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Pentax K-5 vs K-50

The Pentax K-5 and the Pentax K-50 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2010 and June 2013. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 16.1 megapixels.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Pentax K-5
versus
Pentax K-50
Pentax K-5 Pentax K-50
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Pentax K mount lenses Pentax K mount lenses
16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/25p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-12,800 (80 - 51,200) ISO 100-51,200
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 921k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
7 shutter flaps per second 6 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
740 shots per battery charge410 shots per battery charge
131 x 97 x 73 mm, 760 g 130 x 97 x 71 mm, 650 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Pentax K-5 and the Pentax K-50? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Pentax K-5 and the Pentax K-50 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The K-50 can be obtained in three different colors (black, red, white), while the K-5 is only available in black.

Size Pentax K-5 vs Pentax K-50
Compare K-5 versus K-50 top
Comparison K-5 or K-50 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax K-5 and the Pentax K-50 are of equal size. However, the K-50 is markedly lighter (14 percent) than the K-5. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

Concerning battery life, the K-5 gets 740 shots out of its D-LI90 battery, while the K-50 can take 410 images on a single charge of its D-LI109 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Pentax K-5 131 mm 97 mm 73 mm 760 g 740 Y Sep 2010 1,099 i
2.
 
Pentax K-50 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 650 g 410 Y Jun 2013 599 i
3.
 
Olympus E-M5 II 124 mm 85 mm 45 mm 469 g 310 Y Feb 2015 1,099 i
4.
 
Olympus E-M5 122 mm 89 mm 43 mm 425 g 360 Y Feb 2012 1,299 i
5.
 
Pentax KP 132 mm 101 mm 76 mm 703 g 390 Y Jan 2017 1,099 i
6.
 
Pentax K-70 126 mm 93 mm 74 mm 688 g 410 Y Jun 2016 649 i
7.
 
Pentax K-3 II 131 mm 100 mm 77 mm 800 g 720 Y Apr 2015 1,099 i
8.
 
Pentax K-500 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 646 g 710 n Jun 2013 549 i
9.
 
Pentax K-3 131 mm 100 mm 77 mm 800 g 560 Y Oct 2013 1,299 i
10.
 
Pentax K-30 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 650 g 410 Y May 2012 849 i
11.
 
Pentax K-5 II 131 mm 97 mm 73 mm 760 g 740 Y Sep 2012 1,099 i
12.
 
Sony A77 143 mm 104 mm 81 mm 732 g 470 Y Aug 2011 1,399 i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The K-50 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 45 percent) than the K-5, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the K-50 is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

In terms of chip-set technology, the K-5 uses a more advanced image processing engine (PRIME II) than the K-50 (PRIME M), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Pentax K-5 and Pentax K-50 sensor measures

Even though the K-5 has a slightly larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 16.1 megapixels. This implies that the K-5 has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 4.81μm versus 4.77μm for the K-50), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. It should, however, be noted that the K-50 is much more recent (by 2 years and 8 months) than the K-5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.

The Pentax K-5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 80-51200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax K-50 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200 (no boost).

K-5 versus K-50 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Pentax K-5 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/25p23.714.11162 82
2.
 
Pentax K-50 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.01120 79
3.
 
Olympus E-M5 II Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.012.5842 73
4.
 
Olympus E-M5 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60i22.812.3826 71
5.
 
Pentax KP APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i...... ..
6.
 
Pentax K-70 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i...... ..
7.
 
Pentax K-3 II APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.613.61106 80
8.
 
Pentax K-500 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.11087 79
9.
 
Pentax K-3 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.713.41216 80
10.
 
Pentax K-30 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.01129 79
11.
 
Pentax K-5 II APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/25p23.814.11235 82
12.
 
Sony A77 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.2801 78

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the K-50 provides a faster frame rate than the K-5. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/30p, while the K-5 is limited to 1080/25p.

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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The K-5 and the K-50 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), as well as the same magnification (0.61x). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Pentax K-5 and Pentax K-50 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Pentax K-5optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y Y
2.
 
Pentax K-50optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
3.
 
Olympus E-M5 II2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
4.
 
Olympus E-M51440 n 3.0 610 tilting Y 1/4000s 9.0 n Y
5.
 
Pentax KPoptical n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/6000s 7.0 Y Y
6.
 
Pentax K-70optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
7.
 
Pentax K-3 IIoptical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 n Y
8.
 
