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Pentax K-01

Build Quality 
User Interface 
Image Quality 
Reviews Views Date of last review
59 140,454 Tue August 4, 2020
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
97% of reviewers $371.40 8.78
Pentax K-01

Pentax K-01
Pentax K-01
Pentax K-01
Pentax K-01
Pentax K-01
Pentax K-01


The PENTAX K-01, introduced in 2012,†is an industry first. It is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (MILC) with an APS-C sized sensor (16 x 24 mm) that takes the full range of legacy K-mount Pentax SLR/DSLR lenses and accessories as well as the new XS series ultra-compact lenses. Recently introduced mirrorless cameras from other brands with APS-C (or smaller) sized sensors have lens mounts incompatible with the DSLR/SLR cameras of those brands. Pentax has once again shown its commitment to its customers by not obsolescing their lens collection.

See our In-Depth K-01 Review

See the Pentax K-01 Exclusive Overview

The Pentax K01 camera is designed by the well-known industrial designer Marc Newson, so Pentax has not just focused on the technical specifications, but also paid attention to the looks and feel of this new camera.

The K-01 uses the 16.3 MP Sony sensor similar to the one used in the PENTAX K-5, so the K-01 makes the excellent image quality and high dynamic range of the K-5 available in a more compact and less expensive package.

Being mirrorless, the K-01 uses the imaging sensor for auto-focus (contrast detect) and exposure metering, but has inherited the floating sensor shake reduction mechanism from the Pentax DSLRs. The autofocus system has 81 focus points.

The lens mount is of the KAF2 type without aperture ring coupler. This means that all current KAF/KAF2/KAF3 K-mount and legacy K-mount lenses can be used although the oldest generations, K- and M-series lenses, must be used with stop down metering. 645 and 67 format lenses can be used with adapters. The lens mount supports autofocus for drive shaft as well as SDM autofocus lenses. Lenses with the KAF4 mount variant introduced in 2016 cannot be used.

The K-01 offers a wide sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51,600, and a wide range of shutter speeds from 1/4000 sec to 30 seconds and the full range of shutter speeds are available at all F-stops, something that is not a given for a mirrorless camera.

A HDR (High Dynamic Range) shooting mode has been added to the exposure mode dial which makes it easy to engage this mode. The mode dial also has settings for scene modes of which there are 19, and Auto-Pict, a mode which based on an analysis of the scene will pick the optimal scene mode.

The K-01 has an upgraded video capability as compared to current and past Pentax DSLRs. It offers full HD-proportion movie recording at 1920 x 1080 pixels at 24, 25 and 30 fps, and 720p HD recording up to 60 fps, and a built-in stereo microphone. There is also a connector for an external stereo microphone.

The K-01 has no view finder. The LCD monitor is used for composing the image. There is a choice of four image aspect ratios: 3:2, 4:3, 16:9, and 1:1, and a 4x4 or 3x3 grid can be superimposed to aid composition.

Discuss the K01 in our Dedicated K-01 Forum

Camera Manuals:

