Pentax K-1 Expert Review - Verdict

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Pentax K 1 DSLR (13)

Value For Money

The Pentax K-1 is available for £1599 body only which makes it very good value for money for a high resolution full-frame Digital SLR, and the competition offering this resolution or higher is more expensive:

Nikon D810, 36mp, 5fps, ISO32-51200, FullHD video, £1899
Sony Alpha A7R II, 42mp, 5fps, ISO50-102400, 4K video, £2499
Canon EOS 5DS / 5DS R, 50mp, 5fps, ISO50-ISO12800, FullHD video, £2599

Have a look at more full-frame DSLRs in our Top 10 Best Full-Frame Digital SLRs. You'll also need to buy a memory card (or two) and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Pentax K-1 Verdict

Offered at a lower price than competitors with a high resolution full-frame sensor (36mp +), the K-1 offers a number of features that are unique to Pentax Digital SLRs, in the form of Pixel Shift Resolution, and in camera image stabilisation. Unique to the Pentax K-1 is the illuminated controls, and you'd have to pay much more for this on another DSLR, such as the Nikon D5 which would set you back around £5000. You also get GPS and Wi-Fi built in, and the GPS can be used for its Astrotracer facility, which gives you additional options for astro photography, including star trails.

With Pentax's 5-axis sensor based image stabilisation every lens attached to the camera can benefit from image stabilisation, including older lenses. Pentax's Pixel Shift Resolution mode gives improved image quality, as we have seen on the Pentax K-3 II previously, but this time the camera has a 36 megapixel sensor, this is very effective for producing extremely detailed images, which will be particularly useful for still life and detailed product shots.

The range of full-frame compatible lenses will grow over time, but something that can be used right now on the Pentax K-1 and take full advantage of the full-frame sensor, is the wide range of Pentax K mount lenses, such as the Pentax SMC-A 50mm f/1.7, and others. If you have a collection of Pentax lenses, or want an affordable, high resolution Digital SLR, then the Pentax K-1 offers an extremely compelling offering.

Pentax are known for producing some of the more compact Digital SLRs, although many have caught up with them in entry level cameras, and the K-1 offers a fairly compact full-frame Digital SLR, with shorter width and height compared to most. This is quite impressive considering the features and functionality on offer, including the flex-tilt LCD screen. Whilst some may say the screen has been over-engineered, we were instead impressed by the screen quality and construction, along with the flexibility provided by also having the ability to tilt the screen left and right, which will be of use when shooting in portrait mode at different heights.  

After the long wait for a full-frame DSLR, Pentax has hit the ground running with the Pentax K-1. With a 36 megapixel full-frame sensor and a host of unique features including built in GPS, Wi-Fi, and 5-axis image stabilisation sensor, at an extremely competitive price, the Pentax K-1 offers the best bang-per-buck of any current Digital SLR.

Pentax K-1 Pros

Pixel shift resolution for sharper more detailed images with better colour
Capable of taking excellent images
Very good noise performance
Customisable ISO controls for noise reduction
5-axis image stabilisation sensor
One of the more compact FF Digital SLRs
LEDs light up camera in the dark
3.2inch Flex-tilt screen
Weather-sealed body
GPS and Wi-Fi built in
Built in Astrotracer
AA Filter Simulator
DNG or PEF RAW format

Pentax K-1 Cons

Auto white balance could be better
No built in flash-unit
USB 2 / UHS-I (not 3 and II respectively)
Slow live view shutter response and focus 


The Pentax K-1 offers a 36 megapixel full-frame sensor and a host of unique features including built in GPS, Wi-Fi, and image stabilisation, at an extremely competitive price.

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Pentax K-1 + 28-105mm

Pentax K-1 + 28-105mm


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Photographs taken using the Pentax K-1

Burnet MothSnowdrop & BeeMirrored US DreamsSelwicks Bay XXXVPart TandemCanal Reflections VIIIShake Rattle and .QuietUntitledVictorFord Thunderbird DetailTake Courage !Soggy Dog

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20 Feb 2016 2:33AM
What a stunning release. They can have my money. I have pre-ordered one.
D8** quality for a D7** price. Whats not to like?

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24 Feb 2016 12:46PM
This certainly looks a cracker and they seem to have thrown in everything but the kitchen sink,it should do extremely well.
Polaco 3
29 Apr 2016 8:52PM
First page says
"Pentax K-3 Video Features"
is a typo?
Chris_L 6 5.5k United Kingdom
30 Apr 2016 12:20AM
The tricks with the sensor such as resolution boosts, horizon correction, astro-tracer etc are ingenious ideas.
Jure 10 14 Slovenia
30 Apr 2016 7:44AM
You forgot to mention the function of "Catch-in-focus"
which is very important by using old MF lenses.

