Introduction

Back on May 7, we published our review of the Pentax K-1 Mark II. For our studio scene analysis we used the SMC Pentax-D FA 50mm F2.8 Macro lens, rather than the SMC Pentax-FA 77mm F1.8 Limited that we'd used for the original K-1 review. This isn't ideal (we try to shoot our studio scene as close to 85mm as we can, on full-frame bodies) but we did this because after some comparison tests, we found that the 50mm F2.8 was slightly sharper than our copy of the 77mm in the central portion of the frame, and that's where we're looking when we draw our conclusions.

While the center looked better, as many of you noticed, the top right corner of the scene shot with the 50mm F2.8 was soft; softer than the same area in images shot with the K-1. However, given the sharper central area (and the lack of a better sample of the 77mm at the time), we opted to publish the review regardless, since we don't draw any sharpness or resolution conclusions from the edges of our studio scene.

Unfortunately, after the review was published we discovered a processing error with one of the K-1 II's studio files, taken at ISO 12,800. This was swapped out, with an editors' note added as soon as we became aware of it. More seriously, we also discovered that the K-1 Mark II's JPEG profile had been incorrectly set to 'Auto'. This resulted in differences in color and saturation compared to the K-1, which had been set correctly to the default: 'Bright'.

See the updated K-1 Mark II
image quality page

Upon considering the cumulative effect of these differences, we spoke to Ricoh, who were kind enough to send us a second K-1 II, a K-1 and a hand-picked 77mm F1.8 Limited, so that we could re-shoot. Now that we've had a chance to compare the results of both cameras with the new 77mm F1.8 (which is noticeably sharper than the lens with which we originally tested the K-1), I wanted to share our findings with you.

The re-shoot and the results

First and most notably, it's still clear that the accelerator unit in the K-1 Mark II is applying noise reduction to Raw files that the user cannot disable or remove. At high ISO values this still results in a loss of detail and contrast and the introduction of artifacts, but we have to acknowledge that a portion of our assessments were based on the incorrectly processed ISO 12,800 file. Our impression of JPEG color has also improved markedly as a result of using the correct 'Bright' profile.

As a result, we have adjusted both our scoring and some of the wording throughout the review to reflect this. It's important to note that scoring and our overall assessment of the camera are not significantly changed, though; here's why.

Most notably, it's still clear the K-1 Mark II is applying noise reduction to Raw files

Despite the two-year gap between them, the K-1 Mark II still represents a minor upgrade over the K-1. Yes, you can now choose ISO 819,200, but the quality and therefore the utility of this setting is questionable. Autofocus tracking is improved, but still uncompetitive. Noise reduction in Raw does reduce visible grain at high ISO values, but its value to demanding users of such a high-end, high-res camera who are likely to want complete control over their images strikes us as suspect. The K-1 II's lagging video capabilities look increasingly amiss in today's market, and lastly, the Dynamic (hand held) Pixel Shift does not actually align images moved by a single pixel, instead approximating a super resolution technique that's been around for years.

Read the full Pentax K-1 II review

All of this is certainly not to say the K-1 Mark II is a bad camera. Both the K-1 II and its predecessor are built like tanks, come with a bevy of unique features and are capable of absolutely outstanding image quality. We aim to give credit where credit is due, but as always, our first obligation is to help photographers spend their hard-earned money wisely. The fact remains that, despite our reassessment of the K-1 II's image quality and JPEG color in particular, there are many ways in which the K-1 Mark II is simply outclassed by the competition.

Because of this, it's still difficult for us to recommend the K-1 Mark II over competing models, and still difficult to recommend existing K-1 users pay $500 for the upgrade.

The final word

In the end, we are beholden to our readers and endeavor to hold all information that we publish on DPReview to the highest standards of accuracy. We fell short of that goal in this instance, and I apologize wholeheartedly for that. I hope that in fixing our mistakes with the K-1 Mark II, we've provided some additional and useful value to our review. We will take what we've learned from this experience to improve our future reviews in the hopes that we can continue to provide the most detailed and useful photography content on the internet.

As always, thanks for reading.

Carey