7.29.2019

One of the most dangerous things I can do is to leave the driveway with money in my pockets. It's almost never there when I get back home.... Or: New Camera, now testing.


Now testing and playing around with the ancient Pentax K-1 and a HD  FA 28-105mm f3.5-5.6 lens. How very retro.... And, the only camera system I've never owned (other than the K-01 concept camera)...  Better late than never?  We'll see.



It's improbable but I have to ask... Or there any readers out there who actually shoot with the Pentax system? I'd love to hear what you think of the K-1.


23 comments:

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

And unliike most systems it's impossible to spend too much money on modern lenses; there exists only a handful.....

John said...

I have been interested in the K-1, but I’m worried about the weight and the mirror/shutter slap sound. I’ll be looking forward to your findings.

Eric W said...

Kirk I had a K-200D and K-5 back when the D90 and D7000 were the rage on the Nikon side and only left when Pentax delayed their full frame camera for the fourth or fifth time. I was the only Pentax shooter almost everywhere I went. For me Pentax was the best balanced in terms of portability (camera and lens) and APS-C range. That said: The screw driven 31mm, 43mm and 77mm lenses were supposed to be the poor man's Leica from the Pentax film days. I really enjoyed the two I snagged..the 43 and 77 even if they were "wrong sized" on an APS-C camera. If you shoot with them at some point I'd love to hear your take. If I still wanted a DSLR...those three lenses and a K-1 may be all I need almost all year round. I do miss my Pentax. Great image pipeline, ergonomics, and just being "different" were all parts of the great ride.

sixblockseast said...

Kirk as I told Mike over at TOP I just realized I've never owned a DSLR--just jumped from P&S digit straight to mirrorless. Is it the optical VF that you miss? Something else? Seriously curious.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

SixBockseast,

I really didn't miss anything about DSLRs. Not a thing. I just remembered reading about the potential image quality of the K-1 and when I saw a very nicely preserved one as a very low price I thought I'd take it for spin and see if the files are really any better than anything else I've been shooting. Jury is still out.

Just to be clear; the optical finder is the very last thing I'd miss on a camera......

Chris Rusbridge said...

Ah yes, I shoot Pentax and love them... but no, not much use to you as they're all old manual focus film cameras, with the Pentax LX for colour, a MX for black and white, and a ME for experimenting! And a wide range of brilliant lenses... It's all I need (;-)

Anonymous said...

Started out with a Pentax H1a and 3 lenses. I used that kit for 10 years.

Aldo said...

Comming from Olympus and Panasonic, I learned to enjoy the qualities of the fullframe K1. Of course its heavier than M4/3-cameras, but I dont mind. Beside the 28-105/3.5, I added three old manual lenses, the 20/f4, 28/f2.8 and the 50/f1.7. So the system is pretty light and portable. I just love the quality of the raw-files, even at high iso. While the K1 is not really meant for sport-photography, I still use it for diffrent sport-assignments (with a tamron 70-200/f2.8, soccer, volleyball, badminton etc). The big files allow you to crop and still have great quality. The K1 is a workhorse, but as any camera, you have to learn how to handle it best.
best regards, Aldo

Joe said...

Hi, Kirk

I'm a believer in the right tool for the right job and situation. So, I'm in the M43 camp when I need take-anywhere portability coupled with sharp lenses.

But, I use a K-1 and some excellent Pentax primes when I need best possible digital imaging quality. (I'm still in the large format sheet film camp, but only on rare occasions.)

When I need weather-sealing, the 28-105 zoom works very well and is quite light and sharp for a full-frame zoom.

I've found that the 31mm and 77mm Limited Series lenses provide exceptionally good overall image quality in a nicely balanced manner, with excellent color quality and sharpness that was indistinquishable from a Sigma 35/1.4 ART series lens. In fact, I rented both the Sigma 35 ART and the 31mm Pentax Limited, compared them side by side, ad decided to buy the Pentax 31mm. The 31 and 77 Limited lenses are f/1.8 and quite compact although not super-light due to the all-metal construction.

In addition, the Pentax 100mm Macro is essentially identical to these in terms of construction and optical quality. The Pentax 50mm /2.8 macro is exceptionally sharp and affordable although the construction quality is merely adequate. All of these older primes are screw-drive focusing, quick although not quiet. For my uses, a bit of focus noise is irrelevant.

