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07-31-2018, 10:02 AM - 6 Likes   #1
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My initial impressions of the K-5 IIs

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Whaaaat? Wasn’t the K-5 IIs breaking news like, five or six years ago?

Well, you’re right; this is my first look at an older camera. This is the cumulative result of several things happening in rapid succession here at El Rancho Elliott. First, I sold all of my M43 gear . . . every last scrap of it. I just wasn’t using it, and rather than wait until its value approached zero, I jettisoned the lot. Second, my Scottish thrift genes kicked in, and I decided to experiment with a strategy of adopting “trailing edge” technology. Why take a beating on new stuff when you can pick up some very nice gear for a fraction of the price when brand new? Third, while toodling around the Internet, I noticed that the Pentax K-5 IIs has been given a very high rating for dynamic range by DXOmark. Like most Pentax DSLRs, it is weather-resistant, which is a quality that I admire.

The conclusive factor was that KEH had a used K-5 IIs in nice condition for about 1/3 the price when new. I gave KEH magic numbers, and soon the camera and a couple of WR lenses were headed my way.

My very first impression of the K-5 IIs (hereafter: K5) was that it was heavy, but I quickly realized that wasn’t quite right. The K5 dense . . . ie, it is surprisingly heavy for the amount space it takes up. Almost immediately, I thought: this is too heavy, I’ll return it.

But then I actually shot with the K5, and two factors have me definitely leaning toward keeping it. The first is the quality of the images. They have a look and feel – and a sense of depth in the images -- that I really like.




The second is that I like using the K5. It feels very solidly built and great in my hands. Two days ago I needed to cover a small outdoor event, and it felt very comfortable in my hands. I didn’t spend any time thinking about how to operate the K5. Instead, it was “frame the shot and shoot.”

And that brings me to another key point: I had read online from some sources that maybe the autofocus speeds of Pentaxes as a brand were kinda slow. I have not found it to be so with the K5. With the 18-135 lens mounted, autofocus is virtually instantaneous and very, very positive. Just put the focus square over what you want to focus on, press the shutter down halfway, and – zip – subject snaps into focus, even in very low light. The 55-300 lens will sometimes hunt, and it makes more noise while focusing (a kind of zeet-zeet sound), but it is commendably quick the vast majority of the time. So I am very pleased with the overall performance of the K5. In addition, in actual use, I didn't notice the weight of the K5, so maybe that's a thing that you become accustomed to.

Another thing that is interesting and useful about the K5 is the overall operating scheme. It seems like the Pentax design engineers had a meeting one day and said “If it’s important, we’ll have a button to access it and a dial to adjust it. So there is a dial on the front of the pistol grip and one on the back of the camera near where you rest your thumb, and quick-access buttons all over the place. There are buttons for ISO and exposure compensation on the top plate; buttons for auto-exposure lock, white balance, exposure mode (bright, natural, etc.), flash and self-timer on the back of the camera. Basically, if there is something that you would likely adjust frequently, there is a button to access it, and a dial to change it. There is also a quick access panel, and a menu system that seems actually comprehensible. About the only aspect of the control system that I don’t like is that the photo view and delete buttons are at the upper left (to the left of the viewfinder) and the OK button for confirming deletions is on the right side of the camera in the middle of the four-way controller, so it is awkward to try to do everything is just one hand . . . but that is a minor quibble.

Overall, I find the K5 is robust, fun to use, and produces images that inspire me to hunt light and beauty.

Cheers, Jock

07-31-2018, 10:34 AM - 3 Likes   #2
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Welcome to the forums. I think you made a very good decision. And nice pictures by the way!

Yes newer cameras have better sensors but the difference isn't as dramatic as some people would have you believe. I had a K-r (which came out in 2010 but the sensor was already out in previous models) and I could go to ISO 6400 if needed, and had better results than with my K-S1 (which is a bit newer than the K-5IIs) at ISO 6400 (I shoot RAW, I'm sure if I shot JPEG the newer camera would be better). I know it's not apples to apples as the K-r had a 12MP sensor and the K-S1 is 20MP, but still...

But honestly, the glass you put in front of the sensor makes a lot more difference. With Pentax, like with µ4/3, you have a lot of jewel-like prime lenses that balance beautifully well with the Pentax bodies. Some are very, very inexpensive like the "Plastic Fantastic" DA 35mm f/2.4. And then there's all the legacy glass since the 60s... some quite sharp and contrasty even for today's standards (like the "nifty fifties" - the M 50mm 1.7 and the M 50mm f4 Macro (both from the late 70s) are especially good. And they cost me next to nothing. They also bring a pleasure in shooting with the "M" mode (where I set ISO and aperture and the camera helps me set shutter speed if I want it to), and then focusing manually. When I take a picture with such manual lenses, I feel like I amd the one who took the picture - not the camera's computer... and being made of mostly metal, they are such a joy to handle and use...

Make sure you share more pictures!
07-31-2018, 10:40 AM - 1 Like   #3
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Hi Jock,

The real magic number is ISO 80 where the ISO takes on mystical qualities. Also, if you want to feel heavy, pick up a K1 and the K5IIs becomes a real feather weight.

07-31-2018, 10:54 AM - 1 Like   #4
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Nice review!

I have a K5 (the first one), bought for about the same reasons as you.

I am thinking of upgrading eventually. Would the IIs be a perceivable enhancement?

