Because of the big screen, the control layout on the rear panel is rather cramped compared to the elegant design of the S5n. The D-pad menu navigation control is very small and a somewhat fiddly to operate, as is the small rocker switch controlling the zoom lens. Nonetheless the controls are solidly mounted and operate with a nice positive click when pressed, so the camera is actually not unpleasant to use.
There isn’t much room for your thumb, but what room there is has a textured rubber grip and a small ridge, so holding the camera is quite comfortable, even for those with large hands. Build quality is as good as ever, with a strong all-metal case and a secure sprung hatch for the battery and memory card. The battery has a separate catch, so it won’t fall out while you’re changing the memory card.
The monitor screen itself is certainly big, and looks bigger thanks to the relative size of the camera, but at 110,000 pixels it’s not especially high resolution. This is the same pixel count as the 2in screen on the S5n, so there doesn’t seem to be much advantage to the bigger screen. It could also do with some sort of automatic brightness control, because it is difficult to see in bright sunlight without increasing the screen brightness in the menu.
Other than the minor differences already listed, the specification of the S5z is identical to that of the S5n. It has the same comprehensive and easy to use menu system, and the same green button. This is a common feature on Pentax compacts, and can be programmed with one of three functions; an easy “auto everything” shooting mode, a quick start for initialising the recording mode, or the more useful Function setting, which assigns a selection of frequently used menu options as secondary functions on the D-pad, including recorded pixels, image quality, white balance, AF area, metering mode, exposure compensation, and adjustable sharpness, saturation and contrast. This allows the user to customise the controls of the camera, and gives it a welcome versatility not often found in budget compact cameras.
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