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Just Posted: Pentax K-01 review

By dpreview staff on May 30, 2012 at 23:01 GMT

Just posted: our sixteen-page Pentax K-01 review. In the third of our collaborative reviews with the Digital Camera Resource Page's Jeff Keller, we look at Pentax's first large-sensor mirrorless camera, the 16MP APS-C K-01. The K-01 is unusual for a mirrorless camera in that it uses a preexisting lens mount - so it has to be the same depth as a DSLR, despite the lack of mirror. The idiosyncratic approach is emphasized by the camera's unconventional styling by designer Marc Newson, but what's the K-01 like to use, when you get past its looks?

The use of the full-depth K-mount means the camera is immediately compatible with the many K lenses made Pentax and other brands over the decades. However, this added depth limits the options for adapting other lenses, as is popular with other mirrorless systems.

This review is based on one originally published at the Digital Camera Resource Page, enhanced with a full set of our own product images, our usual studio comparisons and an expanded samples gallery, plus the addition of a standard dpreview score.

120
I own it
10
I want it
16
I had it
Discuss in the forums

Comments

Total comments: 358
123
garyknrd
By garyknrd (May 31, 2012)

I bought the k-5 because of the glowing reviews here. AF was the worst I have ever seen in low light. Seems like the problem still exists. At least the reviewer this time knows what he is talking about. I will start looking for his reviews. If they are from him I will have a little more confidence.

3 upvotes
Zvonimir Tosic
By Zvonimir Tosic (May 31, 2012)

DPR is coming of age, and it's acting like an old geezer in the park full of kids running around: at one hand 'welcomes' all that youth and its novelty, but it's so stuck in past it must add irreverent comments 'to behave well' to pull it all again in its own world of values.
The aim of photography, what's important in camera design and features has changed at the same moment when the interest of new kids with cameras have changed. So perhaps it's time to have websites with some refreshing views on photography and what photo tools of tomorrow should be like.

Comment edited 25 seconds after posting
5 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (May 31, 2012)

If you are implying that this camera is a "tool of tomorrow" then I think you are sadly mistaken.

8 upvotes
Chinaexpat
By Chinaexpat (May 31, 2012)

The kids always give the substitute a hard time.

3 upvotes
Edmond Leung
By Edmond Leung (May 31, 2012)

69% Overall Score... Seems too high for this stupid camera.
It is just waste of time to do a full review of this camera.

3 upvotes
Freestyler
By Freestyler (May 31, 2012)

Quite the opposite to me, the Pros list seems to be quite large and extensive, the features listed their are signifigant. The Cons list however seems quite weak in comparison, based on this the score seems abnormally low to me. I would of expected 76% or so, as the Pros list is quite excellent, for this type of camera.

I agree with the others about outsourcing reviews may not be the best of ideas, but each to their own.

7 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (May 31, 2012)

According to DxOMark, this camera that you call "stupid" has the best IQ of any ILC except for the NEX-7. If image quality is important to you, this camera is not a waste of time at all.

K-5 image quality with better video, what's not to like? I'd take this camera with a couple of DA Limited primes over most of the trendy m43 and G1X type cameras that DPR loved for the simple fact that it has a great sensor, superb IQ, and Pentax makes fantastic pancake primes.

And though I shoot Nikon, the K-30 when it's released will be ultimate camera with nothing in it's price range coming close to it.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
chlamchowder
By chlamchowder (May 31, 2012)

Few minor technical details:
On http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/pentax-k-01/8, in the RAW mode section, the Neat Image + USM night shoot image is a dead link. Below that, the studio shot ISO 3200 ACR image links to the ISO 3200 night shoot image instead of the full size studio shot.

0 upvotes
qwertyasdf
By qwertyasdf (May 31, 2012)

Just wondering if Pentax decides to take a pic of their whole line up of bodies and lenses....this K-01 will just look so odd....

0 upvotes
zigi_S
By zigi_S (May 31, 2012)

Not if they include the robo transformer japanesse versions of the dslrs.

