Pentax K-50 Review
For those new to Pentax cameras and menus, we'd like to offer some recommendations as to how to get the most out of a new K-50. These settings will (hopefully) help you save time and improve the quality of your photos.
Record Menu Settings
- Habitual JPEG shooters can create their own Custom Image profile by pressing the INFO button when a preloaded profile is selected in the Custom Image screen (page 1 of the Record menu), changing the various settings, and saving their changes. Bear in mind that this will permanently overwrite the chosen preloaded profile, so do it on one you don't plan to use. For everyday use, we like the standard "Bright" profile just fine.
- To speed up image processing and display times, disable all Dynamic Range Settings (Highlight and Shadow Correction) as well as Lens Corrections (Distortion and Lateral Chromatic Aberrations) on page 2 of the Record menu. You can always correct distortions in post-processing software (be it SilkyPix, Lightroom, or some other program), and to get the most out of your shots you should probably be shooting RAW anyway.
- Most novice users should stick to using the default Auto 5 autofocus option, at least at first. More advanced users can explore Focus Point-Select AF, though some will prefer to use the center point and recompose. These options can be found under AF Settings on the 2nd page of the Record menu, within the AF Active Area dropdown.
- Enable Electronic Level Display on the 3rd page of the Record menu. This will give you a visual indication in the viewfinder display and ensure that your horizons aren't crooked. We find this far more useful than the Automatic Horizon Correction, which can only correct plus or minus 1 degree of tilt on its own.
- To improve your focus accuracy, enable Focus Peaking as well as AF Autozoom via the Live View submenu on the 4th page of the Record menu.
- You can also choose a different Contrast AF method within the Live View submenu, if you so desire. The default is Face Detect, which is great for people shots but semi-useless for other subjects. We prefer Select mode (3rd down the list), which lets you manually chose between 100 different focal points.
- We are split on Instant Review (page 4 of the Record menu)—some prefer to leave it at 1 second, while others feel that's not enough time to check for fine sharpness and prefer 3 seconds. Try both and see what you prefer.
Movie Menu Settings
- For most users we recommend leaving the movie Exposure Setting on "P," though more advanced videographers may want to immediately move to Av or M modes.
Playback Menu Settings
- If you like to check the sharpness of your shots immediately after taking them, we suggest that you set Quick Zoom to 8x. This gives you a quick 100% view of the shot being reviewed when you turn the rear e-dial just one click.
Setup Menu Settings
- Once you get accustomed to the camera, you can disable the Guide Display by going to the 1st page of the Setup menu, entering the LCD Display submenu, and unchecking Guide Display. (Otherwise, the guide display pops up every time you switch shooting modes.)
- If you're in the USA, Canada, or another country where the electrical frequency is 60Hz, you should set Flicker Reduction to 60Hz on page 2 of the Setup menu. Otherwise, leave it on 50Hz.
- Similarly, set the correct Video Out option for your country under Interface Options (NTSC or PAL) on page 2 of the Setup menu.
- If you want to mark your photos for all to see, you can enter your Copyright Information on page 2 of the Setup menu.
- In order to save battery power, we recommend leaving Auto Power Off at the default setting of 1 minute.
- To keep your sensor clean, enable startup or shutdown Dust Removal (or both) on the 3rd page of the Setup menu. Finally, whenever you switch lenses, be sure to turn your camera off first, as this will help prevent dust from sticking to the sensor.
Custom Menu Settings
- We like to have as fine control over our settings as is possible. Therefore, we recommend setting EV Steps (C1) to "1/3 EV Steps," and setting Sensitivity Steps (C2) to "As EV Steps."
- To make menu navigation more convenient, set Save Menu Location (C19) to "Save Menu Location." With this setting enabled, whenever you hit the Menu button, the camera will return to your previous place.
- If you plan to shoot a lot of action shots with manual focus lenses, you may want to enable Catch-in Focus (C20). With this feature enabled, you can hold down the shutter release and the camera will fire the shutter the moment the subject comes into focus.
- One of the headline features of any Pentax dSLR is its compatibility with decades' worth of manual-focus K-mount lenses. If you plan on shooting with manual lenses, go into the custom function menu and set Using Aperture Ring (C22) to "Enable."
- Since the K-50's high-ISO performance is so good, we suggest you leave Auto-ISO engaged for most day-to-day shooting. Set a maximum ISO setting you're comfortable with and just fire away. For more controlled shooting, you can easily switch to a specific ISO setting. Adjust these options in the ISO submenu (reached by pressing up on the d-pad).
If you've found a particular setting configuration to work exceptionally well, feel free to share it with our community in the K-50 forum!