Pentax K-70 Review
Construction & Handling
Let’s take a closer look at the Pentax K-70's build quality, controls, and handling—some of the most important aspects in the operation of any camera, and key factors you should consider alongside image quality.
The K-70 isn’t a flagship like the K-3 II, so it doesn’t enjoy that camera’s full magnesium-alloy build. Nevertheless, it’s still a very solid camera, and the plastic body may actually stand up to more abuse over time. Compared to the slightly downmarket K-S2, the K-70 feels substantially more durable, and its materials feel more cohesive. Gone is the K-S2’s glossy plastic top plate; instead, the K-70 has a seamless, subtly textured matte polycarbonate across the entire upper surface.
Compared to rivals from other brands, like the Nikon D5500 and Canon Rebel T6i, the K-70 stands apart with weather sealing and dual control dials. You’d need to upgrade to a semi-pro body like the D7200 or 80D to get that kind of protection and versatility, or consider a mirrorless camera like the Panasonic Lumix G85.
The camera’s weather-sealing is effective at protecting it from dust, light rain, and snow when it's paired with a sealed lens, such as the 18-135mm kit lens, or any one of Pentax's AW or WR lenses. Some users have gone to extremes and tested their cameras in downpours, taken them into the shower, or buried them under desert sand, but we don't recommend using yours in these conditions. While out in rain, we also recommend conservative use of the zoom function on lenses that don't feature internal zooming (i.e. most every zoom).
Beneath the polycarbonate exterior, the K-70 has a sturdy metal frame. The camera has no noticeable flex in everyday use, and there’s no detectable creaking or groaning from any of the body panels. The K-70’s grip and sides are covered with a tacky rubber material for extra grip, and the bottom plate features a distinctive scored plastic design; it doesn’t appear to add any functionality, but it certainly looks cool.
One black mark against the K-S2’s design was that the camera's buttons tended to blend seamlessly into the bodywork. That made them difficult to hit without looking. In contrast, the K-70’s buttons have a pronounced raised edge that makes them easy to find when your eye is up to the finder, or while wearing gloves. It’s a definite ergonomic improvement. As with the K-S2, the other switches and dials all feel high-quality, though the mode dial still doesn’t lock. This may annoy some users.
On the whole, the K-70 is a supremely well-built mid-range DSLR—easily the equal of its competition, and a noticeable step up from the K-S2 in several key ways.
The Pentax K-70 inherits the K-S2’s 100% coverage, 0.95x magnification pentaprism optical viewfinder, which puts it on par with the current Pentax flagship and far ahead of the competition. The Nikon D5500, for example, uses a pentamirror viewfinder with 95% coverage and only 0.82x magnification: it’s smaller, darker, and doesn't show the whole frame.
In short, the K-70’s viewfinder is as good as you can get in an APS-C camera. Thus, the K-70 scores full marks in this important area, and we highly recommend it if you’re predominantly a viewfinder shooter (as opposed to a fan of Live View).
The articulating LCD is also identical to the one used in the K-S2. It can be stowed for added protection, inverted to work like a traditional screen, or flipped out and rotated up to 270 degrees. This can prove useful for macro photography, filming, candids, and more. Finally, you can also invert the screen to face it forward for selfies, or to allow your subject to quickly review portraits. However, the K-70 does not share the K-S2’s special automatic “selfie mode” when the screen is turned to face forward.
Considering it's Pentax’s first attempt at an articulating display, the screen feels remarkably durable and the hinge is very well-dampened. It’s also fully weather-proofed, like the rest of the camera.
Handling and Ergonomics
Despite its more serious design, the K-70 won’t weigh you down compared to the K-S2. It’s only 10g heavier at 688g, and a touch bigger in all dimensions. However, it’s substantially heavier than rivals like the Nikon D5500 (470g) or Canon Rebel T6i (555g).
That extra weight does make the camera feel more substantial and durable, but you’ll feel it over the course of a long day of shooting. The 18-135mm kit lens is also heavier than Nikon and Canon equivalents, which compounds the issue. In our eyes, however, the slight weight increase is worth it for the superior build and added weather sealing.
With few exceptions, Pentax has always prioritized handling and ergonomics, and the K-70 isn't any different. Its grip is improved over the K-S2’s—much more akin to the K-50’s, or even the K-3 II’s—with extra padding on the right side of the camera and a deeper indentation for your middle finger. We still prefer the grips on the K-3 II and K-1, but the K-70’s provides nearly as much purchase. In addition, as we’ve previously mentioned, the buttons are now easier to press thanks to their elevated edges. Put these two improvements together and you have a camera that’s a lot easier to handle than the K-S2.
