Pentax K-5 IIs Review

April 3, 2013 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Pentax K-5 IIs is a new semi-professional DSLR camera, based around the same body design as the older K-5 and the same 16.3 megapixel image sensor as found in the Nikon D7000 and Sony A55 cameras, but without an anti-aliasing filter for increased resolution. Key features include a new Safox X AF module that remains operational down to -3EV, an upgraded AF algorithm, ISO range of 80-51200, Full HD 1080p video at 25fps, 7fps continuous shooting, upgraded 11-point SAFOX IX+ AF system with wider coverage and faster speed, improved High Dynamic Range mode, and a bigger range of in-built digital filter effects. The K-5 IIs inherits the K-5's dustproof, weather-resistant and cold-resistant construction, shutter designed for 100,000 releases, top shutter speed of 1/8000th second, through-the-lens optical viewfinder with 100% frame coverage and 0.92x magnification, 77-segment matrix meter, new 3-inch LCD monitor with 920k dots and a gapless design, built-in dust removal and shake-reduction systems, Live View with Face Recognition AF, and automatic compensation of lens distortion and lateral chromatic aberrations with DA and DFA lenses. The Pentax K-5 IIs is available body only for £949.99/$1,199.95.

Ease of Use

The Pentax K-5 IIs is outwardly identical to its predecessor, the original K-5, and to its sister model, the K-5 II (the only difference being that the K-5 II has an anti-aliasing filter fitted), so a lot of comments that we made about those cameras apply equally to the new K-5 IIs. The Pentax K-5 IIs is the same size - 97(H) x 131(W) x 73(D) - and the same weight - 660g without the battery or memory card fitted. As soon as you pick the K-5 IIs up, you can instantly tell that it's a serious camera, feeling as solid as its main rivals, despite being quite a lot smaller than any of them. This is mainly due to the K-5 IIs's stainless-steel alloy frame and lightweight magnesium-steel alloy body, which is a world away from Pentax's much smaller and lighter entry-level DSLR cameras, signifying the company's continued attempt to provide a DSLR that will appeal to more experienced photographers. The K-5 IIs is dust, cold and water resistant, thanks to a system of 77 special seals used throughout the design, and it can operate at temperatures as low as -10°C. This shows itself most obviously via the battery compartment and the memory card slot. The former is opened via a small rotating latch, which is reassuring but a little fiddly to use if you're in a hurry.

The K-5 IIs features a shutter unit which provides a fast top shutter speed of 1/8000th second and a very competitive 100,000 shutter release life-span, a figure more commonly associated with professional SLR cameras. The standard 18-55mm kit lens is better built and more weather-proof than the kits lenses of its rivals. The smc PENTAX-DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6AL WR lens features a simplified weather-resistant construction designed to minimise the intrusion of water and moisture into the lens barrel. There's also a special coating which repels dust, water and grease and makes it easy to wipe off fingerprints and cosmetics. Consequently it feels well-matched to the K-5 IIs, although it's a rather slow lens at both ends of the focal length (f3.5-5.6).

As it's aimed at the more experienced digital SLR owner, the K-5 IIs is a complex camera in terms of functionality and the number of external controls that it offers, with over 25 in total and a lot of them having more than one function. Despite the presence of so many buttons and switches, the Pentax K-5 IIs doesn't feel too cluttered or intimidating, although it will certainly take some time to adapt to for people moving up from an entry-level SLR. Departing from the recent trend of ultra-compact SLR models, the K-5 IIs is definitely designed for "normal" hands. The camera has a deep, contoured handgrip on the right-hand side, coated in a rubberized compound to aid grip, that enabled me to use three fingers to hold it and my right forefinger to operate the shutter button. There is a generous contoured area where your right thumb sits, with the rest of the body finished in a textured matt black. The shutter release action on the Pentax K-5 IIs is much quieter than on the K7, which had a quite loud and mechanical actio, and therefore makes the K-5 IIs a lot better suited to more close-up candid photography.

On the front of the camera body is the RAW / FX button, which instantly sets the image quality to whichever RAW format is selected in the menu system (either Pentax's PEF format or Adobe DNG), useful if you are shooting in JPEG and want to quickly switch to RAW mode for a particular image. This button can now also be customised to optionally control either Exposure Bracketing, Digital Preview, Electronic Level or Composition Adjustment. Located underneath is the Autofocus Mode switch, with three available modes, and above a small button for opening the pop-up flash, which extends quite high above the lens to help minimise red-eye. On the bottom of the K-5 IIs is the weather-sealed battery compartment, housing the same rechargeable 1860mAh D-LI90 lithium-ion battery as used by the K-7 and K-5. The camera managed an improved performance of over 900 shots using the supplied rechargeable Li-ion battery before being depleted. There's also a metal tripod mount that's perfectly in-line with the centre of the lens mount.

