Pentax K1 review – photographer buying guide by experts

Jon Morr
Tech Blogger at - Gadgets Review

Tech Blogger

Today we will do Pentax K1 review. It’s a full-frame DSLR camera. Pentax is an old brand; it’s a lens manufacturing company based in Tokyo, Japan. Pentax has delivered a wide range of cameras. Presently the company’s name has been changed to Ricoh Imaging Company Ltd.

Pentaxians, your wait is finally at its end! After years of rumours, Ricoh has answered the pleas of its customers and brought its K-series DSLR lineup into a new era with the Pentax K-1, its first full-frame digital camera. Bridging the gap between its epic medium-format cameras and its affordable APS-C DSLRs, the K-1 is one imposing full-frame camera indeed, and it ships at a price tag that should be easy for many to justify!

The Pentax K1 is a full-frame DSLR camera by Richo Imaging. The camera was officially announced on February 5, 2016, launched on February 17, 2016.

The Pentax K1 is the first production Pentax full-frame DSLR camera. As the flagship model of the Pentax K-mount system, it includes several new and improved features, including a five-axis SR II in-body image stabilization system, improved autofocus, metering systems, and other great features.

The thumb rest on the top right rear corner of the camera is nicely curved and sticks out enough to contribute to what is, overall, a very secure-feeling grip on the body.

It’s tricky to describe but certainly provides a much more comprehensive range of motion than competing designs.

The Pentax K1 has achieved the German iF Design Award 2017 and Winner status in the German Design Award 2018.

As we do the in-depth review of Pentax K1, we will talk about each feature in detail. Firstly, let’s look at the specifications:


The full-frame Pentax K1 DSLR is packed with great features:

36.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor with no anti-aliasing filter

4.4 fps continuous shooting (6.5 fps in APS-C crop mode)

100% pentaprism viewfinder with 0.7x magnification

AA filter simulation

5-axis image stabilization rated to 5 stops by CIPA standard testing

33-point AF system (25 cross-type)

Extensive weather-sealing

1/200 sec flash sync speed

14-bit Raw recording (DNG or PEF)


Multi-shot Pixel Shift Resolution mode

Built-in GPS with electro-magnetic compass and Astrotracer function

1080/30p video

Smart sensor-shift technology

The Pentax K1 comes with innovative sensor-shift technology, which allows the device to have excellent image stabilization. The sensor on the device adjusts itself to different lighting conditions.
The intelligent sensor detects outdoor conditions and automatically blurs high-frequency detail across multiple pixels.
Then, a pixel shift resolution mode increases color resolution by shooting four consecutive images with the sensor moved by one pixel, effectively cancelling the Bayer color filter array and lowering noise by image averaging.
The Pentax K1 also includes Horizon Correction, which rotates the sensor if you hold the camera in a tilted position.
We found ourselves mostly leaving the Smart Function dial set to the crop function, occasionally switching it to control bracketing or drive modes as needed.
Why didn’t we opt for ISO sensitivity or exposure compensation, you might ask? Well, both of these are already quick to change by simply holding down the relevant top-deck button and then spinning the rear dial.

Body and Design 

The body is extensively sealed and features magnesium alloy construction. It’s neatly designed.
Ergonomics is excellent on the camera. While we grabbed it, it fits comfortably well into the hands. While we mounted a larger lens on it, the comfort and grip on the hands are great.
The dials and controls can be reached easily on the device. At first look, one might think the device is heavier, but it’s not heavy at all.
The body has smooth curves at corners, and a great texture feel. In all, it’s a compact, weightless and well-built camera.


The Pentax K1 offers many custom settings that can be made using different control buttons and dials.

Multi-Functional Dial

There are two main functional dials on the device. One is on the left top side, and the other one is on the lower right side.
This helps to navigate into the menu, and selection can be made using the other dial. This is one of the great establishments made by the company in the control section.

