Pentax K-01: A Camera for Learning. One That Grows With You!

Started Jan 2, 2013 | Discussions thread
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bozonline
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Pentax K-01: A Camera for Learning. One That Grows With You!
Jan 2, 2013

If you are a beginner, and you are thinking about the Pentax K-01, consider this:

It’s hard to say what the folks at Pentax had in mind when they designed the K-01, but one thing is clear: whether they realize it or not, they have a winner on their hands.  With a world renowned designer and bright yellow as its signature color, it is as if Pentax was trying to respond to some fad that the rest of us knew nothing about.

Let’s get the detractors that we have heard so much about, out of the way.  Yes, it is a big block of square(ish) metal. The rubber I/O doors take some getting used to, and no, as big as it is, you won’t be using this bad boy as a spy camera – well, we might be able to go all Matt Helm with it, if you are old enough to get that reference (think hidden knives).

Those things aside, I believe that what Pentax has on their hands, by design or happenstance, is one heck of a learning/teaching camera.

Think about it:

  • The market has spoken and said that the optimal price point for a K-01 is right around $300.00.  This is a good DSLR/CSC entry level price that is fairly close to what many of us paid to get into our first serious Film SLR.
  • The Camera is built like a tank, and while we have no long term durability stats to point to, one can reasonably assume that with prudent care a K-01 should last for years past its prime.
  • A good manual lens + focus peaking = lifelong lessons on: composition, depth of field, and shutter speed to name a few.
  • The K-01 has, what one might consider the perfect combination of features?  Buttons:  not too many, or too few.  No matter how ugly you think the K-01 is, just about everyone likes the programmable Green & Red buttons. 

So here I am on my soapbox, and you might be wondering where my opinion is coming from – hey pal, what’s you story?

Circa 1997, my wife (then girlfriend) got me into photography.  I had taken a photography class in High School, but other than some dark room shenanigans, considered the whole thing a waste of time.  Anyway she was into photography, and I was into her, so I became mostly interested in photography gear.  Because my wife is an educator by vocation, and a good one at that, I actually learned a thing or two.

With her generous donation of a K-mount Vivitar lens that belonged to her father, and the purchase of a Pentax ZX-30 I was off and running.

Screeching Halt!  Pump the breaks! Film was not cheap, and neither was the processing.  Also, if you liked a shot and wanted to do something “fancy” with it, well you get the picture.  It might be me making excuses, but the situation did not encourage me to shoot rolls, and rolls of film trying to perfect my craft.  There were things that I wanted to learn to do with a camera, and shots I definitely wanted to take, but between a wife, kids, friends, work and other hobbies, it just didn’t happen.

Digital took over and my gear sat.  Every now and again I would take a look at a digital body for the three k-mount lenses and auto flash I had.  After looking at $1,000.00 price tags I would say to myself, “hey that point and shoot I have has manual controls, I can just learn to use that better”.

Well this Christmas the wife asked me for my letter to Mrs. Claus, and while reviewing the ever growing Amazon wish list for my next point and shoot (Pentax Optio RZ-18), I saw an ad for the K-01.

I did my homework, and was intrigued, but to be honest the K-mount and the price sold me.  After informing Mrs. Claus of my desire I continued to research the camera and its feature set.  The more info I got, the more excited I became.

I received my Amazon gift card, thanked Mrs. Santa and placed my order.  It came December 31, 2012.  I charged the battery, updated the firmware (thanks to dpreview), and set about learning the controls.

I took my K-01 out on New Year’s Day for about an hour and half, and I was able to do things I had been trying to do for years, but could not get done with my digital point and shoot.

The ubiquitous slow shutter speed running water shot – got it.

Straight from the camera - just cropped a little. - Using a 12 year old Tamron 28-80mm Kit Lens

The sharp focus close subject, blurry background (depth of field) shot – got it.

Seriously –

The menu and controls on the K-01 are thorough but not deeply hidden.  If you focus on learning to use one or two of them at a time, then by the time you master them all you should be consistently getting the photos you envision.  I sat on the couch and pressed every button to see what it does.  I looked at every menu option available in every mode available.  One key is to understand how the E-dial relates to the mode you are in and the function you are working with (ISO, F-Stop, etc.)

Because the K-01 has a great APS-C Sensor, if you do your part the camera will do its part and you will get great photos.  That is the to say you will get good photos out of the box and as you learn various photographic concepts and how the K-01 uses them your pictures will get better and better, the K-01 will not get in your way.

I wanted this to be a review with a message:  The K-01 is great camera for beginners.  I, however, got a bit lost in telling my story so let me summarize.

With a minimal investment of your time, the Pentax K-01 will take exactly the pictures that you envision.  The photos that I included in this review/article are not great or perfect, but after just a few hours with the K-01 they came out exactly how I wanted them to, and to me, and relative beginner, that is amazing.

Notice I did not even mention shooting movies – can you say bonus!

Oh yea –

I also bought:  MAGBOOKS - Getting Started in Digital Photography, 2nd Edition.  Lots of pictures, and complex concepts explained in plain (British J) english. BOZ(ONLINE)

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Pentax K-01 Pentax K-m (K2000) Tamron AF 28-80mm F/3.5-5.6 Aspherical
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