Pentax K1 Review

Pentax K1 Review

Robust, splash-proof 36-Megapixler for 2000 Euro: Presentation of the K-1 as the first full-format DSLR from Pentax

Loyal Pentax fans have had to wait a very long time for this: With the K-1 in April 2016, Ricoh is launching the longed-for full-format DSLR with Pentax K bayonet on the market. It’s not a simple me-too product, but the engineers at Ricoh have once again come up with some ideas to make the K-1 a unique product. The K-1 has an extremely compact and robust light metal housing that is protected against splashing water and offers a 36-megapixel sensor at the lowest price yet.

The Pentax K-1 is the first full-format DSRL from the Japanese manufacturer. It offers 36 megapixel resolution in a rugged, sealed metal housing. [Photo: Pentax]

The clever joint allows the monitor of the Pentax K-1 to be rotated 90 degrees up and down and 35 degrees left and right along the optical axis. The monitor can also be rotated 35 degrees. [Photo: Pentax]

The 36 x 24 millimeter CMOS sensor does not require a low-pass filter and has almost 5 µm pixels, which allow a maximum light sensitivity of ISO 204,800. The sensor is movably mounted for image stabilization. Stabilisation over five axes compensates for tilting in four directions (axes 1 and 2), parallel displacement in four directions (axes 3 and 4) and rotational movements (axis 5), enabling up to five light value levels of longer exposure times without blurring. The camera detects pans and automatically switches the image stabilization accordingly.

Furthermore, the magnetically supported sensor can be used to achieve a shift effect within certain limits by means of a 1.5 millimeter displacement to reduce falling lines. It is also possible to rotate the sensor by up to one degree to adjust the horizon. In addition, the Astrotracer function ensures that the camera compensates for the rotation of the earth during night shots of the starry sky and thus images stars in a point-shaped manner. In addition, sensor movements can be used to switch on a simulation of a low-pass filter in two stages in order to suppress unwanted moiré effects, just like with a real low-pass filter. Finally, the sensor movement even allows multiple recording, with each pixel being recorded four times. The sensor is shifted by one pixel at a time, so no color interpolation from the information of the neighboring pixels is necessary. Movements are automatically detected and only motionless parts of the subject are used to create a sharp image. Of course, the sensor has a Dust Removal II dust protection system, which makes dust adhere poorly and shakes it off during automatic cleaning.

The magnetically mounted image sensor of the Pentax K-1 allows image stabilization on five axes. [Photo: Pentax]

The newly developed autofocus system SAFOX VII uses 33 measuring fields, 25 of which are cross sensors. The measuring fields cover a 20 percent larger area than the previous systems. The working range is up to -3 LW and up to F2.8 fast lenses should be supported with the most precise focusing. The exposure is measured using an RGB sensor with 86,000 pixels. This allows not only brightness measurement, but also real-time analysis of colors and motion using the Prime IV image processor. Up to 1/8,000 second shutter speed allows up to 4.4 continuous shots per second for 70 JPEG or 17 raw shots in a row. In APS-C format, 6.5 continuous shots per second are possible for 100 JPEG or 50 raw shots. The raw format works with 14 bit color depth and JPEG or TIF images can still be developed in the camera from the raw images.

The K-1 records videos in maximum Full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) with 30 full frames or 60 fields per second (30p/60i). The recording length is limited to 25 minutes or 4 gigabytes of file size, whichever comes first. The audio level can be adjusted and a wind noise filter can be added. An external microphone can be connected as well as headphones for sound control.

The Pentax K-1 offers 13 presets for color matching, such as black and white, portrait, reverse film, or cross-development. In addition, there are various SW filters and color tones. In addition, there are nine recording filters and 21 filters with 44 setting parameters for editing in the playback function. Interval shooting allows the K-1 to shoot up to 2,000 images. Multiple exposures are also possible with up to 2,000 exposures, whereby additive multiple exposure only adds the bright parts of the image and thus allows the recording of starstorms or other luminous traces that develop over a longer period of time. Of course, the K-1 allows exposure series and also offers an HDR function. The integrated WLAN not only allows wireless image transmission to smart devices, but also remote control of the camera including live image transmission is possible via WLAN. In addition, the optional software Pentax Image Transmitter 2 allows remote control of the camera from the computer (tethering).

