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Pentax KP Review - Verdict

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Pentax KP (2)

Value For Money

The Pentax KP is available for £1099 body only, which makes it a little bit more than the competition, and a price drop by £100 would make the camera feel more competitively priced. The Pentax KP and Sony Alpha A77-II (£999, 12fps) both offer in-camera sensor-based image stabilisation, and all of the cameras, apart from the KP offer a top LCD, including the Canon EOS 80D (£999, 7fps), and Nikon D7200 (£859, 6fps).

Have a look at more DSLRs in our Top 10 Best APS-C DSLRs. You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Pentax KP Verdict

The Pentax KP is a Digital SLR that doesn't stick to the usual rules of DSLR design, giving you the choice of a handgrip, as well as customisation of the third control wheel on top of the camera. This gives the camera the feel of a serious Digital SLR, however, there will be those that miss some of the more advanced features expected at this price point. For example, there is only one SD card slot, and there is no flash-sync socket. The battery life of the KP is also shorter than other DSLRs, with the K-3 II offering 720 shots compared to the KP's 390 shots.

If you're a previous Pentax DSLR shooter looking for the next upgrade then the Pentax KP will definitely appeal. If we look at the alternative DSLRs available, then the KP has a number of unique and innovative features, including 5-axis image stabilisation, pixel shift resolution, a tilting screen, and a removable grip, to name just a few of them. There are numerous external controls and dials, along with the ability to customise the camera so that it's setup up how you want it. 

Whilst the high ISO setting of ISO819200 is one of the marketing points of the camera, we wouldn't actually recommend anyone use this setting, as the results are simply awful looking images. However, noise performance is excellent at lower ISO settings, and you can even get usable images at high ISO settings up to ISO25600, and potentially ISO51200, depending on your intended use.

The Pentax KP offers an alternative design compared to the standard DSLR, letting you customise it to suit you. The KP offers impressive features not found on other cameras, as well as exceptional image quality. For these reasons we think the Pentax KP is well worth your attention.

Pentax KP Pros

  • Excellent image quality
  • Numerous external controls
  • Grip can be customised to taste
  • Good noise performance
  • 5-axis image stabilisation
  • Pixel Shift Resolution
  • AdobeDNG raw support
  • Dual-axis electronic level
  • Built-in Wi-Fi

Pentax KP Cons

  • Slow live view focus and shutter response
  • Buffer small (8 raw)
  • Battery life quite short
  • Central focus points
  • Not the best for video

Overall Verdict

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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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