07-31-2018, 10:58 AM - 3 Likes   #5
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Good choice.
I have had several of the digital offerings, the K5 is the one which really grabbed me.
I can't explain it, I also have a K3 which has more pixels, better autofocus, yadda yadda yadda but the K5 is very special. it fits perfectly in the hand, its ergonomics are great, features are perfect for what i use it for (landscape/outdoors/static), and the images have a certain wow-factor that the bigger brother can't emulate. It's not a thing I can put into words, the K5 is just a very special camera. Strap on a 'Limited' lens and you have a near perfect combination IMHO.
Suffice to say I won't be selling my K5 ever.
07-31-2018, 11:54 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChristianRock Quote
Welcome to the forums. I think you made a very good decision. And nice pictures by the way!

Yes newer cameras have better sensors but the difference isn't as dramatic as some people would have you believe. I had a K-r (which came out in 2010 but the sensor was already out in previous models) and I could go to ISO 6400 if needed, and had better results than with my K-S1 (which is a bit newer than the K-5IIs) at ISO 6400 (I shoot RAW, I'm sure if I shot JPEG the newer camera would be better). I know it's not apples to apples as the K-r had a 12MP sensor and the K-S1 is 20MP, but still...

But honestly, the glass you put in front of the sensor makes a lot more difference. With Pentax, like with µ4/3, you have a lot of jewel-like prime lenses that balance beautifully well with the Pentax bodies. Some are very, very inexpensive like the "Plastic Fantastic" DA 35mm f/2.4. And then there's all the legacy glass since the 60s... some quite sharp and contrasty even for today's standards (like the "nifty fifties" - the M 50mm 1.7 and the M 50mm f4 Macro (both from the late 70s) are especially good. And they cost me next to nothing. They also bring a pleasure in shooting with the "M" mode (where I set ISO and aperture and the camera helps me set shutter speed if I want it to), and then focusing manually. When I take a picture with such manual lenses, I feel like I amd the one who took the picture - not the camera's computer... and being made of mostly metal, they are such a joy to handle and use...

Make sure you share more pictures!
A few more photos? Well ... twist my arm!


Cheers, Jock
Attached Images
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PENTAX K-5 II s  Photo 
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PENTAX K-5 II s  Photo 
07-31-2018, 11:57 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by szs Quote
Nice review!

I have a K5 (the first one), bought for about the same reasons as you.

I am thinking of upgrading eventually. Would the IIs be a perceivable enhancement?
Would it be an enhancement? In the AF department, definitely yes.

In the IQ department, the answer is technically yes, but in real world use they are pretty similar. Some claim that they can see the added sharpness that comes from not having a AA filter. Maybe in some situations that would be true but I think a blind test with just real every day pictures (not counting heavily processed ones) would probably be very similar. I think other factors would make more of a difference (mostly lenses and of course the photographer...)

Still, the AF improvements might make it worth it for you. I know they would for me. The K5 had issues missing focus under artificial light and that was resolved with the K-5II/K-5IIs. I had the same issues with the K-r I had, which came out around the same time as the K5 so it also had similar artificial light issues. After missing most shots at one of my kids' preK graduation I sold the K-r and replaced it with the K-S1 and I'm very happy with it. The fantastic viewfinder was icing on the cake...

If you don't take a lot of pictures under low light or artificial light, keeping the K-5 would make sense.
07-31-2018, 01:11 PM - 3 Likes   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jock Elliott Quote
A few more photos? Well ... twist my arm!


Cheers, Jock
Those are nice... but if I may make a comment, they are taken at f11 and ISO 3200 and very fast shutter speeds... you could probably take the same shots at f5.6-f8 and lower shutter speeds and ISO 100-400 (leaving anything higher for indoors and low light). And the results would impress you even more.

07-31-2018, 01:52 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChristianRock Quote
Those are nice... but if I may make a comment, they are taken at f11 and ISO 3200 and very fast shutter speeds... you could probably take the same shots at f5.6-f8 and lower shutter speeds and ISO 100-400 (leaving anything higher for indoors and low light). And the results would impress you even more.
Well, now that you mention it, I have been having one issue with the K-5 IIs: when I use the auto-iso, it seems to always go to the highest ISO, no matter what.

What I would like, if I have my preference, is that the camera would maintain lower ISOs automatically and then increase the ISO when it was really needed.

Any advice or counsel to offer?

Cheers, Jock
PS -- Thanks for the feedback!
07-31-2018, 02:05 PM - 2 Likes   #10
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Disable Auto-iso and glue the button in place.

Welcome and nice images btw.
07-31-2018, 02:10 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kevin B123 Quote
Disable Auto-iso and glue the button in place.

Welcome and nice images btw.
Now, where did I leave that epoxy?

Cheers, Jock
07-31-2018, 06:41 PM - 1 Like   #12
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Did you perhaps have the minimum ISO set to the same as the max by mistake? I think that happened to me before...
07-31-2018, 07:45 PM - 1 Like   #13
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There is an Auto-ISO setting on one of the menus where you can set the speed of ISO increase to slow, normal, or fast. Maybe try slow.
08-01-2018, 02:23 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChristianRock Quote
Did you perhaps have the minimum ISO set to the same as the max by mistake? I think that happened to me before...
No . . . I checked. But I did have the highlight and shadow protection turned on.

So I turned them off -- just in case they caused something regarding ISO selection -- set the ISO range to 100-400, and set the rate of change to SLOW.

Cheers, Jock
08-01-2018, 06:23 AM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jock Elliott Quote
No . . . I checked. But I did have the highlight and shadow protection turned on.

So I turned them off -- just in case they caused something regarding ISO selection -- set the ISO range to 100-400, and set the rate of change to SLOW.

Cheers, Jock
And the beauty of having the User settings is that you can save a setup like this (eg. for daylight) and have another more low light friendly set up going to ISO 1600 or 3200 or whichever you feel is a good compromise.

But what I find interesting is that every once in a while someone will have that problem, but I've owned 5 different Pentax bodies by now (still have 3) and I've never experienced this, even when shooting in P mode.
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