Pentax K-5 IIs
|Viewfinder:||Optical / LCD|
|Dimensions:||5.2 x 3.8 x 2.9 in.
(131 x 97 x 73 mm)
|Weight:||26.1 oz (740 g)
Pentax K-5 IIs Preview
by Mike Tomkins
Look out, Nikon--Pentax just borrowed a page from your playbook! Alongside its brand-new Pentax K-5 II digital SLR, the company has launched a variant that removes the optical low-pass filter (OLPF), allowing slightly sharper images at the risk of increased moiré patterns, false colors, and other aliasing artifacts.
In other respects, the specialist Pentax K-5 IIs is identical to its mainstream sibling--all bar the price, anyway. Like Nikon, Pentax will be charging around a 10% premium for the K-5 IIs, with list pricing set at around US$1,200. Unlike its rival, though, Pentax is apparently looking for broader distribution for the new camera, with availability slated "at retail outlets nationwide and online" from October 2012.
So--how does the K-5 IIs achieve higher resolution than its sibling? Like almost all Bayer-filtered cameras, the design of the standard Pentax K-5 II places an optical low-pass filter (OLPF) just above the image sensor. This filter is designed to blur incoming light just slightly, so as to prevent aliasing patterns--moiré and 'jaggies'--from appearing in images. Unfortunately, this filter also blurs out some subtle image detail, reducing per-pixel sharpness.
By removing the filter, you get that sharpness back--but you also have to deal with the image defects the filter was designed to hide. In some types of photography they're not too much of an issue, or you can work to reduce their impact. In the studio you can adjust your subject to minimize moiré, for example, while in nature the fine repeating patterns that cause it to rear its head aren't so common. Should some defects get past you in shooting, some work in the digital darkroom can minimize its impact, as well. Hence landscape and studio photographers, among others, may be willing to trade off the risk of moiré and jaggies to achieve the maximum possible detail.
The Pentax K-5 IIs is designed with those photographers in mind. For others, while the thought of greater per-pixel sharpness may appeal, the slight benefit in that area is likely not worth the downside of having to work around the moiré issues. That will doubtless limit the Pentax K-5 IIs' sales, but it's still great that companies like Pentax and Nikon are starting to recognize--and cater to--the needs of niche markets like these. And if you're not ready for the hassle of an OLPF-free camera, then you've still got the Pentax K-5 II to consider!
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