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Pentax KP Review - Performance

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Pentax KP 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.

Shutter Response <0.05secs (0.25secs live view)
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.125secs (0.9secs live view)
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response  0.1secs (0.9secs live view)
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 1.3secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.2secs (MF)
Shot to Shot with Flash 0.5secs (MF)
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
6.5fps (36 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash 2fps
Continuous Shooting - RAW 7fps (10 shots)

We were able to shoot at 6.5fps in high-speed continuous shooting mode for up to 36 JPEG shots before slowing down, or at 7fps when shooting raw, and could take up to 10 shots before slowing down. Live view focus and shutter response is slow, and not as quick as the Canon EOS 80D (with phase detection AF on the sensor), but is thankfully quicker than the Nikon D7200.

Pentax KP Sample Photos

Sample Photos - JPEG results from the camera are good straight from the camera, however, the default option of "Bright" may make colours too bright and saturated for some people, so one of the other presets may be preferred. Alternatively, you can customise this, turning down the saturation. Exposure is reliable, and we rarely felt the need to use exposure compensation. Dynamic range is good, and there are various options to expand this if required, including D-RANGE Compensation with options for Highlight Correction, and Shadow Correction. You can shoot HDR images in-camera, with multiple images merged into one shot. There's also an Automatic composition correction function. 


Pentax KP Lens test images

Lens Performance - We used the Pentax KP with the HD-Pentax 70mm f/2.4 Limited and Pentax 20-40mm f/2.8-4 lenses, and were impressed with the results. The camera is capable of producing very sharp and detailed results, with good colour reproduction. There's also good results from the JPEG images straight from the camera, with little benefit to be found in processing the raw files yourself (except tuning and adjusting to your own personal preferences). To get the best out of the camera, we'd recommend using high-quality lenses.

There are numerous Lens Correction options, including Distortion Correction, Peripheral Illumin. Correction, Lateral Chromatic Aberration Correction, and Diffraction Correction, which means you can get on with shooting, without having to worry too much about correcting images later. With AdobeDNG support you can shoot raw images, and you don't have to wait for Adobe or other software to be updated before opening raw files. 


Pentax KP ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Noise performance is excellent at the lower ISO speeds. Detail remains good at ISO6400, with ISO12800 also being usable. ISO25600 is where we'd probably want to process the image further (resize, additional noise reduction, or convert to black and white). ISO51200 and above is best avoided, although could potentially be useful to some. Images get particularly "ugly" at ISO102400. ISO204800 may provide an image of some use, just about. We wouldn't particularly want to use ISO409600 ever. ISO819200 makes ISO409600 images look good, that's how bad it is. Why ISO819200 is included on this camera is unknown to us, as the results are particularly awful. 

There are numerous noise reduction (NR) settings, including slow shutter speed noise reduction, and High-ISO NR settings (Auto, Low, Medium, High, Custom, Off). If you set this to custom you can individually set the level of noise reduction applied to each individual ISO speed! We left these settings on Auto for the photos above.


Pentax KP White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) gives a warm result under tungsten lighting, with the AWB - Multi Area option giving a slightly better result. Using the Tungsten preset gives a much more accurate result. Both AWB modes give a slight colour cast when shooting in fluorescent lighting. The fluorescent preset gives a colour cast, so using manual white balance may be needed in fluorescent lighting. We got the best results using the Tungsten preset with mixed lighting (both tungsten and fluorescent lighting sources). Test images were taken with the "strong" correction setting. Noise performance is improved compared to the Pentax K-3 II.

You can also view the same shot taken with Pixel Shift Resolution, and should be able to see the difference when viewing the full-size originals. The difference in detail can be quite subtle, but if you look at areas with strong bold colours, such as the flowers at the top, where they are red, orange and pink, there is much more detail visible in the Pixel Shift Resolution photo. 


Pentax KP Digital filters

Digital Filters - There are numerous digital filters, and HDR options, which we've shown above. Some of the HDR options are quite garish, however, if you stick to HDR Auto you get natural looking results. The camera doesn't feature a panoramic mode.