On the right-hand side of the K-5 IIs is the weather-sealed SD / SDHC memory card slot, and located below is the remote cable release connector. On the left-hand side is a large vertical flap covering the DC In, AV Out and HDMI connectors. The HDMI port allows you to connect the K-5 IIs to a high-def TV set, but only if you purchase an optional HDMI mini-cable. Above this is a small Mic port for connecting an external microphone, protected by a round rubber seal.

The Pentax K-5 IIs follows conventional DSLR design in having a shooting mode dial on the top-left of the camera, which allows you to select either one of the advanced mode like Aperture-priority, Shutter-Priority and Manual, or the more point-and-shoot Auto and Program modes. There are no scene modes on this camera, signaling its intent as a serious photographic tool. You'll instantly notice that the K-5 IIs has a couple of unusual shooting modes that you won't have seen before on any other camera. These are the Sensitivity-Priority and Shutter & Aperture-Priority modes, and they are genuinely useful additions.

Pentax K-5 IIs Pentax K-5 IIs
Front Rear

Sensitivity-Priority automatically selects the best combination of aperture and shutter speed for your chosen ISO speed. The sensitivity can be shifted instantly (in 1/2 or 1/3 steps) by turning the rear control dial. This allows you to quickly select an ISO speed, without having to access the menu system, which is very useful in rapidly changing light conditions. In Shutter & Aperture-Priority mode the camera selects the most appropriate ISO speed for a shutter speed and aperture combination, allowing you to use ISO sensitivity as a third factor in determining the correct exposure. As digital cameras have always offered the unique ability to instantly change the sensitivity, it's surprising that Pentax are still the only manufacturer to allow you to use ISO in this way. At the base of the shooting mode dial is a switch which selects from one of the three metering modes - multi-segment, centre-weighted or spot - which all use the 77-segment multi-pattern metering system.

On the right hand side of the top of the K-5 IIs is the small shutter button, surrounded by the on/off switch. This has a third setting, which by default activates the traditional Depth of Field Preview function, stopping down the lens so that you can see the effect of your chosen aperture. Located in front of the shutter button is one of the e-dials, predominately used to change the shutter speed, while behind it are the Exposure Compensation and ISO buttons - these commonly-used functions are ideally located for easy access. Pentax have retained the traditional top LCD panel which displays quite a comprehensive amount of information about the current camera settings, including the shooting mode, current aperture or shutter speed, flash mode, battery level, number of remaining frames and drive mode. A similar amount of settings are also displayed in the viewfinder. In addition, when you turn the K-5 IIs on or change the shooting mode, a graphical overview of how that mode operates is briefly displayed on the rear LCD screen. The Pentax K-5 IIs does a very good job of providing easily understood information about the settings that it's using.

The Pentax K-5 IIs has a traditional eye-level optical TTL viewfinder which offers an impressive 100% scene coverage. Being able to see exactly what will be captured means that you can only blame yourself for poor composition and unwanted details creeping into the frame. The viewfinder is bright and free of any distortions or aberrations, making it suitable for both auto and manual focusing. It also features a Natural-Bright-Matte IIsI focusing screen to improve focusing accuracy during manual-focus operation. The in-finder status LCD runs horizontally along the bottom and it shows most of the camera's key settings.

The rear of the camera is dominated by the large 3 inch LCD screen. The K-5 IIs's LCD screen has a very high resolution of 920K dots, wide viewing angle and it's gapless design helps it to remains visible outdoors in all but the brightest of conditions, making it one of the best LCD screens that we've seen on a DSLR. The colour temperature of the screen can be modified if you think it doesn't match that of your calibrated computer monitor, but the contrast and gamma cannot be altered. The rear screen also doubles as a comprehensive status display, which can be called up by pressing the OK or Info buttons in record mode. If you then press the Info button again, you can also change all the settings right on the screen using a combination of the navigation pad and the rear e-dial. This ingenious solution spares you the pain of having to enter the menu, and makes most setting changes very simple.

Located above the LCD screen and to the left of the viewfinder are the self-explanatory Play and Delete buttons. To the right of the viewfinder is the rear e-dial, mainly used for changing the aperture, and the AE-L button, handily placed for locking the exposure. Underneath is a rather innocuous looking button with a small green dot that's unique to Pentax DSLRs. It has two uses - firstly, when shooting in Manual mode, a single push of the green button allows you to instantly set the correct exposure for the subject, as calculated by the camera, useful if you need a starting point for your own exposure. Secondly, the K-5 IIs offers a Hyper Program function which instantly switches to either the Shutter-Priority or Aperture-Priority mode from the Program mode, simply by turning either of the control dials on the grip. Pressing the Green button then returns to the Program mode.

Pentax K-5 IIs Pentax K-5 IIs


The AF button provides an alternative way of locking the focus, surrounded by the Autofocus Area switch which can be set to Centre AF, Auto/All 11 AF points, or User Selectable. The LV button turns on the K-5 IIs's Live View mode (see below for more details). The traditional 4-way navigation pad is split into separate buttons, providing instant access to the drive mode/self-timer, custom image, flash and white balance settings, with the OK button confirming actions. The Menu button accesses all of the 97 different menu options that the camera offers, reflecting the fact that this a complex and very customisable DSLR. Thankfully you will only have to set about half of the settings once and can then forget about them. The menu system has a fairly logical tabbed system with four main tabs, Rec. Mode, Playback, Set-Up and Custom Setting, each divided into several sub-pages, and it's easily readable with a bright display and a large font size making it perfectly visible even in low light.

