Special K? Pentax K-1 Review
After years of promises and months of teasing, Ricoh has finally unveiled the Pentax K-1, a 36.4MP full-frame DSLR built around the K lens mount. It becomes the only conventional DSLR to offer a full frame sensor with image stabilization.
The camera is extensively sealed and features magnesium alloy construction. But despite its range-topping status and high-end build, it has a relatively low list price of $1799.
Pentax K-1 Key Specifications
- 36.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor with no anti-aliasing filter
- 5-axis image stabilization rated to 5 stops by CIPA standard testing
- 100% pentaprism viewfinder with 0.7x magnification
- 33-point AF system (25 cross-type)
- Extensive weather-sealing
- 1/200 sec flash sync speed
- 14-bit Raw recording (DNG or PEF)
- AA filter simulation
- Multi-shot Pixel Shift Resolution mode
- Built-in GPS with electro-magnetic compass and Astrotracer function
- 4.4 fps continuous shooting (6.5 fps in APS-C crop mode)
- 1080/30p video
As this list of spec highlights should make clear, the K-1 makes the most of its moveable sensor. As well as the image stabilization, which is rated to an impressive 5 stops, the camera offers a host of other clever features. These include anti-aliasing filter simulation which vibrates the sensor during exposure to intentionally blur high frequency detail across multiple pixels, to avoid moiré. Then there's the Pixel Shift Resolution mode that increases color resolution by shooting four consecutive images with the sensor moved by one pixel - effectively canceling the Bayer color filter array and lowering noise by image averaging.
The other sensor-shift modes are also clever: the K-1 includes Horizon Correction, which rotates the sensor if you hold the camera slightly off-level, and the Astrotracer system that uses the sensor's movement to cancel-out the effect of the Earth's rotation when taking images of stars (something it can calculate using its GPS).
Upgraded AF and metering
|The sensor at the heart of the SAFOX 12 AF module. It gives 33 AF points in all, 25 of which are cross type and three of which offer greater accuracy when paired with bright lenses.|
The camera gets a new AF module (called SAFOX 12) which features 33 focus points, 25 of which are cross type. The central three of these offer higher precision when used with F2.8 or faster lenses and the central 25 continue to focus down as far as -3EV.
An 86,000-pixel RGB metering sensor acts to offer 77-segment metering but also aids the camera's autofocus system, enabling scene analysis and subject detection to yield accurate exposures and automatically select the correct AF point to stay on your subject (subject tracking) when using continuous AF.
Overall, though, it's not the clever use of the sensor that most stands out about the K-1, it's Ricoh's obvious focus on the core photographic capabilities. There's a reason we chose to list the viewfinder size so far up the list of specifications - it's because we think it's something users coming from existing Pentax cameras will most appreciate. Sure, there are multiple exposure modes and time lapse options, but the things that most jumped out are the high resolution sensor, the well positioned dials, the large viewfinder and image stabilization - the core things that help you to get better images. Speaking of core things: some may bemoan the omission of a dedicated AF point control, though the four way controller can be re-purposed for this.
Which isn't to say the K-1 is entirely without the occasional flourish. Aside from clever sensor shift modes (that some - particularly landscape - photographers will surely come to love), the most obvious of these is its 'Cross-Tilt' LCD. The Cross-Tilt mechanism takes a tilting LCD cradle and mounts it on four legs that slide along a cross-shaped series of slots, allowing the screen to extend outwards and move in a complex manner, before the screen itself is tilted up/down.
|The K-1's Cross-Tilt LCD system has all the elegance of two deck chairs mating, but it provides a useful range of articulation.|
Mounted to the back of the LCD are four white LEDs that can be used to shed light on the rear controls. Another LED, whose behavior can be set independently, shines a light on the lens mount for easier alignment when swapping lenses in the dark. The camera's card bay and remote release port are also illuminated by LEDs.
