In October 2010, Pentax launched the original Pentax K-5, a high-end, weather-sealed APS-C DSLR. To date, this camera ranks among the best in its class in terms of image quality and value.
The main improvements in the K-5 II include a new autofocus system called SAFOX X, which operates in low light down to -3EV, and a redesigned LCD screen, which is easier to see outdoors. In addition to these changes, the K-5 IIs also employs a filterless sensor design, meaning that it will be able to deliver a much higher effective image resolution. In almost all other respects, the K-5 II and IIs are identical to its predecessor. The K-5 II is launching with an MSRP of $1199 in the US, while the K-5 IIs is only $100 more. The original K-5 cost $1749 back in 2010, but the last few batches are selling at just $749. If you're looking to get a high-end APS-C camera, we hope that this review will help you decide between a new or used K-5 and the K-5 II/IIs.
Of all the new features, we believe the most exciting is the lack of an anti-alias filter on the Pentax K-5 IIs. The omission of said filter promises an increase in image quality and we will investigate if this promise is met on the following pages.
For the purposes of this review, we will be assuming that the image quality of the Pentax K-5 II and K-5 is identical, as stated by Pentax at Photokina 2012 and we have used a K-5 for image comparisons with the K-5 IIs (update: as of December, 2012, it has been confirmed through independent tests that the image quality of the K-5 and K-5 II is the same for all practical purposes).
In the remainder of the review, whenever we write "K-5 II", we are referring to both the K-5 II and K-5 IIs unless otherwise noted. Please read our in-depth K-5 review if you wish to learn more about the general image quality of the K-5 / K-5 II.
Many had expected that Pentax would introduce a brand new DSLR in the fall of 2012, rather than just a small upgrade to the K-5. But the approch which Pentax took does have its advantages: for those who upgrade from the K-5, there is no new camera layout to get used to, and accessories like the battery and grip from the K-5 and K-7 will fit the K-5 II, making the upgrade less painful on the wallet. The K-5 has been tried and tested, meaning that the new cameras are not likely to face any significant quality control issues.
In this review, we will be answering three questions: