The K-1 has the honour of being the first full-frame Pentax DSLR. Matt Golowczynski takes a closer look at this impressively specified camera in this Pentax K-1 review

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Pentax K-1

AWB Colour:8/10
Dynamic Range:9/10
Image quality:9/10
LCD viewfinder:8/10


  • - Excellent image quality; superb resolution and dynamic range
  • - High features-to-price ratio
  • - Excellent handling with many physical controls
  • - One of the most flexible LCD displays around


  • - Occasional auto white balance inconsistencies
  • - Video options not as comprehensive as those on other cameras
  • - Artefacts visible in certain Pixel Shift Resolution images
  • - Continuous focus doesn’t track quite as well as other systems


Pentax K-1 review


Price as reviewed:

£1,599.00 (Body only)

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Pentax K-1 review: Features


The K-1’s main attraction is its 36.4MP full-frame sensor. It operates over a large native sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 204,800, and forgoes an anti-aliasing filter to help capture finer details. This typically comes at the risk of aliasing artefacts, but the built-in anti-aliasing filter simulator can be called upon to minimise any ill effects.

Although the model is designed to work with lenses on which the image circle covers a full-frame sensor – principally, the steadily expanding Pentax D FA range – users with a collection of APS-C DA lenses will be pleased to learn that the K-1 can also support these at a reduced resolution of 15.4MP, with the usual 1.5x APS-C crop factor. This also has the effect of boosting the maximum burst rate from 4.4fps at full resolution up to 6.5fps. While 4.4fps may sound underwhelming, it is broadly on a par with other full-frame models that offer a similar pixel count.

The K-1 is furnished with the fourth iteration of the Prime engine to handle all operational and image-processing tasks. Ricoh states that this has been designed to handle higher resolution images than previous engines, while also ensuring that images captured at higher ISO settings maintain fine gradations.

As with other Pentax DSLRs, the K-1 is designed with an in-body Shake Reduction mechanism. This works in the same manner as other sensor-based systems, moving to counter shake across pitch, roll and yaw axes, and both vertical and horizontal shifts. In this respect, it’s very similar to the five-axis systems in Olympus’s and Sony’s mirrorless models, but this is the first full-frame model to promise 5 stops of correction.


This technology is also at the heart of many other features, including the Pixel Shift Resolution option. It also works with the camera’s GPS system to provide Astrotracer functionality. This can be used to capture long exposures of stars and other celestial bodies without the trails that normally result from the earth’s rotation.

Other features that owe their function to the Shake Reduction system include automatic horizon correction and composition adjustment, each of which moves the sensor to fine-tune composition. Electronic levels across both horizontal and vertical axes are also on hand to ensure things stay level, visible both in the viewfinder and on the LCD screen.

The list of additional features ranges from Wi-Fi connectivity and an interval timer for the creation of time-lapse footage to 
a comprehensive high-dynamic range (HDR) feature and the option to capture multiple exposures. It’s also possible to enable correction of lens aberrations such as diffraction, chromatic aberration, distortion and vignetting, either before images are captured or after, in raw processing. Full HD video recording up to 60fps is also on hand, with manual control over audio levels, and both headphone and microphone ports on the camera’s side.

All images and videos are recorded to SDHC or SDXC memory cards, and both HDMI and USB 2.0 ports are provided. Battery life is rated at 760 frames, which is somewhat lower than DSLR rivals but still considerably better than equivalent compact system cameras.

  1. 1. Pentax K-1 review: Introduction
  2. 2. Pentax K-1 review: Features
  3. 3. Pentax K-1 review: Pixel Shift Resolution system
  4. 4. Pentax K-1 review: Viewfinder and screen
  5. 5. Pentax K-1 review: Build and handling
  6. 6. Pentax K-1 review: Focusing
  7. 7. Pentax K-1 review: Performance
  8. 8. Pentax K-1 review: Dynamic range, resolution and noise
  9. 9. Pentax K-1 review: Verdict
  10. 10. Pentax K-1 review: (Original hands-on first look)
  11. 11. Pentax K-1 review: Full specification
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  • entoman

    Excellent! I wish Ricoh the best of luck with this new Pentax. It won’t convert anyone from Nikon or Canon, but it will provide a great upgrade path to users of Pentax crop cameras.

    The extra “mode dial” is a really good idea. The camera looks very solid and that will inspire confidence in use.

    A few negative points: I’m not keen on the weird tilting monitor.By far the best design is the fully articulating Canon/Panasonic type. Also disappointing is the AF with only 33 focus points which lags a long way behind Canon and Nikon so won’t appeal to sports photographers.

    Bottom line: Is the Pentax as good as a Nikon D810 or a Canon 5DS ? – very nearly, but the severe shortage of modern high performance glass is a killer.

  • Jens Rueckert

    It looks like a real, serious camera. With its edges and clear structures. A great refreshing difference to the smoothly designed soft-looking competitor’s bodies. Let’s see what it feels like. I think technically it seems to compete easily. All the best for Penatx! Great. Used an APS-C once , now a FXNikon and would like to switch back to Pentax.

  • Nick Randall-Smith

    Really looking forward to getting my hands on this bit of kit, I like the backwards compatibility with the APS-C lenses most existing digital Pentax users will already have invested in. A*

  • Richard Jackson

    An improved SR system but again it’s not used in video. Come on Pentax, it’s essentially the same video offering from 2012.

  • Arn

    It looks like a excellent camera, less sport oriented than Canikon counterparts, but very well equiped for hi-res photography, in tough body.
    Well done Pentax.