Pentax K-5 II Review

 
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Pentax K-5 II Video Recording

Like most DSLRs nowadays, the Pentax K-5 II offers at least some HD video recording capability. Pentax hasn't been a big player in the HD-DSLR arena, and unfortunately, the updated K-5 II and K-5 IIs don't make much of an entrance. The K-5 II models do finally add full 1,920 x 1,080 HD resolution video (up from the 720p video of the K-5), however they only shoot 1080p video at 25 frames per second, which is a bit strange, particularly for the US and other NTSC markets where frame rates like 24p and 30p are more common and compatible. They also shoot at 720p resolution at 25 and 30 frames per second, but there are no faster frame rates like 60p or 50p. There's also a standard definition video resolution of 640 x 480 at both 25 and 30 frames per second. Each video resolution has three image quality (compression) levels.

Other features for video recording are rather slim, with only one recording format, a built-in monaural microphone (although there is an external mic jack) and a 25 minute limit to video recording. There are various special effects filters and scene modes that can be applied to videos as well.

One quite interesting and unique feature is the K-5 II's body-based Shake Reduction technology, so rather than lens-based image stabilization, the camera itself handles the I.S., providing a stabilized image with any lens. The cool thing about this is that it works for video recording, too. We've seen other manufacturers with sensor-shift image stabilization, but it's often disabled for video recording. This is quite versatile and convenient.

Although the Pentax K-5 II packs an array of powerful and unique features for still images in a camera at this price point, the video side of things doesn't seem to be this camera's strong suit. Using this camera for video feels like stepping into a time machine back to the burgeoning days of DSLR video recording -- minimal features, sightly clunky operation and technical limitations. Here's the full rundown of the K-5 II's video capabilities, along with our usual selection of sample videos.

NOTE: The Pentax K-5 IIs features identical specifications regarding video recording, so the video pages for these two cameras will be very similar.

Pentax K-5 II Basic Video Specs

  • Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 video at 25 frames per second
  • 1,280 x 720 HD video at 30 fps & 25 fps
  • VGA 640 x 480 video at 30 fps & 25 fps
  • Three video quality levels: Best, Better and Good
  • Video recording started and stopped with shutter button
  • Does not have full-time autofocus
  • Live View AF options (using half-press of shutter button prior to recording):
    • Face Detection AF - autofocus priority to faces; contrast detection AF
    • Contrast AF
    • Phase Difference AF (screen will shut off to use use phase detection autofocus, then the screen will turn back on once focus is determined.)
  • Manual focus also available
  • Cannot change ISO sensitivity in Movie Mode; Auto ISO only
  • Spot, Center-Weighted and Multi-Segmented Metering available
  • Shake Reduction available during video mode
    • Shake Reduction is body/sensor-based -- can use any lens and still have image stabilization
  • Live histogram display available before and during recording
  • Shutter speed is not adjustable in Movie Mode; automatically adjusted (not shown to user)
  • Vertical and horizontal level can be displayed during recording
  • Built-in mono microphone with 3.5mm external stereo microphone input jack
  • Recording time limited to 25 minutes or 4GB
    • Video recording also stops if camera overheats
  • Can use optional remote control to start and stop recording
  • Nine custom image style presets; Five digital effects filters; Cross processing filters
    • Pentax warns that Digital Filter may caused dropped frames in recorded video

Pentax K-5 II Video: Image Size, Frame Rate, and Encoding

The Pentax K-5 II is fairly limited in terms of recording file format, resolution and frame rates.

Pentax K-5 II Video Options
M-JPEG Format (Motion JPEG, .AVI files)
Resolution
Aspect Ratio
Frame Rate

1,920 x 1,080

16:9

25 frames per second

1,280 x 720

16:9

30 frames per second

25 frames per second

640 x 480

4:3

30 frames per second

25 frames per second

The Pentax K-5 II offers a very simple menu when it comes to video resolution, frame rates and file formats. It features a single file format, Motion JPEG in an AVI container, in three resolutions, 1,920 x 1,080, 1,280 x 720, and 640 x 480. At 1080p resolution, the only option for frame rates is 25 fps, which, as mentioned above, is quite odd given that this camera is also sold in non-PAL countries where 25p is not a standard frame rate. Users are also given the choice of 720p HD video in 30p and 25p frame rates as well as VGA resolution video 30p and 25p.

