A pleasant surprise and still relevant.

Started Dec 17, 2016 | User reviews thread
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absquatulate Senior Member • Posts: 9,101
A pleasant surprise and still relevant.

Like many people, I remember having my WTH! moment when I first saw this camera, and laughed along with others. Well we're five years down the road now and I have to say I'm not laughing now. Having read copious amounts of reviews from people who either loved or hated this camera I decided to get one. For two reasons, firstly, out of pure curiosity, and secondly, it actually does fill a need for me. Now I have bought fully into Pentax, with the K3II and various lenses I wanted a second body as a back-up and for a lighter alternative, when I don't want to hump around the K3II and heavier lenses.

So the camera came, and I have to say, I was pleasantly suprised, not so much by the look and feel, which is pretty obvious, but by the ease of use and capabilities of the camera. It is very simple and easy to use, everything is very well implemented and the camera never gets in the way of shooting. Yes it's not the quickest at focusing, even with the firmware upgrade, but it's fine for my purposes, and it is accurate. Even in low light, it will focus ok, you just need to ensure there is some contrast for it to lock onto.

I guess the biggest bug bear for most people is the lack of evf or ability to have one. Well I knew that and there are plenty of aids for screen shading in bright light so I'm not too bothered about it, it is what it is. I have the Sigma DPXM's and nothing is harder to shoot in bright light than those cameras, but I've always managed.

So about the image quality? even though its nearly 5 years old it still holds its own. 16mp is plenty for bigger prints and with a decent lens on it then it's capable of excellent results. I am using it with the DA Ltd's, the 15mm, 20-40mm and 70mm and it's perfect for those lenses. No focusing issues or adjustments required, they bolt straight on with no annoying adaptors, it's all good. I particularly like the ISO adjustment implmentation on this camera, it's very easy to switch between auto ISO and picking a single value, nicely done Pentax. High ISO is also something of a revelation, it has a lack of chroma noise and shooting up to 6400 is no problem, even 12800 at a pinch, or for mono results. I feel it's better than the K3II for high ISO shooting, so that is a nice bonus.
The SR was also a nice suprise, I can handhold to lower shutter speeds than I can on the K3II, probably because there is no flapping mirror involved, but either way it's better for sure.

The other bone of contention for most people is the ergonomics, not so much for me. It is heavier than it looks, but it gives it a nice balance when mounting a lens like the Sigma 8-16mm. The deeper body is fine by me, I have medium sized hands and don't find it a problem to hold. None of the decent mirrorless cameras fit in a pocket anyway, so I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. I carry it in a small camera bag, with lenses, just like I would if I was shooting m4/3's (which I used to do), so no biggie for me. If you use it with short zooms or primes it's absolutely fine, I just grip the camera and place my left hand underneath it to shoot, it's fine. I wouldn't recommend it for long telephoto lenses but I have the K3II for that.

Battery life is another plus for this camera, it's excellent for a mirrorless model. It also uses the same batteries as my K3II, another bonus. If you've used any of the other mirrorless brands you'll know how they chew through batteries, not so much with the K-01.

So what don't I like about it? not much really, even the placement of the green button isn't a big issue for me, I don't use it much anyway. The two stage shutter button is a little tricky but I configured the focusing to the AEL button for back button focusing so even that is easy to overcome. Even the looks have grown on me, it's quirky and original, I've grown to like it's uniqueness. The flash is also pretty decent and my Metz flash works perfectly on it as well, another bonus.
The LCD resolution is a little old now, I've grown used to the razor sharp LCD on the K3II, which makes checking critical sharpness easy, but you just have to trust the K-01 to nail the shot, which it usually does, and it's good enough in that context. My shots look sharper on my computer screen than they do on the camera LCD, so it's just a case of adjusting to that.

So in summary, this camera is still relevant today for me, it does the job I need it to do very competently, and I have no complaints about IQ whatsoever. If you've never tried one, and you want something a bit smaller, for shooting primes on it, it does the job very well. The ability to use exactly the same lenses on both my DSLR and the K-01 is not to be under-estimated. They can be picked up pretty cheap now, though they are getting harder to find. I may even pick up a spare, nice job Pentax, I stand corrected, I get it now. I'd love to see an updated model with a tilting LCD but I doubt that will ever happen now, so I'll make do with this interesting camera and enjoy it until something more suitable appears, which may be never.

Pentax K-01
16 megapixels • 3 screen • APS-C sensor
Announced: Feb 2, 2012
absquatulate's score
Average community score
bad for good for
Kids / pets
Action / sports
Landscapes / scenery
Low light (without flash)
Flash photography (social)
Studio / still life
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Pentax K-01
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