You can use the Live View mode to hold the K-5 IIs at arm's length or mount the camera on a tripod, with a single press of the LV button on the rear displaying the current scene on the LCD screen. Focusing is achieved by pressing the small AF button on the rear of the camera or by half-pressing the shutter-button. Alternatively you can use manual focus in Live View mode, with up to 10x magnification available via the Info button to help you fine-tune the focus (you can also use the Info button to magnify the subject by up to 6x when Auto Focus is on). Most of the main camera settings are displayed in Live View, including a helpful electronic level that helps to keep your horizons straight, although a histogram is still conspicuous by its absence. You can change the aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, ISO speed and a number of other settings when Live View is activated.

The K-5 IIs has a magnified view feature, which zooms into the image and back out again to clearly show that the correct focus has been achieved. Although I appreciated this quick way to check the focus, the inability to disable it if required may annoy some users. Live View is fine for use with stationary subjects, but forget it if you want to track a moving subject. The AF system in Live View mode takes a couple of seconds to lock onto the subject, making it much better suited to subjects that don't move. The Face Recognition AF mode works quite well, as promised quickly identifying up to 16 people in the frame, but again it takes a couple of seconds to lock onto a non-moving subject. More impressively Live View can be used in the continuous shooting mode with no restrictions on the 7fps rate, as the K-5 IIs sets the mirror to the lock-up position.

Live View is also used for the feature that will generate a lot of interest in the Pentax K-5 IIs: its movie mode. It can record Full 1080p HD footage, recording high-definition video at either 1920 x 1280 pixels or 1280 x 720 pixel resolution at 25fps in the Motion JPEG (AVI) format. The maximum size of a single video clip is either 4 gigabytes or 25 minutes. There's a built-in microphone for mono recording and also a socket for connecting an external stereo microphone. It also has an HDMI port for playback on a HD TV, using the industry-standard HDMI mini-out connection, but note that you'll need to purchase a suitable cable separately. You can also still connect the K-5 IIs to a standard TV set via NTSC/PAL.

There are some notable drawbacks to the Pentax K-5 IIs's video mode. It's quite difficult to actually start recording one. You have to set the Mode Dial to the Movie mode, then press the AF-On or half-press shutter button to set the focus, then press the shutter button to begin recording (with the same button ending the movie). It's not on a par with the one-button system that some rivals offer, and you can't take a still shot during recording either. As with most other DSLR cameras that offer a video mode, you also can't autofocus during movie recording, something that the Nikon D7000 does offer. Pre-focusing before beginning recording, then focusing manually during the take is the only option.

Pentax K-5 IIs Pentax K-5 IIs
Top Pop-up Flash

In addition you can't set the aperture from the camera during recording, only before, so you will want to use lenses that have an aperture ring if possible. The K-5 IIs can be set to Auto Aperture Control, which removes the flexibility of being able to set the aperture yourself but at least enables the camera to change it during recording to suit the subject matter. The shutter speed cannot be set by the user in movie mode either, so you will have to rely on the camera's auto-exposure system while filming.

The Pentax K-5 IIs features a built-in Shake Reduction system. Turn it on via the main menu option and the K-5 IIs automatically compensates for camera shake, which is a slight blurring of the image that typically occurs at slow shutter speeds, providing approximately 2.5 to 4 shutter steps of compensation. As this system is built-into the camera body, it works with almost any lens that you attach to the K-5 IIs, providing a significant cost advantage over DSLRs from Canon and Nikon, which use a lens-based image stabilisation system (compatible lenses are the PENTAX K-, KA-, KAF-, KAF2- and KAF3-mount lenses; screw-mounted lenses (with an adapter); and 645- and 67-system lenses (with an adapter)). In practice I found that it does make a noticeable difference, as shown in the examples on the Image Quality page. You don't notice that the camera is actually doing anything different when Shake Reduction is turned on, just that you can use slower shutter speeds than normal and still take sharp photos. The K-5 IIs also displays a blur icon in the viewfinder to warn you that camera-shake may occur, regardless of whether or not Shake Reduction is on.

If you've had a bad experience with DSLRs and dust in the past, then the K-5 IIs offers a Dust Removal mechanism. This automatically shifts the low-pass filter located in front of the CMOS image sensor at very high speed, shaking the dust off the low-pass filter. If you do still notice any dust, there's a neat feature called Dust Alert which is designed to show exactly where the dust is on the image sensor. A vertically and laterally correct image of the sensor shot at f/16 is shown on the LCD screen, indicate exactly where any stubborn dust particles may be lurking. While this feature won't prevent dust from getting onto the sensor, it does provide a quick and easy way of checking for it. In addition Dust Removal can be set to activate whenever the camera is turned on, and you can also use the built-in Sensor Cleaning function to lift the mirror and clean the image sensor with a blower brush or third-party cleaning solution.