Pentax K-01
©, sharable with attribution
Year Introduced
In Production
No (Discontinued 2013)
Current US Price
In-Depth Review
Click to Read
Sensor Format
Sensor Type
3264 x 4928 pixels
AA Filter
Super Resolution
Bit Depth
Minimum ISO
Maximum ISO
ISO Range
100 - 12,800 (100 - 25,600)
Exposure Modes
Auto Picture, Scene, HDR, P, Hyper Av, Hyper Tv, Av, Tv, TAv, M, B
Program Modes
Maximum FPS
Continuous Shooting
Hi: 6 fps up to six frames (JPG, RAW not possible), Lo: 3 fps until card is full (JPG)
Shutter Speeds (Auto)
30s - 1/4000s (stepless)
Shutter Speeds (Manual)
B, 30s - 1/4000s
Shutter Life
Exposure compensation
+/-3 EV
Auto bracketing
Exposure (3 frames), one-push EV bracketing
Expanded dynamic range
Highlight (auto, on, off), Shadow (auto, high, medium, low, off)
Exposure lock
Self timer
2 s and 12 s
Metering Sensor
Meter range
-1 to 21 EV
Meter pattern
Multi-Segment,Center Weighted,Spot
Mirror lock-up
Interval shooting
Up to 999 frames, from 1 sec to 24 hours between frames
HDR mode
Multiple exposures
Yes, average and additive, 2 to 9 shots
Pixel mapping
Scene Modes
19: Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Moving Object, Night Scene Portrait, Sunset, Blue Sky, Forest, Night Scene, Night Scene HDR (JPG only), Night Snap, Food, Pet, Kids, Surf & Snow, Backlight Silhouette, Candlelight, Stage Lighting, Museum
Exposure modes with M and K lenses are restricted to Av (with aperture always wide open) and M (with stop-down metering)
Lens Mount
KAF2 (no aperture coupler)
Composition Adjustment
Yes (sensor-shift SR)
Power zoom
Not supported
Supported Lenses
All Pentax K-mount lenses except for lenses with the KAF4 mount variant. Manual focus only with K-, M-, and A-series lenses. Stop down metering only with K- and M-series lenses. M42, Pentax 645 and Pentax 6x7 lenses with the appropriate adapters (stop down metering and manual focus only).
Lens correction
Distortion,Lateral Chromatic Aberration
Autofocus (viewfinder)
AF Points
Autofocus sensitivity
1 EV
Front/back focus correction
Not necessary
Autofocus with SDM
Autofocus assist
Dedicated LED
Viewfinder type
Diopter adjustment
AF Points in viewfinder
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
Digital preview
Use live view with histogram overlay
Live View
Focus Peaking
Back LCD
3 in. 921,000 dots
Weather resistant
Control wheels
Battery grip
Card slots
Dust removal
Yes, Sensor Shake DR
Dust alert
Memory card type
SD, SDHC (max. 32GB), SDXC, UHS-I speed class support
Size (W x H x D)
121 x 79 x 59 mm (4.8 x 3.1 x 2.3 in.)
480 g (16.9 oz), 560 g (19.8 oz) with battery and SD card
File format
Battery life
500 images (50% flash usage), Playback time 320 minutes
D-LI90 lithium-ion rechargeable
Built-in flash
Yes, GN 12 (ISO 100/m)
Sync speed
P-TTL flash
Flash functions
Auto discharge, On (leading curtain sync), Redeye reduction, Slow-speed sync, Trailing curtain sync, High-speed sync*, Manual*
* Available when combined with external flash
TTL flash
Flash exposure comp
-2 to 1 EV
Resolution / Framerates
1920x1080 (16:9 Full HD) at 30, 25, and 24 fps 1280x720 (16:9) at 60, 30, 25, and 24 fps 640x480 (4:3) at 30, 25, and 24 fps MPEG4 AVC/H.264 Recording time up to 25 minutes HDMI out
Exposure Modes
Movie mode restrictions
AF During Recording
Sound in Movie mode
Stereo (external mic) Stereo (built-in mic) Adjustable sound level
Via Accessory
USB 2.0, AV out, HDMI out (Type C, Mini), 3.5mm stereo mic
Latest Firmware
Version 1.05
User reviews
In-depth review
Focus peaking, Embed copyright information in EXIF, High ISO NR can be customized for each major ISO value, In-camera RAW development, The green and red buttons are customizable and can perform a variety of functions, hereunder start movie recording
Megapixels: 16.28 MP
ISO Range: 100 - 12,800 (100 - 25600 extended range)
Weight: 560 g with battery and SD card
FPS: 6 fps
LCD: 3 in., 921,000 dots
In Production: Buy the Pentax K-01
In-Depth Review: Read our Pentax K-01 in-depth review!

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New Member

Registered: August, 2018
Posts: 2

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: March 13, 2020 I can recommend the Pentax K-01: Yes | Price: $170.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Size
Cons: Rubber cover for the SD card compartment
Ergonomics: 9    Build Quality: 9    User Interface: 10    Autofocus: 7    Features: 9    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 8    New or Used: Used   

This camera grows on you. It works great with the DA 40mm f2.8 lens and it also works great with manual lenses like the Helios 44-2 58mm f2. Too bad Pentax discontinued this camera. Autofocus hunts in low light, and the camera lacks weather sealing but other than that it is a pleasure to use.
Senior Member

Registered: June, 2013
Location: Storrs-Mansfield, Connecticut
Posts: 220

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: December 12, 2019 I can recommend the Pentax K-01: Yes | Price: $330.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Compels me toward manual shots with my old glass
Cons: 25 min. video limitation
Ergonomics: 9    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 9    Autofocus: 9    Features: 10    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 9    New or Used: New   

Couldn't resist "The Brick". Lack of a viewfinder didn't bother me; I made one for when/if I need it. The K-01 is very similar to my K-50, so I can switch between them almost mindlessly.

Mostly, the K-01 (white) is my "art" camera for my old glass; using focus peaking--since I'm a Lady Geezer and need all the help I can get. The enhanced audio is great for music videos; I use it mostly for art shots, portfolio work, experimental, etc. The K-01 recreates that great feeling I once had of slow afternoons with my Spotmatic-F, my first love.

The K-50 (red) is primarily my "craft" camera--zooms, auto focus, digital features, travel, eBay, family fun, work records, etc. It fills a need for speed and dexterity and actually gets a lot of use.

Both cameras are a delight, and so feature rich that I'm sure I'll never manage to explore them all; any complaint I have is minor by comparison. I've managed, on a budget, to accrue quite a decent collection of gear which I'm sure I couldn't do with another brand. For example, the "kit" lens I got with my K-01 was the 40mm f2.8 XS! What a sweet little lens that is, and what a deal the package was! I hope Pentax keeps developing such cameras for loyalists like me.