Pentax K-500optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
9.
 
Pentax K-3optical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 Y Y
10.
 
Pentax K-30optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
11.
 
Pentax K-5 IIoptical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y Y
12.
 
Sony A772359 Y 3.0 921 full-flex n 1/8000s 12.0 Y Y

One feature that is present on the K-5, but is missing on the K-50 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

The Pentax K-5 and the Pentax K-50 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the K-5 and the K-50 write their files to SDXC cards.

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Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Pentax K-5 and Pentax K-50 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Pentax K-5YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
2.
 
Pentax K-50Ymonomono--micro2.0---
3.
 
Olympus E-M5 IIYstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
4.
 
Olympus E-M5Ystereomono--mini2.0---
5.
 
Pentax KPYstereomonoY--2.0Y--
6.
 
Pentax K-70YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
7.
 
Pentax K-3 IIYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
8.
 
Pentax K-500Ymonomono---2.0---
9.
 
Pentax K-3YmonomonoYYmini3.0---
10.
 
Pentax K-30Ymonomono---2.0---
11.
 
Pentax K-5 IIYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
12.
 
Sony A77YstereomonoY-mini2.0---

It is notable that the K-5 has a microphone port, which is missing on the K-50. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Pentax K-5 (unlike the K-50) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the K-5 and the K-50 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The K-5 was replaced by the Pentax K-5 II, while the K-50 was followed by the Pentax K-70. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Pentax website.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Pentax K-5 or the Pentax K-50 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Advantages of the Pentax K-5:

  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (PRIME II vs PRIME M).
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/6000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (740 versus 410) on a single battery charge.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2010).


Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-50:

  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/30p versus 1080/25p).
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 110g or 14 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (45 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 8 months of technical progress since the K-5 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the K-5 is the clear winner of the match-up (9 : 4 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

K-5 09:04 K-50

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Pentax K-5 and the Pentax K-50 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the K-5 or the K-50. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Pentax K-54/5..83/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,099 i
2.
 
Pentax K-505/5....5/54.5/5 Jun 2013 599 i
3.
 
Olympus E-M5 II5/5+ +81/1005/55/5 Feb 2015 1,099 i
4.
 
Olympus E-M54/5+ +80/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2012 1,299 i
5.
 
Pentax KP4/5..82/1005/54.5/5 Jan 2017 1,099 i
6.
 
Pentax K-704.5/5..79/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2016 649 i
7.
 
Pentax K-3 II4.5/5....5/55/5 Apr 2015 1,099 i
8.
 
Pentax K-500......4.5/54.5/5 Jun 2013 549 i
9.
 
Pentax K-34/5..83/1005/55/5 Oct 2013 1,299 i
10.
 
Pentax K-304/5..78/1004.5/54.5/5 May 2012 849 i
11.
 
Pentax K-5 II5/5..80/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2012 1,099 i
12.
 
Sony A775/591/10081/100..5/5 Aug 2011 1,399 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Pentax K-5:
Check Ebay offers
Pentax K-50:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Pentax K-5 vs Pentax K-50

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Pentax K-5 Pentax K-50
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Pentax K mount lenses Pentax K mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2010 June 2013
    Launch Price USD 1,099 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Pentax K-5 Pentax K-50
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.7 mm 23.5 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 372.09 mm2 366.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 28.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 16.1 Megapixels 16.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3264 pixels 4928 x 3264 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.81 μm 4.77 μm
    Pixel Density 4.32 MP/cm2 4.39 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/25p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,800 ISO 100 - 51,200 ISO
    ISO Boost 80 - 51,200 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor PRIME II PRIME M
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 82 79
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.7 23.7
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 14.1 13.0
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1162 1120
    Screen Specs Pentax K-5 Pentax K-50
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.61x 0.61x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 921k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Pentax K-5 Pentax K-50
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/8000s 1/6000s
    Continuous Shooting 7 shutter flaps/s 6 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inIntervalometer built-in
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Pentax K-5 Pentax K-50
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI micro HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Pentax K-5 Pentax K-50
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type D-LI90 D-LI109
    Battery Life (CIPA)740 shots per charge410 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 131 x 97 x 73 mm
    (5.2 x 3.8 x 2.9 in)
    130 x 97 x 71 mm
    (5.1 x 3.8 x 2.8 in)
    Camera Weight 760 g (26.8 oz) 650 g (22.9 oz)

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