Figure 1: The SD14 body (left) is wider than the K5 body.
The SD14 is the bigger of the two cameras. It is both wider and taller than the K5. I didn’t find the extra size to be a negative, but wished that the indent for the fingers on the grip had been a little deeper. Looking at figure 1, it can be seen that the K5 grip has a deeper grip area on the inside, where the fingers would be trying to hold onto it. The SD14’s inside grip area is more shallow, so it’s easier to loose a grip on the camera. If I were going into battle I’d probably take the K5 (as an anecdote, I think the army does use them due to their water/weather seals).
Figure 2: The depths of the SD14 (left) and K5 (right) are similar.
The depth of the two cameras, overall, is very similar. The SD14 just edges the K5 in terms of height. If the grip on the SD14 had been just a bit deeper, then the handling of the two cameras would be very similar, since they are similar size and weight. The other thing I would have changed on the SD14 is the release panel for the compact flash. It has three fairly high ridges to provide thumb friction to open the sliding access door for the compact flash memory. The K5 has little dimples which are less abrasive (IMO) on the thumbs or fingers.
The K5 allows one to focus using the LCD. Not only that – but the image on the LCD can be enlarged to allow for finer focus control. This is a really big item for oldish guys like myself. When focusing the SD14, I have to wear my corrective lenses because my myopia outstrips the number of diopters available on the view finder diopter control. In bright light, this was an issue. There is an optional larger viewfinder attachment available for the SD14 if memory serves me correctly. For myopic folks, that’d be a real good idea.
I think the Foveon sensor of the SD14 is giving me truer colors, relative to the things I photograph, than the K5. But, I think the K5 probably has a very slight edge when it comes to sharpness, thanks to its larger sensor and the extra megapixels it has, relatively speaking (after accounting for the Foveon x3 factor). That is an opinion based on only a couple weeks of usage, so my opinion may change as I take more and more photographs. One thing the SD14 does that the K5 does not do without expensive modifications – infrared photography – is actually my reason for having the camera.
Most of the things I’d change on the SD14 probably have already been changed on the newer (Quattro) models. It’s not entirely fair to talk about what a much older product does or does not have. But, considering how it works – really pretty well – it’s a good camera to have – especially if one is interested in infrared photography. The Foveon design makes for a much more sensitive IR sensor than the Bayer type sensor, due to the filters that the latter sensor uses (and that reduce IR throughput) The “Bayer” type sensor is in most of the SD14’s competition, and most cameras in general. The increased Foveon infrared capabilities of the SD14 carry forward into their Quattro line. Some people consider that there are only two viable camera types for IR work – and consider Foveon based models to be one of them.
To be continued …
The Sigma SD14 is a product of Sigma Corporation. Sigma and Foveon are their trademarks. This author and site has no affiliation with Sigma. The Pentax K5 is a product of Ricoh Imaging Corporation, and is not affiliated with this author or site.