Pentax k 70


PENTAX K-70 (Body Only)

  • 24 Megapixel APS-C AA Filter-less CMOS Sensor
  • AA Filter Simulator PRIME MII processor with newly designed accelerator unit
  • Pixel Shift Resolution with motion correction
  • PENTAX SR In-body shake reduction
  • Dustproof and weather-resistant
  • Night vision red light LCD display
  • 6 Frames per second continuous shooting
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • 14-bit RAW

Super-high-resolution images captured with 24.24 effective megapixels and a top sensitivity of ISO 102400

The K-70 features a state-of-the-art 24.24 effective megapixel AA Filter-less APS-C sized CMOS sensor for outstanding image quality. By coupling a newly developed accelerator unit with the high-speed PRIME MII imaging engine, the K-70 effectively minimizes noise at all sensitivity levels, and captures richly gradated, finely detailed images even in super-high-sensitivity shooting at a top sensitivity of ISO 102400.

Hybrid AF system for high-speed AF operation during Live View shooting The K-70 employs PENTAX’s first Hybrid AF system during Live View autofocus operation. By positioning a contrast-detection AF sensor with superior focusing accuracy and a phase-matching AF sensor on the image sensor’s surface, this innovative hybrid system optimizes the benefits of both AF systems to assure high-speed, pinpoint AF focusing on the subject.

Dustproof, weather-resistant body perfect for outdoor photography

The K-70 boasts a fully weather and cold proof design to resist water, fog, snow, sand and dust, for top performance in extreme field conditions. It has been designed for active outdoor shooting through a complete design review of the mode dial and control buttons as well as new grip design that provides a firm hold of the camera body even with a gloved hand. The outdoor-friendly LCD monitor features a brightness level that can be instantly adjusted to the lighting level of a shooting location, as well as a red-lighted monitor display function, which is easier on the photographer’s eye when shooting in dark locations such as during astronomical photography.

High-precision autofocus system with the SAFOX X module The high-precision SAFOX X AF sensor module assures responsive, dependable autofocus operation. With its 11 sensors including nine cross-type sensors in the middle, this AF module assures pinpoint focus on the subject at a minimum brightness level as low as -3 EV. The speed of autofocus response has been improved, especially at low-illumination levels. By improving the algorithm for moving objects, the focusing accuracy in the AF-C mode has been enhanced. The K-70 assures outstanding AF tracking performance with subjects on the move, thanks to such advanced features as the Select-area Expansion function, which automatically refocuses on a moving subject after it moves away from the initial point, with the help of the neighboring points, and an AF Hold function that maintains the initial in-focus point even when the module loses sight of the subject.

PENTAX-original shake-reduction system featuring the Pixel Shift Resolution System

1) In-body SR mechanism The K-70’s in-body shake reduction (SR) mechanism effectively compensates for camera shake up to 4.5EV steps regardless of the lens type mounted. The K-70’s SR unit has a flexible design that tilts the image sensor unit in all directions, providing a host of handy shooting functions, including ASTRO TRACER, which simplifies advanced astronomical photography when used in combination with the optional

O-GPS1 GPS Unit.

(2) Pixel Shift Resolution System with motion correction function The Pixel Shift Resolution System captures 4 images of the same scene by shifting the image sensor by a single pixel for each image, and then synthesizes them into a single composite image. The result is exceptional detail and true-to-life color accurate images. This system also has a motion correction function which automatically detects a moving object during continuous shooting and minimizes negative effects during the synthesizing process.

(3) Innovative AA filter simulator to minimize moiré By applying microscopic vibrations to the image sensor unit at the sub-pixel level during image exposure, the K-70’s AA (anti-aliasing) filter simulator provides the same level of moiré reduction as an optical AA filter. This innovative simulator lets the user switch the AA filter effect on and off, and adjust the level of the effect.

Optical viewfinder with nearly 100-percent field of view

The K-70 incorporates a glass prism finder featuring the same optics and coatings as those used in higher-level models. With a nearly 100-percent field of view and a magnification of approximately 0.95 times, it provides a wide, bright image field for easy focusing and framing.

High-speed shutter to capture fast-moving subjects in crisp focus With a top shutter speed of 1/6000 second, the K-70 captures sharply focused images, even with fast-moving subjects. Coupled with its high-speed continuous shooting function with a top speed of approximately six images per second, it lets the photographer preserve once-in-a-lifetime shutter opportunities in beautifully focused images.

Upgraded Full HD movie recording The K-70 captures high-resolution, flawless Full HD movie clips (1920 x 1080 pixels; 60i/30p frame rate) in the H.264 recording format. In combination with compatible lenses, it allows the user to use the Continuous AF (AF-C) mode* to keep accurate focus on a moving subject, or take advantage of a new aperture control function** to automatically assure a proper exposure level even in fluctuating lighting conditions during movie recording. It also provides a host of distinctive visual effects for movie production, including the 4K Interval Movie mode that connects a series of 4K-resolution still images at a fixed interval to create a single movie file, and a Star Stream mode to fade in and out the traces of stars to recorded movies.

* During movie recording, the Continuous AF (AF-C) mode can be used in combination with the HD PENTAX-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3ED PLM WR RE or smc PENTAX-DA 18-135mm F3.5-5.6ED AL[IF] DC WR lens. ** During movie recording, the aperture control function is available only in combination with the HD PENTAX-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3ED PLM WR RE lens.

Vari-angle LCD monitor for easy image viewing from all angles

The PENTAX K-70 provides a host of wireless LAN (Wi-Fi) functions to support operations using smartphones and tablet computers. By installing the dedicated Image Sync application in a mobile device, the user can remotely check the Live View image, capture still images, and adjust such camera settings as aperture, shutter speed and ISO sensitivity to the desired level through the mobile device. It is even possible to download captured images onto the mobile device, then upload them on social networking service websites.

Type: TTL autofocus, auto-exposure SLR digital-still camera with built-in retractable P-TTL flash

Lens Mount: PENTAX KAF2 bayonet mount (AF coupler, lens information contacts, K-mount with power contacts)

Compatible Lens: KAF4, KAF3, KAF2(power zoom not compatible, KAF, KA mount lens)

Image Sensor: Primary color filter, CMOS Size 23.5 x 15.6 (mm) APS-C

Effective Pixels: Approx. 24.24 megapixels

Total Pixels: Approx. 24.78 megapixels

Dust Removal: SP coating and CMOS sensor operations

Sensitivity: ISO AUTO/100 to 204800 (EV steps can be set to 1EV, 1/2EV, or 1/3EV) TBD (standard output)

Image Stabilizer: Sensor-shift Shake Reduction system

AA Filter Simulator: Moiré reduction using SR unit. OFF/Type1/Type2/Bracket (3 frames)

Sensitivity: ISO AUTO/100 to 204800 (EV steps can be set to 1EV, 1/2EV, or 1/3EV) TBD (standard output)

Image Stabilizer: Sensor-shift Shake Reduction system

AA Filter Simulator: Moiré reduction using SR unit. OFF/Type1/Type2/Bracket (3 frames)

Type: Pentaprism Finder

Coverage (FOV): Approx. 100%

Magnification: Approx. .95x (50mmF1.4 at infinity)

Eye-Relief Length: Approx 20.5mm (from the view window), approx. 22.3mm (from the center of lens)

Diopter Adjustment: Approx.-3.5m to +1.5m

Focusing Screen: Natural-Bright-Matte III focusing screen

File Formats: RAW (PEF/DNG), JPEG (Exif 2.3), DCF2.0 compliant

Recorded Pixels: JPEG: L(24M:6000×4000), M(14M:4608×3072), S(6M:3072×2048), XS(2M:1920×1280)

RAW: (24M:6000×4000)

Quality Level: RAW (14bit): PEF, DNG

JPEG: ★★★ (Best), ★★ (Better), ★ (Good), RAW + JPEG simultaneous capturing available

Color Space : sRGB, Adobe RGB Storage Medium SD, SDHC and SDXC Memory Card (conforms to USH-I standards)

Storage Folder: Folder name – Date (100_1018, 101_1019….) or User assigned folder name (Default “PENTX”)

Recording File: File name “IMGP****” or user assigned file name, File name numbering – Sequential, Reset

Type: TTL method using image sensor

Autofocus: Hybrid AF (image plane phase-matching and contrast detection)

AF area: Face Detection, Tracking, Multiple AF points, Select, Spot Focus Peaking: On/Off

Display: Field of view approx. 100%, magnified view (up to 16x), grid display (4×4 grid, golden section, scale display, square 1, square 2, Grid color: black/white), histogram, bright area warning

Type: Vari-angle TFT color LCD monitor featuring an air-gapless structure, tempered-glass front panel

Size: 3.0 inch (aspect ratio 3:2)

Dots: Approx. 921k dots

Adjustment: Brightness, saturation and colors adjustable

Outdoor View: Adjustable ±2 step

Night vision display: ON/OFF

Type: TTL: Phase-matching autofocus

Focus Sensor : SAFOX X, 11 points (9 cross type focus points in the center)

Brightness Range: EV -3 to 18 (ISO100/at normal temperature)

AF mode: Single AF (AF, S) Continuous AF (AF, C), Auto select AF (AF, A)

AF point selection : Auto: 11 points, Auto: 5 points, Select, Expanded Area Select, Spot

AF Assist Light: Dedicated LED AF assist light

Type: TTL open aperture, 77 segment metering, center-weighted and sport metering

Metering Range: EV 0 to 22 (ISO100 at 50mm F1.4)

Exposure Mode: Auto Picture mode (Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Moving Object, Night Scene Portrait, Sunset, Blue Sky, Forest, Scene Mode (Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Moving Object, Night Scene Portrait, Sunset, Blue Sky, Forest, Night Scene, Night Scene HDR, Night Snap, Food, Pet, Kids, Surf & Snow, Backlight Silhouette, Candlelight, Stage Lighting, Museum), Program, Sensitivity Priority, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Shutter & Aperture Priority, Manual, Bulb

EV Compensation : ±5 (1/2 EV steps or 1/3 EV steps can be selected)

AE lock: Can be assigned to the AF/AE-L button

Type: Electronically controlled vertical-run focal plane shutter (electronic when using Pixel Shift Resolution)

Shutter Speed: Auto: 1/6000 to 30 sec., Manual: 1/6000 to 30 sec (1/3 EV steps or ½ EV steps), Bulb (10 sec to 20 min)

Battery Type: Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery D-LI109

AC Adapter: Kit K-AC168 (optional)

Battery Life: Approx 480 images (w/o flash) Playback time approx. 270 minutes

Standards: IEEE802.11b/g/n Freq Bandwidth 2401MHz~2473MHz (1ch~11ch)

Max Radio Freq: 8.16dBm EIRP

Power Security Authentication: WPA2, Encryption: AES

USER Mode: Up to 3 settings

Custom Functions: 24 items

Modes: 16 items

Buttons: Fx1 Button, Fx2 Button (One Push File Format, Wi-Fi, Outdoor View Setting, Night Vision LCD Display, Preview, Red, Electronic Level, Change AF Area), AF/AE-L button (AF1, AF2, Cancel AF, AE Lock)

AF: AF.S: Focus-priority/ Release-priority, 1st Frame Action in AF.C: Release-priority/Auto/Focus- priority. Action in AF.C Continuous: Focus-priority, Auto, FPS-priority, Hold AF Status: OFF, Low, Medium, High, AF in Interval Shooting: Locks focus at 1st exposure, Adjusts focus for each shot AF with Remote Control: OFF/ON

World Time: 75 Cities (28 time zones)

Language: English, French, Germany, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Greek, Russian, Korean, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese

