Product Type: Pentax digital cameras
Newest Review: ... It is easy to navigate around and simple to take photos is high quality as you would expect. It not as comfy to hold as a digital camera ... more
Pentax K-01 Mirrorless Digital Camera
Member Name: mortarake
Date: 27/06/13, updated on 27/06/13 (39 review reads)
Advantages: Compatible with K mount lenses. Focus peaking.
Disadvantages: Large for a mirrorless camera.
I 've recently (June 2013) purchased a Pentax K-01 from Amazon. At £299 this camera is well worth considering, especially as it comes complete with a rather fine 40mm lens. I had looked at one last year but I couldn't justify the price then of over £600. The camera has been discontinued, apparently, after just a year so if you can get one of the last few from Amazon then you are in luck today.
There are numerous extensive reviews of the camera so I can only add my views of the camera after a week of use.
My camera is mostly black, with silver dials and flash housing, though there are yellow and silver versions available, but not on offer. The lens is a very compact 40mm 'pancake' .
All the reviews I have read point out the shortcomings of the camera and at £600 there are severeral.. but at the£299 I paid this camera has nothing but a few minor niggles.
It is quite large, but not so big as many an SLR. I wanted a small SLR so it is just right for me. I have smallish hands. It is not a pocket camera, more of a wrist strap camera, so as not to drop it on the floor when walking around with it.
It feels strong and well built. The casing is alloy. The dials are big and chunky and clear with very firm click stops. There are two dials on the top, one for function selection and the other a multi-function thumbwheel.
The shutter button is integral with the on-off switch, styled to look reminiscent of a film camera winder I find these two easy to use and less prone to accidental operation than on my othe camera where there is a miniscule on-off button on the top.
There are four other buttons along the top rear edge of the camera. They are multi-function / programmable buttons. One flicks up the flash if required and is used as a delete button. One I have left alone to start movie recording. One I have reset to act as an on/off switch to the impressive focus-peaking mode and the fourth I have also left alone which is the exposure EV control and RAW selector. I use them infrequently so theri positioning is not important.
There are four buttons on the rear. One of these I have set to act as an exposure lock. There is a playback button and effectively two menu buttons, one giving a short and one a full featured menu.
There is also a five way controller on the back giving instant access to 'ISO/Flash/Motor control/White Balance functions', with an 'OK' button in the middle. This I find to be well designed for the purposes to which this camera will be used. My compact has a face-detection function on this controller, which is OK for that camera but not for this one.
One reason I wanted this particular camera was the compatibility with all my 1980s Pentax lenses, which have lain unused for a very long time. The camera is K-mount compatible, even with early M lenses. The lenses clip right on and then when the camera is switched on you need to sleect the focal length of the lense in the display. Enter another function to tell the camera to expect this type of lens and you are away. Focussing is achieved manually on the lens itself, as always for a manual lens, the camera display showong a focussed-peaked image of the subject to be photographed. Focus peaking is an atrifical brightening of the edge of objects that are in focus and it is quite impressive. It is a good alternative to the split-screen mechanism I have been used to on my old film SLR. I have an elderly Tamron 500mm mirror which I never expected to use again but now I find it is MORE compatible with the K-01 than it ever was with my film 35mm cameras, giving hand held quality shots with the equivalence of a 750mm lens on a 35mm camera..
The photo quality is another good reason to buy this camera. I wanted a main camera with a a larger sensor than my compact camera. The sensor in this camera is approximately two-thirds the size of a 35mm frame. That translates into the 40mm lens being approximately equivalent to a 60mm lens on a 35mm film camera. The 16m sensor and the excellent lens give great detail in shots and impressive 'bokeh', a word I have just learned, which translates apparently to 'the backgrounds in the shots being nicely out of focus'. They are too. I tried my other lenses and the backgounds, though blurred, were a little uglier. The detail in the shots was so good that when blown up on my computer the detail was as good, if not better, than my Sony compact achieves when on full telephoto.
The 40mm is not a particularly wide lens but I can imagine it would give very impressive results when being used for general 'street' photography in combination with the sub-SLR size of the camera itself.
There are features on the camera that I will probably use very little. Although HD movie capable I doubt I will use the feature as I have a Sony camcorder that cost three times as much and is faultless. I've tried movie mode on the K-01 and it is good, but it is not good if the camera is moving as the picture wobbles and striates horizontally.
The camera has an AUTO mode which gives excellent pictures but I find the focussing a little odd. It tends to focus on something other than the thing I am pointing the camera at. For most purposes this does not matter as when I use AUTO to point and shoot and expect a certain failure rate. The other modes do not exhibit this behaviour. Low light capability appears excellent but focussing in low light can be laboured as the camera hunts for a grip on the scene. If the 40mm is too close to the subject it simply gives up until I baack the camera away from the subject.
There are 19 SCENE mode settings in all. Three of them are continuous shooting modes for moving objects, kids and pets.
The is an HDR mode (High Dynamic Range) for shooting shots with a wide range of light intensity. It takes three shots and sews them together. It is also variable to increase colur intensity across three stage choices. My compact has a simialr function, albeit rather more basic, for backlight compensation only.
There are also a clutch of less automatic shooting modes: bulb (shutter locked open), fully manual, aperture priority, shutter priority and fully programmed. All of these have available a couple of extra choices, which can be combined. These are 'Digital Filter' and 'Custom Image'. For instance, the 'Extract Color' digital filter allows me to shoot a shot of myself in B&W with my beautiful blue eyes highlighted in blue. I think it's a great effect but others react in horror to the rather gothic image produced!
I guess the 'Digital Filters' can be loosely described as similar in effect to physical filters placed in front of the lens. The 'Custom Image' settings are loosely equivalent to film processing level effects e.g. brightening, muting, film type selection etc.
There is a BIG battery on this camera, accessed through a compartment underneath which MAY be covered by a tripod head.
There are some design decisions which have drawn criticism. The rubber SD card cover is a wobbly rubber affair which means you should not buy this camera if you don't look after your kit. The lens cap is a tiny rubber affair that I know will get lost. If either of those bother you then you won't be interested in the 54% off at Amazon!
To be continued
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