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At $346, the Pentax K-01 Mirrorless Makes a Comeback

The most affordable APS-C mirrorless camera out there! · 11-06-2012 · By PF Staff in Photographic Resources

With the announcement of the K-01 back in February, Pentax became the first camera manufacturer to have one of their cameras designed by a celebrity industrial designer (Marc Newson).  While we'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not the camera looks appealing, Pentax did themselves admit at Photokina that the K-01 didn't get the kind of response that they had expected from photographers.  Initially, sales were slow, and many classified this camera as a joke simply because of its looks.  It's launch price of $749 (body-only) is about what everyone expected, and as such there wasn't much appeal to this camera apart from the fact that it takes the same lenses as Pentax DSLRs and vintage film cameras.

Now, the tides have turned completely.  Pentax USA has slashed the price of the K-01 to a mind-blowing $346, and even at this low price it comes with a FREE case, SD card, and card holder at some retailers.  What does this move mean?  Simply put, Pentax wants to get this camera to sell.  We think they've been successful, as dozens of our forum members decided to pick one up this weekend (some even went as far as getting two bodies!).

More importantly, however, it also means that you can now get a camera with fantastic image quality for a fraction of what a comparable DSLR would cost (the Pentax K-30 is $749, the Pentax K-5 II is $1199, and the Nikon D7000 is $999; all three practically have the same sensor as the K-01).

Pentax K-01

Looks aside, the Pentax K-01 is a very capable camera.  With a 16.3 megapixel APS-C sensor, ISO 100-25,600, full-HD video at 30fps, and full P/A/S/M and RAW shooting capabilities, it doesn't lack much as far as features go.  The K-01 is currently the most advanced Pentax camera for shooting videos, as it supports focus peaking for easy manual focusing, an external microphone input, manual video controls, on-demand video AF, and a variety of framerates including 60FPS in 720p. To learn more about the K-01's performance and specifications, check out our in-depth Pentax K-01 review.

Pentax K-mount lens system

For those of you unfamiliar with Pentax cameras, the K-01 uses Pentax's K-mount, which is the same mount found on DSLRs and all film SLRs since the 1970's.  This makes the Pentax K-01 backwards-compatible with thousands of lenses, meaning that you'll practically always be able to find a lens that fits your needs.  No matter what your budget is, there will always be a K-mount lens for you; the cheapest lenses start at less than $5 used, while the fastest telephotos can cost as much as $10,000.  K-mount lenses come in a variety of flavors, including fully manual, manual focus, traditional autofocus, and silent SDM autofocus.  All these lenses are fully supported by the K-01; visit our Pentax lens database to learn more about the different Pentax lens series. See also our custom-tailored Pentax K-01 lens guide.

Regardless of whether or not you're a current Pentax user, the Pentax K-01 can't be overlooked at this new low price.  It has always been a solid performer, and thanks to the fact that it is now very affordable, it will be within reach for many new users.  You can now buy a DSLR-grade camera that's practically in the point-and-shoot price range.  And while we're pretty confident that this price will last, the camera probably won't, as Pentax hasn't hinted at a successor at all so far.

If you currently own Pentax lenses, then you can almost not go wrong with the K-01 body w/ free goodies (bag, card, memory case).  If you don't, then here's a list of the kits that are currently available:

In addition to these lenses, you may also wish to take a look at affordable manual primes, such as the A 50mm F2 (~$25 used) or M 50mm F1.7 (~$40).

We hope to see many new K-01 owners on the forum in the coming weeks!  B&H, Adorama, Amazon, and the Pentax Web Store all have it at the new price.

Already have a K-01 or got one on order?  Post in our Pentax K-01 forum!

PF Staff's avatar
About the author: Various writers regularly contribute articles to the Pentax Forums homepage blog. More recent articles are published under each author's forum username. We hope you enjoy our guides and news coverage!

Tags: k-01, k01, mirrorless, price drop, $346, aps-c, camera

More Posts in Photographic Resources | More Posts by PF Staff

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leok [Delete] Jan 7th, 2013 3:50PM

Great price, not sure Pentax are making money on it but they need to clear stock.

I hope the K-02 is styled by someone who understands what a cera should look like.

A retro K1000ish version could be interesting.

