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Pentax K-01, one year with “The Brick”


“The Brick” is the nickname of the Pentax K-01 in reviews and on Forums, yes it looks like that but it’s the best looking brick i’ve ever seen! I’ve been using my K-01 for 1 year now and i wanted to talk how it performed in the field and if it was a good move to buy it immediately when it was available ?

FUN …….. that would be enough to describe the Pentax K-01!

If you read posts about that camera on Forums you will see that it’s the word that is used the most often to describe the experience to shoot with the K-01. It reminds me when i bought my 1st 35mm SLR, a Pentax K1000, same colors with big wheels and the minimum numbers of buttons on the camera. Sure the K-01 is not for fast action shooting when used in RAW format, just like the K1000 was not one either.

Does that means that the K-01 is a perfect camera ?

No, it’s not a camera for action photography if you shoot RAW format. This is my main complaint about the K-01, Pentax can certainly boost the speed to 3 Fps with a firmware update, but i don’t know if they will do it ? Pentax released a firmware update (version 1.02) for the K-01 and it helped the AF, it’s now faster with most lenses, certainly worth it. Would have liked to have an update for the 1 Fps drive in RAW at least up to 3 Fps. I did took wildlife photos with it when the animals were slow or not moving but i still prefer to use a DSLR for wildlife photography.

The rubber flap that covers the SD card door was a concern at first, but it proved to be durable and easy to close with some practice, will see if the rubber flap will survive many years of hard use.

I really enjoyed shooting with it in the field, i tried angles that were hard or impossible with a DSLR because you need to look in the VF. Sure you can use LV with most DSLR now, but the K-01 is more fluid and AF is accurate and faster with the new Firmware update.

This is one situation where the K-01 is king ! I was balancing on icy rocks while holding my K-01 with the DA14 just above the water’s surface. Even at an angle of about 45 degree i was able to compose my shot and the AF and SR were of great help also.

Another shot taken with the K-01 and DA14  from ground level, this Green Frog was tolerant because i was holding the camera at arm’s length which is less threatening than getting myself close with a DSLR  while looking in the VF !

Here is one advantage of the “Brick” , if you use it with a small lens and without a quick release plate you can support it on nearly any side .

As you can see it can be useful, you can support it on many flat surfaces like a table, ground or any other practical places. I don’t know if it was the goal of the disigner and/or Pentax but for photographers it’s a plus. The grip is not as good as a DSLR especially with bigger lenses but up to my DFA 100 Macro WR i have no problem handholding it for shooting in different positions. When i’m shooting at ground level or taking photos of frogs in water i use my thumb to press the shutter release button.

I always prefer to use a tripod but there is situations when a tripod is not practical and the K-01 is really a great camera , for me at least, with the SR, LV and very good AF performance !

Focus peaking

Well this was one of the main reason that i bought the K-01, because i was already using a Sony NEX-3 and liked to use  the focus peaking with my od manual focus lenses. At first i didn’t found the Pentax version as good as the Sony, but with practice now i found it easier to get exact focus especially when using the loupe at 6X. In low light the Pentax K-01 focus peaking is better than the one in the Sony NEX-3, the Sony is hard to focus in low light.

I wish Pentax will come with a firmware update providing a choice of colors for the Focus peaking like the NEX cameras. In most situations i had no problem with the actual color of the focus peaking but with some subjects having a different color would have helped.

Cold temperature

Since i live in Canada taking photos in cod temperatures, from autumn to spring, having a camera that can support very cold and humid environment is important to me.

One winter morning it was -27 C  (-37 C with windchill factor) and i went to the shore of a lake and took photos for 40 minutes before i had to go to work, i wish i had more times, but a good test anyway. The K-01 never failed, just slower to refresh the LCD after a photo was taken, at the end of the session. I turned it off a couple of times to cold it down to see if it would start again, no problem. So the camera temperature was ranging from 9C for the first shot (the sunrise photo below) to -6C at the end of the session. When you use it more the camera temperature goes up again, so i think that using a MLC in LV will generate more heat than a DSLR used with it’s OVF.

On another occasion it was -18C and took photos for more than 2 hours and it never failed either even with a mist coming from the Waterfall that frosted on it. I did use it on many other occasions in temperature from -15C to -20C and the K-01 comes out with great performances every time.

Here is the photo of  the sunrise taken on the morning when it was -27 C.

With Telephoto lenses.

With long telephoto lenses from 300mm and up a MLC  like the K-01 or other MLC with no EVF/OVF are not the best cameras to use, i still prefer a DSLR. Especially when you use a lens with a tripod collar on a tripod, the set-up is not as rigid because you don’t press your forehead on the camera because you don’t look in an EVF/OVF. You need a faster shutter speed to obtain a sharp shot. But when i use my Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6 which doesn’t have a tripod collar, it’s the K-01 that is attached to the tripod then it’s easier to get sharper shots.

