Pentax K-1 Full Frame D-SLR officially announced

The Pentax K-1 has been announced yesterday and now the first Full Frame D-SLR by Pentax is officially here.

An entire year has passed since the first announce, accompanied just by an image of a 3D printed mockup, but it’s worth the wait: the Pentax K-1 is real and this first full frame D-SLR promises to satisfy many photographers. During this year there have been about three major news by Pentax, reporting some vague information and displaying some partial detail of the camera fading in the dark; this raised more than a few interrogatives, among the pentaxians as well as the rest of the photography environment, about the validity of the premises of launching “just another typical” D-SLR in an overcrowded and deflating market of cameras, that in addition is going toward the mirrorless trend.
Well, thanks to the fresh official news about this camera, we have the final and concrete specifications that will help us drawing a verdict. First things first, below you’ll find the key features of the Pentax K-1:

K Mount
Full frame sensor
36,4 MPixels with 15 MPixel crop mode
No physical Anti Aliasing filter
Anti Aliasing filter simulator by sensor movement
Pixel Shift super resolution mode
Sensitivity from ISO 100 to ISO 204800
5 axis SR, sensor-shift stabilization
Shutter life of about 300000 actuations
Continuous shooting of 4,4 FPS in FF mode and 6,5 FPS in crop mode
1/200s flash synch time
New viewfinder with additional LCD overlay
Tilting and pivoting LCD screen
“Courtesy light” on lens mount, buttons and SD card slots
Dust and weather sealed body
Built-in GPS and Wi-Fi modules

The full specifications table is available on Ricoh-Imaging official site HERE.

Pentax K-1, Full Frame, D-SLR
Pentax K-1, Full Frame, D-SLR

So, given the aforementioned data, can we find some argument to rationalize the Pentax’s decision of joining the Full Frame party after about 13 years of wait? Definitely yes, and this is why I think so:

The Shake Reduction SR system on sensor, the built-in GPS module and the courtesy lights represent a real gift for the star photographers: thanks to the “Astrotracer” function, the GPS makes the sensor move, following the stars and thus avoiding the startrails to appear. This means that now it’s not mandatory to buy an expensive f/1.4 lens, to shoot within the 30 seconds time limit and to raise the ISO up to 6400 in order to see the Milky Way; with the Pentax K-1 is possible to extend the time limit to 5 minutes, while considerably lowering the ISO and allowing the use of slower, more affordable lenses. And the “courtesy lights” make the set-up a breeze even in pitch darkness.

The standard K mount and the “crop mode” allow to use every lens ever built by Pentax, from the seventies until now that, believe me, is quite a vast assortment. So, if you have some vintage Pentax lenses, you can now use them on the new Full Frame and enjoy them in their full glory.

The Super Resolution mode makes the Pentax K-1 a serious rival of the crazy-expensive Medium Format cameras, at least in the detail and color accuracy fields, when shooting a still life.

The well known toughness and effective weather sealing of Pentax bodies means that it’s almost impossible to be left on foot with a dead brick in your hands, even in the most extreme environments.

Pentax usually packs a lot of “bang for the buck”, being it more competitive in the features and aggressive in the prices than the other brands.

 

Other things that can be subjectively of secondary importance for some, are the top-notch ergonomy of camera’s interface (physical buttons layout and menu), long-life shutter mechanism and the simplified lens architecture (due to lack of in-lens stabilization system) that means smaller and lighter gear to carry.

Let’s now take into account the downsides that have come to light so far:

The video capabilities of the Pentax K-1 are subpar, to say the least, recording just up to 1080/60i and only with H.264 compression. So, forget about 4K resolution or RAW video support.

The camera connects to PC with a USB 2.0 port, that it’s awkward for a device presented in 2016; if you have to transfer tens of gigabytes you’ll have the time to take a coffee…

Even if the raw performance of the AF speed has not yet been thoroughly tested on the latest D-FA lenses, it seems that the AF tracking is not up to the competition’s level.

 

Drawing my early conclusions, I can say that the Pentax K-1 is the perfect camera for the field photographer who captures images in “inclement” environments, as well as the night photographers, thanks to its sturdiness, weather sealing and reliability. The wide range of capabilities makes the K-1 suitable for almost every application, except perhaps for the sport and fast action photographers. The loyal pentaxians who already own a number of lenses from the film era, will be undoubtedly happy to use them again with their full potential. Unfortunately the videographers will have to look elsewhere if they want 4K RAW videos.
As for me, being a pentaxian since the days of the K-5, the idea of upgrading my gear (from an image quality and resolution point of view) is tempting, even more so because in these years I’ve collected some beautiful Pentax vintage lenses that can work quite well with this Full Frame. In the meantime, I’ve bought also some great lenses for APS-C, such as the gorgeous SMC DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 ED (IF) SDM and, even if I could use them in crop mode on this new camera, I prefer to use the K-3 (that’s the system it’s born for). It’s a matter of fact that the Pentax APS-C flagship camera has no rival as to toughness, reliability, ergonomy, so I think I’ll wait until my K-3 will eventually die to take the leap. Anyway I’ll not miss the chance to try the K-1 as soon as possible, it’s too tempting not to put my hands on it 😉
What do you think about these considerations? Are you going to try the K-1? If you have something to say, let’s join the thread using the comment button below.

HERE you can find the minisite created specifically for the Pentax K-1, where you can read some interesting material about Pentax Philosophy and the 2016 CP+ event in Yokohama.

And now, a little gallery of the K-1, enjoy! (Image courtesy of Ricoh-Imaging)

Pentax K-1
Pentax K-1
Pentax K-1
Pentax K-1
Pentax K-1

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