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01-31-2021, 02:06 AM   #1
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Using the K-01 as a webcam

Can anyone here give me some advice about using the K-01 as a webcam?

Iíve decided I need a better webcam than what is in my laptop, because Iím speaking to large numbers of people more often for my work, and sometimes it is recorded and posted on the company intranet as reference material. To get a meaningful improvement over the laptop, Iíve been looking at webcam models like the Logitech C922 and Logitech Streamcam, which are around $100 to $150 equivalent. When I watch reviews on Youtube, these cameras are praised, but they often conclude with ďIf you want to look really professional, you need a mirrorless camera, the right lens and a capture cardĒ.

Well I have just such a camera in the K-01, sitting around and not getting much use. I also have the DA21 whose field of view is just right for where I sit. When I see what the video looks like on the screen, it clearly blows away any webcam for sharpness and dynamic range. It even blurs the background a little.

But at the same time, I know that the K-01 is perhaps not the best camera for this because it lacks "clean HDMI out". I'm not entirely sure whether this just means that no icons or markings are present on the screen or whether there is something more to it.

Connecting the camera
As far as I can see, I need to get an HDMI Type C to HDMI cable ($5-10) and a capture card. Iíd view this as an experiment, so Iíd get one of the cheap $10-20 ones from Amazon, not anything like Elgato.

Output from the camera
As far as I can see, by setting the camera display to all markings and histogram off in the menu and setting the physical switch to MF, the image on the display is clear of icons. Does this mean I would get a 720p or 1080p feed to the computer through the HDMI/capture card?

Powering the camera
I donít have an adapter to keep the camera constantly powered and buying one for such an old camera seems a bit silly now. The K-01 battery is pretty large, but Iím not sure how fast it drains with this kind of usage. If I switched ďAuto Power OffĒ to off, Iím wondering how long it would work for.

Iím thinking that if this works, I could spend the money on a decent USB condenser mic, which is probably going to be the biggest kindness to my audience anyway. If this is just a dumb idea, I'll probably go back to the idea of a Logitech model.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

01-31-2021, 02:30 AM - 2 Likes   #2
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I know this does not answer your question, but do you own a smartphone? I use my cheap Android phone and it does a very good job.
01-31-2021, 03:17 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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If you've got a TV or monitor with an HDMI input (most do, these days), you can check the suitability of your HDMI output from your K-01 for the cost of a cable … maybe even borrow one for a few minutes.
Having established this, the very cheap HDMI-USB adaptor/converters do work, (I've just bought one, for a different reason), but I had to revert to Windows 7 for a seamless install, the current version of Windows 10 giving all sorts of error messages, both on a 32-bit laptop and a 64-bit desktop, with the four different freeware programs I tried, so system compatibility can be an issue!
As for power consumption, the battery should last a good time using HDMI out, as the LCD screen on the camera is (I assume) disabled in this configuration. It is on my cameras, but I don't have an actual K-01 to double check.
Good Luck
01-31-2021, 07:46 AM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by MarkJerling Quote
I know this does not answer your question, but do you own a smartphone? I use my cheap Android phone and it does a very good job.
Thanks. It's a sensible suggestion. I have an iPhone 7 and I have used it at times to join meetings using a dedicated app. I don't find it much better than the laptop really. The images look washed out and over processed. It might be different with Android. My interest in doing this is that I might be just a cheap cable and dongle away from getting much better image quality using a camera and lens I already have.

QuoteOriginally posted by kypfer Quote
If you've got a TV or monitor with an HDMI input (most do, these days), you can check the suitability of your HDMI output from your K-01 for the cost of a cable … maybe even borrow one for a few minutes.
Having established this, the very cheap HDMI-USB adaptor/converters do work, (I've just bought one, for a different reason), but I had to revert to Windows 7 for a seamless install, the current version of Windows 10 giving all sorts of error messages, both on a 32-bit laptop and a 64-bit desktop, with the four different freeware programs I tried, so system compatibility can be an issue!
As for power consumption, the battery should last a good time using HDMI out, as the LCD screen on the camera is (I assume) disabled in this configuration. It is on my cameras, but I don't have an actual K-01 to double check.
Good Luck
Great advice about doing a test with my monitor before buying a capture card. I think I'll do that. I can do a test of the output quality and how long the battery will last.

01-31-2021, 08:11 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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AFAIK the K-01 automatically switches to Playback Mode when an HDMI cable is connected, so there's no live HDMI (let alone clean HDMI output).
01-31-2021, 09:38 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
The images look washed out and over processed.
It might be worth some experimenting with your lighting setup. When I Zoom (too much of that these days!), I use an extra light bulb reflecting off the white wall behind my computer to give my face some smooth, diffused light.

Also, be aware that A) your camera may get warm if running for a long time and B) most non-video cameras will record for only so long (30 minutes, I think - apparently this is based on how "video" cameras are taxed is the EU ).
01-31-2021, 10:04 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by LensBeginner Quote
AFAIK the K-01 automatically switches to Playback Mode when an HDMI cable is connected, so there's no live HDMI (let alone clean HDMI output).


