Trying the Pentax K-01 … Midtown Men
Midtown Men at the Strand Capital in York, PA
ISO 3200, 40mm, f/2.8, 1/80 sec
A few articles ago I mentioned that I got rid of all of my cameras but one and that I planned to use only my Pentax K-5 … until last night. I have used my K-5 with no real problems and only two concerns. I no longer had a backup camera and I no longer had a more discreet camera to use when around people. A year ago Pentax started selling a new unusual camera … the K-01. It is a mirror-less camera that uses any Pentax lens they ever made in the K-mount. No other manufacturer has produced such a camera. All of the other manufacturers developed a separate line of lenses to fit their mirror-less designs to take advantage of being able to produce smaller lenses. With the line of small Pentax prime lenses this isn’t necessary. Pentax also decided to develop a uniquely designed camera and it hasn’t been accepted by the public. Some find it too different and thus it hasn’t sold well and the price has plummeted. Noting that I could get one for less than half of the original asking price and that it uses the identical battery, battery charger, and lenses that I have for my K-5 … and included the very small 40mm lens which I don’t have, I started wondering if it might be a good idea to get one so I ordered one. Since it came right before I was going to see Midtown Men I took it along to see how I liked it.
I figured that I may as well give it the ultimate test. The theater has a fluctuating camera policy but for this show the only limitation was “no flash.” Not knowing the policy ahead of time I didn’t want to take my K-5 along with a bag full of lenses and then find I could not take them inside, so I stuck the K-01 in my jacket pocket. Yes it did fit. One of the complaints about this camera is that it looks like and feels like a brick. I didn’t find that to be the case. It weighs about 115 gm more than my previous X100 but isn’t much different in size when using the 40mm lens. It also weighs about 180 gm less than my K-5 and is smaller since it doesn’t have the viewfinder hump. If you have a negative opinion based on what some reviewers have written, I suggest that you compare it to a camera that you are familiar with. The web site Camerasize.com is a great site to compare the size, weight, etc. of cameras. You can pick almost any camera made and see how it looks from different views. Check it out.
From my reviews of the camera I found that the quality of the K-01 images is probably the best that can be had for the price. I have tried various micro 4/3 size sensor cameras and I didn’t like the IQ at high ISOs. That is what drove me back to using the Pentax K-5 which, I think, has the best IQ for its size and price of any camera currently sold.
Strand Capital décor
ISO 1600, 40mm, f/2.8, 1/80 sec.
Leaving the Strand at night
ISO 6400, 40mm, f/2.8, 1/25 sec.
Would I buy the camera if I didn’t have a selection of Pentax lenses? Maybe not. I had no problem with the ergonomics while using the very small 40mm lens but I would only use it with prime lenses since it has no viewfinder and would be hard to hold steady with a long heavy zoom lens. I like having a viewfinder but can use a LCD to compose my pictures when the sun isn’t a problem and I am only using a small lightweight lens. It would be nice if the K-01 was smaller but I have decided that its’ size is not an issue for me since I only plan to use it with a short prime lens and I can still fit it in a jacket pocket or small bag. If you want a true small pocket camera you will have to pay more for lower IQ. It focuses slower than the K-5 but I didn’t find it to be a problem in these low light situations (I was using the software revision Ver : 1.01).
I think I will keep it because of its low relative cost for another spare battery and charger plus the 40mm lens and a backup camera for my Pentax K-5 system. In addition I am already familiar with the Pentax system and know what I can and cannot do with the images. My only doubts arise from the fact that it is sufficient but doesn’t have that mojo that makes me desire to carry and use it. In addition it is money spent that could be saved for a future camera yet to be designed. I will probably only use it when I really need something smaller and lighter than the K-5 or when I don’t want to risk losing the K-5 or when I have different prime lenses on both cameras and take both in a bag so that I can shift back and forth without changing lenses.
As an avid bargain hunter, this is very interesting indeed. I think you’re right that already having some Pentax lenses is a big part of the value proposition. I’ve kept my Pentax lenses over the years and use them with m4/3. I would actually bite at this except I’m miserable without a viewfinder.