Pentax today announced its second mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera, the Pentax K-01, and the new model is a far cry from the Pentax Q in aesthetics, sensor-size, and lens support. The Pentax K-01 has a body in the midcentury-modern style conjured up by Australian industrial designer Marc Newson, as well as the same K-mount lens mount used by Pentax's DSLR lenses.
When compared with the pint-size Pentax Q announced last year, the Pentax K-01 is an entirely different beast altogether in terms of photo quality and target market. The Pentax K-01 is built around a 16.28Mp APS-C sensor that is roughly 13 times the size of the 1/2.3in-type sensor found in the Pentax Q, and the K-01's support for K-mount lenses means that the camera should be enticing for any Pentax lens owner who may be looking for a more-portable alternative to a DSLR. The K-01 also has a body-based, sensor-shift image stabilization system to accomodate legacy lenses without built-in optical stabilization.
In addition to RAW shooting (captured in .DNG files), full manual exposure controls, and aperture- and shutter-priority modes, the Pentax K-01 has a dedicated exposure-bracketing HDR setting accessible via its top-mounted mode dial. ISO equivalency settings range from ISO 100 to ISO 25,600. The K-01's burst mode maxes out at 6 frames per second at full resolution, and the camera will capture 1080p video at 24 fps, 25 fps, and 30 fps, as well as 720p video at 60 fps.
The new model offers no built-in eye-level EVF, but the fixed 3in LCD screen looked mighty sharp during my limited hands-on time with the camera at this year's CES trade show. The K-01's physical design is certainly eye-catching, too. Although the build is chunkier than that of most interchangeable-lens compacts (2.3in deep, 4.8 in wide and 3.1in tall), the K-01 feels solid in the hand as a result.
The Marc Newson-designed body sports a rubberized, ribbed grip covering a durable-feeling aluminum frame, and you can set two unmarked colored buttons on the top of the camera to jump to custom functions. A pop-up flash hides above the lens mount on the top of the camera, in front of a hot shoe for external flashes, and the entire control interface on the top of the K-01 has a minimalist, modern look and feel.
The K-01's prime kit lens is also an engineering and design feat. It's just 0.36 inch thick, making it more of a crepe lens than a pancake lens (and making the pun I just wrote the worst lens-related joke in photography history).
The Pentax DA 40mm/F2.8 XS is compatible with any K-mount camera; the K-01 has a focal length multiplier of about 1.5X, and the 40mm lens will have a focal-length equivalent of 61mm in 35mm format when attached to the new camera.
Due in March, the Pentax K-01 will be available in white, black, or yellow, priced at $750 for the body only and $900 as a kit with the superslim 40mm/F2.8 lens. The lens will also be sold separately for $250.