Just checked with my K-5 (the nearest I've got, age-wise, to the K-01) and the LiveView screen appears on the computer monitor, no problem. I rarely use LiveView on the K-5, so there's all sorts of icons and stuff littered all around, but it does work, would just need tidying up for web-cam purposes.


Well worth checking on the K-01!
01-31-2021, 12:39 PM - 1 Like   #8
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Iím sure Iím going to get beat up for this, but Pentax really is the wrong brand for this. Canon, Fuji, and Nikon have all released software to allow their cameras to function as webcams via USB, presumably due to the pandemic. Yes, you might be able to force your K-01 to work, but if nothing else, wouldnít you want to use a camera where you wonít need to worry about the battery? Correct me if Iím wrong, but I donít think the K-01 supports a practical manner of charging while running. And what if the sensor overheats?

I love my Pentax cameras as much as the next guy on this forum, but Swiss Army knives they are not.

01-31-2021, 03:46 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
Thanks. It's a sensible suggestion. I have an iPhone 7 and I have used it at times to join meetings using a dedicated app. I don't find it much better than the laptop really. The images look washed out and over processed. It might be different with Android. My interest in doing this is that I might be just a cheap cable and dongle away from getting much better image quality using a camera and lens I already have.
Hi JPT,
there's a big difference in video quality between front-facing and rear-facing cameras even at the same resolution (e.g. 1080p30). Using iphone as a standalone tool for video chat, you're forced to use the front camera, and if that's what you did in the past, you might want to give your phone the second chance.

This video was made by a company that develops an iphone app (and corresponding mac/pc app) to use iphone as a webcam for laptops/computers. You can compare rear- and front-facing camera video quality with many iphones and popular webcams.
1:34 iphone 7 rear
1:57 iphone 7 front
02-01-2021, 01:18 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by LensBeginner Quote
AFAIK the K-01 automatically switches to Playback Mode when an HDMI cable is connected, so there's no live HDMI (let alone clean HDMI output).
If there's no way around this, it would be a dealbreaker. Thanks for warning me.

QuoteOriginally posted by Steve Beswick Quote
I’m sure I’m going to get beat up for this, but Pentax really is the wrong brand for this.
I agree. I would never specifically choose Pentax for this. Among traditional cameras the Canon M series looks good, because it has that nice 22mm f.2 prime. But my main thinking is whether I can eke out some more use from my K-01.

QuoteOriginally posted by AstroDave Quote
It might be worth some experimenting with your lighting setup. When I Zoom (too much of that these days!), I use an extra light bulb reflecting off the white wall behind my computer to give my face some smooth, diffused light.
I'm also using a lamp reflecting off a white wall like you and I'm thinking of getting something with more even, whiter light. Unfortunately, I'm rather photo sensitive, so I'm not considering any strong lighting pointing at me.

QuoteOriginally posted by kwb Quote
Hi JPT,
there's a big difference in video quality between front-facing and rear-facing cameras even at the same resolution (e.g. 1080p30). Using iphone as a standalone tool for video chat, you're forced to use the front camera, and if that's what you did in the past, you might want to give your phone the second chance.
Just tried it and it does seem a bit better. I'll test it in a meeting soon to see how much difference it makes. I'm typically logged in with at least two devices, so I don't need to see the screen for the meeting itself. The problem is we facilitate sessions as a team and exchange messages between facilitators and admin staff using LINE, so it could be a problem to have the phone tied up.

QuoteOriginally posted by kypfer Quote
Just checked with my K-5 (the nearest I've got, age-wise, to the K-01) and the LiveView screen appears on the computer monitor, no problem. I rarely use LiveView on the K-5, so there's all sorts of icons and stuff littered all around, but it does work, would just need tidying up for web-cam purposes.
This is interesting because I have K-5 IIs, which will probably work the same. So I have two chances to get it working. I'd rather use the K-01 if I can because it's not my main camera. I think any heating issues should be less with the K-01, because it has the mirrorless variant of that sensor, which is designed to be on in live view for longer.

I don't think I would be using this for any old meeting. It might be just for events with a lot of participants. I do training with 20-30 participants pretty much every week, but sometimes things I record might viewed by thousands.

I do appreciate your generosity in offering advice.
02-01-2021, 05:03 AM   #11
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If you remove the memory card from the K-01, I believe that it may give you a live feed through the HDMI cable, rather than playback. You may be able to get a "clean" feed by pushing the INFO button a few times until the various icons and settings are gone. Also, I don't think that the 30 minute video recording limit, as suggested by @AstroDave, would be an issue since you're not recording.

Another potential problem might be the way that the screen/camera reacts to changing light levels, in which case you would have to be sure to have steady light levels on your face and behind you.

Just another thought--if sensor overheating becomes a problem, you could use a flexible ice pack like a bean bag and mount the camera on it. With a towel or three in between them.