Playback view: Single frame, Multi-image display (6,12, 20, 35, 80 segmentation), Display magnification (up to 16x, Quick Zoom view available), Grid display (4×4 Grid, Golden Section, Scale display, Square 1, Square 2, Grid Color: Black/White ), Rotating, Histogram (Y histogram, RGB histogram), Bright area warning, Auto Image Rotation, Detailed information, Copyright Information (Photographer, Copyright holder), GPS information (latitude, longitude, altitude, Coordinated Universal Time) , Orientation, Folder Display, Calendar Filmstrip Display, Slide Show Digital Filter Base Parameter Adj, Extract Color, Replace Color, Toy Camera, Retro, High Contrast, Shading, Invert Color, Unicolor Bold, Bold Monochrome, Tone Expansion, Sketch, Water Color, Pastel, Posterization, Miniature, Soft, Starburst, Fish-eye, Slim, Monochrome

RAW: RAW file select:Select Single Image, Select Multiple Images, Select a folder

RAW Development Parameter: White Balance, Custom Image, Sensitivity, Clarity, Skin Tone, Digital filter, HDR, Pixel Shift Resolution, Shadow Correction, High-ISO NR, Distortion Correction, Peripheral Illumin. Corr., Lateral Chromatic Aberration Correction, Diffraction Correction, Color Fringe Correction, File Format (JPEG/TIFF), Aspect Ratio, JPEG Recorded Pixels, JPEG Quality, Color Space

Edit: Image Rotation, Color Moiré Correction, Resize, Cropping (Aspect ratio and Slant adjustment available), Movie Edit (Divide or delete selected frames), Capturing a JPEG still picture from a movie, Saving RAW data in buffer memory, Image Copy

File Format: MPEG4 AVC/H.264 (MOV)

Recorded Pixels: Full HD (1920 x 1080, 60i/50i/30p/25p/24p) HD (1280 x 720, 60p/50p)

Auto Focus: Hybrid AF (Image plane phase-matching and contrast detection) AF mode: Single AF (AF, S), Continuous AF (AF, C) AF area: Multiple AF points, Select, Spot

Focus Peaking: ON/OFF

Sound: Built-in stereo microphone, external microphone input. Recording sound level adjustable

Recording Time: Up to 26 minutes or 4GB

Custom Images: (Auto Select, Bright, Natural, Portrait, Landscape, Vibrant, Radiant, Muted, Flat, Bleach Bypass, Reversal Film, Monochrome, Cross Processing

Cross Processing: Random, Preset 1-3, Favorite 1-3

Digital Filter: Extract Color, Replace Color, Toy Camera, Retro, High Contrast, Shading, Invert Color, Unicolor Bold, Bold Monochrome

Custom Image: Auto Select, Bright, Natural, Portrait, Landscape, Vibrant, Radiant, Muted, Flat, Bleach Bypass, Reversal Film, Monochrome, Cross Processing

Cross Process: Random, Preset 1-3, Favorite 1-3

Digital Filter: Extract Color, Replace Color, Toy Camera, Retro, High Contrast, Shading, Invert Color, Unicolor Bold, Bold Monochrome

Clarity: Adjustable ±4 step

Skin Tone: Type1, Type2, OFF

HDR: Auto, HDR1, HDR2, HDR3, Advanced HDR, OFF, Exposure bracket value adjustable, Automatic composition correction function

Pixel Shift Res.: Motion Correction ON, Motion Correction OFF, OFF

Lens Correction: Distortion Correction, Peripheral Illumination Correction, Lateral Chromatic Aberration Correction,

Diffraction Correction D-RANGE Comp.: Highlight Correction, Shadow Correction

Noise Reduction: Slow Shutter Speed NR, High-ISO NR

Horizon Correction: SR On: correction up to 1 degrees, SR Off: correction up to 1.5 degrees

Electronic Level: Displayed in viewfinder Horizontal directiononly, Displayed on LCD monitor: Horizontal and vertical direction

Built-in Flash: Built-in retractable P-TTL, GN: approx. 12 (ISO100/m), Angle of view of 28mm lens (36mm format equ.)

Flash Modes: Auto Flash Discharge, Auto Flash + Red-Eye Reduction (Auto Picture, Scene) Flash On, Flash On + Red-Eye Reduction, Slow-speed Sync, Trailing Curtain Sync, Manual Flash Discharge (full-1/128)

Sync Speed: 1/180th sec.

Exposure Comp: -2.0~+1.0EV

External Flash: P-TTL, Leading Curtain Sync, Trailing Curtain Sync, Contrast-control-Sync, Wireless Sync

Mode Selection – Still Image: Single Frame, Continuous (H, L), Self-timer (12s, 2s, Continuous), Remote Control (0s, 3s, continuous), Bracketing (2,3, or 5 frames), Mirror up, Multi-exposure, Interval shooting, Interval composite, Interval movie record, star stream

Movie: Remote Control

Cont. Shooting: Max. approx. 6.0 fps, JPEG ( L: ★★★ at Continuous H): up to approx. 40 frames, RAW: up to approx. 10 frames, RAW+: up to approx. 8 frames Max. approx. 3.0 fps, JPEG L: ★★★ at Continuous L): up to approx. 100 frames, RAW: up to approx. 16 frames, RAW+: up to approx. 11 frames

Multi-Exposure: Composite Mode (Additive/Average/Bright), Number of shots (2 to 2000 times) Interval Shooting (Standard Interval Shooting) Interval: 3s to 24h / Standby interval: 1s to 24h, Number of shots: 2 to 2000, Start interval: Now/Self-timer/remote control/set time (Interval Composite) Interval: 2s. to 24h./ Standby Interval: Min.・1s. to 24h., Number of shots: 2 to 2000 times, Start Interval: Now/Self-timer/Remote Control/Set Time, Composite Mode Additive / Average / Bright, Save Process: ON/OFF (Interval Movie) Recorded Pixels: 4K/FullHD/HD, File Format: Motion JPEG (AVI), Interval:2s. to 24h./ Standby Interval: Min・1s. to 24h., Number of shots: 8 to 2000 times (8 to 500 times at 4K), Start Interval:Now/Self-timer/Remote Control/Set Time

(Star Stream) Recorded Pixels: 4K/FullHD/HD, File Format: Motion JPEG (AVI), Interval:2s. to 24h./ Standby Interval: Min・1s. to 24h., Number of shots: 8 to 2000 times (8 to 500 times at 4K), Start Interval: Now/Self- timer/Remote Control/Set Time, Fade-out: OFF/Low/Medium/High

L-ION BATTERY D-LI109 (U) BATTERY CHARGER D-BC109 (A)

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Pentax K-70

Pentax has a reputation for delivering features reserved for premium models in its entry-level and midrange SLR lines. The K-70 ($649.95) is no exception, boasting full weather sealing, a glass pentaprism viewfinder, and in-body image stabilization. Its autofocus system isn't on the same level as the K-3 II, but it inherits many of the technological advances found in the outgoing premium APS-C model, including high-resolution Pixel Shift imaging. Video is underwhelming, despite the addition of on-sensor phase detection, but if that's not a big concern for you, the K-70 is a solid option. If you want a more well-rounded camera, look to our Editors' Choice SLR, the Canon EOS Rebel T6s, or the mirrorless Sony Alpha 6000, both of which offer a better autofocus experience when recording video.

Design

The K-70 is a compact, solidly built SLR. It measures 3.7 by 4.9 by 2.9 inches (HWD) and weighs about 1.5 pounds. That's a wee bit smaller than the Rebel T6s (3.9 by 4.9 by 3 inches), but the Rebel is lighter at 1.1 pounds. The denser K-70 sports in-camera weather sealing and a larger, brighter glass pentaprism, both of which contribute to its weight—the T6s isn't as extensively sealed (though still usable in light precipitation), and has a pentamirror finder that, while lighter, doesn't match the quality of a glass prism.

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Ricoh, the company behind the Pentax brand, sells the K-70 as a body only in black or silver. The silver version, which we received for review, is a two-tone design with a black covering over the front of the camera and handgrip. The silver finish is fairly dark, making it closer to a gunmetal gray in my eyes, and is quite attractive without being flashy.

The camera sports a comfortable, contoured handgrip. It features an indentation for your middle finger, as well as an infrared sensor for a wireless remote control. The lens release button is in the normal place, on the front next to the lens mount, and the left side houses the focus mode switch, Raw/Fx1 button, and the flash release button.

All of the top controls are situated to the right of the hot shoe and pop-up flash. There's a standard Mode dial and three buttons—Wi-Fi/Fn2, EV, and Green—as well as the three-stage power switch, with settings for Off, On, and Video, which surrounds the shutter button. The forward control dial sits ahead of the shutter, angled on the top of the handgrip.

The Live View (for stills) button is at the rear corner, to the left of the eyecup. To the right you'll find the rear control dial and AF/AE-L button. Play, Info, and Menu buttons are to the right of the rear display, along with a four-way controller (ISO, Drive, White Balance, Flash) with a center OK/Focus Select button. There's no dedicated joypad to select the active focus point, like you get with the Nikon D5500. That's a shame, as using the center button to change the function of the rear control pad is a bit of a pain. But it's something Pentax owners are used to at this point—the K-3 II and the flagship full-frame K-1 use the same type of button system to toggle the rear four-way button system between focus point selection and marked function.

The rear display is a vari-angle design. It's mounted on a hinge so it swings out to the side of the camera and turns to face all the way forward through straight down, about a 270-degree range of motion. The 3-inch LCD is acceptably crisp at 921k dots, but it's not a touch screen—not a huge deal, as the K-70 isn't a strong performer in Live View. The Canon T6s is a better choice for video and Live View autofocus, and its vari-angle LCD does support touch input. Still, the vari-angle LCD is always welcome when setting up low-angle shots on a tripod.

Wi-Fi is built in. You can transfer images and video clips to an Android or iOS device via the Ricoh Image Sync app. It's not the fastest transfer we've seen—it takes about 15 seconds to copy a single image to your phone—and the interface leaves a lot to be desired. If you shoot in Raw+JPG mode, you'll see separate thumbnails for each file format, but there's no way to tell which is which from the thumbnail view. That makes bulk transfer of JPG images a bit tricky.

Remote control is a stronger aspect of Wi-Fi. The app shows a live feed from the lens and gives you full manual control over functions, depending on which shooting mode is active. You do need to use the physical dial on the K-70 to change modes, however. Selecting a focus point is easy—just tap on the part of the frame you want in focus and it will trigger the autofocus system.

The K-70 has a single memory card slot that supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards, with support for UHS-I speed. The memory card door is on the side of the camera, separate from the bottom battery compartment. A rubber flap covers the micro HDMI and micro USB ports, both situated on the right side below the memory card door. A similar flap covers a 3.5mm microphone jack, located on the left.

Performance and Image Quality

The K-70 is a little slow to power on, focus, and fire, requiring about 2.4 seconds to do so with default settings enabled. Those default settings slow things down, as part of the process is devoted to shaking the image sensor to remove dust. You can disable this, which cuts the time to 1.4 seconds. The K-70 will still shake the sensor to remove dust when you power it down.

Ricoh states the K-70 can fire off shots at up to 6fps. It didn't manage to hit that mark in our continuous shooting test, topping out at 4.8fps in AF-S mode. I was only able to push the shutter speed to 1/100-second, which might play a factor in that result. I typically test burst speeds at fast 1/250-second or 1/500-second shutter speeds, depending on the maximum burst rate of the camera, but when paired with an 18-135mm zoom, keeping the shutter that short pushed the ISO to 3200. At that high sensitivity the camera's burst rate is a modest 3.8fps. Slower results at higher ISOs are something we've seen from other Pentax cameras, but it's not an issue that has reared its head when we've tested models from other brands.

