Ricoh/Pentax introduced its new K-S2 relatively quickly after the K-S1 came out. However, despite the similarities in name, it’s not a replacement for the K-S1 – instead, it sits slightly above it in Pentax’s range. Internally, it shares a lot of the K-S1’s specifications, but much of the camera’s physical design and usability have been reworked.
You won’t find the KS-1’s flashing lights adorning the front of the camera, but that’s not the only thing that will please enthusiast photographers. The fact is that behind all the gimmicks and flashy lights, the K-S1 was actually a decent camera, so it’s great to the K-S2 using a lot of the same technology in a much more serious camera. Pentax claims that the K-S2 is the world’s smallest and lightest weatherproof camera, which should make it capable of resisting the odd rain shower or two – particularly useful for landscape and street photographers.
Pentax K-S2 Specification
- 20MP – APS-C CMOS Sensor
- No Optical low-pass (anti-aliasing) filter
- ISO 100 – 51200
- Sensor-shift Image Stabilization
- 3″ Fully Articulated Screen
- Optical (pentaprism) viewfinder
- 5.4 fps continuous shooting
- Full HD – 1920 x 1080 vide
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Pentax K-S2: Price
Pentax K-S2: Build Quality and Handling
It’s the smallest weatherproof DSLR on the market, and the K-S2 has a diminutive size which makes it feel almost more akin to some of the larger compact system cameras in the marketplace. Furthermore, the kit lens and some other lenses which you can buy for the system are also pretty small, making it a good choice if you’re concerned about weight and dimension.
You need to hold down a small button on the side of the retracting kit lens to extend it before you can take your first shot. This can add a couple of seconds to shooting time, so if you are planning on taking a few shots, it’s best to leave it extended. To zoom in and out, you rotate a little ring on the front of the lens – it takes a bit of time to get used to the positioning of this ring, especially as the focusing ring directly behind it is roughly the same size. At times, I found it quite frustrating, when compared to the much larger, easier to find zoom rings of other package lenses.
The K-S2 has quite a small grip when compared with other cameras of its kind. However, it still feels pretty comfortable in the hand, with a small indent allowing your middle finger to rest nicely. The two scrolling dials – one on the front of the grip, and the other on the rear – make changing the settings feel easy and natural.
Both of the dials control a different function, depending on which exposure mode you’re currently using. In manual publicity mode, leading dial alters shutter speed and the trunk dial alters aperture. If you’re working in shutter priority mode, only the front dial will work – and the opposite if you’re employed in aperture concern. The good news is that if you prefer to work in a different way, you can customise how each of the scrolling dials work in different exposure modes via the main menu.
The vast majority of the KS-2’s buttons are on the right hand side of the camera, which means it’s pretty quick to make changes with just one hand. There are however, some buttons on the left side, notably the Live View button. There are a couple more on the side of the camera, including the AF/MF switch. A customisable switch marked ‘Raw/FX’ allows you to choose from one of six different functions (when shooting).
One of the most useful controls on the camera is the green key on the top-plate, just behind the shutter release button. This restores certain settings (such as exposure compensation) back their defaults.
Wi-Fi and NFC
There’s also a button on top of the camera which you can hold down to activate the camera’s Wi-Fi system. Using the app and connecting to the camera from your smartphone or tablet is very easy. If you have an NFC enabled phone, you simply hold the two devices together and – if it’s the first time you’ve done that – you’ll be prompted to download the free Image Sync app. Alternatively, if you have a Wi-Fi only phone (such as an iPhone), you can download the Picture Sync app from the App Store and connect to the camera’s Wi-Fi in your phones setting.
Pressing the ‘info’ button on the back of the digital camera gives you access to a quick menu that helps you to change certain key settings more quickly, such as for example Custom image, JPEG quality, and metering configurations. It would have been nice if you could customize this menu depending on how you like to work best, though.
Once you’re connected, the app is excellent to use. It gives you complete control over pretty much all of the camera’s settings, which is refreshing to see and genuinely useful. The only things you can’t change are mechanical, such as whether the flash is raised, or the focal length of your lens. It’s also fairly easy to transfer images across to your phone for sharing on social networks, once you get the hang of how to select and download a photo.
Although it’s nice to have a 100% viewfinder, as it is optical rather than electronic, it means that you won’t be able to see any changes made to settings until you look at the shot on the LCD afterwards.
Pentax K-S2: Performance
As the K-S2 uses the same sensor and processor combination as the K-S1, I had little doubt that performance in terms of image quality would be almost identical.
Image quality is one of the best things about the K-S2’s sibling, and it continues to impress well here. I found that the JPEG images are nicely saturated with vibrant colours which pop well even when using the ‘Natural’ setting.
If you’re shooting in raw format this gives you good scope for post-production adjustment and more muted results. Our lab’s outcomes also show that the K-S2 puts in a good performance for dynamic range across the sensitivity range, being reasonably close to the Nikon D5500 – this is borne out in real-world shooting, too, and again it gives good scope for post-capture adjustment.
You can change the way colours look direct from the camera in a couple of different ways. First of all, you can choose a different ‘Custom Image’ – all the normal options are here including Portrait, Landscape and so on, but there are also a couple of ‘out there’ choices, like Bleach Bypass and Reversal Film, which are fun to experiment with. Alternatively, you can use one of the Digital Filters, which are generally a little wackier, but also worth a look.
Pentax K-S2: Conclusion
For those who can’t find a Canon or Nikon camera to suit them, or perhaps those who have vintage Pentax lenses, the K-S2 makes for a fantastic first time DSLR. With a great feature set, good quality images, and a natural way of using it, it’s easy to recommend the K-S2 to a wide range of people.