1 upvote
ddolde
By ddolde (May 30, 2012)

Oh boy oh boy yet another craprastic digicam !!

2 upvotes
Graystar
By Graystar (May 30, 2012)

Oy vey…another DCResource review.

You know how when you decide you no long like your bank so you switch to another bank but then your old bank buys the new bank and you’re right back where you started? That’s what this feels like.

10 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (May 30, 2012)

Another DCResource review augmented with dpreview's unique studio comparison samples + analysis, and published in addition to our usual reviews, previews, news and features output...

Poor you ;)

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
13 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (May 31, 2012)

I'm sure Pentax users would have preferred a normal DPR review. I'm not complaining because I don't pay a nickel for your wonderful content, just saying. If you outsource the K-30 review there'll likely be a revolt.

8 upvotes
Graystar
By Graystar (May 31, 2012)

"published in addition to our usual reviews"

Hmmm...a camera review is in addition to the "usual reviews" of a camera review site...

Let me correct you on this...camera reviews ARE your "usual reviews." This was published "instead of"...not "in addition to." I can see this kind of shortcut for compacts, but it shouldn't happen on such a camera.

No break-down and pictures of individual controls and their functions, no completely listing of all menu items and their options, etc... Your readers were expecting more than they got.

5 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (May 31, 2012)

I agree with Graystar. Pentax clearly put a lot of effort into the K-01. Don't they deserve a standard review? I get the feeling that likely the reason there is still no Q review is because a decision was made that interest in a small sensor ILC is low. But everybody I know who has a Q absolutely loves it. Rewarding cookie cutter cameras, and glossing over new and original offerings just seems wrong. Shouldn't innovation be rewarded?

12 upvotes
tonywong
By tonywong (May 31, 2012)

I'm a bit disheartened by the DCR review content as well. If I wanted a DCR review, I would have went to the DCR website. Also, DCR's review was put up on May 5, 2012.

Not that the review is a bad one, but it's kind of like badge engineering between a Ford and a Mercury. Would prefer a real set of opinions instead of an echo chamber.

However, free is free, I got what I paid for.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
fisherman_lol
By fisherman_lol (May 31, 2012)

It is been like for ever. If this was a nikon or canon it would be the best thing since the slice bread. Canikon own DPR, so what do you expect.

2 upvotes
Don Kiyoti
By Don Kiyoti (May 31, 2012)

Republishing another site's review, even with tweaks, is exceedingly lame.

3 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (May 31, 2012)

Don't like it? Don't read it. We're publishing these collaborative reviews as well as our in-house content, not instead of.

6 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (May 31, 2012)

dpreview has been in a long spiral of decline since Amazon bought it. Farming out reviews is just the latest step down.

6 upvotes
Seagull TLR
By Seagull TLR (May 31, 2012)

As someone else had mentioned, you didn't pay for DPR's service. If you don't like its reviews, borrow Consumer Reports from your local library.

1 upvote
Don Kiyoti
By Don Kiyoti (May 31, 2012)

Barney, it isn't a matter of "don't like it, don't read it" (which is no way to defend low-rent content). It's a matter of maintaining the credibility of dpreview.com. Rehashing content from another site is not how to do that. If I want that, I can go read buzzfeed or something.

I agree with Richard Murdey.

6 upvotes
Don Kiyoti
By Don Kiyoti (May 31, 2012)

Another point: the dcresource review has been out nearly a month. The K-01 has been out long enough to see many samples by actual users and to read their views on the camera here and elsewhere (taking into consideration that most people are happy with what they buy and are not very objective). The news is not that the K-01 got a relatively poor review here, but that dpreview was very slow to put out a half-assed review which is pretty much irrelevant.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
pdelux
By pdelux (May 31, 2012)

Perhaps DPreview should just omit the name of teh reviewer from all future reviews. This will shut up all the complainers.

Who cares about outsourcing. Every organisation in the history of business has outsourced it stuff. You think when you buy a camera from Canon/nikon etc all the components are made exclusively by them??

