The Amazing High-ISO Video Performance of the Pentax KP

Sample video footage at various sensitivity settings

By Albert Siegel in Hands-On Tests on May 18, 2017

When it comes to video, the new Pentax KP may not seem like a major update at first look, let alone cutting edge, as the specifications hardly seem any different than the K-3 II. You need to look beyond the spec sheet to get an idea of why I consider this to be the best Pentax camera so far.

Yes, I realize compared to the K-3 II it's still a 24 megapixel sensor, the autofocus points have not been increased, the maximum mechanical shutter speed is a bit slower, but in reality the KP is a vast improvement in these areas and more. The still images from the new KP sensor are already cleaner than full-frame from just a couple of generations ago. The shutter speed is also faster if you use the electronic shutter. But the area where the KP really shines is video quality.

The Pentax KP is by far the very best Pentax camera for video and one that compares quite well with the competition. The high ISO performance in video is just incredible and reason enough to buy the KP no matter which Pentax body you own, except perhaps the K-1 which carries an inherent advantage due to the sensor size.

Previous crop models struggled at anything near their maximum ISO of 3200, but the KP gives clean video up to 6400, very good at 12800, and usable if a little noisy at the upper limit of 25600. This is the first Pentax camera that I can say with complete confidence that truly is excellent for video.  Pentax owners no longer need to look over the fence with envy (unless you really want/need 4K) for great DSLR video.  This improvement can in part be attributed to the newer sensor and noise reduction hardware that's in the KP.

But describing video quality without seeing it is like listening to a wall to hear what color it is, so with that in mind, please take a look at the following video to see for yourself.

Yes, electronic stabilization is still the only option, but Ricoh has hinted that mechanical video SR will make a return in the KP and K-1 through an upcoming firmware update.

Please post any questions or comments and I'll do my best to answer them. And before you ask, yes, I will find out about clean HDMI output out as soon as I get a cable.  Unlike other Pentax cameras with an HDMI port, the KP requires a special SlimPort USB adapter for video output.

You'll also be able to learn more about the Pentax KP in our upcoming in-depth review!

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