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Pentax K1: 36 Megapixels with Image Stabilization and Super Resolution Mode

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

See also my review of the Pentax K3 and various Pentax DA HD Limited lenses.

At about $1797, the K1 looks to be a steal. If nothing else, it looks to be a must-have 2nd system tool for photographers looking for the best. See my Pentax K1 lenses wish list.

Pentax K1

There are very mature DSLRs on the market from both Canon and Nikon, the product of 10 years of straight-line thinking ultimately resulting in declining market share as mirrorless (Sony) gains by leaps and bounds.

Pentax made one frustrating strategic mistake with the K1: it should have been a mirrorless camera shipped with one 35mm f/2.8 Otus-grade lens, along with optional adapters for Nikon and Canon DSLR lenses. As it stands, Pentax K lens selection is quite limiting and it’s yet another DSLR.

Along comes the Pentax K1, some years late to the party, albeit at a very aggressive price relative to Canon or Nikon—about $1797—a price in the realm of higher-end Canon and Nikon APS-C sensor DSLRs. So that’s a very aggressive price point.

Ideally, the Pentax K1 ought to “blow us away” with a thoughtful approach to the challenges of using a DSLR, but it hues to tried and true. In particular, it also fails to offer an EVF option, which I deem shortsighted at best since the younger crowd isn’t looking to buy DSLRs, and the older crowd benefits hugely from an EVF. Nor does it have the ever-absent true raw histogram. Bummer, since Pentax really likes to innovate.

Still, the K1 offers notable and indeed unique features for a full-frame DSLR: 5-axis image stabilization, the ability to track stars during long exposures (by moving the sensor and via its knowledge of position by built-in GPS), and a super resolution mode.

  • 36.4 MP AA-Filter-less CMOS Sensor
  • 14-bit RAW-format image recording
  • 3.2" Cross-Tilt LCD Monitor
  • Full HD 1080p30 Video Recording
  • SAFOX 12 33-Point AF Sensor
  • Native ISO 204800; 4.5 fps Shooting
  • 5-Axis In-Body Shake Reduction
  • Pixel Shift Resolution System w/ Motion Correction (intriguing)
  • GPS/Electronic Compass/ASTRO TRACER
  • Built-In Wi-Fi
  • Dual SD Card Slots
  • Weather-Sealed Magnesium Alloy Body

Continues below.

Pentax K1

High-resolution, fine-gradation images supported by approximately 36.4 effective megapixels

The K-1 features an AA filterless design that prioritizes image resolution. Coupled with the new PRIME IV imaging engine, capable of 14-bit RAW-format image recording. The K-1’s unique full frame sensor and imaging engine design also allows for super-high-sensitivity shooting up to ISO 204800, producing beautiful, high-resolution images.

In-body sr mechanism assures optimal shake reduction performance

The SR II five-axis mechanism enables accurate control of the large full-frame image sensor with all compatible PENTAX interchangeable lenses.*

In addition to camera shake caused by pitch and yaw, it effectively compensates for camera shake caused by horizontal and vertical shift, as well as camera shake caused by roll, which is difficult to deal with by lens-installed shake reduction mechanisms. Even when taking a panning shot, this system automatically detects the direction of the camera’s movement, and efficiently controls the SR unit to always produce the best image possible.

Pixel shift resolution system with a new motion correction function

The K-1 uses the latest super-resolution technology, which captures four images of the same scene by shifting the image sensor by a single pixel for each image, and then synthesizes them into a single composite image.

Since the K-1’s SR unit has a flexible design that tilts the image sensor unit in all directions, it provides a host of handy shooting functions, including auto level compensation, image-composition fine-adjustment, and ASTRO TRACER, which simplifies advanced astronomical photography using a built-in GPS module.

Flexible tilt-type lcd monitor to accommodate various shooting angles

The K-1 features a newly designed, flexible tilt-type LCD monitor, which tilts horizontally, vertically or diagonally with a single action, without deviating from the lens’s optical axis.

35 degrees of horizontal and 44 degrees of vertical adjustment can be achieved, the LCD panel can even be laid flat up or down. The 3.2-inch LCD monitor features a tempered-glass front panel for added durability and a unique air-gapless construction effectively reduces reflection.

Newly developed safox 12 with 33 sensor points and full-frame-proportioned af frame

The SAFOX 12 AF sensor module features 33 AF sensors (25 cross-type sensors positioned in the middle). The center sensor and the two sensors located just above and below it are designed to detect the light flux of an F2.8 lens, making it easy to obtain pinpoint focus on a subject when using a large-aperture lens.

Upgraded pentax real-time scene analysis system, with application of artificial intelligence technology

The K-1’s advanced PENTAX Real-Time Scene Analysis System performs near instant analysis of exposure, color, movement and other factors. Combining with a breakthrough artificial intelligence technology called deep learning, the K-1 instantly optimizes settings for even the most difficult shooting situations.

[DIGLLOYD: will Pentax fix the problematic CDAF behavior found with the K3?]

Easy-to-focus optical viewfinder with nearly 100-percent field of view

Newly developed for its 35mm full-frame design, the K-1’s optical viewfinder provides a nearly 100-percent field of view and an approximately 0.7-times magnification. A Natural Bright Matt III focusing screen allows ease of focusing and a true-to-life rendition of defocused areas in the viewfinder image.

Built-in GPS and compass

The GPS feature records shooting location, facing direction, and date and time into image data. Electronic Compass records the shooting direction, and Astro Tracer combines these features with SRII shake reduction to capture rock-steady images of heavenly objects in the night sky without streaking or blurring during long exposures.

Super resolution mode

This discussion moved to Pentax K1 Super Resolution Mode. See also the Pentax K1 file format.

RGGB Bayer matrix in typical digital sensor


See the Pentax K1 Full Frame Lenses page.

Pentax K1
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