Pentax K-5 II vs Nikon D7000 vs Canon 60D vs K-5 – Comparison

September 11, 2012

person holding Pentax K-5 II wet

On September 10, 2012 Pentax Ricoh company announced two of its latest flagship DSLR cameras, the K-5 II and the K-5 IIs. The later costs $100 more and comes without  the anti-aliasing filter to increase image resolution, the same difference between the Nikon D800 and D800e. In this article I want to take a closer look at the Pentax K-5 II, and see what was changed from the K-5 (previous model) and compare the K-5 II versus Nikon D7000 and Canon EOS 7D.

 

Pentax K-5II DSLR

Pentax K-5II DSLR

Opening Words

I must admit that  always excited to see what Pentax-Ricoh will announce next.  We usually see that Pentax put a lot of effort to put itself in the front of technology innovation, making sure that their DSLR cameras are at least as the same league as other DSLRs at the same price range.  Pentax K-5 has already won DPreview’s Gold Award. It features a relatively compact weather-sealed camera body, exceptional first-class high ISO image quality, large and bright viewfinder and according to dpreview, it was (at the time of writing their review), one of the best APS-C DSLR camera on the market.

Things going pretty well for Pentax when it comes to DSLR cameras. They have a very loyal customer’s circle, people who trust Pentax to deliver innovative products and high quality lenses. Pentax is well known for its durable and solid DSLR cameras for enthusiast photographers. Pentax K-5 SLR certainly make many people think twice before they blindly go with either Canon or Nikon. The K-5 II is a camera that suppose to be an upgrade path for those who bought the K-x, K-r or the previous model, the K-5.

The Pentax K-5II (K52) costs around $1300. Despite its high price, its still considered a model that competes against cameras like the Nikon D7000 and Canon EOS 60D, cameras that are cheaper than the K-5 II  / K-5 IIs. It might be wiser to compare the K-5 II vs Nikon D300s  too, but this model is about to be replaced, and the D7000 already is an all-around better camera than the D300s.  I will be comparing the Pentax K-5 II vs the D300s replacement when it arrives. This will be the most fair comparison.

So there you have it, the new Pentax K-5 II / K-5 IIs is here. You probably want to know how good it is, what great features it has and whether it worth to upgrade your older camera to this model? – I hope that after reading this article you get answers to all your questions. Let’s start!

 

Pentax K-5 IIs and Moiré

Difference between K-5 II and K-5 IIs – First things first. If you read the press release, you know that Pentax announced two K-5 II models, the K-5 II and the K-5 IIs.  The K-5 IIs costs $100 over the standard model and it comes without an anti-aliasing filter. This will provide photographers with higher resolution, more detailed images, but might lead, depends on the scene) to more prominent moiré artifacts.  Nikon has done the same when it released the D800 and D800E. Nikon omitted the anti-aliasing filter from  the D800E, and the later cost $300 more.

Here’s an image that demonstrates the moire pattern. Look at the cage..

Moiré Fringes (Pattern) are seen over a cage in SF ZOO (click to enlarge)

Image credit: I, Brocken Inaglory

Some people might be tempted to buy the more expensive model, thinking that the Moire won’t be such a big problem. However, you should understand the implications.  It’s worth mentioning that there are some useful moire removal tools that will help you to effectively reduce/remove moire from images:

How to remove moire in photoshop
How to remove moire in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4

Those technique are not always bulletproof but there are ways to counteract Moiré. That might lead to people buying the more expensive version, knowing that Moiré is not apparent in all photos and because it can be counteract in some way or another, it might worth getting the K-5 IIs and enjoy the higher resolution output.  People who are used to edit their photos using photo editing software and do professional work, those won’t mind about doing so.

“There are some useful moire removal tools that will help you to effectively reduce/remove moire from images”

Adoobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 has a brush with correction of Moire. Nikon Capture NX 2 has a ‘color moiré reduction’ function that also helps reduce / eliminate more effect (see more here). Those post processing solutions proven to be very effective for eliminating moiré from photos, also taking care of false colors that are result of this digital artifact. You should understand that there might be some small loss of details at the area where the moiré has been removed, but it’s very hard to discern. People reporting amazing results with those tools, even when using the highest settings of moiré removal.

So to keep things in perspective, there is an effective software based solution for taking care of moiré pattern artifacts when you encounter them in your photos.

