The Pentax K-50 was announced in June 2013 as a replacement for the popular K-30, which we reviewed in August 2012. It has a similar, weather-sealed, dust-resistant body but improved versions of the 16.3-megapixel APS-C sensor and PRIME M processor, which have been tweaked to reduce noise and minimise aliasing (‘jaggies’). New features include an extension of sensitivity to ISO 512,000 and support for Eye-Fi SD cards to enable users to share images and movie clips wirelessly.

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In summary

Like its predecessor, the K-50 will suit a wide range of photo enthusiasts with different levels of expertise. It is particularly appealing to cost-conscious buyers, for whom it represents excellent value for money.

Pentax DSLRs benefit from built-in sensor-shift stabilisation, which means you don’t require stabilised lenses. Accordingly, Pentax lenses and lighter, more compact and cheaper than equivalent lenses from companies like Canon and Nikon, which opt for lens-based stabilisation.

Although the range of Pentax-branded lenses is smaller than the offerings from Canon and Nikon, it covers the main photographic genres very well and includes fast primes, short and long zooms, super-telephotos and macro lenses, along with some innovative ‘pancake’ designs. Most third-party lens manufacturers also cater for the K-mount.

The K-50 also represents a good choice for bushwalkers and wildlife photographers or, indeed, anyone who takes pictures in environments where dust and moisture are present. Weather-resistant sealing is rare in cameras at the K-50’s price point, giving it a significant advantage for these photographers.

Novice photographers could also consider the K-50 as a camera they can learn with, even though the array of controls may be initially bewildering. The supplied instruction manual is well laid out and easy to understand and will reward those who are prepared to work their way through it.

More experienced photographers will also benefit from the use of the ‘open’ DNG.RAW file format for raw file capture. This format is supported by all raw file converters so, if you’re reluctant to move to Adobe’s Cloud-based applications, you can stick with your current software and still open DNG.RAW files with this camera ““ and future models to come.

Travellers may find the ability to use AA batteries handy in situations where access to mains power makes it difficult to keep lithium-ion batteries charged. Finally, Wi-Fi support is available for the generation of photographers who need to be ‘connected’.

 

Rating

Build

8.8

Ease of use

8.5

Autofocusing

8.5

Still image quality JPEG

8.8

Still image quality RAW

9.0

Video quality

8.5

OVERAL

8.8

RRP:  AU$849; MSRP US$700 (body only) or AU$899 / US$800 as reviewed with smc Pentax-DAL 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL WR kit lens

 