The K-70 supports UHS-I memory cards, but I tested speeds with the fastest card I had on hand, a SanDisk UHS-II card that is rated at 280MBps. The K-70 nets just 10 shots in Raw+JPG and 14 Raw shots before its capture rate slows, but it does net 66 JPG images at 4.8fps. Regardless of file format, about 15 seconds is required to clear the camera's buffer to memory.

The camera sports a modest 11-point autofocus system. When using the viewfinder to focus, the K-70 locks onto subjects very quickly, within 0.1-second in bright light. In typical indoor home lighting that slips to about 0.8-second, and in very dim conditions the camera can take 1.5 seconds to lock focus and capture an image.

See How We Test Digital Cameras

The K-70 slows down when shooting with continuous focus (AF-C) enabled. I clocked it at 4.2fps in our standard test, which involves focusing on a target that moves in a straight line toward and away from the lens. The focus hit rate was decent, as it was in field conditions, but there were definitely situations where the K-70 couldn't quite keep up with the action—eagles flying toward the the lens proved a challenge, but I still managed to get usable images out of sequences. For the money, the best autofocus system you can get is in a mirrorless camera, the Sony Alpha 6000. It shoots at 11.1fps while tracking moving subjects with a strong rate of in-focus images.

As a mirrorless camera, the Alpha 6000 focuses in Live View full-time. Like the K-70, it features on-sensor phase detection. But the K-70 doesn't match the Alpha's near-instant focus speed when working in Live View. It requires about 0.7-second to lock focus and capture an image when using the rear display to frame a shot.

The K-70 features a 24MP sensor, the same resolution you get with the K-3 II, which is stablized using a sensor-shift system. Basically, the image sensor moves to compensate for camera shake, so any lens you attach is stabilized. This is the reason that Pentax lenses don't include stabilization, the function is handled by the camera body.

I used Imatest to check the image quality that the sensor delivers at each full-stop ISO setting. The K-70 supports a range from 100 through 102400, in both JPG and Raw format. When shooting JPGs at default settings, the camera keeps noise under 1.5 percent through ISO 6400. The Rebel T6s, also a 24MP camera, shows about 1.8 percent noise at ISO 6400, and a side-by-side comparison of images from our test scene shows that the Pentax manages to eke just a little bit more detail out of photos at that setting when compared with the Rebel.

The K-70 allows you to adjust noise reduction settings, but out of the box it does a decent job shooting JPGs. Images are crisp and rife with detail through ISO 800, and there's only modest blurring through ISO 12800. Photos are noticeably rough and fine lines have disappeared at ISO 25600, and you should think of ISO 51200 and 102400 as emergency settings only, as they are very blurry.

If you want to control noise reduction yourself, after an image is captured, you can shoot in Raw format. (Working in Raw has other benefits, notably expanded latitude to adjust exposure and color.) You'll need to use a software application like Adobe Lightroom to process images, but serious shutterbugs may also look to Lightroom as a tool to organize and tag photos. But you can see more detail in Raw images, especially those shot at higher ISOs. Moving beyond ISO 12800 is still asking a lot from the camera. ISO 25600 images are grainy and rough. At ISO 51200 the grain overtakes detail, but not in the same blurry manner as JPGs. ISO 102400 is just there so that Pentax can boast it has a camera that shoots at ISO 102400—it's barely useable for photography.

The in-body Shake Reduction has a couple benefits beyond keeping your images sharp. It can be used to add a slight blur, simulating the effects of an optical low-pass filter (OLPF) to eliminate color moiré if it does show up in photos. The sensor doesn't have a physical filter, so getting the rainbow effect can happen when shooting certain fabrics.

The other boon is Pixel Shift Resolution. It's a feature that has worked its way down from the K-3 II, with some improvements. First, it works pretty quickly. The K-70 captures four images in rapid succession, each with the sensor in a slightly different position.

To understand why this is a good thing, you have to understand how a Bayer image sensor works. The K-70's sensor is sensitive to light, but is inherently monochrome. A color filter array, a Bayer filter, sits on top of it, capturing red, green, and blue light in a tight four-by-four pattern. If a color is missing from one pixel, its existence is interpolated from the pixels that surround it.

Shifting the sensor to sample colors at each spot in the array eliminates the K-70's need to guess about which color exists at which pixel. Resulting images show a little bit more detail when examined very closely, and do a better job at capturing the texture of a subject. You can see the results above—very fine threads on the piece of string on the left blend together, but are visible when the same scene is captured using Pixel Shift. Even though the K-70 has a mode to compensate for slight motion, you'll get the very best results with a static subject and a sturdy tripod, so it's not something you can use for every photo.

Video

The on-sensor phase detection feature promises to improve autofocus when recording video. Indeed, focus is faster than in previous models—the entry-level K-S2 doesn't support continuous autofocus for video at all—but you still get the back-and-forth effect of going in and out of focus before the camera locks on.

Pentax states that you'll get the best Live View focus experience with a lens with a pulse motor. Currently the only choice is the HD DA 55-300mm f/4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE ($449.95), but Ricoh wasn't able to provide one for us to review along with the K-70. If it works in the same manner as Canon lenses with STM motors, the focus experience for video will be similar in terms of speed, but noticeably smoother.

There is a microphone input, but there isn't an SLR or mirrorless camera on the market with a built-in mic that's good for anything but casual use. There's little chance that professional videographers will look to the K-70 as a video solution. It only supports a few frame rates at 1080p—24, 25, and 30fps. If you want to shoot at 60fps or 50fps (either to capture fast-moving action or with the intent to slow down footage in post-production), you'll be limited to 1080i or 720p quality.

Video is better for casual use than with previous Pentax SLRs by a good margin. But you will get smoother focus from a mirrorless camera like the Sony Alpha 6000. If you're really serious about video capture, you can shop around for a mirrorless model that shoots in 4K, like the Panasonic G7.

Conclusions

The Pentax K-70 is an appealing SLR for photographers who don't often dabble in video capture. Its all-weather design is appealing for nature and landscape work, especially when coupled with the Pixel Shift Resolution feature. Action photographers will probably want to look at a model with a more robust autofocus system and faster frame rate, like the forthcoming KP or the older K-3 II.

Veteran Pentax owners looking for a compact SLR, and without the need for dual memory card slots or other advanced features of a higher end model, should take a look at the K-70 as it does deliver excellent images. It's also backed by the strongest library of APS-C lenses, including not only the standard array of zooms, but also the HD DA Limited series of compact primes. Designing small lenses matched to APS-C bodies is something that Nikon and Canon have only dabbled in, with the former boasting a small DX 35mm f/1.8G prime and the latter the EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens.

But if you're not yet committed to a camera system, and don't plan on stocking up on a lot of lenses, consider a mirrorless model as an alternative to an SLR. Many deliver the same image quality advantages over a smartphone or point-and-shoot, and are built to work just as well for video as they are for stills. The Sony Alpha 6000 is our favorite in this price range, and delivers an autofocus system that is beyond what SLRs in this price range can match. If you prefer an optical viewfinder to an EVF, our Editors' Choice SLR in the sub-$1,000 class is the Canon EOS T6s. It features a stronger autofocus system for both stills and video.

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Pentax K-70

The Pentax K-70 is a new all-weather digital SLR camera featuring a hinged LCD screen, Hybrid AF system, a top sensitivity setting of ISO 102,400 and a 24.24-megapixel CMOS sensor with no anti-aliasing filter.  Other highlights include include a newly designed grip, redesigned mode dial and control buttons on the camera’s top and rear panels to ensure exceptional handling and operation. The Pentax K-70 even provides a range of advanced features, equivalent to those available on premium models, including the PENTAX-developed Pixel Shift Resolution System; an innovative AA (anti-aliasing) filter simulator with the same moiré reduction effect as an optical AA filter; an optical viewfinder with nearly 100 percent field of view; and a built-in shake reduction mechanism with a shake reduction effect equivalent to approximately 4.5 stops. The body-only price is £559.99, while the Pentax K-70 + 18-135mm lens bundle can be yours for £799.99.The launch date will be announced at the beginning of July.

Ricoh Press Release

INTRODUCING THE PENTAX K-70

A digital SLR camera designed for outdoor photography, featuring PENTAX’s first Hybrid AF system with super-high-sensitivity shooting at ISO 102400

RICOH IMAGING EUROPE S.A.S, is pleased to announce the launch of the PENTAX K-70 digital SLR camera. Compact, dustproof and weather-resistant, the K-70 is designed for all types of outdoor photography, and offers a host of advanced, user-friendly features previously only available on premium models.

The PENTAX K-70 is an all-weather camera, with a construction that delivers dependable cold-proof performance down to temperatures as low as -10°C. It incorporates a newly developed accelerator unit, which performs high-level noise processing in collaboration with the PRIME MII imaging engine and allows super-high-sensitivity photography at a top sensitivity of ISO 102400. It also features a new Hybrid AF system, which harmonizes the advantages of both the image-plane phase-matching AF system and the contrast detection AF system, to assure maximum speed and accuracy of AF operation during Live View shooting. It even provides a range of advanced features, equivalent to those available on premium models, including the PENTAX-developed Pixel Shift Resolution System; an innovative AA (anti-aliasing) filter simulator with the same moiré reduction effect as an optical AA filter; an optical viewfinder with nearly 100 percent field of view; and a built-in shake reduction mechanism with a shake reduction effect equivalent to approximately 4.5 shutter steps. It also features a built-in wireless LAN (Wi-Fi) module for remote shooting operation and easy transfer of captured images to smartphones and tablets.

The PENTAX K-70’s exterior is designed with comfortable outdoor shooting in mind. Its user-friendly features include a newly designed grip, redesigned mode dial and control buttons on the camera’s top and rear panels to ensure exceptional handling and operation. It also comes equipped with an outdoor-friendly LCD monitor on which the brightness of the screen can be adjusted according to the light levels of the shooting location.

PRICING AND AVAILABILITY:

RRP:    K-70 body only £559.99 K-70 with 18-135mm lens £799.99

Available: The launch date will be announced at the beginning of July

Main Features

1. Super-high-resolution images captured with approximately 24.24 effective megapixels up to ISO 102400

The PENTAX K-70 features a state-of-the-art CMOS image sensor with approximately 24.24 effective megapixels to assure high-speed 14-bit image data readout. Combined with an AA-filter-free optical design, this image sensor delivers super-high-resolution images. Also, by coupling a newly developed accelerator unit with the high-speed PRIME MII imaging engine, the PENTAX K-70 effectively minimizes noise at all sensitivity levels, and captures rich-gradation, fine-detailed images even in super-high-sensitivity shooting at a top sensitivity of ISO 102400.

2. Hybrid AF system for high-speed AF operation during Live View shooting

The PENTAX K-70 employs PENTAX’s first Hybrid AF system during Live View autofocus operation. By positioning a contrast-detection AF sensor with superior focusing accuracy and a phase-matching AF sensor on the image sensor’s surface, this innovative hybrid system optimizes the benefits of both AF systems to deliver high-speed, pinpoint AF focusing on the subject.

3. Dustproof, weather-resistant body perfect for rugged outdoor photography

The PENTAX K-70 is a dependable performer even in demanding  situations, such as in the rain or at locations prone to dust or freezing temperatures, It combines a compact, easy-to-carry body in a dustproof, weather-resistant construction delivering outstanding cold-proof performance at temperatures down to -10°C. It has also been designed for active outdoor shooting — such as mountain climbing, camping and a range of sporting situations. The improved handling of the camera was achieved by the design of a new grip, and a complete design review of the mode dial and control buttons. In addition to its outdoor-friendly LCD monitor, on which the brightness of the screen can be adjusted according to the light levels of the shooting location, it also features a red-lit monitor display function, which works to the photographer’s eye when it has become accustomed to a low-light location, such as during astronomical photography.

