The Pentax K-01 is the first camera I have reviewed in quite a while that has left me with such a wide disparity of opinion on its performance. On the one hand there is very good still image quality – on a par with the best cameras in the class – and high ISO noise performance as good or perhaps a bit better than the best APS-C sensor cameras at present. The menus are comprehensive, yet simple and intuitive and for the most part available in not only manual shooting modes but full auto as well. Video quality is pretty good as well.
But as much as I like the end product produced by the K-01, it’s almost like the results produced are in spite of the camera rather than because of it. AF acquisition time is not competitive with the best cameras in the class and shutter lag is a bit slower than most, although this parameter is not as noticeable as the AF situation. The rubber-hinged terminal cover is hard to affix properly and has the annoying tendency to flop back over the terminal while changing memory media. There’s no continuous auto focus capability with burst shooting, and no RAW capture with burst shooting. Lack of the viewfinder will complicate hand holding the camera as lens sizes increase beyond that of the small and compact kit lens designed for the K-01.
All these criticisms would be a lot easier to swallow were not for the imminent announced arrival of the K-30, a weather-sealed Pentax DSLR with the same MSRP as the K-01. The DSLR is marginally larger and heavier, but these differences are fractions of an inch and about 4 ounces of weight. The DSLR is virtually certain to have better shutter and autofocus acquisition time performance, as well as continuous autofocus with burst shooting and the ability to shoot bursts in RAW. For the same amount of money prospective Pentax owners can have a camera with improved overall performance and, one would suspect, comparable image quality and noise performance. The only advantage enjoyed by the K-01 against its upcoming stable mate would be in size and weight, and those would not be enough for me.
- Good still image quality
- Good video image quality
- High ISO noise performance competitive with best APS-C sensor cameras
- Stabilized body
- AF acquisition times/shutter lag slower than best cameras in class
- No viewfinder
- No continuous AF with burst shooting