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Pentax K-5 II vs K-5 IIs DSLR Comparison Review

Pentax K-5 II vs K-5 IIs DSLR Comparison Review - John Riley compares the Pentax K-5 II and Pentax K-5 IIs to see if the K-5 IIs is worth the additional investment.

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Pentax K-5 IIs in Digital SLRs


Pentax K 5 II (4) Pentax K5 IIs (6)

Just two manufacturers have so far offered an alternative version of a DSLR by removing the anti-aliasing (AA) filter. Nikon led the way with the Nikon D800 and D800E variant and now Pentax, at a very different price level, have offered the K-5 II and its almost identical twin, the new K-5 IIs. Now both Pentax cameras have been looked at in detail we can look at the advantages and any disadvantages of removing the AA filter.

Read our full Pentax K-5 II Review.
Read our full Pentax K-5 IIs Review.

Pentax K-5 II vs K-5 IIs Features

Pentax K5 IIs (9)

Both the K-5 II and K-5 IIs share an almost identical set of features.

A rugged magnesium alloy body, weather resistant, well established and well tested as being reliable and efficient. The key shared features include:

Key Features

  • 16.28MP APS-C sensor
  • Pentax KAF2 bayonet mount
  • In-body shake reduction
  • Glass pentaprism with 100% field of view
  • 3 inch LCD monitor with 921,000 dots and no air space
  • Live View with Contrast Detection and Phase Matching AF
  • SAFOX X AF module sensitive to -3EV
  • Weather resistant construction with 77 seals
  • Magnesium alloy shell
  • 7fps maximum frame rate
  • ISO range 100 to 12,800, expandable to 80 to 51,200
  • Full HD Movie Mode
  • 17 Digital filters
  • DNG RAW format
  • Premium JPEG Quality level
The difference is in the final touches to the sensor. In most DSLRs, up to this point, there is a low pass or anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor. The effect of this is to slightly blur the image and the obvious consequence is that post-capture it needs to be sharpened again. In Adobe Camera Raw sharpening of 25% is done by default right at the start and this is referred to as input sharpening. If we have shot in JPEG then sharpening is usually done as the very last part of the process, to avoid introducing artefacts into the image.

Pentax K 5 II (16) Pentax K5 IIs (10)

The blurring is done in the first instance to avoid the interference effects in fine repeating detail that we call moire. Moire effects were typically seen on television in the past as a shimmering of, for example, fine detail in tweed jackets.

However, without that blurring the amount of detail resolved could be far greater, and it in seeking this increase of detail that Pentax engineers found that sensor technology had moved on to a degree where the AA filter could be dispensed with, albeit with a slight risk of moire and false colour effects in a small number of images.

The K-5 II takes the conventional path and has the usual AA filter in place, and was reviewed in November. Keenly awaited, the K-5 IIs review has now been completed over the past three days. The questions raised were, does the removal of the AA filter make a significant difference and is it worth the increased cost?

Pentax K-5 II vs K-5 IIs Handling

Pentax handling is well established and anyone familiar with Pentax from the Spotmatic of 1964 onwards will not take long to feel at home with the K-5 II and IIs.

Pentax K 5 II (13)

A compact and solid body, good reliability, weather resistance, plenty of dedicated buttons, top screen and two control wheels, all add up to good ergonomics. It feels good in the hands and works efficiently.

These cameras are at home in studio or outdoors, but the features encourage rugged outdoor use. I would certainly prefer to carry any K-5 variant across mountains and moorlands than lug around much heavier and bulkier DSLR kit.

Pentax K 5 II (8)

The design also encourages experimentation as there is unparalleled backwards compatibility across a vast number of both Pentax and other makers' lenses stretching back many decades. This is icing on the cake, as there is a growing range of excellent Pentax lenses in the current catalogue.

Pentax K-5 II vs K-5 IIs Performance

In terms of general performance, the K-5 II and IIs can be considered identical. There appears to be no difference in speed of operation, file sizes, and in the most important area of general image quality. By this I am referring to the superb quality of Pentax colour, which I find to be a very significant plus point to the Pentax DSLR in general. In addition, the outstanding low noise performance of the K-5 and K-5 II is not compromised.

The removal of the AA filter and whatever changes in processing that this has required do not appear to have had any detrimental effect on any of the other qualities.

The key question now concerns detail, in a practical sense even more so that in the realms of optical theory. There would be little point in giving increased resolution that could be measured but not seen.

To consider for a moment working with black and white film, users of an ISO400 film would be able to enjoy very good resolution of detail. However, use instead an ISO50 film and that detail would be shown with greater contrast and much greater fidelity. It would have a clarity. The downside of course is that more exposure would be needed, and this would bring in the possibility of camera shake. The benefits would only be fully seen in tripod mounted shots, or using high shutter speeds in good light.

