Pentax K-1 Full Frame Review for 2020

The wait for Pentax lovers is finally over as the company launches its full-frame DSLR after almost 11 years when the first full frame DSLR was launched by Canon.

The camera boasts of extremely high quality images and features not found on other similar full frame models and is also competitively priced. Read on to find out if it’s time for you to upgrade to a full frame, with our Pentax K1 review.


Why do you need a full frame?

Full frame refers to the size of the sensor that captures the image from the camera’s lens. A full frame sensor is 35mm wide and is similar to the 35mm film format. This means it captures everything that the lens captures without any cropping of images at the corners that happens with smaller sensors.

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What’s great about the Pentax K1?

  1. Sensor

  • The sensor is probably one of the best features of the Pentax K1 with all great things packed into one. You get a really wide angle of view with the 35mm or the full frame sensor, which you can’t get with crop sensors. It also means that you can shoot high quality pictures even under low light conditions.
  • The resolution of the sensor is very high at 36.4 MP and gives really high quality images.  It uses the CMOS technology to convert images, that is on par with the CCD sensors but without the problem of high battery usage and high cost. So your battery lasts incredibly longer for those extended shoots on your trips. Think 1000 to 2000 raw images! You get the picture?
  1. Sensor-shift and Pixel shift

  • The sensor-shift technology is the coolest feature of the camera which, with its in-built 5axis shake reduction mechanism,  helps you take shake-free pictures. You don’t just get image stabilization but it can also be used in modes that give true colour and reduce noise.
  • Your pictures won’t be just shake-free, they will also be artifact-free with the improved pixel shift resolution feature.  It uses a combination of four images that were taken a pixel width apart by the shift sensor to produce images with incredibly accurate colour, resolution and noise reduction.
  • Just when you thought the pixel shift is only for static objects, the Pentax K1 goes one step ahead and uses it for motion correction in case of moving objects. It actually does this by removing the pixel shift resolution at the points where the object moves.
  1. Lens mount

The K1 has a KAF 2 lens mount and can be used to mount a variety of lenses and because it has an in-built image stabilisation, the mounted lenses also get the  advantage of being automatically stabilized by the shift sensor.

  1. ISO range

Due to a high resolution 36.4 MP sensor that has a high noise resistance, the Pentax K1 produces high quality images with a sensitivity range of up to ISO 204,800.

  1. Body and Weather seal

You can shoot your pictures without worrying about rain as the sturdy magnesium-alloy construction is fully weather sealed to keep your weather worries at bay. It is also dust-proof and cold resistant. A French photographer even gave it a mud bath and a rinse in the sink later to test it and the Pentax came out with flying colours.

The body is also ergonomically designed with grooves for the fingers to allow a perfectly balanced shot every time and a fatigue free experience for prolonged usage.

  1. Flexible tilt LCD monitor

The Pentax K1 has a unique LCD monitor set up. The 3.2 inch LCD display has a 1.037 million dot resolution and is fixed with arms at four points to allow it to be pulled out and moved in any direction. So you can shoot at things from even the most difficult angles without straining or contorting your body and get an excellent live view at the same time.

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  1. View finder

The camera boasts of a pentaprism view finder that has a 100% accuracy of the image being captured and at a 0.7x magnification, you can clearly see what is being shot and how your picture will look like in the end.

  1. Anti-aliasing (AA) filter

An AA filter can be quite handy when you want to reduce moire patterns wherein it softens the image by causing a slight blur. But the Pentax K1 does not have an AA filter and thus produces images that are sharp and have a greater depth when it comes to finer details.

However, it simulates the effect of the AA filter by using the sensor shift feature to cause blur in the exposure while capturing the image.

  1. Autofocus

The autofocus feature of the K1 has a 33 point SAFOX 12 system that is similar to the one found on the earlier APS-C models. Since a full frame in used here, it has been designed to provide a better coverage on the 35mm sensor. This is achieved by using the same 25 cross-type points in the centre.

  1. GPS, Wi-Fi and SD card slots

The DSLR comes with in-built GPS for geo tagging which allows you to trace your images back to the exact location that they were shot in. There is also an electronic compass that will tell the direction of the captured image. The in-built Wi-Fi system means you can share your images as you shoot without the need for external Flucards or Eye-Fi cards.

You will have ample storage for all your pictures as the K1 is equipped with dual slots for memory cards that is compatible with a variety of cards such as SDHC, SDXC and UHS-I cards.

  1. LED lights

This is another feature that is unique to the Pentax K1. There are small white LED lights at strategic points of the camera to easily find the controls when shooting under low light conditions.

They are found above the lens mount, at the memory card slot and behind the flex tilt LCD so you can change the lens, the memory card and use the camera buttons with ease even when it is dark.

  1. Built in Wi-Fi, GPS and Astrotracer function

Share pictures easily and quickly with the built-in wifi feature. The camera also has an in-built GPS system which makes geotagging a breeze and an electronic compass that records the direction.