The focus peaking really heps getting the focus where you want it with Telephoto enses for long distances shots.

Field on a frosty morning, this is one situation  where focus peaking is helpful to get the focus where you want it with long manual focus lenses like here with my Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6.

Conclusion

I never regretted buying my K-01 even if i paid the full price (some peoples have to sacrifice themselves ). The K-01 is really a camera that grows on you and put the FUN back into your photography ! With it’s great IQ, SR, excellent construction which should last many years and it’s particular design, the K-01 will become a classic Pentax camera. The K-01 really shines for photographing Macro and landscape for nature photography. Other photographers might not consider you a real photogapher when they see that you’re using a K-01, if they know which camera you’re using in the first place, but when they will see the photos you have taken with the Brick they wil be surprise.

My K-01 was supposed to be a back-up camera for my K20D, but the more i used that camera the more i wanted to photograph with it. It really grows on you and finally my K20D is now my back-up camera !

My K-01 is the camera that i reach for when i want to enjoy photography, it says a lot !

We don’t know yet if Pentax will continue with a K-02, Pentax never said that they will do another K-Mount MLC like the K-01 …. so chances are thin to see a K-02.

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12 responses

  1. This camera does grow on you. The more I use it, the more I like it. It has the right balance of size, weight, features and even the look for me. Pentax actually has a winning formula on hand. I wish more people could have the chance to try the camera, and they would agree with what you said here in your blog. Great write-up and thanks for sharing it.

    February 18, 2013 at 2:05 am

  2. A note about big lenses with no tripod mount — my 12-24 was heavy enough to rip the lens mounting plate off of my K-7 with a good jostle. The 5 screws that attach the plate to the camera are very short, so there is little purchase. Be careful.

    Thanks for the nice K-01 write-up. I like my K-01 a great deal also, in spite of the early-adopter price.

    February 18, 2013 at 2:29 pm

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m waiting for my black “brick” to arrive from B&H. I plan to enjoy with my K-5.

    February 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm

  4. I have K01, K30 and new K5iis, SONY A77, together are 15 lens, all of them amazed me. I paid for K01 price at 900USD included 3 lens, but just discovered it sells 265USD body only at Osaka Japan now….^_^

    February 21, 2013 at 2:44 am

  5. Rataskanken

    Pentaxian since 1975, having waited patiently for a full frame since the MZ-D prototype was “announced” year 2000. Got tired and switched to Nikon D800E last year and just ordered a D7100 mainly for use as “teleconverter” for my Sigma 120-300/2.8. Still sitting on a large collection of old and pretty rare Pentax lenses (many duplicates), so when the K-01 was down to $299 and announced as discontinued, your review made me order two of these bodies just to have fun with stereo photo, awkward angle macro, and time lapse video.

    Too bad Pentax does not understand the market demands. Aficionados as we might be, at this point in time we have to realize that they are hopelessly after in the race for fast, high resolution full frame cameras. I still love my two Z1-P’s and the pair of MX’s, the latter which served me for 20+ years (one with slide film and the other with Kodachrome) until digital was mature enough to motivate abandoning Kodak. Apart from their robust compactness, their best feature of the MX’s, which cannot be mimicked by any digital camera, is that there are “No batteries required”. I also seriously doubt that I will ever experience be a “SanDisk moment”. Having to pay film and development for each frame made photo something contemplative, which my younger mates seem to have missed.

    So, thanks for the good review, which makes me look forward to receiving the K-01’s.

    February 28, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    • Glad that you will get a K-01, it’s a great camera! I also own a Z-1p and an MX but don’t use them anymore.

      Good shooting and thank you for the comment.

      March 1, 2013 at 1:39 am

  6. Cord Lange

    Just ordered the K-01 here in Germany at Amazon for 299 !!! Thanks for your fine article – most important is – to have fun with the gear – so you are right.

    May 1, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    • Hi,
      you will like that camera, it’s a fun camera to shoot with.

      Good shooting.

      May 2, 2013 at 11:09 pm

  7. Cesar Poblador

    it could reach to 6 fps shooting jpg turn off all auto corrects like the highlight correction and ca correction high iso noise reductions and use the fastest sd card

    September 6, 2013 at 4:08 am

    • Hi Cesar,
      i know that it can do 6 fps in Jpeg but i always shoot in RAW so for me i’m stuck at 1 fps.

      September 14, 2013 at 6:28 pm

  8. pc

    What’s the translucent green cube attached to the hot shoe? Never seen a flash like that before!

    November 17, 2013 at 6:18 am

    • Hi,
      it’s a level to help keep the horizon straight.

      November 17, 2013 at 3:07 pm

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