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September 18, 2010

Pentax K-5 specs out thanks to product brochure leak (updated)

I guess no DSLR goes unleaked these days, because a photographer has leaked the Pentax K-5 based on what appears to be a Pentax brochure for the K-5! You can enjoy the specs, three camera body pictures, and ensuing discussion at the forums and also the dpreview forums. You can also get a digest of the latest updates at the home page of the Pentax forums if you are pressed for time.

According to the leak the camera has a 16mp APS-C sensor, 14-bit RAW, 7fps burst mode thanks to new processor and faster autofocus, ISO 100 to 12800 (extended 80 to 51200), 25fps 1920x1080 video (4GB or 25 minutes), 100% OVF (0.92%), 3-inch LCD display (921k dots), 11-points autofocus, and things like that. It is not clear yet whether it has SAFOX IX+ or XIII+.

UPDATE: The original poster finally uploaded the German brochure to the internets. It is a two-page brochure, with tiny fonts... RiceHigh has a summary in English. [NEW!] [HOT!]

One rather disturbing number mentioned however is a buffer depth of just eight images for RAW/DNG. The buffer can hold 40 JPEGs. We obviously do not know if this is a typo in the brochure, or mis-translation, but if it is true, it will be a "I predict a riot" spec. In contrast, the "old" Pentax K-7 (K-seven) has a 5.2 fps burst mode with a buffer depth of 14 DNG or 15 PEF or 40 JPEGs (see dpreview review). See "Speculation" segment below for more on this.

The leak also confirms the 18-135mm WR lens that was leaked a few days ago when a European shoppe has a K-5 listing. The 18-135mm WR will be bundled in one of the K-5 kits, along with the usual 18-55mm kit and obviously the body-only.

You may want to check out the Pentax K-7 reviews as a refresher in preparation for the official announcement and ensuing K-5 previews and spec-sheet comparisons.

PS: Move over e-media and tablets, brochures is where it's at!

Speculation on the 7fps (8 DNG)
Time to do some quick math (not scientific) to see where this might be going...

The K-7 with its 14.6 effective megapixels sensor is processing 5.2fps with a throughput of 75.92mp per second (14.6mp x 5.2fps) with a "buffer size" of 204.4 megapixels (14.6mp x 14 DNG images). A K-5 with a 16.3mp effective at 7fps has a throughput of 114.1mp per second.

If we assume that it uses the same buffer as the K-7, it would fit 12.54 DNGs (204.4mp divided by 16.3mp) if we make the big assumption that the increase in burst-mode (7fps vs 5.2fps) and resolution (16.3mp vs 14.6mp) is not introducing additional bottlenecks (which is very likely to do so), or that Pentax has upgraded the underlying technology to keep up with the faster flow.

So as you can see, we have roughly a 50% increase in throughput per second in the K-5: 114.1mp - 75.92mp divided by 75.92mp. I do not know how the buffering is done internally the K-7 and I do not know what alternatives/upgrades would be available in whatever technology Pentax uses in the K-7/K-5.

UPDATE: MightyMike in the dpreview forums has a different calculation method where he takes into consideration the 14-bit RAW of the K-5 vs 12-bit RAW of the K-7, and when he does the math, it comes out to around 8 images assuming the same buffer as the K-7, and assuming internal improvements that can handle the increased flow of data per second.

One realistic possibility perhaps (again pure speculation) is that it may have a 7fps (8 DNG) high-speed burst mode, and a normal burst mode with a deeper buffer but slower than 7fps. The former would cater to situations where you want more frequent grabs, and the latter where you want more shots.

But not all hope is lost - there is a more bullish way of looking at this that may suggest that eight is a typo: If Pentax is able to handle a 50% increase in data captured per second (or closer to 60% when using the MightyMike approach (14-bit vs 12-bit)), surely they should be able to upgrade the buffer as well? Use the Force! Use the Power of Intention to make it happen!

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