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02-03-2012, 07:31 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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Pentax K-01 - a stepping stone?

Haven't posted in a while, but I've been following the launch of the new camera.

I gotta say, that at first it wasn't all that appealing to me - I mean, its basically a K-5 without a viewfinder right? That seemed like a bad move. I couldn't imagine that I'd carry around a K5 without a viewfinder, when I could just grab my K5. Certainly it doesn't offer that much in terms of space savings or added functionality.

On top of that, the design seemed a bit... I dunno - flat. There is a kind of clean aesthetic - the apple aluminium thing - which has been a common goal amongst electronics manufacturers of late. This I thought went too far, and took all of the functionally appealing ergonomics of the K5 away. Why make a camera harder to hold on to?!! I couldn't fathom these things until I started looking at this from an entirely different perspective. This camera - isn't really made for me. (but one proviso before I continue - I really really want one now).

Digital photography is showing no signs of slowing up. There are countless interested people who would like to make the jump to a more professional camera. Maybe they have had a few point and shoot digicams, or played with an SLR in the past. The stories are numerous. Judging from the complement of people in photography clubs, and classes (I run an amateur photography class with ~10 people, with a waiting list just as long - in a town with several other photography classes) - there is a consensus that they would like to learn, and engage in a newer and more capable style of photography. They are literally just waiting for a solution that might offer them the right blend of:

1. Price of admission
2. Ease of use
3. Low intimidation factor
4. Image quality: the opportunity to achieve reasonable image quality / headroom with which to preserve detail / recover mistakes
5. Upgradeability should their interest in photography persist



The K-01 I think offers a very competitive solution here, without grossly mis-identifying their target audience. I think comparing this camera to a DSLR is a mistake, but I'll get to that in a few lines. Characterizing these criteria (and these are not inclusive, just the first five I could readily identify based on my experience) seems relative:

1. It certainly isn't all that expensive. $899 with the pancake will likely hit $750 a few months after launch (based on a somewhat poorly researched anecdotal observation / impression of every other pentax camera released in the past 5 or 10 years). When comparing this price to other types of camera systems, we can see that a high end compact digicam - might run you ~400 dollars. That isn't outside the range of what someone might pay (and indeed likely many of us have paid). A substantial premium in this case granted - but justifiable if the other criteria are met.
A lower end DSLR solution (nikon d3100 for example) can be had for 600 dollars with the kit lens. Why would one choose a K-01 over that camera system? Again, I think the other criteria are the answer. Price is an overriding factor for some - but if you're already talking about spending 600 dollars on something - then the disposable income is adequate to warrant further research.

2. When we're talking about the ease of use, it must be said that the higher end compact digicams are all about offering the most bang for the buck. Turning it on, and selecting sports mode - firing off a few shots - then putting the camera back in your pocket... those are important qualities to some. Maybe not the person who would consider the K-01, or a DSLR for that matter. But maybe that person who is considering the high end digicam might consider the K-01 - because it seems less intimidating (lets be honest it certainly looks less intimidating... cool maybe even possibly?). Any DSLR (and likely the K-01) can be easy to use if you have some idea about how the dials work. Most people are intelligent enough to turn on a camera, select a mode and shoot. Some, may not be more motivated to dig deeper. I think the K-01 almost invites you to do so.

3. This camera looks like a compact digicam (albeit a much larger version) - so the ostensible shift in thinking shouldn't be that great in the mind of the potential consumer. "It looks the same, and I know how to use the smaller ones, what are the advantages to using this pentax thingy?" "It doesn't have the bulky grips, and it doesn't force you to look through a small window with all the little blinking lights, and numbers." "You just hold it up, look at the back, just like I'm used to." Its not hard to imagine this line of thinking - though I must admit - it sounds a bit patronizing. I wonder if this is the way that advertising / marketing / design professionals start to make decisions. I would probably sink the ship after my first sales pitch. I'm sure they wouldn't let me drive the concordia anyhow.

4. There are very few cameras that can produce an image quality on par with the K-01 (I'm just guessing that it will be the same as a k5, d5100, d7000 etc). To put that image quality in a camera that hopefully in the zeitgeist appears as a largish digicam with interchangeable lenses... I shouldn't really have to argue this point. So maybe try to forget what I just wrote.