4. High-precision autofocus system with the SAFOX X module

The PENTAX K-70 features the high-precision SAFOX X AF sensor module, for a responsive, dependable autofocus operation. With its 11 sensors, including nine cross-type sensors in the middle, this AF module delivers pinpoint focus on the subject at a minimum brightness level as low as -3 EV. By revising the timing of the AF sensor’s start-up action, the speed of autofocus response has been improved, especially at low-light levels. The focusing accuracy in the AF-C mode has also been enhanced by improving the algorithm for moving objects. The PENTAX K-70 delivers outstanding AF tracking performance for subjects on the move, thanks to advanced features including the Select-area Expansion function, which automatically refocuses on a moving subject after it moves away from the initial point, with the help of the neighbouring points; and an AF Hold function that maintains the initial in-focus point even when the module loses sight of the subject.

5. PENTAX-original shake-reduction system featuring the Pixel Shift Resolution System

(1) In-body SR mechanism

Thanks to the built-in PENTAX-original SR (Shake Reduction) mechanism, the PENTAX K-70 effectively minimizes camera shake and delivers sharp, blur-free images, even in camera-shake-prone conditions such as using a telephoto lens, shooting in low-light , or photographing sunset scenes. Using a high-accuracy gyro sensor, it provides a compensation effect of 4.5 shutter steps, a level close to that of premium models. When taking a panning shot, this mechanism automatically detects the direction of the camera’s movement, and efficiently controls the SR unit to produce the best image possible without requiring any mode switching operation.

(2) Pixel Shift Resolution System with motion correction function

The PENTAX K-70 features the latest super-resolution technology called Pixel Shift Resolution System,* which captures four images of the same scene by shifting the image sensor by a single pixel for each image, and then synthesizing them into a single composite image. Compared to the conventional Bayer system, in which each pixel has only a single colour data unit, this innovative system obtains all colour data in each pixel to deliver super-high-resolution images with far more truthful colours and much finer details than those produced by conventional APS-C-size image sensors. This system also provides a motion correction function,** which automatically detects a moving object during continuous shooting and minimizes negative effects during the synthesizing process, in order to accommodate a wider range of scenes and subjects.

(3) Innovative AA filter simulator to minimize moiré

By applying microscopic vibrations to the image sensor unit at the sub-pixel level during image exposure, the PENTAX K-70's AA (anti-aliasing) filter simulator*** provides the same level of moiré reduction as an optical AA filter. Unlike an optical AA filter, which always creates the identical result, this innovative simulator lets the user switch the AA filter effect on and off to adjust the level of the effect. This means that the ideal effect can be set for a particular scene or subject based on the photographic conditions.

(4) Supportive shooting functions

The PENTAX K-70’s SR unit has a flexible design that tilts the image sensor unit in all directions, and provides a host of handy shooting functions, including ASTRO TRACER, which simplifies advanced astronomical photography in combination with an optional O-GPS1 GPS Unit.

* When using this system, the user is advised to stabilize the camera firmly on a tripod. When a moving subject is captured in the camera's image field, its image may not be reproduced clearly, either in part or as a whole.

** The movement may not be sufficiently corrected when the object is moving in a certain direction and/or pattern. This function does not guarantee that the movement is properly corrected with all subjects.

*** This function works most effectively with a shutter speed of 1/1000 second or slower. This function may not be combined with some shooting modes, including the Pixel Shift Resolution system.

6. Optical viewfinder with nearly 100-percent field of view

Within its compact body, the PENTAX K-70 incorporates a glass prism finder featuring the same optics and coatings as those used in premium models. With a nearly 100-percent field of view and a magnification of approximately 0.95 times, it provides a wide, bright image field for easy focusing and framing.

7. High-speed shutter to capture fast-moving subjects in crisp focus

With a top shutter speed of 1/6000 second, the PENTAX K-70 captures sharply focused images, even with fast-moving subjects. Coupled with its high-speed continuous shooting function with a top speed of approximately six images per second, it lets the photographer preserve once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities in beautifully focused images.

8. Upgraded Full HD movie recording

The PENTAX K-70 captures high-resolution, flawless Full HD movie clips (1920 x 1080 pixels; 60i/30p frame rate) in the H.264 recording format, and records lively stereo sound using a built-in stereo microphone. In combination with compatible lenses, it allows users  to operate the Continuous AF (AF-C) mode* to keep accurate focus on a moving subject, or take advantage of a new aperture control function** to automatically deliver a proper exposure level even in fluctuating lighting conditions during movie recording. It also provides a host of distinctive visual effects for movie production, including the 4K Interval Movie mode that connects a series of 4K-resolution still images at a fixed interval to create a single movie file, and a Star Stream mode to fade in and out the traces of stars to recorded movies.

* During movie recording, the Continuous AF (AF-C) mode can be used in combination with the HD PENTAX-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3ED PLM WR RE or smc PENTAX-DA 18-135mm F3.5-5.6ED AL[IF] DC WR lens. Access the RICOH IMAGING official website for details.

** During movie recording, the aperture control function is available only in combination with the HD PENTAX-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3ED PLM WR RE lens.

9. Vari-angle LCD monitor for easy image viewing from all angles

The PENTAX K-70’s vari-angle LCD monitor allows for the positioning of the monitor at any desired angle, making it easier to compose the image in a wide variety of applications, such as high-angle shooting done at arm’s length, or low-angle shots taken from ground level. It also features a unique air-gapless construction, in which the air space between LCD layers is eliminated to effectively reduce the reflection and dispersion of light for improved visibility during outdoor shooting.

10. An array of functional customization options

The PENTAX K-70 features a choice of menu items and the order of their listing displayed on the control panel, so that the user can confirm or change the listed functions and their current settings at a glance. The user can also assign one of the seven functions to each of two Fx (Function) buttons. The PENTAX K-70 also provides three USER modes, to which the user can assign desired camera settings depending on subject types or creative intentions. Three settings (CLEAR TONE, HDR LANDSCAPE and ASTROPHOTO) are pre-programmed in the camera as default.

11. Wireless LAN connection to support smartphone operation

The PENTAX K-70 provides a host of wireless LAN (Wi-Fi) functions to support operations using smartphones and tablets. By installing the dedicated Image Sync application on a mobile device, the user can remotely check the Live View image, capture still images, and adjust camera settings such as aperture, shutter speed and ISO sensitivity to the desired level through the mobile device. Users can also download captured images onto the mobile device, and then upload them on social networking sites.

12. Other features

・77-segment multi-pattern metering system for high-precision light metering

・DR (Dust Removal) mechanism to shake dust from the surface of the CMOS image sensor

・Timer exposure mode— a new shooting feature incorporated for the first time in a PENTAX digital SLR camera — which allows the user to extend an exposure time to as long as 20 minutes in Bulb mode, and automatically closes the shutter when the user-selected exposure time expires

・A pair of e-dials for efficient control of the PENTAX-invented hyper operating system

・Self-timer function, which even works in the Continuous AF (AF-C) mode

・Clarity control and Skin Tone correction functions — a pair of the latest image processing technologies developed by RICOH Central Laboratory

・A selection of imaging tools, such as Custom Images, Digital Filters and Scene Modes

Optional Accessory

CS-310 Cable Switch

Attached to the PENTAX K-70’s microphone terminal, this one-metre-long cable switch helps prevent camera shake when using a macro or telephoto lens, since it allows the user to release the camera’s shutter without touching it. When the user presses the CS-310’s shutter release button lightly, the camera’s exposure meter and autofocus system are activated. Pressing it all the way down releases the shutter. For extended exposures in the Bulb mode, the user can keep the shutter open by sliding the shutter release button to the HOLD position while depressing it.

Notes:

• The CS-310 cannot be used with cameras designed to accept conventional cable switches.

• The PENTAX K-70 does not accept cable switches other than the CS-310.

Image Gallery

Click on a thumbnail to see the full version.

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Shaking up the market: Pentax K-70 Review

Pros Cons
  • Excellent still image quality, especially when shooting Raw
  • Weather-sealed, robust build quality
  • SR system offers unique features like Pixel Shift and AA filter simulation
  • SR greatly assists handheld sharpness with all lenses and provides steady video
  • Extremely customizable twin dial controls
  • AF fine adjustment
  • Very customizable interface, easy to use Wi-Fi
  • Information-rich JPEG processing and in-camera Raw conversion interface with extensive adjustments
  • Slow kit lens
  • Limited AF points and area
  • Limited subject tracking ability, helped if you keep your subject centrally composed
  • Disappointing continuous autofocus in video
  • Most impressive autofocus speed is limited to a single lens
  • Heaviest in its class, with shortest battery life of a DSLR

The Pentax K-70 takes place of the K-S2, with ergonomic improvements that make it feel like a much more serious camera, and Raw image quality that is among the best the APS-C sensor size has to offer. It may not offer the outright speed of mirrorless competition, like the Sony a6000, but the K-70 trumps both its mirrorless and its DSLR competion, like the Canon Rebel T6i and the Nikon D5500, in terms of controls and customization.

Body and Handling

Pentax's cameras offer the amount of control points and customization abilities expected from much more expensive cameras, and the K-70 is no exception. It is one of the best cameras for setting up ones' preference in its price bracket. While other camera companies seem to penalize users for 'cheaping-out' by offering less feature-rich cameras, Pentax leaves out features that are truly optional to many users and don't detract from the handling of the camera: a second card slot or built-in GPS, for example. While it is the heaviest camera of its class, that weight does carry the most 'bang for the buck' in terms of features.

There are some annoyances to the Pentax's actual controls. We'd love to see an AF-point joystick instead of the woefully slow double-duty D-pad. Other cameras in this segment make graceful use of a touch screen, even using it as a replacement for an AF joystick, something the Pentax could greatly benefit from as well.

Features

The K-70 comes loaded with features, with their utility being truly up to the photographer and the way they use the camera. Pixel Shift Resolution, for example, can produce some incredibly detailed photos, but can't be used with strobes, which is a common tool used to light studio still-life shots. It also doesn't produce its stellar results with anything in motion, making it a tough sell for many landscape shooters.

The Wi-Fi is quite easy to use, although iOS users may be a bit frustrated by the complete absence of their photos in anywhere but the Image Transfer app. If Ricoh provides any updates, we certainly hope it will improve the DNG transfer process so that we can start editing Raw files in Lightroom mobile.

Long shots like this are easily executable handheld thanks to how well the K-70's SR system works

The in-body image stabilization works brilliantly, although telephoto shooters should take note that when using this system they will lose any assistance stabilization might provide with framing a subject in the viewfinder, as only the sensor is stabilized, not the viewfinder.

Image Quality

JPEG image quality at factory default is a bit disappointing, with soft files showing unsophisticated sharpening, and lackadaisical noise reduction at high ISOs. Colors tend toward the cooler side as well. However, a vast 'Custom Image' menu provides the ability to get out-of-camera JPEGs dialed-in and looking quite nice. For first-time camera users, it will take some time to get used to and understand, but is mandatory to get the best JPEG performance from the K-70. The K-70's use of same interface for the in-camera Raw conversion menu makes the trial and error of dialing in one's favorite shooting settings quite easy, allowing for some great results straight out of the camera, ready for sharing via Wi-Fi.

