PENTAX K-01

Pentax K-01

Pentax K-01

Let’s cut to the chase. Forget for a moment image quality, handling, features, sensor size and all that jazz, because the I first thing that grabs your attention is the way this thing looks. Now, design is very subjective — one man masterpiece is another man bin fodder. Office opinions are divided — to some "at least it’s different", to others "it’s a bit big and toy-like." It wouldn’t matter if the K-01 resolved Hasselblad levels of detail, rightly or wrongly, minds are already made up by first impressions. I try and explain. The body is designed by Marc Newson and were minded of this by the start-up screen and sticker placed near the battery compartment. As form follows function, Mr Newson has done a pretty good job of making something appear fresh and different from a selection of given components — components which have to be clothed in a body that must be comfortable with intuitively placed buttons and dials. And following the best contemporary product design, there are no unnecessary flourishes or extra add-ons to clutter the minimalistic rectangular form. There are three colourways — a stealth-like black body with black grip, a more tecchy silver body with black grip and a funky black body with a yellow grip. It’s the black and yellow version that the most arresting visually, and in my opinion, the one that suits the chunky K-01 design the best. I get the impression the other two colourways are available because it expected and that the yellow option was always the first colour of choice. I could be wrong, but using the all black K-01 seemed a tad dull after a few days brandishing the banana yellow version. I have a feeling the silver option will be the most popular though, striking a nice balance between discrete and daring. Measuring 79mm (H) x 121mm (W) x 51mm (D) and tipping the scales at 556g with battery and SD card, the K-01 is no lightweight. This isn’t a camera that easily slips into a pocket and is one of the heaviest if not THE heaviest compact system camera available. Reason? Well, this is the thing, Pentax have not taken the usual route of designing a system camera around a smaller mount and therefore a whole new raft of smaller lenses. What Pentax have rather cleverly done is to develop a mirrorless system around their existing K-mount thus eliminating the need for any new lenses or adaptors —hence the added girth. So, straight out of the box you have over 200 K-mount lenses to choose from. No making do with one or two lenses at inception and an agonising wait as new offerings are drip fed onto the market. Of course Pentax are offering bundles for those new to Pentax but a body only option is available for existing Pentax users.
Back View

Back View

FEATURES Gone are the days when you used to choose one camera over another because it offered something extra, something that was unique to that particular model. I think you’re agree that nowadays you expect every decent manufacturer’s new camera to pretty much offer the same amount of features as the next, with buying decisions based on brand loyalty, design, ergonomics, performance, a good advert or a good salesman. So you want full HD video, a high pixel count — 16 mega ones in case you were wondering, shake reduction, built-in flash, 3in LCD screen and dust removal. Okay, these days we come to accept features like these as standard and would feel pretty short changed if any of the aforementioned were missing. The K-01 goes a little further. As well as offering the usual Scene Modes such as Landscape, Portrait and Macro —there are 16 other modes available. Pentax have crammed in a whole host of picture tweaking options under the Custom Image and Digital Filter menu tabs — you find options such as Bleach Bypass, Cross Processing and Toy Camera to name just a few. The filters can be applied the moment you press the shutter or as an in-camera edit, preserving the original shot. You can also combine different scene options with different filters and really go to town on your images; there is even a dedicated HDR option, as they say, the possibilities are endless. There really nothing that can be achieved in Photoshop, but that not the point. All the in-camera trickery adds a sense of fun, especially when you in a snap happy mood or not a fan of post-processing. HANDLING By using the K-mount there was no way Pentax were ever going to develop a lightweight, slim camera. This is a proper size —not quite entry-level DSLR size, but not far short especially if you attach some of the larger lenses available. That said, it doesn’t feel overly heavy, with one handed shooting possible thanks to the grippy rubberised coating and shake reduction. There is no viewfinder, not even an electronic one, so focusing and composing takes place as expected on the LCD screen. All the vital shooting information you need is displayed; f-stop, shutter speed, metering, white balance, ISO, whichever filter is chosen, there also a histogram and, a particular favourite of mine, a shadows and highlight clipping warning. The machined metal dials do add a touch of quality and feel solid in use with a reassuring ’with each adjustment. The buttons, although on the small side, are nicely placed for easy thumb action. It useful to see a dedicated ISO button for making adjustments on the fly not the menu scrabbling affair it can be, something that omitted from more expensive cameras. One button that is particularly helpful, especially if you new to, or are just getting to grips with shooting in manual, is the little green number that sits next to the shutter/aperture dial. Press this and the camera sets the correct exposure. Perfect if needing to shoot in a hurry or just for an understanding of how exposure works. PERFORMANCE Is there a camera on the market today in this price bracket which takes a bad picture? Probably not. With a body only price just on the wrong side of ?500, you would expect image quality to not be in question. Of course a lot depends on the lenses used but with the two lenses I been switching between: 1855mm ’lens and 40mm prime, the images are bright, punchy and artefact free. They could be sharper — this was with both lenses —and to my taste the in-camera sharpening could be a bit more aggressive. A quick dose of the Unsharp Mask filter in Photoshop put the smile back on my face. I also never felt the need to switch from auto white balance, with the Pentax doing a very good job of coping with changing light conditions. The brand is doing a pretty good job of suppressing digital noise too, with shots taken at ISO 3200, even 6400 showing little signs of nastiness. I found it best to dial in a medium value for noise reduction, which seemed the best option for retaining detail without softening the image too much. VERDICT If you looking for a CSC that has all the convenience of a point and shoot but with all the attributes of a DSLR then look no further. There a lot to like about the ’Pentax. It a proper size with that bold design really making it stand out from the crowd. It has some great in-camera filters which along with the option of a yellow outer, add the fun factor. If you new to photography or looking for something a bit more serious to grow with, learn from, or just use as a point and shoot then the K-01 is ideal. If you an existing Pentax user who wants a ’more portable offering or a back-up to their DSLR, again, I cant think of a better alternative, especially as you save a small fortune on lenses. My one quibble is the lack of viewfinder. There are some excellent cameras with electronic viewfinders on the market and it not only easier to compose your shots through a viewfinder, it also a better way to take the picture with your elbows pressed into your side, camera to eye, rather than having your arms outstretched as you look at the screen. That said if Pentax made a red version I buy it in a heartbeat — remember the Konica Pop, anyone?

Comments are closed.