 

Pentax K-5 II Key Features

So we’ve talked about the difference between the K-5 II and K-5 IIs and we’ve seen that moiré on the K-5 IIs might not be a problem at all. Of course we have a new camera here with new features, and I’m pretty sure you want to know what new on the K-5 II?

 

New Sensor

The Pentax K-5 II / K-5 IIs use a 16.28MP (effective) latest-generation CMOS image sensor and PEntax PRIME II imaging engine, delivering super high quality images with rich gradation, minimal noise, great high ISO performance and plenty of details. You can shoot at ISO 100 up to ISO 12800 or ISO 80 to ISO 51200 in expanded mode.

 

Air-gap-free LCD

At the rear you can find a 3-inch air-gap-free LCD with 921K-dots. Hey, what is that ‘air-gap-free’ LCD thing? – Good you asked

From the press release:

“The K-5 II includes a 3.0 inch, wide-view, air-gap-free LCD display with approximately 921,000 dots for excellent visibility when outdoors. Situated between the front glass panel (which is coated with an anti-glare film) and the LCD screen is a unique resin layer that alleviates the reflection and dispersion of light to effectively prevent ghost images and maintain image brightness. The LCD cover is also made of tempered glass to keep it free of scratches and abrasions.”

 

Air gap free screen, Pentax K-5 II

Air gap free screen, Pentax K-5 II

So we get a high quality LCD that was designed to give much better clarity when shooting in bright daylight. The K5II was designed to be a great camera for outdoor photographers, and the high quality LCD certainly help photographers to increase usability, making it easier to check focus and sharpness, viewing images and videos and make an easy composition via the LCD when needed.

 

Weather-resistant Construction

The Pentax K-5 II continues the tradition of the K-5 with its compact, durable, dustproof weather-sealed body construction. The K-II body is made of magnesium alloy and the chassis is made of stainless steel. The Pentax K-5 II/ IIs made to last the toughest weather conditions. It comes with 77 seals and can operate at temperatures as low as 14°F (-10°C) and has a shutter that’s good for 100,000 shots.

Pentax K-5 II weather sealing

Pentax K-5 II weather sealing

This durable construction will give you the confident you need to shoot in tough weather conditions and feed your enthusiasm to outdoor photography. When I bought my Canon 60D, I was always afraid to shoot in the rain, holding the camera under my umbrella. With the K-5 II this is not longer an issue. You can just go out in the rain and shoot photos that wouldn’t able to get otherwise.  weather it’s water splash, fog, snow, sand or dust, the K-5 II can handle it all.

 

Shake Reduction

The Pentax K-5 II/IIs comes with a built-in shake reduction system, also known as SR. This sensor-shift image stabilization will wok with any Pentax lenses ever created. No need to purchase an expensive lens with image stabilization, all lenses will become stabilized when mounted on the K-5 II.

 

Dust Removal System

The Pentax comes with a DRII Dust Remove system, using an ultrasonic vibration to low pass filter in order to remove dust and give you clean images without dust spots.

 

More Features

  1. 1/8000 Shutter speed
  2. Accurate 77 segment metering system
  3. 7 fps continuous shooting
  4. 1080p full HD video recording and a 3.5mm stereo microphone jack
  5. High  Quality 0.92x 1005 FOV glass pentaprism viewfinder
  6. In-camera HDR image capture
  7. Built-in electronic level
  8. 11-point SAFOX X autofocus system, ideal for focusing in low light conditions, as low as -3EV
  9. PENTAX-original Hyper Control system, to swiftly and accurately respond to the photographer’s creative intentions
  10. RAW data retrieve function to save the original RAW data of a just-recorded JPEG format image
  11. 980 shots battery life on a single charge

 

I know, an impressive set of features and it seems that Pentax-Ricoh delivered an exceptional product again.

 

Pentax K-5 II vs K-5 vs Nikon D7000 vs Canon 60D

Here you can see a specs comparison table where I compare the new Pentax K-5II vs the older model K-5 and both Nikon D7000 and Canon 60D.