The default JPEG parameters (used above) tend to produce images that aren't very sharp, especially when compared to their Raw counterparts. Thankfully, changing the type of Jpeg sharpening can produce much more detailed results.

Raw performance is exceptional, with very low noise (albeit with some mandated noise reduction baked into the Raw) and files that are quite tolerant to extreme exposure adjustments, something we have come to expect from the sensors Pentax uses. 

Particularly clever, though, are the camera's Pixel Shift and AA filter simulation modes, both of which use the sensor shift system to either increase resolution and decrease noise, or reduce aliasing, respectively.

Autofocus

The SAFOX X system found in the K-70 is the same system found in the K-S2, albeit with some tweaks to the autofocus tracking algorithms. It's a bit disappointing to find an entry-level 11-pt autofocus system with such limited coverage in an enthusiast level camera. However, as long as you keep your subject centrally placed in the frame, the camera is capable of maintaining focus on it. For static subjects, you'll realistically have to focus and recompose. This is a limitation, though, that many of its mirrorless and DSLR peers don't have.

In our testing of the K-70 we've found the greatest hindrance to any Pentax AF system is the lens itself, with performance from the kit 18-135mm being fairly sub par, but quite good with the fast-focusing 55-300mm PLM. Also the feedback the camera gives to the photographer is another part of what holds the K-70 back, as there's little feedback as to whether or not the camera has locked on to a moving subject.

Furthermore, the subject tracking system (ability of the camera to follow your subject around the frame) is extremely limited, not only by the small AF area, but also by the lack of a dedicating imaging or metering sensor to understand your subject to follow it, or even find faces. We did find it to work reasonably well, though, with single distant subjects well isolated in distance (without distracting objects nearby). 

On-sensor phase detection doesn't alter the behavior of live view autofocus for a number of Pentax lenses, which is a problem. Only the new 55-300mm PLM makes the best possible use of the system, but isn't even offered as a kit option, and is a limiting option with its 82.5mm equivalent minimum focal length.

Video

While the K-70 is the first Pentax to have the ability to continuously focus in live view, it's performance is as behind the times as the soft 1080p video's quality is. It hunts easily, even when subjects are at or near infinity, and doesn't give a very confidence-inspiring performance. Single AF is still the better way to ensure a video clip is sharp. When focus is taken care of, footage is incredibly steady at wider focal lengths, although the footage's quality is below par.

The Final Word

The K-70 is a very compelling option, especially for cash-strapped enthusiasts that are looking for a camera that they want to take complete control of and customize to their personal taste. For them, the Pentax is the obvious choice, as there's no penalty for buying a body on a budget in terms of features and controls, which isn't the case with other manufacturers.

I'm surprised any of these cars ever made it to the USA

For less experienced customers that are looking to let the camera 'do the math', the Pentax doesn't feel as refined as the competition. There are still parts of the K-70 that feel a bit crude, and lifted out of a parts bin, like the autofocus system, which users of this level will most likely be depending on constantly. Plus, without the 55-300 PLM, the Pentax is not nearly as nice of a camera to use as it is with this lens mounted.

The 55-300 PLM is the best companion to the K-70, making a great travel combination.

In fact, the need for a specific lens to unlock all of the K-70's features, and then to not have this lens as a kit option at all, is a disappointment that is potentially misleading to any K-70 customers.

However, for beginning landscape photographers or those not constantly covering fast action, the K-70 (sans kit lens) offers exactly what they need: good controls, weather resistance, and a high quality sensor. Those alone make it a standout option in its class, and a worthy recipient of our Silver Award.

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

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360 photos and video can be very useful for certain applications (as well as having fun). The Vuze+ is an affordable 360 camera that supports both 2D and 3D (stereo vision) capture, and might be the best option for someone wanting to experiment with the 360 format.

The Mikme Pocket is a portable wireless mic with particular appeal to smartphone users looking to up their game and improve the quality of recorded audio without the cost or complexity or traditional equipment.

The EOS M6 Mark II renews Canon's commitment to making small, enthusiast-friendly APS-C mirrorless cameras. With 4K video, 30 fps Raw bursts and additional controls, it's a big step forward from its predecessor. And perhaps more interesting than the EOS 90D.

The S1H is a full frame mirrorless camera designed with videographers in mind and includes advanced features like 6K video capture, 4:2:2 10-bit internal recording, improved video scopes, high frame rate recording, Panasonic Varicam color science and more.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII is the most capable pocket camera currently on the market thanks to a combo of good image quality, smooth stabilized 4K and an industry-leading autofocus implementation. For these reasons it receives our gold award.

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There is plenty to like about the body: a good beefy grip (for all that weight), weather sealing, and twin dials. The rear screen serves as the camera's main information display, but a lack of an eye sensor means the screen remains on until the shutter button is half pressed. Switching the screen off isn't a terribly difficult affair, although figuring out how isn't very obvious (TWO presses of the 'INFO' button brings up the rear screen options).

In order for the display to remain off every time the camera is switched on, it needs to be specified in the camera's 'Memory' menu, where the specific settings of the following functions can be saved:

Sensitivity Drive Mode Skin Tone Shooting Info Display
EV Compensation White Balance Digital Filter Playback Info Display
Flash Mode Custom Image HDR Capture Outdoor View Setting
Flash Exposure Compensation Clarity Pixel Shift Resolution Night Vision LCD Display

This is just one example of how extensively customizable the Pentax is. What this series of settings allows one to do is specify exactly how the camera is set up every time they turn it on, and what settings they want to have the camera keep if they switch a setting and then turn the camera off. For example, checking the memory option for the rear screen means it will maintain whatever status it was left on last time the camera was on. It takes a minute to find and learn, but in the end adds to what makes the Pentax such a customizable camera.

Much is shared between the K-70 (left) and the K-S2 (right)

A lot of the K-70 seems to be borrowed and tweaked from the K-S2. While the bright blue LED lighting up the center button from the K-S2 has been removed (thank goodness), the silly LED ring around the power switch signaling the camera is on remains.

If you asked me for my opinion, no, it doesn't look nice. No, it isn't very helpful. No, the switching color between stills and video isn't 'cool', it's cheap, tacky, and detracts from the utilitarian essence that makes a Pentax a Pentax. If any LEDs should be making the jump from Pentax model to Pentax model, it should be the handy LEDs from the K-1 that illuminate crucial parts of the camera for working in the dark, not decorations.

Also, instead of video mode being the second click of the power switch, I prefer the aperture preview being what is toggled, like the 645Z or K-3. I'm a chronic power-offer (to save battery) who sometimes forgets whether or not the camera is on, off, or asleep. More often than not, I will instinctively hit the power switch to turn the camera on as I lift it to my eye, only, in this case, to have the mirror flip up and black out the viewfinder as the camera switches to video mode. I think it's a reflex I built up from using other cameras for many years, and may not be a concern at all for first time buyers, only those either adding a K-70 as a backup complement to a K-3, or switching from other brands.

A look at the right side shows there are some external differences between the K-70 (left) and the K-S2 (right)

Thankfully, there are some key improvements on the K-70 besides the removal of just one chintzy LED from the K-S2. The biggest change and improvement is the grip. It has increased in depth and girth, making it one of the most comfortable in its class, even with the camera's extra weight.

Their willingness to increase the size of this area does raise questions as to why they didn't go ahead and fit a larger battery inside to further differentiate from the K-S2, but we will take a better grip over no changes at all.

The battery is Pentax's D-LI 109, shared with the K-S2, and is CIPA rated at 410 shots per charge, which is the lowest in its class.

Auto ISO

The K-70's Auto ISO implementation is pretty good, allowing the user to specify maximum ISO and a rate (Slow, Standard or Fast) that chooses a shutter speed threshold based on the currently selected focal length. Unfortunately, you can't set a specific shutter speed.

Pentax was the first company to recognize the idea of manually specifying aperture and shutter speed, then letting the camera adjust ISO to make up the difference. TAv mode (Shutter and Aperture Priority mode) is a full exposure mode with no unexpected restrictions. And, for the pedants among us, side-steps the semantic contradiction of the camera controlling something in a nominally 'manual' exposure mode.

Control Dial Customization

When it comes the control dials, the K-70 has clear advantage over its rivals just with the existence of two instead of the compromise of one. It gets even better, as the two dials can be set up in a plethora of configurations. You want ISO on your front dial and shutter speed on the rear? Sure! Both dials off? Why not! Here's a look at all the options available, plus the function of the useful 'green button' in the 'E-Dial Programming' menu with their respective modes:

Mode Front Dial Rear Dial P (Program AE) Sv (Sensitivity Priority AE) Tv (Shutter Priority AE) Av (Aperture Priority AE) TAv (Shutter & Aperture Priority AE) Manual
Tv Av
Av Tv
+/- Program Shift
Program Shift +/-
ISO
ISO
Program Shift ISO
ISO Program Shift
+/- ISO
ISO +/-
Tv
Tv
Tv +/-
+/- Tv
Tv ISO
ISO Tv
Av
Av
+/- Av
Av +/-
ISO Av
Av ISO
Tv Av
Av Tv
Tv Av
Av Tv

Green Button

If that wasn't enough customization for you, the direction of the dials rotation can also be changed. The signature 'Green Button' is a key player in the camera's set up and, once understood, is a handy feature. In many cases it is a quick 'reset button', snapping all exposure settings back to what the camera has determined is a proper exposure. Alternatively, in other modes it can be set to jump from your manually set ISO to the value that the Auto ISO system would select.

Compared to the D5500 and Rebel T6i, the Pentax is in a class above when it comes to personal configuration. Along with the ways to customize the various modes, there are also 3 custom mode presets on the mode dial that can be saved with features like HDR and PixelShift switched on. It seems then, while other camera manufacturers try to find ways to have their enthusiast-level users work with less, the K-70 offers users more.

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When it comes to value for money, few are as tempting as a Pentax. There is a cornucopia of features found within these cameras, many of which are made possible by the stabilized sensor.

Pixel Shift

One of the major and most impressive features, especially when looking at our studio scene, is the Pixel Shift Resolution mode. When mounted on a tripod, the camera is able to use the stabilization mechanism to move the sensor four times, each by one pixel. This allows each pixel location to get an exposure with each color in the Bayer array, eliminating the need to interpolate data from different colored pixel locations.

As well as boosting color resolution, the effect of sampling each location four times also has the effect of reducing noise.

Pixel Shift Resolution OFF Pixel Shift Resolution ON

We've found performance of this mode to be vastly similar to the K-1, save for the differences in the sensors resolution. For more information on the Pentax Pixel Shift Resolution mode in general, see our report on it here. 

Image Stabilization

Being one of the only DSLR bodies with sensor based image stabilization enables all sorts of tricks that the K-70 can perform, but how well does the system work at producing sharp shots handheld? To find out, we took a series of shots with at equivalents to 50mm and 200mm with SR on and off.

50mm SR On 50mm SR Off 200mm SR On 200mm SR Off

 As shown above, the SR system works incredibly well, even producing some usable shots at 0.5 seconds at a 50mm equivalent field of view. The system is claimed to provide up to 4.5 stops of stabilization. Looking at our charts above, we can see the pattern in sharpness fall off is shifted back a little over four stops for 50mm, and a little over 3 stops for 200mm, which is a very impressive performance.

