The two cameras bear more than a passing similarity externally, while under the surface the raw specs, too, share several common factors.
The resolution has stuck at a respectable but fairly middling 16.3 megapixels, producing 4,928x3,264-pixel images, while sensitivity remains at ISO 100-12,800. The auto focus system has been upgraded, though, to work in a wider range of lighting conditions, and perform more efficiently where moving subjects are concerned.
It's available now for around £800 with a kit lens.
Build and features
The first thing you'll notice about the K5-II is its beefy build. It's not discernibly larger than a normal compact camera, but with an 18-135mm lens attached it has a fair weight, and you'll want to keep two hands on it for support.
This extra weight helps maintain a feeling of quality, though, and it feels like it could take more than a few knocks. The dioptre control is a recessed slider above the eyepiece that you won't knock by accident, and the mode selector is locked off, so again you won't accidentally switch modes as it's a two-part operation that also requires a button press.
There's a large LCD in the top plate to display your shooting parameters, while around the back the rear LCD is fairly standard fare at 3 inches, corner to corner. It isn't articulated or touch sensitive. The graphical layout, though, is excellent, presenting plenty of information in a succinct and easy to follow style, with a guide to which of the two wheels -- one front, one to the rear -- changes each option. It switches between landscape and portrait layout as you turn the camera on its side, too.
Finally, if you'll be using the K5-II in less clement surroundings, you'll appreciate the 77 independent weatherproofing seals around the body.
The K5-II is built around an APS-C sized sensor, so you'll need to multiply up the focal length of the KAF-mount lenses by 1.5x to work out their 35mm equivalents. That makes the 18-135mm kit lens act like a 27-202.5mm unit, for a good range suited to both portrait and longer landscape use.
Maximum aperture at either end of the zoom is f/3.5 and f/5.6, narrowing to between f/22 and f/38, depending on the lens position.
It's sharp and bright in general use, although there is some barrel distortion at wide-angle, which isn't evident in regular outdoor shots.
What was visible, however, was a fall off in the level of focus towards the corners, where fine detail such as gravel lacked the clarity of the subject matter at the centre of the frame. This is caused by the lens having to bend the light to a more severe degree at the extremities of the frame before focusing it on the sensor, whereas at the centre it can pass through in a straight line.
At the widest aperture it's easy to isolate your subject, and the focal fall off outside of the sweet spot is smooth and attractive, with a creamy blur to the background.
Colour reproduction was excellent throughout my tests, which were conducted under a mixture of overcast skies and full, direct sunlight.
Highly reflective subjects retained their colours and didn't cause the camera to dial down the exposure, so nothing was lost of the shadows.
Likewise, strong contrasts were crisp and clean, with no sign of chromatic aberration in the raw shots used for my analysis. Sharp edges were maintained, and there was no evidence of haloing where darker elements met a brighter background.
The dynamic range was good, with plenty of recorded detail in both highlight and shadow areas that wasn't immediately obvious on viewing the raw files using the default import settings in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. By lifting the shadows and damping down the highlights in post production it was possible to recover this detail in many frames, allowing for a higher hit rate than was immediately evident.
Maximum shutter speed is a very impressive 1/8,000 second, which is perfectly suited to wildlife and faster sports photography. I tested it at a rally circuit, where it had no trouble freezing the action as the cars streaked past.
At the opposite end of the scale, the longest possible exposure, short of stepping up to bulb, is 30 seconds, which is ripe for shooting streaking headlights and illuminated buildings in night-time cityscapes.
The K5-II put in an excellent performance under studio lights, with extremely sharp detail at the centre of the frame. As is always the case in the still-life test, it was set to full auto so it could choose its own shooting settings. It opted for 1/60 second, ISO 100, at f/5.6. There was no grain in the image, and sharp contrasts, such as where black met white on a spirit bottle, were crisp. Areas of high texture such as wood grain were equally full of detail and cleanly rendered.
When relying only on ambient light, it increased the sensitivity setting to ISO 1,600, and thus introduced some grain into the image. This was light and even, however, and it was still possible to read small, fine writing within the tableau.
It stuck with this sensitivity setting even when the flash was enabled, and with the increased light the grain, while still present, was less obvious. Rather than using the flash to shorten the exposure it instead chose to narrow the aperture from the f/5.6 used under studio lights and under ambient light, to f/8.0, thus increasing the depth of field.
In all instances, the captured colours were balanced, and an accurate representation of the originals.
The K5-II can shoot Full HD (1,920x1,080 pixels) at 25 frames per second, or HD (1,280x720) at either 30 or 25fps. If you're shooting to share directly online, you can downsize the footage at the point of capture to 640x480, again at 30 or 25fps. There are three levels of quality: good, better and best.
I performed my tests with the camera set to its highest quality and largest frame size, and the results were as good as you could hope for. Colours were accurate and detail well resolved.
The sound of the manual zoom was well dampened, and so difficult to hear on the soundtrack, but a stiff breeze was clearly picked up by the built-in mic.
There's plenty to enjoy about the K5-II -- both at the point of using it, and once you've downloaded your images. The physical layout is logical and easy to get to grips with quickly, and even though it's perceptually a little heavier than you might be used to if you're coming from another consumer camera, it's well balanced and comfortable to hold.
Image quality is excellent, and it's easy to dial in the exact settings you need to get the result you're after thanks to some well thought-out controls and a clearly laid-out rear display, supplementing the panel on the top plate.
Although a little more expensive than some competitors, you're still getting a lot of camera for less than £800 with an 18-55mm kit lens, and around £710 body-only, which makes it a very tempting package overall.