Registered: November, 2011
Posts: 4,187

9 users found this helpful
Review Date: August 24, 2015 I can recommend the Pentax K-01: Yes | Price: $250.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent IQ, solid body, compact size
Cons: Slower than a DSLR for action shots
Ergonomics: 9    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 9    Autofocus: 9    Features: 9    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 8    New or Used: New   

Mirrorless done right!

The K-01 came in for a lot of criticism when it appeared on the
market around three years ago, but after owning a couple for
more than two years now (acquired cheaply, and carrying the
updated firmware), I have developed an increasing appreciation
of the value of the concept, and its usefulness for a number of
specific photographic tasks.

As a mirrorless camera, the K-01 has often been compared with
the Sony mirrorless cameras, which also have bigger sensors
than the four-thirds format. In this comparison, the K-01 has
been seen as too heavy and too bulky. However, the smaller size
of the Sony bodies becomes much less of an advantage when
bigger lenses are attached, and the Sony bodies have had
various problems, such as light leaks, because of their flimsy
construction. On the other hand, the K-01 is superbly made. The
weight of the body balances heavier lenses nicely, and offers a
lot of thermal inertia to avoid the inevitable heating that
follows continued use of live view. The big D-L190 battery is
interchangeable with other top-line Pentax cameras, and keeps
on powering the K-01 throughout a long session or trip.

Many photographers, familiar with (D)SLRs, are critical of the
LCD screen finder. It is what it is: a sensible compromise
between resolution and battery drain. Sure, it is not always
clearly visible in certain lighting conditions, even if the
screen brightness is cranked up to full. But every viewfinder
system has its disadvantages. Those of us familiar with
rangefinder film cameras are conscious of how a (D)SLR will
black out at the critical moment when the photograph is made.
On the other hand, rangefinder cameras are not very good for
closeups, or for lenses outside a limited range of focal
lengths. I have actually found the K-01 screen to be very
versatile in its applications. In panning shots, it is easier
to keep tracking a subject when the camera is held away from
the eyes, as compared to a (D)SLR in that situation. And for
portraits, you can keep eye contact with your subjects as you
make the photograph. For use in bright light, I've never
bothered with an LCD hood, just shading the screen with a hand.

OK, so for the photographer who has one or more DSLRs
available, maybe even a K-50 which is virtually a K-01 with a
prism, why use the K-01? Above all, the IQ. The very weak AA
filter, and the sensor that is still unrivalled at high ISO
settings, make for absolutely wicked image quality, especially
in a camera that costs less than 300 dollars.

Beyond that, there are three specific classes of lenses that
really work well with the K-01:

1. "Problem" zooms where you cannot adjust for front or back
focus accurately at all focal lengths or focus distances.
(Tamron 17-50, I'm looking at you here!) The CDAF of the K-01,
in the native live view for which the camera is designed, may
be a little slow, but it really nails the focus with these
problem lenses. Suddenly, their real life IQ begins to match
what the lab tests promise.

2. Fast lenses, especially in low light. Once I'd become
familiar with the K-01, I had no hesitation in acquiring an
A50/1.2. Focusing a lens like that with focus peaking is very
accurate, and then you can stop down to f/1.4 or f/1.8! With
shake reduction, the lack of mirror flip, and the big solid
body, shutter speeds of 1/15th second are completely usable.
Coupled with the maintained quality at high ISO, the K-01 with
a good fast lens is a low light demon.

3. M42 screwmount lenses. Once you have them focused fully
open, or using their generally excellent distance scales, you
can stop down to taking aperture and still get a good image in
the LCD screen. This is a distinct advantage of the K-01 over a
DSLR. Metering is automatic with the "Av" setting. Also, the
lack of mirror lets you use lenses, like the ISCO Westron
35/2.8, that may foul an SLR mirror when focused at infinity.

The boxy body of the K-01 ends up being very practical.
Certainly I have no trouble holding it, generally two-handed,
with one hand cradling the lens. You can rest the body easily
on a level surface, in landscape mode or even in portrait mode.
Standing it on end like that, I've found the access to the USB
connection to be the most user-friendly of all my Pentax
digital cameras. My one ergonomic gripe concerns the on/off
switch, which all too easily gets moved back on by the strap
when I put the camera back in its case.

Despite the lack of mirror flip, the shutter action on the K-01
is not quite as discreet as on the K-5. But it is certainly
quieter than its K-50 stablemate. I'd love to see an updated
K-01 appear, especially with a full frame sensor, but until
that (unlikely) event occurs, I'll keep on running up the
shutter count on the original model.
Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2011
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 73

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: February 3, 2015 I can recommend the Pentax K-01: Yes | Price: $399.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Compact, High IQ, low noise, pretty in white,
Cons: LCD in bright light, focusing with large lens
Ergonomics: 9    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 9    Autofocus: 7    Features: 9    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 8    New or Used: New   

Well I have had my k-01 for nearly two years. Bought it prior to a trip to Italy in the spring of 2013. I bought mainly for the lens and ended up really loving the camera

My initial impressions can be found here.

