k5IIs is far better !well done pentax.

LFLee [Delete] Oct 28th, 2012 1:03PM

From these shots.... it appears the problem of moire is really overblown. Wonder why manufacturer put the AA filter in the first place.