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After unpacking this long-awaited camera – the Pentax X-5 – my first impression was that it looked startingly like a DSLR! Prominent speed grip, big lens, eyepiece, same feel.
But it is of course a bridge camera, with a magnificent 26x zoom lens reach, operable from the top zoom lever.
Those who prefer external controls will be in delight: the top deck houses the zoom lever and shutter button, on/off switch, exposure correction button and mode dial. The latter provides access to the various exposure modes (auto, manual), a user setting, movie, special subjects (such as night snap, sports, landscapes, portrait), scene modes (15 in all).
The rear surface has a button to switch screen to turret finder viewing, display options, an e-dial (to change exposure values, shutter speed and aperture), video record, replay, the four way jog dial to access flash, still/continuous shooting, mode and macro options.
The menu system is minimal and the text used is chunky, tho’ highly readable.
To my delight I found the LCD screen to be of the vari-angle variety, tiltable 60 degrees downwards or raisable 90 degrees upwards, although in the latter position the turret finder fouls part of the view. On a camera at this price peg it was a surprise!
The maximum image size is a surprisingly large 4608×3456 pixels, sufficient to make a 39x28cm print.
Video is recorded at Full HD 1920×1080 pixels resolution in MPEG4. You can’t capture stills while shooting video.
There is a dual shake-reduction system; be careful with this as it combines a sensor-shift type mechanism along with digital correction. You can choose the sensor-shift, a combination of sensor-shift and electronic — or elect to go with neither. My advice: choose the sensor-shift mode as your images may suffer degradation with electronic processing.
The power supply is four AA batteries (alkaline, NiMh, lithium). The penalty of using such an approach is a larger camera body, while the benefits are easy availability of batteries while you’re travelling. I have one comment about the battery/card hatch: it was notorious difficult to open and close, possibly the result of mis-treatment by previous reviewers but more likely an indicator of how the cover will wear in the long term.
An interesting feature for the dabblers is a series of digital filters which you can apply to a stored image; in this approach you can create a sepia image, apply a retro look, make it look like a fish eye lens shot and others.
From a cold start it was only two seconds to being able to fire the first shot from power on; follow-ons came in as fast as I could hit the button.
No problems at the wide end but there was very slight pincushion distortion at the tele end.
Noise begins to appear at ISO 1600, then gradually worsens until it become near-unacceptable at ISO 6400.
Quality: average, although you may find atmospheric haze at at long tele settings.
Why you’d buy the Pentax X-5: nice long 26x zoom range; 16 megapixels capture.
Why you wouldn’t: not pocketable.
This is an interesting camera not least because of its long zoom range, other features — and all in one well-priced package.
Image Sensor: 16 million effective pixels.
Sensor: 11mm CMOS.
Lens: f3.1-5.9/40-104mm (22.3-580mm as 35c SLR equivalent).
Metering: Multi segment, centre-weighted, spot.
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speed: 4 to 1/1500 second.
Continuous Shooting: up to 10 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC/Eye-Fi plus 75.3MB internal memory.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4608×3456 to 640×480.
Movies: 1920×1080, 1280×720, 640×480.
Viewfinder: Turret (230,000) 7.6cm LCD screen (460,000).
File Formats: JPEG, MPEG4.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 6400.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, AV, Eye-fi, DC input.
Power: 4AA batteries.
Dimensions: 119x86x107 WHDmm.
Weight: 595 g (inc batteries).
Price: Get a price on the Pentax X-5 at Amazon.
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