Recommended Pentax Gear 2016

A selection cameras and lenses that stand out

By PF Staff in Gear Guides on Nov 14, 2016

The Pentax/Ricoh camera and lens lineups have evolved tremendously since last year's recommended gear guide, so the time has come for us to make new recommendations for our community.

Collectively, our writers and reviewers have handled every Pentax digital camera as well as every digital-era lens available for Pentax, and then some. Each piece of equipment found in this guide has been carefully selected as something that stands out through performance, value, or both.  Whether you are looking to expand your Pentax kit or simply planning to get a new camera, we are confident that you will be very happy with our recommendations!

Of course, we can't recommend everything— if an item you've been eyeing isn't on our list, it could still very well be right for you.  As always, you can get personalized gear advice on the forum.

Industry Changes

Most notably, back in February, Pentax finally entered the full-frame DSLR market after making only APS-C bodies for well over a decade.  The Pentax K-1, a 36-megapixel beast, has proved not only to be popular among existing Pentax owners, but it also attracted quite a big crowd of newcomers to the brand.  The camera was accompanied by five high-quality zoom lenses (including the "trinity" of F2.8 zooms), with five more lenses slated to make a debut as early as 2017.

On the APS-C front, the new Pentax K-70 bridges affordability with premium image quality: it is the first sub-flagship DSLR to offer 14-bit RAW image capture, and it does this at a lower introductory price than last year's K-S2.  The K-S2 has in turn dropped in price to become an excellent option for beginners.  While crop format enthusiasts are still waiting for a "true" replacement for the high-end K-3 II (a minor update to the recently-discontinued K-3 from November, 2013), the former continues to deliver reliable performance and excellent durability.

Many of our readers might not be aware of a third big development for Ricoh Imaging: the Theta system, which reached Amazon's #1 best-seller rank earlier this year (among compact cameras).  These innovative 360-degree cameras can capture your entire surroundings at the push of a button.  They can be used standalone or controlled via a smartphone/tablet, and the photos can be viewed as traditional JPEGs or interactive spheres.  The Theta's form factor and its social aspect is the key to its success.  The latest models, the Theta S and SC, use two high-resolution sensors and bright lenses to deliver excellent detail and low noise. Learn more in our Theta S review.

Where to Shop

If you live in the US, shop with confidence at B&H Photo and Adorama: the two largest Pentax retailers that stock the entire Pentax lineup year-round.  Amazon also carries the majority of Pentax products, though not all sellers are authorized.  If you're in the UK, WEX Photographic carries the full Pentax lens line.  If you live elsewhere in the EU, UK-based SRS Microsystems will ship straight to your door, or you can opt for one of dozens of local retailers.  Users in Australia and New Zealand can order directly from the official Pentax distributor, CR Kennedy. Orders under $1000 (AUD) can also be imported to Australia from the aforementioned US retailers with no added GST. If you're in Canada, you can order most items from B&H and Adorama with little or no customs fees, or shop at local photo retailers such as Henry's.

Links to learn more or to order are included alongside each item in this guide. However over the "check current pricing" button to view current prices.  Lastly, don't miss our in-depth reviews, which are linked in the listings below.

The prices quoted in this guide are US full retail prices as of November, 2016.  Prices may vary in different markets and during sales.  See our deal finder for a list of cameras and lenses currently on sale!

10 Things that Make the Pentax K-1 Unique

Why the K-1 is a true photographer's camera

By PF Staff in Gear Guides on Mar 30, 2016

At first glance, the Pentax K-1 catches the eye thanks to key features like its full-frame sensor, ISO 204800, pixel shift resolution, built-in 5-axis stabilization, backwards lens compatibility, and so on.

But what really makes the K-1 special?  Let's take a look beyond the obvious to discover things that make the K-1 is a true photographer's camera. 

Outdoor-Friendly Monitor Brightness Adjustment

When shooting in bright sunlight, a camera's LCD monitor can often be hard to see.  Similarly, at night, the screen's backlight alone can be blinding or distracting.

In anticipation of these conditions, the "down" button on the K-1's four-way controller is now customizable.  By default, it provides quick access to a new outdoor brightness setting that can dramatically dim or brighten the screen backlight.  Even in the harshest light, the LCD is easily viewable when the +2 setting is enabled. 

This setting can also be added to the control panel.

Outdoor View screen brightness changes

When it comes to outdoor viewing, with the K-1 you no longer have to adjust the intensity of the backlight through the setup menu, which was a slow, tedious, and less effective process on earlier bodies.  Of course, the K-1 retains these additional screen settings should you wish to fine tune the default backlight intensity or color hue.

Comprehensive Pentax Lens Guide

Master the different Pentax lens series

By johnhilvert in Gear Guides on Mar 21, 2016

You may know that all Pentax K-mount lenses ever made can be attached to all Pentax DSLRs, including the mirrorless K-01 and the latest full-frame K-1. But evolutionary differences between each lens series mean that supported features may vary. This guide will make you an expert on Pentax lenses by first explaining lens terminology, then highlighting the main differences between past and present lens generations.

Pentax K-1 Viewfinder Tour

Overview of new customization features

By PF Staff in Gear Guides on Mar 11, 2016

The Pentax K-1 is the first DSLR from Pentax to feature a LCD overlay in the viewfinder.  Thanks to this, not only are autofocus points displayed more clearly, but if multiple points report being in focus simultaneously, they can all be shown.  In addition, a number of other viewfinder components can be shown and customized.  See the video below for a demonstration of the K-1's viewfinder features:

The diagram below depicts the K-1's viewfinder with everything visible:

Pentax K-1 Viewfinder Diagram
Pentax K-1 Viewfinder Diagram

Recommended Pentax Gear 2015

Staff-picked top cameras, lenses, and accessories

By PF Staff in Gear Guides on Mar 25, 2015

Our staff writers have handled every Pentax DSLR ever made as well as virtually every lens and peripheral currently available for Pentax cameras.  Each piece of equipment found in this gear guide  has been carefully selected as something that delivers an optimal blend of performance and value.  Whether you are looking to expand your Pentax kit or simply planning to upgrade to a new camera, we are re confident that you will be very happy with our recommendations!

If you live in the US, shop with confidence at B&H Photo and Adorama: the two largest Pentax retailers that stock the entire Pentax lineup year-round.  If you're in the UK, WEX Photographic also carries the full Pentax lens line.  If you live elsewhere in the EU, UK-based SRS Microsystems will ship straight to your door.  Users in Australia and New Zealand can order directly from CR Kennedy. Orders under $1000 (AUD) can also be imported to Australia from the aforementioned US retailers with no added GST. If you're in Canada, you can order most items from B&H and Adorama with little or no customs fees, or shop at local photo retailers such as Henry's.

Links to learn more or to order are included alongside each item in this guide. Also, don't miss our in-depth reviews, which are linked in the listings below.

The prices quoted in this guide are US retail prices as of March, 2015.  Prices may vary in different markets.

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