Bali Reverie - A Pentax K1 real World review


pinholecam

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#1
Bali Reverie - A Pentax K1 Real World Review


The long rocky road to the Pentax K1 by jenkwang, on Flickr


Talk about DSLRs today and the layman will be left thinking of the major brands that are always on the newspaper Ads and TV commercials.
Surely, success in a good DSLR is with the bravado of being seen, with mediocrity awaiting the more shy (in this case less media presence).
Certainly, it extends to what the more quiet company can produce in their DSLR.
However there is always room for the less mainstream player to be innovative and provide offerings that others may be less inclined to cater for.



The road of the Pentax K1 is a long and windy one.

Who remembers Pentax?
The first maker of Japanese SLRs (in 1952)
Even the word Pentaprism comes from the term used by Pentax in their Asahi Pentax camera (in '57)
In '64, the Pentax Spotmatic was launched, the world's first TTL (through-the-lens) exposure metering system.
Pentax's line of M42 Takumar lenses were so widely used that its often referred as "Pentax screw mount" (despite the fact that Contax S/ Praktika were the first to introduce the mount)
the list goes on...



Time went on, competitors came in and the first Japanese SLR maker fell into decline.........


Time leap yr 2000......


FF dreams
The first FF DSLR was actually announced by Pentax at Photokina way back in 2000, before others entered this market (ie. FF DSLR)
The Pentax MZ-D, was a prototype FF DSLR using the Philips 6mp FF sensor.
Alas, the Pentax FF dream was not to be.
In October 2003, Pentax canceled the camera, stating "The cost of manufacturing the prototype SLR 6-megapixel digital camera meant it was not a viable product for our target market."
Rumors say that the Philips sensor of that time was problematic and costs for the project was mounting.
The great German maker Contax took up the challenge with this same sensor on the Contax N, and fell into financial ruin.


Pentax users would be left without a FF DSLR for the next 16years.


The K1

Like an old friend returning by jenkwang, on Flickr


and hence the review starts.......
 

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pinholecam

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#2

Pocket Rocket by jenkwang, on Flickr

What Pentax has put into their first FF DSLR has been everything in their capability except the kitchen sink.

There are tons of review sites out there that does nothing but have a checklist of features for the consumer of today.
A 'football cards' of such where one matches off one spec of a camera over another.

I much prefer a Real World Review.
Take the camera out in the field, use it in real situations, and talk about the impressions and results.



So lets get the boring spec sheet list out of the way ASAP. :)


Key Specs
FF format
Magnesium Alloy Body
36 MP: 7360 x 4912
14 bit bit depth
Image Stabilization : 5 Way Sensor shift
3.2" Tilting LCD (1,037,000)

ISO 100-204800
-3ev low light focusing capability
Wifi Capable
Built in GPS


Unique Features
Sensor Shift Resolution
Astrotracer
Interval shooting
Star Trail mode shooting




For a more thorough spec list, try these :
http://www.pentax.com/en/k-1/
http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/pentax-k1/pentax-k1A.HTM
https://www.ephotozine.com/article/pentax-k-1-expert-review-28884
 

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pinholecam

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#3
Camera and Layout


The Bali Travel Kit by jenkwang, on Flickr

Whats attractive with Pentax to me has always been the smallish primes that are available and a design philosophy that is weighted towards a pictorial analysis of the lenses over a purely numbers based design which is so common nowadays.
A set of smallish primes makes up the Bali travel kit (Samyang 14/2.8; M20/4; FA31/1.8 ltd; FA77/1.8 ltd) - UWA; Wide; Short tele.




20160604-IMGP2428 by jenkwang, on Flickr

A large number of dial and button options are given on the K1 for easy and fast access.
5 User modes
A Quick access dial for EV compensation; HDR; bracketing; ISO; etc
and a third control dial on the top left to set the values on the quick access dial.
 

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pinholecam

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#4

20160604-IMGP2437 by jenkwang, on Flickr
Side view showing off the AF option buttons; RAW/JPG mode and lock buttons


The K1 offers a lot of features that are well thought out photographically in the flow of taking a photo.
I found that I seldom needed to access a quick menu or any menu digging once the camera settings have been set up.


