The New Full-Frame Pentax K-1 Revealed

Note from the Editor: In a meeting in a hotel suite in New York City, Pentax’s President/CMO of Ricoh Imaging Corporation (the parent company of Pentax), Jim Malcolm showed off a camera that I feel certain will be special to both “Pentaxians” and digital photographers in general alike. Pentax, better known in the digital era for their affordable and high-performance medium format cameras and their DSLR bodies based around the APS-C sensor, long was a trusted and celebrated name in the film-photography era.

In 2015 Pentax announced they were developing a full-frame digital camera, one built around the 35mm sensor format and today the company makes good on that promise with the K-1 DSLR, accessories and full-frame lenses.

I had a chance to get to know the K-1 in my meeting with Malcolm and talk to him about his views about digital photography and the Pentax brand, and I’ll share a lot of that in our full hands-on review after we’ve played with the system. What impressed me during the meeting, though, is the thought the company has clearly put into this new camera. In the March issue of Digital Photo I wrote an article called “Camera 2.0” which talks about the technologies that could—and should—be in today’s cameras. The Pentax K-1 has a lot of the features I lamented most manufacturers were missing. In fact, the camera has so many intelligent design choices that it’s likely to influence generations of cameras.

While things like built-in GPS, accelerometer and electric compass (so geotagged images can tell you where they were taken, what direction they were taken and how fast the camera was moving) and multiple communications standards are great, there are some outstanding uses of technology in this camera. The LCD menu rotates when the camera is turned to portrait mode, for example, in one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments, a similar feeling experienced when turning on the LED lights that help you mount a lens or make setting changes in the dark.

In one of my favorite interface elements, there is a multi-function dial on the top of the K-1 that saves trips to the menu and saves the need for dedicated buttons. Turn the dial to the ISO setting and use the control dials to change the ISO. Turn the dial to Wi-Fi and use the control dials to set that up, then turn the dial gain to control the grid, or the bracket, or the exposure compensation—it’s a smart solution to a problem every photographer faces.

There are a lot of other groundbreaking features on this camera, and I’m looking forward to trying them all out. Pentaxians can feel good knowing that this K-1 feels like, as Wes Pitts, the editor of Outdoor Photographer put it “a tank, in a good way.” This is the solid, weather sealed, powerful camera you’ve been waiting for. And based on the K-1 name (the original Pentax K-series camera was the K-2), there’s a lot more coming. For more details about the Pentax K-1, see the write-up and press release that follow.

Not just for professionals anymore, full-frame DSLRs have gained in popularity over the past couple of years. Prices have dropped and photographers—particularly those who shoot wide-angle—appreciate the benefits of working with the actual focal lengths that their lenses provide.

After a series of teasers, Pentax finally revealed its first full-frame DSLR—the K-1. Taking its rightful place as the flagship model in Pentax’s K-series line, the K-1 is an impressive addition to the Ricoh-Pentax family.

Built around an AA-filterless 36.4 megapixel sensor, the K-1 offers benefits that extend far beyond its AA-filterless 36.4 megapixel sensor (there’s an AA filter simulator option, too). The camera is well-built and is protected from the elements by 87 weather seals. Designed for comfort and ease of use, a new function dial provides quick access to various parameters such as ISO, bracketing and more. A unique LCD design provides multiple tilt and angle options and built-in LED lights are positioned to help users operate the camera and change lenses in low light. The K-1 is also equipped with both WiFi and NFC.

In addition to an ISO range from 100-204800, the sensor offers some of the K-1’s most notable features an updated 5-axis shake reduction mechanism that is capable of up to 5 steps of image stabilization and because the image sensor can be tilted in all directions, image composition can be fine-tuned. In combination with the camera’s built-in GPS and the moving sensor, the K-1 also offers a tracking function for astrophotography. When enabled, Astro Tracer keeps stars in sharp focus for exposures up to five minutes. The K-1’s Pixel Shift Resolution captures and combines four images into a single composite. While the composite is still a 36 megapixel image, Pentax promises increased resolving power for excellent image quality.

On the performance side, autofocus has been improved and features 33 AF points, with 25 cross-type points in the center. The camera can capture up to 4.4 frames per second in burst mode. Dual SD card slots offer multiple options including the ability to record JPEGs to one card and RAW files to the second.

