Pentax K-S2 Review - Features, Image Quality, Video and Verdict Review

Sections

Pentax K-S2 – Features

The Pentax K-S2 has a solid array of accompanying features that are in contrast to the lightweight extras we saw in the K-S1. On the predictable side, there’s Wi-Fi and NFC. These will enable you to hook up the KS-2  to a mobile device easily – especially if it, too, is NFC-enabled.

You can then transfer images and control the shutter remotely using the Pentax app. So far, so standard.

Pentax K-S2 15

A little more interesting is the fact that the Pentax K-S2 also includes in-body optical image stabilisation. This can be used with any Pentax-compatible lens, such as the (now) nicely priced £100 50mm f/1.8 prime. The K-S1 has a similar in-body OIS system, too, and it gets you the equivalent of 3.5 stops of stabilisation.

The system doesn’t only function as a stabiliser either. The OIS motors are also used to emulate an AA filter, something the Pentax K-S2 is lacking.

Having an AA filter effect that can be switched on and off is handy. It offers a “best of both worlds” scenario at a time when leaving out the filter has become trendy, even though it does have a purpose. An AA filter helps to weed out the ugly moire noise often seen in tight-knit patterns, but also causes a slight softening of the image to reduce fine detail capture.

Pentax K-S2 11

Pentax K-S2 – Performance and AF

The KS-2 adopts smart design in many areas, but with its AF system the KS-2 lags behind the competition.

The Pentax K-S2 has 11 AF points, nine of which are cross-type, meaning they work across two axes and are therefore more accurate/faster. These nine stronger points sit in a 3 x 3 grid towards the centre of the frame, with one extra AF point on either side adding up to the total 11.

Pentax K-S2 5
Compared to the 39-point Nikon D5500, it doesn’t seem too advanced, does it? However, actual focusing performance when you’re simply shooting slow-moving or still subjects is fast and accurate.

When using Live View – using the screen rather than the viewfinder – or video capture, the Pentax K-S2 switches to a pure contrast-detection system that’s naturally slower, and gets slower still as the light dims. But its performance is fairly good for contrast-based AF. There’s no significant shot-to-shot delay either, making the camera pretty fun to use.

Pentax K-S2 – Image Quality

Does the K-S2 take good photos, however? Of course it does; the Pentax K-S2 has a 20-megapixel APS-C sensor. While it loses a few megapixels compared to the 24-megapixel Nikon D5500 and Canon 750D, when we’re dealing with an APS-C size sensor, the difference is arguably quite easy to overstate. Your buying decision shouldn’t hing on this alone.

We found that the Pentax K-S2 captures very good detail at base ISO, no doubt helped by its lack of a full AA/OLP filter. It holds onto that detail pretty well as you rise up the ISO range too, competing well with its rivals. For noise and detail, this is one of the stronger DSLRs at the price.

Up to ISO 1600 the Pentax K-S2 is virtually noise-free, giving you plenty of scope to deal with less-than-perfect lighting without any obvious compromise. You can certainly push the sensor further, though.

Pentax K-S2 3

The Pentax K-S2 ISO range goes from 100-51200, well beyond that ISO 1600 ultra-comfort zone. Luminance noise becomes more obvious at ISO 3200. However, we found photos to be of usable quality up to ISO 12800, with only the top 25600 and 51200 ISOs best left alone.

Factor in that you get OIS with any compatible lens and the Pentax K-S2 starts to look very attractive indeed. The company may not have the clout of Canon or Nikon, but this camera deserves to win Pentax a few new fans.

Shooting in RAW is necessary to get the best results, though. Although colour can skew a little cool at times, and the JPEG processing can be a little aggressive, JPEG image quality is still very good. RAW quality is flat-out great. Here are some samples shot with the K-S2:

Pentax K-S2 17Pentax K-S2

Pentax K-S2 – Video

For stills, the Pentax K-S2 is a great alternative to the Nikon D5500 and Canon 750D. However, for video it isn’t so hot. It only shoots at up to 1080p, 30 frames per second as opposed to 60 frames at 1080p. This certainly makes video feel like a bit of an afterthought in this camera.

Pentax K-S2 7

Should I buy the Pentax K-S2?

The Pentax K-S2 is a great affordable DSLR for those who primarily want to shoot stills and are willing to deal with the few areas where it falls behind the Nikon and Canon rivals. There are more advanced AF systems available at the price and the kit lens has some issues, but what you get for the price is impressive.

A weather-sealed camera at this price isn’t to be sniffed at, and the OIS will be a great feature for those who want to get involved with older Pentax lenses.

If video is a priority, however, you should probably steer clear. 


SEE ALSO: Best Cameras

Verdict

The Pentax KS-2 is a top contender if you’re after an affordable DSLR for shooting stills.

Score


Score in detail

  • Value 8
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Image Quality 9
  • Build Quality 8
  • Performance 8