Pentax K-5 II Pentax K-5 IIs
Tungsten Preset | 1/13 sec | f/4.0 | 24.4 mm | ISO 100 Tungsten Preset | 1/13 sec | f/4.0 | 24.4 mm | ISO 100
Tungsten Preset | 1/13 sec | f/4.0 | 24.4 mm | ISO 100 Tungsten Preset | 1/13 sec | f/4.0 | 24.4 mm | ISO 100
1/4 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 80 1/4 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 80
1/4 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 80 1/4 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 80

The difference between the II and IIs is similar. The II delivers excellent, sharp images to screen or print and is up amongst the best performers in its class, and beyond. The IIs adds a sense of effortless clarity to the fine detail and absolutely excels at rendering texture. In a practical sense, whatever the measured numbers might be, the effect is there to be seen. Texture in paintwork, texture in hair, finer detail in complex masses of branches, are all clearly to be seen.

Pentax K-5 II Pentax K-5 IIs
Portrait CS5 Processed | 1/13 sec | f/11.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 200 CS5 Portrait Processed | 1/20 sec | f/8.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 200
Portrait CS5 Processed | 1/13 sec | f/11.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 200 CS5 Portrait Processed | 1/20 sec | f/8.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 200

I had wondered if the IIs would be too severe on detail for portraiture, but we can diffuse if we need to and the superb hair detail will be enjoyed by many subjects. It does not cause any particular problems with skin detail that could not be handled in post processing, or even using the rather pleasant in-camera Soft filter.

Moire Test | 1.3 sec | f/11.0 | 30.6 mm | ISO 200
Moire Test | 1.3 sec | f/11.0 | 30.6 mm | ISO 200

Moire effects were not apparent in anything I could find to challenge the camera. Pentax suggest that if moire is seen, using a lens open aperture or no further stopped down than f/8 will give the best results, to avoid diffraction effects adding to the problem. In the event, shots down to f/16 did not show any untoward effects. Beyond f/16 sharpness suffered due to diffraction, as would be expected, but the shots were still usable, and still there was no sign of moire.

The two reviews include images shot as nearly as possible in identical conditions. They are two months apart, so there will be some unavoidable variation in the shots, but using a good sample of the SMC Pentax 18-55mm WR lens in both shoots and being fortunate to find similar lighting conditions, the variables have been reduced to a minimum.

Pentax K-5 II Pentax K-5 IIs
CS5 Processed | 1/50 sec | f/11.0 | 37.5 mm | ISO 200 CS5 Processed | 1/60 sec | f/11.0 | 47.5 mm | ISO 200
CS5 Processed | 1/50 sec | f/11.0 | 37.5 mm | ISO 200 CS5 Processed | 1/60 sec | f/11.0 | 47.5 mm | ISO 200
Pseudo Infra Red | 1/40 sec | f/16.0 | 40.0 mm | ISO 200 Pseudo Infra Red | 1/30 sec | f/11.0 | 32.5 mm | ISO 200
Pseudo Infra Red | 1/40 sec | f/16.0 | 40.0 mm | ISO 200 Pseudo Infra Red | 1/30 sec | f/11.0 | 32.5 mm | ISO 200

The images are unsharpened and were shot at the Premium JPEG setting. All shots apart from the portraits were made using a firm tripod and the 2 second delay. This raises the mirror before the exposure and removes any possibility of vibration.

Pentax K-5 II vs K-5 IIs Verdict

  The Pentax K-5 IIs is worth the additional investment of the K-5 II.
This was clearly an interesting proposition and I was keen to see for myself what difference, if any, the removal of the AA filter would make. The conclusion was quite obvious as soon as the images were examined. Removing the AA filter lends an incredible clarity to the detail in images. Shoot carefully on a tripod, use good lenses and the benefits will definitely be worth it. Architecture, landscape, still life, studio work, all will benefit from the IIs variant. However, to be fair, the II version is £130 less and delivers excellent results in its own right. If we shoot holiday pictures, family, people and other general hand-held shots then the K-5 II will deliver perfectly well. Printed at small sizes the advantages may not be so clear.

But for the enthusiasts, the camera club competitions, commercial work and professional use the K-5 IIs definitely gets my vote. It does make a difference, that difference is quite clear, and the extra £130 is well worth paying.

Read our full Pentax K-5 II Review.
Read our full Pentax K-5 IIs Review.

Pentax K-5 IIs Specifications

Effective Magnification1.5x
Image Sensor
Pixels16.3Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4928
Pixels (H)3264
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeAPS-C
Sensor Size (width)23.7mm
Sensor Size (height)15.7mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution921,000 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/8000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • A
  • Program Variable
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
  • TTL
ISO sensitivity100 - 51200
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-5
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting7fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeRechargeable D-LI90P Lithium-ion battery
Battery Life (CIPA rating)740shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data

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Photographs taken using the Pentax K-5 IIs

Atlantic surferMandarin duckAll Done With Smoke & SteamUntitledGggrrrrrrrrrrNoon shadowsMilkywayLake WakatipuTownSomewhere on the RhineCycle PathFlyoverNew Street


JackAllTog Plus
9 5.0k 58 United Kingdom
28 Jan 2013 3:34PM
Thanks for this article, i'd not realised that the IIs was out there or even existed.

