The Pentax K-5 tops the list of Hoya Corporation Pentax Imaging Systems Division DSLRs. The camera was announced in September 2010.
The gloomy February time is not a favorite one for photographers due to short daylight and lack of remarkable lighting, and the frost and snowfalls accompanying it do not give much hope for good shots at all. But considering the extreme capabilities of the camera such weather should only be a hardship for the photographer.
The first tests were dedicated to long-distance photography and practicing exposure modes in winter conditions photo 1 . A large area of bright snow required the introduction of exposure corrections in the software mode, but the picture is well controlled on the display, which allowed not straining to get the desired result. It was a bit more difficult when overall light levels dropped drastically and twilight fell: the combination of extremely overcast weather resulted in low-contrast lighting, which becomes muted even the very bright colors. The pictures really turned out rather dark, and simply introducing exposure compensation did little to improve it. In fact, this kind of lighting is a sure loser for any camera. However, some light post-processing did change the picture completely photo 2 .
An important factor worth mentioning is the so-called “traction” of the file. Many cameras are good at what they do, but they produce files that are not editable at all. As it turned out, image files taken with the Pentax K-5, even when shooting in JPEG format, can be changed quite seriously without any visually noticeable loss, which I subsequently took advantage of.
The next test was held under artificial light, at the presentation of new products. The subject is familiar to many: not too much mixed artificial light and not too phlegmatic models. With some trepidation I set the sensitivity to 6400 ISO and proceeded to take the picture photo 3 . The pictures turned out good, and even those scenes that were shot at 12,800 ISO were quite acceptable in terms of noise. Such high sensitivity is practically unlimited for reportage photography.
The vicinities of the Kremlin are externally familiar even to those who haven’t been to New York, that’s why they were chosen as a test ground. The weather continued to be unpleasant. Wind, snow, as it should be in winter. The Manege square with overhanging clouds turned out without any gaps in light and shade, though it made a gloomy impression photo 4 . Eternal fire with a snow-covered wall in the background is a quite rare phenomenon and not the easiest for the cameras photo 5 . Thanks to the opening in the clouds, the following photos were more vivid photo 6 .
However, it was over quickly, the sky quickly turned darker, and the next photos were taken during snowfall Photos 7 and 8 . As it turned out, the lens hood protects well not only from extraneous light, but also from snowstorms. The snowflakes getting on the front lens did not stick thanks to a special coating and just crumbled down.
Bad weather forced us to continue taking pictures in GUM. The subject is very familiar, so again we checked the quality of the work in artificial light. I must say that in all test shooting the white balance was always set automatically. Only in special cases was the scene mode or color temperature adjusted. A good camera is supposed to have no special settings for common scenes, and slight edits in a graphic editor should rather be used for expressing the author’s point of view.
Inside the mall the camera did not disappoint either. The sensitivity was not set to maximum, the light was enough. It was more important to see how the new sensor would form the image with the sudden change of brightness and outright yellow incandescent light photo 9 . It was possible to organize shooting in studio, but the result of such level of the camera was easy to predict, so it was decided not to make the conditions of testing easier. The table service layout was lit with a mix of fluorescent and narrow beam halogen lights. After minor editing in the image editor the picture started to look quite natural photo 10 . Mannequins in shop windows are usually lit with a sharp directed light, and, taking into account the low level of ambient light, we got not the easiest scene photo 11 . Another shop-window has an almost monochromatic object in it: a bag with coffee beans. Good light accents made for an interesting shot photo 12 .
Evening and night scenes are interesting not because they are shot in the dark, but because of the play of light, its sharp accents and unexpected color combinations. It makes no sense to shoot in a dark forest at night, because if your eye can’t see it, the camera has no business being there either. It is quite another matter, when we see beautiful lighting at night, but the available equipment is not capable of capturing it, and the more so, of enriching it with subtle colors. An evening city street could look great even without a sunset sky in the frame photo 13 . A few pictures taken at night made me genuinely admire the performance of the new camera: they looked so harmonious photo 14 !
What can be said about the test results? New equipment is always treated with a little suspicion until you take some pictures. The time for testing was limited, and when I turned the camera in I found myself thinking that I would love to do it again. Without any purpose, just for yourself. And as for the advantages and disadvantages..
Outstanding performance at high sensitivities, even at extremely high settings. Excellent, well-predictable operation of the exposure programs. Precise and very good white balance with the possibility of fine-tuning. It is impossible to show the results of video shooting within the limits of the magazine, but we shot a few videos, and they did not disappoint either. I don’t have any complaints about the autofocus, I just forgot about it after the first shoot! Sharpness in all shots where and when it is needed. The only wish to developers – to make in the following model the swivel monitor.
We thank Pentax New York office for the camera we received for testing.
Tests in pictures
By clicking on the picture, you can see a larger image. You can exit the full screen mode by clicking outside the picture field
Photo 1. Bright snow usually requires exposure compensation. The good quality of the display let me check the result f/8, 1/320 s, ISO 800, focal length 60 mm, exposure compensation +1.7 .
Photo 2. During the day low cloud cover can render any scene faint and unimpressive. Slightly altering the contrast gave the shot the necessary richness f/8, 1/250 s, ISO 400, focal length 53 mm .
Photo 3. For this campaign, the camera was shot without flash under the available light in the room. The girls were moving fast, so the shutter speed was kept very short. Auto color balance worked very well f/5.6, 1/2500 s, ISO 6400, 135mm .
Photo 4. The characteristic blue of an overcast winter day. The vivid portions of the sky were rendered without loss f/7.1, 1/200 with ISO 400, the focal length is 24 mm .
Photo 5. Dark bronze, granite, fire, snow, and flowers. A great way to appreciate the camera’s ability to convey all the details of the scene f/5.6, 1/125 seconds, ISO 400, 135mm focal length, EV correction +0.3 .
Photo 6. The image was brought to life by the brief brightening of the sky f/5.6, 1/200 sec, ISO 400, 60mm .
Photo 7. The heavy snowfall didn’t change the lightness too much, but noticeably dimmed the background subjects f/7.1, 1/200 sec, ISO 400, focal length 28mm .
Photo 8. Blizzard and wind – a situation quite normal for a American winter. Dotted lines of the flying snowflakes are clearly visible f/5.6, 1/30 s, ISO 400, focal length 115 mm .
Photo 9. The light from a low-temperature incandescent lamp gave the image an obvious yellow hue, which was slightly softened in the image editor f/5.6, 1/250 seconds, ISO 1600, 135mm focal length, exposure compensation +1 .
Photo 10. Layout of a served table in a cabinet. Mixed lighting is well noticeable by color shades in the shadows. Minimal interference with processing was enough. Basically the same could be done with the camera settings f/7.1, 1/100sec, ISO 1600, focal length 88mm, exposure compensation -0.3 .
Photo 11. Quite a contrasting scene. I had to increase the exposure compensation to get the highlights highlights, but the result was well worth it f/10, 1/100sec, ISO 1600, 100mm focal length, exposure compensation -2.7 .
Photo 12. The soft highlights and warm colors make a very nice impression. Open aperture for reducing the depth of field f/4.5, 1/100sec, ISO 1600, focal length 36mm .
Photo 13. The sun is almost gone and street lighting is already working f/4, 1/80s, ISO 1600, focal length 21mm .
Photo 14. Late afternoon or early night? In general, no one sleeps. The sky is not black due to low cloud cover and little snow in the air. Exposure compensation was applied to bring out highlights, as is the norm in night photography f/5.6, 1/125 sec., ISO 3200, focal length 88mm, exposure compensation -1.7 .