Thursday, February 02, 2012

K-01 and Lens Map - My Take

By now you have probably heard about the new Pentax K-01 and the Lens Roadmap. Here is what I think both mean to Pentax and Pentax shooters.

K-01 - First lets just say that not everyone thinks it is a work of art. Personally, I dont care that much about the looks of a camera. To me, it is a tool but I understand that looks count too and I dont think it looks that bad. It reminds me of the A3000 I shot with for years. I am NOT a fan of the yellow but I like the white a lot. As for the specs, there is a lot to like:

16.3 MP CMOS APS-C (23.7 x 15.7mm)
Still 3:2: 16M (4928x3264), 12M (4224x2816), 8M (3456x2304), 5M (2688x1792)
Still 4:3: 14M (4352x3264), 11M (3840x2880), 7M (3072x2304), 4M (2304x1728)
Still 16:9: 13M (4928x2776), 10M (4224x2376), 6M (3456x1944), 4M (2688x1512)
Still 1:1: 10M (3264x3264), 8M (2880x2880), 5M (2304x2304), 3M (1728x1728)

Movie (resolution/FPS): 1920x1080p30/25/24, 1280x720p60/50/30/25/24, 640x480p30/25/24
TTL Contrast Detection AF
Focus modes: AF Single (w focus lock, focus/release priority selectable), Face Detection AF, Tracking AF, Manual
Focus point adjustment: Auto 81 Point, User-Selectable, Center
AF assist: LED dedicated AF assist lamp, AF Autozoom (2X, 4X, 6X), Focus Peaking

Removable memory: SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS Speed Class 1 supported)

Body dimensions (W x H x D): 122mm x 79mm x 58mm
Body weight - Without battery or removable memory: 480g
Loaded and ready: 581g

ISO 100-25600

Shutter speed: 1/4000 to 30 sec (1/3 or 1/2 steps), Bulb

Mode selection: Single, Continuous (Hi, Lo), Self Timer (12s, 2s), Infrared Remote (0s, 3s), Auto Bracketing (3 frames, up to +/- 3 EV in 1/2 steps)
Continuous FPS: Approx 6 FPS (JPG, Continuous Hi), Approx 3 FPS (JPG, Continuous Lo)
Multi-exposure: Yes (2-9 shots, auto exposure adjustment selectable)
Interval: Yes (1s to 24h, up to 999 shots, delayed start available)
HDR: Auto, HDR1, HDR2, HDR3, (HDR blended images saved as JPG only)

Still: RAW (DNG), JPG (EXIF 2.3), DCF 2.0 compliant, DPOF, PIM III
Movie (compression): MP4 (AVC h.264), AVI/MJPG for Interval Movie

I highlighted some of the specs that I think are important. First, the sensor appears to be the same as in the K-5 - defiantly a good thing! In addition to the normal 3:2 ratio, you will have the option of shooting in 4:3, 16:9 and 1:1. Personally I prefer shooting 3:2 and then cropping as needed but I can understand how some people prefer to shoot other ratios. 60fps 720p HD lets you shoot slow motion - 60fps played back at 30 fps. The UHS Class 1 (theoretical max 5x faster than Class 10 SDHC) is a first for a Pentax Camera and bodes well for future bodies. Finally it appears Pentax is going all DNG, no PEF, for RAW. To me this is also a good thing. I shoot DNG exclusively because I am adverse to any format that is not open.

OK, other specs. I like the size but not the weight. If it were weather proofed, I could understand the weight but without weather seals I don't understand why. ISO is great at 25600. I am guessing that the reason it cant go to 51200 like the K-5 is processing power. Im a little surprised at the limit of 6 FPS. I would be interested to see how long it can sustain that. If its 6fps for 10 seconds, that would be VERY cool.

Enough about the geek stuff. I think the K-01 is a watershed camera for Pentax. The K-01 address the two biggest arguements against the current crop of mirrorless systems - small sensors and limited lenses. It is the first mirrorless camera with a "traditional" lens mount and a full range of lenses. Not a couple of lenses and a bunch of adapters. The APS-C sensor is 30% bigger than 4/3 sensor and there are more current production K Mount lenses than all other mirrorless systems combined (including the Q). And while P-TTL flashes are not up to Nikon or Canon standards, they are better than any other mirrorless has. Bottom line - the K-01 is the first mirrorless than dosent make you compromise the most important part of photography - the image.

Now for the lens lineup/roadmap. Just the fact that they published a roadmap is huge. For the first time in a long time, we have a way forward for lenses. First, a DA 560mm!!!!! Finally a LONG telephoto lens!! Second, a 1.4 teleconverter! Put the two together and you have a 770mm lens - a whopping 1155mm 35mm equivalent. Together they close a HUGE hole in the Pentax universe. The DA 20-200mm....blah.....unless its a fast lens. The DA 50mm - Im guessing it will be f/2.4 and $250 along the lines of the DA 35mm. The DA 22-38mm (est) and DA 12-28mm (est) zooms seem to overlap the current zooms. Same with the DA* 18-85mm (est). I hope some of new DA lenses are weather sealed. More important than the lenses themselves, I think the roadmap shows Ricoh's commitment to Pentax and to DSLRs. I also think it puts into question any thoughts about a full frame system any time soon. Unless Pentax is intentionally hiding FA/DFA lenses, they seem to be committing to APS-C. And I think that is also a good thing. The K-5 is hands down the best APS-C camera on the market. There is no reason to believe its replacement wont be the new king. I hope Pentax concentrates on making the best APS-C camera with the best weather seals on the market.

I have often compared Pentax now to Apple in the 90s. When Steve Jobs came back to Apple he simplified Apple's product line, added colors to computers, and brought in revolutionary products. The K-01 is no iPod but then neither was the iPod when it was first introduced. It was...ugly and kinda fat and heavy. What is often ignored is the emphasis he put on laptop computers. He correctly identified laptops as an area where Apple be the best and build a market. Laptop buyers became iPod buyers. I hope Pentax can have 1/10th of the success with the K-01 as Apple has had with the iPod. More importantly, I hope Pentax continues to make great cameras and lenses.