The Pentax K-5 IIs's High Dynamic Range (HDR) Capture option (only available for JPEGs) takes three images with different exposures, with 4 different strengths on offer, and then records a single image that combines the properly exposed parts of each one, expanding its dynamic range. It's important to always use a tripod to prevent camera shake from blurring the HDR image, and it doesn't work very well for moving subjects. Similar to Nikon's D-lighting, Sony's DRO, and Olympus' Shadow Adjustment Technology, Pentax's D-Range allows you to correct the highlights (On or Off) and/or the shadows (3 different levels) before taking a JPEG or RAW image. Although this option is always at your disposal, remember that it is meant to be used in strong, contrasty lighting at base ISO. The Pentax K-5 IIs also has a multi exposure mode that allows you to combine between two and nine different JPEG or RAW images into a single photo and a Cross Processing mode with four built-in effects and custom options that replicates the traditional effect of cross-processing film (remember that?!).

Pentax's Custom Images, similar to Nikon's Picture Styles and Canon's Picture Controls, are preset combinations of different sharpness, contrast, saturation and colour tone settings. You can change the saturation, hue, high/low key, contrast and sharpness for each of the nine options, which now include Bleach Bypass and Reversal Film?. The Pentax K-5 IIs additionally offers seven different Digital Filters, which allow you to quickly apply an artistic effect to a photo before taking it (JPEG images only). Note that applying the Digital Filters slows the camera down somewhat, as it has to process the image for a few seconds after it's taken. The K-5 IIs can also be set to automatically compensate for both distortion and lateral chromatic aberration of any DA- and DFA-series lenses.

Pentax K-5 IIs Pentax K-5 IIs
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

The rather innocuous-sounding AF Adjustment custom function will be of particular interest to current Pentax owners. If you have a collection of older Pentax lenses and you've never been quite sure how accurate they focus when mounted on a DSLR, this is the function for you. Essentially it allows you to alter the focus of each lens. You can use a focusing target like the LensAlign range of products to test if the lens focuses correctly, and if it doesn't alter it slightly using the AF Adjustment option, then test again until perfect focus is achieved. With most other DSLR systems you'd have to send the camera and lens off for calibration (and maybe even have to pay for it), but with the K-5 IIs, you can calibrate all of your lenses in the comfort of your own home.

The start-up time of the Pentax K-5 IIs, from turning the camera on to being ready to take a photo, is very quick for at around 1 second. Focusing is much quicker than the older K-5 model even in low-light thanks to the newly developed, highly sensitive SAFOX X AF module and an upgraded AF algorithm. The auto-focus performance of previous Pentax DSLRs has always suffered slightly in comparison with their rivals, but we're pleased to report that the near-instant focusing of the K-5 IIs should finally dispel those criticisms. Indeed, Pentax claims that the K-5 IIs has the largest working range of any DSLR on the market (-3 EV to +18 EV) and this was certainly borne out in practice, even with the slow 18-55mm kit lens. Note that the 18-55mm lens has an annoyingly loud focusing mechanism though. The powerful AF Assist lamp can be used even if the built-in flash isn't raised.

It takes about 1 second to store a JPEG image at the highest quality setting with no discernible lockup between taking shots, allowing you to keep shooting as they are being recorded onto the memory card. For RAW images the Pentax K-5 IIs takes about 2 seconds to store an image and again there is no lockup between shots. In the continuous shooting mode you can hold down the shutter button and take 7 shots per second for up to 22 JPEGS or 20 RAW files (with the firmware version 1.01), an impressive performance given the large 16 megapixel files that this camera produces. The camera does lock up for a few seconds once the maximum number of shots is reached, although you can continue to shoot continuously, just at a much slower rate.

Once you have captured a photo, the Pentax K-5 IIs has a good range of options for playing, reviewing and managing your images. You can instantly scroll through the images that you have taken, view 9 thumbnails, zoom in and out up to a magnification of 32x, and see very detailed information about each image by pressing the Info button. You can also delete, rotate, resize, protect and crop an an image, view a slideshow and set various printing options. There are an expanded range of 16 digital effects available which can be applied to JPEGs plus a Custom option to create your own unique effect. The camera shows you a preview of what the effect will look like when applied, and the effect is applied to a copy of your image, thus preserving the original intact.

Image Comparison allows you to compare two images side-by-side complete with zoom. The Index option creates an index print from up to 36 images, Save as Manual WB sets the camera's Manual White Balance setting to the colour balance of the current image, and RAW Development converts a RAW file into a JPEG or TIFF with various conversion parameters available. Move Editing lets you divide or extract segments from your movies. Importantly the Pentax K-5 IIs offers a histogram after taking a photo which is a great help in evaluating the exposure, plus any areas that are over-exposed flash on and off in the LCD preview to show you want you should be compensating for with your next attempt. If you have never used a digital camera before, or you're upgrading from a more basic model, reading the comprehensive but relatively easy-to-follow manual before you start is a good idea. Thankfully Pentax have chosen to supply it in printed format, rather than as a PDF on a CD, so you can also carry it with you for easy reference.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16.3 megapixel Premium JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 9Mb.

