The K-50 is one of new pair of twin DSLRs from Pentax, the other being the lower priced K-500. We have the same specification, the same quality of construction, the same basic layout, but with weather resistance and a choice of 120 colours. The version provided for review was a rather cool looking white, with even the lens being made the matching colour to the body.
Let us see if the K-50 is different enough to make us want to pay the higher price.
Pentax K-50 Features
The K-50 on the face of it looks pretty much identical to the K-500, so apart from anything else it will need to justify its higher price tag. It does this by adding to the specification dust proof and weather resistant construction, with 81 seals throughout the body. Also, the lens provided is a weather resistant version of the DAL plastic mount lens. This shares the design of the DA metal mount WR lens, but lacks the QuickShift feature.
The K-50 instantly feels good in the hand, a solid, rugged looking DSLR. A development from the K-30, an already proven design, the K-50 builds on that model's fine reputation.
The same 16.28MP CMOS sensor delivers punchy, realistic results and a wide range of custom image options mean the camera can certainly be adjusted to individual taste. An even wider choice of digital filters offers further styles and creative options.
In body shake reduction (SR) is also well proven and can be used with any accessory or lens. This also potentially reduces the cost of new lenses, compared to systems where shake reduction is built into the lenses.
AF has been upgraded with this new range and is distinctly faster than previous models. Low light performance is also enhanced, now enabling focusing to an impressive -1EV. The ISO range is extended and spans ISO100 to ISO51200.
The maximum frame rate is 6fps. Also on offer are the Full HD Movie Mode, 19 Scene Modes, all the usual standard modes plus two user modes and a green modes for beginners. The scene modes will also guide beginners through the maze of options, hopefully guiding them if they examine the settings that these modes employ. The selection dial has no lock, so care should be taken to ensure it is not inadvertently moved.
It is a delight to find that Pentax use a glass pentaprism with a 100% field of view. This gives a beautiful clarity and makes the Pentax viewfinder one of the best available.
16.28 megapixel CMOS Sensor
Weather resistant with 81 seals
Shake reduction by sensor shift
ISO 100 to 51,200
6 fps continuous shooting
100% view glass pentaprism finder
Full HD Movie Mode
Pentax KAF2 Metal Mount
SAFOX IXi+ AF system with range -1EV to 18EV
12 bit DNG RAW
Option of using AA batteries
Shutter speeds 30sec to 1/6000sec + B
Large range of Digital Filters and Custom Image modes
120 colours available
Pentax K-50 Handling
Pentax ergonomics and the “Pentax Feel” are still very much in evidence. A well sculpted body fits the hand securely and the overall impression is of a rugged and well constructed camera. Controls operate smoothly and all parts fit together with precision. Another well made Pentax DSLR. The use of plastics does not mean it feel cheap, it actually looks and feels very solid. The stainless steel chassis helps ensure a rigid construction.
We still return though to the SD card door, which shows some improvement but still remains quite tight in terms of access to grip and remove the card. It looks as though making that door open wider is a technical problem, so the fiddly nature of removing cards remains, albeit it being something Pentax users will be getting used to by now. The cards fit securely and smoothly and there are no issues in that respect.
The screen has 921,000 dots and is sharp and clear. The menu system is also very clear and everything is logically grouped. I format the card every time it is reused so to arrive at the format option does take quite a few button presses. Not a huge deal but it would be convenient if the option was closer to the top of the menu selections.
One useful feature is the back screen option for accessing many functions. A press of the info button activates the screen, which can be scrolled around to select and adjust many commonly used functions. This gives a means to not only check the current set-up but also to correct it as required.
The battery supplied is a DLI109 and it seems perfectly up to delivering almost 500 shots on one charge. An optional AA battery insert is available and with Lithium AA cells the battery life will comfortably exceed 1000 shots. However, for convenience using two DLI109 batteries and rotating them should be more than enough to cover any day's shooting.
Pentax still supply a proper battery charger, which is so much more convenient than charging batteries in the camera as some manufacturers expect us to do. Full marks for that and also for providing a proper printed instruction manual.
Focus/shutter response (wide)
0.1 sec (0.7 sec LV)
Focus/shutter response (full-zoom)
0.15 sec (0.7 sec LV)
Switch on time to taking a photo
Shot to shot without Flash
Shot to shot with Flash
6 fps (33 shots)
Continuous shooting RAW
6 fps (8 shots)
Pentax K-50 Performance
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.