The greatest advantage to a system like this is every lens mounted on the camera is stabilized. The main disadvantage to such a system is the lack of stabilization through the viewfinder. With stabilized lenses, the optical stabilization steadies the frame and assists the photographer in framing a subject. With this system the image in the viewfinder is not steadied at all, which isn't the case with mirrorless rivals, or DSLR's equipped with an image stabilized lens. With the Pentax, handheld telephoto shooting is possible and assisted by the SR system, but can be more challenging handheld without the viewfinder-steadying assistance of optical IS.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi on the K-70 offers up a simple, yet effective way of transferring images or controlling the camera remotely with a smartphone. Turning on Wi-Fi is as simple as holding down the assigned button while reviewing images. The camera will beep (unless muted, which you can individually customize!) and display a Wi-Fi icon on the top of the screen when it is switched on. Then it is simply a matter of communicating with the camera via Ricoh's Image Sync app, which allows you to browse files on the camera and select which to transfer, or control the camera in live view through the app. It is one of the easier apps to initially set up, and the transfers happen quickly without fuss. However, with iOS, the images don't really seem to appear anywhere on the phone, regardless of whether one uses JPEG or DNG files. Hopefully this gets worked out, because the ability to use Wi-Fi to transfer Raw files to ones phone to then process in apps like Lightroom Mobile seems like the way of the future...

Night Vision

 The K-70 also includes 'Night Vision Display', a handy new feature for astrophotographers. It shifts the menu and live view displays to a low-contrast red illumination, reminiscent of a Nintendo Virtual Boy, that is much easier on the eyes when working in the dark. 

AF Fine Adjustment

One of our biggest complaints with the Rebel T6i was the inability to adjust the autofocus when a lens isn't producing perfectly sharp images. Thankfully, the ability to adjust autofocus is standard across the current Pentax range. DSLRs assess focus using a secondary sensor, so AF fine tune is often necessary to compensate for slight differences between this AF module and the camera's main imaging sensor in terms of alignment and the way they see through the lens.

The AF Fine Adjustment gives the photographer the ability to apply an adjustment value to either one or all lenses mounted to the K-70. Setting is done on a scale from -10 (focus shifted towards infinity) to +10 (focus shifted towards MFD). It'd be great if there was a 'check' button, much like what can be performed when setting up the 'Custom Image' settings, to make adjustment quicker (this function allows you to quickly take a shot with the dialed in setting), but otherwise the system works much like any other autofocus adjustment system; like a band-aid over a battle wound.

The problem with all systems, not just Pentax, is the use of one value for all AF points and all zoom levels. Focus results can change from point to point and at different focal lengths and subject distances, meaning that adjusting everything to just the center point at one zoom value may cause some shots to end up even more out of focus than if adjustment was off.

The best move forward we've seen with autofocus adjustment in DSLRs is the ability to do it automatically on higher end Nikons, but other than that no one has pushed the ability to microadjust forward. Thankfully, if a K-70 user does find themselves with a telephoto or fast lens that is producing soft results, there is at least an option to help the lens perform better. In many cases, that's better than nothing.

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Our latest test scene simulates both daylight and low-light shooting. Pressing the 'lighting' buttons at the top of the widget switches between the two. The daylight scene is manually white balanced to give neutral grays, but the camera is left in its Auto setting for the low-light tests. Raw files are manually corrected. We offer three different viewing sizes: 'Full', 'Print', and 'Comp', with the latter two offering 'normalized' comparisons by using matched viewing sizes. The 'Comp' option chooses the largest-available resolution common to the cameras being compared.

The K-70 houses a very good 24-megapixel sensor that in some ways is let down by its JPEG engine. More specifically, it is let down by the default settings (which are used in this test, and by many users), particularly in terms of sharpening. Thankfully, there are better sharpening options available.* A glance at the scene's text shows the Pentax looking out of focus compared to the D5500. A quick glance at Raw shows this isn't the case. In fact, Raw files from the Pentax show plenty of detail and aliasing where one would expect. In terms of resolution and reproduction, it is right on par with the Nikon (especially if they had the exact same lens). 

Behind these JPEG shortcomings, however, is a very good sensor. At the Canon's maximum ISO, the K-70 performs a full stop better. It bests the D5500 at ISO 25600, and even competes with higher tier cameras like the D7200 and a6300. However, at least part of this impressive performance may be a bit of in-camera noise reduction, with evidence of this showing in our ISO invariance test, as well as edge artifacts and visible dotting in high ISO images.

Colors, while pleasingly saturated, tend to run on the cooler side, especially compared to the very warm Nikon. Reds appear redder (less orange) because of this, but yellows and oranges aren't as pleasingly warm, and most images in our K-70 gallery appear rather cool. Greens are also more blue-shifted. Skintones are less saturated next to Nikon, and have less warmth compared to Canon. The Canon's slightly cooler rendition next to Nikon means the Pentax isn't too far off from the T6i - a good thing given the generally highly regarded Canon colors.

High ISO JPEGs are decent, but aren't class leading. Color and detail are well-preserved, although largely due to the very mild noise reduction. While the mild NR helps prevent the smoothing out of detail, it does a poor job removing chroma noise. That means large areas of solid color, like the background of our studio scene, show faint green and magenta blocking, which shows in the real-world as well. 

Raw Dynamic Range

In our exposure latitude test, where files are underexposed intentionally and then lifted back to a normal exposure in post-processing, performance of the K-70 is right on par with the D5500, to the point where it suggests the two probably use the same sensor. Either choice is well ahead of the T6i for those that need flexible Raw output.

ISO Invariance

This test allows us to see how much noise a camera adds at base ISO compared to an image where amplification is applied by increasing the ISO. As we can see in the test, there is a similar amount of noise in the ISO 3200 shot and the ISO 100 shot pushed to match the ISO 3200 shot. Both cameras show a bit more noise in the pushed shot, meaning they're not truly iso-invariant and there is a slight benefit to shooting at a higher ISO for a given scene. Still, it does mean it's possible to maintain your aperture and shutter speed values, lower the ISO and capture an image with more highlight information with very little noise cost. 

A close look at the Pentax reveals a slight blur to the noise pattern on the ISO 3200 shot, which suggest that the camera 'bakes' the Raw file with a bit of added noise reduction when ISO is increased.

*Sharpening is greatly improved when changed to 'Fine Sharpness' or 'Extra Sharpness', which makes us wonder why 'Fine Sharpness' isn't the factory default. This setting isn't in plain view (hint: you have to enter the 'Custom Image' menu, then hit 'Info' to enter the 'Parameter Adjustment' menu, then the rear dial toggles the different sharpness options).

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The autofocus system of the K-70 houses some fresh improvements. The camera gains the option of continuous AF in movie mode, using its on-sensor phase detection, but this is only unlocked when using specific lenses (it appears to be only DC lenses, or PLM lenses, no screw-drive or SDM lenses seem to work). It also promises improved viewfinder AF response, and the algorithm for focusing on moving subjects is claimed to have been improved.

The camera can automatically select an AF point, either from all 11 of its points or from a cross-shaped selection of 5 AF points. Beyond this, you can manually specify an AF point or use an 'Expanded Area' mode where you specify a point and the camera considers the neighboring points, then finally there's a Spot AF mode that locks the camera to the central point.

Telephoto viewfinder AF

Let's start with autofocus through the viewfinder with a distant subject:

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We've shot this test in Expanded Area mode, with the target started on the central point. This means the camera will try to track the subject if it moves within the nine cross-type AF points near the middle of the frame (i.e. the center point plus its eight immediate neighbours). This means the tracking can only venture a small distance from the center of the frame, meaning the photographer also has to work to keep this central region on their subject.

As you can see in the sequence above, tracking performance here was fairly good, though we expect this level of performance for a single subject well-isolated in depth (without any distracting objects at similar distances). There are a couple of missed frames though, indicating that sudden changes in acceleration can stump the camera.

Getting the best results meant experimenting with the camera's AF-Hold setting, which defines whether the camera should pause before refocusing in response to objects passing in front of the subject. Once dialed-in, distractions shouldn't cause the camera to suddenly jump to the foreground, nor should the camera jump to the background and stay there when the subject falls off the AF points, which occurred when we set AF-Hold to off.

It's important to note that this good AF performance was limited to just one lens: the 55-300mm PLM. When the same settings were applied to the kit 18-135mm lens, suddenly the camera had problems keeping up, apparently hindered by the slower autofocus motor. Performance was improved marginally by switching to the 70-200mm F2.8 for a couple rounds, but our best hit rate was with the 55-300mm PLM, which we now feel fairly comfortable saying is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, focusing lenses in the Pentax lineup, and it's nearly silent to boot.

Keeping track of AF Tracking

That isn't the whole story. The AF point indicators are very small and are only illuminated when focus is acquired. This can make it difficult to tell whether the camera is successfully tracking your subject, as you'll just see a brief flash of the AF point the camera confirms is in-focus. Rival systems tend to constantly indicate which AF point is being used (regardless of whether focus has been achieved), showing more clearly that the camera is following the correct subject.

Close-distance subject tracking

Although the K-70 performs well at longer distances, we wouldn't expect to see such good results at close range. For a start, the AF system is solely based on distance information, which puts it at a disadvantage compared with systems that use image information (either from the main imaging sensor or from the metering sensor) for the detailed subject recognition often needed at close range.

Secondly, we only achieved the camera's full performance with the PLM long zoom and no such option exists for testing on the wide end. This meant we were left with screw-drive primes and the slow 18-135 kit zoom, which can't be driven either quickly enough to offer state of the art continuous autofocus performance at close focus distances.

That aside, the improved tracking performance sits on top of good AF-S performance for the nine cross type points. The outer two, which aren't cross type, don't focus as accurately as the inner nine, and can appear to hunt from time to time.

While the Pentax is a class leader in many regards, AF is merely - at best - on par with some DSLRs, worse when used with the majority of slower-to-focus lenses, and behind the best of its mirrorless and DSLR peers.

AF in Live-View

The phase detection points don't change the live view autofocus behavior with many lenses. There's still a contrast-detect hunt, which is very noticeable and loud when performed with one of Pentax's screw-drive pancake primes. Speed and accuracy with most lenses isn't improved over the K-S2. However, mount the DA 55-300 F4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE out front, and things change greatly. AF-S acquisition speeds up. Since this is a hybrid system it by nature still does a hunt, but at a much quicker pace than any other Pentax lens we tried.

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While the K-70 doesn't offer cutting-edge video specification, it does offer features that should assist users in shooting video. The SR system provides very steady footage with wider fields of view, and built upon the new on-sensor phase detection system the K-70 gains continuous AF in video. And while the depth-awareness of the phase detection system should allow for decisive, wobble-free AF, this doesn't bear out in reality.

For entry level photographers looking to shoot video using single AF or manual focus with available focus peaking, the Pentax will not provide the highest quality footage available. Details are very poorly defined, even though we can see color aliasing in the text, meaning the shot was focused properly. Compared to the Canon EOS 80D, the other DSLR with on-sensor PDAF, we see how much sharper the Canon's 1080 output is. It doesn't, however, have in-body stabilization and costs a fair bit more. The question then is, how is the continuous autofocus in movie mode?

At the time of this review it is nowhere near as refined as the best DSLR live view autofocus camera: the 80D, or many other PDAF-equipped mirrorless cameras. It likes to hunt even when a single focus point is placed quite plainly on a static subject, seemingly confused by any motion that may occur from hand holding the camera. The clip above was all shot with 'Auto' AF area, where results were no better. Face detection isn't available in video mode at all. For those hoping for a competitor to the 80D, or even the 70D, Pentax isn't quite there yet. For those looking to shoot video in this price range, a mirrorless option like the Sony a6000 will do better at continuously focusing in video. It's a shame, because the in-body image stabilization (something the a6000 lacks) can make for some very steady footage.

