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.
Oct 16, 2017
May 12, 2016
Nov 17, 2015
Oct 27, 2017
|_MG_5100 by tim and jan|
from Welcome to the Saloon!
|The Grimm 11 year old by Ryan Gardner|
from Trick or Treat
|Heron with fish by APenza|
from A Big Year - birds
See some of the most iconic black-and-white photographs throughout history brought to life by a community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers in the new book Retrographic.
Shopping for a photographer? Whether you are one yourself or not, chances are you could use some ideas. From stocking stuffers on up, we've got some photography gift suggestions for every budget.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Drum roll please... the #6 spot belongs to none other than the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DH HSM Art.
Read the story behind this gorgeous wedding photo captured at Trolltunga in Norway by husband and wife duo Priscila Valentina Photography. The 14 hour hike in the rain that preceded this shot was TOTALLY worth it.
Go behind the scenes with filmmaker Nick Arcivos, who recently created a beautiful cinematic short film in Paris using only the iPhone X, a couple of gimbals, and a few lights. The results are very impressive.
A Bay Area startup offering a pay-by-the-photo camera service cleverly addresses the pain points photographers experience when they pick up their first DSLR. But can it survive the smartphone?
It's been a big year for software innovations, dual cameras and huge displays. Take a look at our picks for the top smartphone cameras and why we think they stand out.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #7 spot is the ready-for-any-weather Olympus Tough TG-5.
By combining his skills as a time-lapse filmmaker and an engineer, Julian Tryba created this out-of-this-world creative 'layer-lapse' of New York City that alternates between night and day in time with the music.
Canon Japan's new lineup of novelty camera-themed gifts was just revealed online, including a lens mug and lens thermos, two retro camera-themed USB drives, and a picnic mat.
The Profoto A1 most certainly isn’t for everyone [...] But for those who are used to using the Profoto systems, and want something that pairs seamlessly with the strobes you already have, there is no better companion.
Fujifilm has asked a US district court to clear it of any wrongdoing, after allegedly being threatened with trademark litigation by Polaroid.
While a couple of our reviewers are out testing the Sony a7R III in Arizona, back in Seattle we slapped the camera in front of our studio scene to get a close look at its image quality. See how it stacks up against the competition.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #8 ranking belongs to the Nikon D7500.
B+W has announced a new aluminum filter holder that offers three slots so users can use multiple filters at the same time. The holder goes with the 2mm thick 100mm square filters it launched earlier this year.
8K video is coming a lot faster than you think, and Blackmagic is ready for it. Meet the DeckLink 8K Pro, a new high performance PCI-E capture and playback card built to handle 'real time high resolution 8K workflows.'
"Glass is everywhere in photography. From Eugène Atget’s reflective vitrines to Lee Friedlander’s sly self-portraiture, photographers have long been in thrall to the visual complications glass can inject into a composition."
Former Apple Aperture lead developer Nik Bhatt has designed an iOS app called RAW Power that lets you edit raw photos from your professional camera using your phone and tablet.... color us intrigued.
Advertising photographer Blair Bunting got his hands on the new Microsoft Surface Book 2, and it blew him away. Bye bye MacBook Pro...
The OnePlus 5T retains many of the 5's features and specs, but comes with an edge-to-edge display and a dual-camera that is optimized for low light.
Sony's recently announced IMX461 backside illuminated medium format sensor will bring 100MP resolution and almost 2x the speed to the next-gen Fuji GFX and Hasselblad X1D.
With the ‘Rent a Hasselblad’ camera equipment renting program, the camera makers is aiming to give enthusiast and professional photographers easier access to its medium-format photography products.
They say seeing is believing, and that's exactly what happened when one DPR staffer took the Google Pixel 2 out for an afternoon shooting under challenging conditions.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #9 spot we have the Fujifilm GFX 50S, a medium-format camera that took CP+ 2017 by storm.
Instagram is testing a new feature that lets you follow hashtags in addition to people, making it possible to keep track of your favorite #landscapes or #portraits without leaving your home feed.
Despite the gigantic volume of second hand film bodies in existence, it seems there is still a demand for new 35mm SLRs with a retro feel. The latest is a remake of the Ihagee Elbaflex from the 1960s, but with a Nikon F mount.
The Polaroid Insta-Share Moto Mod straps an instant printer directly to your Moto Z smartphone, so you can print your photos as soon as you've captured them.
The Mitakon Speedmaster 135mm F1.4 lens is being relaunched in 7 different mounts, including: Sony A, Sony E, Canon EF, Nikon F, Fujifilm G, Pentax K, and Leica L. Got an extra three grand lying around?
In January, Kodak announced it would bring back the beloved slide film Ektachrome. The timeline has been pushed back a bit, but Kodak says you can expect to purchase Ektachrome again in 2018.
Instagram popularity is threatening some of the most beautiful landscapes in the US, as hordes of 'nature lovers' trample over the same spots over and over again in search of the same exact shot.