After nearly two years I have not grown tired of it. I recently upgraded to a used k-30 so I could gain the quality sensor in a DSLR. The funny thing is the DSLR feels odd after using the k01 as my main digital camera. My two biggest issue, seeing the lcd in bright light and the slow focusing speed on big lense, are the only reasons I chose the k-30. Don't me wrong the k30 is a great camera and I am loving it as well but I don't see my self not using the K01 because of it.

I have gotten use to all it other "quirks" that were criticized and it feels normal to me now.

My K-01 has traveled with me on two trips to italy and countless day trips. It has never missed a beat. All the button, dials and levers continue to perform flawlessly and it still feels as solid as the day I got it. I love using it with my manual focus lens because of the focus peaking. The 40mm XS lens that it came with is one of my favorites and I have used it on my other cameras as well.

Finally what this camera reminds me of are my 70s film camera. I have been shooting a bunch of film lately due to the acquisition of a Minolta XD11. I like the rectangular box feel that era cameras and the K01 sits right in line with them.

Highly recommended. I have notice the used prices have seem to be holding steady not much below the blow out prices. I am sorry this didn't work out for Pentax. It is a very solid, well made, high performing camera and it must have cost them some to build it.
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2009
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 6,632

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: November 11, 2014 I can recommend the Pentax K-01: Yes | Price: $339.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: High IQ, good video, focus peaking, so Beautiful!
Cons: No viewfinder,
Ergonomics: 9    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 10    Autofocus: 9    Features: 9    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 9    New or Used: New   

When this camera was first introduced it seemed like the dumbest idea Pentax every had. That impression was reinforced by the foolishly high price it had at first. When the price came down better reports began to appear. I purchased my K-01 two years ago but I continue to be astonished at the quality and ease of use of this much maligned and misunderstood camera. When I decided to go with Sony (A6000) and sell my Pentax equipment, this camera and the DA*60-250 made me change my mind. The quality and reliability of the camera are outstanding. It has a very weak AA filter so photos were always noticeably sharper than from my K5. Focus peaking was new then but it made the camera very friendly to manual focus lenses. The autofocus is both a strength and a weakness. The contrast detect system is very accurate but it is also slower than the phase detect used on DSLRs. But for most purposes the camera behaves very well. Many people have complained about the design but I find it practical and very elegant. It feels good in the hand and is very stable when place on a surface. It is not as small as some mirrorless cameras but it is significantly smaller than my DSLRs have been. It seems just the right size to me. At current prices it is an amazing bargain.
New Member

Registered: September, 2014
Posts: 14

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: September 22, 2014 I can recommend the Pentax K-01: Yes | Price: $250.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build, Design, Price, Image Quality, Everything
Cons: Green Button Position, Maybe lack of viewfinder
Ergonomics: 9    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 9    Autofocus: 10    Features: 10    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 10    New or Used: Used   

I just got this camera today, and have been shooting with it the whole day so I thought that I should share my views.

First Impressions:

The first time you look at it you realise two things, one, it is rathe big for a mirrorless camera, but this isn't a bad thing, it's actually Pentax's fault for marketing in such a way that it was competing with much thinner, more expensive, and somewhat less capable cameras. It is more of a hybrid. The thickness of the camera is caused by the DSLR-style flange distance required for Pentax K-Lenses and because of that, It also has an amazing range of lenses and more capability than standard mirrorless cameras. And two, the design is very different which is NOT a bad thing, I will talk more about this below.


Google them!

Body and Design:

Wow, just, wow, is all I can say, the moment I took it out of the box I was blown away. It really feels like a premium product that one would pay big bucks for, It feels nice in the hand and is pleasing to the eye. Marc Newson did an amazing job with this and I congratulate him on doing so. I own the yellow version and although sometimes it looks like it belongs in the Wizard of Oz (Yellow brick road!) I really enjoy the design. Although ONE feature is annoying when using vintage glass and that is the positioning of the green button used for stop down metering on Pre-A lenses, I feel like I'm doing finger yoga whenever the light changes. The lack of a viewfinder has some people bothered, but you get used to it and the screen is not as bad as people make it seem

Software Features:

Most are just gimmicks for your average person but for a serious amateur photographer, I don't use them, they don't get in my way. Something that is sort of software based is the in camera shake reduction. It works really well with old and new glass alike and is something more cameras should have.

Image Quality:

With the Sony sensor inside this is one awesome camera when it comes to IQ, better than my Canon 60D and any other camera I have used for a matter of fact, it is up there with some of the best Canon's and Nikon's on the DxO mark charts. Being able to use superb quality old Pentax glass from the 80's makes it even that much better. High-ISO performance is tested and proven to be the best for any mirrorless camera and competes fiercely with the high end DSLR's. There isn't much image degrading noise until 12800 which then is still very usable and with the boost ISO of 25600 it is noisy but useful when doing photography at night when most light is needed and the picture just needs to be taken and image quality takes second priority. There is a wide dynamic range meaning that more shadows are captured especially. The sensor is sharp and accurate.


I hate video.


Overall, I am very pleased with my purchase and the only annoyance is the awkward position of the green button, but apparently you might be able to assign that feature to the red button in a future update, so I'll wait and see.