The Pentax K-5 IIs produced photos of outstanding quality. Noise is well controlled by the Pentax K-5 IIs, starting to appear at ISO 1600 and becoming more easily detectable at the faster settings of ISO 3200 and 6400 when viewing images at 100% magnification on screen (particularly in the RAW files). The fastest settings of 12800, 25600 and especially 512000 look much better on paper than in reality. Colour saturation is commendably maintained throughout the ISO range.

The 16.3 megapixel JPEG images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpening setting and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting. Image stabilisation via the camera body is a great feature that works very well when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range. An added bonus is that it works with any lens that you attach to the K-5 IIs.

The night photograph was excellent, with the maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds and Bulb mode allowing you to capture enough light in all situations. The built-in pop-up flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and adequate overall exposure.

The Digital Filters quickly produce special effects that would otherwise require you to spend a lot of time in the digital darkroom, although some of them are less useful than others. The D-Range options help make the most out of both the shadows and highlights in a high-contrast scene (and it works for both JPEG and RAW files), while the HDR mode greatly expands the dynamic range of a JPEG by combining three differently exposed images in-camera. The multi exposure mode combines between two and nine different JPEG or RAW images into a single photo.


There are 11 ISO settings available on the Pentax K-5 IIs. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting, with JPEG on the left and the RAW equivalent on the right:



ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 80 (100% Crop)


ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)


ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)


ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)


ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)


ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)


ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)


ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)


ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)


ISO 51200 (100% Crop)

ISO 51200 (100% Crop)

File Quality

The Pentax K-5 IIs has 4 different JPEG file quality settings available, with Premium being the highest quality option, and it also supports RAW (Pentax's PEF format and Adobe DNG). Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

Premium (8.98Mb) (100% Crop)

Best (6.90Mb) (100% Crop)


Better (3.63Mb) (100% Crop)

Good (1.75Mb) (100% Crop)


RAW (16.9Mb) (100% Crop)



Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)



The flash modes include Auto, manual (on/off), red eye reduction, slow-speed sync, rear curtain sync, high-speed sync and wireless sync. These shots of a white ceiling were taken at a distance of 1.5 metres.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (27mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (27mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (82mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (82mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On setting or the Red-eye Reduction option caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)


The Pentax K-5 IIs lets you dial in shutter speeds of up to 30 seconds and has a Bulb mode as well, which is very good news if you are seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 30 seconds at ISO 100. We've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Shake Reduction

The Pentax K-5 IIs has a Shake Reduction mechanism built into the camera body, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with Shake Reduction turned off, the second with it turned on. Here is a 100% crop of the image to show the results. As you can see, with Shake Reduction turned on, the images are sharper than when it's turned off.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Shake Reduction Off (100% Crop)

Shake Reduction On (100% Crop)

1/4th / 27mm
1/4th / 82mm


Similar to Nikon's D-lighting, Sony's DRO, and Olympus' Shadow Adjustment Technology, Pentax's D-Range allows you to correct the highlights (On or Off) and/or the shadows (3 different levels) before taking a JPEG or RAW image. Although this option is always at your disposal, remember that it is meant to be used in strong, contrasty lighting at base ISO. Below you can see a comparison between Off and both highlight and shadow correction set to on/full strength; the difference is mainly noticeable in the shadowed areas on the left and right sides of the photo.



HDR Capture

The Pentax K-5 IIs's HDR Capture option (only available for JPEGs) takes three images with different exposures, and then records a single image that combines the properly exposed parts of each one, expanding its dynamic range. Here is an example which was shot with the six different modes (Off, Auto, On, 1, 2 and 3). Although the K-5 IIs can now microalign images before combining them, allowing hand-held HDR shots to be taken, for best results it's important to always use a tripod to prevent camera shake from blurring the HDR image, and it doesn't work very well for moving subjects.




Custom Image

Pentax's Custom Images, similar to Nikon's Picture Styles and Canon's Picture Controls, are preset combinations of different sharpness, contrast, saturation and colour tone settings. You can change the saturation, hue, high/low key, contrast and sharpness for each of the seven options?. They are shown below in the following series, which demonstrates the differences.










Bleach Bypass

Reversal Film



Digital Filters

The Pentax K-5 IIs offers seven different Digital Filters, which allow you to quickly apply an artistic effect to a photo before taking it (JPEG images only). They are shown below in the following series, which demonstrates the differences. Note that applying the Digital Filters slows the camera down somewhat, as it has to process the image for a few seconds after it's taken.