The newly developed and particularly flat glass prism provides the SLR viewfinder image with 0.7x magnification and 100 percent field coverage. The Natural Bright Matt II viewfinder screen also allows numerous superimpositions, such as a spirit level for horizontal and vertical alignment or grid lines. Recording information is also displayed below the viewfinder image. The 3.2″ (8.1 cm) diagonal rear screen offers live viewing and a special folding mechanism. It can be folded up and down by 45 degrees directly at the back. If you pull the screen a little away from the back, it not only allows you to flap 90 degrees up and down, but you can also flap 35 degrees left and right and rotate 35 degrees. The screen always remains in the optical axis of the camera. The specially hardened monitor glass is also very resistant to scratches.

In addition to the extensive mode selection wheel, the Pentax K-1 also offers a special wheel to make further settings without trips to the menu. [Photo: Pentax]

On the back of the monitor there are LEDs for the illumination of the operating elements of the Pentax K-1. Also at the bayonet, in the info display as well as in the card slot there are LEDs built in, so that even in the dark no torch is needed for operation. [Photo: Pentax]

With 136.5 x 110 millimetres, the Pentax K-1 has the slimmest housing of all full-frame DSLRs. Due to the case depth of 85.5 millimeters, however, the K-1 has a higher volume than the 7.5 millimeters wider and equally high Nikon DF, which has a 66 mm flat case. The Pentax K-1 has a stable metal chassis inside, the outer housing is made of a light aluminium alloy. 87 seals provide protection against splash water and dust. The robust shutter should withstand at least 300,000 releases, even at temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius, at which the camera should still operate reliably. The D-BG6 battery handle, which is optionally available for just under 250 euros, is also protected against splash water and dust with 47 seals. An additional lithium-ion rechargeable battery can be optionally inserted into it, doubling the storage capacity. Alternatively, six mignon cells can be used. The double SD card slot of the K-1 is compatible with SDHC, SDXC and UHS-I. If desired, raw and JPEG or photos and videos can be recorded separately on the maps. The D-LI90 lithium-ion battery used in the battery handle and the camera, with its high capacity of 1,860 milliampere hours, should be sufficient for 750 shots.

Instead of a flash, a GPS is built into the housing, which is needed for the Astrotracer function, among other things. The TTL system flash shoe allows the use of compatible flash units. The user interface offers not only many customizable buttons and a customizable Quick Menu, but also memory for up to five user programs. In addition, a special function wheel together with a rotating wheel should allow the camera to be adjusted largely without menus. At the top of the housing there is an LC display that can be illuminated at night. In addition, the display has LEDs on the back that illuminate the operating keys. The bayonet is also illuminated by an LED and even in the card and connection terminal there is an LED, so that the photographer can do without an additional flashlight at night thanks to the “ambient lighting”.

Pentax offers twelve full-frame lenses in its lens range right from the start. However, five of these are older FA lenses that are still in the product range. These include the three cream lenses of the FA-Limited lens series with a light intensity of F1.8 and focal lengths of 31, 43 and 77 millimetres. Also the old FA 35 mm F2.0 AL and the FA 50 mm F1.4 are still available. In addition, there are the two DFA macro lenses with 50 and 100 millimetres focal lengths with a respective light intensity of F2.8. The 100 macro is even sealed against splash water and dust. Relatively new in the lens range are the powerful and splash-proof standard zoom HD DFA 24-70 mm F2.8 ED SDM WR and the splash-proof telezoom HD DFA 150-450 mm 4.5-5.6 ED DC AW. The powerful and also splash-proof telezoom HD DFA* 70-200 mm 2.8 ED DC AW will be delivered in April 2016, parallel to the K-1. These ten lenses are complemented by today’s two new models HD DFA 28-105 mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR and HD DFA 15-30 mm F2.8 ED SDM WR (see further links). These lenses will also be available from April and, as the “WR” in its name reveals, will have splash water and dust protection. The twelve full-frame lenses available cover a focal length range from 15 to 450 millimeters, half of the lenses are splash-proof and dustproof to match the camera.

The Pentax K-1 can be equipped with a portrait battery handle. A second lithium-ion battery or six mignon cells can be used for the power supply. [Photo: Pentax]

The large Penta prism viewfinder of the Pentax K-1 offers 0.7x magnification and 100 percent field coverage. Bubble level and grid lines can be displayed. Shooting information appears below the viewfinder image. [Photo: Pentax]

Crop lenses can also be used on the K-1 and the camera automatically switches to APS-C mode with a resolution of about 16 megapixels. If desired, the user can also decide for himself whether he still wants to use the full image circle. Some lenses, Ricoh reveals, are supposed to illuminate the 35mm circle as well as possible. The DA* 55 mm has only minimal vignetting in the corners.  Speaking of vignetting, the Pentax K-1 is capable of digitally correcting distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberrations and even lens diffraction.

