The Pentax K-70 is a survivor and perhaps the most compelling proposition in Pentax’s APS-C DSLR lineup. Ricoh Imaging had spent a few years revamping its line of Pentax-branded DSLRs and the K-70 was its top entry-level offering. Yet despite that billing, it offers the same high features-to-price ratio we’ve come to expect from the company.

Key features include a 24MP APS-C sensor which has been designed without an optical low-pass filter, for detail retention. The K-70 also features Phase Detection AF Pixels to provide a hybrid AF system when using Live View – the first and only time Pentax has done this in a DSLR, even its most popular models. recent. A pentaprism viewfinder with nearly 100 per cent scene coverage is good to find at this level, as are the camera’s sensor-based image stabilization and weatherproof construction.

The K-70 launches a Night Vision mode, which applies a red cast to the LCD screen to maintain its brightness in low light conditions. There is also an Astrotracer mode which, when paired with an optional GPS unit, allows the camera to adapt to the movement of the stars and take pictures without leaving traces. Outdoor Display mode allows you to increase or decrease screen brightness in low or bright light conditions. And there’s also a Pixel Shift mode that captures four frames with one pixel shift to create a composite file with better detail.

Pentax K-70 Specifications

Sensor: 24.2-megapixel, 23.5 x 15.6mm APS-C CMOS sensor
AF points: 11 point AF (9 cross)
ISO range: 100 to 102,400
Maximum image size: 6000×4000
Measurement modes: Multi-segment, center-weighted, spot
Video: 1920×[email protected]/25/24p
Viewfinder: Optical pentaprism, 100% coverage
Memory card: 1x SD/SDHC/SDXC, UHS-I
LCD: 3-inch, 921,000-dot vari-angle
Max burst: 6fps
Connectivity: WiFi, NFC
Cut: 126 x 93 x 74 mm (body only)
Lester: 688g

Build and manipulate

Pentax K-70 review

To help counter aliasing effects, the AA Filter Simulator applies microscopic vibrations at the sub-pixel level. (Image credit: future)

The body is larger and heavier than many rivals. The boxy design might not be to everyone’s taste, and the handling is also likely to divide opinion, as the grip unusually protrudes from the side of the camera. Still, the grip itself is nice and deep, and the thick rubber used here feels very comfortable to the touch.

The design of the power control makes it easy to override the On position and end up in video mode. Otherwise, the buttons press positively, the mode dial is nice and tall for easy rotation, and it’s great to find two control dials on a camera at this level. Customization here is recommended though, as it can be tricky to turn the rear dial with your face towards the viewfinder.

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Pentax K-70 Review

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The viewfinder is clearly superior to those of competitors, with nearly 100 per cent scene coverage, although its high 0.95x magnification makes it somewhat difficult to see in full without having to shift your gaze around it. The LCD is high-contrast, however, and its vari-angle design enhances its suitability for awkward compositions, though it’s a shame it’s not tactile like many rivals’ screens.

An 11-point AF system lags somewhat behind at this level, but the presence of nine cross-type points and -3EV sensitivity makes it a great performer for general shooting. With the SMC DA 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 ED AL (IF) DC WR lens, focus is usually fast for static subjects. However, the fact that the dots are relatively spaced means that the K-70 can’t quite be used for continuous focus with the same degree of success as some competing models.

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Performance

The hybrid AF system means focusing in Live View is particularly fast. However, it is worth identifying the point of focus rather than letting the camera analyze the scene, as its ability to identify and focus on key subjects cannot always be relied upon.

Image quality is generally very good. As has been the case on previous Pentax models, the camera’s default Bright Custom Image option delivers pleasingly saturated colors. Slight underexposure is sometimes a problem, although it’s not hard to fix.

Default Bright Custom Image mode delivers gorgeous colors (Image credit: Matt Golowczynski)

Colors are still impressive even under artificial light and noise remains low. (Image credit: Matt Golowczynski)

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Noise control is also excellent across the range, and even once you’re well into the four-digit range you tend to get a soft texture that can easily be processed if needed.

The K-70 breaks down slightly with video recording. Details aren’t rendered with the expected clarity, although the Shake Reduction system does a good job of keeping things stable.

Laboratory results

For our lab data comparison, we compared the K-70 to similar entry-level DSLRs; the Canon EOS 250D and the Nikon D5600. We’ve also included the evergreen Sony a6000 as an example of an entry-level mirrorless camera that’s also likely to tempt photographers looking to break into the system camera sector.

We test resolution using graphics and Imatest software, as well as dynamic range and signal-to-noise ratio with DxO Analyzer.

Resolution (line widths / image height):

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With all four cameras outfitted with around 24MP sensors, it’s no surprise that the K-70 resolves very similar amounts of detail to its competitors. The Pentax, however, has a small but significant lead over Canon and Nikon cameras at ISO 6400 and above.

Dynamic Range (EV):

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Although narrowly beaten by the Sony a6000 at the lowest sensitivities, overall the K-70 is the camera to beat when it comes to capturing the widest dynamic range.

Signal to noise ratio (decibels):

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Our signal-to-noise test measures image clarity, specifically the ratio of the actual image “data” you want to capture to the image noise you don’t want, but will inevitably be visible when shooting at higher ISO sensitivities. The higher the score at a given ISO sensitivity, the better.

Both the K-70 and the Canon EOS 250D pass this test, producing images with incredibly low noise levels across the tested sensitivity range.

Verdict

In true Pentax style, the K-70’s spec sheet goes way beyond what’s expected at this level, and it’s a pleasure to see it back on sale at prices that make it a great choice for beginners and even enthusiasts. It’s the only Pentax DSLR we know of with on-sensor phase-detection AF, and the vari-angle rear screen is another big selling point.

A better AF system and 4K video would be nice, but you still get a lot for your money, and given that low-cost DSLRs (and indeed DSLRs in general) seem like an endangered species, it’s great to see the Pentax K-70 still on sale.

How we test cameras

We test the cameras in both real-world shooting scenarios and under carefully controlled lab conditions. Our lab tests measure resolution, dynamic range, and signal-to-noise ratio. Resolution is measured using ISO resolution graphs, dynamic range is measured using DxO Analyzer test equipment, and DxO Analyzer is also used for noise analysis over the ISO range of the camera . We use both actual tests and lab results to inform our reviews in buying guides.

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