Pentax K-01 Officially Announced

"An Industry First" - "A K-5 with no mirror at half the price"

By PF Staff in Pentax Announcements on Feb 2, 2012
Pentax K-01 Officially Announced

We are happy to be among the first to report the official specifications and photos of the new, affordable ($749 MSRP) Pentax K-mount mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, the K-01!  Despite rumors that said otherwise, "K-01" turned out the official name of this camera!

An Industry First

The K-01 is a revolutionary industry first.  It is the first mirrorless camera to natively support a SLR lens lineup.  Since it employs the Pentax K-mount, it not only supports all current DSLR Pentax lenses, but also all legacy and manual lenses - over 200 of them, if you only count Pentax glass.  Open up the floor to third parties and we're looking at a camera that works with thousands of lenses, including M42 mount lenses via the M42 adapter, and medium format lenses via a 645 or 6x7 adapter.  The K-01 also has a new image processor which brings it on par with the most modern mirrorless cameras.

The K-01 and Pentax K-mount lens system (click to enlarge)

With respect to core technical specifications, the K-01 is vastly similar to the Pentax K-5, except that it supports higher video framerates (30/25/24 in full HD, 60/50/30/25/24 in 720p) and its maximum ISO has been reduced to 25,600.  It uses the same 16.28 megapixel sensor as the K-5.  It also has no optical (obviously) or electronic viewfinder- you must use the screen on the back of the camera.  Most exciting of all, however, the K-01 has a new image processing engine called PRIME M.

Pentax K-01 with new 40mm and 18-55mm lens

Pentax K-01 with old 18-55mm lens and new dedicated 40mm kit lens

The K-01 comes standard with a new, ultra-thin DA XS 40mm F2.8 kit lens, and can also be purchased together with the standard DA L 18-55mm and 50-200mm lenses or as a body-only for current K-mount lens owners.  We expect a larger series of XS lenses to become available in the near future; these lenses will be extra-compact and are said to only function with the K-01.

Price & Availability - (Pre-Orders already to be accepted today)

The K-01 will become available on March 15th.  In the US, the body-only MSRP will be $749, and the 40mm kit $899. In Europe, the kit price is 699 Euros. Compared to the launch price of the Pentax Q ($799), and the recent Fuji X-Pro1 ($1699), this new Pentax is not only a great deal, but also solid competition within the mirrorless market.  Remember- the image quality of the K-01's sensor ranks among the highest of any APS-C camera on the market.

The K-01 is will be available for pre-order today at Adorama and B&H.

Main Highlights and Complete Specifications

  • 16.28 Megapixel CMOS sensor form the K-5
  • New Prime M imaging engine
  • New quieter mechanical shutter
  • Optional H.264 video format
  • New advanced HDR mode
  • Full-HD video recording and 720p video recording at up to 60fps (a first for Pentax)
  • Native KAF2/KAF3 mount works with thousands of lenses, manual and modern alike
  • 81-point selectable contrast detect autofocus
  • 6FPS shutter delivering a 1/4000s maximum shutter speed
  • ISO 100-25,600
  • Sensor-shift shake reduction (SR)
  • Ultrasonic dust removal (DR)
  • 3 inch VGA LCD monitor with 170-degree angle of view ("921,000 dots")
  • Design by Marc Newson (but not weather-sealed)
  • 3 colors: silver & black, black, black & yellow
  • Weighs just 480 grams without the battery - lighter & smaller than the K-r
  • 12.1cm wide x 7.9cm tall x 5.9cm deep
  • Exclusive, stylish design by Marc Newson
  • Download full specification sheet

What Makes This Camera Special

We are very enthusiastic about the launch of this camera.  The K-01 isn't only an industry first with its SLR-compatible lens mount- it's the first of a generation of cameras which we believe will start dominating the market over the coming decades.  Furthermore, it is compatible with all Pentax SLR accessories (such as flashes, GPS units, etc.), and its new image engine should also improve the performance of the camera compared to current models, and hopefully its JPEG output as well.

For just $749, you can get the proven image quality of a $1495 DSLR in a smaller, prettier, and better-performing package, thanks to the new Prime M engine.  Sure, some might miss the viewfinder, and the weather sealing, but this doesn't mean that the K-01 isn't a step in the right direction for Pentax. Plus, the price is bound to fall over the course of the year.

And with the new 40mm lens, this camera's size can be reduced to close to that of a point and shoot.  It's big enough that it won't fall out of your hands when shooting, however (unlike the Q).

It's not a DSLR replacement for those of us who have DSLRs; it is something completely new which we hope will thrive alongside them.

We are looking forward to receiving a copy of this camera for evaluation purposes as soon as possible, in particular to see the menu system, test the button layout, and measure its AF and video performance. The 81-point contrast-detect autofocus system is by far the item of most interest, as such a system has yet to be deployed as the primary AF mechanism on a K-mount camera. Also, will the K-01 feature manual video controls and full-time autofocus?  One thing we have no doubts about, fortunately, is the stellar image quality- it can't help but be as good as that of the K-5! Want to see our review earlier?  Tell us so!

Back to the 70's

While the K-01 doesn't feature a fully-retro design, it does incorporate retro elements (such as a flat top plate) and has been exclusively designed for Pentax by Marc Newson. Pentax enthusiasts will also notice that the "K" in the name of the camera uses the same font as it did on the original K-series cameras:

Pentax K logos

Other Details

The K-01 will use the same charger, battery (D-LI90), adapter, and remote control as the Pentax K-5.  A genuine Pentax case will also be available.  Please refer to our K-01 forum for the complete specifications as well as the text of the official press release.

The SMC Pentax-DA 40mm F2.8 XS lens designed specially for the K-01 is just 9.2 millimeters thick- that's a new record for an interchangeable lens!  This was made possible because the image circle of the new DA 40mm is smaller than that of the DA 40mm limited, but still covers APS-C area

The K-01 unfortunately seems to have lost Sv and TAv modes, two popular modes found on higher-end Pentax DSLRs in which you set the sensitivity and the camera does the rest, and you set the shutter speed and aperture and the camera sets the sensitivity, respectively. A few K-5 features, such as 2-5 frame bracketing and EV shifts of up to 5, have been excluded as well, hinting at what target audience this camera is aimed for.

Image Gallery

Below we provide a few more views of Pentax's new camera. Click to enlarge, or view all official photos here.

Pentax K-01 Yellow

Aside: the strap may be a reference to an old Pentax TV commercial as seen on our Facebook page.

We want to hear what your thoughts are about this camera as well!  Please leave a comment or check out the various polls established in our K-01 forum.

Be sure to visit our new Pentax K-01 forum, as well as the official K-01 specifications thread and K-01 camera database entry.

First Hands-On Videos

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