Toy Camera



High Contrast

Extract Colour







Cross Processing

The Pentax K-5 IIs has a cross processing mode that replicates the effects of cross-processing film. Here is an example:










The Pentax K-5 IIs has a multi-exposure mode that allows you to combine between two and nine different JPEG or RAW images into a single photo. Here is an example:

Example 1

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Pentax K-5 IIs camera, which were all taken using the 16.3 megapixel Premium JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample RAW Images

The Pentax K-5 IIs enables users to capture RAW and JPEG format files in either the PEF or DNG formats. We've provided some Pentax RAW (DNG) samples for you to download (thumbnail images shown below are not 100% representative).

Sample Movie & Video

The Pentax K-5 IIs can record HD video in the Motion JPEG (AVI) format. This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1920x1280 pixels at 25 frames per second. Please note that this 24 second movie is 233Mb in size.

Product Images

Pentax K-5 IIs

Front of the Camera

Pentax K-5 IIs

Front of the Camera / Pop-Up Flash

Pentax K-5 IIs

Front of the Camera

Pentax K-5 IIs

Isometric View

Pentax K-5 IIs

Isometric View

Pentax K-5 IIs

Isometric View

Pentax K-5 IIs

Isometric View

Pentax K-5 IIs

Rear of the Camera

Pentax K-5 IIs

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed


Pentax K-5 IIs

Rear of the Camera / Info Screen

Pentax K-5 IIs

Rear of the Camera / Info Screen

Pentax K-5 IIs

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu

Pentax K-5 IIs

Rear of the Camera / Live View

Pentax K-5 IIs

Top of the Camera

Pentax K-5 IIs

Bottom of the Camera

Pentax K-5 IIs

Side of the Camera

Pentax K-5 IIs

Side of the Camera

Pentax K-5 IIs

Front of the Camera

Pentax K-5 IIs

Front of the Camera

Pentax K-5 IIs

Memory Card Slot

Pentax K-5 IIs

Battery Compartment


The Pentax K-5 IIs follows the recent trend of entirely dispensing with its anti-aliasing filter in the pursuit of greater clarity and resolution. A close comparison with the "normal" Pentax K-5 II model reveals that the "s" version does indeed slightly more detailed images without any unwanted moire effects that the filter protects against, albeit costing an extra £150 / $100. At first glance the Pentax K-5 IIs also seems like a very minor upgrade of the two-year-old K-5, but the improved auto-focusing system, better LCD screen and the much lower official price make one of our favourite DSLR cameras even better.

The K-5 IIs is an appealingly well-specified, intuitive and customisable DSLR with few real drawbacks. Virtually identical to the K-5, Pentax haven't taken any chances with the design of the new K-5 IIs, which is a good thing in our book as the K-5 was and still is a great DSLR to use. The combination of 100% viewfinder coverage and the large, high-res LCD screen make the K-5 IIs a joy to use in terms of image composition, and the fast 7fps continuous shooting rate and snappier AF system, especially in low light, make it quicker to use. The only real negative point in terms of handling is the rather slow contrast AF system which detracts from the Live View mode.

The K-5 IIs' image quality is outstanding, producing noise-free images all the way from from ISO 80-800. Noise starts to become apparent at ISO 1600, with a little more noise and smearing of fine detail at the higher settings of 3200 and 6400, while the fastest speeds of 12800, 25600 are suitable for smaller prints. The incredible headline-grabbing top-speed of 512000 is frankly unusable - Pentax should have followed Nikon's lead and stopped the range at 25600. Still, as with the D7000, very impressive results for a 1.5x sensor, further enhanced by the removal of the anti-aliasing filter.

So if you don't mind paying a little extra, the Pentax K-5 IIs delivers better image quality than the standard model whilst remaining good value when compared to its main rivals, firmly making it one of our favourite prosumer DSLRs.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 5
Value for money 5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Pentax K-5 IIs from around the web. »

I reviewed the Pentax K-5 II in November 2012 and found it to be an excellent DSLR, well worth the Editor's Choice accolade. Pentax have been bold in introducing the IIs variant which, like the Nikon D800E, is an option with no anti-aliasing (AA) filter to reduce the full sharpness potential of the sensor.
Read the full review » »

In our review of the Pentax K-5 II, we briefly touched on the camera's sister model, the K-5 IIs. The IIs is identical to the K-5 II except that its anti-aliasing filter has been removed. In practice, this should increase sharpness, with the possible side-effect of aliasing, moiré, and other image artifacts. We've seen this tactic elsewhere recently, most notably with the Nikon D800 and D800E siblings. But the K-5 II has the distinction of being the first APS-C
Read the full review » »

The Pentax K-5 IIs ($1,299.95 direct, body only) $1,007.79 at Amazon sets itself apart from the nearly identical K-5 II$959.99 at 42nd Street Photo by something it lacks: a low-pass filter. Elminating this filter allows the camera to capture sharper detail, although it comes at the risk of picking up moiré color patterns in certain shooting situations. Like the K-5 II, the 16-megapixel camera shoots at an impressive 6.2 frames per second, is sealed for use in harsh weather, and delivers excellent photos even at high ISO settings. It's on a par with our Editors' Choice Sony Alpha 77$1,479.99 at 42nd Street Photo, but a disappointing video experience prevents it from ousting that camera from its perch.
Read the full review » »

