The Pentax K-500 is an impressive DSLR that offers a great set of features and image quality. But when you think practically, buying a DSLR that doesn't offer a wide range of accessories and lenses is definitey not a good investment. For beginners, this DSLR is an excellent recommendation. For the ones who plan to extend their photography skills, you may want to stick to a Nikon or a Canon.
Pentax is one of the first companies that brought in the SLR camera and today we have with us its entry level DSLR, the Pentax K-500. The key features include an APS-C (23.7x15.7mm) 16MP CMOS sensor, an ISO range of 100-51200, a 6fps drive motor, 11-point AF system, full HD 1080p video recording at 30, 25 and 24fps, HDR mode and shutter speeds ranging from 30 seconds to 1/6000. The viewfinder offers almost 100% frame coverage and there is also a 3-inch LCD display at the back. The DSLR is available with two kit options including an 18-55mm + body for Rs. 29,995 and a 18-55mm + 50-200mm + body for Rs. 38,995.
The sensor comes with a sensor-shift stabilisation which is said to allow for up to three stops of image stabilisation which helps in sharper images in low light conditions or when shooting hand-held.
Design and build
The K-500 has a heavy built and the weight feels more than most of the entry level DSLRs in the market. The body feels really strong even with the plastic construction. Weighing in at 590gms, it is heavier than the Nikon D3300 and even the Canon 1200D which makes it feel sturdier. The controls, dials and buttons are nicely placed and you don’t feel completely lost even if you're coming from a Canon or Nikon DSLR, although it does take time to get used to the controls. Pentax says that it built the K500 on the same blueprint as the K50, but since this is an entry level camera, it skips the weather sealing feature.
There are three dials- one changes modes, and the other two control your aperture and shutter speeds. Of course, you can also use these dials to scroll through the menus and so on.
The back has a bright 3-inch LCD and a four-way pad to control your settings along with the usual set of buttons. The viewfinder is comfortable thanks to the rubber eyecup. On the right there is the SD card slot underneath a plastic door which has rubber lining on the inside. There is also a slot for remote shutter release underneath the card slot which is protected by a rubber flap. The left side has a PC/video connectivity port, a switch to change to manual, AF-S and AF-C focus modes, a RAW mode button and a flash release button. Like all DSLRs, there is a hot-shoe port on the top with a pop-up flash unit. At the bottom there is the battery chamber which can take the standard supplied 1050mAH rechargeable lithium battery or 4-AA batteries which is quite a unique feature.
For an entry level DSLR, the K-500 feels more premium than its competitors. It also has more buttons, meaning more controls and features, when compared to other DSLRs in this price range.
The performance level of the K-500 is pretty good in certain areas but there are some things that Pentax really needs to consider if they want to make this the best ever entry-level DSLR. Picture quality, RAW and JPEG, is impressive and there is also a very useful feature where the camera allows you to save a RAW file even if you haven't set the camera to save RAW format. If that's the case, the camera pulls out the RAW image from the buffer system.
You do get two command dials which is not usually seen on entry-level DSLRs. This makes it easier and quicker to change settings.
The autofocus is fast but quite noisy on the kit lenses. The retracting movement of the lens whirrs a lot, which is really annoying if you are shooting candid shots. Other than the noise, there is another major issue that stumped us. The camera doesn't offer the auto-focus points in the viewfinder. However you can shift between the AF points if you have not set the camera to AF-A or auto point selection. The burst mode is impressive as there is hardly any DSLR that offers 6fps at this price point. This makes it easy for users who like to occassionaly shoot sporting events.
You do get a number of presets, filters and colour modes in the camera which will definitely keep the amateur photographer entertained. The interface, however, feels very outdated reminding us of an old point and shoot camera.We really hoped for a better and a more modern looking interface.
The noise control on the K-500 is quite impressive as pictures taken at ISO 3200 didn't show any signs of noise. At about ISO 6400-12800 you start to see noise rise up. If we keep the ‘no AF points in the viewfinder’ issue out of the way, the focusing is sharp and accurate. The image stabilization on tha camera works very well and we felt that it was better than the Nikon D3200 or the Canon 1200D. The auto white-balance is reliable in almost all situations, but we noticed that it tends to prefer cooler results on some occasions.
Check out the camera samples in the gallery below:
The K-500 is an impressive entry-level DSLR, but in a world where the Canons, Nikons and Sonys are the more recognized DSLR brands, Pentax will have to do more than just roll out a well priced entry-level DSLR. Pentax needs a holistic approach in India, right from awareness to offering a range of products along with enough accessories and support to demonstrate commitment. In case of the K-500, if you don’t plan to extend your photography kit, and are just looking for a good entry-level DSLR that is better built and offers extra features as compared to the competing models from Sony, Canon and Nikon, the K-500 is most definitely worth considering. On the other hand, if you ware planning to invest in an entry-level SLR as a first step towards your journey into serious photography, the Nikon D3300 and Canon 1200D will serve you better in terms of scaling, support and future upgrades.
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