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2010.09.20

The new flagship Pentax DSLR was just presented at Photokina this morning. The Pentax K-5 is based on the excellent Pentax K-7 but with an all-new CMOS sensor having 16 megapixels and a standard ISO range of 100 to 12800. This can be further expanded to 80-51200, the highest ISO available of any cropped-sensor DSLR. The K-5 also brings along 1080p video-recording at 25 FPS, replacing the K-7’s non-standard 1536×1080 3:2 aspect video mode. A newly developed SAFOX IX+ autofocus engine uses 11 points with 9 cross-type points in the center and is said to greatly improve AF-speed. Also faster is a 7 FPS continuous drive mode which can shoot up to 40 JPEG or 15 RAW images in a single burst. The built-in digital level has been upgraded to show tilt and pitch separately.

The Pentax K-5 looks nearly identical to the K-7 and keeps its extensive feature set including the movable sensor which provides up to 4 stops of built-in stabilization, automatic horizon correction up to 2 degrees and composition adjustment of up to 1.5mm in any direction. The relatively compact magnesium body features 77 seals to keep rain, snow, dust, moisture and cold out. So the K-5 becomes the second freezeproof DSLR to ever be produced after the K-7. True to its target market, the K-5 shares its 100% coverage viewfinder with the K-7, giving Pentax now 2 professionally targeted DSLRs. Other professional features include dual control dials and a high degree of customization options.

Pentax always pays attention to how photographers use cameras and the K-5 is no exception. The viewfinder is designed to allow as much eye-level control of the camera, showing which parameters is controllable by one of the dual control dials. The 2s self-timer which is nearly always used when shooting from a tripod, automatically invokes the mirror-lock-up function and turns off stabilization, saving precious time during night photography.

Pentax has to commended for aiming to address the biggest criticisms of their cameras generation after generation. Some may recall that Pentax used to have slower cameras then their competitors and then they released the K-x entry-level DSLR with 4.5 FPS and 1/6000 top shutter-speeds. With the K-7, the only issue was greater image noise at high-ISO, no doubt caused by the use of a Samsung sensor. What caused particular criticism from within the Pentax community was that the entry-level K-x performed better than the K-7 which cost roughly twice as much. With the K-5, Pentax is once again using low-noise CMOS sensors from Sony. If the K-x is any indication, this should wipe-out any remaining issues with high-ISO image noise. A nice side-effect of using the new Sony sensor is that the K-5 can shoot 1100 shots on a single battery charge with 50% flash-use or 1900 shots without flash.

The Pentax K-5 is scheduled to be available in October. While initial K-5 will support SDHC memory cards, a firmware upgrade will follow to support SDXC media as well. No suggested retail price given.

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