The fit and finish of Pentax's lower-end DSLRs often exceeds what you'd expect for the money, and the K-500 continues this tradition with plastic casing that feels solid enough to withstand some light abuse.
Grippy rubberised sections on both sides of the camera help the ergonomics, while the chunky hand grip is large enough to grasp comfortably but still retains compact overall dimensions. You don't, however, get a rubberised rear thumb grip, which makes the camera feel slightly less secure when shooting one-handed.
We've got no complaints when it comes to the controls though. The K-500 is the only camera in its class to feature a pair of control wheels; a feature more often associated with mid-range models, giving you the ability to adjust shutter speed and aperture independently.
There are also dedicated buttons for changing ISO sensitivity and white balance, avoiding any need to hunt around in menus.
Up top is a standard mode dial to select between full auto, program auto, shutter and aperture priority modes, plus full manual control. Pentax also includes a combined aperture and shutter priority mode as well as a sensitivity priority setting.
You even get a specific bulb mode on the main dial for long exposure shots, in addition to a pair of user-customisable presets to store your own custom settings. It all helps make the K-500 a versatile camera that's able to adapt quickly to different shooting conditions.
It's perhaps a little disappointing that more hasn't been done to update the LCD monitor and menu interface. The screen's 921k-dot resolution is certainly crisp and provides excellent viewing angles, but the unit isn't movable - so you'll still have to get creative with your posture when composing high- or low-level shots.
There's no touch sensitivity either, but thankfully the menu interface - though a bit dated in its design - is clear and easy to navigate.
Tweaking common settings such as focusing, metering and dynamic range enhancements can be achieved via a quick settings menu accessed by the Info button. Here you can also adjust the K-500's ability to automatically correct lateral chromatic aberrations and lens distortion.