Pentax K-5 vs K-S2
The Pentax K-5 and the Pentax K-S2 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2010 and February 2015. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The K-5 has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the K-S2 provides 20 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Pentax K-5 and the Pentax K-S2? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Pentax K-5 and the Pentax K-S2 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The K-S2 can be obtained in six different colors (black, grey, pink, orange, green, white), while the K-5 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax K-S2 is notably smaller (12 percent) than the Pentax K-5. Moreover, the K-S2 is markedly lighter (11 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.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Pentax K-5||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2010||1,099|
|2.||Pentax K-S2||123 mm||91 mm||73 mm||678 g||410||Y||Feb 2015||749|
|3.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|4.||Pentax KP||132 mm||101 mm||76 mm||703 g||390||Y||Jan 2017||1,099|
|5.||Pentax K-70||126 mm||93 mm||74 mm||688 g||410||Y||Jun 2016||649|
|6.||Pentax K-3 II||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099|
|7.||Pentax K-S1||121 mm||93 mm||70 mm||558 g||410||n||Aug 2014||749|
|8.||Pentax K-50||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||Jun 2013||599|
|9.||Pentax K-500||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||646 g||710||n||Jun 2013||549|
|10.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|11.||Pentax K-30||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||May 2012||849|
|12.||Pentax K-5 II||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2012||1,099|
|13.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
|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-S2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 32 percent) than the K-5, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to 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-S2 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.
Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the K-S2 offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixels, compared with 16.1 MP of the K-5. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.28μm versus 4.81μm for the K-5). However, it should be noted that the K-S2 is much more recent (by 4 years and 4 months) than the K-5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the K-S2 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Pentax K-S2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the K-S2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Pentax K-5 are 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
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-S2 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|6.||Pentax K-3 II||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|12.||Pentax K-5 II||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/25p||23.8||14.1||1235||82|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the K-S2 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.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The K-5 and the K-S2 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%), but the viewfinder of the K-S2 has a higher magnification than the one of the K-5 (0.63x vs 0.61x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Pentax K-5, the Pentax K-S2, and comparable cameras.
|6.||Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y|
|12.||Pentax K-5 II||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||Y|
One feature that is present on the K-5, but is missing on the K-S2 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 K-S2 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the K-5 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Pentax K-5 and the Pentax K-S2 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-S2 write their files to SDXC cards. The K-S2 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the K-5 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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-S2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|6.||Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Pentax K-5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the K-S2 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the K-5 does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Pentax K-5 (unlike the K-S2) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The K-S2 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Pentax. In contrast, the K-5 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the K-5 was succeeded by the Pentax K-5 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Pentax website.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Pentax K-5 better than the Pentax K-S2 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-5:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- 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 5.4 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).
Reasons to prefer the Pentax K-S2:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (20 vs 16.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 11%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/30p versus 1080/25p).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.61x).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (123x91mm vs 131x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 82g or 11 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (32 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 4 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-S2 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 7 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Pentax K-5 and the Pentax K-S2 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the K-5 and the K-S2 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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.
|1.||Pentax K-5||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,099|
|2.||Pentax K-S2||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|3.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|4.||Pentax KP||4/5||..||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||1,099|
|5.||Pentax K-70||4.5/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2016||649|
|6.||Pentax K-3 II||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099|
|7.||Pentax K-S1||4/5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||749|
|8.||Pentax K-50||5/5||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||599|
|9.||Pentax K-500||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||549|
|10.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|11.||Pentax K-30||4/5||..||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||849|
|12.||Pentax K-5 II||5/5||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,099|
|13.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Pentax K-5 vs Pentax K-S2
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 Model||Pentax K-5||Pentax K-S2|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Pentax K mount lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2010||February 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 1,099||USD 749|
|Sensor Specs||Pentax K-5||Pentax K-S2|
|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|
|Sensor Resolution||16.1 Megapixels||20 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4928 x 3264 pixels||5472 x 3648 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.81 μm||4.28 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.32 MP/cm2||5.45 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA 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 MII|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||82||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.7||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.1||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1162||..|
|Screen Specs||Pentax K-5||Pentax K-S2|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|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||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Pentax K-5||Pentax K-S2|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/6000s|
|Continuous Shooting||7 shutter flaps/s||5.4 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Pentax K-5||Pentax K-S2|
|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||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Pentax K-5||Pentax K-S2|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||740 shots per charge||410 shots per charge|
131 x 97 x 73 mm
(5.2 x 3.8 x 2.9 in)
123 x 91 x 73 mm
(4.8 x 3.6 x 2.9 in)
|Camera Weight||760 g (26.8 oz)||678 g (23.9 oz)|
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