Pentax K-5 II / IIs Review
Construction and Handling
The Pentax K-5 II and IIs are fully weather-sealed cameras, and they boast an easy-to-use user interface. Thanks to a magnesium alloy chassis, it is very sturdy and quite durable. The large grip also makes it surprisingly easy to hold. While it has a large array of external buttons, compared to other cameras, Pentax has taken a minimalist approach in this respect. The camera features an ultrasonic dust removal / sensor cleaning system which is practically inaudible. For an in-depth look at the camera's build and handling, please read our in-depth K-5 vs Canon 7D comparison build & handling page.
Compared to the original K-5, the only difference in terms of handling is that the K-5 II/IIs has a new gapless screen design, which Pentax claims makes the screen easier to see outdoors. All this means is that the glass panel covering the LCD is now physically in contact with the screen itself, rather than having a slight gap containg air. The LCD itself has the same size and resolution (3-inch VGA).
We found that with the brightness turned all the way up, both screens are just as easy to see in normal shooting conditions. The surface of the new screen is not as reflective, however, meaning that in direct sunlight, it will be easier to see.
Left: K-5 screen, Right: K-5 II screen
General Use and Menus
One feature which makes this camera very versatile when shooting is Pentax's Hyper Program mode, which is essentially allows you to manually adjust the shutter speed or aperture on-the-fly, without leaving P mode. This is very handy when you would like to force the camera to use a certain aperture or shutter speed setting temporarily. Despite this, no other DSLR manufacturer currently offer this feature!
Pentax cameras have a rather intuitive menu system, and in most areas, tooltips are shown telling you what each button does (i.e. when you select an option, pressing the menu button takes you back to the menu, etc.). For a full overview of the K-5 II's menu system, please see the Pentax K-5 walkthrough.
In addition to the menu, there is a comprehensive info screen (shown above) which lets you easily access most shooting settings. To supplement the top LCD, a status screen showing the current shutter speed and aperture can also be enabled on the rear LCD. The camera supports automatic rotation of the contents of this screen, so that it can easily be read when shooting verticals.
Oddly enough, the possibility of displaying and comparing two images side by side has vanished. When reviewing an image the down arrow brings up a number of actions you can perform like editing the image, converting to RAW, etc. But image comparison is gone.
Like many cameras in its class, the Pentax K-5 II/IIs features a two-axis electronic level, which can be displayed in the viewfinder or on either screen. In addition, the electronic level can be used for automatic in-camera horizon correction, a very handy feature (unless you're trying to photograph something which itself isn't perfectly level!).
The K-5 II/IIs has a quiet shutter rated for 100,000 actuations.
The Pentax K-5 II/IIs supports the D-BG4 battery grip from the Pentax K-7 and Pentax K-5. We recommend this grip for anyone who shoots with large lenses as well as those who find the K-5 to be too small. We have found that the grip adds a great deal of balance to the camera, and of course, it helps you shoot steady verticals.
The grip retails for $199 in the US. In includes two control wheels, the green button, ISO and exposure compensation buttons, the AF button, and the AE-L button. The grip can also hold an extra D-LI90 battery or 6 AA batteries (both trays are included), as well as an extra SD card. Thus, the grip essentially doubles the battery life of your camera, and lets you shoot just under 2,000 photos without having to recharge. The AA tray is handy if you don't have access to electricity for an extended period of time, as the camera can be told to prioritize the grip as its power source.
Below are photos of the Pentax K-5 IIs.
The label containing the camera name has been updated to reflect that this is now a Pentax Ricoh Imaging Company camera rather than a Hoya Imaging Company camera (due to Ricoh's acquisition of Pentax Imaging from Hoya in 2011 and the subsequent merger of Ricoh's imaging division with Pentax).