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Pentax K-1 Mark II Review - Performance

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Pentax K-1 Mark II Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

  K-1 Mark II K-1 (Mark I)
Shutter Response <0.05secs <0.05secs (0.2s live view)
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.25secs* 0.3secs (1.1s live view)
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response  0.25secs* 0.2secs (1.0s live view)
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 1.2secs 1.2secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.25secs 0.25secs
Shot to Shot with Flash N/A N/A
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
4.5fps (22 shots) 4.4fps (29 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash N/A N/A
Continuous Shooting - RAW 4.4fps (13 shots) 4.6fps (14 shots)

The camera can shoot at 4.5fps (JPEG) and 4.4fps (raw), although we only managed 22 JPEG (Fine) shots, and 13 raw (DNG) shots before the camera slowed down, which is less than the Pentax specified 70 (JPEG) and 17 raw. You can choose between recording PEF (Pentax raw files), or Adobe DNG raw files.

* Focus performance altered between very quick (0.1s) to quite slow (0.35/0.45s) at both wide and telephoto ends of the lens. We've shown the average here. Focus was also slower in situations with lower light. Tested with the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.


Pentax K-1 Mark II Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Photos taken with the Pentax K-1 Mark II show very good colour with good levels of saturation, and we used the camera on the "Auto" (colour) mode. Images could benefit from slight sharpening if we were being picky, although this could easily be corrected by adjusting the in-camera settings. Exposure was generally reliable, although there is a bias towards under-exposing images.

There are a number of options to expand dynamic range recorded. The options include D-Range compensation: highlight correction, shadow correction. You can also shoot HDR images handheld, with a variety of options including auto, HDR1, HDR2, HDR3, advanced HDR, with the exposure bracket value adjustable, and automatic composition correction function. There are Skin tone options: Off / Type 1 / Type 2 and using these the camera smooths skin after you've taken the image.


Pentax K-1 Mark II Lens test images

Lens Performance - The camera has built-in lens correction options for distortion correction, peripheral illumination correction (vignetting), lateral chromatic aberration correction, and diffraction correction. We took photos with just diffraction correction and lateral chromatic aberration correction switched on. 

The image stabilisation (IS) system uses sensor-shift shake reduction (SRII) and works with any lens attached to the camera, letting you take photos at a slower shutter speed than normal, and we were able to take sharp photos at shutter speeds as slow as 1/5s. For manual lenses the camera you can set the focal length manually. There is also a 5-axis electronic level function which is displayed in the optical viewfinder (OVF) and on the LCD screen (Horizontal and vertical). 

There is a fairly wide range of full-frame Pentax lens options available, with more on the way, and APS-C lenses work in crop mode on the K-1. You can use any K mount lens from Pentax, including old and discontinued lenses that were released before digital cameras existed. 


Pixel Shift Resolution

Using the Pixel Shift Resolution mode, you end up with a 160-180MB raw (PEF) file compared to the more normal 40-55MB for raw (PEF) files, JPEGs are around 15-20MB. Using this mode, the camera takes 4 shots (using an electronic shutter) at slightly different pixel positions and combines them so that you get a sharper image, with better colour detail, although there is the risk of ghosting with moving subjects (like tree branches, people or cars). Olympus use a similar system for 40 / 50-megapixel images, and this too has issues with moving subjects. You can use the Pixel Shift Resolution with MC (Motion Correction) to help with this.

Under the Pixel Shift Resolution menu option there is now a Handheld "Pixel Shift" mode, this works by taking multiple shots (using an electronic shutter) but uses the movement in between shots from handholding the camera to create an image with more detail, much like the "Super-resolution" technique. In some images, there was minimal noticeable difference, but in others, there was a slight improvement in detail and sharpness. You're likely to get a similar benefit or increase in sharpness by processing raw files yourself and adding sharpness. Although your results may vary, depending on the subject your are shooting, lens sharpness, camera settings, etc.

Pixel Shift Examples
Click to view larger (at 100% pixel size) - Using these modes there is an additional delay while the camera processes the image. 


Pentax K-1 Mark II ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - The camera's ISO range goes from ISO100 to ISO819200. Noise is low from ISO100 to ISO3200, with some more noise creeping in at ISO6400. At these lower ISO settings, you may want to use the custom noise options to set the camera to lower noise reduction to retain as much detail as possible. However, we'd still be happy using the camera at ISO12800, as noise is quite grainy (and some would say film-like), with very few red, green and blue dots spoiling the image. Noise performance at ISO12800 is reasonably good, with a slightly better result from the Pentax K-1 Mark II, when compared to the K-1, and raw files also look better.

At ISO25600 noise becomes stronger and we'd recommend avoiding this setting and higher unless you were going to process the raw files yourself or resize the images for use on the web. ISO51200 may still provide a usable result (just about) if you processed the image further, but noise gets quite unpleasant at ISO102400, and above. At ISO409600 and above images look awful, and unless you're shooting in the dark as a PI, then I doubt you'll ever want to use this setting.

Noise options include show shutter speed NR (for slower than 1 second): Auto, On, Off, and High-ISO NR: Auto, Low, Mid, High, Custom, Off. Custom lets you choose how much noise reduction is applied at each individual ISO setting, and the options are Off, Low, Mid, High. 


Pentax K-1 Mark II White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) gives a warm result under tungsten light with the multi-area AWB giving a more accurate and less warm result. The tungsten preset gives the most accurate result. AWB gives good results under fluorescent lighting. There are four different fluorescent presets available, although most of them give a colour cast, and for more accurate results the use of manual white balance is recommended. Alternatively, you can adjust the auto white balance settings yourself. We left the AWB in tungsten light set to strong correction, there is also the option for subtle correction. 


Digital Filters - There are a number of different Custom image settings including Auto Select, Bright, Natural, Portrait, Landscape, Vibrant, Radiant, Muted, Flat, Bleach Bypass, Reversal Film, Monochrome, Cross Processing (Random, Preset 1-3, Favorite 1-3). You can also customise these, and the camera lets you adjust saturation, hue, high/low key, contrast, highlight, shadow, and sharpness (with additional options for fine sharpness or extra sharpness). Another option is the Clarity setting which is off on default settings but has 4 levels from 1 to 4.

There are also digital filters: Extract Color, Replace Color, Toy Camera, Retro, High Contrast, Shading, Invert Color, Unicolor Bold, Bold Monochrome, with a few more available in playback when editing raw files. There's also the option to adjust the composition: ±1.5mm up, down, left or right (1mm when rotated); 1 degree of range. There is a Colour Moire correction option in playback that can be used to reduce colour moire in images, although we did not notice the need for this in our shots. 


Video - There is a built-in stereo microphone, although if you want to record higher quality sound, you can use the mic and headphone sockets on the side of the camera. There are options for setting the recording sound level, wind noise reduction and headphone volume. You can choose between recording using the full-frame or using an APS-C crop for FullHD video recording. In the video mode, you have access to the custom image settings, and there is a "Flat" option available which will be of interest to those that want to adjust video later. Video quality was good, with good audio quality, and the built-in image stabilisation did a good job keeping video steady, even when recording handheld. 


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Photographs taken using the Pentax K-1 Mark II

Ogwen ValleyEvening ByThe SeaStone Henge MilkywayMarsh SwallowCity of York Light TrailsFraser River ReflectionsThe River RocksThe RiverPlane ShotJanuary sunshineJanuary sunshineNutsJauneAutumn oakCrossing the Bridge

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