The GPS and the compass, in combination with the Astrotracer function work to freeze the movement of stars that cause star trails during long exposure.

  1. User interface

You don’t have to navigate through multiple menu options for changing the camera settings as a quick dial on the top of the device can be used to make quick parameter adjustments.

  1. Battery

The battery life is not comparable to the full frame DSLRs in its segment but is definitely much greater when compared to the mirror less DSLRs. Another thoughtful point is that the it uses the same battery pack as its previous APS-C models. This mean you don’t have to invest in newer batteries or be troubled with incompatible chargers and batteries.

  1. Timing

The Pentax K1 is quite slow to boot when powered up but is very quick with the autofocus. It also has fast single-shot times.

  1. Price

An almost signature feature of the Pentax brand of DSLRs has come to be its competitive pricing. It packs a lot of features for its price and compared to other DSLRs of the same class.

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What’s not great about the Pentax K1?

  1. You will notice that when it comes to full frame lenses, the Pentax K1 has enough to choose from but a comparatively limited choice.
  2. The video mode continues to be a neglected area in the Pentax models with a frame rate of only 30 fps while the latest technology has gone up to 4k recording. The output of the video over HDMI is also poor.
  3. Another area where the Pentax K1 scores low is the number of AF coverage points. It has only 33 points and the continuous focus is not on par with its competition. It also lacks the AF point selection joystick that is found in other similar models.
  4. There is no touch screen option on the LCD monitor but it makes up for it with the additional third mechanical dial for quick settings.
  5. The secondary LCD on top the camera is much smaller and relatively low on information when compared to the APS-C counterparts by Pentax.
  6. Although the view finder accuracy is almost 100%, the illumination is not equally impressive
  7. There is no built in, pop-up flash strobe as it is replaced with the GPS. This is quite common in a full frame DSLR, but if you wish to take wireless flash photos, you can always use an external strobe.
  8. The K1 lacks the lates USB 3.0 connectivity and is replace by the USB 2.0. This will cause file transfers to take more time than usual when done over a wired set-up.
  9. This full frame DSLR can be quite heavy weighing 1010 g. 

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What are the advantages of the Pentax k1 over its competitors?

  1. Built-in image stabilization

The Pentax K1 is the one with an in-built image stabilization system when compared to other DSLRs in the same class such as Nikon D810 or the Canon EOD 80D. This means that any lens that you mount on the K1 will also get stabilized by the shift sensor.

  1. Sensor resolution

The K1 emerges as the winner with a max sensor resolution of 36 MP which is 50% more pixels than those of the Canon EOS 80D.

  1. Max ISO

Shooting under low light is one the unique features of the Pentax K1 as it has a max ISO of a whopping 204800 while the Canon EOS 80 D has only 25600.

  1. Articulating screen

When you want to shoot photos and videos flexible from different angles, screen articulation becomes very important. The K1 has a one of its kind, screen articulation that has the LCD screen mounted on a four point hinge system allowing it to be moved in virtually any direction. The comparable Nikon D810 does not have an articulating screen.

  1. Anti alias (AA) filter simulation

Both the Canon EOs 80D and the Nikon D810 do not have an AA filter. Though these result in very high quality images that are sharp and capture finer details, they can come in handy when you need to avoid moire effect. The K1 however is able to simulate the AA filter effect using the shift sensor to shift the image and cause a slight blur.

  1. Built -in GPS

The K1 has a built-in GPS for geo tagging while their counterparts such as the Canon EOSD and the Nikon D810 do not have an in-built GPS.

  1. LCD screen

The 3.2″ LCD monitor is also larger than the 3′ ones found on the Canon EOS 80 D, so you can get a bigger display of both the live view and the playback view.

  1. Astro tracer

A unique feature of the Pentax K1 that is not found in its competitors such as Canon and Nikon is the astro tracer feature which helps in producing images of stars, planets and other celestial bodies without a star trail. 


  • We are sure that our Pentax K1 review has given you a good idea of what to expect when you decide to buy the product. If you have already been using a DSLR and have been waiting to go in for a full frame upgrade, then this Pentax K1 will be a great choice for you. This is one camera that gives you more features than the cost its worth, clearly giving the other popular brands a tough competition.
  • It is packed with unique features such as the pixel shift resolution, the 5-stop image stabilisation system, in-built GPS, in-built Wi-Fi, astro tracer feature and a one of a kind flex tilt LCD monitor.  The absence of an in-built flash may not be a big factor unless you need to control the camera remotely.
  • This is an excellent entry model in the full frame segment by Ricoh with an irresistibly low price than its rivals. It is ideal for those who do not have a collection of lenses from other brands to play with. And any astro photography enthusiast with a thirst for a full frame should consider investing in the Pentax K1.
  • Download the Operation Manuals PDF

So go ahead and make it yours and enjoy the freedom it gives you to shoot from never before angles and in dark environments.