Pentax K-1 available in a limited silver edition: Only 2.000 pieces

Ricoh will launch a silver edition of the full-format DSLR Pentax K-1 limited to 2,000 units in September 2019. The black K-1 has been available since the spring of 2016 and, according to Ricoh, has “won a firm place among all photographers who do not want to do without traditional SLR technology and value a wide range of equipment at a good price/performance ratio”

Pentax K-1 Limited Silver with battery handle. [Photo: Ricoh]

Pentax K-1 Limited Silver with battery handle. [Photo: Ricoh]

Pentax K-1 Limited Silver with Pentax-FA 1:1.8 31 mm AL Limited Edition. [Photo: Ricoh]

The silver of the limited K-1 corresponds exactly to the silver of the Limited Edition lenses. The camera comes with a silver flash shoe cover, a silver battery handle and two rechargeable batteries. Technically the silver K-1 corresponds to the black series version (details see further links). The recommended retail price for the Pentax K-1 Limited Silver, available from September 2019, is just under 2,400 euros.


Pentax K-1 Datasheet


Sensor CMOS sensor 35mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm (crop factor 1.0
)36.4 megapixels (physical) and 36.8 megapixels (effective)
Pixel pitch 4.8 µm
Photo resolution
7.360 x 4.912 pixels (3:2)
5.760 x 3.840 pixels (3:2)
4.800 x 3.200 pixels (3:2)
4.224 x 2.816 pixels (3:2)
2.592 x 2.592 pixels (1:1)
1.920 x 1.280 pixels (3:2)
Picture formats DNG, JPG, RAW
Colour depth 24 bits (8 bits per color channel), 42 bits (14 bits per color channel)
Metadata Exif (version 2.3), DCF standard (version 2)
Video resolution
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 60 i
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 50 i
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 30 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 25 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 24 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 60 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 50 p
Maximum recording time 25 min
Video format
MPG4 (Codec H.264)


Lens mount
Pentax K


Autofocus mode Phase comparison autofocus with 33 sensors, 25 cross sensors and 8 line sensors, autofocus working range from -3 EV to 18 EV, contrast autofocus
Autofocus Functions Single Auto Focus, Continuous Auto Focus, Tracking Auto Focus, Manual, AFL Function, AF Assist Light (LED), Focus Peaking, Focus Magnifier
Focus control Depth of field control, dimming button

Viewfinder and Monitor

Reflex viewfinder Reflex viewfinder (prism viewfinder) (100 % image coverage), 21 mm eye relief with 0.7-fold magnification, diopter compensation (-3.5 to +1.2 dpt), replaceable focusing screens, grille can be inserted
Monitor 3.2″ (8.1 cm) TFT LCD monitor with 1,037,000 pixels, anti-glare, brightness adjustable, colour adjustable, tiltable 90° up and 90° down, tiltable 35°, rotatable 35
Info display additional info display (top) with illumination


Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 86,000 fields, spot measurement
Exposure times 1/8,000 to 30 s (Auto
)1/8,000 to 30 s (Manual)
Bulb Function
Exposure control Fully Automatic, Program Automatic (with Program Shift), Aperture Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual
Bracketing function HDR function
Exposure compensation -5.0 to +5.0 EV with step size from 1/3 to 1/2 EV
Sensitivity to light ISO 100 to ISO 204.800 (automatic
)ISO 100 to ISO 204.800 (manual)
Remote access Remote triggering, cable trigger, infrared trigger, remote control via smartphone/tablet
, remote control from computer: certain functions
Picture effects Bleach bypass, cross development, fisheye, landscape, vivid colors, miniature effect, monochrome, portrait, retro, selective color, toy camera, 21 other image effects
White balance Auto, Cloudy, Sun, Fine tuning, Shadow, Flash, Fluorescent lamp with 4 presets, Incandescent light, Kelvin input, Manual 3 memory locations
Color space Adobe RGB, sRGB
Continuous shooting Continuous shooting function max. 4.4 fps at highest resolution and max. 70 stored photos, 4.4 fps max. 17 raw shots6
.5 fps for 100 JPEG or 50 raw shots in APS-C Crop mode
Self-timer Self-timer every 12 s, special features: or 2 seconds
Timer Timer/interval recording with max. 2,000 recordings, start time adjustable
Shooting functions Mirror lock-up, AEL function, AFL function, live histogram