With this function it is possible to take photos almost fast as with AF.
dannyr 10 46 United Kingdom
30 Apr 2016 1:21PM

All i can say Smile
joshwa Plus
9 909 1 United Kingdom
30 Apr 2016 3:41PM
Hi Polaco, typo corrected, thanks Josh
30 Apr 2016 4:25PM
Already sold another system and ordered mine based on specs and past experiences with recent and old film Pentax cameras. This review confirms my decision for me. Great read.
Polaco 3
1 May 2016 6:29AM
Have you been able to test the APS-C mode with APS-C lenses ? Would be interesting to see this.
I feel like blofeld with his cat , i have this now on my lapSmile
RJPhoto 7 16 1 United Kingdom
4 May 2016 1:18PM
Very interesting to see such positive reaction to this review, and this camera - there seems to be a lot of love out there for Pentax, and a huge wave of applause for them releasing a full frame camera. To be honest, if I could replace my set-up with this, I think I would!
4 May 2016 3:09PM
Wow I can't wait to either sell or just decide to make the switch from the K-3, I figure I can replace my DA lenses with a couple FA type for now. I just have to make the decision and pull the trigger. I sure I'm not the only one out there with my problem so advice is appreciated.
Jure 10 14 Slovenia
4 May 2016 3:17PM
Just do it!
Jure 10 14 Slovenia
4 May 2016 4:46PM
That is what I was afraid of ..

Downside of Astro-traker: stars are sharp, but other motionless objects in photo are not.
Polaco 3
4 May 2016 5:09PM
@jure this is something expected, you can take a shot for the motionless subjects and another for the sky. That will help you solve the "issue" pretty easy I guess.
I have a K3II and I'm very impressed what Astrotracer can achieve I just would like to have more time to play more with it!. For instance this is just a test i did from my backyard the other day. Those are 3 shots of 60 seconds staked as i could since my skills with PS are very limited and I was using a telephoto lens Sigma 18-300 C as is the widest lens i have so far ( I'm waiting for a Sigma 10-20 f3.5 to arrive soon ).
Jure 10 14 Slovenia
4 May 2016 5:36PM
@ Placo .. tnx for advice/idea.

To get the ideal photo I have to combine two of them:
one with & other wthout astro-tracker.
nonur 11 18 13 Turkey
4 May 2016 11:24PM
At last!
5 May 2016 3:14PM
And one of the most important thing ... what about the electronic shutter to avoid vibrations?
Is there the option to activate the e-shutter or not?
Jure 10 14 Slovenia
5 May 2016 4:28PM

Jure 10 14 Slovenia
5 May 2016 4:31PM
5 May 2016 7:51PM
Yes Jure,
I had already read his report, when it was just posted.
However Diglloyd says that e-shutter is possible only when the pixel shift function is activated. I was hoping that something had changed with time and evolution!
No? Nothing?
This could be a potentially big weakness ... for me.
Jure 10 14 Slovenia
5 May 2016 8:01PM
@Claudio - I am sorry.

But it is normal that after two years comes K-1 II & they must have some aces in pocket. There is no photocamera with everything at the very begining .. they call it "marketing", but we ... better not to write souch words here.

Inspite of that I am very impressed with K-1 .. you must admit that 4 this price it is amazing camera.

I hope to get enough money by eutumn to buy it ... some lenses are already here.
9 May 2016 10:27PM
Well done Pentax / Ricoh.
I may be wrong but I thought the D810 was CIPA rated at 1200 shots, considerably more that it's peers?
erino 6
21 May 2016 11:49AM
I'm a happy owner. Is very good! Smile
joshwa Plus
9 909 1 United Kingdom
31 Aug 2016 2:34PM

Quote:Well done Pentax / Ricoh.
I may be wrong but I thought the D810 was CIPA rated at 1200 shots, considerably more that it's peers?

Updated, thanks
16 Dec 2016 6:03PM
Well I got mine within days of release and over 10000 shots later, I am very happy overall.
ISO range? well I have taken superb shots from 100 through to 56K, even 104K are very useable.
AF? Not as bad as some reports suggest, this thing is snappy and quick, a lot quicker than my K-5/K-3
A lot of my DA lenses work well with it, even the 18-55mm kit lens from 24mm onwards, useful as currently my only weather sealed lens in that focal range.

Downside? Well one really, I used both the K-1 and K-3 for motorsports and the K-3 is a lot better for this.

Overall though, I love it and it shines with many of my old lenses.
Kudos Pentax, you have created a superb FF camera.
stub 9 United Kingdom
31 May 2017 10:00AM
Decent camara all said. Still years behind with flash control... Lacking third party manufacturer back up..
pablophotographer 8 1.4k 361
15 Jun 2017 12:11AM
Hi all, I have seen the price for the new Nikon D7500... I think this Pentax in comparison offers true value for the price, good marketing decision Pentax. (And good job about the camera too!)

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