Pentax K-01 review

May 5, 2012

Overall Rating:


Pentax K-01

  • Metering:
  • Features:
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  • LCD viewfinder:
  • Dynamic Range:
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  • Autofocus:
  • Noise/resolution:



Price as Reviewed:


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

Noise, resolution and sensitivity

These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured using a Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 lens. We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visibile in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution is at the specified sensitivity setting.

With an ISO sensitivity of 100-25,600, the K-01 has a range 1EV smaller than that of the K-5, which uses the same sensor.

At its slowest settings, the K-01 performs as would be expected for a 16.28-million-pixel camera and it is able to resolve up to around 26 on our test chart. When images are captured as DNG raw files they can be sharpened a little more, and the result is the appearance of more detail being resolved. In reality, the lines on the chart do start to merge, although it is better to have this perceived detail than just a blur.

As the sensitivity increases, so does the noise. Luminance noise starts to creep in at around ISO 800, although colour noise isn’t really a concern until ISO 1600. If shooting raw files at these sensitivities, it is fairly straightforward to reduce both types of noise at this setting without the image becoming too smudged or desaturated.

The DNG raw files reveal the true extent of colour noise, which is less prevalent in JPEG files. Again, it is easy to reduce the colour noise in raw files, and if you are prepared to live with some luminance noise then a lot of detail can still be resolved. Even at ISO 25,600, raw images can still resolve to around 22 on our test chart, although JPEG images are very soft as a result of luminance noise reduction.

Generally, image quality is very good if the K-01 is paired with a good-quality lens. There is enough detail to satisfy most enthusiast photographers, and when combined with the camera’s dynamic range and colour control, images look excellent. At higher sensitivities, I would advise shooting raw files as there is a big difference in how detail and noise are handled by raw conversion software compared to the in-camera JPEG files.

Images: At ISO 12,800 luminance noise is strong, particularly in shadow areas, but images are still acceptable if kept to a reasonable size

One of the benefits of using the DNG raw file format is that almost all photographers will have the software required to work with and edit these files, even if they have previously found raw images intimidating to use.

  • Video: 1960 x 1080 pixels (16:9) at 30, 25, 24fps; 1280 x 720 pixels (16:9) at 60, 50, 30, 25, 24fps; 640 x 480 pixels (4:3) at 30, 25, 24fps; MPEG-4 AVC/H.264
  • White Balance: Auto, 11 presets, custom setting, Kelvin and WB fine adjustment
  • External mic: Yes
  • Dioptre Adjustment: N/A
  • Built-in Flash: Yes – GN 12m @ ISO 100
  • Shutter Type: Electronically controlled focal-plane shutter
  • Output Size: 4928 x 3264 pixels
  • Viewfinder Type: N/A
  • Memory Card: SD or SDHC
  • LCD: 3in TFT with 921,000 dots
  • Field of View: N/A
  • AF Points: Contrast-detection AF from 81 selectable points
  • Max Flash Sync: 1/180sec
  • Sensor: 16.28-million-effective-pixel, APS-C sized (23.7 x 15.7 mm) CMOS sensor
  • White Balance Bracket: Yes, over 3 images
  • Focal Length Mag: 1.5x
  • Exposure Modes: Auto, program, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual, sensitivity priority, shutter and aperture priority, bulb
  • Power: Rechargeable Lithium-Ion D-LI90 battery
  • Weight: 560g (including battery and card), 480g (without)
  • File Format: 12-bit DNG raw, JPEG, raw + JPEG simultaneously
  • Shutter Speeds: 30-1/4000sec in 1⁄3EV or 1/2EV steps plus bulb
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Drive Mode: Approx 6fps (JPEG, Continuous Hi), Approx 3fps (JPEG, Continuous Lo) or 1fps raw
  • Dimensions: 79 x 121 x 59 mm
  • DoF Preview: N/A
  • Metering System: Multi-segment, centreweighted and spot
  • Connectivity / Interface: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
  • Compression: 3-stage JPEG
  • Exposure Comp: ±3EV in 1⁄3EV or 1/2EV steps
  • RRP: £629.99 (body only)
  • Lens Mount: Pentax KAF2
  • ISO: 100-12,800 (expanded to ISO 25,600)
  • Focusing Modes: Manual (with focus peaking), AF.S, face detection, tracking
  • Tested as: Enthusiast CSC

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