Pentax K-S2 Walkaround

by Mike Tomkins | Posted: 02/09/2015

While the Pentax K-S2 takes some visual cues from its siblings -- the square-shouldered look of the flagship K-3, for example -- this is very much its own camera. (And it bears very little resemblance to the model which, in terms of naming, is its nearest sibling, the flashy and somewhat 1990s car stereo-like Pentax K-S1.)

Seen from the front, the Pentax K-S2 is dominated by its KAF2 bayonet lens mount, compatible with a vast selection of K-mount lenses produced over the last few decades. The size of the mount compared to the body itself gives an idea of what a compact camera this is, for one which is fully weather-sealed and dustproof.

(According to Ricoh reps, the K-S2 is weather-sealed to a similar extent to the flagship Pentax K-3, already a fairly camera by enthusiast camera standards. As you can see in our walkaround of that camera, the lens mount appears quite a bit smaller compared to the overall camera body.)

For its compact size, the Pentax K-S2 is actually very comfortable in-hand, and I say that as somebody with pretty large hands. My little finger naturally curls beneath the bottom of the handgrip, and there's plenty of room for my other fingers inside the grip. At the base of the grip, you can see the receiver for the optional infra-red remote control.

At the top of the grip is the frontmost of the K-S2's twin control dials, a relatively unusual inclusion at this price-point. (Most consumer DSLRs opt for only a single dial, and so require you to switch between shutter and aperture control in Manual mode using a button.)

Tucked just inside the top of the grip is the autofocus assist lamp, while at the base of the lens mount next to the Shake Reduction badge is the lens mount release button. Save for these features -- and some which we'll see better in a moment from other angles -- the front of the K-S2 is relatively straightforward.

The top deck of the Pentax K-S2 is largely covered by two inlaid trim pieces, and all of the controls are found to the right of the viewfinder prism, popup flash strobe and hot shoe. Tucked in between the hot shoe and flash, you can see a small two-hole grille for the built-in stereo microphone.

The Mode dial sits closest to the viewfinder, and is fairly jam-packed with all the typical options you'd expect on a Pentax camera, plus one new option -- Auto HDR -- which we'll discuss in more detail in our Technical Info section.

The shutter button sits at the front of the handgrip, directly above the front control dial, and is encircled by the power switch. This has three positions, just as in the K-S1: off, on and movie mode. A little further back are the exposure compensation and green buttons -- the latter used to reset options or exposure variables to their defaults, for example when using the program shift function to bias exposure towards a slower shutter speed or wider aperture.

Finally, the Wi-Fi button sits at the back right corner of the top deck, and interestingly, it serves a dual purpose. If you swivel the LCD monitor to face forwards for selfie shooting, a ring around the Wi-Fi button lights up, indicating that it has taken over the job of the shutter button. It's a very nice touch, because it's much easier to reach with the camera facing towards yourself than the main shutter button would be.

The rear of the Pentax K-S2 is dominated by the side-mounted, tilt/swivel articulated LCD screen, a first for a Pentax APS-C format DSLR. I'm a big fan of these over the more common tilt-only displays, because they make it easier to shoot from a wide range of angles, for example a portrait-orientation shot over your head or low to the ground. And as an added bonus, the LCD monitor can be closed facing inwards for an extra modicum of protection from minor knocks, scrapes and smudges.

At the very top left corner of the rear panel is the live view button, which also acts as the delete button in Playback mode. Moving right a bit, the optical viewfinder is based around a glass pentaprism and manufacturer-rated at around 100% coverage. That, again, is a very unusual option at this pricepoint: Most consumer cameras instead use dimmer, less accurate pentamirror finders. Pentax has offered pentaprism finders in some of its consumer DSLRs for several years, though, so it's not a new feature for the K-S2.

Continuing right, we have the rear control dial -- also used to control playback zoom or switch to thumbnail viewing -- and the autofocus / autoexposure lock button. Beneath is a card access lamp and the playback button alongside a small trim piece that gives your thumb a little extra purchase for a more reassuring grip. Finally, beneath we have the four-way controller (with its directional buttons marked to show their alternate use in record mode), and the info / menu buttons.

Jumping to the right side, there's not too much to discuss. Tucked into the shoulder of the Pentax K-S2 is a small eyelet for the included neck strap, and beneath is a door to the flash card compartment, which holds a single SDHC, SDXC and UHS-I compatible Secure Digital card slot. A small logo inset in the rubber that wraps around the handgrip indicates the location of the Near Field Communications antenna, used for quick pairing with Android smartphones and tablets. Finally, a separate door covers the high-definition HDMI video output and USB data connection.

The left side of the Pentax K-S2 body is also relatively straightforward, with only a few noteworthy features. Beneath the popup flash strobe is the flash release button, and on the left shoulder of the K-S2's body is the other neckstrap eyelet. Beneath the flash release button is the Raw / Fx button, which can be used to switch between file formats or to access various other options, and near the base of the lens mount sits the focus mode dial. Finally, we have another relatively rare option at this price point: A 3.5mm stereo microphone jack sits behind a small flap inset into the rubber trim piece that lines the left side of the K-S2 body.


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