There are three levels of image quality for each resolution video: Best, Better and Good. Pentax do not indicate specific bitrates for each quality level, however, but they do indicate that approximate recording time limits for a standard 4GB memory card:

Pentax K-5 II Video Recording Times & Estimated Bit Rates
Resolution
Quality Level
Time
Est. Bit Rate
1080p, 25p
Best
5 min, 17 sec
101 Mbps
Better
6 min, 57 sec
77 Mbps
Good
9 min, 43 sec
55 Mbps
720p, 30p
Best
8 min, 31 sec
63 Mbps
Better
13 min, 03 sec
41 Mbps
Good
18 min, 07 sec
29 Mbps
720p, 25p
Best
10 min, 12 sec
52 Mbps
Better
15 min, 35 sec
34 Mbps
Good
21 min, 37 sec
25 Mbps
VGA, 30p
Best
25 min, 08 sec
21 Mbps
Better
37 min, 57 sec
14 Mbps
Good
51 min, 34 sec
10 Mbps
VGA, 25p
Best
30 min, 01 sec
18 Mbps
Better
44 min, 41 sec
12 Mbps
Good
1 hr, 0 min, 57 sec
9 Mbps

The downside to using a video format like Motion JPEG, which is quite simple to decode, is that it's not as efficient in its compression scheme as more advanced codecs, like H.264/MPEG-4 AVC encoding (as is used in the Panasonic GH3, for example). As such, video files from the Pentax K-5 II can grow to massive sizes. Pentax puts a limit of 25 minutes of continuous recording or a 4GB file, whichever comes first. Given the M-JPEG inefficiency with compression, it's not surprising that you can record 1080p Best quality video for only about 5 min, 17 sec.

Pentax K-5 II Video: Image Quality

The K-5 II produces nice image quality overall at both 1080p and 720p resolutions with a decent level of detail and good colors, if a bit saturated at the default "Bright" picture settings. However, videos aren't as crisp and finely detailed as other video-capable still cameras like the GH3.

The camera also struggled in our standard night videos, particularly with shadow details. The Pentax K-5 II does not allow users to set the ISO in video mode, contributing to the low-light videos looking underexposed. There was also a lot of high-ISO noise throughout the frame, despite the ISO apparently not being high enough for a good exposure.

Moiré and aliasing artifacts were also quite severe, not only on the K-5 IIs, but also with the K-5 II, which has an optical low-pass filter. We saw moiré artifacts on many objects in the frame, such as roofing shingles, window screens and blinds, and even the small leaves and fronds of the sweet grass bushes. (Check out the beginning of our rolling shutter videos to really see examples of moiré.)

Many people wouldn't expect to find moiré artifacts in video from the version of the camera that has a low-pass filter, but optical low-pass filters (LPFs) are designed to operate at the individual pixel level, at still-image resolutions. Because video resolution is so much lower, the optical LPF has no effect on aliasing. Aliasing and moiré are a significant problem in DSLR video, because most cameras don't have (remotely) enough processing horsepower to do anti-aliasing processing in firmware.

Take a look at our standard set of sample videos below:

Pentax K-5 II: Video Samples
1,920 x 1,080
AVI
, Progressive, 25 frames per second
Download Original
1,280 x 720
AVI
, Progressive, 30 frames per second
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
AVI
, Progressive, 25 frames per second, Night
Download Original
1,280 x 720
AVI
, Progressive, 30 frames per second, Night
Download Original

Pentax K-5 II Video: Focusing

The Pentax K-5 II (and IIs) is one of the rare video-capable DSLRs released recently that doesn't feature some form of continuous autofocus. And the K-5 II doesn't offer many of the bells and whistles for video focusing that we've seen in other recent cameras, such as focus peaking.

  • No full-time autofocus ; manual focus only
    • If AF is enabled, the camera will autofocus with a half-press of the shutter button prior to recording (shutter button is used to start/stop video recording) -- can override AF attempt with a quick full-press of shutter button.
  • Magnify View with press of "Info" button (2x, 4x, 6x) to check critical focus (before recording only).
  • Can move AF point around almost entire frame (except for right and left edges).
  • Continuous Tracking focus works while half-pressing shutter button; doesn't track focus during recording.
    • Can be used as another way to focus and recompose prior to recording.

