The K-1 has the honour of being the first full-frame Pentax DSLR. Matt Golowczynski takes a closer look at this impressively specified camera in this Pentax K-1 review

Product Overview

Pentax K-1

AWB colour:80%
Dynamic Range:90%
Image Quality:90%
LCD Viewfinder:80%


  • - Excellent image quality; superb resolution and dynamic range
  • - High features-to-price ratio
  • - Excellent handling with many physical controls
  • - One of the most flexible LCD displays around


  • - Occasional auto white balance inconsistencies
  • - Video options not as comprehensive as those on other cameras
  • - Artefacts visible in certain Pixel Shift Resolution images
  • - Continuous focus doesn’t track quite as well as other systems


Pentax K-1 review


Price as reviewed:

£1,599.99 (Body only)

Pentax K-1 review: Focusing

Using the centreweighted average pattern has produced a perfect exposure here

Using the centreweighted average pattern has produced a perfect exposure here

The K-1 debuts a new SAFOX 12 autofocus system, with 33 phase-detect points. Of these, 25 are cross type and are arranged centrally in a square formation, with the remaining line-type points on either side. The central point, together with those directly above and below it, are sensitive to f/2.8 and work in light as low as -3EV.

In use, the 25 central points are sensitive enough to bring most subjects into focus in good time. With the 24-70mm lens, focusing performance seems on a par with mainstream rivals, and the lens’s quiet focusing motor also helps to keep things discreet. Some subjects and conditions clearly tax the remaining points, particularly the two outermost line points. I found this made me rely more on the focus-and-recompose technique than on other models where peripheral areas have a higher concentration of points.

When set to continuous focus, I found the camera did a good job of keeping track of moderately paced subjects, although it tended to lose more challenging ones, particularly if they strayed outside the central part of the focusing system. One word of caution when capturing bursts of images: you really do need to use high-speed memory cards, as more standard cards can slow operation right down to the point of frustration.

When shooting in low light, I noticed the AF-assist lamp had a tendency to come on only in very dark conditions. On occasion, and particularly with low-contrast subjects, this would have an impact on focusing speeds, but when it did spring to life I was impressed by the extent to which it not only sped up focus, but also enabled focusing in near darkness.

  1. 1. Pentax K-1 review: Introduction
  2. 2. Pentax K-1 review: Features
  3. 3. Pentax K-1 review: Pixel Shift Resolution system
  4. 4. Pentax K-1 review: Viewfinder and screen
  5. 5. Pentax K-1 review: Build and handling
  6. 6. Pentax K-1 review: Focusing
  7. 7. Pentax K-1 review: Performance
  8. 8. Pentax K-1 review: Dynamic range, resolution and noise
  9. 9. Pentax K-1 review: Verdict
  10. 10. Pentax K-1 review: (Original hands-on first look)
  11. 11. Pentax K-1 review: Full specification
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