Pentax K-1 Mark II Review

The first Pentax K-1 model was introduced in 2016, and its successor, the Pentax K-1 Mark II, is a new professional full-frame DSLR camera that was announced in 2018.

The Mark II is almost identical to its predecessor in both appearance and performance. It does, however, include a new accelerator unit that enhances noise reduction and auto-focusing speed, as well as an upgraded Pixel Shift Resolution System II that includes a newly developed Dynamic Pixel Shift Resolution mode for handheld photography. Both cameras share the same characteristics in every other respect.

The body-only price for the black Pentax K-1 Mark II is £1799 (or $1999), and it is available now. It will also be sold in the United States for the price of $2399 when bundled with the FA 28-105mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR zoom lens.

Pentax K-1 Mark II Build Quality

Since the Pentax K-1 Mark II is very similar to the original K-1 model, we strongly recommend that you go over to our in-depth review of the Pentax K-1 first if you are unfamiliar with that camera. The Pentax K-1 Mark II is practically identical to the original K-1 model. In this very quick review, we are going to concentrate on the new features that are available on the Mark II in comparison to the version that was first released.

The new Mark II version is distinguishable from its predecessor in three primary ways: it features enhanced high sensitivity performance, high-speed Auto Focus, and picture resolution achieved with the implementation of a new handheld Pixel Shift Resolution mode.

The K-1 II now has an expanded ISO range that extends all the way from 100 to an astounding 819200. It is possible that you would anticipate that the resulting images at such a high ISO speed would be close to unusable (see our Image Quality page for 100% crops of each ISO speed), but it is more useful to note that the K-1 Mark II’s ISO performance is about a stop better than that of the original K-1, with the improvement not really becoming noticeable until ISO 3200. If you’ve ever felt that the ISO range of the K-1 was too restrictive for your needs, the new Mark II version offers some minor improvements.

Pentax K-1 Mark II Image Quality

The Best JPEG option, which produces photographs with a resolution of 36 megapixels and an average size of around 12 megabytes, was used to capture each of the sample images included in this study.

The Pentax K-1 Mark II was capable of producing photographs of exceptionally high quality. Noise is adequately handled by the Pentax K-1 Mark II throughout the increased range of 100-819200, with noise initially beginning to show at ISO 3200 and becoming more clearly discernible at the faster settings of ISO 6400-25600 while viewing photographs at 100% magnification on screen (particularly in the RAW files).

On paper, the fastest settings of 51200-819200 appear far better than they really perform. The color saturation is held steady over the whole ISO range, which is quite impressive.

Even if the subject moves slightly or the camera shakes ever so little, Pixel Shift Resolution is an effective technique that provides larger files, finer detail, and delivers more accurate colors. All of these benefits are achieved despite the camera or subject shaking ever so slightly.

The new Handheld mode accomplishes what its name says and enables you to capture high-resolution photographs without the need to use a tripod. However, the images created in this mode will have less clarity and more color artifacts than those created using the tripod modes.

While using the telephoto end of the zoom range or when hand-holding the camera in low-light settings, image stabilization that is built into the camera body is an excellent feature that works extremely well.

The fact that it is compatible with any lens that you choose to connect to the K-1 Mark II is an additional advantage. The night shot turned out really well thanks to the camera’s maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds and its Bulb mode, which enabled the photographer to catch sufficient light in any given scenario.

Pentax K-1 Mark II Specs

Body typeMid-size SLR
Max resolution7360 x 4912
Image ratio w:h3:2
Effective pixels36 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors37 megapixels
Sensor sizeFull frame (35.9 x 24 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorPRIME IV
ISOAuto, 100-819200
White balance presets8
Custom white balanceYes (3 slots)
Image stabilizationSensor-shift
CIPA image stabilization rating5 stop(s)
Uncompressed formatRAW
JPEG quality levelsBest, better, good
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Phase DetectMulti-areaCenterSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousFace DetectionLive View
Manual focusYes
Number of focus points33
Number of cross-type focus points25
Lens mountPentax KAF4
Focal length multiplier
Articulated LCDTilting
Screen size3.2″
Screen dots1,037,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeTFT LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeOptical (pentaprism)
Viewfinder coverage100%
Viewfinder magnification0.7×
Minimum shutter speed30 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/8000 sec
Aperture priorityYes
Shutter priorityYes
Manual exposure modeYes
Subject / scene modesNo
Built-in flashNo
External flashYes (via hot shoe or flash sync port)
Flash modesAuto Flash Discharge, Auto Flash + Red-eye Reduction, Flash On, Flash On + Red-eye Reduction, Slow-speed Sync, Slow-speed Sync + Red-eye, P-TTL, Trailing Curtain Sync, Contrast-control-sync, High-speed sync, Wireless sync
Continuous drive4.4 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 12 sec, custom)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±5 (2, 3, 5 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
FormatMPEG-4, H.264
Modes1920 x 1080 @ 60i, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 50i, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 30p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 25p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 24p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1280 x 720 @ 60p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1280 x 720 @ 50p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
Storage typesDual SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I)
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes (micro-HDMI)
Microphone portYes
Headphone portYes
Wireless notes802.11b/g/n
Remote controlYes (wired, wireless, or smartphone)
Environmentally sealedYes
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionD-LI90 lithium-ion battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)670
Weight (inc. batteries)1010 g (2.23 lb / 35.63 oz)
Dimensions137 x 110 x 86 mm (5.39 x 4.33 x 3.39″)
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingYes (Still or video)

Pentax K-1 Mark II Conclusion

The Pentax K-1 Mark II is still a superb 35mm full-frame DSLR camera, but it seems more like a stop-gap release than a fully-fledged replacement to the original K-1. This is not to say that it is not a good camera.

In the rapidly evolving world of digital imaging, 18 months is quite a long period, so the fact that Pentax has only introduced a small number of new capabilities to the K-1 II is very disappointing, especially for owners of the K-1.

Because the three key improvements aren’t worth it collectively, we are hesitant to recommend that those users upgrade to the K-1 II, either by selling their original cameras and buying the new version or by taking advantage of the rather unique upgrade service. This is because the K-1 II is an older model than its predecessor.

Extending the ISO range all the way up to 819200 may sound like a good idea on paper, but it appears to be a horrible idea in practice. The true advantage is an improvement of one-stop in noise performance far further down the range.

In a similar vein, the autofocus (AF) technology is a tiny bit quicker and more reliable while tracking moving targets than it was in the original K-1, although the difference is not huge. The final option is the handheld pixel shift mode, which allows you to snap clear, high-resolution still photographs without needing to use a tripod. However, there are a number of restrictions that limit the overall effectiveness of this mode, so it is not recommended for usage.

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