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K-01… the Pentax’s Black sheep ?

Pentax took a big risk with the design of the K-01, nobody is indifferent to that new camera, you either like it or hate it. It will certainly not be a camera that will appeal to the majority of photographer because it’s not like other MLC (mirrorless camera). But under that design there is a real camera that can certainly take great photos when you get to know it.

I wanted a second camera body with very good image quality, with good live view and not too big, Shake Reduction (SR) is a very welcome addition and didn’t necessarily needed an EVF/OVF. Sure it’s bigger than any other APS-C  MLC but it’s still smaller than a DSLR and because of it’s shape it’s easier to find a place for it in a camera bag than a DSLR. I have my Pentax DA35mm Macro Limited attached to the K-01 and it fit nicely in a section of my bag.

Here are my first impressions so far.

Ground level photography.

I tried some handheld shots at ground level, with the help of SR it performed very well and getting sharp photos was easier than i thought it would be. Since you can’t hold it as steady as a DSLR because you’re not looking in a viewfinder and can’t brace the camera on your forehead, you learn to hold it differently. When i’m taking photos at ground level i can view the image and focus on the LCD from an angle of 45° from above the camera and press the shutter button with my thumb instead of my finger, seems to work fine for me. An advantage of a MLC is that it’s not as hard on your body (back and neck) since you don’t have to contort yourself as much to compose your shot, like trying to see something in the VF of my K20D while photographing frogs at eye level on the shore of the pond.

Here is 2 photos taken handheld with the DA14mm:

DA14mm, ISO 400, 1/25 sec at f/8.0

DA14mm, ISO 500, 1/20 sec. at f/7.1

Powerful Macro tool.

One of the reason i bought the K-01 was that i wanted a camera that would help me with manual focus, the live view and focus peaking were a big selling point for me. I shoot a lot of close-up and Macro and always use manual focus. When you combine a great sensor with very good focus peaking,  you get a camera that is great for Macro photography. Taking Macro shots at ground level will be easier, as discussed in the previous paragraph. Can’t wait to try out some frogs photos with my Macro and DA14 lenses.

DFA100mm Macro WR, ISO 160, 1/100 sec. at f/6.3, tripod.

DFA100mm Macro WR, ISO 200, 1/80 sec. at f/4.5, tripod.

With long lenses, i think i’m crazy !

One thing i wanted to try was how it handles with long lenses, because of it’s better high ISO performance than my K20D i want to use it for photographing frogs using my Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 with extension tubes. The K-01 is bigger and have a better grip than other MLC so it’s not that bad on my 400mm, i can use it with good results, my hands don’t suffer from trying too hold and maneuver the gear on my tripod. If needed i will not hesitate to use my K-01 with long lenses.

That shot was taken around sunrise in a forest of Pine, this Cottontail Rabbit was relaxing under a big Pine. The good performance at high ISO and the focus peaking made that photo easy to get.

Pentax-67 M*400mm/4, ISO 1250, 1/80 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.

Focus peaking:

This is one of the reason i bought the K-01, combine with the magnification (up to 6X), it makes obtaining exact focus easier especially with manual focus lenses. I selected the red button (customization menu) for turning On and Off the focus peaking, it’s useful to be able to turn it off quickly because sometimes the peaking makes it hard to compose your shots. Even without the magnification the peaking is accurate and i like using it that way when i’m taking photos handheld at ground level. If you want to see how it works you can take a look at my other post here:

https://steevemarcoux2.com/2012/04/07/peaking-feature-k-01-vs-nex-3/

What i like about the K-01:

– The buttons and wheels are well made with firm clicks and feel.

– The shutter is very quiet, the first time i tried the K-01 in the field it was windy and i couldn’t hear the shutter.

– Focus peaking is great and accurate.

– Battery life is also very good, i made over 450 photos and some videos as well as playing around with the camera on the first charge.

– Built quality is also very good and i like the feeling of the camera in my hand, i don’t have problem with the layout of the controls.

– Shake Reduction is very good.

What i don’t like about the K-01:

– 1 Fps in RAW is my biggest negative point on the K-01, hope Pentax will address that in a future firmware update.

– Rubber door flap of the SD card compartment. I learned to close it with relative ease but my concern is more if it will survive in the long term ?

– AF is not the fastest but i don’t use it often anyway.

Conclusion:

If i had to own only 1 camera the K-01 wouldn’t be my choice because i need a DSLR with a faster motor drive and a VF for wildlife photography. But as a second camera body i think it’s a great value for any photographer who want a MLC or a smaller camera than a DSLR with great built quality and with focus peaking,  you can’t go wrong…. and the IQ is superb!

About high ISO i can say that i like the results up to 1250 ISO, i did try it enough above that to make a conclusion how high the quality is good enough for my taste. Will make another post here when i will have more shots under my belt with the K-01.

Time will tell if Pentax made a mistake or not by coming out with the K-01, it is certainly a camera that is already controversial, it’s not for everyone, but i like that Pentax made that move since the market is already full of tiny MLC that or not always easy to use other than with small lenses.

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10 responses

  1. pedroernestoguerraazevedo

    Leopold, very well done as always!

    April 15, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    • Thank you pedro, glad that you enjoyed the read.

      April 15, 2012 at 3:12 pm

  2. Thomas - (mjdundee at dpr)

    Hi Steeve,
    your conclusion has met exactly my expectations of the K 01.
    Somehow it stil carries the magic of Pentax for me – small, solid and perfect for manual use and manual focus lenses.
    Thks & enjoy,
    Thomas

    April 16, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    • Hi Thomas,
      it’s a great Pentax camera with some limitations, if you can live without a VF and non-tilting LCD.

      Thanx.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:26 pm

  3. Leo James Mitchell

    Thanks for steering me here Steeve! Very nicely written…clear, concise and meaningful. The 01 is a little strange to me, but I feel drawn to it nonetheless, so I was particularly glad to read this. I must hold one in my hand at my my camera supply store and see what I really think…if I ever stop being ill! Maudit!!! LOL!
    Your pictures are impeccably well composed my friend, I always love them! Can’t wait to see som 14mm shots!

    A toute a l’heure
    Leo

    April 19, 2012 at 12:35 am

    • Bonjour Leo,
      hope you will get in better shape soon!
      The K-01 is a camera that is different to hold due to it’s “brick” shape, but after getting used to it i kind of like the buttons layout. The feeling and the built quality is very good, Pentax know how to put such built quality in small cameras!

      Thanx and take care my friend.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:43 am

  4. Good job

    April 25, 2012 at 9:20 pm

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    May 6, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    • Hi Dominic,
      glad that you like my Blog and thank you for the comments. I’m relatively new (since December) to the Blog world, i will try posting regularly.

      Thanx again.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:50 pm

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