5. To spend 750 bucks is one thing, but to not lose the extra money that you put into a system (lenses, flashes, etc) - its almost a no brainer. This fully operation K-mount is going to blow up alderaan. After you learn how to use the camera, and you've purchased a few lenses (say a wide zoom, and a cheap tele) you can pop them on to the new full frame camera pentax will deliver in may. Of course there is another APS DSLR somewhere in between, but the upgrade proposition there is not as attractive. Why move from one APS camera that offers outstanding image quality to another APS camera - simply for the addition of an EVF and a larger grip? I probably wouldn't make that jump myself... but I could easily justify the jump to FF.



When all is said and done, Pentax / Ricoh (though I must give less credit to Ricoh since this direction must have been in place for at least a year or more) have designed not just a new camera, but an entirely new upgrade path from which to start / advance your photography development. You will no longer have to either buy into a DSLR from the start and be scared. You will no longer have to be happy with a PS digicam (oops P+S). You have the option of developing your system for slightly more than the cost of a cheaper DSLR kit.

What do you get in return if you decide to chance the K-01? (and here are my newfound nods of appreciation... well done Pentax. I am your man).
1. Outstanding image quality with lots of headroom
2. Upgradeability
3. Ease of use - just look at the screen on the back - nowhere to get confused
4. Low intimidation / invitation for experimentation
5. A cool looking (yes, it has grown on me... so much actually) - funky camera that will be a new-school benchmark.


Does it sound like I'm a company shill? I truly haven't tried to be such a fanboy - but I just can't help myself. I see such good things coming. (and a 50mm 'standard' as well as a 500mm super - seem like supportive arguments here).


Last edited by spade111; 02-03-2012 at 10:51 PM.
02-03-2012, 07:54 PM   #2
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No, your analysis makes some sense. I'm still saying that we need to see output before we make any real decisions or draw any meaningful conclusions, but your analysis of the target group, the reasons, and whys for it make sense. I'd add that people get into a line of lenses that is outstanding with huge array that they can keep as they upgrade within the Pentax line.
02-03-2012, 07:55 PM   #3
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I think you make some good points there. I'm still not sure what the design aesthetic of the camera brings to the party - but there's a very good case for a simple to operate value proposition with an easy upgrade path to DSLR. I might be wrong but I wonder if the more outlandish design touches might scare off more people than they attract. But I guess they'll bring the camera to people's attention in the first place, which is always hard for Pentax.
02-03-2012, 08:41 PM   #4
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You had me at "blow up Alderan." Thanks for sharing. I too think it will blow up Alderan.

02-03-2012, 08:57 PM   #5
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I think the K-01 is the new K-1000.

If people can figure this camera out, understand what it is, and why it is the way it is, it will be a hit.
02-03-2012, 08:57 PM   #6
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I posted a similar sentiment in another thread but I'll sum up to say, I would have bought one. Furthermore, because I have developed interests way beyond the original "taking hockey pics of my boys" intent of my purchase, I would now be looking to upgrade to whatever replaces the K-5. IMHO, K-r was best in class flexibility and IQ and value at the sub $1000 price category and if the K-01 lives up to it's specs, it will take over that title. Put it on the shelves along-side the D3100/5100 class DSLRs you mention, win a few magazine awards and Pentax will have an entry level winner on their hands.
02-03-2012, 09:14 PM - 1 Like   #7
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I think the yellow is going to sell quickly. Probably not many will go to people who scroll through photo forums and make dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of posts on them.

Hardly a market study, but a case in point: Sis in law, who uses a Canon Rebel with tele for soccer games, already wants one. The yellow one. Incidentally, when she was going for the Canon, explained it was because it was respected name, and had over a 150 available lenses. (Obviously told that by the Geek Squad or equivalent).

Two years later, how many lenses does she have? The kit lens and the one low-end tele. She is not familiar with the term, "prime lens."

Is she planning to buy any more of those 150+ lenses? "Are you crazy? Have you seen the prices?"

Does she care about the lack of viewfinder? No. She uses the LCD on her Canon a lot anyway.

What does she like about the K-01? The big knobs on top, and the rubberized yellow. Doesn't look like Darth Vader, she said. Doesn't look like any of the other parents' cameras out there. She plans to give the Canon to her son this summer.

She really wants to know if the yellow is a limited edition, as she does not want to miss it.

Last edited by Basset; 02-03-2012 at 09:40 PM.
02-03-2012, 09:18 PM   #8
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To the OP: You put my feelings about this camera into bulletpoints almost exactly. Bravo.

02-03-2012, 09:19 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by KungPOW Quote
I think the K-01 is the new K-1000.

If people can figure this camera out, understand what it is, and why it is the way it is, it will be a hit.
I agree, with one quibble. I think it is a KX or KM. Add back TAv and an optical VF loupe and it will be a K2. Add a real EVF and it will be a K2DMD. I think I see a version path.

