Pentax officially announced their first full frame camera.  Packed with technology and teased for the last year we now get an official look, price and release date.

Pentax K-1 DSLR Camera – Available April 5 for $1,796.95 – Preorder from B&H Photo

Pentax K-1

  • 36.4MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • PRIME IV Image Processor
  • 3.2″ Cross-Tilt LCD Monitor (this looks cool- see photo below)
  • Full HD 1080p30 Video Recording (not 1080p60 is a bit disappointing but not a deal breaker)
  • SAFOX 12 33-Point AF Sensor
  • Native ISO 204800; 4.5 fps Shooting
  • 5-Axis In-Body Shake Reduction (excellent)
  • Super Resolution & AstroTracer Modes (Uses the Sensor Stabilization to do COOL stuff)
  • Built-In Wi-Fi & GPS; Dual SD Card Slots
  • Weather-Sealed Magnesium Alloy Body

This camera looks excellent – especially for landscape and astrophotography (star filled skies) Why?   The camera uses the GPS and the in-body camera stabilization system to move the camera’s sensor during lengthy exposures so as to mimic the earth’s rotation and capture celestial objects such as stars and planets as points of light rather than elongated trails.  Typically when photographing the stars you need to follow the 500 rule.  Simply- you need to keep your shutter speed below a certain number to avoid the dots of the stars turning into smears.  Being limited to shorter shutter means you need to raise your ISO and/or use a wide aperture.  And this is all with wide angle lenses. With a telephoto your shutter speed needs to be even shorter – making it difficult to capture detailed celestial objects like the Magellanic clouds.

Magellanic clouds from Mt Cook in New Zealand

Depending on your location in the world you can use the Astrotracer function to beat the 500 rule and shoot for as long as 5 minutes!!

An additional trick for higher resolution landscapes – Super Resolution mode that composites multiple images together for maximum sharpness and reduced noise, again using the sensor shift technology to accomplish this!

It will also use the in-body IS to help you level the horizon!

Pentax has always provided excellent value cameras and while the lenses selection might not be as large as Canon or Nikon they have a decent collection and even this full frame camera has 9 lenses available including what looks to be a nice wide angle 15-30 f/2.8 lens that perfectly compliments the body features that make this camera awesome for shooting starry night skies.

So why does Pentax(owned by Ricoh) have such a small market share? About 7% in 2015. I don’t know – bad marketing, perceived lack of lenses? If you have better ideas leave the comments below. The end result is while these cameras are often excellent values – providing excellent image quality, feature packed in quality made bodies – the general ecosystem feels much smaller and I think this prevents consumer purchase/market growth.

A few additional points- small white LED lighting makes operating this camera in the dark easier – lit buttons and lens mount make me feel like this camera has everything the astrophotographer could want – also happens to be weather sealed and offered with weather sealed lenses.

Are you interested? Let me know in the comments.   It certainly is priced competively and as mentioned above I expect the sensor to produce excellent images.  The first camera I would actually compare this too is the Sony A7II which also offers a full frame stabilized sensor – though none of the neat tricks the Pentax offers.

Also announced Pentax HD PENTAX-D FA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 ED DC WR Lens – Just $499

Pentax K-1 DSLR Camera – Available April 5 for $1,796.95 – Preorder from B&H Photo

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  1. Thanks Toby for being brave enough write about a Pentax/Ricoh camera; sadly it seems most refuse to acknowledge their existence so this is quite refreshing. Anyway I have been a Canon fanboy since I started photography with an XSI, 7d and currently a 5d3/6d owner but have been intrigued by Pentax ever since they released the K-5. Over the last couple of years my patience has worn extremely thin with Canon’s refusal to update their sensors and address the obvious dynamic range deficiency compared to Nikon/Pentax/Sony. As much as I love Canon’s ergonomics and functionality I have reached the point that I’m seriously considering parting with my Canon gear in favor of something better. The price range and feature set of this new K-1 is very appealing though I will probably wait until I see some real world images before I take the plunge. Anyway thanks again for the article.

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