Pentax K-1 Brief Review



  • 36.4 megapixel full frame CMOS sensor
  • Shutter speed 30 – 1/8000 (bulb)
  • ISO 100-204800
  • Simulated anti-alliasing filter
  • 5-axis sensor shift image stabilization
  • 33 point phase-detection autofocus
  • 14-bit RAW
  • 4.4 fps burst (max. 70 JPEGs)
  • 1080 HD video at 30 fps
  • No built-in flash
  • Hot shoe flash slot (sync to 1/200)
  • 3.2” Tilting LCD screen
  • Wi-fi
  • GPS
  • Li-ion battery rated at 760 shots
  • Weighs 35.6 oz (1,010 g)
  • Release Date: 2016-04-25
  • Final Grade: 91 4.55 Star Rating: Recommended

Pentax's first full frame DSLR includes a few enticing features
Pentax has finally announced their first full frame DSLR, and it has some pretty sweet features and a relatively affordable price tag too.
By Hillary Grigonis, Last updated on: 3/31/2016

Ricoh sure waited awhile to create their first full frame DSLR--but at least they announced the camera with both some classic styling and modern perks. The Pentax K-1 contains a few handsome features like a variable optical low pass filter, a LCD screen that can be tilted from side to side as well as up and down, a five-axis image stabilization system and weather-sealing.

The Pentax K-1 (not to be confused with the K-01, which is an old mirrorless camera) uses a 36 megapixel full frame sensor. That sensor doesn't have a traditional optical low pass filter, which helps the image to retain a bit more detail. But, in scenarios where that filter would have been beneficial to reduce the distortion in fine patterns called moire, the K-1 can simulate the filter effect using tiny vibrations of the stabilization system. In other words, you can turn the "filter" on and off.

The five-axis stabilization system is rated at an impressive five stops, allowing for more opportunities to shoot handheld without blur. Most DSLRs use an in-lens stabilization system, which tends to make the purchase of a new lens even pricier.

The K-1 has an impressive ISO range of 100 to 204,800. Shutter speed tops out at 1/8000. While the K-1 doesn't include a built-in flash, there's a hot shoe slot and flash sync speeds up to 1/200.

Pentax K-1 Review

The K-1 is a classically styled DSLR, but Ricoh has added a third dial that users can custom set for changing frequently used settings even faster. In true Pentax DSLR fashion, that body is weather-sealed to withstand rain, snow and dust. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the design is the tilting LCD screen. While tilt screens are nothing new, the LCD on the K-1 can tilt both up and down--and side to side. That's a new feature that hasn't been seen before and offers more flexibility to getting the perfect viewing angle.

The Pentax K-1 also sits at a nice price point of about $1,800, lower than most full frame DSLRs.

So, what's the bad? The K-1 doesn't have as many autofocus points as competing Canon and Nikon models with 33. The Nikon D750, by comparison, has 55 and the Canon EOS 5DS has 61. Besides just the fewer autofocus points, the design doesn't include the traditional joystick to select a focal point in the single AF area mode. The design instead does double-duty, so users have to hold the AF button to use the arrow keys to select their focal point.

The burst speed on the K-1 sits at just 4.6, which isn't too terribly low, but worth noting you're looking at 5-6.5 fps from other entry-level full frames. The battery life isn't super high either at 760 frames, with 1,230 on the D750. Canon though is actually lower with 700 on the D5S.

While the K-1 is compatible with older K-mount lenses, some features won't work paired with them--autofocus will be slower, and the focal point has to be set manually to use the image stabilization. Pentax did announce a handful of new fully compatible K-mount lenses, but expect to wait for a complete lens offering. Lenses for the smaller APS-C camera can be used, but that will crop that full frame resolution (and negates the camera's biggest benefit).

But, the Pentax K-1 offers a few intriguing features that aren't easy to find and at a more competitive price point. The Pentax K-1 overall looks like a solid performer, particularly for Pentax APS-C shooters looking to upgrade their gear.

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Pentax/Ricoh Reviews

Pentax, who just recently merged with Ricoh, has long been a sort of underdog—but not necessarily in performance or quality. Pentax/Ricoh offers some quirky cameras, but for the most part, we've found that to be a good thing.

The Pentax/Ricoh DSLR’s are mostly weather-sealed, giving them a unique advantage over competing manufacturers that don't offer anything similar. When we tried out models like the K-50, we were quite impressed with the image quality. The autofocus was a bit noisier than a Nikon, but the weather-sealing and often better price is hard to resist when the image quality is so good. Pentax continued to add in innovations by adding an anti-aliasing filter that can be turned on and off to the 2013 K-3.

Pentax hasn't jumped into the mirrorless battle too much, but they do offer the tiny and colorful Q7. With a smaller sensor and a smaller price point, the Q7 and similar models are more of a consumer mirrorless than one for the enthusiasts, but it's an extremely small camera with a whole lot of color options.

Pentax has a few solid compact models out too. The Pentax MX-1 earned our Best Budget Advanced Compact for 2013 for its advanced features yet small price tag. They offer a waterproof line that includes macro ring lights built in, something unique to the WG cameras.

Pentax/Ricoh may be a bit quirky, but many of their cameras are well worth a look and offer excellent image quality for the price.

We here at Digital Camera HQ offer unbiased, informative reviews and recommendations to guide you to the right camera. We're not an actual store; we're just here to help you find the perfect camera at the best price possible by using our camera grades. Let us know if you have any problems or questions, we're happy to help.