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Gear Announcements

Pentax Officially Announces New K1 Full Frame DSLR

By Anthony Thurston on February 17th 2016

It seems silly to be writing an official announcement post for the Pentax K-1 considering how long it’s been since Pentax first said they were working on a full frame DSLR, and all the teasers since then. But, here I am, with a post on simultaneously one of the most interesting and baffling full frame cameras on the market.

Pentax K-1

Now, that last sentence may have you wondering what the deal is, and so I am just going to get the specs out of the way first so that I can talk about why I am both really interested and somewhat confused by this camera.

Pentax-K-1-full-frame-DSLR-camera-2

  • 36.4 effective MP, AA Filterless Full Frame CMOS sensor
  • Newly Designed Prime IV Engine
  • High Sensitivity 204,800 ISO
  • SRII five-axis Shake Reduction System
  • Pixel Shift Resolution System with motion correction function
  • Continuous shooting at 4.4fps
  • Selectable Anti-Aliasing Filter Effect
  • 33 Point Auto-Focus System
  • SAFOX 12 Autofocus Module
  • Pentaprism Optical Viewfinder with 100% FOV
  • 4-point LED Illumination of critical camera functions
  • 3.2-inch Cross-Tilt LCD display
  • APS-C Crop Mode for maximum lens flexibility and compatibility
  • Built-in GPS and ASTRO TRACER Functions
  • Built-in Electronic Compass
  • Wi-Fi Camera Control and Image Transfer
  • Professional H.264 Full HD video
  • Dual SD card slots
  • Fully weather sealed
  • HDMI port

Pentax-K-1-DSLR-full-frame-camera-1

In some ways (the high-resolution sensor, weather sealing, GPS and WiFi, unique tilt-flippy screen, etc.), the Pentax K-1 looks to be a really promising camera. But, in other ways (namely the relatively low 4.4 FPS burst shooting, the 33 point AF system), it seems like a camera that is a couple of years behind the times.

That said, Pentax fans – those few of you still remaining – should rejoice. This is clearly a step forward for the company that has dropped so far since their film hay days. Add to the K-1 the newly announced lenses, and you can see the beginnings of what could be a really solid full frame system.

Then there is the price, which is very competitive. The new K-1 will retail in the US for just under $1800, making it quite a bit cheaper than the cameras it is competing against.

Those interested can pre-order the K-1 now over on B&H.

What do you all think of this new option from Pentax? Are you like me, interested but confused by a few feature choices? Or do you fall into a different camp? Leave a comment below and let me know what’s up!

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Geoff K

    Don’t give up your day job. Comedy doesn’t seem to work for you.
    I have to agree with most of the comments here. Your bias toward the heavily marketed brands or just against Pentax is pretty clear.
    Nitpicking fractional differences in burst rates and AF points.

    Why not open your critique with some of the unique features that set the K1 apart from the others… eg: pixel shift to get sharper images.
    I imagine readers would find that more interesting and are probably curious about the benefits.

    We all know it’s been a long time coming but it’s apparent it’s not a ‘me too’; typical Pentax. It’s no wonder they have a dedicated following.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Fear not, Geoff, as one of the SLR Lounge writers I’m personally a big fan of Pentax, and am eagerly awaiting the K-1 for review. I may even buy one for myself, considering its price versus the D810 let alone the D810A! (We’ll see if the K-1’s dark noise is good…)

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  2. joel Keister

    It’s funny how people can have such varying reactions to the same press release. Anthony looks at these specs and finds it “behind the times” and then PetaPixel’s reaction article is actually titled: “The Pentax K-1 Has Features Not Found in Any Other Full Frame DSLR”.

    http://petapixel.com/2016/02/17/pentax-k-1-features-not-found-full-frame-dslr/

    I suppose it all depends on what features appeal to you. Count me in an intrigued. Can’t wait to see some of the real word reviews.

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  3. Ralph Hightower

    The AstroTracer function sounds interesting for astrophotography. But since I’m invested in two Canon lens systems, FD and EOS, with a desire to get into medium format systems, I don’t need another system to invest in. I would rent this camera if the rental companies offered it for a trial.