Pentax K-5 II Video: Exposure Control

As with focusing, the Pentax K-5 II is pretty sparse when it comes to features for exposure settings, with most most of the video exposure controls automatically chosen for you. The only exposure options the user is given are aperture and exposure compensation, while other settings like shutter speed and, surprisingly, ISO sensitivity are automatically adjusted.

  • Option to have aperture manually adjustable or automatic
    • for manual aperture control, set "Movie Aperture Control" to "Fixed" in Movie menu.
  • ISO is set to Auto ISO. Cannot be changed in Movie Mode.
  • Shutter speed automatically selected based on video frame rate and light level (not shown to user, however).
  • Exposure compensation is available before and during recording
  • Spot, Center-Weighted and Multi-Segmented Metering available
  • White balance available in movie mode (before recording)
  • Tonal adjustments: 9 preset values, plus full customization of tonal settings (saturation, hue, high & low key adjustments, contrast, and sharpness) are available in movie mode.
  • Cross Processing and Digital Filters special effects presets are available.

There is, however, an unofficial "hack" to have full manual exposure in video mode on the Pentax K-5 II (IIs):

  • Rotate mode dial to "User"
  • In the menu, select exposure mode "Av" for Aperture Priority
  • Choose aperture value that you want
  • Choose the ISO value that you want
  • Enable Live View
  • Point camera to meter on a subject in such a way that the shutter speed adjusts to your desired level (i.e. 1/25 for 25p, 1/30 for 30p, etc.)
  • Press AE-L button (auto-exposure lock) to set exposure settings
  • Rotate Mode Dial to Movie Move
  • Notice the AE-L asterisk icon is still on the screen. Your exposure should be locked to the ISO, shutter speed and aperture that you set previously.
    • Note that entering menus or turning of the camera will reset the Auto-Exposure Lock (like it will with still images).

Pentax K-5 II Video: Audio Recording

The Pentax K-5 II provides only the most basic of audio recording features for Movie Mode: mono audio with the built-in mic and no adjustable recording level, but with the ability to attach an external stereo mic.

  • Monaural audio with built-in microphone
  • 3.5mm microphone input jack ("stereo mini plug")
  • Audio level is not adjustable; choice is on or off
  • Pentax suggestions for external microphones
    • Stereo electret condenser mics
    • Plug-in Power Method (with operating voltage of 2.0V or lower)
    • Impedance: 2.2 kΩ
  • Pentax warns not to disconnect the external mic during recording, as the camera will not switch automatically back to internal mic and sound will not be recorded.
  • Although no specifications are given regarding audio format, video players report it as 16-bit PCM audio with a sample rate of 32 kHz.

Pentax K-5 II Video: Rolling Shutter Artifacts ("Jello Effect")

Almost every video-capable still camera on the market distorts rapidly moving objects, or the entire scene, if the camera is panned quickly. The technical term for this is "rolling shutter artifacts," but many users simply call it the "Jello effect," because the image can jiggle and sway like Jello as the camera is moved. This occurs because the image is captured and read out line by line, so the bottom of an object may no longer be underneath the top of it by the time the camera gets around to capturing that part of the frame.

The Pentax K-5 II sadly displays pretty severe rolling shutter artifacts. On both 1080/25p and 720/30p, with and without Shake Reduction enabled, rolling shutter was pretty noticeable. (Note: Shake Reduction was disabled for the two sample videos below.) On a couple subsequent tests, even when panning slowly, rolling shutter artifacts were produced easily.

Pentax K-5 II: Rolling Shutter Artifacts
1,920 x 1,080
AVI
, Progressive, 25 frames per second
Download Original
1,280 x 720
AVI
, Progressive, 30 frames per second
Download Original

There are plug-ins out there to fix rolling shutter when editing your footage on the computer, but software correction is not a surefire solution. It's simply something that you must keep in mind when moving the camera while recording video. If you just pan slowly while filming, you're not likely to notice them much at all.

 

Pentax K-5-II



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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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