Adam [Delete] Nov 12th, 2012 7:39PM

@John- I don't think CCD vs CMOS has anything to do with shake reduction, as far as I'm aware at least. You can always just disable movie SR.

John Araki [Delete] Nov 12th, 2012 5:23PM

This price has me intrigued, but does anyone know if there was a fix for the SR/video issue - I remember hearing that the SR was ultimized for a CCD sensor while the K01 is a CMOS, which means jello is amplified more than w/out SR active.

Biro [Delete] Nov 10th, 2012 5:53PM

I have the K-5 and Q, and just gave my K200D to my niece. I am tempted to pick up a K-01 body at this price point. But the lack of an EVF still holds me up and would no doubt limit the camera to indoor use for me. Gryphon's suggestion is no doubt a good option for many. But for me, a hoodman kind of defeats the idea of the K-01. Too bad because the current price is a fabulous deal for those who have no problem working with the rear LCD.

GryphonPhotoCat [Delete] Nov 9th, 2012 2:59PM

For those who keep saying they'd never use it with out a EVF.... Get a hoodman with the eye cup. You can attach it to the camera with bands or with their little mount system that connectes to the hot shoe... and compose and review your images with no glare as much as you want. I started using it before with my K5 just to be able to see my images better but have also started using it occasionally for fine focus using live view during macro work. It does make the camera a bit larger... but for the price it's going for now.

userage [Delete] Nov 8th, 2012 8:03AM

Wish I was in the US, thats so damn cheap :(

bigjonnee [Delete] Nov 7th, 2012 10:51AM

In for one with 40mm lens! I was very disappointed with K-30, and K-5 II because I wanted my next upgrade to be good for shooting video. I even started looking at Canon's (T4i) and Sony (Nex 5n) but this deal saved the day! I don't like the “design” at all, but it is compatible with my lenses, and dirt cheap especially with the 40mm XS, so yay.

WMW [Delete] Nov 7th, 2012 1:45AM

Just as a point of order, the K-01 is not The most affordable APS-C mirrorless camera out there at least not on the part of planet I call home. That distinction goes to the Samsung EV-NX100. Priced at $314 USD w/18-55mm kit lens through Amazon in the USA.

I only mention it because as of 6 November I run both systems. Infact, it was on account of the recent price plunge on the K-01 here in the USA that I went with purchasing the body (already have a K-5 as my dslr). The cost of the K-01 body was less than the cost of the NX 20mm lens I had planned on buying. Since I maintain a few DA LTDs including the 21mm, I thought it would be worth investing in the K-01.

Although I've only done a few test shots with the K-01 with the DA LTD 21mm, I can attest to its capabilities. The focus is fast and accurate for my style of imaging, and the IQ certainly rivals what I've achieved with the K-5. Even if its not as svelt a system as the NX series, it certainly feels more solidly constructed and is definitely heavier than my Samsung NX100 & NX200 bodies. It also feels heavier than my NX20.

I hope Ricoh/Pentax sells a ton of these cameras. Despite the polarizing looks of the unit, the output (IQ) is what matters to me. That and the portability factor along with what I perceive to be value in terms of money spent vs. IQ and camera features.

icy [Delete] Nov 7th, 2012 12:50AM

No price drop in Vietnam :(

Mr_Canuck [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 11:32PM

Good deal. Thinking about getting one. But... the K-01 was doomed from the start.

The whole problem with the K-01 is that is a complete one-off. It's a stumbling block in the Pentax universe. Technically it shares a mount and sensor with the Pentax dslr's, but in terms of design, identity, ethos and product positioning, it's utterly in left field. There was nothing to foreshadow it, there is nothing to build momentum around it. It just confuses the customer, and undermines their willingness to commit to it. Everything should point back to a core set of ideas. This was an experiment in a vacuum, with no integration in the Pentax system, the Pentax brand, and certainly Pentax industrial design. This makes it bad design. When you're designing for a company with a system, you need to enhance that system. Now, it could have potential to influence Pentax in the future, but clearly there's no evidence that'll happen. The right hand is not talking to the left. They aren't doing their brand or their customers a service with this convoluted approach. Whomever wrote the brief for Marc Newson, and failed to direct him, should be turfed. No wonder they cut the price in half.

sam-joseph [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 11:06PM

Add on the EVF that I've got on my new Panasonic FZ200, and I'll buy one tomorrow, or the next day.

cyclone3d [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 11:06PM

wed7 - still some on Amazon as of this post

wed7 [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 10:10PM

Tempted to get the 40XS bundle however, all online stores are on back-ordered status...

