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: Build and handling


As is typically the case at this level, the camera makes use of magnesium alloy for its body and has been sealed against dust and water incursion with thick rubber doors covering ports and freeze proofing down to -14°C. Weighing just over 1kg with a battery and memory card, it’s not significantly heavier than its immediate rivals, although its relatively narrow width gives it a somewhat boxier design.

The camera’s grip has been well sculpted, with indentations to accommodate middle and ring fingers. The result is a camera that not only feels good when held – and perfectly balanced with a suitable optic such as the HD Pentax-D FA 24-70mm f/2.8 ED SDM WR – but one that remains comfortable after prolonged use.

Considering the body is narrower than that of both the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Nikon D810, it’s impressive that Ricoh has managed to incorporate such an extensive range of well-sized physical controls without any adverse impact on handling or operation. Furthermore, not only are these controls easily accessible, but the camera also responds to each click of a command dial regardless of how quickly it is turned – something that cannot be said for some other models. In practice, this means that reaching one end of the sensitivity or shutter-speed range from another, for example, can be done very rapidly.


The dial on the top-plate that’s used in conjunction with the Smart Function dial is considerably stiffer than the others, although as this is used less frequently than the others, it isn’t too awkward in use. I’m not entirely convinced the Smart Function Dial is desperately required here, particularly as two of its settings – ISO and exposure compensation – each have a dedicated button right next to it. 
A similar dial, but with a range of customisable settings, would perhaps make more sense on a model targeted towards an enthusiast/professional audience.

Those acquainted with the Pentax graphic user interface should find few surprises when navigating the menus, while those new to it should be pleased with the way information is displayed. Key exposure information, for example, is shown considerably larger than secondary data.


  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.