“A great all-round machine suitable for beginners”
I’m sure many people don’t know this but, Pentax happens to be one of the oldest brands in photography. But, the brand has struggled to attract entry-level customers ever since the current big boys – Nikon and Canon – started to rule the roost.
For companies like Pentax, it is important to attract beginners because it generally means that they will also buy into the lens system, which ensures a long-term customer relationship. This could be why Pentax, since it was taken over by Ricoh, has started shortening its release cycle for entry-level DSLRs to compete better with the more established players.
The K-50 shares a number of similarities with the older K-30, which includes having the same 16MP APS-C sensor with the company’s Shake Reduction System. On paper, the K-50 has plenty of features which are better than those in similar models from Canon and Nikon. Since it is oriented towards amateur photographers, the camera also has a range of beginner-friendly features including an array of digital filters and scene modes. As expected, this DSLR can shoot in the RAW format. A surprising, and useful, feature is that the RAW format is DNG and not proprietary. This allows most photo-editing software to read the camera’s RAW files easily.
Competitively priced at around $400, the Pentax K-50 looks like a great option for amateur photographers looking beyond the big two.
Side by side, the Pentax K-50 looks very similar to the K-30 and is designed like most other DSLRs in its class. It has a decent number of buttons which provide access to settings like white balance, exposure compensation, ISO, etc. Most of the buttons are grouped on the right of the screen, making them easy to reach. The only awkwardly placed button is the delete/live view button which is next to the viewfinder.
The mode dial is on the top panel and has the usual selection along with two memory-recall modes. When shooting in Av or Manual, the aperture can be changed using a small dial at the back. Similarly, there is a small dial on the top panel that can be used to change shutter speed when in Tv or manual.
The K-50 a chunky body which easy to hold. There is a textured coating in the front which improves grip, especially when holding with one hand. The camera is weatherproofed well and feels tougher than competing models. It is also a bit heavier than, say, the Nikon D5300, which gives a feeling of better quality.
Depending on AF speed, the K-50 takes 2-5 images a second – which is quite fast. Of the 11 AF points, 9 are cross-type for better sensitivity. Autofocus is very quick even in live view, except when ambient light is low. In fact, it is even faster than the Canon 700D.
Pentax quotes a burst speed of 6fps with the K-50, a target which it manages to generally achieve. It does slow down a bit if you turn on chromatic aberration correction, and even further with lens distortion correction. But, the slowdown is not as drastic as you would expect.
It performed really well in RAW continuous mode too and was better than both the Nikon D7100 and the Canon 700D.
Image Quality and Video
Color reproduction was excellent and images looked natural and sharp. RAW pictures looked noticeably better than JPEGs. In high-contrast settings, pictures were a tad underexposed – something which can be corrected easily with a bit of editing.
ISO performance was at par with the competition. There was very little noise till ISO 6400. But images did get grainy in higher settings.
Video performance is not one of the K-50’s stronger points – a fact which becomes evident when you see that the camera lacks an HDMI port. While it can record 1080p videos at 24, 25 and 30fps, autofocus in not available and clips are restricted to around 17 minutes in length.
- 3MP APS-C CMOS sensor
- ISO 100 – 51,200
- 6fps burst mode
- 11-point AF with 9 cross-type
- 77-point metering system
- 100% viewfinder coverage
- Maximum shutter speed – 1/6000
- 1080p video @ 30fps
- Dustproof and weatherproof body
- 3-inch 921,000 dot LCD screen
- 6fps burst mode
- Weather and dustproof
- Viewfinder has 100% field of coverage
- Average video quality
- No Wi-Fi or HDMI
Overall, the Pentax K-50 is one of the best DSLRs in its price bracket. Even with a smaller sensor, image quality is almost as good its competition. It has an excellent view-finder and weather sealing which allows for great photographs in conditions where you might be apprehensive about using other cameras. But, if you are also looking to capture video, the K-50 may not be your cup of tea.