I would definitely recommend this camera because with focus peaking and old glass you can take some really nice photos.

Thanks for reading

TL;DR: Amazing everything!
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2009
Posts: 342

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: December 9, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax K-01: Yes | Price: $315.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sensor performance, build, fun
Cons: not much
Ergonomics: 7    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 9    Autofocus: 9    Features: 8    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 10    New or Used: New   

I'm a little sad that the K-01 was discontinued -- but then again I probably wouldn't have bought one if it wasn't for the crazy discounts that were the result of its "discontinuation". For just over $300 you get a stylish mirrorless with the sensor from a K5 and support for all K-mount lenses. I've been using mine in place of my K20D. Although I miss the viewfinder, ergonomics, and more extensive controls of the K20D, I always choose the K-01 because of the sensor. Pentax really hit a home run with this sensor -- it has amazing noise performance, amazing dynamic range, and superb color reproduction. I adore the images I get out of this thing.

First off, the build and ergonomics. Build quality is fantastic. The aluminum parts have that classic cold metal feel, and the mode/control dials are snappy and responsive. Ergonomics are a little bit worse. I didn't have a problem with the squared edges or seemingly far button placement (I have big hands) but what annoyed me a bit is how "thin" the rear controls were. The buttons on the back feel a little cheap -- light and clicky. Sometimes I press them on accident because theyre too easy to press while holding the camera. Button placement itself is good, everything was reachable and easy to get used to. On-screen info is accessible and easy to discern. Overall, only a few minor complaints. I didn't care much about the flappy SD card door

Noise performance is outstanding compared to my K20D. To get the same amount of noise that I get with ISO800 on my K20D, I would have to push the K-01 to ISO 6400. And noise at ISO100 on the K-01 is much less present than on the K20D at ISO100. The images are sharper too.

The video mode is alright. I was excited to use it since it supports 1080p 24fps videos. However I found that it doesn't reproduce fine detail very well -- it looks pretty compressed, even at the highest bitrate. Things like leaves in distant trees turn into green blobs. It's decent and I use it for shallow depth of field -- but for scenes where I do not need my "special" lenses (wide angle or large aperture) I continue using my Canon HF S11 camcorder -- it resolves a LOT more detail at 1080p.

I won't say much about autofocus since it's contrast AF and I don't shoot anything that requires fast focus. I worked for me 99% of the time.

For $300, it's an amazing value. I will say I am planning on getting either the K-3 next year or the new flagship (if there is one) to upgrade both this camera and my K20D. I bought this as a sort of "stepping stone" to my next DSLR. I have absolutely no regrets. The images I get out of this thing are fantastic and it's extremely fun to shoot with. Granted, you don't want to mount a giant lens on it because A) It's uncomfortable and B) It looks weird. It'll also ruin the whole "zen" of the mirrorless camera and probably intimidate your subjects. I've been shooting this with my primes exclusively. I find people react much more naturally to this camera compared to my K20D.

Overall, it deserves a 10 because for $300 I can not think of a single camera that could possibly outperform it.

New Member

Registered: December, 2011
Posts: 1
Review Date: October 15, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax K-01: Yes | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Light, sturdy, compact and reliable
Cons: none, it is what it is..
Ergonomics: 8    Build Quality: 8    User Interface: 9    Autofocus: 8    Features: 9    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 9    New or Used: New   

when the k-01 was introduced I never left my eyes on it, it was an itch that cannot be scratched till you have it.. this camera has all I wanted, I got this primarily for videos and it served me well...
Junior Member

Registered: May, 2013
Posts: 37

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: October 14, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax K-01: Yes | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: great image quality, use with old DSLR lenses
Cons: badly designed power switch and battery door
Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 10    Autofocus: 10    Features: 10    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 8    New or Used: New   

A maligned design

The Pentax K-01 is Pentax's first entry into the "bigger sensor" mirrorless interchangeable lens camera race. Pentax apparently wanted to distinguish itself in this category, so it tried to give the K-01 something different. One, Pentax designed the K-01 to be compatible even with its 40-year-old lenses, without fiddling with an adapter. This was intended to endear it to Pentax users who have old 35mm-format lenses. Unfortunately, this goal meant that the K-01 would have to be bigger (deeper) than other MILCs. The K-01 would have to be as deep as a DSLR, even without the DSLR mirror. And so the size alienated the non-Pentax crowd. Indeed the K-01 is a monster when compared to the sleek MILCs of Samsung and Sony. Itís that goal (and its price at launch) that I believe doomed the K-01 to fail commercially. Not many will prefer a fat mama who can cook, if you can get a supermodel for the same dowry.

