Every time I write about cameras I persistently get asked why I haven't written more about the Pentax K-5, despite having bought one some while ago. I thought I should 'splain, once and for all*.
The reason I haven't written about it is that I seldom use it.
It ain't the camera. The reason I seldom use it is that Pentax doesn't happen to make the lens I would most like to have for it, a 35mm- or 40mm-equivalent. Which is, yes, quite ironic given that one of the main reasons to use Pentax is its selection of beautiful lenses nobody else makes.
Yeah, there's an older option, the full-frame 1991–2004 FA 24mm ƒ/2; yeah, Pentax brackets the focal length with current products, the 21mm ƒ/3.2 Limited pancake (31.5mm-e) crop-sensor lens and the 31mm ƒ/1.8 Limited (46.5mm-e) for FF; yeah, you can use older manual-focus lenses. And yeah, I'm too damn finicky about lenses and too settled in my preferences and I'm being all Goldilocks-y. What can I say? It's my hobby and I reserve the right. I like 35s and 40s** and Pentax doesn't have one. That's all.
I thought I could learn to love the K-5 with the magnificent DA 35mm Macro—a combo made in Elysium—but it proved just too long for me to get along with as a regular thing. More's the pity. I love that lens.
As far as the ergonomics and the look'n'feel of the basic design are concerned, the K-5 is in the same Zip Code as perfect. Just the right size, just the right weight, a good, solid, blocky, muscular yet conservative no-nonsense style, a great hand grip, excellent control placements, a good enough viewfinder considering it's an APS-C camera, and a great-sounding, quiet shutter. For a small and handy but full-featured DSLR it's a particularly successful design. I think Pentax made a smart move in keeping the basic design intact for the new K-5 II.
And keep in mind that the K-5 II and the Nikon D7000 have maybe 90% of the sensor-y goodness of the D600 and D800, in a more sensible package. There are advantages to full frame, sure, but they don't hold the upper hand in all ways: there are advantages to "crop sensors," too.
Anyway, I'm sorry K-5 fans aren't going to get more of a review of the camera from me. But th-th-th-th-th-that's all***, folks.
P.S. Note that Pentax is an advertiser on TOP. Also note that I was a Pentax fan long before that.
*I have hopes.
**Yeah, I know I just bought a 28mm for the D800, but please don't throw that back at me. It's most likely temporary, until one of two things happens: either Nikon fills out its new FX prime line with a 35mm ƒ/1.8G for FX, or I suck it up and get over the deep-seated psychological barrier I have against spending $1,619 for a lens.
***Meanwhile, if anyone wants a very pretty, near-new, little-used K-5 in the box for $695, let me know. [UPDATE: Sold]
Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
JVA: "Lucky for me that Pentax does cover my favorite focal lengths with the FA 43mm and FA 31mm! I agree that it would be good for Pentax to add a 35mm equivalent."
Steve Biro: "Mike speaks the truth. Pentax still needs more lenses. I'm on my fourth Pentax digital body. I have most of the DA Limiteds (just not the 40mm) plus the DA 50mm ƒ/1.8. I wouldn't rule out an FA 43mm Limited.
"But the lack of a 24 to 28mm fast prime (that I can afford) forced me to buy my first Sigma lens a few months ago: a 28mm ƒ/1.8 that was on sale new with warranty for $329. It's not a bad lens at all but it's big and heavy, and I would have bought a Pentax if they made one in that focal range.
"The FA 31 Limited? I missed my chance with that one when it cost hundreds of dollars less. It's out of my league now and, besides, it's not what one would call 'diminutive,' either.
"I'm not a professional photographer, only a long-time enthusiast. So any desire I might have for a more complete system isn't as urgent as it might be for many. But Mike speaks the truth. We can only hope we'll see changes in the next year or two."
Mike replies: Given how long we had to wait for a FF AF 35mm prime for the last film cameras—almost until it didn't matter any more—I wouldn't count on it. For whatever reason, Pentax historically does not support the 35mm (and equivalent) angle of view well at all.