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  4. Andrew Leinonen

    The D810 only shots 5 fps, though. That’s near enough to identical.

    In any case, with the 36MP sensor, IBIS, full-colour multi-shot mode, articulated screen, and weather sealing, this just became the best DSLR for landscape photographers overnight.

    Hands down. If you care about technical image quality, you should probably be using this camera. Unless of course you’re already shooting an 80MP Phase One, or the like.

    Given the quality of the K3 II’s 4-shot mode, with a 36MP FF sensor on board, this instantly blows past any of its neighbouring competition and probably sails on past the 50MP 645Z to boot.

    And the fact that it only costs $1800 is just gravy. Add the 15-30/2.8 and you’re about the same as the D810’s body only price and you’re off to the races. If you’re comparing against a 5DS, feel free to add a 70-200/f2.8 to your lens mix as well, and then you’re really set.

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  5. Kyle Stauffer

    If those 33 AF points are all cross-type and spread outs, I think it will be as satisfying as the other features of this new camera! I don’t grab the 36mp D800 to shoot 8 fps that’s for sure.

    I can’t wait to see what lenses Pentax comes out with first.

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  6. Colin Woods

    This looks like a really juicy camera, and I am so happy to see Pentax getting back into the game. I used Pentax for many years and loved them – my LX was superb. I only changed to Nikon as when I wanted to change to a fully featured AF system the Pentax was more about cool gadgets for amateurs than anything else, so I ended up with the mighty F4. I agree however,that 4 fps is oddly low for a premium camera.

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  7. Tyler Friesen

    looks like a great option for new full frame shooters, I cant see the masses making any switches to them for this camera though. I guess we will see once the reviews are out.

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  8. Kristopher Galuska

    Sounds like a dream adventure and travel camera. Really it sounds like a fantastic camera for everything but sports.

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    • Matthew Saville

      That is, in short, exactly what it is trying to be. A rock-solid flagship camera that packs a nearly indestructible punch into a small (though not lightweight) package. A serious landscape shooter, let alone a nightscape shooter, should be on cloud nine right now. As I am. :-P

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    • Kristopher Galuska

      Yeah this almost make me wish I would have held off getting a nikon d610 and 3 lenses…

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  9. Drew Pluta

    Wow, you mean to tell me that a whopping 2 whole features that have nothing to do with creating a great image are not the best in the industry? What were they thinking?

    Burst mode is useless for most shooters (or at least it should be) and 33 AF points is excessive. Like others have said, the 6D has 11, my clients don’t seem to mind.

    This looks like a great camera for the price point and they just may be priming the market for more to come.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Again. I don’t feel like I was overly negative. I stated pretty clearly that I was interested and intrigued by the camera. God forbid I find a few of the choices they made a bit odd.

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    • robert s

      you should just give facts. let people give opinions. this isnt a review. its an overview. just the facts ma’am

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    • Anthony Thurston

      If you just want facts go somewhere else. Here we give opinions, whether you agree with them or not.

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    • robert s

      when you review it ill read your opinion, otherwise, youre jumping the gun with it

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Ok, Robert.

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  10. Tom Marvel

    If Pentax can work out a fully functioning adapter for Canon and/or Nikon lenses they definitely have a winner otherwise the K-1 will just take up the slack left by the Samsung NX1

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    • Matthew Saville

      Unfortunately, the flange distance would prohibit this from being doable, as Pentax’ K-mount uses a greater flange distance than either Canon or Nikon.

      You could, however, mount a Pentax lens on a Canon body, just like you could mount a Nikon lens on a Canon body.

      But Pentax has plenty of old, killer lenses for its mount, thanks to the decades of backwards compatibility. I’ve already bought an old 135mm for under $50, and inherited a 50mm from my grandfather, so all I need to do now is hawk Ebay for a wide angle prime and as a landscape photographer I’m good to go…

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    • John Cavan

      They have a ready market in their existing brand loyalists, believe me. The FF dream has been a big Pentaxian thing for a while, though some of us had given up an jumped ship. I will admit, since I do still have some Pentax glass, I’ve considered this camera as a second body with my D800. Pentax cameras are usually a joy to shoot with and I doubt this one will be any different and the price is hard to knock.

