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04-20-2013, 08:32 AM   #1
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My first day with my K-01

By chance it arrived at the same time as the custom strap I'd ordered from Couch Guitar Straps:



I've been tinkering around with this thing for a day now, so I thought I'd toss out some first impressions.

Where am I coming from? I've been relying on my Pentax ZX-5n film camera and my K100D. I've been loving the ZX aside from the entire hassle and expense of film and processing. The K100D has been pretty dependable, but it's getting old. Its bulk and weight, the small-and-dim pentamirror viewfinder, and limited dynamic range were all irritants.

The K-01 is pretty close to the size of the ZX, and not too much heavier. It's a comfortable shape to carry, as it doesn't have much in the way of protrusions to snag or gouge. I do think lugging it around will be an improvement over the K100D. However, this is not what I'd call a "compact" camera. It's near the upper limit of what I'd feel comfortable toting on any sort of regular basis, and I can see why Pentax bundled it with the 40mm pancake lens -- which I didn't get. (If they could fit a 28mm "normal" lens into that size and shape, I would have gone for that.)

I can also tell that the sensor has improved. More megapixels don't mean that much to me, but the improved dynamic range and higher ISO sensitivity levels are very welcome.

The supposedly awkward and non-ergonomic controls that some had warned me about, they don't really seem that bad to me. I can reach the buttons just fine. I had to change the red button after I accidentally started shooting video, which is something that really doesn't interest me at all. I configured it to activate focus peaking. However...

Focusing with manual lenses has been the hardest thing for me to get the hang of. I'd been given the impression that the K-01 was really good at this, and that focus peaking was the modern answer to the split-prism-and-microprism focusing of the old SLR days. It ain't that! The split prism was exquisitely precise and easy to use (so much that I installed a KatzEye screen in my K100D). Focus peaking seems so imprecise that it's practically useless. The only way I've been able to get good manual focus with the K-01 has been through the magnification feature, which is a bit awkward. It would be nice if I could put magnification instead of focus peaking on the red button, but there's no option for that. I really don't understand all the praise for focus peaking. Am I missing a trick?

The other notable weakness of this camera is the the LCD display, which has a problem with bright sunlight. If I wear a wide-brimmed hat to shade my face, it's just about usable, but it's a struggle. As a low-light camera the K-01 is amazing, wonderful. For the summer sun, I may be better off with the ZX-5n and Ektar 100. I also found myself wishing for a tilting display at times.

And what about the style? I think there's been a lot of overblown talk about how ugly the K-01 is. It's not ugly when you get it in your hands. The yellow camera with the yellow strap makes a particularly bold statement. However, it's not what I think of as my style. I personally find the retro-camera fashion much more appealing.

I got this camera at a closeout price, and it'll fill a useful place here in my collection. At the same time, I can see why it didn't set the world on fire, and I won't be packing away the ZX-5n or the K100D into retirement just yet. If Pentax could just restyle K-01, and make it smaller and lighter, and add a viewfinder, and make the LCD tilt... um, well, then they'd have a completely different camera, wouldn't they?

04-20-2013, 08:43 AM   #2
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Congratulations on your K-01, good color choice too
04-20-2013, 09:12 AM   #3
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Thanks for the mini-review and indeed that strap is cool!
04-20-2013, 10:38 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tony Belding Quote
If Pentax could just restyle K-01, and make it smaller and lighter, and add a viewfinder, and make the LCD tilt... um, well, then they'd have a completely different camera, wouldn't they?
Yes, indeed; they would have an NEX-5n with a Pentax badge on it.

Rockin' strap and camera combo, BTW!

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