On June 12 2013, Pentax announced its mid- and entry-level DSLR lineup with the K-50 and K-500 DSLR cameras. The K-50 features 81 weather seals, high-speed continuous shooting at 6 fps, ISO settings up to 51200, SAFOX IXi+ autofocus with accurate subject tracking, 100% field of view viewfinder, shake reduction system, 4 optional interchangeable focusing screens, a fast shutter up to 1/6000 of a second, and Eye-fi SD card compatibility. The K-50 is available in 120 color combinations.
The K-500 entry-level DSLR gets most of the K-50's features - the main loss being weather sealing - in a less expensive package. It features a 16.3 Megapixels APS-C CMOS image sensor, fast continuous shooting, high sensitivity shooting up to ISO 51200, 100% field of view, in-body shake reduction, and an advanced auto focus module. It uses 4 AA batteries. Pentax also added two weather-sealed lenses; the smc PENTAX-DA L 18-55mm F3.5-5.6AL WR, and smc PENTAX-DA L 50-200 F4-5.6ED WR. The K-50 DSLR is available for $699.95 body only, or $799.95 for the kit including DA-L 18-55mm WR lens, or $879.95 for the dual lens kit including the DA-L 18-55mm WR and DA-L 50-200mm WR lenses. The K-500 DSLR is available for $599.95 including the DA-L 18-55mm lens, or $699.95 for the dual lens kit including the DA-L 18-55mm and DA-L 50-200mm lenses. Here's the summary of review by PCMag, giving the camera a rating of 4 out of 5:
"Imatest also checks images for noise. The K-50 uses a 16-megapixel APS-C image sensor, and is capable of capturing images in Raw or JPG format. We tested its JPG output at default settings; the K-50 allows for extensive customization of the amount of noise reduction that is applied to images at high ISO settings. It's able to keep noise under 1.5 percent through ISO 3200, and is only barely over that mark at ISO 6400. We were quite impressed with the JPG detail at ISO 3200, and wouldn't hesitate to shoot in that format at ISO 6400 in a pinch. But at higher settings images start to lose detail from smudging. Other cameras in this class lag behind the K-30 a bit in terms of noise control; the T5i and Sony Alpha 65 only keep noise below 1.5 percent through ISO 1600. The exception is the Nikon D5200, which also keeps noise under control through ISO 3200. In terms of video capture, the K-50 records 1080p30 or 720p60 footage in QuickTime format, with supports for 25fps and 24fps options at either resolution as well. The footage looks good, especially when ones of Pentax's better lenses is attached, but autofocus is a disappointment. Autofocus during video is slow, and it must be initiated manually by hitting the AF button. You can see what area of the frame is active during focus before you start recording, but that disappears when video is actually rolling, so there's a little bit of guesswork involved in knowing what the camera is attempting to focus on. You can record video in program, aperture priority, or manual mode, but settings are locked once the recording begins. There's no mic input, so you'll be limited to using the camera's internal microphone for audio. Depending on which lens you pair with the camera, it can be quiet or loud during focusing. The Pentax SMC FA 43mm f/1.9 Limited captures some beautiful video with a shallow depth of field and sharp details, but it's insanely loud if you try to engage autofocus when recording. If video performance is key, consider a camera like the Alpha 65, or if an optical viewfinder is a necessity, the D5200--both offer continuous autofocus while recording, and both have mic input ports.
We lauded last year's Pentax K-30 as an excellent value, and the K-50 is no different. It's essentially the same camera, albeit with different cosmetics and an absurd amount of build-to-order color options, at a lower price. Its pentaprism viewfinder is one of the best you'll find in a sub-$1,000 D-SLR, it can rattle off shots at just under 6 frames per second, it offers in-body image stabilization, it's fully weather sealed, and the image quality is top notch. Video performance is a disappointment, and it keeps the K-50 from robbing the Editors' Choice crown from the Nikon D5200. But if video isn't a concern, and you're after a compact D-SLR with excellent image quality, strongly consider the K-50."
Pentax K-50 Camera Reviews Roundup
|What Digital Camera - Oct 21 2013|
"The most obvious difference found on the Pentax K-50 is the camera's weather-sealing, with the K-50 improving on the solid feel of the K-500 to offer 81 seals round the body, making it weather-resistant, dustproof and cold-resistant, allowing it to operate down to temperatures as low as -10 degrees. This level of finish is only often seen on high-end DSLRs,..." More »
|CNET US - Oct 17 2013|
"Overall, the image and video quality disappoint, especially on the default color settings. Following a long Pentax consumer tradition, Custom Image still defaults to Bright, a setting that indiscriminately pumps up color saturation and increases contrast, resulting in serious hue shifts and clipped shadow detail. Switching to the Natural setting or shooting..." More »
|Reviewed - Oct 17 2013|
"If you're prone to pessimism, it's tempting to view the K-50 as a disappointingly stagnant release--really little more than a warmed-over, rounded-off, multi-hued K-30. Where's the innovation, Pentax? How many times can you release a slight variation on the K-5 formula? Where's our tilting touchscreen? Where are our jetpacks? But in reality, the K-30 was an..." More »
|PopPhoto - Oct 17 2013|
"It's rare for a 16.3MP camera to rack up enough lines per picture height to achieve an Excellent rating in our tests. The K-50 fell just shy of that top award, earning a still-impressive Extremely High rating from ISO 100 through 400 in overall image quality. Resolution measured 2470 lines at the camera's lowest sensitivity of ISO 100--about the same as the..." More »