Its sounding like a no brainier that many on this site would go for the nonAA for the potential sharpness - If this is so why aren't any of the other manufacturer's offering Non AA filter versions on their mid range camera's?

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28 Jan 2013 4:16PM
New ideas are not always immediately accepted, so maybe Nikon and Pentax were both being slightly cautious to see how the change would be received?
kaoskode 5 1 United States
30 Jan 2013 3:04PM
I have a problem with this test in that they did not use the same shutter speeds or focal lengths in the last 2 shots and the girl was shot with different aperture and shutter settings as well as being at a different distance from the camera. For me that makes it hard to accurately judge the
the difference between the 2 cameras.
30 Jan 2013 3:55PM
I agree kaoskode that, separated as the tests are by two months, it wasn't possible to recreate exactly the conditions. However, it was done as nearly as possible and, in the case of the IIs, in between some very bad weather indeed.

If you look at the two full tests there are plenty of images that will make the point. Apart from the portraits, all the exterior shots were tripod mounted in similar spots and with as near as possible the same lens choices. Not a laboratory test, but at least a real situation.

Hope that helps!
kaoskode 5 1 United States
30 Jan 2013 5:33PM
johnriley1uk I see now that you did the test was the older model not available to you at this time? Another thing I don't understand but not related to image quality is why charge more for a camera that has one less part whatever minor changes they made to the sensor. I mean another 130 pounds or Euros seems to much to charge when they are leaving a part out. And thanks for answering so promptly on my first question I liked your Skye bridge shot great composition . The only thing wrong with it was the haze in the air kind of trashed the look of the mountains in the background I would love to see the same shot on a clearer day
30 Jan 2013 5:55PM
Thanks kaoskode, Skye is a brilliant place to visit if you ever get the opportunity, but the weather is very volatile!

Cameras are sent out for review and only the II was available in November. That went back within the week. I would have preferred to have them both at the same time, but the IIs only came in a few days before the review was posted, two months after the first one. I was lucky to get any good weather at all as most of that week was really bad.

Why more? I guess because the IIs is an alternative, so has to be prepared as a smaller run to the main one. I think Pentax expected the II to sell to most people, and the IIs to those who needed it. Smaller numbers = higher price. Whether or not the IIs will surprise them is quite possible.
2 Feb 2013 4:33PM
Try shooting with some satin fabric instead...the pattern has to be a lot tighter for moire to show up...
7 Feb 2013 2:03PM
Pentax suggest that if moire is seen, using a lens open aperture or no further stopped down than f/8 will give the best results, to avoid diffraction effects adding to the problem.


The smaller the aperture (physically, that means the higher the f-number!) the lower the resolution. Which matters for moire. This test gets it totally backwards.

You will NEVER find moire at f/11 onwards on APS-C. Diffraction kills moire!

Rather, look at much lower stops.

Seriously, do your homework before doing tests (like, reading wikipedia on moire).
7 Feb 2013 2:21PM
Yes quite OPA1372, written the wrong way round. It wasn't part of the review per se though, just a misquote, but in any event no moire was found in normal use.

If you go looking for it, then you will find it, and then you are quite correct stopping down far enough will minimise it.

Many thanks for the clarification.
11 Feb 2013 3:19AM
If you ask me, the (K-5 II)'s images look better in all your comparisons. Not the IIs.
11 Feb 2013 8:59AM
You need to look at all the images in both reviews and examine the detail carefully. The II images were shot two months earlier and it was a much more attractive day, so images may well look more attractive.

It is possible though to discern that the fine detail in the IIs images is rendered more clearly than those from the II. If you only use the web and make small prints, don't worry too much about it. For large prints the difference is there, but as in all things it's a matter of degree and how important to you the difference is.
11 Feb 2013 1:19PM
Thanks. That seems to be the opinion of most so I guess I'll be getting the IIs. Thanks!!
29 Mar 2013 2:12PM
I'm new here and thankful for all the useful hints made so far. My only and current DSLR is a K20D.
I only occasionally shoot RAWS (PEF) together with JPEG's and found not much difference on the screen (with Pentax Photo Browser 3).

Now my question:
Is it absolutely necessary to shoot RAW's with the K5IIs or will JPEG's do? As far as I understood some demo-pictures in the reviews were taken with JPEG (premium quality) and the pic's look absolutely fine to me. Or asking otherwise: Will it be easier to correct moiré on RAW pic's than on JPEG's?
Thanks for helpful comments.
29 Mar 2013 6:11PM
Good question. I always shoot in Premium JPEG and it's no problem at all. There's a logic to shooting RAW under some circumstances, but as a routine thing largely unecessary. No doubt others will vehemently disagree, but we have tested A3 prints from RAW and JPEG with audiences and 99% of people can't see any difference, or even choose the JPEG as best.

Moire wasn't a problem anyway, so it's unlikely to appear in most normal photography.
29 Mar 2013 6:27PM
Thank you very much for your comment, John.
I made the same experience: a few of my JPEG's looked -slightly- better than the RAW's.

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