A Viewfinder Darkly

Photography tips and tutorials

Pentax K1 my new camera

November 4 2016

by Philip Northeast

Digital photography  technology advances relentlessly, offering improvements in image quality with each new generation of digital sensor.

When to Upgrade

I don’t upgrade my DSLR with every new model as generally the differences  are not large enough for me to buy every new  model.  I seem to buy about very second new model DSLR  for my Pentax camera system.

Now it is time to add a new Pentax K1 to the camera bag to replace my Pentax K5 as  my first choice DSLR. What are the factors leading to the decision to buy the new K5?

camera body

The full frame sensor of a Pentax K1 unmasked.


Important New Features

The K1 offers a larger “full frame” digital sensor in a DSLR for the first time instead of the smaller  APS-C sensor used in all previous Pentax DSLRs.  This brings a number if image quality benefits, including increased resolution and reduced digital noise.


The large increase in resolution, up from the 16 Megapixels of the K5 to 36 megapixels, promises greater fine detail in the images. This level of resolution was found in digital medium format cameras not long ago.

noise test result

The image noise performance of my three Pentax DSLR’s, courtesy of DxOMark.com

Low Noise 

The larger digital sensor means larger individual photo receptors that collect more of the available light than smaller sensors. This means  less digital noise in the photographs. The DXO Mark noise  comparison demonstrates the difference between my current Pentax DSLRs and the K1.

camera controls

The to of the Pentax K1 showing some of the control options


This a new trend in DSLR capabilities and Pentax have joined in by including this capability in the K1. This seems to promise timely photo sharing and remote control in conjunction with apps on my mobile device.

GPS Tagging

This is a useful tool. I use Adobe Lightroom and it can use the location data in  the image file when sorting or selecting photo collections.

Lenses and Full Frame 

The move to a larger sensor has implications for lenses designed for APS-C cameras. The image they produce probably will not be large enough to take full advantage of the larger sensor. While they will definitely be useable to produce APS-C size images this does negates one of the main reasons for the upgrade.

But  I have been using Pentax SLR cameras since the 1970s I have a collection of Pentax lenses designed for 35mm film, the same size as a full frame digital sensor. Also some of my third party lenses are designed to work on a full frame sensor. Even though digital era Pentax lenses are for the smaller APS-C sensors, I have enough lenses to take advantage of the full size of the larger digital sensor on the K1 without spending a fortune on new full frame lenses.

Long term test

This is the start of a longer term exploration of the features and capabilities of the Pentax K1. The intention is to explore the why and where of the advanced features of the K1.This analysis is relevant to other high end DSLRs with similar features.

But for now I am waiting for mine to arrive.



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