There are a lot of excellent FA mount lenses out there and it's quite easy to set up the K-1 for accurate auto-assisted manual focus and for fully-auto exposure. Older K-mount telephoto lenses work well and are generally very sharp without requiring in-camera corrections.

The viewfinder is very good and the ability to save files straight to DNG format is useful insurance against obsolescence.

The only lack is in the very-wide wide-angle range. While the Pentax rebadged Tamron 15-30mm zoom is sharp and weather-sealed, it's big, heavy and expensive. Some of the better Samyang wide angles, such as the 20mm /f1.8 can be used in aperture-priority auto mode and focus easily with the K-1's auto-assist manual focusing.

Unknown said...

Loved the 50mm macro, the 77mm limited and the 200mm 2.8.

Had too many systems and I sold the K-1. Great camera, rugged, image stabilized and good high ISO.

Eric Rose said...

Well at half or less the price of a Panasonic S1 I guess you can get your FF fix and not feel guilty. Not that you would, but hey why not. Life is for living.

I have this one friend who is super weird. He is the ONLY person I know that uses Pentax. Just saying. Be careful, birds of a feather and all that ;)

Eric

Greg Heins said...

I have multiple cameras - FZ1000, Oly Pen-F and OMD II, Pentax K1 and Pentax 645Z, much as in the film era I had everything from 35 to 8x10. For personal work, which in a year I hope will be the only work, my top choice is the two Pentaxes. If I could have only one, it would be the K1, with the 3 limiteds and several other lenses from 24 to 135, all very reasonably priced. At work today, I had to use a D810 (forgot the K1 kit at home) and it only reinforced my preference. Bear in mind, however, that my goal is prints from a 24-inch printer so image quality for that is important. As you so often point out, for the web one can use anything.

atmtx said...

Hah, I was there. I did detect a certain amount of interest on your part. You know I ended up buying your Pentax K-01 at Precision purely by accident. It's odd but lovable purely as a work of modern design.

Miguel Tejada-Flores said...

The K-1 is a lovely beast. Word is that its slightly newer iteration, the K1 II, is even better, in incremental but serious ways.
I own the K-1's little brother which shares much in common with it - the KP - in terms of both design, philosophy, beautifully rugged construction (the term built-like-a-tank is overused but really seems to fit the K-1 and the KP perfectly) - and I must say I truly love it. Both because of its classic photographic 'feel' --- and, yes (confession follows) I spent many years shooting with Spotmatics, and then with their clever follow-ups, the MX and even the ME-Super - and just as those older analog Pentaxes were beautifully designed tools, the KP feels the same.

The other thing about it which has always brought me back to Pentax are the lenses. Pentax makes effing sweet lenses. The DA 17 is a remarkable and remarkably compact little lens which gives some of the best 35mm FOV images I have ever shot. The older FA series is still legendary. And they make one of the weirder - and cooler - ultra-wide-angle-semi-fisheye-zoom lenses ever designed - the 10-17mm - or manufactured. Let's face it: Pentax makes quirky but amazing glass, and bodies that are simply fun to shoot with. Not video. And not sports. But for almost everything else....the KP is, simply, an effing joy to use.

I imagine its big brother the K-1 must be similar. Would you agree, Kirk?

CWM said...

Have way too many camera options, but the K1 with the 31, 77 and 100 macro is a great full frame kit. Not at all lightweight, but surprisingly compact. The 15-30 is a wonderful lens although HUGE. I don’t know if Pentax will survive the next 5-10 years, but their cameras are truly unique and fun to shoot with. Incredibly robust build ...they feel very similar to old school cameras like the LX of yesteryear. Image quality wise in raw, the K1 is essentially the same as a D810. “A photographer’s camera...” always springs to mind with Pentax and Fuji. Nice controls with thoughtful placement and utility. The 77 limited lens should be right up your alley for portraiture. I haven’t used the 28-105, but the screw drive primes are compact and a delight to shoot with. Even the lens caps are metal with felt liners. The 31 is special at f/2.8! Do try a prime of some sort during your evaluation. Pentax loves primes ....zooms are not where this system “sings.”