Video - FullHD video at a frame rate of 60i, 50i, 30p, 25p and 24p. You can set the microphone level manually, or leave this on auto. You can switch movie shake reduction on or off. There is no HDMI out port as standard, however, you can connect a SlimPort-HDMI adapter to the MicroUSB connection if you need HDMI out.

Video compression is quite high, with the camera recording FullHD, 30fps video at 23mbps which is very low, and a shame, as the 5-axis image stabilisation makes the Pentax KP appealing for video recording. Video quality is acceptable but not particularly sharp, and in this video, which we recorded with the 20-40mm lens, the focusing noise is quite loud. You can watch additional Pentax KP videos on the ePHOTOzine YouTube channel.


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Photographs taken using the Pentax KP

Mount Tate Before Dawn, Snowy Mountains, New South WalesSnow Storm in Spring, Snowy River, New South WalesMad as the Wind and Snow, Snowy River, New South WalesFirst Light on Mount Tate, Snowy Mountains, New South Wales Platform 2Laurettaflapper girlSunset Over Tuggeranong, CanberraCusworth Hallhaving a good hair day.Sombre Sunset, Urambi Hills, CanberraA World Apart, CanberraFemale House SparrowWhen are you going to come down to Earth? Harden & Murrumburrah, New South Wales, Australia

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19 Mar 2017 12:10AM
Looks to be a cool toy, and hopefully will not break the bank to get one.

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ChrisV 13 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
19 Mar 2017 12:29PM
Can't quite work out that this is a five star review, given as you point out it's (rare for Pentax) not great value for money and its top sensitivity settings have been made up by the marketing department.

It's not something that concerns me all that much, but it's pretty hard to ignore what an ugly little effer it is to boot.

It does have some nice features and I'm sure it's a capable camera. But it's the first Pentax I've seen in a while where I've thought were I starting afresh, I wouldn't touch with a barge pole. With the shortcomings you've mentioned (not just the two I've alluded to) I wonder if there's any differentiation to be had between this and other similarly priced devices that don't have such notable flaws?
My impression from KP users is that this is a solidly built camera suitable for regular everyday use such as in journalism never mind the normal consumer requirements. I cannot get my hands on the KP but I've seen reports elsewhere that suggest it's IQ (from a new sensor) is exceptional and that fitted with the latest lenses its auto focus is super quick. I've seen some samples of its High ISO performance and these have been impressive enough for me to consider this aspect useful in trying conditions where light is poor and an image grab is important. These features coupled with 5 axis image stabilisation, its compact but light weight WR/rugged body make this appealing to myself and I'm sure others. Battery power has been shown here as lacking but for those who have an appetite for power there is the battery grip that takes more powerful capacity batteries. Of course it is not a camera for everybody but then I cannot think of one that is just that. One point of pique for me is the price point but as with many new products I would expect this to level out in the months ahead.
PentaxBro 2 43 3
24 Mar 2017 3:17PM
KP Its still great value , but not so much as K-X was or K-70 more recently..

The biggest shortcoming is still the focusing system, while improoved its still not up to the Nikons Canons or Sony systems..Points are to few and too narrow , tracking is poor, illumination too weak, etc etc

But its a Pentax and it has strenghts like no other!
I would buy it anyway Tongue
26 Mar 2017 10:33PM
PentaxBro - you say that,

"The biggest shortcoming is still the focusing system, while improved its still not up to the Nikons Canons or Sony systems..Points are to few and too narrow , tracking is poor, illumination too weak, etc etc."

Reports from users I've read about the focusing system don't fit with that assessment. Have you tried it or are you just speculating?
PentaxBro 2 43 3
26 Mar 2017 11:54PM

Quote:PentaxBro - you say that,

"The biggest shortcoming is still the focusing system, while improved its still not up to the Nikons Canons or Sony systems..Points are to few and too narrow , tracking is poor, illumination too weak, etc etc."

Reports from users I've read about the focusing system don't fit with that assessment. Have you tried it or are you just speculating?

Yes I have tried K-3II which has very similar focusing if not identical to KP I also used Canon 80D ,SonyA-77Ii, Nikons, Panasonic etc I do own Pentax K-X & K-70 and Sony H-10 for everyday use..I know their weak points pretty well.
I'm not alone demanding better focusing capabilities from Pentax for a long time. That's one of the reasons I'm not shooting some sports, action etc with it. Its doable but more difficult than with some other brands..
I was hoping to read here about user experience of the KP but that is not you.