Pentax K-5 IIPentax K-5Nikon D7000Canon 60D
AnnouncedSeptember 10, 2012September 20, 2010September 15, 2010August 26, 2010
Sensor16.3MP
APS-C (23.7 x 15.7 mm)
CMOS
16.3MP
APS-C (23.7 x 15.7 mm)
CMOS
16.2MP
APS-C (23.6 x 15.7 mm)
CMOS
18.0MP
APS-C (22.3 x 14.9 mm)
CMOS
Image ProcessorPrime IIPrime IIEXPEED 2Digic 4
ISO100 - 12800 (80 - 51200 Extended)100 - 12800 (80 - 51200 Extended)100 - 6400 (25600 Extended)100 - 6400 (12800 Extended)
Image StabilizationSensor-shiftSensor-shiftNoNo
Focus Points11113919
LCD3-inch
921K-dots
Fixed
3-inch
921K-dots
Fixed
3-inch
921K-dots
Fixed
3-inch
1040K-dots
Fully Articulated
ViewfinderOptical (pentaprism)
0.92x / 100%
Optical (pentaprism)
0.92x / 100%
Optical (pentaprism)
0.95x / 100%
Optical (pentaprism)
0.95x / 100%
Shutter Speed30 - 1/8000 sec30 - 1/8000 sec30 - 1/8000 sec30 - 1/8000 sec
Pop up FlashYesYesYesYes
Continuous Shooting7 fps7 fps6 fps5.3 fps
Exposure Compensation±5 EV (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)±5 EV (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)±5 EV (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)±5 EV (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±2 (2, 3, 5 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)±2 (2, 3, 5 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)(3 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 1 EV steps)±3 (3 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
Video1920 x 1080 (25 fps), 1280 x 720 (25, 30 fps), 640 x 480 (25, 30 fps)1920 x 1080 (25 fps), 1280 x 720 (25, 30 fps), 640 x 424 (25, 30 fps)1920 x 1080 (24 fps), 1280 x 720 (24, 25, 30 fps), 640 x 424 (24 fps)1920 x 1080 (29.97, 25, 23.976 fps), 1280 x 720 (59.94, 50 fps), 640 x 480 (59.94, 50 fps)
ConstructionMagnesium alloy and stainless steel chassis. Dustproof, cold proof, splash ad moisture restistantMagnesium alloy and stainless steel chassis. Dustproof, cold proof, splash ad moisture restistantMagnesium alloy & Plastic. Some degree of weather sealing, dust resistant.plastic/fiber-glass, but very solid. Some degree of weather sealing. dust resistant.
Battery Life (CIPA)98098010501100
Dimensions131 x 97 x 73 mm (5.16 x 3.82 x 2.87")131 x 97 x 73 mm (5.16 x 3.82 x 2.87")132 x 105 x 77 mm (5.2 x 4.13 x 3.03")145 x 106 x 79 mm (5.71 x 4.17 x 3.11")
Weight760 g (1.68 lb / 26.81 oz)740 g (1.63 lb / 26.10 oz)780 g (1.72 lb / 27.51 oz)755 g (1.66 lb / 26.63 oz)

 

Fisrt of all, the K-5 II was designed to compete against cameras in the Nikon D300s and Canon 7D category, because of its higher price tag. However, the Pentax K-5 and now the K-5 II are always on the sight of enthusiasts photographers, whom sometimes don’t mind paying extra for a camera body, knowing that they get a great value in return. This includes several advantage over the D7000 and 60D, which include:  much better weather sealing inc. splash proof design and a durable all-metallic body construction. Pentax is also well known for its big and bright optical viewfinders. The in-camera image stabilization (SR) can certainly save you money when buying lenses, so the extra $300 price difference doesn’t seem like a big difference. Just buy one or two lenses with IS (Canon) or VR (Nikon) and you can easily spend around $300 more to get image stabilization. With the Pentax it’s not necessary, because you have Sensor-shift image stabilization in the camera itself.

The other thing that enthusiast photographers cares about is autofocus speed. I had a chance to shoot both with the Canon 60D and the Nikon D7000 (owned them both in the past). Both focus extremely fast, while I give the advantage to the D7000 (39 AF points).

