Pentax unveils K-1 full frame DSLR

by | Feb 17, 2016 | News, Products

Pentax just revealed the details on its first-ever full frame DSLR, the K-1. It’s an interesting camera to come out at this point in the game, when full frame mirrorless seems to be stealing the show and with Canon and Nikon so deeply entrenched on the DSLR side.  How can Pentax (now part of Ricoh) really hope to compete?

If there’s one thing that may help Pentax make inroads with this new camera, it’s the price. At just $1799.99, it sits alongside entry-level full frame cameras from other manufacturers. But the K-1 isn’t exactly entry-level. It features a 36.4MP sensor with no antialiasing filter and uses sensor shift technology to capture full color information at each pixel location (similar to how the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II works, albeit without the increase in linear resolution). In theory, at least, it should out-resolve a Nikon D810.

Additionally, 5-axis in-body image stabilization means stable shots with any lens, while the fully weather-sealed body means you should be able to take the camera anywhere. A unique, articulating monitor allows for both horizontal and vertical orientations to keep the screen aligned with the lens.

The 33-point (25 cross-type) AF system may not be earth-shattering, especially in the wake of Nikon’s recent announcements, but it should be perfectly capable for most uses.

Pentax also announced two new full frame lenses, a 15-30mm f/2.8 and a 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6.

See the full list of key features below. What are your thoughts? Was this a smart move for Pentax?

Press release:

Main Features

1.  High-resolution, fine-gradation images supported by approximately 36.4 effective megapixels 

features an AA (anti-aliasing) filterless design that prioritizes image resolution. Coupled with the new PRIME IV imaging engine, capable of 14-bit RAW-format image recording. The K-1’s unique full frame sensor and imaging engine design also allows for super-high-sensitivity shooting up to ISO 204800, producing beautiful, high-resolution images.

2. New-generation SR II five-axis system

• In-body SR mechanism assures optimal shake reduction performance 

The SR II (Shake Reduction II) five-axis mechanism enables accurate control of the large full-frame image sensor with all compatible PENTAX interchangeable lenses.* In addition to camera shake caused by pitch and yaw, it effectively compensates for camera shake caused by horizontal and vertical shift, as well as camera shake caused by roll, which is difficult to deal with by lens-installed shake reduction mechanisms. Even when taking a panning shot, this system automatically detects the direction of the camera’s movement, and efficiently controls the SR unit to always produce the best image possible..

• Pixel Shift Resolution System with a new motion correction function

uses the latest super-resolution technology, which captures four images of the same scene by shifting the image sensor by a single pixel for each image, then synthesizes them into a single composite image. Compared to the conventional Bayer system, in which each pixel has only a single color data unit, this innovative system obtains all color data in each pixel This system provides a new motion correction function,*** which automatically detects a moving object during continuous shooting and minimizes negative Innovative AA filter simulator to minimize moiré

By applying microscopic vibrations to the image sensor, the K-1’s AA (anti-aliasing) filter simulator****provides the same level of moiré reduction as an optical AA filter

Supportive shooting functions

Since the K-1’s SR unit has a flexible design that tilts the image sensor unit in all directions, it provides a host of handy shooting functions, including auto level compensation, image-composition fine-adjustment, and ASTRO TRACER, which simplifies advanced astronomical photography using a built-in GPS module.

* Lenses compatible with this mechanism: K-, KA-, KAF-, KAF2- and KAF3-mount lenses; screw-mount lenses (with an adapter); and 645- and 67-system lenses (with an adapter). Some functions may not be available with certain lenses.

** When using this system, the user is advised to stabilize the camera firmly on a tripod. When a moving subject is captured in the camera’s image field, its image may not be reproduced clearly, either in part or as a whole.

*** The movement may not be sufficiently corrected when the object is moving in a certain direction and/or pattern. This function does not guarantee that the movement is properly corrected with all subjects.

**** This function works most effectively with a shutter speed of 1/1000 second or slower. This function may not be combined with some shooting modes, including the Pixel Shift Resolution system. 

3. Flexible tilt-type LCD monitor to accommodate various shooting angles

The K-1 features a newly designed, flexible tilt-type LCD monitor, which tilts horizontally, vertically or diagonally with a single action, without deviating from the lens’s optical axis. 35 degrees of horizontal and 44 degrees of vertical adjustment can be achieved, the LCD panel can even be layed flat up or down. The 3.2-inch LCD monitor features a tempered-glass front panel for added durability and a unique air-gapless construction effectively reduces  reflection, And a new Outdoor View Setting mode allows the user to instantly choose the desired monitor brightness level.