20160604-IMGP2431 by jenkwang, on Flickr
Here's an example, the various ways of releasing the via the IR remote. (immediate; with a 3s timer delay; with multi shot enabled)




20160604-IMGP2432 by jenkwang, on Flickr

Even bracketing allows various way of firing off and in precise 0.3ev steps for up to 5ev.
I often found it useful if I forgot (or was lazy to find the IR remote) to just use the time release for EV bracketing.
 

doyle

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Mar 9, 2011
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#5
Nice review. Camping to see more of the real life feedback and picture
 

maverickh

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Mar 22, 2009
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#6
Yes, finally we have the much anticipated Real World review for the K-1. Out in the field, in this case the romantic and picturesque tourist hotspot of Bali. Rather than then usual tourist attractions, I believe JK will also include some out of the ordinary street photography in this review. ;) Hope to read your reviews and see the Image quality of pictures which the K-1 is able to produce.
 

jaiyen

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Jun 22, 2011
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#8
Appreciated the time to do all these for the community...great effort
 

pinholecam

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#9

20160604-IMGP2441 by jenkwang, on Flickr
Camera size is really very compact for a FF DSLR, especially one with its set of specs and features, here, its shown on top of a typical handphone (Redmi Note 3 in this case)



20160604-IMGP2436 by jenkwang, on Flickr
For many other functions that are not on the buttons or in many cases just providing another way to access them is the Quick Menu screen.
Shown here is also the Astro Tracer feature, which allows the K1 to track astro shots by cleverly moving the sensor shift mechanism of the camera, eliminating the need for large tracking setups.




20160604-IMGP2434 by jenkwang, on Flickr
Featuring how many ways the camera allows the shooting of the Multi-Exposure mode.
Very useful for blending in car light trails, smoothing out water when there is no ND filter at hand, etc.



20160604-IMGP2435 by jenkwang, on Flickr
The Star Stream mode allows the shooting of star trails user customization.
 

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pinholecam

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#10

Single shot showing off the good DR of the K1


What always stands out once I hold a Pentax DSLR is how solid it feels.
The K1 is no different.
There is just something in the compactness of the build and the choice of materials from the rubberized grip areas to the magnesium allow body down to the dials that make it feel like a tank.


The grip is nice and deep.
Camera feels hefty but thats commensurate with a DSLR of its class.
Once I put on a lens, the balance feels good and I forget about the heft.
 

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pinholecam

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Jul 23, 2007
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#12

Working thru the surf by jenkwang, on Flickr
Rainy morning at Kusamba Beach; Though I did not have a weather sealed lens on, it was comforting to know the camera was and I just turned the camera face down and let the light rain pelt on the camera rear.


The K1 is nicely weather sealed like previous versions of its flagship DSLRs.
Though I did not have a weather sealed lens with me on this trip (kicking myself for not bringing one), in light rain, it was still a good thing to let the rain pelt on the back of the camera knowing that no harm would come about.
Too bad I had kept the weather seal lens at home, since I would have been able to really move in close if I had one on the camera.

In fact, THIS is how close I got on my weather sealed K30:

Yes, THIS is Pentax K30 WR! by jenkwang, on Flickr
(crazy usage actually since camera is weather sealed, not waterproof; so pls don't try this :D )


The sensor provides a good dynamic range to pull/push the shadows and highlights.
So long as I shot to keep the highlights from not clipping (or by just a bit), I'd be able to recover a lot from the shadow areas.
Very convenient.


Here's an example :

There was quite a difference in brightness between the sky and the salt water buckets.
If I specifically exposed for the dark colored earth and buckets, the sky would be blown.
But exposing such that the highlights were not clipped.


I was able to recover the darker areas in Lightroom to better reflect the scene I saw.
 

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jaiyen

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Jun 22, 2011
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#13

Working thru the surf by jenkwang, on Flickr
Rainy morning at Kusamba Beach; Though I did not have a weather sealed lens on, it was comforting to know the camera was and I just turned the camera face down and let the light rain pelt on the camera rear.

The K1 is nicely weather sealed like previous versions of its flagship DSLRs.
Though I did not have a weather sealed lens with me on this trip (kicking myself for not bringing one), in light rain, it was still a good thing to let the rain pelt on the back of the camera knowing that no hard would come about.
Too bad I had kept the weather seal lens at home, since I would have been able to really move in close if I had one on the camera.