Videographers will appreciate the K-1’s microphone input and headphone jack and while the camera doesn’t record in 4K, full HD 1920 x 1080 motion capture is possible.

Lens compatibility has always been one of Pentax’s strong points and the K-1’s multiple image area modes will accommodate full-frame and APS-C lenses. Pentax has also introduced two new lenses: the HD Pentax-D FA 15-30mm F2.8ED SDM WR and the HD Pentax-D FA 28-105mm F3.5-5.6ED DC WR. This brings the total number of lens choices to an even dozen. A new battery grip was introduced as well.

The nicely-priced Pentax K-1, the lenses and battery grip are slated to ship mid-April.—Theano Nikitas

K-1 – $1,799.95
DFA28-105 – $499.95
DFA15-30 – $1,449.95
Battery Grip BG-6 – $199.99

Ricoh Defines Full-Frame Benchmark With New PENTAX Full-Frame DSLR Offering
PENTAX K-1 camera offers innovations not available in any other DSLR

DENVER, Colo. February 17, 2016 – Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation today announced the PENTAX K-1 full-frame digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera. The K-1 combines the performance of a full-frame sensor with unique, user-friendly PENTAX technology and convenience features loved by professional and serious amateur photographers the world over. The foundation of the PENTAX K-1 is its large, full-frame image sensor. This AA-filterless CMOS sensor with 36.4 effective megapixels sets the stage for ultimate creativity, facilitating super-high- resolution images rich in gradation and superb in high-sensitivity rendition.

Built around the full-frame sensor is a compact, high-performance weather-sealed and dustproof body with features only found in PENTAX cameras. “The K-1 is a blend of advanced, full-frame performance with the kind of features and advancements that PENTAX users have come to know and love,” said Jim Malcolm, president, Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation. “As a result, the K-1 creates a solution for full-frame shooters that is unique in the industry.”

Within its compact body, the PENTAX K-1 features several advanced technologies that help the photographer to produce top results in a wide variety of challenging conditions. SR II Shake Reduction is a newly refined and highly sensitive five-axis shake-reduction system that is capable of reducing camera shake with a compensation range of up to five exposure steps, allowing photographers to freely move and compose – and to focus on their subjects,
not the gear. SR II also facilitates other advanced PENTAX-unique features such as AA Filter Simulator, which effectively eliminates moiré effect without the need for an anti-aliasing filter, while increasing sharpness and overall image quality. Key to great autofocus performance on the K-1 is the new SAFOX 12 autofocus mechanism with 33 autofocus points, assuring fast and accurate autofocusing, even in the most demanding shooting situations. A newly-designed optical viewfinder equipped with the famous PENTAX Pentaprism boasts a bright, nearly 100-percent field of view.

In addition to a long list of technological advancements, the PENTAX K-1 also features a number of convenience features, making camera operation fast and easy. Designed to move in ways never before imagined is the new Flexible-tilt LCD monitor—a first for any DSLR camera. This rugged yet highly adjustable display can be positioned to the desired angle horizontally and vertically, making it easy to shoot at challenging angles. Other significant firsts include the K-1’s Operation Assist Lights – small, white LEDs that facilitate camera operation in low-light environments, making it easy to change lenses, swap memory cards and adjust back-of-camera controls, and a Smart Function dial that allows photographers to easy select frequently-used functions without going into the LCD menu.

Current PENTAX lens owners will appreciate that they can incorporate their APS-C lens collection into their new PENTAX K-1 full-frame camera kit by utilizing the K-1’s Crop Mode, which offers settings in- camera for either APS-C or Full-Frame sized shooting, regardless of the attached lens. There is also an “auto” mode that detects the lens type and sets the camera accordingly.

Upon launch, PENTAX is offering 12 full-frame compatible lenses, including two new models being announced concurrent with the K-1 camera: the HD PENTAX-D FA 15-30mm f.2.8 ultra-wide angle zoom lens and the HD PENTAX-D FA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 compact, lightweight zoom lens. (Note: separate news releases have been issued today to provide details on each lens).

Pricing and Availability
The PENTAX K-1 camera will be available April 2016 at and retail outlets nationwide for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $1,799.95.

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