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

Features:9/10
Build/Handling:10/10
Metering:9/10
Autofocus:8/10
AWB Colour:8/10
Dynamic Range:9/10
Image quality:9/10
LCD viewfinder:8/10

Pros:

  • - 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

Cons:

  • - 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

Product:

Pentax K-1 review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£1,599.00 (Body only)

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Pentax K-1 review: Focusing

Using the centreweighted average pattern has produced a perfect exposure here

Using the centreweighted average pattern has produced a perfect exposure here

The K-1 debuts a new SAFOX 12 autofocus system, with 33 phase-detect points. Of these, 25 are cross type and are arranged centrally in a square formation, with the remaining line-type points on either side. The central point, together with those directly above and below it, are sensitive to f/2.8 and work in light as low as -3EV.

In use, the 25 central points are sensitive enough to bring most subjects into focus in good time. With the 24-70mm lens, focusing performance seems on a par with mainstream rivals, and the lens’s quiet focusing motor also helps to keep things discreet. Some subjects and conditions clearly tax the remaining points, particularly the two outermost line points. I found this made me rely more on the focus-and-recompose technique than on other models where peripheral areas have a higher concentration of points.

When set to continuous focus, I found the camera did a good job of keeping track of moderately paced subjects, although it tended to lose more challenging ones, particularly if they strayed outside the central part of the focusing system. One word of caution when capturing bursts of images: you really do need to use high-speed memory cards, as more standard cards can slow operation right down to the point of frustration.

When shooting in low light, I noticed the AF-assist lamp had a tendency to come on only in very dark conditions. On occasion, and particularly with low-contrast subjects, this would have an impact on focusing speeds, but when it did spring to life I was impressed by the extent to which it not only sped up focus, but also enabled focusing in near darkness.

  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.