The K1000 was released as an afterthought, at first a failure, and nearly discontinued until someone thought to sell them to schools - then it just never quit until Pentax plain couldn't get parts any more.
02-03-2012, 09:22 PM   #10
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It sounds like you (hockey dad) are very similar to the people that frequent my photography class. I appreciate that you took the time to re-iterate what you posted in another thread. It seems as though the K-01 might have gained your purchase had it been introduced around april 2011? If that is the case - do you still feel as though the K-01 might be an upgrade path for you - since ostensibly the IQ is marginally better than the K-r? Or are you set on the FF replacement (in light of its 2899 price point)?

(And BTW - I don't know anything about the price point, I'm just begging to be correct)

(pps - (I haven't written that since an obviously failed attempt at love notes in 8th grade) - thanks for the kind words Docrwm, ihasa, johnmflores, and icy window) - you have made my foray back into this forum feel welcome).

Last edited by spade111; 02-03-2012 at 09:37 PM.
02-03-2012, 09:46 PM   #11
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You're right, there is no doubt in my mind I would have purchased the K-01 if it had existed back in April. However, now I have grown to love my OVF and I covet features like user mode, TAv mode, WR and individualized profiles for each lens. Throw in better auto focus, an even better sensor than my K-r and ask $1,200 for it and THAT's my next body. It doesn't really matter if that's the K-5 replacement or the K-r replacement. I suppose I'm thinking that the K-01 might be the K-r replacement and that would leave a K-5 replacement and a whole new FF class but there's room for a few more "stepping stones" on the path from K-01 to FF.
02-03-2012, 11:58 PM   #12
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Basset: Interesting feedback. It sounds like a familiar story - and I love that her son is getting the canon as a present to facilitate her move to another system I must reflect for a while on why this makes me feel kinship for her.

HockeyDad: You obviously have a clear idea of what features are important to you, and how you would like to further augment your capabilities. That definitely strengthens the value of your opinion. Do you feel that the increase in sensor quality, autofocus, the addition of WR as well as the other items on your list that maybe did not make the written version - are reason enough to upgrade from your K-r? Would that 1,200 dollars ever be earmarked for new glass instead of a new body?
I am interested to hear your thoughts - as I was once in the same position and went a decidedly different direction. I don't think I had as compelling a list of wish list features at the time! I am now fairly invested in the pentax brand, and am sort of at the mercy of their development cycle to replace the bodies that inevitably will fail before they are obsolete to me. I have a hard time letting go
02-04-2012, 12:54 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by spade111 Quote
5. To spend 750 bucks is one thing, but to not lose the extra money that you put into a system (lenses, flashes, etc) - its almost a no brainer. This fully operation K-mount is going to blow up alderaan. After you learn how to use the camera, and you've purchased a few lenses (say a wide zoom, and a cheap tele) you can pop them on to the new full frame camera pentax will deliver in may. Of course there is another APS DSLR somewhere in between, but the upgrade proposition there is not as attractive. Why move from one APS camera that offers outstanding image quality to another APS camera - simply for the addition of an EVF and a larger grip? I probably wouldn't make that jump myself... but I could easily justify the jump to FF.
While the K-01 has zero appeal for me, most of your points are at least reasonable arguments. I disagree with some of them, but you may very well turn out to be right. The only real point I think is NOT going to be a factor is #5. I think most of the people who are new to Pentax that buy the camera are going to buy DA lenses so upgrading to a FF body WITH THE SAME LENSES would not be an option. At the same time, I think most of the new buyers that are attracted are not going to care or notice if a FF Pentax comes out. I think they will be far more likely to switch to a smaller bodied APS-C as the prices come down OR a M4/3 (or similar) as capabilities go up.

I still think the biggest omission was not going the Olympus/Panasonic route and adding a port to allow for an optional EVF. I have an E-PL2 for when I go really light and I bought the VF-2. I only use it about 20~25% of the time, but those times I really need it and NOT having it would have made me purchase a different camera.

Last edited by WJW; 02-04-2012 at 12:58 AM. Reason: added line
02-04-2012, 03:07 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by KungPOW Quote
I think the K-01 is the new K-1000.

If people can figure this camera out, understand what it is, and why it is the way it is, it will be a hit.
What is to figure out? To me, it is a scaled down K-5 with no viewfinder. Any mysteries beyond that are hard to fathom.

Jason
02-04-2012, 03:44 AM   #15
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Sure hope so, I still have faith that Pentax will make my dream camera someday. The K-01 is so close yet so far.
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