Pentax K-S2 targets the family photographer with handy mix of enthusiast, consumer-grade features


posted Monday, February 9, 2015 at 5:00 PM EST


The division between consumer and enthusiast cameras is rather black and white, but we live in a world with many shades of grey. Chances are good that your camera is shared between multiple family members with different needs and skills, a fact that Ricoh acknowledges with the new 20-megapixel Pentax K-S2. Positioned above the earlier K-S1 and K-50 DSLRs in Ricoh's lineup, and beneath the flagship K-3, this 5.5-frames per second shooter was recently shown under glass -- and without a name -- at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, and it mixes both consumer and enthusiast-friendly features.

Housed in a newly-designed, weather-resistant and dustproof body that Ricoh says is the world's smallest for a DSLR -- let alone one with a versatile, side-mounted tilt / swivel LCD monitor, a first for a Pentax DSLR -- the K-S2 caters to quick-and-easy selfie shooting. When the screen is swiveled to face forwards, the top-deck Wi-Fi button changes its function to act as a secondary shutter button, significantly improving the ergonomics. (With most cameras, you'd still have to use the regular shutter button, which would be difficult to reach while holding the camera with the lens aimed towards you.)

The Pentax K-S2 is the company's first digital SLR with built-in Wi-Fi wireless communications.

Also new for Pentax's DSLR family is the presence of in-camera Wi-Fi wireless networking, complete with near-field communications tech for easy pairing with Android devices, and the ability to shoot and see a live-view feed remotely from your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet. And the Pentax K-S2 features an upgrade from the autofocus systems of the K-S1 and K-50, sharing the same SAFOX X phase-detection autofocus system that gave 2012's flagship Pentax K-5 II its low-light focusing chops.

And as in the K-50 before it, the K-S2 also features a glass pentaprism viewfinder with near-100% coverage, twin control dials front and rear, and a 1/6,000-second top shutter speed, all features that Ricoh's rivals save for pricier enthusiast-oriented cameras. It also debuts some other new features, including a more intelligent Auto HDR mode on the Mode dial that tweaks the luminance channel for a more natural feel -- rather than just applying sharpening for the now-rather-cliched crunchy HDR look -- plus a Clarity function that allows much the same thing on single-shot, non-HDR imagery.

The Pentax K-S2 will be sold in a kit with the new Pentax-DA L 18-50mm F4-5.6 DC WR RE lens, an interesting weather-sealed, extending optic that's just 1.5 inches deep when retracted. The K-S2 kit ships in March 2015 at a list price of US$800 in one of three color schemes: black, white, or graphite grey with an orange accent on the base plate.

Impressively for a weather-sealed camera, the 20-megapixel K-S2 also sports a tilt/swivel LCD.

From April 2015, you'll also be able to choose one of seven additional color options. Ricoh is dividing these into two outdoor-themed collections. The Nature Collection includes Forest Green, Desert Beige, and Stone Gray colors, while the Sports Collection includes White and Lime, Black and Pink, White, or Black the latter two options differing from the standard versions with the inclusion of a go-faster Racing Stripe.

Want to know more about this interesting, affordable camera that aims to attract both consumers and enthusiasts alike? Read our hands-on Pentax K-S2 preview for the full story!