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My thoughts on the Pentax K-01

Now that the K-01 is officially announced, here are my thoughts… They almost made something special, but not quite. I’ll go over details below.

I’ll probably be editing this as more information becomes available. Edit, the PDF spec sheet on Pentax Forums confirms some things).

As I’m sure you already know, they contracted out a popular designer named Marc Newson to design the camera. They probably did this to generate media interest. I’m somewhat at odds with the final result because I see form trumping function in some aspects. I think the Pentax design crew might have done a better job. They did an amazing job on the K-7 and K-5…

I don’t buy a camera as a fashion statement or a piece of art to be placed in a room and not used (take note of Marc’s “Lockheed Lounge” that is all form and no function). I think Marc is stuck in a position where he is expected to sacrifice some aspects to wow people. That’s too bad in my opinion.

EDIT: It looks like the body casing is plastic and the frame is aluminum. A negative in my opinion and odd why plastic isn’t mentioned by Pentax…
I’m glad about the materials he used (primarily aluminum), but from the looks of it, button placement and the function level might be problematic. For example, the ISO button was moved to the 4-way controller and the camera doesn’t have dual scroll wheels that are a staple of pro and semi-pro cameras. I’ll leave final judgement until I have a chance to hold one in my hands.

The camera has a dedicated video button, which is a great addition. The grip looks functional and should be supportive enough for large lenses. The lens release button looks good. I also think he did a good job on the 40mm f2.8 XS lens, probably a better job on that lens than the camera in my opinion. I’ll give them another pat on the back for using actual metal buttons and dials.

Their “black” version has a silver top bump with silver buttons. Their “white” version has all black buttons and bump at the top. Both look awkward and unfinished.

Why on earth didn’t they just make an ALL black version that photographers prefer? Their two tone bodies make the cameras deceptively cheap looking when in fact they are not given the materials used. Marc’s design would have looked leagues better with a camera that was entirely black. I don’t see any reason for the two tone look. It’s trying to be different for the sake of it and nothing else. All it does is frustrate the straight no nonsense photographer in me.

No viewfinder? Any photographer worth their desire for quality ergonomics to help them do their thing would have much preferred some form of viewfinder over a built-in flash. I could have done without a flash for the sake of a decent EVF and hotshoe combo (even if it cost $100 more and a little extra bump height).

Positive Specifications:
– Aluminum
– A sensor presumably as good as the K-5’s sensor, if not better.
– Built-in shake reduction
– Standard K-mount, a big reason I’ll consider one of these in the future.
– DNG RAW support is still there. Love it. I’m glad it looks like they dropped PEF RAW because it has no purpose any longer in my opinion.
– APS-C sensor is bigger than most mirrorless systems use.
– Just small enough to be a positive benefit without being a hindrance compared to cameras like the K-5.
– VIDEO. Yes, Pentax might just have made the next popular camera for video assuming it works well in practice. It uses k-mount, so a multitude of glass is available. It has shake reduction that works with all lenses. There isn’t any definite information out there, but it is said to have full manual video control, MIC port with gain control, and specs of 1080p at 30/24/25 and 720p at 60/50/30/25/24 fps. This could be the camera’s true purpose and a big reason I have an interest in it. Well done Pentax…
Looks like it uses the same battery as the K-7 and K-5, that’s great!
– 6 fps in still photo mode is more than sufficient.
– Focus peaking with manual lenses.
– A respectable MSRP starting at $749.95 in the USA.

Negative Specifications:
– ISO range isn’t as wide as the K-5. It’s missing ISO 80 and ISO 51200. Not sure why because ISO 80 was a very good aspect of the K-5.
Maximum shutter speed of 1/4000th. This is a problem for me. Bright days outdoors with a fast lens like the 55mm f1.4 @ f1.4 or the 85mm f1.4 @ f1.4 probably won’t work well. They could have pulled away from the mirrorless pack with 1/8000th max, but they didn’t. That’s too bad. I don’t want to buy and go through the hassle of putting on ND filters for all of my fast glass in situations like that.
– Not sure the ergonomic will be that good, but I’ll leave that up until a hands-on test.
– The control dial is missing USER, TAv, x-sync, and Sv. They are replaced with useless ones like SCN, HDR, and no-flash. Maybe no-flash mode allows the flash button to be reprogrammed?
– Only the LCD and no viewfinder. From my perspective this isn’t a deal killer because I would use the camera for video just as much as still frames. With manual lenses, focus peaking should be fine on the LCD.
– No weather resistance.

Do I want one? yes. Do I want two? probably not (it would need a viewfinder to replace my existing SLRs). I’m okay with the specs and think video would be the reason I consider this camera in the future. My main gripe is the slow maximum shutter speed and the design (color choices we have seen and ergonomics potentially). I think this camera would be a great sidekick to the K-5. Considering I often use two cameras at the same time, I could see this as a good sidekick to the K-5, moving the K-7 to backup duty for most situations.