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!

A Few Days with a Pentax KP Pre-production Camera

How does the KP fare in actual use?

By Albert Siegel in Hands-On Tests on Feb 22, 2017

The new Pentax KP is just hitting the market, but Ricoh was kind enough to provide me with a pre-production unit a few days ago.  Building upon my initial impressions from last week (link), I want to talk about my time using the camera for casual shooting.

The interface of the camera is very well-thought-out and the options are extensive.  I dare to say this camera offers far more than I expected considering it's not a "pro" model.  Personally, with the exception of maximum shutter speed in viewfinder mode and lack of a top LCD, I feel this camera offers so much more than what a top-end professional DSLR did less than a decade ago.  I guess some might say a that's a long time, but if you're like me, you tend to keep your gear as long as it can get the job done. Heck, I still use my original K-5 as my main body.

 I'm thrilled with the multiple customizable buttons, dials and quick menu.  This is by far the most customizable camera I've used.  And while it may seem intimidating at first, once you have everything set to your preferences, it truly becomes a personal camera.

A look at the Pentax KP from Ricoh's HQ

Pentax's new sleek yet powerful DSLR

By Albert Siegel in Hands-On Tests on Feb 16, 2017

The new Pentax KP won't hit the market for a couple of weeks, but Ricoh was kind enough to invite me to their headquarters in Tokyo for a quick hands-on with a pre-production unit.  I'll be provided a test unit sometime in the next week to give the camera a nice go (and I'll also report on it from CP+), but for now I'll share my first impressions without going into the technical details.

CP+ Report: Sigma & Tamron Plans for Pentax

By Albert Siegel in CP+ 2015 on Feb 17, 2015

Sigma and Tamron are the two largest third-party Pentax autofocus lens manufacturers.  As evidenced by our user lens reviews and in-depth reviews, a handful of Sigma and Tamron lenses are in fact highly-regarded and hold their ground against genuine Pentax counterparts.

Unfortunately, given the minuscule market share of the Pentax K-mount DSLR system, the aforementioned lens manufactures have somewhat neglected Pentax in recent years.  Sigma has only been releasing a subset of its recent lenses for Pentax, while Tamron has ceased releasing new designs completely.  We thus decided to speak with Sigma and Tamron representatives at CP+ 2015 to see if this might change in the future.

A Tamron representative at the show stated that Tamron is not considering any new Pentax products at the moment.  The company will continue to produce what current lenses it has for Pentax, but nothing new will be released.

This means that it is unlikely that we will ever see Pentax versions of some of Tamron's latest lens designs.  With that said, the SMC Pentax-DA 18-270mm F3.5-6.3 ED SDM is in fact a quietly-rebranded Tamron lens launched in 2012, so Pentax incarnations of future Tamron super zooms could potentially emerge through the same kind of partnership with Ricoh Imaging.

In response to a question about a modern universal lens mount, Tamron stated that it has been considered, but no firm decision has been made.

CP+ Report: Pentax 70-200mm and 150-450mm

By Albert Siegel in CP+ 2015 on Feb 16, 2015

For Pentax fans, this year's CP+ was by far one of the most interesting trade shows in recent years.  The last two years were a bit of disappointment, but this year Ricoh finally announced that a full-frame Pentax was close to release.  Not only that, but we also saw working samples of two recently-announced full-frame lenses.  We were able to give these a try and were pretty impressed.

Let’s start with the HD Pentax-D FA* 70-200 F2.8 ED DC AW.  The first impression is that it’s big and has quite a bit of heft, but at the same time has the usual Pentax feel of very high build quality– on par with premium lenses from the competitors.

Video: hands-on demo of the 70-200mm

The ergonomics of the lens are good.  In an unusual move for Pentax on their high-end lenses, the focusing ring is now located near the mount.  At the same time, since the zoom ring is now at the front of the lens, those accustomed to the reverse will need to get used to the new layout in their handling techniques.  Both the zoom and focus are internal.

The autofocus was difficult to judge.  Although the lens on display is close to being final and the only changes we imagine would be in firmware, the lighting at CP+ was quite poor and not the best for testing.  With that said, the autofocus did feel smooth and responsive.

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