Pentax K-5 Video - Actually very good.

Having virtually ignored the K-5 video since I bought the camera I decided yesterday to give it a try. It doesn't get much attention. Most reviews say that, yes the camera does video, but it doesn't have any manual control and thats about it. Well, its actually very good. Its very sharp with great colour and simple to use. I think its the best looking footage I've shot on any video enabled stills camera. The footage above was shot on a very dull afternoon, and its come out really well. Shot using a 70mm f/2.4 limited lens, which as you can see is very sharp.

I recommend watching it in full 1080p HD on YouTube to see just how nice the footage looks.

When I had the K-7 I didn't like the stills much, but liked the video. The K-5 is a great improvement on both. I took a screen grab off the K-5 footage on my iMac and its excellent quality.

Video shot with Pentax K-5 and 70mm f/2.4 limited lens.

Also because of the in-camera stabilisation its possible to use the K-5 hand held. Its not quite as good as the Sony A55's Super Steady Shot in this regard but its close and I certainly prefer the look of the video from the K-5 over the Sony. I was missing the A55's ability for hand held work, but not now.

This was shot using the 15mm f/4 limited lens and edited in iMovie using the stabilisation software in addition to the cameras IS. 

One of my continual complaints about the reviewing and discussion of video on stills camera is the assumption that as photographers we all want to become film-makers. The continual winges about how these cameras don't do what "proper" video cameras do, leaves me bewildered. If you want a camera to make movies on, shouldn't you buy a camera thats designed for that? I know we're all supposed to be into convergence, and turn into photographer / videographer hybrids overnight but this assumes an awful lot. It assumes we want to do that to begin with, it assumes we've got the time, inclination and ability to be able to learn how to do it, and assumes we've got the necessary funds to be able to afford the extra gear that seems to be vital in order for us to be the camerapersons/ directors / producers / editors we're all dying to be. 

I can understand if you are a film maker first and foremost, that something like a GH2 might be a cost effective way to do it. But even though the GH1 and GH2 have excellent video capability, thats not what they are designed for. Both are primarily stills cameras. 

Much as I enjoy reading someone like Phillip Bloom and watching his videos it should be remembered that he is a video cameraman, with years of experience working in television and movies. He is looking for different things in a camera, mainly to satisfy the needs of his clients. How much of that professional capability, those of us who are photographers first and foremost, need, is I believe open to question. 

When these cameras first started appearing, with the release of the Canon 5DMkII, I always thought that this would lead to a different kind of video, shot from a photographers perspective. I'm a great fan of the kind of European cinema, that uses longer takes, photographic framing and a much slower pace overall. The combination of comic book action and television advertising sensibility that permeates much of modern commercial cinema often leaves me cold. A bit like a Big Mac as opposed to a well-prepared meal. It looks big and colourful but ultimately there's not a lot in it. 

I like the idea of these video enabled cameras being able to produce an alternative view to the media mainstream. Its perfectly possible to use these cameras, with only the addition of a decent tripod with a video head and an external microphone, to produce interesting work with extremely high quality. Though they do get used for mainstream television and film work, there's the possibility of using these cameras for other more personal work. To that end, are full manual control and all the other bells and whistles that some deem essential, really as essential as many reviews seem to make out?

Some of what the K-5 doesn't have, I see as an advantage. It doesn't AF while shooting video. Well thats great as far as I'm concerned. Footage with lenses hunting back and forth to find focus is almost unwatchable. I used the camera on manual focus anyway and it does that very well with a magnification function allowing accurate and precise focus. The K-5 is also criticised for being mostly automatic. I have no problem with that either. It allows me to get on with other things without worrying about settings. 

I could however live without the rolling shutter, which makes panning look terrible, but until camera designers change the way they open and close the shutters on their cameras from vertical to horizontal, then we have to live with that.

I like the K-5 video very much. I'm a sucker for sharp images with saturated colour anyway and this camera gives me that with movement!! Add in the fact that it has low noise at high ISO's and you have a very useful video function. Pentax are not known for their video expertise and it seems they have been somewhat unambitious with regard to the K-5 video. However what they have done, they have done well and have concentrated on producing a high-quality output that can be accomplished relatively simply. I'm certainly not going to complain about that.