Second, Pentax decided to give the K-01 a different look. So who is Marc Newsson whose name is on the bottom of the K-01? Heís an Aussie industrial designer who designs anything from bathroom plumbing to jet packs and space jets. Indeed a broad range of products, and in between he designed the Pentax K-01 Ė his first foray into cameras, and hopefully his last. The K-01 will be remembered for its much maligned looks. My take on this is that the design-wise the camera has some obvious faults. Spend a day with it and youíll know that Marc Newsson does not know his cameras. Also, the K-01 is not pretty when compared to MILCs from Sony or Samsung, although itís no prettier nor uglier than a Hasselblad. But then itís a camera, itís not meant to be pretty. If you are swayed from a camera because of its looks, then buy a Sony. That said, one canít help but wonder what good Marc Newsson brought to this party.

The K-01 body is made of aluminum with rubber grips. Itís rock solid, it doesnít yield nor creak when squeezed, exactly what a camera should feel like. It has a metal tripod mount, the controls are laid out well (with some exceptions, but more on that later). The menus are logical and settings easy to find. It also has a flash hotshoe.

Obviously, Marc Newsson exercised artistic liberty in designing the buttons and controls. The buttons and dials appear to be made of metal and exudes quality. The flush design of the lens release button was a nice deviation from the norm. Well done, Newsson. Why he did not do the same for the on/off switch is a mystery. There is a reason why a flush on/off switch is preferable Ė it snags in the case or bag, and the on/off switch on the K-01 will do that everytime.

The K-01ís size makes it handle like a DSLR only that you donít stick it to your face when shooting.

My biggest gripe is with the right rubber grip that doubles as a hatch to cover the SD slot and ports. Itís a good design in theory, but the execution is terrible. The hatch is difficult to close firmly and pops open unintentionally. And its too thin and flimsy and certain to break sooner or later. A metal or even plastic door would have been better.

Where it shines

The K-01s image quality is as good as any in its class. Even those who are quick to condemn it for everything else still praise it for image quality.

Pentax touts compatibility of old manual focus lenses with its new digital bodies. Compatible is a relative term. Bodies like my K1000 had a split-image focusing screen that makes manual focus a breeze. But modern autofocus bodies have no need for such a focusing aid, until you try a manual focus lens on it. I had been using my Pentax M lenses on a Canon DSLR with an adapter (the type with electronics that allow focus confirmation in the optical viewfinder) with very mixed results, so I expected that manual focus using an LCD would even be more challenging. To my delight, I have more hits using manual focus on the K-01 than with focus confirmation on the Canonís optical viewfinder.

The key to better manual focus on the K-01 is called focus peaking. When focus peaking is enabled, the edges of that portion of the frame with greatest contrast (and sharpest focus) give off a white glow. The glow is noticeable but not distracting. This feature has its limitations, but it works for the most part. Manual focus lenses are just so much easier to use with focus peaking.

Thereís also in-body image stabilization. Pentaxís Shake Reduction moves the sensor vertically and horizontally (not sure if it can rotate the sensor as well like other camera models) to counteract camera shake. Now even my 70s vintage manual focus lenses have image stabilization.

A no-brainer in 2013

At its launch price of US$750 body only in March of 2012, purchasing one did not make much sense, but at below US$300 twelve months later itís the cheapest digital camera that you can slap your old lenses on. What makes the K-01 more interesting is that it has a 16 megapixel APS-C sized CMOS sensor that is second to none, has all-metal construction, accepts external strobes, and takes 40 year old lenses.

If like me you have Pentax lenses and no digital body to wed them with, buying the K-01 in 2013 is a no-brainer. If my plastic is not maxed out Iíd get two of them in different colors. Now if you are just looking for a camera -- any camera -- the K-01 is still a good value in 2013. Just try to get a metal-bodied MILC with APS-C sensor and a flash hotshoe at that price!
Senior Member

Registered: December, 2010
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 136
Review Date: August 23, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax K-01: Yes | Price: $338.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Easy to use, Great with manual lenses
Cons: Screen hard to see in direct sunlight
Ergonomics: 9    Build Quality: 9    User Interface: 9    Autofocus: 8    Features: 10    Value: 10    Image Quality: 9    Noise: 9    New or Used: New   

A great camera and a lot of fun with manual lenses.
Colour is great ...... don't use " Vibrant Mode" for skin tones unless you want "Disney Land" like effects

I have no issue with the location of the "Green Button", but I have large hands. Because there is no finder to look through, you hold this camera differently. My 12 year old's response to the Green Button was "my phone doesn't need a green button". Enough said!

I like the focus peaking feature, but I find it obscures my ability to achieve the correct depth of field so leave it off. The box around the auto focus is easy to use as it tell you where the camera is focused when in "auto" mode.

The Body looks very stream lined compared with the K-5/K-7. Very low profiled....almost "sexy" mated with short SMC K/M prime lenses. Mated to the 18-135mm DA ed, it looks decidedly awkward and front heavy. The pop-up flash is much closer to the lenses, then the K-5, K-7, so can cast shadows with long lenses.

