Pentax K-500 review
The K-500 offers an amazing set of features for the price, but falls disappointingly short on some of the basics
The K-500 may be the entry point into Pentax’s DSLR range, but nobody could accuse the company of skimping on features. It doesn’t have the weatherproofing of the more expensive models in the Pentax range, but little else is spared when it comes to shooting modes, buttons and dials. But we’re not convinced a bulging spec sheet makes a decent entry-level DSLR.
Take the K-500’s autofocus modes. There’s manual, standard autofocus, continuous or a fully automatic mode that overrides the body switch for flicking between those three modes. There are face- and motion-tracking modes. Then there’s focus peaking, which helps with manual focussing in live view, and also a mode that zooms in on the focus point so you can make sure it’s sharp.
If you have a compatible lens, there’s even a mode that wait for your subject to stroll into the focus point before firing the shutter. It’s an impressively long list of options for a camera in the sub-£500 price bracket, but then the K-500 inexplicably falls down on one of the staples.
Shoot through the optical, pentaprism viewfinder – which boasts coverage of 100% – and there’s absolutely zero indication of which of the 11 autofocus points are being used. You’re left to rely on memory (if you’ve manually selected a focus point) and the naked eye to determine if the desired areas of the frame are in focus, which is a major drawback. How Pentax could omit a feature that’s taken for granted on any other DSLR is a mystery.
The contradictions continue elsewhere. The K-500’s body design and button layout are excellent, with dual dial controls for independently setting shutter speed and aperture. There are dedicated buttons for adjusting exposure compensation, autofocus/exposure lock and selecting between RAW and JPEG, the latter of which is highly unusual on a camera in this price bracket. And despite the plethora of dials and buttons, the layout doesn’t feel cramped, with a deeply recessed handgrip making the K-500 comfortable to hold in one hand.
However, there are no touchscreen controls, and the on-screen menu system is bewilderingly complex, with settings buried in tabbed menus that are not easy to navigate, and options that are far too easy to select and deselect by accident. And, since the camera has no orientation sensor, portrait photos aren’t automatically displayed the correct way up when previewing images on the screen, although you can manually rotate individual images. We fear it would be brutally intimidating for digital SLR newcomers.
|Price ex VAT||£291|
|Price inc VAT||£349|
|Features & Design||3|
|Value for Money||5|
|Camera megapixel rating||16.0mp|
|Camera screen size||3.0in|
|Camera maximum resolution||4928 x 3264|
Weight and dimensions
|Dimensions||129 x 70 x 97mm (WDH)|
|Aperture range||fUnknown - fUnknown|
|Minimum (fastest) shutter speed||1/6,000|
|Maximum (slowest) shutter speed||30s|
|Bulb exposure mode?||yes|
|RAW recording mode?||yes|
|Exposure compensation range||+/- 5EV|
|ISO range||100 - 51200|
|Selectable white balance settings?||yes|
|Manual/user preset white balane?||yes|
|Progam auto mode?||yes|
|Shutter priority mode?||yes|
|Aperture priority mode?||yes|
|Fully auto mode?||yes|
|Burst frame rate||6.0fps|
|Tripod mounting thread?||yes|
|Data connector type||USB|
Manual, software and accessories
|Full printed manual?||yes|