Pentax K-01 Mirrorless Camera – The Pentax K-01 mirrorless camera was presented in February of this year and immediately sparked heated discussion on photographic forums. And if the first reason for such interest in the camera was its unusual appearance (created, by the way, by famous designer Mark Newson), then the second can be called the use of a K-mount ” adult “and full compatibility with all lenses of Pentax SLR cameras. Add to that the excellent 16MP APS-C sensor (the same as the flagship Pentax K-5 DSLR) and here it is – the mirrorless camera of your dreams! Or not?


Pentax K-01 specifications

Resolution : 16MP (4928×3264).

  • Die size : 23.4 x 15.6mm (APS-C).
  • Technology, matrix manufacturer : CMOS, Sony.
  • Dust cleaning system : yes, ultrasonic.
  • Image stabilization : built into the camera (using sensor offset).
  • Autofocus : autofocus in contrast on the matrix; 35 focus points.
  • Exposure range : 1 / 4000-60 sec.
  • Sensitivity : ISO 200-12800 (100 and 25600 available in ISO sensitivity expansion mode).
  • Built-in flash : guide number 12.
  • Exposure metering: matrix, center-weighted, spot.
  • Objectives Supported : Pentax K / KA / KAF / KAF2 / KAF3.
  • Burst shooting : 6 fps in JPEG, 1 fps in RAW.
  • Storage : SD / SDHC / SDXC memory cards.
  • File formats : JPEG, RAW (PEF or DNG), RAW + JPEG.
  • Video recording: yes, H.264 (MOV container), 1920×1080 resolution at 24, 25 or 30 fps, 1280×720 at 50 or 60 fps.
  • Microphone : built-in stereo microphone, external microphone input.
  • Screen : 3 inches, TFT, resolution 921 thousand sub-pixels.
  • Viewfinder : delayed.
  • Power supply : lithium-ion battery D-LI90, range 540 outlets according to CIPA standard.
  • Dimensions and weight : 122x79x58 mm, 561 grams (with lithium-ion battery).

Appearance, design and management

While the Pentax K-01 looks disgusting in photos, it makes a much nicer impression live. When I first picked up the camera, I was impressed with the excellent build quality and the all-metal body. Some of the controls (for example, the camera on / off lever and the mode dial) are also made of metal. For anyone who doesn’t like the design of the device, I recommend holding it in their hands to get the full impression.

However, the Pentax K-01’s body has some drawbacks. The first is an uncomfortable grip under the right hand (or rather its almost complete absence). The second drawback is the rubber door covering the ports on the right side of the apparatus. This door is easy to open but difficult to close. Also, every time I took the camera out of my bag, I found that the door had managed to open on its own. I think it goes without saying that it is rather embarrassing.

From left to right: Panasonic GH2, Pentax K-01, Panasonic GF2
Left – Panasonic GH2 with 14-42mm f / 3.5-5.6 lens;
right – Pentax K-01 with 17-70mm f / 4 SDM lens

The size of the Pentax K-01 is also remarkable. The use of an “SLR” mount has led to a greater thickness of the camera (58mm), and in general, in terms of size and weight, the K-01 is practically the same as the Pentax Kr SLR camera. Overall, it’s bigger and heavier than any other mirrorless camera on the market. As the device does not have a viewfinder, a 3-inch screen with VGA resolution (640×480 pixels or 920 thousand subpixels) is always used for framing. In general, the quality of the screen is not bad, but it has serious problems with visibility in the sun.

Note that the Pentax K-01 uses the same battery as the flagship K-5 DSLR. Because of this, the K-01 has the best battery life of any mirrorless camera I’ve ever seen – I’ve managed to take over 1000 photos on a single charge.


Commands and menus

In general, the K-01’s number of controls and their location are the same as on younger Pentax SLR cameras, such as the Kx and Kr.

The camera menu will also be familiar to anyone who has held a Pentax camera in their hands at least once.



Whale lens

The Pentax K-01 comes standard with the SMC-DA 40mm f / 2.8 XS pancake lens, which is optically similar to the proven DA 40mm f / 2.8 Limited. This “glass” is absurdly small and generally looks more like a bayonet cover than a full-fledged lens. However, the quality of the image produced by this lens can safely be rated as very good.


Working speed

The speed of work, in my opinion, is the main drawback of the Pentax K-01. First of all, this applies to autofocus, which can be described as very simple. When using the supplied Pentax SMC-DA 40mm f / 2.8 XS lens, the average focus time is 0.7 seconds in good light and 1.46 seconds in low light (one lamp 40 W incandescent). In the video below you can see the focusing speed of the Pentax K-01 and the comparison with the Panasonic GH2.

The burst shooting speed also leaves a lot to be desired. When shooting in RAW, it is only one frame per second (when shooting in JPEG – 6 frames per second).


Work with third-party optics

Pentax cameras traditionally work well with third-party and simply old optics: all K-mount optics, since 1975, can be used on the camera without an adapter. In this case, exposure metering works in manual mode using the “green button”. To work with such lenses, you must activate the use of the aperture ring in the menu.

Proprietary adapter allows you to use all optics with M42 thread

Since the flange of the K-mount is the same as the flange of M42 threaded lenses, they can be attached to the camera using a simple adapter. In this case, you can take pictures in manual mode or in aperture-priority mode. When using the K-01 with third-party optics, the image stabilizer works (for its proper operation, you need to specify the focal length of the installed lens in the menu).

Of course, when using older lenses, focusing is done manually. The K-01 has two modes of manual focus assistance: a screen magnifier, which magnifies an area of ​​the image several times, and so-called “picking” – in this mode, the transitions contrast are highlighted in white. In general.


Video mode

K-01 is the first Pentax camera with full video mode. The video is saved in MOV format with H.264 compression, the resolution is 1080p at 24, 25 or 30 fps or 720p at 50 or 60 fps. Fully manual settings are available, the camera also has an input for an external microphone and even the ability to adjust the audio recording level.

The image quality in video mode is very good. The downsides include the fact that matrix shift stabilization when shooting handheld video is less effective than optical stabilization in Sony and Panasonic cameras. In addition, the camera does not provide any audio monitoring capability (the recording level indicator is not displayed on the screen), so it is better to use an external recorder when recording audio.


Photo quality

The Pentax K-01 offers excellent image quality. Photos taken with this camera feature low noise, pleasing colors and a wide dynamic range.

Unfortunately, the Pentax still uses non-switchable RAW noise reduction at ISO 3200 and above, which significantly limits image quality when shooting in poor lighting conditions.


Test shots

As usual, we have prepared a separate gallery of test images, where you can find full size files.


In the dry residue

The Pentax K-01 is an extremely controversial camera. It offers excellent image quality, but its slow autofocus, no viewfinder, and large size and weight make it less attractive than other mirrorless cameras. On the plus side, the metal body and the good video mode with completely manual settings can also be noted.

In my opinion, the K-01 will be of interest mainly to existing users of the Pentax system, who will be able to use it as a second camera – slightly lighter and more compact. For everyone, the Sony NEX-5N will be the most attractive option.


5 reasons to buy Pentax K-01:

excellent image quality up to and including ISO 3200;

  • unusual and interesting design, metal body;
  • high quality lens included;
  • excellent implementation of video mode;
  • Convenience of manual focus.

3 reasons not to buy Pentax K-01:

slow autofocus;

  • low burst speed in RAW mode;
  • absence of viewfinder.