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: Verdict


A model as anticipated as the K-1 has to work hard to meet expectations, but those who have waited patiently are likely to be very pleased. Its recipe for success is simple: not only does it offer an awful lot for its very reasonable asking price, but it also marries 
this with excellent performance in several key areas.

Crucially, image quality is one of its major strengths. The camera is capable of excellent dynamic range and high resolution, and noise is well controlled, while the abundance of colour and white-balance options means you can easily get the result you want in camera – particularly if you take advantage of post-capture raw processing.

Just as praiseworthy is the model’s design, and more specifically what this means for handling and operation. With only very minor exceptions, I can’t think of any physical aspect of the camera’s design that would benefit from being revised. Controls are easily accessible and clearly marked, and the camera feels excellent in the hands, providing fine support for both everyday lenses and weightier optics.


With its agreeable price tag and a handful of more specialist features, it’s clear that this is a camera designed for a wide audience, although there are some areas where the advantage lies with rival bodies. Video quality is perfectly good, for example, but control over it isn’t quite as comprehensive as you’ll find elsewhere. Meanwhile the performance of the continuous autofocus system is only average.

On a practical level, while the model is compatible with a wealth of legacy lenses and supports APS-C lenses, too, there is understandably a more limited range of full-frame lenses available than in other stables, and fewer third-party options, too. This may be something to consider for photographers working in specific genres. Hopefully we’ll see the Pentax range expanding in the near future.

Still, for many people with no strong ties to any particular system, the K-1 is well worth a spot on the full-frame shortlist. With a solid set of specs, excellent handling, strong image quality and a very competitive price, it’s one of the most exciting DSLRs we’ve seen in recent times.


  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.