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Pentax K-500 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £349
inc VAT

Lots of superb features, but not quite the stunning bargain we'd hoped for


23.7×15.7mm 16.1-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (27-82.5mm equivalent), 857g

The area below the viewfinder shows the same detailed information as on the K-50, including shutter and ISO speeds, aperture, exposure compensation and icons to show when the flash, manual focus and bracketing are enabled. Meanwhile, the viewfinder image itself has an overlay to show where the autofocus points are – except, actually, it doesn’t. There are a few lines that give a rough indication of where the 11 points are, but no red illuminated dots that, on the K-50, show which point or points are selected. You can check by looking at the LCD screen, but even then it takes a certain amount of guesswork as to exactly where the selected point is located in the composed image. It’s a bizarre thing to omit from an SLR, where the depth of field can be very shallow so precise autofocus placement is critical to the success of a shot.


Live view provides a clearer display of the autofocus point’s location, and it can be placed in any of 81 locations across the frame. However, considering how the K-500’s big viewfinder is such a major selling point, it’s hard to imagine anyone choosing this camera and wanting to use it routinely in live view.

So where does this leave the K-500, and its potential buyers? Do its superb controls and performance and incredibly low price outweigh this drawback? It’s hard to say with any objectivity. It’s a bit like finding a £600 TV for £350 but discovering there’s no remote control. Some people will embrace the incredible value for money and cope with the inconvenience. Others will decide that it’s worth spending almost twice as much for the full package. Will others still will make do with a more basic model with all the usual features.

Our inclination would be to go for options two or three. If you have the cash then you should get the excellent K-50 or a Canon EOS 700D. If those are too rich for your blood, then we recommend the Sony A58, which is currently available for around £340. It’s not strictly speaking an SLR as it uses an electronic rather than an optical viewfinder, but there are various benefits to this approach. It has its share of foibles but none are particularly serious, and its consistency appeals more than the K-500’s combination of brilliant and annoying features.

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Basic Specifications

CCD effective megapixels16.1 megapixels
CCD size23.7×15.7mm
Viewfinderoptical TTL
Viewfinder magnification, coverage0.92x, 100%
LCD screen size3.0in
LCD screen resolution921,000 pixels
Articulated screenNo
Live viewYes
Optical zoom3.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent27-82.5mm
Image stabilisationoptical, sensor shift
Maximum image resolution4,928×3,264
File formatsJPEG, RAW; QuickTime (AVC)


Memory slotSDXC
Mermory suppliednone
Battery typeLi-ion or 4x AA
Battery Life (tested)410 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV, wired remote
Body materialplastic
Lens mountPentax K mount
Focal length multiplier1.5x
Kit lens model namePentax DA L 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL
AccessoriesUSB cable

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB

Camera Controls

Exposure modesprogram, shutter priority, aperture priority, shutter and aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed30 to 1/6,000 seconds
Aperture rangef/3.5-22 (wide), f/5.6-40 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution)100 to 51200
Exposure compensation+/-5 EV
White balanceauto, 10 presets with fine tuning, manual, Kelvin
Additional image controlscontrast, saturation, sharpness, high/low key adjust, hue, highlight correction, shadow correction, noise reduction
Manual focusYes
Closest macro focus25cm
Auto-focus modes11-point (9 cross-type)
Metering modesmulti, centre-weighted, centre. Live view: face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, HDR, interval, multiple exposure

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Reviews | DSLRs