From the outside, the new Pentax K5 looks exactly the same as the K7. The main differences lie inside: the K5 uses the brand-new 16.3 MP sensor (able to operate between ISO 80 and 12800, extended to 51200), an improved SAFOX 9 AF system, a higher burst speed, and a much better video mode that can record 1080p footage at 25 fps.
The best APS-C in all tested fields
No need for suspense: this new 16.3 MP sensor is simply the best APS-C we have tested so far, sometimes able to compete even with very high-end full-frame cameras.
The overall score of the K5 puts it in the lead with 82 points — more than 9 points better than the D90 or the Alpha 55, and 16 points ahead of the Canon 7D or 60D. The K5 is literally the best APS-C performer for each segment, even in low ISO.
Wonderful Dynamic Range performance
Dynamic range is clearly where the K5 struts its stuff. The scores it reaches at ISO 80 are simply impressive: at 14.1 Ev (print mode), even the D3X’s full-frame sensor is not that good. Smoothing appears at ISO 3200 but does not impact the metrics.
Improved high ISO performance ...
The biggest weakness for the K7 was its average high ISO performance. The K5 addresses this by reaching a solid 1162 ISO.
… But full-frame sensors remain the best for high ISO operation
While the K5 may be the best APS-C competitor, its excellent "small" sensor does not manage to close the gap with the good 24x36 models in area where size still matters.
As good as it is, the K5 sensor isn’t still quite up to its solid full-frame competitors, being roughly one stop behind a D700 or a 5D MkII.
But just imagine how promising the K5 technology could be in a full-frame body: increased picture quality associated with solid high ISO performance —a dream!
Disclaimer: This dxomark review evaluates only the selected camera’s RAW sensor performance metrics (i.e., Color Depth, Dynamic Range, and Low-Light ISO), and should not be construed as a review of the camera’s overall performance, as it does not address such other important criteria as image signal processing, mechanical robustness, ease of use, flexibility, optics, value for money, etc. While RAW sensor performance is critically important, it is not the only factor that should be taken into consideration when choosing a digital camera.