Features & Controls

The K-50 is equipped with a 16.3-megapixel APS-C sized CMOS sensor, which features both sensor-shift image stabilization and dust-reduction systems. Because image stabilization is built into the camera body, it is operational regardless of which Pentax lens you mount. The company touts that the mount is compatible with over 25 million Pentax lenses.

The APS-C sensor (23.7 x 15.7 mm) captures a color depth of 8 bits per channel on JPEG files, and 12 bits per channel on RAW files.

Image resolution options:
  • RAW (4928x3264)
  • 16M (4928x3264)
  • 12M (4224x2816)
  • 8M (3456x2304)
  • 5M (2688x1792)

Pentax doesn't include a flash range in its specification for the built-in flash, which springs upward when you press its dedicated release button. Of course, there is a hot shoe for attaching an external flash, but the built-in flash does a pretty good job for its size.

The manual includes a guide for calculating the minimum and maximum flash distances, dependent upon the ISO and aperture settings. In general, I found that at wide angle the flash filled a small room adequately and illumination dropped off somewhere between 12 and 15 feet. At wide angle, a subject 15 feet away came out poorly lit. But zooming in on the subject produced a well-lit photo.

Built-in Flash Specifications:
  • Type: Retractable P-TTL pop-up flash
  • Guide number: 12m (ISO 100)
  • Coverage: 28mm wide angle equivalent
  • Flash modes: P-TTL, Red-eye Reduction, Slow-speed Sync, Trailing Curtain Sync
  • Flash exposure compensation: -2 to +1 EV (1/3 steps)

Flash mode menu:

  • Flash on
  • Flash on + red-eye reduction
  • Slow-speed sync
  • Slow-speed sync + red-eye reduction
  • Trailing curtain sync
  • Wireless mode

Flash compensation:

  • -2 to +1 in 0.3 increments

The company website lists six external flashes you can mount on the camera's hotshoe, including a macro ring flash.

External flash hotshoe specifications:
  • Type: Hotshoe (P-TTL), high speed sync and wireless with PENTAX dedicated flash
  • Synchronization speed: 1/180 sec

The side of the camera body has a dedicated RAW/Fx button and focus mode switch. You can customize this button to switch between JPEG, RAW and RAW+ formats, dependent upon the currently selected format, and to cancel the change after one shot.

The focus mode switch lets you select AF.S (single), C (continuous), or MF (manual). AF.S shoots in focus-priority mode by default, which means the shutter will not trip until the subject is in focus. Or, you can change this in the custom settings menu to release-priority so the shutter will trip even if the subject is not yet in focus. Similarly, you can set continuous AF to focus-priority or FPS-priority, which gives the shooting speed top billing.

Focus System:
  • Type: SAFOX IXi+ TTL phase-detection 11 point (9 cross) wide auto focus system with light wavelength sensor and diffraction lens
  • Sensitivity range: EV -1 to 18 (ISO 100)
  • Focus modes: AF.A (auto), AF.S (single, with focus lock, focus/shutter priority selectable), AF.C (continuous, with focus/FPS priority selectable), Manual
  • Focus point adjustment: Auto 11 pt., Auto 5 pt., user-selectable (with expanded area AF), center
  • AF assist: Yes, via dedicated LED AF assist lamp
  • Focus peaking: Yes (n/a during active video recording)

The K-50 has a deep, comfortable hand grip and two very well placed dials. The one in front of the shutter button and on/off switch falls conveniently under the index finger, while a second one on the back panel falls conveniently under the thumb. The function of the two dials is highly customizable.

The exposure compensation button just behind the shutter button puts you in the corresponding menu. You simply turn the rear thumb dial, adjust up or down 5 EV steps in 1/3 increments. If you are framing your shot on the LCD using Live View, this menu is overlaid on your preview image.

The green button, on the other hand, works simply as a cancel button. You press it to return the camera settings you have been adjusting to their original state.

Mode Dial Positions (clockwise):
  • Auto
  • Movie
  • Program
  • Sensitivity-priority mode (Sv): Select the ISO; exposure is automatic
  • Shutter-priority mode (Tv)
  • Aperture-priority mode (Av)
  • Shutter- and aperture-priority (TAv): ISO is set automatically, with the camera using the selected shutter and aperture settings
  • Manual
  • Bulb exposure: For slow shutter speeds
  • User 2
  • User 1
  • SCN: Select from 19 scene modes

    The thumb dial at the top of the back panel works in concert with the dial on the front of the hand grip for making quick changes to settings of your choosing (programmable in the custom settings menu).

    The AF/AE-L button serves one of four functions, which you select in the menus under button customization.

    AF/AE-L button operations menu:
    • Enable AF1: Performs auto focus, in addition to shutter release button
    • Enable AF2: Auto focus only occurs with AF/AE-L button, not with shutter release button
    • Cancel AF: Holding down the AF/AE-L button cancels auto focus, even if the shutter release button is pressed.
    • AE Lock: Button locks exposure and an asterisk appears on the LCD

    The four-way control positions and nearby playback button present no surprises. As you can see, the four positions correspond (from top, clockwise) to ISO setting, drive mode, white balance and flash mode.

    Below the four-way control, the Info button offers quick access to 15 commonly adjusted camera settings, and the Menu button takes you to the full gamut of shooting settings, playback options, and customizable parameters.

    You launch Live View by pressing the button that sits to the left of the optical viewfinder. In playback mode, it doubles as the trash button.

    Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.