Quality Assurance /QC is all that matters.

DPReview obviously feel the reviewer is well qualified.

Comment edited 48 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Dazed and Confused
By Dazed and Confused (May 31, 2012)

"We're publishing these collaborative reviews as well as our in-house content, not instead of."

So when will the DPReview version of the K-01 review be out? As, in your own words, this review is 'not instead of' your in house content.

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (May 31, 2012)

@ Dazed and confused - this review, plus our preview, is the extent of the p/review content we have planned for this camera. It's an interesting product, but it was never going to be on the top of our list of priorities in a Photokina year, I'm sorry. Doing it this way allows us to get a review online (with a full set of our signature studio and real-world comparison images) in a timely manner, without taking time and resources away from higher-profile work.

0 upvotes
privater
By privater (May 30, 2012)

what a giant rear rubber cap fom Toysrus

1 upvote
smileblog
By smileblog (May 30, 2012)

Oh.. 69%
That's sad though.

I think I never seen such a low score in an interchangeable-lens digital camera before.

0 upvotes
Jogger
By Jogger (May 30, 2012)

I wish Nikon would make something like this with an FF sensor and good video capabilities; i would get it as a digital back and video box.

1 upvote
tkbslc
By tkbslc (May 31, 2012)

Would you still get it if it was only 5% cheaper than a D800 and the only size difference was that they removed the viewfinder? That's pretty much what this camera is compared to the real Pentax SLR cameras.

3 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (May 30, 2012)

Too bad about the af. That should have been done right and this camera would be much more interesting. It also needs a swivel screen. Pentax should buy some good af tech.

2 upvotes
ThePhilips
By ThePhilips (May 31, 2012)

Better AF tech will not help much.

The K-mount lenses are tuned for PDAF - not CDAF.

Oly has good AF tech in m43 cameras - but it doesn't work for most of the legacy 43 lenses.

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (May 30, 2012)

What's the point of posting a review from another website on DPReview? What about all the faithful Pentax users that are interested in DPR's opinion of the K-01 not Jeff Keller's? I guess now DPR is outsourcing now.

Anyway, not a Pentax user, but I believe this camera should have at least been a Silver Award simply because of the awesome IQ and great features like focus peaking. But I guess the review is in line with DPR's low weighting of IQ as demonstrated in the ridiculously low D800 score.

3 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (May 30, 2012)

Neither the K-01's feature set nor performance are in line with the best of its competition. Its image quality is very good, and this is reflected in the final score. This review is a collaborative effort between dpr and Jeff Keller, as you'll see from the considerable amount of our own 'signature' content scattered throughout.

6 upvotes
ET2
By ET2 (May 30, 2012)

If you read the review you will see it's far more detailed (and informative) than the the original review

3 upvotes
ET2
By ET2 (May 30, 2012)

As for the IQ, if you check Dxomark, you will see K01 scores within margin of error of other cameras that use the same sensor. K01 does apply stronger RAW NR than K-5 for ISO 3200 and up ..

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (May 30, 2012)

I did read the review, I just believe that when companies release cameras with such outstanding IQ they should be rewarded. Isn't IQ what this is all about? DxOMark rated the K-01 as having the second best IQ of all ILCs. Performance - the X100 has slower AF just like the K-01, but nobody could argue that it's not a great camera.

Jeff Keller didn't like the design, the thickness of the body, but lost is the fact that the K-01 design allows backwards compatibility with all K-mount lenses. This is huge. I would have liked a VF like the OM-D has, but side-by-side images will be far superior from the K-01. So you have a Gold Award camera in the OM-D with worse IQ than a camera that gets an "Average" score. Hmmm.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
6 upvotes
ET2
By ET2 (May 30, 2012)

Dxomark rated it at 79 points. 5N scored 77. Five points on dxomark equals 1/3 stops, according to their FAQ. That's only 2 point difference. D5100, A580, D7000, and K-5 scored slightly higher with a similar/related sensor. Dxomark also points out that RAW noise reduction is slightly strong than K-5 (starts at ISO 3200). All said and done, the IQ is inline with what is expected from this sensor. IQ alone doesn't make a camera, if it can't AF or if you can't see the LCD on a sunny day. No viewfinder. Focus peaking on K01 is disabled in video mode. Can you explain that one?

