The Pentax K-50 is a reasonable entry-level DSLR, but isn't much of an upgrade from its now-discontinued predecessor, the Pentax K-30. The most unique feature of the K-50 is its placement as a fashion accessory, as you can choose from 120 color combinations for the body of the camera. In reviews, the K-50's performance and image quality are acceptable but nothing special. However, its weather-sealed body makes it a good choice if you shoot photos in inhospitable outdoor conditions.
Size is just right. Unlike some recent ultra-compact DSLR cameras that may be uncomfortable for larger hands, most notably the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 (Est. $750 with kit lens) , reviewers say the Pentax K-50 is "made for normal hands." As with higher-end DSLRs, the K-50 has forefinger and thumb dials, and all frequently used settings can be directly accessed. The info button pulls up 15 useful icons when you're taking photos. The LCD screen has a high resolution, at 920K, with a wide angle and high visibility in even the brightest light. However, the screen isn't articulated, limiting your ability to shoot at creative angles. The Pentax K-50 comes with a printed user manual, unusual in the camera field nowadays.
Acceptable, but not great. Reviewers say the Pentax K-50 is "acceptable" but underperforms some of its competitors. Its image quality doesn't hold up compared to some, and its speed is "fast enough for family photography" but slower than rival DSLRs. However, the K-50 is especially fast for continuous shooting at 6 fps, and has an ISO range of up to 51,200. Battery life is rather low, at 480 shots without flash per charge, although you can extend this with the AA battery holder to 1,250 shots without flash.
Sturdy and weather-sealed body. The Pentax K-50 has "a weather-sealed body that's unique in its price class." Although it has a plastic body, the K-50 feels sturdier than Canon or Nikon cameras to some reviewers. The weather-sealed body goes beyond the weather-resistant specs of other DSLRs with 81 weather-resistant body seals that allow the camera to operate effectively in places as cold as minus-10 degrees Celsius.
More than 100 color combinations. One unique selling point of the Pentax K-50 is that it comes in three colors: white, red and black. And if you order the body and kit lens through the Ricoh website, you can select from up to 120 color combinations for the body and grip, including hot pink and lime green, through Pentax's "Color to Order" service.
The shooting features are Pentax's usual broad set, somewhat lacking in real-time filter effects but with some useful automatic modes. For example, with the TAv mode (shutter and aperture priority mode), you set the shutter speed and aperture and the camera automatically selects an ISO speed to match. For those who prefer complete manual control, there are four pages of customizable features. Reviewers say the DSLR's 18-55 mm kit lens is better built and more weather-proof than those of its competitors.
In this extremely detailed review, Mark Goldstein points out the many similarities of the Pentax K-50 to its predecessor, the K-30. He calls it an excellent camera with few drawbacks that delivers features and performance "without breaking the bank." It's a great stills camera for ISOs from 100 to 1,600, but shooting videos is cumbersome.
Review: Pentax K-50 Review, Mark Goldstein, Sept. 16, 2013
Reviewers compare the Pentax K-50 to the K-30 and a cheaper model, the K-500. They conclude that the features on all three are nearly identical and, unless you really need the weather resistance of the K-50, hate using AA batteries and are invested in having an unusual color combination, the Pentax K-500 is the better deal.
Review: First Impressions of the Pentax K50 and K500, Barney Britton and Jeff Keller, June 12, 2013
Calling the Pentax K-50 a "rugged and reliable all weather DSLR that is well worth a look," John Riley applauds Pentax for allowing customers to personalize the camera through color choice. His long list of pros for the K-50 include excellent image quality and in-body shake reduction as well as backward compatibility with thousands of lenses.
Review: Pentax K-50 Digital SLR Review, John Riley, July 25, 2013
In this ho-hum review of the Pentax K-50 and the cheaper K-500 version, Lori Grunin gives faint praise to the camera's sturdy weather-resistant plastic body and two-tone color scheme. She says it's a no-nonsense entry-level DSLR camera that noisily delivers OK-quality photos that are good enough for a family photographer.
Review: Pentax K-50 and K-500 Review, Lori Grunin, July 18, 2013
Eric Butterfield is enthusiastic about the amount of manual control and customization offered by the Pentax K-50. He says the camera body is "sturdy," and all buttons and dials are well-placed to make quick adjustments. He likes the K-50's performance in low light and calls the HD video "good-looking."
Review: Pentax K-50 DSLR Review, Eric Butterfield, Oct. 9, 2013
6. Popular Photography
Philip Ryan puts the Pentax K-50 through its paces in the lab and out in the field. He concludes that the K-50 delivers a winning formula of a high-end shooting experience that stands up to the elements for a reasonable price.
Review: Camera Test: Pentax K-50, Philip Ryan, Oct. 9, 2013
The Pentax K-50 DSLR camera receives a rating of excellent at PCMag.com for its large viewfinder, weather-sealed design and customizable controls. Jim Fisher applauds its high ISO performance but says the K-50 has "behind the times" video capabilities, and that keeps the K-50 from receiving an Editors' Choice award.
Review: Pentax K-50, Jim Fisher, July 22, 2103
There are only slightly more than 20 reviews on this site from users of the Pentax K-50, but all but one give the camera 4 or 5 stars out of 5. Several reviewers prefer the K-50 to Canon EOS Rebel DSLR cameras, and others cite the weather-resistant feature as the reason they bought the K-50.
Review: Pentax K-50 16MP Digital SLR Camera, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2014