It seems that people were puzzled regarding the Pentax K-5 (older version) AF performance. The new firmware improved AF speed. Dpreview stated in its conclusion that the AF system is not as versatile as the D7000. Considering that both the D7000 and the 60D are cheaper cameras, we expect the K-5 to perform at least as good as those cameras, if not better. With the Pentax K-5 II and the newly developed SAFOX X AF sensor, Pentax gives us the a very broad autofocusing EV range of -3 EV to +18 EV. This should help the K-5 II and K-5 IIs focus much more accurately in low light conditions. The new AF sensor also allows photographers to with luminous flux based on F2.8 and F5.6 levels. This increase AF accuracey when shooting with fast lenses. Pentax also improved the AF subject tracking algorithm, so we should see improvement there too. All of these updates should provide enthusiasts and pros with the AF performance they need for critical jobs.

“..with a durable camera like the K-5 II and K5 IIs, you might get some shots that other photographers might won’t be able to get.”

The Canon 60D still remains my personal favorite HDSLR camera. The Articulated high-res LCD screen will certainly attract video enthusiasts to choose the 60D over other models.

The Canon 60D costs around $440 less than the Pentax K-5 II. The K-5 II has metallic better weather-sealed body, higher ISO range, sensor-shift IS, 11 focus points vs 9, a bit larger sensor (1.5x crop vs 1.6x), 100% FOV and faster burstviewfinder. The K-5 II lacks the 60D’s Full HD framerate options, articulating higher-res LCD,  WB bracketing and higher battery life. The seems to be not so far behind the K-5, and it really offers a great value considering that it costs approx. $440 less.

I personally really want to see how the K-5 II AF performs in low light and compare it to the D7000 AF performance. Nevertheless, the D7000 costs $300 less than the K-5 II and $400 less than the K-5 IIs model. IF you don’t need the extra durability and weather-sealing of the K-5 II, the D7000 is one of the best enthusiast’s DSLR camera on the market today.  AF is blazing fast (tried myself on various lighting conditions and different type of scenes and subjects) and  continuous shooting is 1 fps less (7 vs 6 fps). On of the best assets of the D7000 is 39 AF points, great high ISO performance, flash control and of course the wide selection of high quality Nikkor lenses.

If I had to pick up either the K-5 II or the Nikon D7000, it was really a hard decision. If I already got Pentax lenses, than the decision would have been much easier, I would go with the K-5. IF you are buying a new DSLR, it looks like that even if the K-5 II AF performance will be on par and even better than the D7000, still, for the average photographer, the D7000 would probably be a better value. You can spend the other $300 on a better glass instead.

Pentax is marketing the K-5 II as the fist DSLR choice for enthusiast DSLR photographers, especially outdoor photographers. I must say that with a durable camera like the K-5 II and K5 IIs, you might get some shots that other photographers might won’t be able to get. You can shoot in the rain (also don’t forget a weather-sealed lens) without worrying that your camera get damaged. Just think of what type of photos you get shoot and just thinking about that, it opens my mind to a new great things that I can shoot. Shoot with it in the snow, rain or at the beach.. the possibilities are endless.

It really comes to personal preference. I personally wouldn’t mind having the K-5 II over the Nikon D7000 or Canon 60D  if someone would decide to buy it for me to my birthday. However,or the Canon EOS 60D, but I think both the 60D and D7000 gives a better value overall. Unless you really need or want a durable highly weather-sealed camera and/or a couple of Pentax lenses or you upgrade from a previous older Pentax model.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Pentax K-5, and I’m sure the K-5 II and K-5 IIs will be very successful. I don’t know how many people will buy the K-5 IIs, but it will certainly be a great option for studio and nature photographers, which goes excellent together with the durability of the camera.

 

Weather Sealing – Can I Shoot with my camera in the Rain?

Pentax K-5 II wet in the rainThe weather sealing and construction is certainly better than what D7000 and 60D has to offer. The K-5II is splash-proof, with better degree of weather-sealing than the 60D and D7000. Some people took the 60D and D7000 and shoot it in the rain and those cameras survived.

When you read the Nikon D7000 manual at page 289:

Keep dry: This product is not waterproof and may malfunction if immersed in water or exposed to high levels of humidity. Rusting of the internal mechanism can cause irreparable damage.

 

Pentax K-5 and K-5 II were designed to be water resistant (not water proof, you can’t soak them in water). Of course you also need a weather-resistant lens!

 

Quote from Pentax website (on the K-5 II product page):

“Fully weather sealed and coldproof design resists water, fog, snow, sand, dust, and more, for top performance in extreme field conditions as well as in the studio.”