The menu can be confusing......with " where was that feature again"....coming back on a regular basis.
The RAW and JEPG saves are brilliant. The JPEG for seeing the image and the RAW for post processing. Overall I found that less post pressing was required compared to the K 5

Conclusion..... Pentax have created a wonderful hybrid of a mirrorless camera, still able to access the wonderful lenses of yesteryear. Could become quite collectable in the years ahead .... but don't listen to me as technology usually loses value rapidly. Great second camera body, fun for family and friends familiar with the world of compact camera's and phones. Best applications are indoor and social.

Happy shooting!
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2010
Location: San Rafael, CA
Posts: 785
Review Date: May 17, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax K-01: Yes | Price: $299.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image Quality, K-5 sensor & battery, AF, Focus Peaking
Cons: funky flap/door where the SD card goes

There is a lot of technical things I could say but they have already been said in many other reviews, so I won't go there. So here is what i will say -

Though my daily driver is a K-5, I couldn't resist getting the K-01 when Pentax dropped the price and practically started giving them away.

First things first, though this camera is "the brick" it's really outside the box when it comes to innovative thinking. I have to give Pentax, Marc Newson and the Pentax engineers kudos for this camera, it is way ahead of it's time. It's a bit quirky as some will tell you but it is an excellent camera and I'm glad I have it.

I've been hauling the K-01 around a lot lately and everywhere I go, heads turn. Everyone wants to know what it is.

This camera is just great in every aspect I've run it through, it's a real work horse. Additionally, I shoot a lot of macro and I've found that focus peaking is an excellent feature for macro work.

Bottom line, if you don't have one - get one. You won't be sorry.
Veteran Member

Registered: August, 2007
Location: Baguio City, Philippines
Posts: 350

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: April 22, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax K-01: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Silent Shutter, GREAT IQ and GREAT High ISO Performance, Tough Built, Great AWB, Responsive
Cons: Read below...
Ergonomics: 9    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 9    Autofocus: 8    Features: 9    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 10    New or Used: New   

This camera is grossly underrated and hated by many... In fact, I think many people who complained about this camera didn't even had an experience to shoot with it, or didn't explore its capabilities and really felt the built...

This K-01 is so great in many way like:
1) Silent Shutter - I feel like I'm using a range finder camera, but of course the range finders are more quiet.
2) K-Mount - Just think about it, you don't need any additional expensive adapters to use your collections of K-mount lenses.
3) Built and Design - Personally, I love the minimalist design of it (I love minimalism), and the built is tough great and it feels good right in your hand.
4) Focus Peaking - It's always great to have your focus checked properly.
5) Image Quality - Just WOW even at high ISO! Because of this, I can now shoot at higher ISOs without compromising the IQ.
6) Better Video Controls and Quality - Finally I can manually custom set my videos (I was using K-7 for my videos), and finally I can have a 60fps for slow motion and 24fps for cinematic look. The image quality is great even at low light and at a very high ISO.

The "Cons"??? Not really a con for me...
1) Green Button? - the placement of the Green Button does not really affects my photography and I always using it. Take note, my fingers are short, and still it's not a problem. You know, when you're really into photography, that kind of "problem" will not really bother you.
2) The Rubber SD Card Door? - Yeah, it's flimsy, but I still don't find it as a problem. Live with it...
3) 1fps When Shooting RAW? - For me, it's okay. I lived with that since when I was using my hand-cranked analog cameras.
4) Viewfinder? - That's not a problem for me. It's not a big issue. Can we not create photographs without any optical of electronic viewfinder?
5) Tilt/Swivel Monitor? - It's good to have it for easier composition for lower or higher composition, but I can live without it. I mean when live view for DSLRs were not available, many photographers can shoot as low or high angles. It is us photographers have to adapt not the camera.
6) Video Audio Levels? - It's better to have it, but it doesn't, but I can live with that, just make sure the microphone is working properly, or better yet use a dedicated pro audio recorder.

Now... Here are some things I wanted for the K-01 which I think can be corrected via firmware update:
1) Simultaneous Selective Focus Area - meaning, if I set my AF Settings to a selective control, and when shooting, I don't have to press the 'OK' button first before changing the AF position.
2) Presence of Exposure Value when activating DOF Preview at Manual Mode when using aperture ring - I have many old full manual Pentax lenses just like others, it would be nice if the EV is present when pressing the DOF preview to check the exposure.
3) White Balance in Kelvin - It would be great if they added the WB adjustment in Kelvin for precise WB.
4) Focus Peaking During Video Mode - It would be great to to have it while recording video for optimum focus check.
5) Custom Color of Focus Peaking - It's nice to customize the color of the Focus Peaking, instead of just plain white highlights, it would be good to choose other colors like yellow, green, or red.

This Pentax K-01 is a great camera, it's like I'm using a modern Pentax K1000 and at the same time a rangefinder camera. It's simple and is silent. This camera is a straight forward camera. I'm having fun with it, I use it for my work (I'm a photojournalist for a national newspaper), it's discreet even if my K-01 is yellow, it's not an obtrusive camera where my subjects won't be intimidated...
This Pentax K-01 is great for general use like street photography, travel, photojournalism, documentary, videos, etc... Of course don't expect this camera to be good for sports photography and the like, I mean, this K-01 is like a Leica M9 (without the 35mm format sensor) where you're not going to use it for sports photography where you will shoot at high speed shutter with a high speed continuous super accurate AF systems. You can use it for sports but it's limited...