PentaxBro 2 43 3
27 Mar 2017 4:39PM
I tried KPTongue in the store but not as extensively as K-3ii and the rest mentioned in various conditions..
For me its at best the same focusing as K-3ii except lower frame rates, but Live view performance seems better!
PentaxBro 2 43 3
27 Mar 2017 4:57PM
Do not get me wrong autofocus is quick on both KP & K-3II
but continuous focus and traking is comperatively poor.
Also I wish for more focusing points including cross points , wider coverage and stronger ilumination of points which in strong bright light or strong sunlight are bearly visible.
I guess in UK weather it may not be such a problem thoughWink
Continuous focusing and tracking in store with the KP must have been tricky. Who or what did you focus continuously or track in store? What store? I can only see it available online.

It is interesting that your experience of the KP in store confirmed that the auto focus of the KP & K-3II is the same and what Ricoh/Pentax are saying about them being different with that of the KP being much improved is not the case.

I'm still curious how you managed to test out the continuous focus and tracking in store - must have been a big store with a lot of space and a good laugh to see - someone running around the store? Anyhow, this is certainly not being reported elsewhere by other users whose photos of action included a dog running and jumping to catch a frisbee. I also know of a journalist in Berlin who now successfully uses the KP for his daily hard grid fast moving work.

Regrettably, it is my sense that your assessment in store probably short changes this new camera and cannot be usefully relied upon.
PentaxBro 2 43 3
27 Mar 2017 8:49PM

Quote:Continuous focusing and tracking in store with the KP must have been tricky. Who or what did you focus continuously or track in store? What store? I can only see it available online.

First time I saw it in Japan during my recent trip,where I had the opportunity to try it even in the strong sun getting through the big window, but more recently I tried it again in the Cyfrowe Store in Warsaw, on my return they have the black version and silver you can order in 1-2 days..
For me the tracking is so poor it doesn't even need nobody to run. It has problems even with the slow or moderately eratic subjects, especially in partly artificial lighting.
Once again you do not need extensive testing to notice how weak the ilumination or coverage of focus points are etc.
I tried many other brands at the same time for comparison and was advised by the people which play with it whole days too.
Most Pentax lenses however are not up to the task either.

Do not belive all the advertising statements etc.
For example Pentax K-70 supposed to have more frames per second than K-S2, but in real life is the opposite!
Thanks for all this info which is much appreciated. On the basis of such an experience the KP is hardly worthy of serious consideration, yet, it is not a universal view so maybe there are issues of taste, preference or different copies. Anyhow, I shall be in London around 6 April when I shall get a chance to pick it up in store for myself to consider.

There are many inches of media devoted to auto focus capabilities of cameras and frankly I've yet to find the perfect model. I've tried the Canon 80D and perhaps more telling, the Canon 7DM2 - was disappointed with the auto focus capability accuracy with a poor hit rate and they were returned The best I've found so far is the Sony a6000..

My experience of the KP -

I had the opportunity to handle and try out a black KP on the 4 April 2017. This was within the confines of a retail photographic store in London with the Pentax 20-40, the 55 F/1.4 and HD PENTAX-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR lenses at my disposal. I was impressed.

The design, weight and ergonomics seemed perfect to me. I found the menus clear and easy to understand. Controls are sweet to the touch with no difficulties or problems being experienced. It has a robust and rugged body that should prove to be a durable every day working tool. Focusing was fast and without hunting even in poor indoor lighting. Not possible to test tracking within the confines of a retail store. The small grip was fitted to the model I tested but all three grips come with the camera in the UK - I saw all three. My preference is for the medium size.

The KP has compact dimensions that I found comfortable, working well with the lenses I tried and should do so for both small and large form lenses - users are supported by Pentax's premium selection of high quality glass. In appearance it looks like the classic Pentax design from by gone days.

I believe this camera, with its rich features list, is capable of satisfying the requirements of many users for years to come.

19 May 2018 11:06PM
Battery life is poor, indeed. But adding the battery grip provides longer shooting time. And... In the battery grip fits also a more powerful D-LI90 battery. Problem solved!

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