In terms of picture quality the S5z is a solid performer, although it does have a few minor problems. Exposure, focusing and colour reproduction are first-rate, and noise control is especially good. As with the S5n there is no visible noise at 80 or 100 ISO, and only a little at 200 ISO. Some noise is creeping into the shadows at 400 ISO, but images are still completely useable.
The only real problems are associated with Pentax’s versatile but now aging Sliding Lens System. Lens distortion has been an issue for this lens from the beginning, and it rears its ugly head here too. On many shots there is slight but noticeable blurring towards the corners of the frame, most obviously on wide-angle and macro shots. It’s not a major problem, but does mar the performance of an otherwise excellent camera.
It’s debateable whether the addition of a 2.5in monitor to an already perfectly good camera really contributes anything useful, but Pentax apparently thinks so. The range of interesting features on offer is impressive, while the easy-to-use controls, attractive compact style and superb build quality make this a very good general snapshot camera. Despite some lens distortion image quality is good, and the S5z represents excellent value for money.
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