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03-09-2016, 12:08 PM - 3 Likes   #1
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Details on the sensor in the K-1, hands-on impressions and photos

I learned at WPPI that the K-1 uses the same Sony sensor as the Nikon D800, though the sensor has been adapted to Pentax's specifications. I was able to shoot with both cameras side-by-side and the performance is virtually identical; JPEG processing and variations in white balance proved to be the most prominent differences. The K-1 obviously has the advantage of in-camera stabilization, AA filter simulation, and pixel shift super resolution.

What this means is that the K-1 is bound to land near the top of DxO's sensor rankings; the Nikon D800E (2012) is currently #4 and the D810 (2014) is #2 among full-frame bodies.

The K-1 has surprisingly little noise up to ISO 3200, is very clean up to ISO 12,800, and will deliver usable results up to ISO 51,200. ISO 100k and 200k are mostly there for bragging rights, IMO. I happened to capture a photo of a TV about 20 feet away at ISO 51,200 and was still able to read the sub-text under a news headline (I will post a small version of the photo later today).

New JPEG processing options in the K-1 include variable settings for clarity (instead of on/off, as on the K-S2), and settings for skin tone. The rest feels very much like the K-3.

Sample photos:
Pentax K-1 High-Resolution Sample Photos - Hands-on Reviews | PentaxForums.com


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03-09-2016, 12:14 PM   #2
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Interesting, the d800 is a great sensor. I cant wait to see users photo's start coming in. This may also explain why the K-1 is rated for 4.5 FPS and not slightly faster.
03-09-2016, 12:23 PM   #3
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I downloaded some pre-production RAW samples & I was quite impressed with the ISO 12800 samples. They look to be about +-2 stops better than my K-50. ISO 12800 on the K-1 looks to be a bit better than ISO 3200 on my K-50. That's saying a lot! My preliminary guess is that the K-1 is going to be excellent up to ISO 25600, decent at ISO 51200, & ISO 102400 would only be used for complete low light with no flash emergency situations without a tripod. Forget about higher ISOs.
03-09-2016, 12:27 PM   #4
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Sounds good! Thanks for the update.

03-09-2016, 12:37 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by The Squirrel Mafia Quote
Forget about higher ISOs.
No way! I'm using those suckers!
03-09-2016, 12:43 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
The K-1 has surprisingly little noise up to ISO 3200, is very clean up to ISO 12,800, and will deliver usable results up to ISO 51,200. ISO 100k and 200k are mostly there for bragging rights, IMO. I happened to capture a photo of a TV about 20 feet away at ISO 51,200 and was still able to read the sub-text under a news headline (I will post a small version of the photo later today).
Thanks Adam!

In your opinion, if you put it next to the K3's high ISO images, which ISO's would be similar?
EX: K3: ISO 3200 ~ K1: ISO 12800
03-09-2016, 12:45 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
I learned at WPPI that the K-1 uses the same Sony sensor as the Nikon D800
Oh yeah? Huh, I thinks some early rumours said that it was a different sensor. Too bad, but on the other hand, its a known proven flagship sensor. Definitely wont be disappointing
03-09-2016, 12:46 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by wissink Quote
Thanks Adam!

In your opinion, if you put it next to the K3's high ISO images, which ISO's would be similar?
EX: K3: ISO 3200 ~ K1: ISO 12800
That sounds about right. 1.5 to 2 stops better noise performance.


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03-09-2016, 02:00 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
That sounds about right. 1.5 to 2 stops better noise performance.
Not really concerned about 3200 and up, but I would be interested to know if ISO 400 and 800 are cleaner than the K-3. ISO 800 on the K-3 is too noisy for my purposes.
03-09-2016, 02:21 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
D800 sensor has 1 stop advantage (ISO100) over K-5 , and D810 sensor has two stops (ISO50) advantage over K-5, over a K-3 a bit more. The D800 sensor likely offered at a discount , free of NRE (unlike people believe, it's not being redesigned/adapted for K-1, otherwise cost benefit would disappear), which for still photography other sensors of this class do not bring so much advantage , except better FPS. Newer sensors enable higher FPS and 4K video, but more costly.
Do you directly contradict those who say Ricoh did significantly alter sensor peripherals; and who say once Sony has set up the manufacturing process custom alterations are cost-effective? You KNOW THIS FOR FACT? Really?

Last edited by monochrome; 03-09-2016 at 09:29 PM.
03-09-2016, 02:27 PM   #11
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it's all in the interpretation of meaning, isn't it - the product description on the website says "The K-1 incorporates a newly developed 35mm full-frame CMOS image sensor, " - meaning a newly tweaked sensor?
03-09-2016, 02:32 PM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Not really concerned about 3200 and up, but I would be interested to know if ISO 400 and 800 are cleaner than the K-3. ISO 800 on the K-3 is too noisy for my purposes.
Well that's one of the inherent benefits of shooting full frame

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03-09-2016, 02:34 PM - 1 Like   #13
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Seems like a smart move on Ricoh's part to focus on stills over video, and thus use older sensor at much cheaper price with same IQ.
03-09-2016, 02:39 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by robjmitchell Quote
Seems like a smart move on Ricoh's part to focus on stills over video, and thus use older sensor at much cheaper price with same IQ.
Yes, well said. That's what I wanted to write, but you did it better than me.
03-09-2016, 02:50 PM   #15
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A digital camera sensor is part of an assembly. Kind of like the CPU in a PC.

So a D800 may have the identical sensor (IMX094) as a D810 and K-1, but still be a subtly different camera.

To continue the PC analogy, the D800 may have used a Intel i5 CPU clocked at a certain speed as part of it's board, and a 2012 Nvidia GPU. The D810 uses the same CPU as the D800, but overclocked, and with the addition of a better GPU. Same with the K-1. Same sensor die as the D800/D810, but some evolution of the specs and supporting hardware.
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