4. Newly developed SAFOX 12 with 33 sensor points and full-frame-proportioned AF frame

The SAFOX 12 AF sensor modulefeatures 33 AF sensors (25 cross-type sensors positioned in the middle). The center sensor and the two sensors located just above and below it are designed to detect the light flux of an F2.8 lens, making it easy to obtain pinpoint focus on a subject when using a large-aperture lens.

5. Upgraded PENTAX Real-Time Scene Analysis System, with application of artificial intelligence technology

The K-1’s advanced PENTAX Real-Time Scene Analysis System performs near instant analysis of exposure, color, movement and other factors.Combining with  a breakthrough artificial intelligence technology called deep learning, the K-1 instantly optimizes settings for even the most difficult shooting situations.

* Effective when the AUTO exposure mode is set to Scene Analyze Auto and the Custom Image mode is set to Auto Select.

6. Easy-to-focus optical viewfinder with nearly 100-percent field of view

Newly developed for its 35mm full-frame design, the K-1’s optical viewfinder provides a nearly 100-percent field of view and an approximately 0.7-times magnification. A Natural Bright Matt III focusing screen allows ease of focusing and a true-to-life rendition of defocused areas in the viewfinder image.

7. High-speed continuous shooting with a top speed of approximately 4.4 images per second

The K-1 has a larger shutter unit that easily accommodates the camera’s full-frame image sensor and provides high-speed, high-accuracy control of the mirror unit. , A high-speed data transmission system incorporated in the PRIME IV imaging engine allows the user to continuously record as many as 23 images in the RAW format (or a maximum of 70 images in the JPEG Best format) in a single sequence, at a top speed of approximately 4.4 images per second.

8. Supportive shooting functions to improve picture-taking efficiency and operational comfort

  • Operation assist light function, which provides LED lights above the lens mount, behind the LCD monitor, at the memory car slot, and at the cable switch terminal to facilitate fast and easy operation in poorly lit settings.
  • Key lock function, which prevents erroneous operation of the four-way controller and other exposure-related control buttons.
  • Smart Function, which allows the user to swiftly choose and set desired functions using just the function dial and the set dial on the camera’s upper panel, without referring to the menu screen on the LCD monitor.
  • Control panel customize function, allowing the user to change aspects of the on-screen menu.

9. Compact, solid body with dustproof, weather-resistant construction

Constructed of sturdy yet lightweight magnesium alloy with the inclusion of 87 sealing parts in the body, the K-1 also boasts a dustproof, weather-resistant and cold-resistant construction.

Other features 

WiFi operation allowing camera control and image transfer to tablet or smartphone via the free ImageSync app

Full HD movie recording at 1920 x 1080 pixels in the H.264 recording format

Built-in GPS module and electronic compass

  • High-grade DRII (Dust Removal II) mechanism for effective elimination of dust on the image sensor using ultrasonic vibration
  • Crop mode with a choice of image area from AUTO, FF (Full Frame) and APS-C, to accommodate different types of lenses
  • Clarity control and Skin Tone correction functions, a pair of the latest image processing technologies developed by RICOH Central Laboratory
  • HDR (High Dynamic Range) shooting mode with RAW-format data filing, usable in handheld shooting
  • The PENTAX-invented hyper operating system for quick, accurate response to the photographer’s creative intentions
  • Dual SD card slots for memory card flexibility (compatible with SDXC UHS-1 speed class in SDR104 buss speed mode)
  • Compensation of various parameters: lens distortion, lateral chromatic aberration, diffraction, and brightness level at image-field edges. Fringe effect compensation is also available in RAW-format processing.
  • Compatibility with PENTAX Image Transmitter 2 tethering software (Software update required from RICOH IMAGING official website)
  • Digital Camera Utility 5 software (latest version) included

Optional Accessories

D-BG6 Battery Grip

A battery grip for exclusive use with the PENTAX K-1 camera body. Designed to facilitate vertical-position shooting, it provides a shutter release button, a set of control buttons (AE lock, AF, ISO, exposure compensation, green), a preview lever, and dual electronic dials — just like those provided on the camera body. It also features the dustproof, weather-resistant construction identical to the PENTAX K-1 camera body. In addition to the dedicated lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, it also accepts six AA-size batteries.

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