PROS / This camera is weather sealed.
CONS / Increased size and weight make this camera a little clumsy.
VERDICT / A simple, sturdy design, coupled with professional features and excellent image quality make the Pentax K-50 an impressive all-condition shooter.
Pentax is a lesser-known brand of entry-level DSLRs. For this reason, it offers a slightly slimmer selection of camera bodies, lenses and accessories than other brands we reviewed. Aside from this, not much separates Pentax from the well-known DSLR brands. Cameras like the K-50 offer excellent image quality as well as weather protection.
The K-50 is a little larger and heavier than most entry-level DLSRs, but it feels great in the hand and produces some nice photographs. In testing, the K-50 performed nearly as well as the best entry-level DSLRs.
Images captured with the K-50 have good detail in highlights and shadows as well as colors that are accurate and detailed. With a DxOMark low-light performance score of ISO 1120, it also performs well in low light and sports photography. In effect, you can take photos at high shutter speeds and limited light with less chance of producing overly grainy photographs.
Its video capabilities, however, are somewhat limited when compared to competing models. While the best beginner DSLRs can shoot full 1080p HD video at 60 frames per second, the K-50 can only produce full HD video at 30 fps.
Although its imaging abilities are similar to competing models, the design of the K-50 is quite unique for an entry-level DSLR. The first thing you notice is that it has a somewhat larger and heavier design than its competitors.
While other companies simplify designs to produce light and compact beginner DLSR cameras, the Pentax takes a different approach. The K-50 is built tough and without compromise. It features an impressive 100-percent pentaprism viewfinder, dual-adjustment dials and 81 seals for weather protection.
Most beginner DSLRs use a pentamirror viewfinder that provides only a 95-percent view of your frame. Unlike any other brand, Pentax instead uses pentaprism viewfinders in its entry-level DSLRs. These are more expensive to produce, but grant a brighter and sharper image.
Dual-adjustment dials is another unique inclusion in Pentax's entry-level offerings. Rather than choosing between a single adjustment dial at the thumb or index finger, the K-50 includes both. With the ability to change shutter speed with your index finger and aperture with your thumb, quickly adjusting exposure is easy and intuitive.
Weather sealing is a feature typically reserved for high-end, professional-grade cameras, and it's almost strange to see it in an entry-level DSLR. Not only does this sealing provide protection from moisture, but it also extends the camera's usable temperature range, allowing you to continue shooting in low temperatures.
Battery life for entry-level DSLRs is measured in shots per charge. This is measured using a standardized process that renders consistent results across brands. At just 480 shots per charge, the Pentax K-50 is 40 shots below average for the cameras we reviewed.
Although it has an industry-standard warranty, Pentax doesn't offer quite the same number of support options as its competitors. Should you run into any issues within the first year, Pentax's warranty will protect you against defects in workmanship or materials. But for troubleshooting, FAQs and manuals, Pentax's website isn't as helpful. If you have issues, you can consult the included manual or contact Pentax support via phone or email.
Overall, the Pentax K-50 is a solid entry-level DSLR option. Premium features, like a pentaprism viewfinder, dual-adjustment dials and weather sealing, give it a professional feel, while an entry-level price puts in within reach of the average shooter. Despite its video-related shortcomings and increased weight, the K-50 offers enough unique functionality to make it a serious contender.