Pentax K-5 low noise performance

In this post I am discussing the Pentax K-5 low noise performance and include some sample pictures I’ve taken in very low light conditions to demonstrate just how good the camera is.


When I first became interested in photography, which was about 40 years ago, there were two big names in camera manufacture – Nikon and Pentax. At the time I owned a Zenit B with a 58mm screw thread lens but I really wanted to own one of those makes.

Pentax K-5 low noise performance 1

Skip forward to today and Nikon is still at the top of DSLR manufacture, but Pentax is no longer seen by most photographers (although not Pentax owners) as a premier manufacturer. I think this is probably changing again and one of the reasons is the Pentax K-5.

The re-invigoration of Pentax probably started with the K-7 model which earned the reputation of being an excellent camera let down by poor low noise performance. The K-5 is basically the same camera, but with a newer, better sensor fitted which has turned out to be arguably best-in-class.

I finally managed to get a Pentax about 3 years ago, the K200D model.  I found this to be a great camera and used it for a year to 18 months before I bought a Pentax K-r. This year I traded both the K200D, the K-r and an Olympus EPL-1 I had bought for a K-5.

Pentax K-5 Low-Noise performance

The iso setting on the k-5 are incredible ranging from iso100 to iso51,200. Although there is obviously noise in the high end it’s possible to take shots at iso 6400 which are extremely useable. Here are a few sample images I’ve taken at extended iso settings.

These images were taken while we were on holiday in Somerset this year. The first image of the lights was taken at iso 12,800 in the Bishops palace in Wells. The full image is shown here.

The second image was also taken in the Bishops Palace in Wells and was also taken at iso 12,800. Again the full image is available.

The final image was taken in the caves at wookey hole where only a small light was available. This image was taken at iso 3200 and can be viewed here.

I think these images (which have all been processed from RAW in Lightroom) show the distance Pentax has traveled with their camera’s low noise performance. These images are quite usable and were taken in situations where it would otherwise have been impossible to hand hold a camera successfully.

More images are available on my Flickr photostream.

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