Button and Dial Customization

The device offers lots of customization using the buttons and dials on it. Two main dials allow you to select different modes.
For each exposure mode, the Camera’s green can be customized.
The FX1 and FX2 buttons are added to the Camera. Different options such as Shake Reduction, Flash mode, One Push file format, Horizon correction, etc., can be applied to FX1 and FX2.

Features- Pentax K1 

AA filter simulation

The AA filter is used in digital cameras to blur the image slightly. This means that the chance of interference patterns (moire) being seen in fine detail is reduced.

A simple example of moire is the shimmering of a herringbone jacket on a TV screen.

The AA filter simulation is found in most of the Pentax camera models. If the AA filter simulation had not been there, high-frequency patterns would clash with the sensor’s color filters, and the image color production would be different.

Horizon Correction and Astrotracer

The camera offers the Horizon Correction feature, which is not found in other professional cameras. The automatic horizon correction feature utilizes the same intelligent sensor-shift technology that is used during the Pixel Shift shooting modes.

Many photographers have found this feature helpful as with no Horizon Correction feature; the image had to straighten using Adobe Photoshop software or any other image editing software.

The Astrotracer feature uses the built-in GPS for image stabilization while taking photos of skies, stars, etc. i.e. the camera positioning is an upside.

Video Capture

The K-1 includes Full HD/1080p recording capability at 30fps. In movie mode, the K1 switches to contrast detection autofocus mode.
The video quality is excellent. The autofocus feature is available only before the video capture mode while recording the autofocus feature.
The HDMI output feature is missing on the device. So, if you are looking for a video capturing camera, then we don’t recommend Pentax K1.

External Lighting

In low lighting conditions, the external lightning feature comes in handy. The K1 has LED lights behind the LCD screen.
The brightness of the LED lights can be easily controlled.
In harsh lighting conditions, the lighting options are beneficial while swapping lenses, changing batteries, etc.

LCD display

The K-1 features a newly designed, flexible tilt-type LCD, which tilts horizontally, vertically or diagonally with a single action. The 35 degrees of horizontal and 44 degrees of vertical adjustment can be achieved; the LCD panel can even be laid flat up or down.

pentax k1

Additionally, the 3.2-inch LCD monitor features a tempered glass front panel for added durability and unique air-gapless construction that effectively reduces reflection. A new Outdoor View Setting mode allows the user to choose the desired monitor brightness level instantly.
More can be found on the rear of the LCD monitor and light up the rear-panel controls once the display is tipped or pulled outwards from the camera body.

Wi-Fi and Photo Sharing Feature

One can utilize Ricoh’s Image Sync App to connect the K1 and directly download images to your smartphone.
Also, you can control many functions like focus, aperture, etc., using your smartphone.

Auto Focus

The K1 camera gets a new AF module that features 33 focus points, 25 of which are cross-type.
The 86,000-pixel RGB metering image sensor offer 77-segment metering but also, hypothetically anyway, aids the camera’s autofocus system, enabling scene analysis and subject detection to yield accurate exposures and automatically select the correct AF point to stay on your subject when using continuous AF.
While using F2.8, the central three points offer higher precision.

Shake Reduction

Pentax has been working for this series model for many decades, and it has achieved much more in digital imaging.
The image sensor on K1 does a great job which helps to stabilize the image.
The Pentax K1’s five-axis Shake Reduction system now has an even greater corrective ability than ever, now being rated by Pentax as capable of a five-stop correction.

Playback and Software

Pentax K-1 provides all the standard playback settings that are common to other Pentax DSLRs, including single and multi-image display, up to 16x magnification, rotation (auto/manual), five grid overlay option is also available, brightness and RGB histograms, highlight alerts, copyright embedding, GPS data, folder and calendar displays, and slideshow playback.
One can delete single images individually or select some or all photos as well as deleting an entire folder. It also can be done using the smartphone while you connect it via Wi-Fi.
The company has also updated its software with some cool new features.