With the K-5 IIs, Pentax has the most feature-rich DSLR currently available - again. This DSLR camera boasts built-in stabilization, automatic horizon correction, a dual-axis digital level, class-leading weather-sealing, a large 100% coverage viewfinder, a 3" LCD with 921K pixels, ISO up to 51200, 7 FPS continuous shooting, live-view and a wealth of unique photographic controls and image parameters. All this in a sturdy and relatively compact pro body. In addition to its photographic capabilities, the Pentax K-5 records full 1080p HD movies, either with a built-in mono microphone or an external stereo one.
Read the full review »


Camera Type TTL autofocus, auto-exposure digital SLR digital-still camera with built-in retractable P-TTL auto pop-up flash
Type High sensitivity CMOS sensor with a primary colour filter
Size 23.7mm x 15.7mm
Effective Pixels approx. 16.3 megapixels
Still JPEG: [16M] 4928x3264 pixels, [10M] 3936x2624 pixels, [6M] 3072x2048 pixels, [2M] 1728x1152 pixels
4 levels of quality in JPEG (good, better, best, premium)
RAW 14 bits : [16M] 4928x3264 pixels
Movie FULL HD: 1960x1080 (16:9) at 25fps
HD TV: 1280x720 (16:9) at 30 or 25fps
VGA: 640x480 (4:3) at 30 or 25fps
Sensitivity Auto, Manual: ISO 100 to 12800 (1/3EV, 1/2EV or 1EV steps)
Extended sensitivity: from ISO 80 to 51200
Bulb mode: up to ISO 1600
Shake Reduction Sensor-shift Shake Reduction, up to 3EV
Compatible with ALL PENTAX lenses
Sensor Cleaning Dust Removal II mechanism:
Image sensor moving mechanism, SP Coating and Dust alert function?
Mount PENTAX KAF2 bayonet mount
Usable lenses PENTAX KAF3, KAF2 (power zoom not compatible), KAF, K-mount (with restrictions) lenses ; compatible with SDM ultrasonic lenses
Compatible with S-mount lenses, 67 / 645 / M-42 lenses (adapters ref 37954, 38455 or 30120 required with restrictions)
Focusing System
Type SAFOX IX+ autofocus system with TTL phase-matching detection
Functions Focus modes: AF.A(auto), AF.S(single, with focus lock), AF-C(continuous)
11 AF points (9 cross type in the center)
5-point or 11-point Auto, Select or Center
AF assist available (at front)
Type Penta-prism
Field of View approx. 100%
Magnification approx. 0.92x (with FA 50mm F1.4 lens, at infinity)
Focusing screen Natural Bright Matte III focusing screen?, exchangeable
Diopter adjustment approx. -2.5 - +1.5m-1
Type 3" (7.62cm) TFT colour LCD monitor with AR coating

Adjustable brightness and colours, Air-gapless glass

Scratch resistant protective glass with AR coating

170° wide-angle viewing, horizontally and vertically

Resolution Approx. 921 000 dots
Playback Single image or index view (up to 81 images), Image Comparison, Magnification (up to 32x, scroll and quick magnification available), Rotation, Calendar view, Folder view, Histogram (Y histogram, RGB histogram), Slideshow, Bright/Dark area warning, Resize, Cropping, Copyright and detailed Exif information display? ?
LiveView Field of view: Approx. 100%
Enlargement: In AF mode: 2x, 4x, 6x, in Manual mode: 2x, 4x, 6x, 8x, 10x
Autofocus: Contrast detection, Face detection, phase difference detection
Options: Grid pattern, histogram display, bright/dark area warning
Type Electronically controlled vertical-run focal plane shutter

Auto and Manual : 1/8000 - 30 sec. + Bulb
(1/3 or 1/2 EV steps)

Continuous shooting: Max. approx. 7.0 fps, JPEG (16M: ??? at Continuous Hi): up to approx. 30 frames, RAW: up to approx. 20 frames*at ISO100

Max. approx. 1.6 fps, JPEG (16M: ??? at Continuous Lo): until SD Memory Card is full, RAW: up to approx. 40 frames

Custom Image: Bright, Natural, Portrait, Landscape, Vibrant, Muted, Reversal                 Film, Monochrome, Bleach Bypass

X-Synchronization Hot-shoe flash, 1/180 sec, high speed, P-TTL flash sync available with dedicated wireless system, with dedicated flash                               
Exposure system
Metering Metering system: TTL open-aperture 77-segment metering
Metering mode: Multi-segment, center-weighted or spot metering
Exposure Modes

Green, Program (P), Sensitivity-Priority (Sv), Shutter-Priority (Tv), Aperture-Priority (Av), Shutter and Aperture Priority (TAv), Metered Manual (M), Bulb, X, User, Video