Every cameras made since its invention, we will never escape the reality of pros and cons... It's up to us to adapt with it and live with it. With that, we can be great photographers using any kinds of cameras...

Now, with the K-01's abilities and limitations listed here at K-01 Product Review, the question is How Far Can We Go Using This Camera???


Richard B.
Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2011
Location: ON, RH
Posts: 2,179
Review Date: January 11, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax K-01: Yes | Price: $316.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Easy to use, can use K mount lenses, focus peaking, great IQ, funky and cute
Cons: for me, none ... i don't expect it to be anything else
Ergonomics: 8    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 10    Autofocus: 8    Features: 9    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 10    New or Used: New   

Looks and ergonomics aside (each person will have their own standard and preferences), I think this camera is a great addition as a backup camera or studio camera. Everything you need is pretty much included in this camera.

I love how Pentax is standing its own grounds and brake the "monotony" of a camera by bringing new designs and fun cameras that are different but in the same time they are serious contenders that will give you great results.

Now, nothing is perfect and for some this camera will fall a little short on looks and some buttons placement, but if you are willing to accept it for what it is, you will not be disappointed with the results.

The brick does good ...
Junior Member

Registered: June, 2010
Posts: 47
Review Date: November 28, 2012 I can recommend the Pentax K-01: Yes | Price: $350.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ, Noise control, Size, Can expand creativity if used to shooting with viewfinder
Cons: Cannot bracket 5 exposures, No remote use when bracketing, SD card under flap of grip
Ergonomics: 8    Build Quality: 6    User Interface: 8    Autofocus: 9    Features: 4    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 10    New or Used: New   

My initial statement is to just get this camera while you can at the low price point. I purchased it as a second body to my k7, but now I am pretty sure I will be using it as primary for any non-tripod shots. Not having owned the k5, I am blown away by the image quality and the noise handling at high ISOs. This sensor does better at ISO 6400 then my k7 at ISO 800.

I noticed that my 40mm limited auto-focuses quicker and more accurately on the k-01 then it does on the k-7. It is not a matter of adjusting the lens for front or back focusing either (on the k-7), because sometimes it is right on, sometimes it isnít. This is great since the pancake lens is the best companion to the k-01. I would recommend getting it with the 40mm xs lens if you donít already have the limited. Great walkaround lens.

As others have stated, the focus peaking is awesome. It is cool that the feature is not offered on the k5 (to my knowledge)Ö so it is not all take-aways to make it cheaper, which is refreshing. It is nice to have a different view of things (using the lcd vs viewfinder). I think it helps to keep things creative.

However the one take-away that will prevent this camera from being my landscape shooter is the bracketing of only 3 exposures. On top of that, you cannot use the remote or timer when bracketing, which will defeat the purpose for those who use it for HDR on a tripod (as pressing the shutter down will cause camera movement) It will most likely be my walkaround camera and portrait/low light shooter. I am sure I will get the k5 iis or equivalent at some point to replace my k7 for landscapes.

It was bigger than I thought it was going to be, but I realized if it was any smaller it would be hard to hold and manual focus. So I actually like the size and donít wish it to be any smaller. Not a huge fan of the rubber flap covering the SD card, like many othersÖ but what can you do? Maybe on the next model just include it right next to the battery, in the same compartment. That is what my ricoh gx100 has (which by the way probably wont be seeing the light of day again). They can leave the rubber flap to cover the other inputs which I never use.

It gets a 10 for quality and value. I almost want to buy a second one just in case they discontinue the line, and if they donít the next one will most likely be more expensive. Even at its original price point, I would still recommend it.
New Member

Registered: January, 2011
Location: Sheffield
Posts: 9
Review Date: October 28, 2012 I can recommend the Pentax K-01: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 10    Autofocus: 8    Features: 9    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    New or Used: New   

This camera's looks just kept growing on me which I guess reflects the daring new design. Added to that the price has become a bargain for the image quality it can produce and actual user reviews seemed to differ greatly from the early media reviews.

After testing this camera out, especially with the new firmware, it has totally exceeded my expectations. Build is incredible and weather sealing is the only thing missing for me but think I'm being greedy!

The comments about hitting the green button and the rubber flap don't wash with me - you have to move your finger a couple of cms for the former and you get the knack of sliding the flap back in very quickly. Big deal.

UI is great - really fast to access shooting options, manual focus and peaking are amazing with the screen and have totally changed my approach to non evf shooting.

Build is absolutely fantastic, with solid aluminium everywhere and reassuring clicks from dials and buttons, but noticeably lighter than K5.

And finally, the image quality is right up there for APSC. Pentax Ricoh, please don't ditch this line. Make a smaller, lighter version with less heft and depth in the body and an update of the K01 which takes an optional EVF.

Oh and on next firmware, add compatibility with gps astro tracer unit.
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