The Pentax K-01 combines unusual looks with a tried-and-tested 16.28-million-pixel sensor that is capable of excellent results. We find out how much difference the unique design makes in our Pentax K-01 review

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Pentax K-01

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Pentax K-01 review


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At a glance:

  • 16.28-million-pixel CMOS sensor
  • Pentax K mount
  • 3in, 921,000-dot
  • LCD screen
  • ISO 100-25,600
  • Built-in flash
  • Street price around £600 (body only), around £680 (with 40mm f/2.8 XS pancake lens)

When digital cameras first became popular, people were saying that reflex mechanisms, mirrors, prisms and viewfinders could all disappear. With these traditional pieces of engineering gone, cameras would no longer have to look the way they always had so they could be all sorts of new shapes and sizes.

Most manufacturers now have a compact system camera range that foregoes traditional SLR technology, with LCD screens and EVFs replacing optical viewfinders. By removing the mirror box, new mounts can be created to make interchangeable lenses smaller and lighter. But what if you kept an existing mount and designed a digital camera that had no optical viewfinder? That is just what Pentax has done with the K-01.

Designed by Australian designer Marc Newson, the K-01 is a mirrorless system camera that uses Pentax’s standard K lens mount. At its launch, it was the K-01’s simple yet striking looks that drew most attention. Yet while the K-01 is unconventional when compared to its contemporaries, its core is built entirely around Pentax’s DSLR range.

In this test I want to find out how the K-01’s unique design works in practice, and whether there are any advantages to removing the reflex mirror and viewfinder.

  1. 1. At a glance:
  2. 2. Features
  3. 3. SMC Pentax-DA 40mm f/2.8 XS lens
  4. 4. Build and handling
  5. 5. Metering
  6. 6. Autofocus
  7. 7. Dynamic range
  8. 8. White balance
  9. 9. Noise, resolution and sensitivity
  10. 10. LCD, live view and video
  11. 11. The competition
  12. 12. Our verdict
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  • Adrian

    This is the umpteenth digital compact camera I have owned. Kyocera, a selection of Lumix models, Ricoh CX3 and a Canon G12. I like this one the best. Its size is perfectly manageable unlike the Canon and it takes images that look perfect even at A3+ size (which the Ricoh couldn’t quite manage).
    The fast lens means its performance in low light (important for me) is as acceptable as it should be considering its a compact. Yes my D700 is better but the ZX1 is a convenient compact and as such, there has to be a price to pay. The price is not a high one! I feel its performance exceeds anything the Canon can do (except not so many gimmicks) its shutter lag is much less than the Canon which I find very problematical. All in all I really can save shlepping a heavy SLR kit on the off chance. Its good, sturdy and well built. I haven’t seen the latest model but if you always want to a small, high quality camera with you, you could do much worse than this. Well worth the money and the best I’ve found YET!