Pentax K-S2 SLR Camera Review

Pentax was once one of the largest manufacturers of cameras in the world, but these times are long gone. The company (which was then called Asahi Optical) began to lose ground in film times, and then hopelessly late with the transition to the “digit”. In 2008, it was acquired by a major optical company, Hoya, with which fans of the brand pinned certain hopes. Alas, these hopes were not destined to come true: under the wing of Hoya, the once-brilliant brand had withered completely and was eventually resold by Ricoh. The irony of the situation is that at one time Ricoh was the second largest (after Pentax) camera manufacturer with the Pentax K bayonet, so this corporate merger can be compared to the reunion of relatives who have long lost each other.
To its credit, Ricoh has to admit that it has begun to actively develop the Pentax camera and optics line, reviving the Pentax 645 medium-format system. Now the first Pentax digital full-frame SLR is being prepared for release. However, Ricoh makes the strongest emphasis on SLR cameras of the budget and middle class, providing them with features that are not available to competitors. That is why the Pentax K-S2 is one of the most interesting SLR cameras available on the market today.

Briefly list the main features of the Pentax K-S2, which are highlighted by the manufacturer:

Key features of the Pentax K-S2

  • Full dust and moisture protection of the case. According to Pentax, the K-S2 is the smallest protected SLR camera on the market.
  • The shortest shutter speed is 1/6000 (most other cameras in this class are 1/4000), although I personally am not inclined to think that 1/2 of a photographic stage is a serious advantage.
  • 20-megapixel CMOS-matrix without a low-pass filter (and therefore with potentially higher resolution). To suppress the moire, the proprietary AA-filter simulation mode can be used optionally, when the camera slightly shifts the matrix during the exposure using the stabilization mechanism.
  • A large and light pentaprism viewfinder with a display of 100% frame area and a magnification of 0.95x (other cameras of a similar class traditionally use pentamirror instead of pentaprism).
  • SAFOX X autofocus module (similar to the K5 IIs model) with nine cross-type sensors and sensitivity up to -3 EV.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi for remote control of the camera and transfer images from the camera to the smartphone.

Meet the Pentax K-S2

The K-S2 is a relatively compact SLR camera that is close in size to models like the Canon Digital Rebel (EOS xxxD) or Nikon D5xxx. We had a model of extremely attractive color on the review – with gray rubber pads and a bright orange bottom panel. Also on sale are available pure black version and a camera with a white body.

K-S2, like many high-end cameras with interchangeable optics, is equipped with a rotating screen, and the loop is located on the side, which is very convenient when shooting video or selfie.

The control circuit of the K-S2 is also closer to the high and medium cameras than the budget class: the device is equipped with two control disks, the functions of which can be reassigned in the menu. By the way, note that the upper part of the chamber is refined with textured metal overlay.

Behind, in addition to the screen and buttons, there is a rubber stop under the thumb, allowing you to more securely hold the camera with one hand.

On one side of the camera is an input for an external microphone, on the other – micro-HDMI, micro USB connectors and a slot for SD / SDHC / SDXC memory cards. All caps and plugs are equipped with rubber gaskets to prevent dust and moisture from entering the chamber.

Menu Pentax K-S2

The menu and the overall control of the Pentax K-S2 are similar to other Pentax SLR cameras.

Complete Lens

Pentax K-S2 is equipped with a new SMC Pentax-DA L 18-50mm f / 4-5.6 DC WR RE lens, which in an unused state is folded to achieve greater compactness. Unfortunately, the folding mechanism did not work very well on our copy of the lens and sometimes it stuck in the folded state. In addition, the button, which must be clamped in order to expand the lens, is very small in size, so the lens is very inconvenient to use with gloves.
The optical quality of the lens is also not very high. It produces a sharp picture in the center of the frame at almost any focal lengths and apertures, but closer to the edge of the frame, the sharpness suffers, and strong chromatic aberrations become noticeable on contrast transitions.

A typical example of loss of sharpness and chromatic aberrations at the edge of a frame. Focal length 18 mm, f / 8.0 aperture

In principle, no one expects outstanding quality from a cheap whale lens, but, in our opinion, the new Pentax whale lens is somewhat inferior to counterparts from other manufacturers. On the other hand, the camera is compatible with the entire extensive Optics catalog for the K-mount (released by both Pentax and other manufacturers), so that camera owners can choose the lenses to their liking.

Selfie mode

Another feature of the Pentax K-2 is a selfie mode. If you fold the screen and turn it forward, the Wi-Fi key turns into a shutter button, and the camera automatically switches to face recognition mode. So the camera is very convenient to take pictures like these:

Built-in Wi-Fi

Pentax K-S2, like many modern cameras, is equipped with a built-in Wi-Fi module that allows you to control it remotely and copy images from the camera to the smartphone’s memory. The corresponding application is available for iOS and Android, its settings (at least in the iOS version) are minimum, but everything you need is there.


Unfortunately, Pentax persistently continues to equip its low-end and middle-class cameras with a D-LI109 battery, which has a relatively low capacity (7.8 Wh). As a result, the battery lasts only about 500 frames, if taken with the optical viewfinder. If the user uses the Live View mode or records video, the work time is reduced even more.

Quality of shooting

As one would expect from a modern camera equipped with a modern Sony CMOS matrix, the image quality of the K-S2 is very good even at high sensitivity values. Examples of photos, as usual, you will find in a separate gallery:
When viewing photos, keep in mind that the “bottleneck” in terms of image quality is the complete lens, and not the camera itself.

The bottom line

The Pentax K-S2 is an extremely interesting camera that has many features not usually found in cameras in this class. And if not everyone needs dust and moisture protection, then all photographers will certainly appreciate the large and bright viewfinder and convenient control. The image quality of the K-S2 is very good, but today there are no system cameras with poor image quality left on the market. The main disadvantage of the K-S2, in our opinion, is short (by the standards of SLR cameras) battery life. The new whale lens can also be attributed to the minuses, but this drawback is easy to overcome – just buy a camera without a lens or complete with the universal zoom Pentax 18-135.

Separately, it is necessary to mention the price factor. If in Europe and the USA Pentax K-S2 costs about $ 100 / euro cheaper than its main competitors (Canon EOS 750D and Nikon D5500), then the prices for these cameras are about the same. Despite this, the K-S2 still deserves attention because of the features mentioned above.

5 reasons to buy Pentax K-S2:

  • A modern 20 megapixel matrix without an AA filter;
  • Image stabilization is built into the camera itself;
  • Great viewfinder;
  • Convenient management with two programmable control disks;
  • Dust and moisture protection housing.
  • 2 reasons not to buy Pentax K-S2:
  • Autonomy is worse than other SLR cameras;
  • Low quality whale lens.

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