Flash no built-in flash availableFlash shoe
: PentaxFlash socket
: F-plug
Flash range Flash sync time 1/200 s
Flash functions Flash exposure compensation from -2.0 EV to +1.0 EV


Image stabilizer Sensor shift (optical)
second memory card slot
GPS function Internal GPS
Microphone Stereo
Power supply Power supply connection
Power supply 1 x Pentax D-LI90 (Lithium ion (Li-Ion), 7.2 V, 1,860 mAh
)670 images according to CIPA standardPentax
K-AC132 AC adapter
Playback Functions Red eye retouching, video editing, image cropping, image rotation, image protection, highlight / shadow warning, playback histogram, playback magnifier with 16.0x magnification, image index, slide show function, zoom out
Picture parameters Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation, Noise Reduction
Special functions Electronic Spirit Level, Grid Display, Orientation Sensor, Live View, User Profiles with 5 User Profiles and 26 Options
Ports Data interfaces: USBUSB type
:USB 2.0 High SpeedWLAN
: available (type: B, G, N)
AV connectors AV output: HDMI output Micro (Type D
)Audio input: yes (3.5 mm stereo microphone jack)
Audio output: yes (3.5 mm stereo jack (3-pin))
Tripod socket 1/4″ in optical axis
Case Splash-proof, frost-proof up to -10 °C
Features and Miscellaneous Prime IV Image Processor5-Axis Image

StabilizerMagnesium Alloy BodyComposite Mode
(Additive, Normal, Light)
Pixel Shift ResolutionDynamic Scope CorrectionCorrection of

Distortion, Chromatic Aberration, Vignetting and Diffraction BlurVideo Effects


Bright, natural, portrait, landscape, vibrant, bright colors, covered, bleach bypass, reversal film, monochrome, cross development video filter
: colorkey, color set, toy camera, retro high contrast, shading, color reversal, high contrast SW4K interval shooting
(2 s to 24 h max 8 shots)
4K/FullHD/HD-Star Stream


Interval 2 s to 24 h Shooting 8 to 2000 (8 to 500 images at 4K)
Raw development (resizing, crop, distortion correction, correction of color transverse error, noise reduction, vignetting function)
World time clockAF fine adjustment
(20 lenses can be stored)
GPS: Azimuth calculation, Astrotracer satellites


GPS, QZSS, SBAS (L1 1575.42 MHz)
Format: KML Interval 5/10/15/30 secondsLED illumination of
control buttons, memory card compartment, remote trigger connection and bayonet

Size and weight

Dimensions W x H x D 137 x 110 x 86 mm
Weight 1.010 g (ready for operation)


included accessories Pentax D-BC90 charger for special batteriesPentax
D-CO2E universal productPentax
D-LI90 special batteryPentax
FK (flash shoe cover)
carrying strap O-ST162, viewfinder cover ME, software on CD-ROM, eyecup FT, bayonet cover KII
optional accessory Pentax CS-205 Cable Remote ControlPentax
D-BG6 Battery GripPentax
K-AC132 Power SupplyPentax
O-ME53 Viewfinder Magnifier (1.2x) Universal ProductPentax
O-RC1 (Infrared Remote Control)

Ricoh releases Firmwarupdate 1.4 for the Pentax K-1: Functional expansion

After a long wait, the digital full-format SLR camera Pentax K-1 was released in April 2016. How important Ricoh is for this camera can be guessed from the number and type of firmware updates that have been made to date, as not only have function improvements been included in the updates, but many new functions have also been added. Also the update V1.4 is of this kind. In addition to general function improvements, the camera also “learns” completely new functions in this update.

Completely unspecified, Ricoh states that “general performance parameters” have been improved. It becomes interesting with the first functional extension. This is a red light in the monitor illumination. When working in darkness, for example in astrophotography, this should be much more relaxing for the eyes. The second new function is a timer for the Bulb function. The long time exposure can be pre-programmed from ten seconds to 20 minutes. Up to five minutes at ten-second intervals and beyond at five-minute intervals. The last function in this update takes care of “white pixels”. These image errors can occur at exposure times of one minute or more. After updating the K-1, these “white pixels” are automatically removed from the recording.



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