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Digital Camera Review, Pentax X-5 16MP CMOS Digital Bridge Camera

Pentax X-5 Superzoom Digital Bridge, Will It Be Right For You?
A retro digital look back, can the vintage Pentax X-5 16MP (2012) digital bridge camera still support the digital photography enthusiasm of the 2020s?

Look at the low-cost end of the vintage digital camera market for a camera to start your interest in photography with, maybe one with a super zoom lens, and the digital bridge ensemble may be just the right bin for you to rummage through. Among the spoils, an alternative to film cameras to which you have to add the cost of film and its development charges, or the more advanced digital types which will cost you a lot more, the Pentax X-5 digital bridge super zoom might just be the right pick for you.

Launched in September 2012, the X-5 is a digital bridge super zoom camera built around a 16MP backlit CMOS sensor, an F3.1-5.9/40-104mm lens that is equivalent to a 22.3-580mm zoom lens on a 35mm full-frame camera, and a macro mode that allows a close-focus distance of 1 centimeter. The camera is also fitted with a 460,000 pixels 3.0-inch tilting LCD screen, 230,000 pixels electronic viewfinder, sensor-shift Shake Reduction, Full 1080p HD video, and triple shake-reduction technology.

Pentax X-5, Front side

The model was an upgrade to the 12MP CCD sensor X90 (2010), which itself was an upgrade to the 12MP CCD sensor X70 (2009), the first superzoom digital bridge launched by Pentax. While the X70 and X90 were powered by Lithium pack batteries, the X-5, now fitted with a backlit CMOS sensor, uses instead, a set of 4 AA (Alkaline, Ni-MH Rechargeable, Lithium) batteries, with the Ni-MH capable of providing up to 500 shots per charge.

The Pentax X-5 was marketed as a consumer-orientated model, and early in the years of the digital era, the X-5 did not have the sophistication of digital cameras as we see today, but rather a straightforward ease-of-use implementation of a long zoom digital bridge with features of DSLR and mirrorless cameras in a single-lens body.

The X-5 saves images only as compressed JPEG files (no RAW support) and does not support Aperture- or Shutter-priority shooting modes either.


First Look

Pentax X-5, Front

The camera is a bit of a chunk, a handful, with a rather prominent exposure mode dial sitting on the right of the top plane, together with the shutter release and zoom lever on the forward bulge of the hand grip, exposure compensation, and power on/off switch. At the back of the top plane, just above the thumb rest, is the e-dial used for adjusting settings for the menu or other adjustable parameters.

Pentax X-5, Top

Shooting mode selection as found on the Mode Dial includes a choice of going Green (Auto Picture mode), which places the camera in control of most everything except framing and deciding when to press the shutter button, or a selection between Program Auto, Manual, User, Movie, Handheld Night Snap, Sport, Landscape, Portrait, and Scenes. In manual Mode, use the Exposure Compensation button to alternate between Shutter Speed and Lens Aperture settings, which can be adjusted via the e-dial.

Pentax X-5, Scene menu

While the User mode lets you use previously saved settings, the Scene mode provides a sub-menu selection for Flower, Blue Sky, Sunset, Night Scene, Night Scene Portrait, Fireworks, HDR, Surf & Snow, Baby, Kids, Pet, Food, Digital SR, Stage Lighting, Text, Museum, Digital Wide, Digital Panorama, and Frame Composite. Within this selection, the Digital Wide Mode and Digital Panorama Mode are worthy of further experiments.

Pentax X-5, In-camera setting

Menu items for in-camera settings are listed through 4 displays for Record Mode, 1 for Movie, and another 4 displays for Setting. The whole paraphernalia of sets from Image Tone to IQ Enhancer in Record Mode, Recorded Pixels to Wind Suppression in Moview, and Save as User to Format in Setting, is an impressive set of what the X-5 can be set up for and is capable of delivering.

Metering is a TTL multi-segment system with center-weighted and spot modes. Shutter speeds vary from 1/1,500 to a 1/4 second by default, with longer shutter speeds, only up to 4 seconds though, available in Manual and Night Scene modes. ISO sensitivity is from 100 to 6,400. Eight white balance modes inclusive of Auto, six presets, and manual.

Pentax X-5, Side

An additional feature of the zoom lens functionality is what Pentax terms as the 'Intelligent Zoom' function, which extends the zoom coverage to a 187.2 times equivalent (a focal length of 4174mm in the 35mm format), available only in VGA resolution. All this and a macro mode that allows photographers to get as close as 1cm from their subject/s and still maintain sharpness.

Pentax X-5, Tiltable LCD

The LCD screen of the Pentax X-5 tilts upwards by about 90 degrees, or downwards by 60 degrees, making it convenient when shooting from above your head or low to the ground.

Connectivity options include USB 2.0 for image and movie file transfer, a composite standard-def video/audio output via the combined USB/AV out port, and a Micro HDMI (Type D) port for high-def video output. The X-5 also has an infrared receiver in the grip for use with an optional wireless remote. Unusually for its class, a DC input terminal for an optional AC adapter kit is also available for when the camera is hooked up to the tabletop for extended durations.

Pentax X-5, Bottom

The X-5 has a body weight of 590 grams with batteries installed. Images are recorded to the X-5's 75.5MB of internal memory, SD/SDHC/SXHC, or Eye-Fi cards. There are no specifics in the manual as to what size memory cards are recommended for the X-5.


Early Images


Pentax X-5 Superzoom Digital Bridge, Will It Be Right For You? 01
Pentax X-5 Superzoom Digital Bridge, Will It Be Right For You? 02
Macro, Still Life
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Pentax X-5 Superzoom Digital Bridge, Will It Be Right For You? 03
Pentax X-5 Superzoom Digital Bridge, Will It Be Right For You? 04
Garden close-ups
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Pentax X-5 Superzoom Digital Bridge, Will It Be Right For You? 05
Pentax X-5 Superzoom Digital Bridge, Will It Be Right For You? 06


Pentax X-5 Superzoom Digital Bridge, Will It Be Right For You? 07
Pentax X-5 Superzoom Digital Bridge, Will It Be Right For You? 08
In the Park
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Pentax X-5 Superzoom Digital Bridge, Will It Be Right For You? 09
Pentax X-5 Superzoom Digital Bridge, Will It Be Right For You? 10
Kid's Play
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Pentax X-5 Superzoom Digital Bridge, Will It Be Right For You? 11
Pentax X-5 Superzoom Digital Bridge, Will It Be Right For You? 12
Pentax X-5 Superzoom Digital Bridge, Will It Be Right For You? 13
The long, short, and the width of it
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Pentax X-5, Top view

I acquired a spick-and-span almost mint but untested copy of the Pentax X-5 from Japan only recently, in May 2023 for just over US $35 (shipping is extra). As with all cameras powered by cell batteries, you first clean the battery contacts with some cleaning turpentine, turn and twirl all knobs and dials to clear the electrical contacts, and 'Hey, Presto', the camera worked like a charm.

You might be paying slightly more if you are looking for one now, but believe me, you may enjoy it as much as I enjoy mine.



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