Lens Availability

In Lens availability, the Pentax K1 disappoints us. There are several old Pentax K mount lens options in the market, but modern full-frame lenses are lacking.
So, while buying, keep in mind that you won’t get too many lens options. The company has promised that K-mounted lenses will be available for the device.

No more USB 3.0

Absent USB 3.0 in the K-1, perhaps suggesting that the company feels it doesn’t see good use to justify the cost.
The earlier K-3 and K-3 II sported USB 3.0 SuperSpeed data connectivity, the K-1 reverts to the far more common but relatively slower USB 2.0 High Speed. If you prefer to swap your SD card to another device instead of transferring data through a cable, then you’ll not even notice the change.
If you appreciated the higher transfer rates possible with the K-3 siblings, though, it might be time to invest in a fast card reader.

Image Quality


At high ISO on the K-1 performs better than its peers, such as the Nikon D810, with results comparable to other DSLR and mirrorless cameras.
It even outperforms the D810 in ISO that exceeds 6400, which is impressive for a camera at this price range.
The RAW images came out excellent with Pentax K1.

Pixel Shift

Pentax K-1’s Pixel Shift Resolution mode takes four consecutive shots and moves the sensor by a single pixel each time. So each time, the original pixel positions get sampled by red, blue, and two green pixels. This has incredible benefits in image quality.
First, it removes the need to demosaic: you don’t have to interpolate data from the surrounding area to build up color information, which leads to less color aliasing.
It also contributes to the modest increase in resolution because you’re sampling luminance information at every pixel position and not effectively blurring it by borrowing it from surrounding pixels.


The JPEG did not come as well as expected; the noise in the image was still visible. Maybe more advanced setting changes and lens can bring that noise to the minimum.
The default JPEG sharpening is pretty minimal as well, so the images can appear a bit soft.
In JPEG, the colors are pleasing, and the skin tones are pretty nice but can appear slightly muted.
So, if you are looking for a camera to snap photos in JPEG, then Pentax K1 might not be the option for you.

Battery Life

On K1, the battery life is not comparable to the full-frame DSLRs in its segment but is much more significant when compared to the mirror’s fewer DSLRs.

The Pentax K-1 uses a custom rechargeable D-LI90 lithium-ion battery for power and ships with a dedicated charger.

CIPA-rated battery life when using the optical viewfinder is below average for a full-frame DSLR, especially when you consider the K-1 has no built-in flash, which is typically fired every other shot during CIPA battery life testing. Pentax does not specify battery life in Live View mode, but it will undoubtedly be a lot lower.

The K1 uses the same battery pack as its previous APS-C models. This means you don’t have to invest in newer batteries or be troubled with incompatible chargers and batteries.

Compared with other DSLR, the price is low and also, comparing the feature it’s offering, it’s excellent to deal with provided you know the negative aspects of the camera.

Why buy Pentax k1?

  • Pentax K-1 camera body
  • Body cap
  • D-LI90 lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack
  • K-BC90 battery charger kit
  • Hot shoe cover FK
  • Eyepiece cup FT
  • Shoulder strap O-ST162
  • Finder cap ME
  • PC socket cap
  • Instruction manual
  • Software CD-ROM S-SW162 with Digital Camera Utility 5 software (based on Silkypix)

Keeping the cons in mind and the price at which it’s available, we recommend this model for beginners or amateur photographers. It’s suitable for landscape photography or still photography. Not at all good for motion photography.

Also, keep in mind that you will not have the opportunity to use the old K9-mounted lenses on it.

If you are looking for a RAW photo camera, then this is the best choice considering the price tag.

We can’t help wondering why nobody thought of this before now. Buy the original product. We tried to introduce the best & bad of cameras, so Pentax k1 review to save your money. I hope you get this can be the right choice for you.

Jon MorrTech Blogger at - Gadgets Review

Tech Blogger

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