Best DSLR: top cameras by price and brand
Considering the significant technological advances made by the original Pentax K-5 over the old Pentax K-7, we can't help but feel a little disappointed that the new Pentax K-5 II is a much more subtle, evolutionary step forward.
But that said, it's refreshing to see that Pentax hasn't attempted to set the Pentax K-5 II apart by giving it a needlessly high megapixel count, or festooning it with gimmicky features.
Although it's no great improvement over its predecessor, the Pentax K-5 II's performance is still good, and a worthy match for the competition in most areas. The robust build quality should ensure it survives sustained abuse, and the in-camera Shake Reduction system works with any compatible lens.
As capable as the Pentax K-5 II is, much of what makes it special has just been carried over from the original Pentax K-5. Then there's the elements we wish hadn't been transferred, including the tendency to overexpose and frustrating slowness at processing HDR shots, removing chromatic aberration and correcting lens distortion.
Like its predecessor, the Pentax K-5 II succeeds where it matters most. It produces high image quality (although its resolution scores are a little low), boasts strong autofocus performance, high build quality and is easy to use. It is a pity we can't add the camera's exposure metering to the list of superlatives, because capable though it is, the few occasions where overexposure does occur can frustrate.
However, the biggest problem the Pentax K-5 II faces is the old Pentax K-5. While the specification and performance of the newer model is marginally better, the price difference is far more pronounced.
Hence if you're in the market for a high performing APS-C format DSLR with a great all-round ability, the original Pentax K-5 could well be a more tempting proposition at the right price than the slightly more capable Pentax K-5-II. Likewise, if you already own a Pentax K-5, then the Pentax K-5 II is unlikely to provide much of an upgrade.
Make the leap from the older K-7, however, and you'll be far more likely to appreciate the much improved image quality and autofocus performance. And graduate from entry-level cameras such as the Pentax K-r or Pentax K-x, and you'll be in for a treat.
Easy to use, built to last and based around a decent sensor, the Pentax K-5 II is a great value DSLR. It's just a pity it's so close in spec to its predecessor.