Pentax X-5 Review - Digital Photography School
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Pentax X-5 Review

Pentax X5.jpg

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.

Pentax X-5_black.jpg

Pentax X-5 rear.jpg

Pentax X-5 Features

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.
Menu.jpg

art.jpg

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!
Beach people 1.JPG

Lifeguards.JPG

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.

Startup Time

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.

Distortion

No problems at the wide end but there was very slight pincushion distortion at the tele end.

Pentax X-5 ISO Tests

Pentax X-5 ISO 100.JPG

Pentax X-5 ISO 400.JPG

Pentax X-5 ISO 800.JPG

Pentax X-5 ISO 1600.JPG

Pentax X-5 ISO 3200.JPG

Pentax X-5 ISO 6400.JPG

Noise begins to appear at ISO 1600, then gradually worsens until it become near-unacceptable at ISO 6400.

Pentax X-5 Review Verdict

Quality: average, although you may find atmospheric haze at at long tele settings.

Collaroy beach full wide.JPG

Collaroy beach full tele 2.JPG

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.

Pentax X-5 Specifications

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.

Summary
Reviewer
Barrie Smith
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Pentax X-5
Author Rating
3

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Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

  • Jason D.

    Nice write up! Great example of the 26x optical; but, what an unfortunate picture at the extreme end, that poor lady in the black one piece is now immortalized.

  • Marinus Vesseur

    Ok review, though a little too concise.. but those sample pictures.. really? Is image content completely irrelevant? Shooting strangers in unflattering positions on the beach in the midday sun is hardly doing the camera justice. Well, at least it reveals how unappealing the colours are that it produces. Based on those photographs I would say it’s a fail, but it may have had something to do with the photographer.

  • bob

    i see very good sharpness in all the pics.i think the colours are great and natural and can be adjusted in post processing.i have printed 8.5×11 and 13×19 prints with small sensors and they look great.i cant see much difference in detail with larger sensor in daylight .i think this is a great camera.buy it!

  • Geoff

    Nice review. It seems to me up to iso 1600 that noise is very well controlled. Colours are good and for the price it is a very versatile camera. Backlit CMOS sensors are usually found in more expensive gear.
    I like the format of these reviews, along with no marking system out of ten.!

  • cheryl

    I’m a complete novice and I bought this camera because I thought it would be a good cheap option to learn on. It seems to default to a 1600 ISO for all indoor shots when on auto-picture. Is that a normal or a fault? Seems a very high ISO to me and the pictures are all affected by noise. Disappointing, but probably something I’m doing wrong. Also for a beginner, having the proper manual only available on pdf is annoying. Gives me a headache to read the screen for that long, so will have to print out the 228 pages on my little printer. On the other hand, it’s cheap so can’t expect it to be brilliant. The few macro pictures I’ve taken so far have been great.

  • cheryl

    Oops, I should add here I’ve only had it for one day and still haven’t read the whole manual yet.

  • RyderDA

    The “manual” exposure mode suggests you can control aperture and shutter speed; in reality, it’s very poorly implemented, and the only two aperture settings are “small” or “big”, with each being defined by the amount of zoom in use.

    The exposure display in that manual mode is nearly incomprehensible; rather strange icons telling you you’re under or over exposed. It’s really shameful that an Aperture priority and Shutter priority modes are not available.

    The “manual focus” mode is next to useless. It’s jerky instead of smoothly moving in or out, it jams and won’t go up or down some times.

    So while the lens is nice, it’s truly only a “point and shoot” camera that can practically be used in fully programmed modes. This is NOT a real, long zoom bridge camera offering SLR-like performance and options like so many of its competitors from Fuji, Canon or Sony (and some Fujis at a similar price point offer longer zooms and much better functionality). Buy this camera ONLY if you are looking for a simple, fully automatic camera with a long zoom that has an electronic viewfinder.

Some older comments

  • Geoff

    July 17, 2013 07:39 am

    Nice review. It seems to me up to iso 1600 that noise is very well controlled. Colours are good and for the price it is a very versatile camera. Backlit CMOS sensors are usually found in more expensive gear.
    I like the format of these reviews, along with no marking system out of ten.!

  • bob

    May 15, 2013 10:52 am

    i see very good sharpness in all the pics.i think the colours are great and natural and can be adjusted in post processing.i have printed 8.5x11 and 13x19 prints with small sensors and they look great.i cant see much difference in detail with larger sensor in daylight .i think this is a great camera.buy it!

  • Marinus Vesseur

    April 26, 2013 02:03 am

    Ok review, though a little too concise.. but those sample pictures.. really? Is image content completely irrelevant? Shooting strangers in unflattering positions on the beach in the midday sun is hardly doing the camera justice. Well, at least it reveals how unappealing the colours are that it produces. Based on those photographs I would say it's a fail, but it may have had something to do with the photographer.

  • Jason D.

    April 23, 2013 07:15 am

    Nice write up! Great example of the 26x optical; but, what an unfortunate picture at the extreme end, that poor lady in the black one piece is now immortalized.

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