There are some other problems with the Pentax's video features. There are plenty of features that should help photographers, like a flat picture profile, highlight warnings, and the ability to use the TAv exposure mode, but other video features have problems. Focus peaking disappears as soon as recording starts, making it only as effective for pre-focus. It's strange, because the available highlight warnings do not disappear when recording is started. The microphone jack is in the way of the flip-out screen, restricting its articulation when using an external microphone. 

These quirks combined with the low resolution 1080 footage and non-trustworthy continuous auto focus make the Pentax a disappointment to use in video mode, especially when the SR system could have enabled it to be great for handheld recording.

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Shaking up the market: Pentax K-70 Review

Our latest test scene simulates both daylight and low-light shooting. Pressing the 'lighting' buttons at the top of the widget switches between the two. The daylight scene is manually white balanced to give neutral grays, but the camera is left in its Auto setting for the low-light tests. Raw files are manually corrected. We offer three different viewing sizes: 'Full', 'Print', and 'Comp', with the latter two offering 'normalized' comparisons by using matched viewing sizes. The 'Comp' option chooses the largest-available resolution common to the cameras being compared.

The K-70 houses a very good 24-megapixel sensor that in some ways is let down by its JPEG engine. More specifically, it is let down by the default settings (which are used in this test, and by many users), particularly in terms of sharpening. Thankfully, there are better sharpening options available.* A glance at the scene's text shows the Pentax looking out of focus compared to the D5500. A quick glance at Raw shows this isn't the case. In fact, Raw files from the Pentax show plenty of detail and aliasing where one would expect. In terms of resolution and reproduction, it is right on par with the Nikon (especially if they had the exact same lens). 

Behind these JPEG shortcomings, however, is a very good sensor. At the Canon's maximum ISO, the K-70 performs a full stop better. It bests the D5500 at ISO 25600, and even competes with higher tier cameras like the D7200 and a6300. However, at least part of this impressive performance may be a bit of in-camera noise reduction, with evidence of this showing in our ISO invariance test, as well as edge artifacts and visible dotting in high ISO images.

Colors, while pleasingly saturated, tend to run on the cooler side, especially compared to the very warm Nikon. Reds appear redder (less orange) because of this, but yellows and oranges aren't as pleasingly warm, and most images in our K-70 gallery appear rather cool. Greens are also more blue-shifted. Skintones are less saturated next to Nikon, and have less warmth compared to Canon. The Canon's slightly cooler rendition next to Nikon means the Pentax isn't too far off from the T6i - a good thing given the generally highly regarded Canon colors.

High ISO JPEGs are decent, but aren't class leading. Color and detail are well-preserved, although largely due to the very mild noise reduction. While the mild NR helps prevent the smoothing out of detail, it does a poor job removing chroma noise. That means large areas of solid color, like the background of our studio scene, show faint green and magenta blocking, which shows in the real-world as well. 

Raw Dynamic Range

In our exposure latitude test, where files are underexposed intentionally and then lifted back to a normal exposure in post-processing, performance of the K-70 is right on par with the D5500, to the point where it suggests the two probably use the same sensor. Either choice is well ahead of the T6i for those that need flexible Raw output.

ISO Invariance

This test allows us to see how much noise a camera adds at base ISO compared to an image where amplification is applied by increasing the ISO. As we can see in the test, there is a similar amount of noise in the ISO 3200 shot and the ISO 100 shot pushed to match the ISO 3200 shot. Both cameras show a bit more noise in the pushed shot, meaning they're not truly iso-invariant and there is a slight benefit to shooting at a higher ISO for a given scene. Still, it does mean it's possible to maintain your aperture and shutter speed values, lower the ISO and capture an image with more highlight information with very little noise cost. 

A close look at the Pentax reveals a slight blur to the noise pattern on the ISO 3200 shot, which suggest that the camera 'bakes' the Raw file with a bit of added noise reduction when ISO is increased.

*Sharpening is greatly improved when changed to 'Fine Sharpness' or 'Extra Sharpness', which makes us wonder why 'Fine Sharpness' isn't the factory default. This setting isn't in plain view (hint: you have to enter the 'Custom Image' menu, then hit 'Info' to enter the 'Parameter Adjustment' menu, then the rear dial toggles the different sharpness options).

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360 photos and video can be very useful for certain applications (as well as having fun). The Vuze+ is an affordable 360 camera that supports both 2D and 3D (stereo vision) capture, and might be the best option for someone wanting to experiment with the 360 format.

The Mikme Pocket is a portable wireless mic with particular appeal to smartphone users looking to up their game and improve the quality of recorded audio without the cost or complexity or traditional equipment.

The EOS M6 Mark II renews Canon's commitment to making small, enthusiast-friendly APS-C mirrorless cameras. With 4K video, 30 fps Raw bursts and additional controls, it's a big step forward from its predecessor. And perhaps more interesting than the EOS 90D.

The S1H is a full frame mirrorless camera designed with videographers in mind and includes advanced features like 6K video capture, 4:2:2 10-bit internal recording, improved video scopes, high frame rate recording, Panasonic Varicam color science and more.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII is the most capable pocket camera currently on the market thanks to a combo of good image quality, smooth stabilized 4K and an industry-leading autofocus implementation. For these reasons it receives our gold award.

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There is plenty to like about the body: a good beefy grip (for all that weight), weather sealing, and twin dials. The rear screen serves as the camera's main information display, but a lack of an eye sensor means the screen remains on until the shutter button is half pressed. Switching the screen off isn't a terribly difficult affair, although figuring out how isn't very obvious (TWO presses of the 'INFO' button brings up the rear screen options).

In order for the display to remain off every time the camera is switched on, it needs to be specified in the camera's 'Memory' menu, where the specific settings of the following functions can be saved:

Sensitivity Drive Mode Skin Tone Shooting Info Display
EV Compensation White Balance Digital Filter Playback Info Display
Flash Mode Custom Image HDR Capture Outdoor View Setting
Flash Exposure Compensation Clarity Pixel Shift Resolution Night Vision LCD Display

This is just one example of how extensively customizable the Pentax is. What this series of settings allows one to do is specify exactly how the camera is set up every time they turn it on, and what settings they want to have the camera keep if they switch a setting and then turn the camera off. For example, checking the memory option for the rear screen means it will maintain whatever status it was left on last time the camera was on. It takes a minute to find and learn, but in the end adds to what makes the Pentax such a customizable camera.

Much is shared between the K-70 (left) and the K-S2 (right)

A lot of the K-70 seems to be borrowed and tweaked from the K-S2. While the bright blue LED lighting up the center button from the K-S2 has been removed (thank goodness), the silly LED ring around the power switch signaling the camera is on remains.

If you asked me for my opinion, no, it doesn't look nice. No, it isn't very helpful. No, the switching color between stills and video isn't 'cool', it's cheap, tacky, and detracts from the utilitarian essence that makes a Pentax a Pentax. If any LEDs should be making the jump from Pentax model to Pentax model, it should be the handy LEDs from the K-1 that illuminate crucial parts of the camera for working in the dark, not decorations.

Also, instead of video mode being the second click of the power switch, I prefer the aperture preview being what is toggled, like the 645Z or K-3. I'm a chronic power-offer (to save battery) who sometimes forgets whether or not the camera is on, off, or asleep. More often than not, I will instinctively hit the power switch to turn the camera on as I lift it to my eye, only, in this case, to have the mirror flip up and black out the viewfinder as the camera switches to video mode. I think it's a reflex I built up from using other cameras for many years, and may not be a concern at all for first time buyers, only those either adding a K-70 as a backup complement to a K-3, or switching from other brands.

A look at the right side shows there are some external differences between the K-70 (left) and the K-S2 (right)

Thankfully, there are some key improvements on the K-70 besides the removal of just one chintzy LED from the K-S2. The biggest change and improvement is the grip. It has increased in depth and girth, making it one of the most comfortable in its class, even with the camera's extra weight.

Their willingness to increase the size of this area does raise questions as to why they didn't go ahead and fit a larger battery inside to further differentiate from the K-S2, but we will take a better grip over no changes at all.

The battery is Pentax's D-LI 109, shared with the K-S2, and is CIPA rated at 410 shots per charge, which is the lowest in its class.

Auto ISO

The K-70's Auto ISO implementation is pretty good, allowing the user to specify maximum ISO and a rate (Slow, Standard or Fast) that chooses a shutter speed threshold based on the currently selected focal length. Unfortunately, you can't set a specific shutter speed.

Pentax was the first company to recognize the idea of manually specifying aperture and shutter speed, then letting the camera adjust ISO to make up the difference. TAv mode (Shutter and Aperture Priority mode) is a full exposure mode with no unexpected restrictions. And, for the pedants among us, side-steps the semantic contradiction of the camera controlling something in a nominally 'manual' exposure mode.

Control Dial Customization

When it comes the control dials, the K-70 has clear advantage over its rivals just with the existence of two instead of the compromise of one. It gets even better, as the two dials can be set up in a plethora of configurations. You want ISO on your front dial and shutter speed on the rear? Sure! Both dials off? Why not! Here's a look at all the options available, plus the function of the useful 'green button' in the 'E-Dial Programming' menu with their respective modes:

Mode Front Dial Rear Dial P (Program AE) Sv (Sensitivity Priority AE) Tv (Shutter Priority AE) Av (Aperture Priority AE) TAv (Shutter & Aperture Priority AE) Manual
Tv Av
Av Tv
+/- Program Shift
Program Shift +/-
ISO
ISO
Program Shift ISO
ISO Program Shift
+/- ISO
ISO +/-
Tv
Tv
Tv +/-
+/- Tv
Tv ISO
ISO Tv
Av
Av
+/- Av
Av +/-
ISO Av
Av ISO
Tv Av
Av Tv
Tv Av
Av Tv

Green Button

If that wasn't enough customization for you, the direction of the dials rotation can also be changed. The signature 'Green Button' is a key player in the camera's set up and, once understood, is a handy feature. In many cases it is a quick 'reset button', snapping all exposure settings back to what the camera has determined is a proper exposure. Alternatively, in other modes it can be set to jump from your manually set ISO to the value that the Auto ISO system would select.

Compared to the D5500 and Rebel T6i, the Pentax is in a class above when it comes to personal configuration. Along with the ways to customize the various modes, there are also 3 custom mode presets on the mode dial that can be saved with features like HDR and PixelShift switched on. It seems then, while other camera manufacturers try to find ways to have their enthusiast-level users work with less, the K-70 offers users more.

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When it comes to value for money, few are as tempting as a Pentax. There is a cornucopia of features found within these cameras, many of which are made possible by the stabilized sensor.

Pixel Shift

One of the major and most impressive features, especially when looking at our studio scene, is the Pixel Shift Resolution mode. When mounted on a tripod, the camera is able to use the stabilization mechanism to move the sensor four times, each by one pixel. This allows each pixel location to get an exposure with each color in the Bayer array, eliminating the need to interpolate data from different colored pixel locations.

As well as boosting color resolution, the effect of sampling each location four times also has the effect of reducing noise.

Pixel Shift Resolution OFF Pixel Shift Resolution ON

We've found performance of this mode to be vastly similar to the K-1, save for the differences in the sensors resolution. For more information on the Pentax Pixel Shift Resolution mode in general, see our report on it here. 

Image Stabilization

Being one of the only DSLR bodies with sensor based image stabilization enables all sorts of tricks that the K-70 can perform, but how well does the system work at producing sharp shots handheld? To find out, we took a series of shots with at equivalents to 50mm and 200mm with SR on and off.

50mm SR On 50mm SR Off 200mm SR On 200mm SR Off

 As shown above, the SR system works incredibly well, even producing some usable shots at 0.5 seconds at a 50mm equivalent field of view. The system is claimed to provide up to 4.5 stops of stabilization. Looking at our charts above, we can see the pattern in sharpness fall off is shifted back a little over four stops for 50mm, and a little over 3 stops for 200mm, which is a very impressive performance.