      In addition, this camera has a great deal of appeal to landscape and astrophotography purposes. The astrotrace, which already worked very well with the previous external unit, is very handy, especially when coupled with the usually historically excellent noise handling the Pentax has demonstrated. I think they’ll attract some interest in these realms and they have lens coverage for them even if you ignore the massive amount of readily available legacy glass.

      That legacy glass, as a note, is stabilized because of the IBIS and now has focus confirm even when fully manual. Pentax had some great lenses in the past and these can often be hunted down for very low cost.

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  11. Cary McCaughey

    For Pentax’s first full frame it seems okay. Im not thoroughly impressed until the actual images from professionals across the industry start posting up. Nikon, Canon & Sony have a firm grip on the DSLR market. Pentax may want to stay medium format :-P

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    • Dave Haynie

      I would suggest that Nikon, Canon, and Sony have a grip on the full frame market, given that Sony doesn’t actually make a DSLR, and I think the only other company making full frame is Leica, a completely different market. If you just look at Sony’s DSLT = pellicle mirror EVF, that’s never been anywhere near successful as their true mirrorless.

      And it’s hard to be successful in, much less dominate, a market until you at least participate in that market. Pentax does seem to be the only other one making actual DSLRs these days, and they do gave a smaller but loyal following.

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    • John Cavan

      Pentax has been in the dSLR market a long time and make very good cameras, they sell a lot more of those than they do medium format. As an aside, at one time, Pentax was the dominant SLR maker…

      So, firm grips are seldom permanent ones, Pentax knows that better than most.

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  12. robert s

    great price great specs. ibis 36mp has all the nice features. 4.5 fps isnt a deal breaker as I shot on CL 3fps on my D3/D3s and D4 when I need.and if this was a nikon camera id have no issue going with it. at $1800 its a great price as well. im just invested too much with nikon. but bravo to pentax. I wonder of someone would put out an adapter to use their medium format lenses

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    • Tom Marvel

      On another site that will remain nameless, a medium format adapter for this camera body was listed as an option in the list of factory specs

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  13. Imants Ozolins

    These are features I’d like to see on 6D mk2,. They don’t look outdated to me.

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  14. Xavier Rodriguez

    The article definitely does sound unnecessarily negative about the camera. The camera and features sound more intriguing than baffling to anyone that has clearly done more than read a press release. Has the camera actually been tested by the author? Only 33 AF points? Well, how do they focus? I shoot with a Pentax K3 and a Sony A6000. The Sony has way more focus points, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it focuses faster in all conditions. The K3 focuses better in low light than the Sony. Usually these articles are really informative, but this one just kind of reads as snobbish. Hopefully, other people that read it aren’t turned off by this article. It just seems like a poor attempt at being humorous, but the writer just comes off as pretentious and lazy.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Sorry I came off as snobbish, but my point remains. I think it looks like a really interesting camera, just a few decisions strike me as a bit odd.

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    • Xavier Rodriguez

      Could you be more specific? Also, can you answer whether or not you’ve actually had a chance to handle and test the camera? Or did you base your opinion off a press release?

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    • Anthony Thurston

      My opinion is based on the press release. Be more specific about what? What I find odd? The 4.5FPS burst rate, the AF system (yes, based on the number of AF points since I can’t base it off real world testing right this moment). I share my opinions in my posts, you don’t have to agree with them, but its how I have always done it. Also, my opinion will change – one way or the other- after I review the camera in person.

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    • Xavier Rodriguez

      “But, in other ways (namely the relatively low 4.4 FPS burst shooting, the 33 point AF system), it seems like a camera that is a couple of years behind the times.
      That said, Pentax fans – those few of you still remaining – should rejoice. This is clearly a step forward for the company that has dropped so far since their film hay days.”

      I get the attempt to be funny, but it’s much closer to insulting and condescending than it is to humorous. This is what I refer to as “snobbish”.