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

CWM, I bought the camera and the 28-105mm but par for the course the first thing I did when I got back to the office was to order a 50mm f1.4. I pretty much refuse to own an interchangeable lens camera if no 50mm exists for it. Or the equivalent...

77mm is too short for my style of portraiture. I find the images just start getting good at 90mm and get better and better right up to 135mm. But, of course, YMMV.

Brooke Meyer said...

No film anymore, sold off 645N stuff last summer. Still have K1000 I use to demo in my Basic Photography Class. Current working bodies are a pair of K3-IIs which replaced a pair of K5IIs bodies which replaced a pair of K5 bodies which replaced a pair of K20s that replaced the K10 I started with in 2007. I wear them out with dance.

Same lenses since beginning: Tamron 28-75/2.8, Pentax 17-70/4, Pentax 12-24/4 and Pentax 50-135. And a Sigma 100-300/4 for rear of theater.

Everything on my websites and blogs with these.

MIguel said...

Kirk,
Sure, I’ve been using the K-1 as my primary camera system for the past two years. Most of my work these days are “fine art” modern and traditional landscapes that are exhibited and sold in galleries across the US. As a small town dweller, I also do some commercial work and a few shots for the local paper. The K-1 replaced a Canon 5D Mark III extensive system that I used in a past life as a corporate and sports photographer.
The ergonomics on the K-1 reflect a tool designed with photographers in mind. A fair number of my friends are moving over to Sony, Fuji, and Nikon mirrorless systems—which have lots of neat bells and whistles—but they are all not so much fun to handle. I purchased the 28-105mm for a family trip to Chicago and was surprised by the high-quality optics and light weight. I only wish it went wider to 24mm.
If you stay with this Pentax thing, the DFA * 70-200mm f2.8 is a superstar. Sharper than the same focal length Canon lenses I’ve used. Pentax AF for action is justifiably criticized, but this lens seems to be the reference model for the K-1’s subsystem and the AF response is quite good. While the standard rebranded Tamron 24-70mm lens is good enough, I have rustled up a few wide-angle Zeiss Distagon classics for landscape work and they provide amazing results with the magic that Pentax does with the Sony OEM sensor. I am told that the new DFA * 50mm f1.4 is top notch; if you have ordered this I hope the experience is fantastic for you.

pixtorial said...

I shot the lovely little K-5 for a while, it was a lovely camera to hold and shoot with. My struggle was with the color science, the native color response of the camera just wasn't my thing, and at the time I was not terribly good at creating my own profiles, and today I wouldn't have the patience to when, out of the box, the Panasonic and Fujifilm cameras do such a lovely job.

RubyT said...

I shot Pentax for 10 years. The 77 on the KP is amazing (that lens really shines on APS-C because it's now more like 112).

I have to compromise and on size and weight now due to surgery, and luckily I also have tiny hands, so except for some sentimental film gear I am shooting Fuji, but how I loved my K-5 (now with my son) and my KP. Enjoy!

David Fann said...

I have basically two kits these days: (1) Pentax K-1 with 28-105 and 100mm 2.8 macro, and (2) Fuji X-T2 with 18-135 and 35mm 1.4. Some duplication with those zooms. These four lenses are really just about flawless.

The Fuji goes along for small, light weight, quiet, unobtrusive. The Pentax is for when the size weight are not so important.

That said, there is a big difference is the files. In a couple of situations the K-1 DNGs (or PEFs) are just better than the XT-2 RAFs: shooting anything in low light and shooting foliage in any light.

And then of course there are the K-1's lens-changing-in-the-dark assistance lights, the tiltable LCD by which you really can pick up the body with a lens (i.e., hard to break), amazing IBIS, the Green Button, etc. etc. etc.

Pentax DSLRs have just seemed better all around (for me) since 2006—from K10D to K5 to K-1—than most anything Canikon.

Bill Bresler said...

Isn't Mike Johnston fond of the Pentax?
Nice hat.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Bill, thanks for the shout out for my hat. In the sun in Texas it's always good to have one. I would wear my white Stetson but I can't wear a cowboy hat without the boots and since I walk a lot I rarely wear cowboy boots on a day to day basis.

The K-1 has everything else, I wonder if it has a "hat" feature....?

I'll call MJ and see if that's the case..