3 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (May 30, 2012)

The K-01 can mount K-mount lenses, but it struggles to focus them, since none were designed for contrast-detection AF.

The image quality differences between the OM-D and the K-01 are not huge, but the usability gap is. The OM-D is fast, comfortable and enjoyable to use, and has an increasingly good range of lenses available for it. The K-01 is awkward, ungainly and doesn't focus terribly well with any lens on the market. I would recommend the OM-D over the K-01 almost without exception.

Image quality is the most important factor in our scoring system, but it's not the only one. A good camera is about more than just good pictures (and these both take good pictures).

5 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (May 31, 2012)

The K-01 focusses fine with the lovely 40 2.8 pancake with it's gorgeous 9-blade aperture, a lens I would take over the poor OM-D kit lens any day. In fact for many, a good prime like the 40 2.8 will be all they need to make superb images in many situations.

As far as slow performance, the Canon G1X has poor AF, poor video quality, and no VF to speak of yet it effortlessly made Silver Award. And nobody would argue that the sensor or the IQ of the G1X is better than the K-01. I agree that the OM-D is overall a nicer camera, just the score disparity when you consider the better lens and better IQ of the K-01 is puzzling.

2 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (May 31, 2012)

The awards are not intrinsically linked to the cameras' scores, and are meant to be representative of a reviewer's opinion of the product as a whole. We felt that the G1X, an interesting and in some respects groundbreaking camera, deserved to be recognised with a silver award, but the K-01 just didn't impress us enough in any area of its feature set or performance.

But there would be no conflict in theory for a camera to get 80% and no award, and one to get 79% and get a silver or even gold award.

2 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (May 31, 2012)

I understand completely, but I'd take a K-01 over a G1X mainly because the video performance of the G1X, for a Canon camera, is shockingly sub-par with really bad aliasing. Conversely, the K-01 has SR, Peaking, and has quite decent video quality not to mention outstanding still IQ and K-5 level DR. So if an alien were to drop down and see a 69% and the G1X score they'd assume the Canon was a far superior camera. For all the supposed faults of the K-01, and reading through the "Cons" there aren't many, I'd take it over a G1X any day.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (May 31, 2012)

You won't be surprised that I strongly disagree with that assessment. I don't, however, think it would be a good use of anyone's time to argue about it, since I can't see either of us changing our positions.

5 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (May 31, 2012)

I agree Mr. Butler there's little reason to argue since photography is so personal. Still owning a D7000 and a Pany GX1, and having downloaded countless K-01 and OM-D sample files, I do think you underestimate the performance of the Sony Exmor 16 mp sensor with your view that image quality is close between these cameras. It's not all that close as 14 EV DR and superb high ISO abilities are unmatched in this segment. Slowish AF, especially when you have excellent Live View implementation with Focus Peaking, should not drag down a score to a 69% on any camera with this sensor, IMHO.

1 upvote
pdelux
By pdelux (May 31, 2012)

marike6 - you seem to know so much about reviewing cameras, maybe you should apply for the job opening @ DPR

1 upvote
Faintandfuzzy
By Faintandfuzzy (May 30, 2012)

Ugly camera. No EVF. No OVF.

8 upvotes
cadet stimpy
By cadet stimpy (May 30, 2012)

I thought it was ugly too until I saw one in a shop, I kinda like it.

7 upvotes
Seagull TLR
By Seagull TLR (May 31, 2012)

The real thing looks very nice.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
NorthwestF
By NorthwestF (May 30, 2012)

Thanks. Hopefully A57 is next line? It was released a week before K01

1 upvote
happypoppeye
By happypoppeye (May 30, 2012)

...gulp

0 upvotes
Total comments: 358
123