For the most part, though, the camera's focus is very much toward a traditional approach to still photography. Video capture tops-out at 1080/30p (which can also be encoded as 60i, if you prefer), which is a long way from cutting edge, but we really doubt that Ricoh has would-be film makers in mind with this model.
Still shooters are likely to appreciate the camera's Smart Function system, which adds a third command dial to the top right corner of the camera and a further control to define its function. The three dials give direct control over three of the camera's parameters with the ability to customize one of them without going anywhere near a menu.
And how much does Ricoh want for this twin-dial, weather-sealed, magnesium alloy, image-stabilized full frame camera? The list price is a fiercely competitive $1799, body only. To put that in perspective, that's $200 lower than the launch price of Nikon's more basic D610 and $300 less than what Canon originally expected for the EOS 6D, meaning there's only a $100 premium over the list price of Sony's image-stabilized a7 II.
This is a very similar pattern we've seen from Ricoh before, with the company's models often including higher-end features (twin control dials, prism viewfinders and weather sealing) at a lower price than you'd need to spend to get them from one of the other DSLR makers.
At present, Pentax offers a mixture of full-frame compatible lenses, including a handful of screw-drive FA prime lenses from the film-era and the much-loved 31, 43 and 77mm FA Limiteds from the late '90s/early 2000s. However, the company is already starting to flesh-out a range of more modern 'D FA' zooms, including a 15-30mm F2.8, a 24-70mm F2.8 (both suspiciously reminiscent of certain current Tamron-branded zooms) a 70-200mm F2.8 and an 150-450mm F4.5-5.6. For now, though, those looking for modern, fast-focusing primes will be disappointed.
But that isn't the whole story, of course. Part of the reason for all the interest in a full-frame Pentax is the vast collection of K-mount lenses that exist around the world. The K-1 lets you use the aperture rings on these lenses and can give a focus confirmation beep with the central AF point, even with manual focus lenses. When you mount an older, manual lens the K-1 prompts you to manually specify the focal length so that the image stabilization can be tuned appropriately.
The K-1 can, of course, still use the Pentax DA lenses designed for the company's APS-C cameras. By default the camera will use a 15MP APS-C-sized crop of the sensor if a DA lens is mounted but can be made to use its full sensor region, if you'd prefer. Ricoh has published a list of those lenses that will produce relatively useable results in full frame mode, if the aperture is stopped down.
DA Prime Lens / Utility on K-1
|DA 14mm||Crop Mode Only||DA 50mm F1.8||Stopped-down|
|DA 21mm Limited||Crop Mode Only||DA* 55mm F1.4||Stopped-down|
|DA 15 F4 Limited||Crop Mode Only||DA 70mm Limited||Stopped-down|
|DA 35mm F2.4||Stopped-down||DA* 200mm F2.8 SDM||Fully Functional|
|DA 35mm F2.8 Macro||Stopped-down||DA* 300mm F4 SDM||Fully Functional|
|DA 40mm Limited||Stopped-down||DA 560mm F5.6||Fully Functional|
|DA 40mm XS||Stopped-down||RC1.4X||Crop Mode Only|
The company says that all of the DA zooms will only cover the crop sensor region.
May 12, 2016
Nov 17, 2015
Feb 24, 2017
Oct 3, 2016
|Nectar Dancing by Lensmate|
from A Big Year - birds
|Foggy morning by LassiM|
|Sad clown by PEB|
|Mtl Gen X 2015 DP by MarioSS|
from - Gen X - (In Full Colours+ Border)
In this article, expert macro photographer Thomas Shahan shares advice for successful closeup photography of bugs, insects and small animals.
DJI's new firmware makes it difficult to fly in restricted airspace, even when you have proper clearance. Is DJI placing themselves between professionals and the FAA?
Go behind the scenes with National Geographic photographer Renan Ozturk and see what it takes to capture a dangerous, harrowing, stunning Nat Geo photo essay.
