Body and Handling

The K-1's body takes many of its most obvious design elements (not least its grip) directly from the existing high-end APS-C DSLRs but the pronounced prism-shaped hump hints at a provenance that extends back to cameras such as the MX, and also the medium format 67. To us it shows just the right degree of deference without just nakedly aping the company's older cameras.

The body itself feels much like a K-7/K-5/K-5 II/K-3/K-3 II: utterly solid without being overly heavy. The grip shape feels identical to those bodies, making it one of the best in the business - it's sizable and comfortable, with the dials positioned well for easy access. The magnesium-alloy shell has extensive weather sealing at all the joints, doors and buttons (87 in all).

Hands On

The camera's well-shaped grip means that it's comfortable to hold and operate. For example, we found ourselves able to hold it with a 70-200mm lens mounted, without any discomfort.

Like the Pentax APS-C DSLRs it's relatively compact from the front but look down on the camera and you'll find it's pretty deep.

Lens Selection: Utilizing Older K-Mount Lenses

Pentaxians will surely enjoy the ability to utilize all of their old K-mount lenses. The question is will using these old K-mount lenses enable you to get the most out of the K-1's features? In short, no, as expected there will be limitations. Pentax DA and DA-L lenses are useable on the K-1 but bear in mind that they are designed for crop body cameras, although some focal lengths will cover the full frame sensor better than others as detailed on Page 1 of the review. The K-1 also supports several types of autofocus systems such as screw-drive, SDM, DC as well as FA lenses that have power zoom contacts. M37, M42 and 645 mount lenses can be mounted to the K-1 with the appropriate adapters.

You can utilize all of the clever sensor shift functions with these lenses, but be aware that using something like Pixel Shift will risk highlighting any issues that your old lenses may have. Many of these lenses just weren't manufactured to deal with the detail resolution that something like Pixel Shift can provide. With that said, how do you go about using them?

The first things users of older generation K-mount lenses will have to take care of is switching the 'Using Aperture Ring' setting to 'Enable' in custom setting 26 if the 'A' setting (electronically controlled aperture) isn't available on the lens.

This was taken with the K-1 and a SMC Pentax K mount 24mm F2.8 prime lens. The image quality is better than we anticipated but the Raw file is fairly soft.

24mm, F8, 1/60 sec, ISO 100

Once the lens is mounted on the camera, you will be prompted to tell the K-1 what the lens focal length is, so that it can choose the corresponding shake reduction setting. The camera must then be set in manual 'M' or 'Av' shooting modes and you must choose a fixed ISO setting as auto ISO will be disabled.

It's worth noting that the aperture is automatically set to wide open until you manually make the adjustments. Although many of the 'auto' settings will be disabled you can utilize one of Ricoh's more clever functions; the 'Green button' used for stop down metering. This as a handy way to quickly meter and set the correct exposure given the selected aperture. Press the green button and the camera will choose the shutter speed to ensure a correct exposure given the aperture that you have manually selected on the lens.