Like the K-S2, the K-70 has a small, raised, rubberized rear thumb grip. It’s not as comfortable as the more sculpted rear grips on the K-3 II and older K-50, but it’s certainly good enough for most applications. The rubber gets dirty over time, however, and will need to be cleaned more frequently than the rest of the body, if you’re the kind of person who keeps your kit sparkling.
Button Layout and Ports
The Pentax K-70’s button layout isn’t as complex as the company’s high-end DSLRs, but it offers much of the same functionality. To wit, it has two control wheels, plenty of dedicated buttons, and two customizable buttons, along with three User settings on the mode dial. Functions that don't have dedicated switches can be controlled via the incredibly handy Control Panel, which will be covered on the next page.
Surrounding the shutter button on the top plate, the on/off switch can either put the camera in stills mode or video mode. This makes it easy to switch from photography to videography without having to worry about messing with the main mode dial.
Directly behind the power switch you’ll find the green button, exposure compensation, and a Wi-Fi button that doubles as the customizable Fx2 button. Unless you override it with a custom setting, you simply have to hold it down to turn on the camera’s WiFi signal. If you don’t regularly use WiFi, you can instead choose to make the button control file format, outdoor view setting, night vision display, DoF preview, electronic level, or AF area. The green button is used to reset the shutter speed/aperture to the values recommended by the camera.
Also atop the camera are the the pop-up flash, a standard hotshoe, and openings for the speaker.
Finally, you’ll find a pair of strap lugs and the mode dial, which takes the place of the traditional top LCD. (The main rear LCD can display a status screen with all the information that a top LCD would normally show.)
The majority of the K-70's interface is clustered on the right side of the back of the camera, though the live view button is tucked away on the left side—an inconveinence for single-handed use. The remaining buttons will be discussed in more detail, along with the user interface.
Finally, there's the viewfinder with a diopter adjustment, the rear e-dial, the 3" articulating LCD screen, and an orange SD in-use LED. The viewfinder eyecup can be slid up and removed for cleaning or replacement.
The front of the camera houses the IR remote port (compatible with the Remote Control F), AF assist light, front e-dial, and lens mount. The AF assist light fires a green LED beam and can be disabled if you don't want to blind your friends at parties.
The right side of the camera houses the SD card slot, mini HDMI port, and USB 2.0 port. The SD card door is well-built, with a sliding lock function, and doesn’t require much effort to open or close. As in the K-S2, the HDMI port mirrors whatever is shown on the screen (in VGA resolution) and allows it to be projected or captured.
Lastly, a microphone opening is present on either side of the viewfinder housing. You can see it in the photo below, directly to the right of the flash release. The other microphone opening (for stereo sound) can be found on the right side of the viewfinder housing, just above the mode dial.
Also on the left side of the camera are a customizable RAW/Fx1 button and a mechanical AF/MF switch. A standard microphone jack is hidden behind a small flap on the left side of the body. This area is lined with the same material as the main grip. The flap is easy to open, but we recommend exercising care when closing it to avoid compromising the weather sealing. The same goes for the HDMI/USB flap.
Like the K-S2, the K-70 lacks a dedicated wired remote port. Fortunately, a special cable release (CS-310) that connects to the microphone port has been developed for the K-70. Sadly, its availability currently seems rather limited.
In addition, the camera can be triggered via the shutter release button, an IR remote like the Remote Control F, or Wi-Fi.
Underneath the camera you will only find a standard tripod mount, the battery door, and the camera's serial number. The battery door has a locking switch and opens with the help of a spring.
There are no connections for an external battery grip that could communicate with the camera, nor is there any reliable way to secure a purely ergonomic grip (this is one reason why you may wish to consider a flagship body like the K-3 II instead).
The Pentax K-70 carries on the high standard established by the K-S2, and goes a step or two further with an improved grip, more usable buttons, extra customizable controls and user settings, and a more serious overall design. The camera is on the heavy side for its class, but thanks to its larger grip it balances better with large lenses than its predecessor.
Like the K-S2, it feels better built and more durable than competing midrange DSLRs—more like a high-end piece of equipment than a device designed for amateurs. That impression is reinforced with a best-in-class optical viewfinder, weather sealing, and dual control wheels. In short, the K-70 simply goes above and beyond in its market segment.