Metering Range EV-3 to EV 18 (at Standard ISO 100/at normal temperature)
Auto Exposure Lock Assignable to AF/AE-L button through the menu?
Compensation ± 5EV (selectable EV steps: 1/3 or 1/2 steps)
Type Built-in retractable P-TTL auto pop-up flash
Guide Number approx 13 (ISO 100/m)
Modes Auto, manual (on/off), red eye reduction, slow-speed sync, rear curtain sync, high-speed sync and wireless sync with PENTAX dedicated external flash?
Synchronization: 1/180 sec., high speed, P-TTL, wireless
Angle of View Coverage Wide-angle lens, equivalent to 28mm in 35mm forma?t
Exposure Compensation from -2 EV to +1EV (1/3EV steps)
Exposure Parameters
Modes One shot, Self-timer (2 or 12 sec), Continuous shooting (Hi, Lo), Remote control (0, 3 sec or continuous), Super-Impose (up to 9 pictures), Interval up to 999 pictures, Exposure bracketing (2, 3 or 5 frames, also available with self-timer and remote control), Mirror lock-up (w/ or w/o remote control)?
White Balance Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Fluorescent light (D, N, W, L), Tungsten light, Flash, CTE, Manual (configuration on monitor, colour temperature from 2 500 to 10 000K, 100K steps)?
Digital Filter Toy Camera, Retro, High-contrast, Extract colour, Soft, Starburst, Fish-eye, Custom
Recording FULL HD: 1960x1080 (16:9) at 25fps
HDTV: 1280x720 (16:9) at 30 or 25fps
VGA: 640x480 (4:3) at 30 or 25fps? 3 levels of quality (good, better, best)

Movie editing available

Movie processing:Custom Image (Bright, Natural, Portrait, Landscape, Vibrant,           Muted, Monochrome, Reversal Film, Bleach Bypass), Cross processing (Shuffle, preset 1-3, favorite 1-3), Digital filters (Retro, Toy Camera, High-contrast, Extract Colour, Colour)

Digital Filter In Playback mode: Toy Camera, Monochrome, Retro, Colour, High Contrast, Soft, Extract Colour, Star Burst, Sketch, Water Colour, Fish-Eye, Pastel, Slim, Miniature, HDR, Posterization, Base Parameter Adjustment, Custom Filter
External Compatible with SD and SDHC memory cards
File Format

Still images:
RAW 14 bits (PEF, DNG), JPEG (Exif 2.21), DCF 2.0
RAW and JPEG simultaneously recordable
JPEG:4 levels of quality (good, better, best, premium)
Color space: sRGB, Adobe RGB?

AVI (Motion JPEG) with monaural sound

File Name Date (100_MMDD…), PENTX (100PENTX...)
Special Features
  • World Time: 75 cities (28 time zones)

  • 40 custom functions and memory modes,

  • USER mode (up to 5 settings), 

  • RAW/Fx button (One push RAW+, Exposure bracketing, Digital preview, Composition adjustment, Electronic level display, GPS),

  • AF button (Enable AF, Cancel AF), 

  • Dials customizable specifically to each exposure modes             

  • RAW development

  • Copyright information

  •  AF fine adjustment (+/- 10 steps, uniformal or individual adjustement)

  •  Resize

  • Cropping (Aspect alteration, Slant adjustment available),

  • Index,

  • Movie Edit (Segmentation, Partial delete),

  • Frame Crop (JPEG)

Image processing: Long-exposure Noise Reduction, High-ISO Noise Reduction, DRE (Dynamic Range Enlargement) which provides maximum details in highlights and shadows, Compensation of distortion and lateral chromatic abberration, Cross processing (Shuffle, Preset 1-3, Favorite 1-3), HDR (Auto, standard, Strong 1-3, automatic composition correction function), Multi-exposure (Auto, Standard, Strong 1-3, Automatic composition correction function), Automatic levelling, Composition adjustement (vertical and horizontal range: ±1.5mm), Extended bracketing (White Balance, Saturation, hue, high/low key adjustment, contrast and sharpness bracketing)

Language English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Greek, Russian, Korean, Chinese (Traditional/Simpl.), Japanese?
Interface Mini-HDMI and AV outputs, compatible with NTSC and PAL, USB 2.0 mini-B (Hi-Speed), DC power input, cable release, X-sync socket, stereo mic. input?
Source Main: Rechargeable D-LI90 Lithium-ion battery
Optional: Battery grip D-BG4 and AC adapter K-AC50E also available
Performance Approx. 740 shots with 50% flash*, approx. 980 shots without flash and 440 min in play mode w/ D-LI90 * Tested in compliance with CIPA standard. Actual result may vary according to the shooting conditions/circumstances?? ?
Height 97mm
Width 131mm
Depth 72,5mm
Weight 680g body only, 760g loaded and ready with Li-ion battery and SD card
PC Windows XP SP2, VistaTM and 7?
Mac OS X 10.3.9 or above?
Included Software PENTAX Digital Camera Utility 4?
Kit Content AV cable, USB cable, Li-ion battery D-LI90, Battery charger D-BC90, AC cable, Strap, Eye cup FR and hot shoe cover (already mounted), Finder cap for ME, Body mount cover, Sync socket 2P cap, Bottom of body's cap, Software

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