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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.

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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.


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


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.


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

Pentax X-5 ISO Tests

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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.

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Barrie Smith
Barrie Smith

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

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