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The Pentax X-5 at Photokina

An inexpensivie do-it-all camera? · Posted on 09-25-2012 in Photokina 2012
The Pentax X-5 at Photokina

The Pentax X-5 super-zoom camera was announced a few weeks before Photokina and was available to try out at the show.  In the US, it has just arrived at retailers.

The X-5 is not an interchangeable lens canera but features a permanently affixed 26x zoom lens (equivalent to 22 - 580 mm in the 24 x 36 mm format), so it is effectively a point and shoot camera dressed up to look like a DSLR. The specifications are impressive, though, and the question then is if the X-5 could fill the role of a back-up camera for DSLR shooters? Or is it "just" a , or is it just another point-and-shoot?

Pentax X-5 Specifications
Sensor 16 MP, 1/2.3 in back-lit CMOS
Sensitivity ISO 100 - 6,400
Exposure compensation +/- 2 EV
Expanded dynamic range Yes
Lens 4 - 104 mm (22 - 580 mm eqv.)
F3.1 - F5.9
Shutter 1/4 s to 1/1,500 s
Down to 4s in night mode
Burst rate 10 fps (5 MP images)
Focus Autofocus: 9 points, contrast detect
Manual focus available
Super macro down to 1 cm
Monitor 3 inch, 460,000 dots
Tilts up and down
Viewfinder Electronic, 230,000 dots
Video H.264, MPEG-4, MOV
Full HD at 30 fps
720p at 30 and 60 fps
VGA at 30 fps
HDMI out
Built-in mic Mono
External mic No
Weather resistant No
Size (BxHxD) 120 x 86.5 x 106.5 mm
Built-in flash Yes
Weight (loaded) 599 g

Pixel mapping (unusual in this class)
Powered by 4 AA batteries

Read on for our initial impression...

Our first impression is that it handles well - feels good in the hand. But - surprisingly - the wide and nice looking ring on the lens barrel is neither a zoom ring nor a focus ring! It doesn't turn and simply serves as a grip for your left hand. Zooming is done like on a point-and-shoot with a lever surrounding the shutter release button. And - like on a point and shoot - the operation is sluggish: it is difficult if not impossible to achieve exact framing.

The second disappointment is the electronic viewfinder. It is coarse at just 230,000 dots but worse is that the image freezes for a moment just after autofocus system locks, and when it unfreezes your subject may very well have moved and you must catch up by reframing. Thus, it's definitely not useable to track moving objects. The Ricoh GXR showed us how responsive an EVFs can truly be (the GXR is at a much higher price point, though).

The above two points are really our only gripes. The buttons are well laid-out and the camera feels just right with all buttons within reach of the right hand fingers. There is even a separate button for video recording.

button layout - click to enlarge

The monitor tilts which comes in handy when doing macro photography or when shooting in crowds, but it unfortunately does not articulate.

 monitor tilts - click to enlargeSetting image quality aside (we can't comment until we get a camera in for review) it does appear that you get a lot of camera for below $300. But is it a worthy backup camera for DSLR shooters? We think not. If you come from a DSLR you will not be thrilled with the sluggish zoom function and the freeze-up of the viewfinder image. The Pentax Q or Q10 - if you can forego the viewfinder - is a much more responsive camera. We see the X-5 as beginner's camera or a stepping stone for point-and-shoot users on their way into DSLR or high-end mirrorless shooting.

The full Pentax X-5 specifications are available in our camera database.  The X-5 is already in stock at B&H Photo in New York.

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Samyo [Delete] Oct 4th, 2012 8:00AM

I think this is a very clever camera: not so much from a specs but marketing point. Introducing a camera at that price point will surely attract new customers. And that is what Pentax really needs: establish the brand name on the market again. Those sales will hopefully ensure that Pentax can afford to produce other higher end products in the future and eventually come up with a broader selection of cameras. And attract a new generation of customers - I wouldn't mind giving one of those to a child to learn the first steps in photography without breaking the bank. Or freak out if it breaks.
I don't think Pentax wanted to create an "Uber Super Zoom" and that's how it should be rated. Very clever :-)

kyteflyer [Delete] Sep 28th, 2012 1:35AM

Unimpressive. Specs are mediocre and from the description, so is the performance. I want a new superzoom to replace my Panny FZ100 which isnt up to snuff either, and was waiting to see what Pentax would do. Sadly, it didnt really do anything. I'll be getting the Fuji X-S1

Alizarine [Delete] Sep 25th, 2012 7:14PM

It will eat away the low end competition, if marketed correctly. Those Kodak, GE, Casio compacts will have a hard time edging out the X-5.