The greatest advantage to a system like this is every lens mounted on the camera is stabilized. The main disadvantage to such a system is the lack of stabilization through the viewfinder. With stabilized lenses, the optical stabilization steadies the frame and assists the photographer in framing a subject. With this system the image in the viewfinder is not steadied at all, which isn't the case with mirrorless rivals, or DSLR's equipped with an image stabilized lens. With the Pentax, handheld telephoto shooting is possible and assisted by the SR system, but can be more challenging handheld without the viewfinder-steadying assistance of optical IS.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi on the K-70 offers up a simple, yet effective way of transferring images or controlling the camera remotely with a smartphone. Turning on Wi-Fi is as simple as holding down the assigned button while reviewing images. The camera will beep (unless muted, which you can individually customize!) and display a Wi-Fi icon on the top of the screen when it is switched on. Then it is simply a matter of communicating with the camera via Ricoh's Image Sync app, which allows you to browse files on the camera and select which to transfer, or control the camera in live view through the app. It is one of the easier apps to initially set up, and the transfers happen quickly without fuss. However, with iOS, the images don't really seem to appear anywhere on the phone, regardless of whether one uses JPEG or DNG files. Hopefully this gets worked out, because the ability to use Wi-Fi to transfer Raw files to ones phone to then process in apps like Lightroom Mobile seems like the way of the future...

Night Vision

 The K-70 also includes 'Night Vision Display', a handy new feature for astrophotographers. It shifts the menu and live view displays to a low-contrast red illumination, reminiscent of a Nintendo Virtual Boy, that is much easier on the eyes when working in the dark. 

AF Fine Adjustment

One of our biggest complaints with the Rebel T6i was the inability to adjust the autofocus when a lens isn't producing perfectly sharp images. Thankfully, the ability to adjust autofocus is standard across the current Pentax range. DSLRs assess focus using a secondary sensor, so AF fine tune is often necessary to compensate for slight differences between this AF module and the camera's main imaging sensor in terms of alignment and the way they see through the lens.

The AF Fine Adjustment gives the photographer the ability to apply an adjustment value to either one or all lenses mounted to the K-70. Setting is done on a scale from -10 (focus shifted towards infinity) to +10 (focus shifted towards MFD). It'd be great if there was a 'check' button, much like what can be performed when setting up the 'Custom Image' settings, to make adjustment quicker (this function allows you to quickly take a shot with the dialed in setting), but otherwise the system works much like any other autofocus adjustment system; like a band-aid over a battle wound.

The problem with all systems, not just Pentax, is the use of one value for all AF points and all zoom levels. Focus results can change from point to point and at different focal lengths and subject distances, meaning that adjusting everything to just the center point at one zoom value may cause some shots to end up even more out of focus than if adjustment was off.

The best move forward we've seen with autofocus adjustment in DSLRs is the ability to do it automatically on higher end Nikons, but other than that no one has pushed the ability to microadjust forward. Thankfully, if a K-70 user does find themselves with a telephoto or fast lens that is producing soft results, there is at least an option to help the lens perform better. In many cases, that's better than nothing.

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The autofocus system of the K-70 houses some fresh improvements. The camera gains the option of continuous AF in movie mode, using its on-sensor phase detection, but this is only unlocked when using specific lenses (it appears to be only DC lenses, or PLM lenses, no screw-drive or SDM lenses seem to work). It also promises improved viewfinder AF response, and the algorithm for focusing on moving subjects is claimed to have been improved.

The camera can automatically select an AF point, either from all 11 of its points or from a cross-shaped selection of 5 AF points. Beyond this, you can manually specify an AF point or use an 'Expanded Area' mode where you specify a point and the camera considers the neighboring points, then finally there's a Spot AF mode that locks the camera to the central point.

Telephoto viewfinder AF

Let's start with autofocus through the viewfinder with a distant subject:

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We've shot this test in Expanded Area mode, with the target started on the central point. This means the camera will try to track the subject if it moves within the nine cross-type AF points near the middle of the frame (i.e. the center point plus its eight immediate neighbours). This means the tracking can only venture a small distance from the center of the frame, meaning the photographer also has to work to keep this central region on their subject.

As you can see in the sequence above, tracking performance here was fairly good, though we expect this level of performance for a single subject well-isolated in depth (without any distracting objects at similar distances). There are a couple of missed frames though, indicating that sudden changes in acceleration can stump the camera.

Getting the best results meant experimenting with the camera's AF-Hold setting, which defines whether the camera should pause before refocusing in response to objects passing in front of the subject. Once dialed-in, distractions shouldn't cause the camera to suddenly jump to the foreground, nor should the camera jump to the background and stay there when the subject falls off the AF points, which occurred when we set AF-Hold to off.

It's important to note that this good AF performance was limited to just one lens: the 55-300mm PLM. When the same settings were applied to the kit 18-135mm lens, suddenly the camera had problems keeping up, apparently hindered by the slower autofocus motor. Performance was improved marginally by switching to the 70-200mm F2.8 for a couple rounds, but our best hit rate was with the 55-300mm PLM, which we now feel fairly comfortable saying is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, focusing lenses in the Pentax lineup, and it's nearly silent to boot.

Keeping track of AF Tracking

That isn't the whole story. The AF point indicators are very small and are only illuminated when focus is acquired. This can make it difficult to tell whether the camera is successfully tracking your subject, as you'll just see a brief flash of the AF point the camera confirms is in-focus. Rival systems tend to constantly indicate which AF point is being used (regardless of whether focus has been achieved), showing more clearly that the camera is following the correct subject.

Close-distance subject tracking

Although the K-70 performs well at longer distances, we wouldn't expect to see such good results at close range. For a start, the AF system is solely based on distance information, which puts it at a disadvantage compared with systems that use image information (either from the main imaging sensor or from the metering sensor) for the detailed subject recognition often needed at close range.

Secondly, we only achieved the camera's full performance with the PLM long zoom and no such option exists for testing on the wide end. This meant we were left with screw-drive primes and the slow 18-135 kit zoom, which can't be driven either quickly enough to offer state of the art continuous autofocus performance at close focus distances.

That aside, the improved tracking performance sits on top of good AF-S performance for the nine cross type points. The outer two, which aren't cross type, don't focus as accurately as the inner nine, and can appear to hunt from time to time.

While the Pentax is a class leader in many regards, AF is merely - at best - on par with some DSLRs, worse when used with the majority of slower-to-focus lenses, and behind the best of its mirrorless and DSLR peers.

AF in Live-View

The phase detection points don't change the live view autofocus behavior with many lenses. There's still a contrast-detect hunt, which is very noticeable and loud when performed with one of Pentax's screw-drive pancake primes. Speed and accuracy with most lenses isn't improved over the K-S2. However, mount the DA 55-300 F4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE out front, and things change greatly. AF-S acquisition speeds up. Since this is a hybrid system it by nature still does a hunt, but at a much quicker pace than any other Pentax lens we tried.

Page 6

While the K-70 doesn't offer cutting-edge video specification, it does offer features that should assist users in shooting video. The SR system provides very steady footage with wider fields of view, and built upon the new on-sensor phase detection system the K-70 gains continuous AF in video. And while the depth-awareness of the phase detection system should allow for decisive, wobble-free AF, this doesn't bear out in reality.

For entry level photographers looking to shoot video using single AF or manual focus with available focus peaking, the Pentax will not provide the highest quality footage available. Details are very poorly defined, even though we can see color aliasing in the text, meaning the shot was focused properly. Compared to the Canon EOS 80D, the other DSLR with on-sensor PDAF, we see how much sharper the Canon's 1080 output is. It doesn't, however, have in-body stabilization and costs a fair bit more. The question then is, how is the continuous autofocus in movie mode?

At the time of this review it is nowhere near as refined as the best DSLR live view autofocus camera: the 80D, or many other PDAF-equipped mirrorless cameras. It likes to hunt even when a single focus point is placed quite plainly on a static subject, seemingly confused by any motion that may occur from hand holding the camera. The clip above was all shot with 'Auto' AF area, where results were no better. Face detection isn't available in video mode at all. For those hoping for a competitor to the 80D, or even the 70D, Pentax isn't quite there yet. For those looking to shoot video in this price range, a mirrorless option like the Sony a6000 will do better at continuously focusing in video. It's a shame, because the in-body image stabilization (something the a6000 lacks) can make for some very steady footage.

There are some other problems with the Pentax's video features. There are plenty of features that should help photographers, like a flat picture profile, highlight warnings, and the ability to use the TAv exposure mode, but other video features have problems. Focus peaking disappears as soon as recording starts, making it only as effective for pre-focus. It's strange, because the available highlight warnings do not disappear when recording is started. The microphone jack is in the way of the flip-out screen, restricting its articulation when using an external microphone. 

These quirks combined with the low resolution 1080 footage and non-trustworthy continuous auto focus make the Pentax a disappointment to use in video mode, especially when the SR system could have enabled it to be great for handheld recording.

www.dpreview.com

Pentax K-70: Digital Photography Review

Price MSRP Body type Body type Sensor Max resolution Other resolutions Image ratio w:h Effective pixels Sensor photo detectors Sensor size Sensor type Processor Image ISO White balance presets Custom white balance Image stabilization Image stabilization notes Uncompressed format JPEG quality levels Optics & Focus Autofocus Manual focus Number of focus points Lens mount Focal length multiplier Screen / viewfinder Articulated LCD Screen size Screen dots Touch screen Screen type Live view Viewfinder type Viewfinder coverage Viewfinder magnification Photography features Minimum shutter speed Maximum shutter speed Aperture priority Shutter priority Manual exposure mode Subject / scene modes Built-in flash Flash range External flash Flash modes Continuous drive Self-timer Metering modes Exposure compensation AE Bracketing Videography features Resolutions Format Microphone Speaker Storage Storage types Connectivity USB HDMI Microphone port Headphone port Wireless Wireless notes Remote control Physical Environmentally sealed Battery Battery description Battery Life (CIPA) Weight (inc. batteries) Dimensions Other features Orientation sensor Timelapse recording GPS GPS notes
$649/£559 (body only), £799 (w/18-135mm lens)
Compact SLR
6000 x 4000
4608 x 3072, 3072 x 2048, 1920 x 1280
3:2
24 megapixels
25 megapixels
APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm)
CMOS
PRIME MII
Auto, 100-102400
8
Yes (3 slots)
Sensor-shift
4.5 stop correction
RAW
Best, better, good
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Yes
11
Pentax KAF2
1.5×
Fully articulated
3″
921,000
No
TFT LCD
Yes
Optical (pentaprism)
100%
0.95× (0.63× 35mm equiv.)
30 sec
1/6000 sec
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
12.00 m (at ISO 100)
Yes
Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, flash on, flash + redeye reduction, slow sync, trailing curtain sync, manual
6.0 fps
Yes (2 or 12 secs, continuous)
±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
±5 (2, 3, 5 frames )
1920 x 1080 (60i, 50i, 30p, 25p, 24p), 1280 x 720 (60p, 50p)
MPEG-4, H.264
Stereo
Mono
SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I compatible)
USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
Yes (mini-HDMI)
Yes
No
Built-In
802.11b/g/n
Yes (wired or wireless)
Yes
Battery Pack
D-LI109 lithium-ion battery & charger
410
688 g (1.52 lb / 24.27 oz)
126 x 93 x 74 mm (4.94 x 3.66 x 2.91″)
Yes
Yes
Optional
O-GPS1

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