Specs

  • Image sensor: 23.7 x 15.7 mm CMOS sensor with 16.49 million photosites (16.28 megapixels effective); primary colour filter
  • Image processor: PRIME M
  • A/D processing:  12-bit
  • Lens mount: PENTAX KAF2 bayonet mount
  • Focal length crop factor: 1.5x  
  • Image formats: Stills ““ DNG.RAW, JPEG (Exif 2.3), RAW+JPEG; Movies ““ MPEG”“4 AVC/H.264
  • Image Sizes: Stills ““ 16M(4928×3264), 12M(4224×2816), 8M(3456×2304), 5M(2688×1792); Movies: 1920×1080 (Full HD) at 30p/25p/24p, 1280×720 (HD) at 60p/50p, 640×480 (SD) : 30p/25p; VGA at 30/25/24 fps (3 quality levels)
  • Image Stabilisation: Sensor shift Shake Reduction
  • Dust removal: SP coating and CMOS sensor vibration
  • Shutter speed range: 1/6000 to 30 seconds plus bulb, X-sync at 1/180 sec.
  • Exposure Compensation: +/- 5EV in 1/3- or 1/2-EV increments  
  • Exposure bracketing: +/-3 EV in 1/3- or 1/2-EV increments (can be combined with manual exposure compensation)
  • Self-timer:   2 or 10 seconds delay
  • Focus system: SAFOX IXi+, TTL: phase-matching autofocus system with 11 sensor points (9 cross type focus points in the centre);   dedicated LED AF assist light
  • Focus  modes: Auto AF (AF.A), Single AF (AF.S), Continuous AF (AF.C); Focus priority or shutter priority mode for AF.S; Focus priority or FPS priority mode for AF.C  
  • AF point selection  Auto: 5 points, Auto: 11 points, Select (Expanded Area AF available), Spot
  • Exposure metering: TTL open aperture, 77 segmented metering, centre-weighted and spot metering  
  • Shooting modes: Program, Sensitivity Priority, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Shutter & Aperture Priority, Manual, Bulb; Auto Picture mode (JPEG only): auto. selects from Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Moving Object, Night Scene Portrait, Night Scene,Blue Sky, Forest Scene;
  • Scene Modes: Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Moving Object, Night Scene Portrait, Sunset, Blue Sky, Forest, Night Scene, Night Scene HDR, Night Snap, Food, Pet, Kids, Surf & Snow, Backlight Silhouette, Candlelight, Stage Lighting, Museum
  • Custom Image settings: Bright, Natural, Portrait, Landscape, Vibrant, Radiant, Muted, Bleach Bypass, Reversal Film, Monochrome, Cross Processing
  • Colour space options: sRGB, Adobe RGB
  • Custom functions: 22
  • ISO range: Auto, ISO 100 – 51200 in 1EV steps
  • White balance: Preset (daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Fluorescent Light (D: Daylight Colour, N: Daylight White, W: Cool White, L: Warm White), Tungsten, Flash, CTE, Manual, Colour), Fine adjustment (+/-7 steps on A-B axis or G-M axis), auto (combination CMOS image sensor and light source detection sensor), manual (configuration using the display screen, up to 3 settings can be saved), Colour Temperature settings, Copying the white balance setting of a captured image  
  • Flash: Built-in retractable P-TTL auto pop-up flash; Guide number: approx. 12 (ISO 100/m); coverage: wide angle-lens, equivalent to 28mm in 35mm format
  • Flash exposure adjustment: -2 to +1 EV  
  • Sequence shooting: Max. approx. 6 shots/sec. for up to   full-resolution JPEGs or CR2.RAW files with a UHS-I certified SDHC or SDXC card
  • Other features: HDR capture: Auto, HDR 1, HDR 2, HDR 3, Auto. composition correction;  Exposure Bracket Value: +/-1EV, +/-2EV, +/-3EV; Multi-exposure (2 to 9 shots, exposure adjusted automatically); Interval shooting. Horizon correction
  • Storage Media: Single slot for SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards; UHS-1 compatible
  • Viewfinder: Pentaprism with approx. 100% FOV coverage, 0,92x magnification, approx. 21.7 mm eye relief (from the view window), -2.5   to + 1.5 dioptre adjustment,   interchangeable Natural-Bright-Matte III focusing screen, electronic level
  • LCD monitor: 3-inch TFT colour LCD with approx. 921,000 dots; wide angle viewing
  • Live View shooting: Focusing mechanism: Contrast detection + Face detection, tracking, select, spot;  Field of View: approx. 100%, Magnified view (2x, 4x, 6x), Grid display (4×4 Grid, Golden Section, Scale display), Bright/dark area warning, Histogram
  • Playback functions: Single frame, Multi-image display (4/9/16/36/81 segments), Display magnification (up to 16x, scrolling & quick magnification), rotating, histogram, bright/dark area warning, copyright display, calendar film strip, folder display, display, slideshow, Eye-Fi transfer
  • Interface terminals: A/V out/digital terminal USO 2.0
  • Power supply: Dual power chamber accepts D-LI109 rechargeable lithium-ion battery (supplied) or 4 AA batteries; CIPA rated for approx.410 shots/charge for D-LI109 or 710 shots with AA batteries
  • Dimensions (wxhxd): 129.0 x 96.5 x 70.0 mm (body only)
  • Weight: Approx. 590 grams (body only)

See full review including test charts and sample images

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