I won't go on too long about this, or make too many bones about it: essentially, the new K-5 is a K-7 with a better sensor.
Disclosure: If you'll glance to the left a bit (when this post is fresh, anyway) you'll notice that Pentax is this site's major advertiser. If that's not bad enough, there's this: Mike likes Pentaxes.
No way to know for sure, but chances are the 14.6-MP sensor in the K-7 was sourced from Samsung. The relationship between Hoya and Samsung having cooled quite a bit lately, the 16.3-MP sensor in the K-5 is most likely the excellent Sony sensor found in several of the newest DSLRs from various companies. Pentax has lately unlocked the secret to really good high-ISO algorithms—if you're not aware, the modest K-x has gathered plaudits for its high-ISO performance from all over cameradom, and the K-r and K-5 are likely to further that reputation. The K-5's new SAFOX IX autofocus system is said to be better and faster than the system in the K-7. Video is improved to 1080p and 25 fps. The still-image frame rate improves to 7 fps, too, if that's important to you.
I'm glad they didn't change the K-7 form factor. Besides for being dashingly handsome—which it indubitably is, in the plain but rugged way that has distinguished better Pentaxes since the earliest days—the K-7/K-5 is ergonomically very good: I love the size, shape, hand-fit, and operability. The viewfinder needs to be seen in person, for evaluation, by those who wear eyeglasses all the time, but for those who don't the 100% coverage is a plus.
Like its immediate antecedent, the K-5 is weatherproof and has body-integral image stabilization, which Pentax calls "SR" for shake reduction.
Overall: To all appearances, Pentax has taken a very good camera and made it unambiguously better. That theory awaits confirmation, but don't bet against it.
Any problems? Just one. The announced price of $1600 seems stiff (although that number might only survive until the depletion of existing K-7 stock. Just guessing). Assuming the camera can hold its own with its competition (we haven't seen one yet), we'd hate for a too-high price to be the rogue wind blast that makes this home run shot fall a foot inside the park.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Ben: "I'm glad to see Pentax haven't been tempted down the 'bigger = better' line of design as the K-7 is without a doubt the best handling camera I've used in 20+ years. I still don't understand why their press pictures always insist on showing a pro body with a cheap kit lens though."