A month with the Pentax K-1

Just over a month ago I bought a new camera. It is a Pentax K-1 full frame DSLR. My previous camera, a Pentax K20D, was over 8 years old.


I was an early adopter of the K20D when it was released and was thinking I’d wait for price breaks and firmware updates before buying a K-1. Surely after being happy with the K20D for 8 years I could wait a little while longer, right? Haha… nope!

The K-1 is such a HUGE step up from the K20D that I couldn’t resist. Even though the first shipment was sold out everywhere I stumbled upon one that had been put on hold and never picked up, and the store was happy to sell it to me, so I pulled the trigger. I’m sure glad that I did! This camera has really sparked a renewed interest in photography and in the past month I’ve taken hundreds of amazing photos.

Alice Dog

Below is my basic impressions/review after one month of normal everyday use.

– Image quality, obviously: high resolution, incredible dynamic range, high ISO noise performance.
– Screw drive AF motor greatly improved.
– AF accuracy greatly improved.

– No physical SR on/off button (I’m slowly getting used to this, but I have turned it off and forgotten to turn it back on a few times).
– The 3rd “function” dial is much stiffer to turn than I would expect. On paper it seems like an innovative idea but in reality I almost never use it.
– No on-board flash (doesn’t matter most of the time as I have an external flash, but having an on-board flash has saved me in the past).

– No AF.C physical button. Turning AF.C on/off is confusing compared to all the other settings. I don’t find the AF selector button on the front of the camera easy to find with my fingers (yet) without looking which means taking my eye out of the viewfinder.
– Smaller/simpler top LCD. It has the basics, but considering how little I use the 3rd “function” dial I’d rather have a larger top screen with more details.
– Not enough customization options for custom buttons, and not able to use AF button as a custom button (ex. if not using rear AF I would like to change this button to toggle between AF.S and AF.C or use it to change AF point selection mode).
– Status screen not turning off after a set timeout period or when bringing the camera up to your face (like bringing a smart phone up to your ear) = I have it permanently disabled.
– Battery life is not great.

Not sure yet
– Pixel shift & astrotracer – I haven’t used these yet, but I’m fairly sure I will like them once I use them!

The bottom line
I was thinking about how to phrase this, and at the end of the day I can say “this camera takes pictures of what I see.” Prior cameras have “taken decent pictures” but not necessarily what I saw… highlights would blow out easily, shadows would be too dark, images wouldn’t appear as detailed or subtle as I saw with my eye. My old cameras have been “tools” (or “toys”) where as this camera seems like an “extension” of my vision/perception of a scene. The dynamic range is so good and the results are so effortless that I just can’t put the camera down! I’ve gotten so many amazing shots (and such a huge percentage of keepers) in the last month. In fact I’ve probably gotten more good shots in the past two weeks than the past two years combined!

Punch Bowl

If you are interested in more details about this camera, you can check out this excellent 25 page in-depth review of the Pentax K-1.

If you want to see more photos that I’ve taken, I set up a Flickr stream with plenty of photos from the new camera.

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