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Pentax K-01 Review

May 2012 | By Jeff Keller

The Pentax K-01 (from $749) is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera with a most unusual design. Created by Australian designer Marc Newson of (who, admittedly, I'd never heard of before the K-01), the modern look of the K-01 will certainly turn heads (especially if you get the yellow one). Aside from its unique looks, the K-01 is also a fully-featured camera. It has a 16 Megapixel CMOS sensor, K-mount lens support with built-in (sensor-based) image stabilization, lots of manual controls, a boatload of scene modes and special effects, an HDR function, and 1080p video recording.

What's in the Box?

The K-01 is available in three kits in three colors (black, white, yellow). You can go body only for $749, add a 40mm pancake lens (pictured in this review) for $899, or get a dual lens kit with more traditional-looking 18 - 55 and 50 - 200 mm zooms for $999. Here's what you'll find in the box for each of those:

  • The 16.3 effective Megapixel Pentax K-01 camera body
  • F2.8, 40mm Pentax DA XS lens [40mm lens kit only]
  • F3.5-5.6, 18 - 55 mm Pentax DA lens [dual lens kit only]
  • F4.0-5.6, 50 - 200 mm Pentax DA lens [dual lens kit only]
  • D-LI90 lithium-ion battery
  • Battery charger
  • Body cap
  • Shoulder strap
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM featuring SilkyPix Developer Studio 3.0
  • Fold-out Quick Start Guide + 265 page Operating Manual (printed)

Memory Cards and Battery

Returning to the review now, let's talk about memory cards. Interchangeable lens cameras like the K-01 never come with memory cards. So, if you don't have one already, you'll need to pick one up. The K-01 supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC media, and I'd recommend picking up a 4GB if you'll be taking mostly still photos, and 8 - 16 GB if you'll be recording a lot of Full HD videos.

The K-01 uses the D-LI90 lithium-ion battery for power. It has a whopping 14 Wh of energy, which is at least twice as much as the battery in your typical interchangeable lens camera. If you think that's going to give the K-01 some big battery life numbers, you're right. Here's how it comes to other ILCs:

Camera Battery life w/live view
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Nikon 1 J1 230 shots EN-EL20
Olympus E-P3 300 shots BLS-1 / BLS-5
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 300 shots * DMW-BLD10
Pentax K-01 500 shots D-LI90
Samsung NX210 320 shots BP1030
Sony Alpha NEX-5N 430 shots NP-FW50

* With the 14 - 42 mm kit lens
Battery life numbers are provided by the manufacturer

Sure enough, the Pentax K-01 has the best battery life in the group, beating the second place Sony NEX-5N by about 16%. If you do feel the need to get a spare battery, an extra D-LI90 will set you back just shy of $50.

When it's time to charge the D-LI90, just pop it into the included charger. And then go for a long drive, as it'll take a lengthy 320 minutes for the battery to charge. I guess that's the price you pay for having such great battery life!

Optional Accessories

The K-01 has a pretty good set of accessories, though one missing item that I think a lot of people would've liked is an electronic viewfinder. Here are the most exciting accessories for the K-01:

Accessory Model # Price * Description
Lenses Varies Varies You can use any K-mount lens with the K-01, with a 1.5X crop factor.
External flash

AF200FG
AF360FGZ
AF540FGZ

From $154
From $340
From $490
The AF200FG is a basic external flash with a guide number of 20 meters. The two higher-end models are much more powerful, can tilt/rotate, and support high speed x-sync.
GPS receiver O-GPS1 From $225 Tag your location and direction with this GPS, which can be controlled right from the camera menu. GPS is self-powered.
Wireless remote control Remote Ctrl F
O-RC1
$20
$30
Remote Control F is a old model which simply releases the shutter. The O-RC1 is waterproof and has a few additional buttons.
A/V cable I-AVC7 From $16 A composite A/V cable for connecting to older TVs.
AC adapter K-AC1202 TBC Power the camera without using your battery.
Camera case O-CC120 TBC The manual mentions this case, but I can't seem to find any details on it. May be a Japan-only product.
* Prices were accurate at time of publication

There are a couple of other things available too, including a macro ring flash and various hot shoe accessories.

Pentax includes SilkyPix Developer Studio for Pentax version 3.0 with the K-01. SilkyPix is included by many manufacturers (Panasonic most notably), so there's a good chance that you've used it before. SilkyPix is a capable editor for both JPEG and RAW images, though it's interface is clunky, with some poor Japanese to English translations. That said, it will edit all kinds of RAW (DNG) properties, including exposure, dynamic range, white balance, noise reduction, sharpness, and color. If you'd rather use Photoshop, that's no problem, since the K-01 uses Adobe's own DNG format for its RAW images. Pentax doesn't provide anything for editing movies, though the software that comes with Mac OS or Windows should be fine for basic edits.

While other camera companies skimp on their documentation, usually providing them in PDF format, Pentax still spends the money on a full, printed manual. The manual is lengthy, detailed, and fairly user-friendly. Instructions for using the included software will be installed onto your Mac or PC.

This review was first published at www.dcresource.com, and is presented here with minimal changes, notably the inclusion of a full set of product images, our usual studio comparisons and an expanded samples gallery, plus the addition of a standard dpreview score. Our original hands-on preview of the Pentax K-01 is still online and can be found here.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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This article is Copyright 2012 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

OnTheWeb
By OnTheWeb (10 months ago)

Forgot to mention DXOMark rates this camera/sensor and sports performance nearly top of its class of hybrid cameras.

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