Here it is – the long awaited full-frame Pentax. The Pentax K-1 is a solidly constructed dslr camera that feels good in the hand, and should appeal to many photographers looking to step up from APS-C Pentax DSLRs, as well as those looking to use older K-mount glass on a full-frame format for a dslr camera.
The body of the K-1 is constructed of a lightweight magnesium alloy, and has 87 seals around the body. The dslr camera; K-1 is dustproof, weather-resistant and cold-resistant. It’s built around a 36MP CMOS sensor that has a number of tricks up its sleeve. A base ISO of 100 suggests it’s the same sensor found in the Sony Alpha 7R which, without an AA filter, should yield plenty of detail and dynamic range. The dslr camera does lack the option for an electronic first curtain though, but it remains to be seen if shutter shock will be a real-world issue.
Yes, it’s valid. The new Pentax K-1 is the first run through Pentax has ever made a 35mm full-frame digital camera. That’s amazing considering Canon and Nikon (Dslr camera) have been at it for years, but also explains why Pentax has lagged behind for so long. Where did loyal Pentax fans go when upgrading to full-frame not Pentax. Enter the K-1!
1) Its outstanding value – Pentax isn’t foolish. It knows it’s way behind the game, so its answer is to offer outstanding value for money. The K-1, which features a 36 x 24mm 36-megapixel sensor, magnesium alloy body, weather sealing and another five-axis in-body stabilization system, will cost just £1,599 body-only.
That’s about the same as the first-gen dslr camera; Nikon D810 and the D750, but the K-1 has better specs and features than either. Moreover, that’s the value now. Will undoubtedly descend in future, which will only make it better value still. The D810, for example, cost £2,700 when it first launched in 2014.
2) There’s already a healthy decision of lenses – DSLRs are only as good as their lenses, so it’s an important point. Pentax says it already has 12 full-frame compatible lenses on the market, with two more coming in time for the launch of the Pentax K-1in April. Moreover, the K-1 works with any K-mount Pentax lens from the past, though older ones will only support manual focus.
3) It has an abnormal “Flextilt” screen – This is interesting, but possibly not in a good way. Instead of a hinge, the 3.2-inch screen pops out and tilts on what I can only describe as stilts. Pentax says they’re extremely strong, so strong you can lift the dslr camera from the screen. That’s great, but this design doesn’t afford as much flexibility as a regular hinge design.
4) No AA filter (but it can be simulated) – Removing anti-aliasing filters (AA) is de rigor these days as it leads to sharper shots, so it’s no surprise the Pentax K-1doesn’t have one. But Pentax says the K-1 can simulate an AA filter by “applying microscopic vibrations at the sub-pixel level”. This creates the same moiré reduction as an optical AA filter would, or at least that’s the idea.
5) There are loads of things you’ll like – Pentax ticks loads of boxes with the Pentax K-1. You get a 100% field of perspective from the pentaprism optical viewfinder, 4K video capture, lightweight magnesium alloy body, weather sealing, Wi-Fi and GPS. There’s even a handy mode, called Astro Tracer, that combines GPS data and the in-body stabilization to make it easier to photograph night skies by compensating for the earth’s rotation. Shrewd!
The Pentax K-1 will go on sale in the UK in mid-April with prices starting at £1,599 body-only. There’s another LED to make it easier to attach lenses in the dark, too. There’s a good range of accessories, including a battery grasp with extra controls.
There’s a dedicated dial for switching on Wi-Fi and other modes, such as HDR. You can also switch between exposure compensation and ISO control on the top-mounted dial using this mode selector. The main mode control dial features five user preset modes.
The Flextilt screen can rotate 90-degrees upwards, but it’s not as adaptable in other directions. It seems like a good idea, but I’m not sure it works well in practice. We’ll see a better perspective of the screen mechanism. These metal stilts are strong enough to hold the dslr camera’s weight, though I wouldn’t make a habit of holding the K-1 like that.
The K-1 weighs 925g body-only and just over a kilo with battery and card. Pentax quotes 760 shots from a full charge. It didn’t supply a figure with the battery hold included, but ‘lots more’ should be the answer.
The K-1 is great news for loyal Pentax owners. You finally have something to upgrade to if you fancy going the full-frame course – and why the hellfire wouldn’t you? It’s also a superb value alternative to the serious canons from Canon and Nikon, and I suppose Sony if you’re including its range of full-frame mirrorless dslr cameras.
There’s a larger question if this is too late to maneuver Pentax back into the fold, as it were. But for now it’s enough to say that on paper, and on first impression, the Pentax K-1is an impressive effort. Hopefully it will experience its billing when it goes on sale in April.
The dslr camera is extensively sealed and features magnesium alloy construction. But despite its range-topping status and high-end manufacture, it has a relatively low list cost of $1799.
As this list of spec highlights should make clear, the Pentax K-1makes the most of its moveable sensor. As well as the image stabilization, which is rated to an impressive 5 stops, the DSLR camera offers a host of other astute features. These include anti-aliasing filter simulation which vibrates the sensor during exposure to intentionally obscure high recurrence detail across numerous pixels, to avoid moiré. Then there’s the Pixel Shift Resolution mode that increases color resolution by shooting four consecutive images with the sensor moved by one pixel – successfully canceling the Bayer color filter array and lowering noise by image averaging.
The other sensor-shift modes are also shrewd: the Pentax K-1includes Horizon Correction, which rotates the sensor if you hold the dslr camera slightly off-level, and the Astrotracer system that uses the sensor’s development to cancel-out the impact of the Earth’s rotation when taking images of stars (something it can calculate using its GPS).
The dslr camera gets another AF module (called SAFOX 12) which features 33 focus points, 25 of which are cross sort. The central three of these offer higher precision when used with F2.8 or faster lenses and the central 25 continue to focus down as far as – 3EV.
A 86,000-pixel RGB metering sensor acts to offer 77-segment metering but also aids the camera’s autofocus system, enabling scene analysis and subject detection to yield accurate exposures and automatically select the correct AF point to stay on your (subject tracking) when using continuous AF.