Erez Marom tells the story behind this ominous photo of the sand 'reaching up' towards the mountains at Skagsanden beach in Norway. He calls this photo 'Torment.'
DPReview staffer Carey Rose has taken the Panasonic Leica DG 15mm F1.7 along for everything from a city-side boat ride to a bachelor party across the mountains. Find out how the little Leica fared.
Canon just unveiled the largest 12-ink printer on the market. The new imagePROGRAF PRO-6000 printer can make prints from 17 all the way up to 60 inches wide.
"Standing in one of the holiest places on earth, I felt uneasy," writes Wired's Jason Parham. "Most of my fellow visitors, I realized with a brief bloom of nausea, were taking selfies."
Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk has been receiving great reviews, but it's a challenge to see it in its full glory. This handy infographic reveals the aspect ratio chaos that is wrought as the industry retreats from film.
Anti-bullying organization Ditch the Label's Annual Bullying Survey 2017 reveals yet again that Instagram, more so than any other social network, has a the worst effect on youth mental health.
It's been a crazy day for innovative patent news. Apparently Sony is thinking of developing a medium format curved sensor camera.
An update to the Silkypix Raw converter fixes some bugs and adds support for several popular new cameras.
This crazy custom-built underwater camera shoots 8x10 large format film. It's supposedly "the first successful underwater 8x10 ever made," and it can be yours for $5,800... plus shipping.
Blackmagic just reveled a new accessory for their Cintel Film Scanner. The Cintel Audio and KeyKode Reader can capture KeyKode data and high-quality audio from film in real-time as it is being scanned.
A new Nikon patent shows a lens designed for a curved full-frame sensor. Could this be the high-end Nikon mirrorless camera people are hoping for?
The ability to shoot images at 1,000 fps first appeared in a Sony smartphone sensor. Now the Japanese manufacturer is using the same feature for industrial applications.
Astronomy expert and photographer Dr. Tyler Nordgren thinks you should "see your first eclipse, photograph your second." But if you do plan on taking photos this August, here are a few tips from someone who's been there.
How confident are you that you can spot a manipulated photo? A recent study at the University of Warwick shows that many people are pretty bad at it.
If you purchased a Leica TL2, do NOT attach Leica's Visoflex electronic viewfinder. Leica is working on a fix, but for now, it's possible the viewfinder will break your camera.
Google just released Motion Stills for Android. Unlike the iOS version, the Android app uses a redesigned video processing pipeline that processes each frame of a video as it is being recorded, creating instant results.
A huge copyright lawsuit between photography firm VHT and Zillow Group is heating up again, as both sides appeal a court ruling that granted VHT $4 million in damages.
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet spent 6 months on board the International Space Station where he worked with Google capturing spheric panorama images that are now available in Street View.
It's official. PDN has confirmed with parent company Aurelius that 94-year-old lighting company Bowens is indeed going out of business.
The newly launched firmware version 1.06 fixes AF-issues that can occur with some lenses that are not officially compatible with the MC-11 converter.
Voyager is a waterproof smart light stick you can control entirely from your phone. The light has already blown past its $300K funding goal on Indiegogo.
2018 is the last year Photokina will take place during the traditional end-of-September dates. In 2019, Photokina will take place from the 8th to the 11th of May.
The Canon IXUS 50 (known as the SD400 Digital ELPH in North America) was one of a string of high-performing, pocketable PowerShots of the mid-2000s. In this week's throwback Thursday, Barney casts his mind back to 2005.
A close look at the EOS 6D II's Raw files suggest its dynamic range has taken a significant step backwards compared with the company's recent DSLRs. We look at how much difference this might make for your photos.
With a full-production review unit in our hands, we've got over 100 production samples from the new Canon EOS 6D Mark II to share.
Need a break from your day? Kick back and watch the making of a somewhat unconventional mojito filmed on Canon's new EOS 6D Mark II.
The Bonfoton Camera Obscura Room Lens can turn any room into a camera obscura, projecting the view from your window onto the walls of your room.