 

The Canon EOS 60D has some degree of weather sealing. I’ve went to search the web to see how good is the weather-sealing on the 60D. On imaging-resource.com I’ve found that according to Canon: “..dust and water resistance.” (source). BUT does it mean that I can shoot with it in the rain? I still have doubts and I continue my search. It seems that the 60D sealing is good for some light water splashes and light mist, but it’s not a camera that you would take to shoot in heavy rain.

Weather sealing doesn’t have a rating for cameras like CIPA rating for battery life, so many people just don’t know how good is the weather sealing on there cameras. What we do know that the Pentax K-5 II and K-5 II s weather sealing is the best among the three (K-5 II, D7000, 60D).  What makes the K-5 II and excellent camera for the outdoor photographer.

 

Upgrading from K-5 to K-5 II

Pentax K-5, K-5 II side by side size comparison

Pentax K-5 (left) and K-5 II (right)

Another question that is raised here is whether the Pentax K-5 II worth an upgrade from the K-5. I actually don’t see any real convincing reason to upgrade, although if you have older models like the K-20, the K-5 II certianly looks like a good upgrade option.

I think that even the name (K-5 II) suggests that it’s not a big update, but an improved model over the K-5. That even might suggest that this is not the only camera that Pentax intend to announced this year, maybe a more pro version will be released too.

I’ve read that many people just not fully satisfied with the K-5 AF performance, and that something that seems to be taken care off with the K-5 II. Of course we still need to wait and see how it performs in lab tests before me make a conclusion about the AF. We know that the K-5 II has a new Sofox AF system, and that by itself suggest that Pentax new that it has to improve the AF upon the older model.

What’s made the K-5 so popular is its indisputable high ISO performance. However, I think that we shouldn’t forget that dpreview K-5 review was written almost two years ago. Since then new DSLR cameras have been released with image quality that is on par if not better than the K-5. You can see some Pentax K-5 ISO test sample images here on flickr.

So in short, I think that K-5 owners should wait a bit more to see if a new model will be announced in 2012, maybe in Photokina 2012. Of course if you read it after Photokina 2012, you already know if another Pentax SLR has been announced or not :)

 

Conclusion

The Pentax K-5 II and Pentax K-5 IIs raised a few question and some of them are still open. Considering that the K-5 II will have better AF performance and high ISO performance than the K-5, the K-5 II might be one of the best APS-C DSLRs on the market. The K5IIs is a very interesting option for people who want to squeeze any tiny piece of detail from the scene. An option that was only available on the Nikon D800E DSLR, but it’s much more expensive. Pentax liked that idea and put it as a option with a second model.

I think that Pentax improved the K-5 where it should have been improved. You shouldn’t expect miracles, because the K-5 II is more than an update than another completely new upgrade model. That means that if I had the K-5, I would probably wouldn’t be in a hurry to upgrade my camera. Maybe a new, better and more expensive model will pop out soon, just maybe.

I would probably also consider getting the Nikon D7000 or the Canon 60D over the K-5 if I don’t have any Pentax lenses or not upgrading from a previous Pentax model.  You need to ask yourself whether the $300-$400 price difference (in comparison to the 60D/D7000) worth it. For some it might be worth any penny, others might not be convinced. Not every photographer needs a good weather-sealed camera with stainless steel chassis. The camera lacks an articulating LCD, which is quite a shame considering the high price and what other models offer for a lower price.

Yes, the Pentax K-5 II and K-5 IIs are built like tanks, but Pentax was still behind the rest when it comes to AF performance and video quality.I think that Pentax loyal customers want to see a full frame camera, and they wait for such a camera since the *ist days.  The K-5 II is still a very good upgrade option for those who have the K-r, K-x or older models.

People who search for fast AF performance will probably pick the Nikon D7000. Peoople who care about video will probably pick the Canon 60D due to its articulated screen.  Both the 60D and D7000 have very good high ISO performance with the D7000 a bit better. The K-5 proven to be an amazing camera with great image quality, but that was two years ago and many new cameras have been introduced to the market. Viewing a comparison on dpreview shows that the K-5 is behind the competition in the IQ department. We still wait to see some K-5 II high ISO JPEG and Raw images to have a clear decision about image quality.


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Buy Pentax K-5 II (body only) from B&H Photo
Buy Pentax K-5 II + SMC DA 18-135 mm f/3.5-5.6 ED AF [IF] DC WR Lens Kit from B&H Photo

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