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Pentax K-1 Mark II Review - Verdict

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Pentax K 1 MarkII (1)

Value For Money

The Pentax K-1 Mark II is available for £1799 (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, £2549
Nikon D850, 45mp, 7fps, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4K video, £3499
Nikon D750, 24mp, 6.5fps, Wi-Fi, FullHD video, £1749
Canon EOS 6D Mark II, 26mp, 6.5fps, FullHD video, £1728
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, 30mp, 7fps, 4K video, £3249
Canon EOS 5DS / 5DS R, 50mp, 5fps, FullHD video, £3099 / £3449
Sony Alpha A7 Mark III, 24mp, 10fps, 4K video, £1999
Sony Alpha A7R Mark III, 42mp, 10fps, 4K video, £3199

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 Mark II Verdict

When the K-1 first came out, it offered a high-resolution sensor at a competitive price, with a number of unique features. Whilst the K-1 Mark II still offers the same 36mp sensor, and keeps the same unique features, the market has moved on, with the majority of competitors offering faster continuous shooting speeds, and more focus points. Unfortunately, there have been no improvements made in continuous shooting speed or the number of focus points.

The improvements made are fairly minor, and there have been improvements made in noise performance, these are quite minimal but welcome all the same. A new handheld "Pixel shift" mode can give additional image quality, for when you don't have a tripod available. Focus performance is improved, slightly, although we found the camera struggled in low-light conditions.

It would be nice if the continuous shooting speed (and buffer) was improved if USB3 was adopted, UHS-II cards were supported, and adding 4K video would make the camera appealing to videographers. Live view focus remains relatively slow. Maybe next time? 

The Pentax K-1 II excels in the same areas that the K-1 did, but offers slightly improved image quality, whilst still being one of the cheapest 36mp cameras available. The K-1 II offers Pixel Shift Resolution and in-camera image stabilisation. Pentax's Pixel Shift Resolution mode gives improved image quality, which will be particularly useful for still life and detailed product shots. With Pentax's 5-axis sensor-based image stabilisation every lens attached to the camera can benefit from image stabilisation, including older lenses, and the camera will also confirm focus with manual focus lenses.

Unique to the Pentax K-1 / II 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 astrophotography, including star trails. We were 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.  

If you're a Pentax fan, then the K-1 Mark II is a very good camera, and if you are looking for a full-frame Pentax camera, then this is the one to get. If you already have the K-1, then it's a bit more difficult to justify the upgrade. If you are happy with the performance and features of the K-1, then the Mark II will give you slightly improved image quality, along with a few new features, but perhaps not enough to justify the upgrade. 


Pentax K-1 Mark II Pros

  • Pixel shift resolution for sharper more detailed images with better colour
  • Capable of taking excellent images
  • Slightly improved noise performance
  • Customisable ISO controls for noise reduction
  • 5-axis image stabilisation sensor
  • 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 Mark II Cons

  • Slower continuous shooting than the competition
  • AF Fine tune adjustment may be needed to get the best from your lenses
  • Auto white balance could be better
  • USB2 / UHS-I slower than USB3 / UHS-II
  • Focus is slow in low-light
  • Shorter battery life than the K-1

Overall Verdict

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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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