      Personally, I like my review/previews to have a little more substance and less fluff. Maybe this is just a badly written article (not everything will always be a gem and reading your articles, they are a lot better) and not really indicative of your actual opinion of this camera, but your technique of writing something potentially positive only to slam it immediately afterwards may want to be reconsidered when writing about a product that you are now admitting to know so little about. Your authority as an author for this site and “expertise” on new products has the potential to give some people an incorrect lasting impression. If I were writing these articles, I would definitely be concerned about this as it would have the potential to damage my credibility.

      At this point, this has probably gotten much bigger than this article really deserves, but I personally found it irresponsible to write the article in this way. If you had more knowledge of the camera, then it may have been ok to be so negative because then your “criticisms” (i.e. behind the times; those that still remain) would have held more weight.

      Other than that, I do enjoy your other articles.

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  15. Paul Nguyen

    The similarly priced Canon 6D shoots around the same number of FPS and has 11 AF points, so I don’t know what you mean by it being a couple of years behind and I’m not sure what is confusing you about the feature choices.

    I have no interest in Pentax, as I don’t have any Pentax lenses, but I think you’ve been unduly harsh on this camera given what it’s offering at the price point.

    It offers the best sensor in its price class, it has IBIS, a first for any DSLR, it has useful features such as WiFi and GPS. I’m not sure what you’re complaining about or what more you could possibly want.

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    • Joseph Prusa

      The 6D was introduced in 2012.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Its the Pentax Flagship, I was comparing it to other higher end cameras, like the D81 0 and 5DIII. I did note the price is very competitive, and stated I was interested in the camera just that a few things came off as odd choices.

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    • Paul Nguyen

      I still don’t understand though. You’re comparing it to the D810, but this is a camera that is priced more like a D750? Also, the D810 shoots 5 fps, so does your beloved Sony A7 series cameras, so I don’t see how you can whine about 4.4 fps all that much. It’s not like it’s shooting 3 fps or 2 fps, it’s practically the same as 5 fps in real-world usage.

      On top of that, the D810 has 51 AF points (I believe), not like it’s an earth different to 33 AF points. Whilst I usually appreciate your roundups and reviews, I don’t understand why you’re taking a stab at Pentax here, Anthony. The two major points you bring up aren’t really as bad as you say they are and even then, I’m fine with discussing them. However, from the very first sentence, you are already bagging it out, saying it is “silly” to write about it, even though rumours are abound with any camera, e.g. the A6300 or X-Pro2, you go on to say it’s “baffling”. I don’t see anything baffling about it. It just seems like a normal camera at a great price point.

      Ultimately, whilst I appreciate your articles, I do feel like there is some inherent bias towards mirrorless systems in what you write about. It’s the same old “DSLRs are old-school, no new innovation, blah blah blah” mantra regardless of what new features they have. Even with IBIS, everyone made a big deal when it was on the A7II, but here, it barely gets a passing mention.

      Regardless of what you might feel about the Pentax K1, I still feel like you erred on the side of bagging it out, rather than actually thinking about who might find it useful and its strengths (of which there are many beyond the price tag). Perhaps it would be nice if you didn’t have such a strong mirrorless/Sony bias.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      “Silly to write about it” given the extremely long wait time, teasers and ultimately rumors/leaks. The hype/announcement/pre-marketing of this product was fairly unique. Not due to the product itself, but due to it seeming like we already knew so much about it. My points were hardly a stab, all I said was that I found them odd choices. I will concede that my usage of the word ‘baffling’ was a bit of a exaggeration here, but honestly, the rest of the content is hardly negative at all.

      As for the rest of your comment. I am perfectly capable of writing about a DSLR without ‘mirrorless bias’. Honestly, I could say the same thing about your comments Paul, seems like all you do is bag on the mirrorless products I write about.

      As always, I appreciate the comments, but in that regard I think you are reading far far more into my post and motivations than is realistic, and are finding bias where there is none.

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    • Dave Haynie

      As an actual 6D owner, I’m ok with my 20Mpixels and super low light capability. Most of the other stuff I’d totally have welcomed. That would be a pretty decent upgrade!

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