Don't currently have access to my K-01, or I would have tried some of these out before suggesting them.

Good Luck!

P.S. The K-01 doesn't have Live View, because the screen is always on.

Last edited by K(s)evin; 02-01-2021 at 05:07 AM. Reason: New thought
02-01-2021, 04:35 PM - 1 Like   #12
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I'm not sure the exercise is worth it, JPT.

The HDMI feed is not all the video signal, it's only at the resolution of the little 3" rear LCD viewfinder.
02-02-2021, 04:57 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
The HDMI feed is not all the video signal, it's only at the resolution of the little 3" rear LCD viewfinder.
QuoteOriginally posted by kypfer Quote
Just checked with my K-5 (the nearest I've got, age-wise, to the K-01) and the LiveView screen appears on the computer monitor, no problem. I rarely use LiveView on the K-5, so there's all sorts of icons and stuff littered all around, but it does work, would just need tidying up for web-cam purposes.
So this means the resolution would be 1080p when playing back images from the memory card, but would change to just a few hundred pixels across if the memory card was left out and the camera was in live view. This is what I'm understanding so far.

I'm sort of still interested in getting the cable to see for myself, but it looks like the whole idea might be flawed.

Something weird just struck me. With a massive lull in the traditional camera market and huge demand for webcams in 2020, not one of the camera companies thought to start producing consumer webcams. When I look at the options, it's basically Logitech or little-known Chinese makers. With the brand image they have, they could probably charge a premium.

How hard could it be for a company like Ricoh? They should be able to make an above average webcam. It would be be like making half a Theta. And for a company in the office automation business, they surely have a channel to sell it to businesses as well.
02-02-2021, 07:15 AM   #14
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Yup, page 181 of the English User Manual:
CAUTION: The camera stays in playback mode while the HDMI cable is connected to it. Remove the HDMI cable to enable shooting.

Plus I'm not sure 1080p is available, rather 1080i (p. 180).

QuoteOriginally posted by kypfer Quote
Just checked with my K-5 (the nearest I've got, age-wise, to the K-01) and the LiveView screen appears on the computer monitor, no problem. I rarely use LiveView on the K-5, so there's all sorts of icons and stuff littered all around, but it does work, would just need tidying up for web-cam purposes.


Well worth checking on the K-01!
It's not the only thing they castrated via firmware on the poor K-01... just to name one, you can shoot a "fast" burst of 3 RAWs when you shoot an exposure bracket but, when shooting a burst at the same exposure, RAW shooting is restricted to 1 fps IIRC.

Last edited by LensBeginner; 02-02-2021 at 07:30 AM.
03-05-2021, 12:43 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
Can anyone here give me some advice about using the K-01 as a webcam?
The HDMI output Only works in Playback mode, making it impossible to use it as a webcam or drive an external monitor.

Plugging in the HDMI cable swaps a K-01 in to playback mode too.

It's one of the Big Four Firmware faults we reported on from the day the camera was released, none of them have ever been addressed.

---------- Post added 05-03-21 at 06:46 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by kypfer Quote
Just checked with my K-5 (the nearest I've got, age-wise, to the K-01) and the LiveView screen appears on the computer monitor, no problem. I rarely use LiveView on the K-5, so there's all sorts of icons and stuff littered all around, but it does work, would just need tidying up for web-cam purposes.
Would that be from the Analog output - IIRC, the K-5 doesn't have HDMI at all.

Analog isn't high enough quality for Zoom or Skype or Teams.

---------- Post added 05-03-21 at 06:50 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
Great advice about doing a test with my monitor before buying a capture card. I think I'll do that. I can do a test of the output quality and how long the battery will last.
If you want to hit us up, you can learn a heap from this panel.

Alex Lindsay - YouTube

You can even ask me about the Pentax KA 35 f2 in front of my Sony NEX-VG900E, and access knowledge on lighting and sound specific to streaming.

---------- Post added 05-03-21 at 06:55 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
Something weird just struck me. With a massive lull in the traditional camera market and huge demand for webcams in 2020, not one of the camera companies thought to start producing consumer webcams. When I look at the options, it's basically Logitech or little-known Chinese makers. With the brand image they have, they could probably charge a premium.

How hard could it be for a company like Ricoh? They should be able to make an above average webcam. It would be be like making half a Theta. And for a company in the office automation business, they surely have a channel to sell it to businesses as well.
Yup, y'd think it would be a no-brainer.

Sony cameras with Wifi can be set up to do it, Canon quickly pushed out a firmware update to stream out of the USB port in to a PC or Mac or even a phone!

Sony has released the brand new Xperia Pro phone that does HDMI in and can control and upload media in the background off a Sony MILC's USB while viewing the image by the HDMI.

Pentax would need to fix the Video firmware before they could add any sort of streaming output, which honestly, should be possible at 720 and 1080 via the USB2, or 720 alone via the WiFi enabled SD Cards
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