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Pentax K-1 Review

Pentax is one of the significant conventional photography companies that has transitioned from film to digital camera manufacture. It has always seemed plausible that the company will one day create a full-frame digital SLR camera. However, the firm didn’t declare that it was going to take that step until February of 2015 — and now, after spending a year staring at mock-ups beneath glass domes at trade exhibitions, we finally have the Pentax K-1 in our hands.

Regarding its technical specifications, the new camera has a lot to offer hobbyist photographers, particularly those who have not yet amassed a library of full-frame K-mount lenses. First and foremost, the full-frame (35.9 x 24mm) 36 million-pixel sensor supplied by Sony, the 14-bit PRIME IV processing engine, and the 33-point SAFOX 12 autofocus system are all brand new.

In addition, to enable increased detail resolution, the sensor does not have an anti-aliasing (AA) filter. Instead, Pentax has integrated its AA filter simulator, which may decrease moire patterning when necessary. This method eliminates the appearance of moiré patterning by employing in-camera software in conjunction with microscopic vibrations at a sub-pixel level while the image is being exposed.

Pentax K-1 Image Quality

When I initially picked up the K-1, I believed it was pleasant to handle, and after using it for extended periods, my view has not altered at all on this aspect of the weapon. The front grip is comfortable and deep (from front to back), giving your fingers freedom to reach down and round, yet at the same time, it is not overly broad, preventing your fingers from being strained. Additionally, it has excellent sculpting, and the textured covering is incredibly tactile and provides a good “grip.”

In addition to the front grip, the rear of the camera features a small yet ergonomic thumb ridge that, when combined with the front grip, gives the impression that the camera is securely held in your hands.

The magnesium alloy used in its construction gives the camera a robust and well-made appearance and feel. In addition, the dials have a great, substantial feel and a respectable amount of torque. This is a camera that you shouldn’t have to put away hastily if it starts to rain while you’re out on a shoot since all of the controls, joints, and ports have been sealed to prevent the intrusion of dust and moisture. As we have come to expect from Pentax, this is a weatherproof camera. Additionally, it continues to function even when the temperature is -10C.

Pentax K-1 Performance

The picture quality of Pentax’s most recent single-lens reflex cameras, which strikes a solid mix between detail and noise visibility, has impressed us, and the K-1, for the most part, upholds that level. Images with low to medium sensitivity contain a lot of detail, but when the ISO number is increased, fine-textured noise appears. The ISO 6400 setting produced awe-inspiring images with a high level of resolution and a low level of noise. Around ISO 25,600, the quality of the photographs begins to suffer, although they are still usable in most cases.

Even the results at ISO102,400 and ISO204,800 are acceptable, although they appear more like the outcomes of expansion settings than the values of their natural environments. When seen at a reasonably tiny size on-screen, certain darker regions are severely smeared, and elements within the JPEGs have a subtle glow that is diffused. Reduce the ISO to 51,200 or 25,600, and you will see a significant increase in the quality of the photographs at the A3 size. Raw and JPEG files will still have some luminance noise, but they will be much less noticeable.

Pentax K-1 Image Quality

The Pentax K-1 was capable of producing very high-quality photographs. Noise is adequately handled by the Pentax K-1, appearing for the first time at an ISO level of 1600 and becoming more plainly discernible at faster ISO settings of 3200-12800 while viewing photographs at 100% magnification on screen (particularly in the RAW files). The quickest settings, which range from 25600 to 204800, appear far better on paper than they do in practice. The color saturation is steady over the whole ISO range, which is quite impressive.

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 exceptionally well. It is compatible with any lens you choose to connect to the K-1 is an additional advantage. The night shot turned out 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.

The Digital Filters enable you to generate distinctive effects in a short amount of time. At the same time, the Custom Images provide you the ability to make adjustments to fit your needs better and may be used in place of the digital darkroom in many situations. The D-Range choices assist make the most out of both the shadows and highlights in a high-contrast scene (and it works for both JPEG and RAW files), while the HDR mode significantly widens the dynamic range of a JPEG by merging three shots with varied exposures in-camera.

Pentax K-1 Specs

Body typeMid-size SLR
Body materialMagnesium alloy
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
Color spacesRGB, Adobe RGB
Color filter arrayPrimary color filter
ISOAuto, 100-204800
White balance presets8
Custom white balanceYes (3 slots)
Image stabilizationSensor-shift
Uncompressed formatRAW
JPEG quality levelsBest, better, good
File formatJPEG (Exif v2.3)Raw (PEF/DNG)
Optics & Focus
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Phase DetectMulti-areaCenterSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousFace DetectionLive View
Autofocus assist lampYes
Manual focusYes
Number of focus points33
Lens mountPentax KAF4
Focal length multiplier
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDTilting
Screen size3.2″
Screen dots1,037,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeTFT LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeOptical (pentaprism)
Viewfinder coverage100%
Viewfinder magnification0.7×
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed30 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/8000 sec
Exposure modesProgramAperture priorityShutter priorityAperture and shutter prioritySensitivity priorityManual
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
Flash X sync speed1/200 sec
Drive modesSingle Frame, Continuous, Self-timer, Remote Control, Bracketing, Mirror- up, Multi-Exposure, Interval Shooting, Interval Composite, Interval Movie Record, Star Stream
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)
Videography features
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (60i, 50i, 30p, 25p, 24p), 1280 x 720 (60p, 50p)
FormatMPEG-4, H.264
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)760
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″)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingYes (Still or video)

Pentax K-1 Verdict

The K-1 boasts several charming details in addition to its most notable features, which include a full-frame sensor with 36 megapixels, Pixel Shift Resolution, and Shake Reduction II. Because the GPS, which, for one thing, makes it possible for photographs to be tagged with position data, can be turned on and off with the press of a dedicated button, there is no need to dig through the menus to locate it, nor is there any need to worry about the battery running out.

There are LED lights that make it easier to operate the camera in the dark, and a Smart Dial that is located on the top of the camera provides a means of making quick adjustments to the settings. There are plenty of shortcut buttons that reduce the number of times that you have to navigate through the menus. You also have quite a bit of leeway to customize the camera to your liking, so you may adjust the settings to make it work the way you want it to.

Pentax K-1 Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Impressive feature set
  • Full-frame 36MP sensor
  • Competitive pricing
Need Improvements
  • A loose mic port cover might threaten the device’s ability to withstand the elements
  • Outdated looking menus
  • Slow autofocusing mechanism
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode

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Pentax is one of the significant conventional photography companies that has transitioned from film to digital camera manufacture. It has always seemed plausible that the company will one day create a full-frame digital SLR camera. However, the firm didn't declare that it was going...Pentax K-1 Review