Pentax K-01 review

Review Date : Fri, 20 Apr 2012

Author :

Pentax K-01
Pentax K-01 Pentax K-01 Pentax K-01 Pentax K-01

Pentax's latest mirrorless camera is neither DSLR nor CSC. Is Marc Newson's distinctive design a big enough sell? The What Digital Camera Pentax K-01 review...

Pros: Great image quality, K-mount compatibility with all Pentax lenses
Cons: Noisy autofocus isn’t fast enough, no viewfinder possible, large body size, lack of prominent grip

The Pentax K-01 is the company's second mirrorless camera to reach the market, following the slow uptake of last year's Pentax Q model. Designed by Marc Newson - an internationally famous Australian designer - it's certainly a unique looking model that will either be loved or hated by camera users both old and new. Has pulling in a big gun of the design world helped or hindered Pentax's latest venture?

Pentax K-01 review - Features

The K-01 rests on Pentax's strengths: there's no new lens mount to be found here, instead the decades-strong K-mount means compatibility with all existing Pentax lenses. But the use of this mount does also bring design constraints: the camera's dimensions are rather DSLR-like due to the required distance from lens to sensor being the very same as the existing Pentax DSLR range.

Which begs the question, what exactly is this latest model to be classed as? It's not a DSLR as there's no mirror, and although ‘mirrorless' the large size and lack of any viewfinder option (there's no ability to add one either) means it can't compete with the benefits of many competitors' Compact System Cameras.

Pentax K-01 review sample image - click for full size gallery

The removal of the mirror also means autofocus is performed on the sensor itself, known as contrast-detection autofocus, which is often regarded as slower and less efficient than phase-detection autofocus (the latter as used by DSLR cameras). 

At the heart of the camera is a 16.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor, the same Sony-built (but Pentax optimised) one as found in the Pentax K-5, Sony NEX-5N and Nikon D7000. Anyone familiar with those three cameras will already know how well it performs, so the K-01 ought to outclass the majority of Compact System Cameras when it comes to optimum image quality.

Sensor-based image stabilisation, known as Shake Reduction, enables the camera to counter handshake and tiny movements whatever lens is attached to the camera - a particular benefit to users of older lenses.

Pentax K-01 review sample image - click for full size gallery

Elsewhere the K-01 features a 3in, 921K-dot LCD screen on the rear for reviewing and composing images; a array of full manual controls, including an HDR mode that can now be found on the mode dial itself for the first time.

As well as body-only and 18-55mm kit options, the K-01 is also available with the brand new DA 40mm f/2.8 XS pancake lens. But this is no ordinary pancake. Indeed it's the world's thinnest lens and weighs in at a minute 52g.


Compact Camera Reviews

Best Deals

Price as reviewed

£679.00

Scores

Scores
Features 16/20
Design 13/20
Image Quality 18/20
Performance 14/20
Value 15/20
Overall Score 76%

Related Reviews