Pheo [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 6:21PM

Still £350 in the UK, would be tempted as a second body at £250

dtra [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 2:56PM

No yellow (body only) stock for customers outside the US, I was definitely thinking about an impulse buy :D.

robtcorl [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 1:01PM

Thanks a lot, I wasn't too much interested in this camera, until now:)
I do really want the 40mm XS lens to use on my K5, but the best price I can find, individually, is around $250.
So for $200 more I can have the K-01 too.
yellow or black is now the question.

RonHendriks1966 [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 12:49PM

Who knows, maybe pricedumping was not possible before due to price-arrangements with the designer. It's a great camera, so get it while you can for this price.

ikon.st [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 12:47PM

Yup. Finally got one as an extra for my K-5 :)

frooggy [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 12:45PM

At that price for the sensor, I had to grab one also. Yellow for me. Fells pretty nice to me so far.

Edgar_in_Indy [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 11:31AM

This drastic price drop is just more proof that the K-01 was a dud from the start.

I was thinking of buying one used off the Marketplace 3 or 4 months ago to hold me over until I bought a K-30, and the seller was wanting $550 for the body. I offered $450 because I had a feeling the price would continue to free fall. The seller declined my offer, and now I'm glad he did.

But I still like the camera, and I might pick one up used on eBay eventually when it's selling in the $200 - $250 range.

EdwardConde [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 11:28AM

I wanted to pick this up as a 2nd body and something i could take on family trips. But I couldn't pass up on a deal on the Olympus E-PL1 on amazon... but this is great price for the body!!

ducdao [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 10:51AM

The price drop is probably due to Marc Newson waiving his design and royalty fees ;)

Gareth.Ig [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 10:06AM

Like the cost reduction with the Q and then subsequent launch of the Q10, I think Pentax is having a look at what the market appetite is for an APS-c mirrorless at this or comparable price point. What we are seeing is Pentax getting a handle on the market. Will a future camera look like the K-01, unlikely. Will it use K-Mount? Who knows. But, will Pentax give up on this market segment altogether? I don't see how they can.

laolao [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 9:04AM

same here, got one package for $346 on ebay with ebucks. Will see how it works comparing with those e-pl2 or similar...

Medium FormatPro [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 8:46AM

To ofer4; just like most electronic items that have development costs, most of that r&d cost is placed into the initital release of the product. Much as it used to cost about nine hundred dollars to purchae a laptop with an Intel i3 chip; today it costs less than six hundred for a laptop with a quad core Intel i5.

miltona580 [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 8:08AM

I love the look of the yellow one. I got one myself at this price.

ofer4 [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 8:02AM

Great news! But this change also should be a reminder of the margins involved in the sale of these items. Somebody is still making money at $346, which means that $749 was a tasty little markup for either Pentax or the dealer (or both).

mrNewt [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 7:49AM

I truly don't understand why people are calling this an ugly camera ... I actually always loved the way it looks!

And I think this might my Christmas present if stays at this price until then :).

giordano [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 7:35AM

PENTAX K-01 lens-interchangeable digital camera wins Gold Prize at German Design Award 2013

happy to see that the this ugly duckling has some fan, at last ... I personally own one and aesthetic consideration aside, I really like it, I consider it a great camera, uncommon, fun and technologically convincing.

blackcloudbrew [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 7:33AM

Well I was almost one of those members rushing out to buy one this weekend. Instead I got the Q. Still want one though and at that price it's more than a bit interesting.

JPT [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 7:10AM

Pentax announced today that the K-01 won another design award - German Design Award 2013. I can't link to it here, but it shouldn't be hard to find if you search.

Paul the Sunman [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 5:33AM

Needs an EVF. I just don't get it with composing at arm's length in bright sunlight struggling to see anything on the screen. Of course, I see lots of people out there with point-and-shoot cameras or iPhones doing just that. Just doesn't work for me. K-01 with an EVF would be a very attractive option. K-02 anyone?

mickeyobe [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 5:12AM

A modern day, streamlined Brick.

Mickey

wed7 [Delete] Nov 6th, 2012 4:50AM

whoa!