But that's where its superiority ends. Even the Q will blow the X-5 away. I've handled one in an event in Manila, and as an SLR user, it just sucks. Except for the tilt screen which I found handy in indoor usage.

rjm [Delete] Sep 25th, 2012 6:22PM

Pentax clearly feels it is a very price-sensitive segment, with price being more important than the inclusion of high resolution, responsive EVF and similar niceties like a zoom ring. This is probably the right decision, given who typically buys these cameras. "People who don't know any better." sounds harsh, but there is some truth to it... this is for the casual market, people who for whom zoom range and megapixel count are the only specifications which matter.

pericombobulation [Delete] Sep 25th, 2012 2:02PM

Seriously, for under $300 it looks pretty nice to me. I have a bit of history with some of the Fuji superzooms, which tend to be durable cameras that perform well. I see the X-5 going up against them. It looks robustly built and solid like the Fujis. Unfortunately there are apparently no threads for a filter, which is a shame, but in all fairness, very few superzooms do.

Laurentiu Cristofor [Delete] Sep 25th, 2012 1:36PM

People that like DSLR styling for compact cameras should be enchanted by this. Then they should try justifying their preference over an RX100.

ChopperCharles [Delete] Sep 25th, 2012 12:29PM

Also, must have Av, Tv modes on the dial.

ChopperCharles [Delete] Sep 25th, 2012 12:27PM

To be even somewhat interesting to me, this needs:

f2.8 lens, f5.6 at maximum zoom. That f2.8 must be good until at least 50mm (equivalent).
Zooming done by rubber grip on lens.
Power switch like a dSLR (surrounding the shutter release)
Threads for filters
Hot shoe
Good EVF. I don't care about the resolution as much as I care about it not freezing.
Decent framerate for continuous shooting. I'm not asking for the stars, but at least 5 fps for 15 frames would be nice (JPEG).
Minimal NR


glanglois [Delete] Sep 25th, 2012 11:44AM

This seems to be good value for the price but is not the superzoom I was hoping for.

I'd be willing to pay USD $600+ for a higher end unit but I won't pay $300 for a camera that does not satisfy.

Canon, I think, has two models with substantially different specs and prices. Here's hoping that Pentax will follow that lead.

alanxj [Delete] Sep 25th, 2012 11:04AM

*** If you want the new*** (keyboard messing up)

alanxj [Delete] Sep 25th, 2012 11:02AM

Instead of making a superzoom camera like everyone else...why not learn from other companies' mistakes and create a better one to begin with? Come on Pentax!!! You could have done better. Can you guys imagine this camera but with manual focus/zoom capabilities and a weather sealed body? Sure the price would be higher, but it would be well worth it. Although making this camera for that price may make more people want to get into this brand because it isn't the worst camera for the money. Good and simple beginner's camera. If you ant the ne costumers to stay, must come up with a better version of the X-5 in the future.

zosxavius [Delete] Sep 25th, 2012 10:18AM


1. Probably noisy and awful
2. Probably slow
3. Most likely not.
4. No hotshoe, so I'm saying no
5. Maybe
6. No
7. Probably sd cards

zosxavius [Delete] Sep 25th, 2012 10:13AM

They should look @ what panny is doing with superzooms. I own an fz35 and it blows this out of the water. I've sold a lot of prints off of that lowly p&s....

Biro [Delete] Sep 25th, 2012 9:17AM

Jim's questions are all legitimate. But from where I stand now, the X-5 is just another point-and-shoot superzoom - and not even a particularly impressive one. I'll bet Pentax doesn't even make it.

JimJohnson [Delete] Sep 25th, 2012 9:03AM

Questions for the future review:
1- image quality
2- shutter lag
3- will it store RAW (DNG) + jpeg
4- can it support external flash (hot shoe or perhaps P-TTL)
5- will the lens accept standard threaded accessories; what diameter
6- does it support the standard Pentax IR remote, or any other remote
7- can it be tethered
8- what storage media type is supported/recommended

adrianpglover [Delete] Sep 25th, 2012 5:49AM

Typo on the last sentence of the second paragraph.

Thanks for always keeping us up to date with these reviews!