Today Pentax have announced two new beginner-friendly DSLRs to their range: the K-50 and the K-500; as well as the teeny tiny Q7 Compact System Camera. The two DSLRs are very similar in spec with the two key differences being that the K50 is weather resistant and will come in a dizzying array of custom colour options. I had a hands-on preview with the K50 earlier this week, here's a bit more about Pentax's latest...
Pentax K50 Key Specs
- Weather Resitant (WR) body and kit lens
- 16 megapixel CMOS sensor
- Maximum ISO 51,200
- Continuous shooting up to 6fps and max shutter speed of 1/6000
- Glass penta-prism viewfinder with 100% field of view
- Easy-to-use controls and functionality
- Full HD movie recording
- AA battery support (via a separate adapter)
The main feature that sets the K50 apart from the K500 is its weather resistance. With 81 weather seals, it adds a welcomed extra layer of protection from water splashes, snow, dust and sand. It makes this an attractive option for active families and folks who want to head out with their DSLR whatever the weather. The kit lens on the K50 is also weather resistant, which is well thought out and an appreciated addition. What's the point in a wonderfully weather resistant body if you have to run indoors for the sake of your lens?
The stainless steel build makes this a reassuringly solid camera to hold and it definitely feels durable and good-quality with nothing plastic-y about it. The main mode dial on top of the camera is also not the plastic type, with a proper metal feel and rubberised finish for ease of use. There are two more dials for your thumb and forefinger to quickly and intuitively change shutter speed and aperture settings: one on the rear of the camera and one in front of the shutter.
The menu is pretty basic as far as DSLR menus go, but I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing. It's straightforward and intuitive to find what you're looking for if you're delving into it for the first time.
Another highlight of both the K50 and K500 is the maximum ISO sensitivity of 51,200 - which is pretty impressive for a camera at this level. If you're familiar with Pentax's entry-level K30 camera, you'll notice improved image quality in comparison to its younger sibling and better noise reduction too. Another great feature that sets it apart from the competition is the 100% field of view through the viewfinder.
If you're a traditionalist you'd probably choose the K50 in classic DSLR black. Red and White versions (with matching coloured lenses) will also be available from launch for the slightly more adventurous, but for those who really want a camera with a bit of personality there will be 120 custom colour combinations to choose from. Yes, you read that right - 120 combinations made up of 20 body colour choices and 6 grip colour choices. Fancy kitting out your DSLR in your football team colours? Or you could go for the olive green and beige combo for a camouflage feel. It's definitely not for everyone, but I think those who do embrace the idea will have a lot of fun with it.
One of the additional accessory options for the K50 is the very nifty AA battery adapter. As the name might suggest, it allows you to load 4 x AA batteries into an adapter that is the same shape as the camera's standard lithium-ion battery. If you've forgotten to take your charger on holiday or you run out of juice in the middle of nowhere, it's great to have an emergency back-up option with a power source that's universally available.
The K50 is a great option if you're considering making the jump to DSLR photography but want something a step above some of the other entry-level models out there. Extra features like 100% viewfinder coverage, weather resistance and impressive specs like the maximum 51200 ISO and continuous shooting up to 6 frames per second make it a good quality all-rounder.
(My hands-on was with a pre-production model of the K50, which meant I was unable to share any photos taken with the camera or take any photos of it. We'll be aiming to get some sample images to add to the post as soon as they're available!)