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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

Review Date: 4 Oct 2013

Reviewed By: Barry Collins

Price when reviewed: £291 (£349 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £350
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
3 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Image Quality
5 stars out of 6

Photo quality is admirable for a budget DSLR. There’s no shortage of detail in the 16-megapixel images, although if you’re shooting with a wide aperture through the viewfinder, it’s easy to introduce blur because of the absence of focus-point indicators. Colours are occasionally muted, but well balanced, with skin tones well preserved, and we had no serious problem with exposure levels.

Pentax K-500

The K-500 offers ISO levels all the way up to 51200, although the fact that the camera comes with a default maximum ISO of 3200 is telling. Photos taken at 51200 were heavily marred with noise, with only very aggressive use of the noise reduction tools in Lightroom delivering something palatable. Only when you get down to 12800 do pictures start to retain detail in low light, but that’s still not a bad level of performance for an entry-level model.

The K-500 can also shoot Full HD video at up to 30 frames per second, but you’d only want to do so if your subject was stationary. Video quality is excellent, but autofocus is disabled the moment you press the shutter button to start recording, as is focus peaking; keeping a moving subject in focus manually is not a task to be taken lightly. There is the option to plug in an external mic, however, and even set the mic input level, which is again unusual on such a low-cost DSLR.

To sum up, the Pentax K-500 is something of a curate’s egg. In its favour, it has more features than anyone could rightfully expect of a DSLR that’s about as cheap as they come, and we have no complaints about stills or video quality. Yet, it scores some unbelievable own goals, such as the lack of autofocus highlighting in the viewfinder and orientation sensor.

If you’re a keen amateur photographer who wants a camera that gives you room to grow, the K-500 should be on your shortlist – provided you can live with its foibles. But there are just too many quirks to this camera for us to lend it our unqualified recommendation.

Pentax K-500 sample pictures:

Pentax K-500

Shot at f/2.8, 1/2500s, ISO 400. Click this link for the full resolution version

Pentax K-500

Shot at f/2.8, 1/160s, ISO 1600. Click this link for the full resolution version

Pentax K-500

Shot at f/6.3, 1/200s, ISO 51200. Click this link for the full resolution version

Author: Barry Collins

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User comments

I could tell Barry had written this article as soon as I read the expression "curate’s egg", which he regularly uses on the Podcast. Between him and Darian, they've got quite a sideline in catchphrases going ;)

By DArtiss on 4 Oct 2013

To be fair to Pentax, focus peaking more than makes up for it, the only problem being that one would have to frame using the rear LCD screen instead of the viewfinder. Still bewildered that they left out what must be a tiny, tiny cost.

By Mark_Thompson on 4 Oct 2013


Blimey. That's deep. Anyway, shuffling along...

Barry Collins

By Barry_Collins on 4 Oct 2013

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