Pentax K-50 Sample Photos
Out and about with the K-50 was as much a pleasure as its sibling. The field test shots were mainly done at Haddon Hall in Derbyshire. Solid blue skies and harsh sun were handled very well by the K-50 metering. Clearly the dynamic range was up to the job and the images obtained were excellent. The exposure compensation was left at zero for this review and after examining the shots carefully there seems little need to adjust this routinely. The K-5, for example, needed a minus value for much of the time to prevent blown out highlights, but the K-500 is spot on. Matrix, centre-weighted and spot options are available, with my preference being for centre-weighted plus use of exposure compensation as required.
Focusing continues to be improved in increments and the latest module is faster and locks on more reliably. This makes the K-50 faster than the K-5, the performance just getting better and better with every new model.
LV mode is probably still not ideal for a DSLR, but never will be because of the mechanical complexities with the mirror. However, it is very good and does allow practical use when required. If I wanted to use LV all the time, I would not choose any DSLR, although the Sony SLT models would be an obvious contender.
Pentax K-50 Lens test images
The lens provided is the SMC Pentax-DAL 18-55mm f/3-5-5.6 AL WR. The lens has good contrast and a typical rise-and-fall performance, peaking between f/8 and f/16 where a high level of sharpness is achieved. This is a good introduction to the Pentax lens range and serves to whet the appetite for more. Pentax kit lenses have a well deserved good reputation.
The DAL lenses have a plastic mount and no doubt this helps to reduce costs. More importantly, the ability to manually focus whilst in AF mode is also lost as there is no QuickShift on these lenses. However, optically the lenses are the same as theire more expensive DA versions, so the images won't suffer.
Distortion and chromatic aberration can be controlled by in-camera processing. For architectural images this should be very useful, but processing times will slow down operation of the camera.
Pentax K-50 ISO test images
Noise seems to be a thing of the past in many respects. The K-50 is excellent in terms of noise control and I would be happy to use up to ISO400 routinely, up to ISO3200 as necessary and above that in extremis. Even ISO 51200 gives us a result that can be used, even if there is severe softening of the image. This could never be achieved with film, and the memories of high speed, very grainy and low contrast films have been left far behind us.
Pentax K-50 White-balance test images
White Balance performs well. AWB will suffice for most circumstances, delivering a neutral-warm image that looks right. The various presets can offer advantages and seem reliable. My general preference is for using Daylight setting, to preserve the quality of the ambient light. Pictures were sharp and realistic, standing happily beside the K-5 series images for quality. JPEG output is of a very high standard and for most purposes will serve very well. The shutter is not as smooth and quiet as the K-5 series, but it does the job and is not too obtrusive. I did wonder if the K-50 would be quieter than the K-500, but it seems they are exactly the same.
Pentax K-50 Digital filters
As well as custom image styles such as Bright, Natural, Landscape, etc., including a good Monochrome setting, there is a huge range of Digital Filters. Experimentation with these is well worth the effort and there are examples of each setting provided here. It is worth bearing in mind the the various modes can also be adjusted with a wide range of options, so the total variation available is vast.
HDR Auto | 1/60 sec | f/16.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
HDR1 | 1/60 sec | f/16.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
HDR2 | 1/60 sec | f/16.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
HDR3 | 1/60 sec | f/16.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
In camera HDR is also provided, with three presests and an auto setting provided. These do not give the same control as a program such as Photomatix, but there is potential.
Video – Video mode is easily accessed via the control dial and works well. Full HD is available and the result is smooth. Microphone noise does not seem to be a problem.
Value for Money
The K-50 sits very comfortably in its niche as a mid-level DSLR, offering a vast array of colour options, a 100% pentaprism finder and weather and dust resistance. Coupling this to a very high level of performance and we have a winning combination of features. Value for money is in no doubt.
Pentax K-50 Verdict
The Pentax K-50 is a very strong offering from Pentax, with a few unique bonuses such as weather resistance and even the range of colours. The idea of personalising a camera is something relatively new in the UK, but why not? It adds a certain something and takes nothing away. A rugged and reliable all weather DSLR that is well worth a look.
The Pentax K-50
image quality in a
weather sealed body.
Pentax K-50 Pros
Excellent image quality
Dustproof and weather resistant
Fast operation including upgraded AF
Glass pentaprism viewfinder
In body shake reduction
Backwards compatibility with thousands of lenses
Wide ISO range
Excellent build quality
AA Battery option
120 colour options
Pentax K-50 Cons
No QuickShift on DAL Lenses
Loud focus on DAL lens