Pentax K-1 Comparison Review
The Pentax K-1 is a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera that was officially introduced in February 2016 and is equipped with a full frame sensor. It offers a resolution of 36.2 megapixel.
Is the Pentax K-1 a good camera? The K-1 has a Camera Elo of 2841. This very strong rating puts it among the elite group of camera grand masters. The K-1 ranks among the top 10 percent of all digital single lens reflex cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (full frame cameras), the K-1 ranks among the top 30 percent.
|Digital single lens reflex|
|Pentax K mount lenses|
|36.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|3.2" LCD, 1037k dots|
|Fully flexible screen (no touchscreen)|
|4.4 shutter flaps per second|
|760 shots per battery charge|
|137 x 110 x 86 mm, 1010 g|
Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.
Body comparison with a credit card
The physical dimensions of the Pentax K-1 relative to a credit card are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Pentax K-1 alongside a set of comparators. If you want to review a camera pair side-by-side, just select a right-side comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.
|Pentax K-1||5.4 in||4.3 in||3.4 in||35.6 oz||760||Y||Feb 2016||1,799||-||Pentax K-1|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||5.9 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||31.4 oz||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Nikon D500« »||5.8 in||4.5 in||3.2 in||30.3 oz||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999||Nikon D500|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||5.3 in||3.6 in||2.6 in||20.2 oz||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999||Olympus E-M1 II|
|Pentax K-1 II« »||5.4 in||4.3 in||3.4 in||35.6 oz||670||Y||Feb 2018||1,999||Pentax K-1 II|
|Pentax K-3 II« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||28.2 oz||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099||Pentax K-3 II|
|Sony A7 III« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A7R III« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A99 II« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||29.9 oz||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7R II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.0 oz||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199||-||Sony A7R II|
|Sony A850« »||6.1 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||31.6 oz||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999||-||Sony A850|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Pentax K-1 was launched in the US market at a price of $1,799. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
The Pentax K-1 features a full frame sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Pentax K-1 among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Pentax K-1||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||25.4||14.6||3280||96||Pentax K-1|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Nikon D500« »||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.0||14.0||1324||83||Nikon D500|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80||Olympus E-M1 II|
|Pentax K-1 II« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||-||-||-||-||Pentax K-1 II|
|Pentax K-3 II« »||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80||Pentax K-3 II|
|Sony A7 III« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A7R III« »||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A99 II« »||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7R II« »||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98||Sony A7R II|
|Sony A850« »||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||-||23.8||12.2||1415||79||Sony A850|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The K-1 indeed provides movie recording capabilities. The highest resolution format that the K-1 can use is 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the K-1 has an optical viewfinder that provides a field of view of 100% and a magnification of 0.70x. The following tables report on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Pentax K-1 and comparable cameras.
|Pentax K-1||optical||Y||3.2||1037||full-flex||n||1/8000s||4.4||n||Y||Pentax K-1|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Nikon D500« »||optical||Y||3.2||2359||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||n||Nikon D500|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y||Olympus E-M1 II|
|Pentax K-1 II« »||optical||Y||3.2||1037||full-flex||n||1/8000s||4.4||n||Y||Pentax K-1 II|
|Pentax K-3 II« »||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y||Pentax K-3 II|
|Sony A7 III« »||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A7R III« »||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A99 II« »||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7R II« »||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y||Sony A7R II|
|Sony A850« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||Y||Sony A850|
One useful feature of the K-1 is a presence of a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Pentax K-1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Pentax K-1||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Pentax K-1|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Nikon D500« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y||Nikon D500|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-||Olympus E-M1 II|
|Pentax K-1 II« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Pentax K-1 II|
|Pentax K-3 II« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Pentax K-3 II|
|Sony A7 III« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A7R III« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A99 II« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7R II« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7R II|
|Sony A850« »||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A850|
It is notable that the K-1 has a microphone port. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
While the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the K-1 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).
|Pentax K-1||-||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||1,799||-||Pentax K-1|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Nikon D500« »||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999||Nikon D500|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999||Olympus E-M1 II|
|Pentax K-1 II« »||-||79/100||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||Feb 2018||1,999||Pentax K-1 II|
|Pentax K-3 II« »||-||-||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099||Pentax K-3 II|
|Sony A7 III« »||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A7R III« »||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A99 II« »||-||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7R II« »||+ +||90/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199||-||Sony A7R II|
|Sony A850« »||-||75/100||-||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999||-||Sony A850|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Pentax K-1 FAQ
Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the K-1.
What is the technology behind the imaging sensor in the K-1?
The camera is build around a CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor.
Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?
Pentax equipped the K-1 with the PRIME IV image processor.
What is the ISO sensitivity range of the K-1?
The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 204800.
What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Pentax K-1?
Pentax mentions a shutter rating of 300 000 actuations for the K-1. This number represents a Mean Time before Failure, that is an average value. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust the expected shutter life of the K-1 over, say, three years, one would have to take about 300 pictures each and every day.
How do I find the shutter count on my Pentax K-1?
Pentax embeds the number of shutter actuations in image metadata. You can check the number of shots that your K-1 has taken up to now by uploading a recent image to the online shutter count app.
Do I need to purchase an external camera trigger to shoot time-lapse sequences?
No, the Pentax K-1 has an intervalometer built-in, so that low frequency shooting (for example, flower blooming, sunset, moon rise) can be undertaken without the need to purchase a separate external intervalometer and related software.
Is it difficult to use manual focus lenses with the Pentax K-1?
The K-1 offers focus peaking as a manual focus aid. This feature works by placing a colored highlight on in-focus zones within the image.
Does the Pentax K-1 feature an autofocus assist light?
Yes, the camera has a lamp built-in that can illuminate the subject and improve autofocus in low-light settings.
What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?
The K-1's flash sync speed is 1/200 sec.
Does the Pentax K-1 support the Ultra High Speed (UHS) bus interface for SD cards?
Yes, the camera can indeed use UHS-I cards (data transfer speed of up to 104 MB/s).
Which battery does the K-1 use?
The camera gets its power from the D-LI90 (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.
Is there a vertical grip available for the K-1?
Yes, Pentax offers the D-BG6 as an optional accessory to facilitate shooting in portrait orientation and to provide additional battery power.
Does the Pentax K-1 support geotagging?
The K-1 has a built-in GPS (Global Positioning System) module and can embed location information in the EXIF data of the captured image.
Camera to camera comparisons
If you would like to see a side-by-side review of this and another camera, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 5D Mark II vs Pentax K-1 II
- Canon 800D vs Pentax K-1
- Canon G7 X Mark II vs Pentax K-1
- Canon SX70 vs Pentax K-1 II
- Nikon D3S vs Pentax K-1
- Nikon D610 vs Pentax K-1 II
- Nikon D7100 vs Pentax K-1
- Olympus E-510 vs Pentax K-1
- Panasonic GH5s vs Pentax K-1 II
- Pentax K-1 II vs Pentax K-5
- Pentax K-1 II vs Sony A6400
- Pentax K-1 II vs Sony RX10 II
|Camera Model||Pentax K-1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 1799|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||36.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7360 x 4912 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.88 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.20 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100-204800 ISO|
|Image Processor||PRIME IV|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||96|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3280|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2 inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fully flexible screen|
|Autofocus System||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||4.4 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||300 000 actuations|
|Silent Shooting||no E-Shutter|
|Time Lapse Photography||Intervalometer Built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Type||D-LI90 power pack|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||760 shots per charge|
137 x 110 x 86 mm
(5.4 x 4.3 x 3.4 in)
|Camera Weight||1010 g (35.6 oz)|
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