In fact, THIS is how close I got on my weather sealed K30:

Yes, THIS is Pentax K30 WR! by jenkwang, on Flickr
(crazy usage actually since camera is weather sealed, not waterproof :D )

The sensor provides a good dynamic range to pull/push the shadows and highlights.
So long as I shot to keep the highlights from not clipping (or by just a bit), I'd be able to recover a lot from the shadow areas.
Very convenient.

Here's an example :

There was quite a difference in brightness between the sky and the salt water buckets.
If I specifically exposed for the dark colored earth and buckets, the sky would be blown.
But exposing such that the highlights were not clipped.

I was able to recover the darker areas in Lightroom to better reflect the scene I saw.
This K1 DR really really good. Thx jk for showing.
 

hjbyeo

Senior Member
May 5, 2006
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East
#14
Thanks for sharing with us JK. Good stuff!
 

doyle

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Mar 9, 2011
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#15
Nice review. Too bad there isnt any K1 in the shop left i last heard.. Any macro shot for K1 FF .. Is it true depth of field is thinner
 

pinholecam

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Jul 23, 2007
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#16
Nice review. Too bad there isnt any K1 in the shop left i last heard.. Any macro shot for K1 FF .. Is it true depth of field is thinner
Thanks
DOF is only thinner if for the same f-stop, the distance to subject is closer (for the same framing).
 

pinholecam

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Jul 23, 2007
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#17
Since I am only using older screw drive lenses and not their newer SDM lenses, my context of AF will be for such only.


Not much trouble here witht the AF and shake reduction (SR) in the lower light of the cloudy morning with a short telephoto


AF speed is certainly rather quick from my usage (in actual use for this Bali trip).
In the salt farmer village for example, I found that the camera could keep up with the activity in the area.



Porters busy loading cargo up boats that will ferry supplies to nearby islands. - not much problems with AF keeping up with the activity


One downside of the K1 AF to me are the location of the AF points.
I found it too clustered into the center of the frame, making any shot that I did with the subject off the AF areas needed a quick focus+re-compose.
This is totally fine for non-moving subjects, but for moving ones like in the salt farmer village with all the moving people, it would have been better if there are more AF points further out the frame.



The K1 has a very impressive -3ev sensitivity for its AF. (most systems stop at -1ev or -2ev).
This certainly helps in the very dimly lit interior of the Bali market.


-3ev AF capability help here.
To put it in context, its an ISO3200, f2.2, 1/50 shot


Its not blazing fast in such challenging conditions, but it does work with confidence and no hunting.
A big plus to me since a market like this is a treasure of people/candid photos.
 

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pinholecam

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Jul 23, 2007
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#18
Pixel Shift

This is certain one of the new and interesting features added for a FF camera.

Conventional sensors mostly use a Bayer color array to make out color for the sensor. (Sigma's Foveon/Quattro sensors being the exception with their own drawbacks)
As a result, what we typically see on such sensors will not be a per pixel representation of an image but one that has been split up into 4 color pixels (G,R,B,G) and then recombined using mathematical interpolation.

Pentax Pixel shift goes around this limitation by taking 4 shots while shifting the sensor by one pixel pitch each time, thereby capturing all color information onto the same pixel.
This is then recombined as a per pixel sharp image.


Image from Imaging Resource


A tripod must be used, and the result with the proper workflow (I will elaborate in a later post) is impressive.


IMGP0824-PixS by jenkwang, on Flickr

100% crops with same processing for both images. (do check out the actual samples on my Flick or download them for a clearer look )
No Pixel Shift

IMGP0824-No_PixS-crop1 by jenkwang, on Flickr


With Pixel Shift

IMGP0824-PixS-crop1 by jenkwang, on Flickr

It just adds to fine detail which would otherwise be just be a rough interpretation due to the Bayer array interpolation.
 

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Jun 22, 2012
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singapore
#19
Thanks JK for the comprehensive review and real-life photo shots. Certainly makes those without a K1 now even more 'gian' for it. ;)
 

oceanpriest

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Apr 24, 2010
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#20
power review of power camera from power photographer. :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
 

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