Pentax K-1 Mark II Review

Pentax K-1 II Digital Full Frame SLR Camera Body - Black
Amazon.co.uk: £1699.00

We review the new 36mp Pentax K-1 Mark II - the update to the full-frame K-1 - is the new model worth the upgrade?

17/04/2018 - 12:39

Pentax K 1 MarkII (2)

The Pentax K-1 Mark II, is Pentax's update to the Pentax K-1, making it Pentax' second full-frame Digital SLR. There are a small number of updates that have been made to the K-1, and at first glance, they are fairly minor. However, there is also an increased ISO range, and Pentax say the camera will give better image quality, improved AF performance, and improved Pixel Shift Resolution. All other DSLR features remain the same, with the same camera body which includes weather-sealing, shake-reduction sensor, a unique multi-angle screen, and compatibility with all Pentax K-mount lenses since the mid-1970s. The K-1 Mark II has a 36-megapixel full-frame sensor and to get the best results from this camera Pentax FA and other full-frame lenses are recommended.

Pentax K-1 Mark II Features

Pentax K 1 MarkII (11)

Here's a quick run-down of the differences between the Mark I and Mark II:

  Pentax K-1 Mark II Pentax K-1 (Mark I)
New Handheld Pixel Shift mode -
Upgraded Improved AF speed / performance -
ISO Range ISO100 - 819200 ISO100 - 204800
APS-C fps 6.4fps 6.5fps
New Night LCD mode Added with Firmware update
Battery Life 670 760

 

The heart of the Pentax K-1 Mark II is a 36 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor with an ISO range of ISO100 to ISO81920. The camera can focus down to -3EV and has 33 AF points, with 25 of these cross-type points. Focus speeds are said to be improved. 

If you're familiar with the Pentax K-1, then you might want to jump to the Performance section, as the features and handling of the camera are almost identical.

The Mark II camera body is identical to the K-1, except for the label on the front, therefore it shares the same features of the K-1 - including the "Flextilt" 3.2inch tilting / rotating screen, with 1037k dot resolution and a gapless design for better outdoor viewing. This can be tilted left and right, as well as down, and up 90 degrees, or moved away from the camera body, and the system that holds the screen is strong enough to support the weight of the camera if you were to accidentally hold the camera using the screen. The camera body is weather-sealed, and for low-light use, there are a number of lights to assist operation, including a light that will illuminate the lens mount so you can still change lenses in low-light. 

Pentax K 1 MarkII (7)

The camera features in-camera image stabilisation: a 5-axis image stabilisation system using Pentax's Shake Reduction II (SR II), for up to 5 stops of image stabilisation. The system also has built-in panning detection. Like the Pentax K-3 II, this can be used for Pentax's pixel shift resolution technology which increases the image resolution and colour accuracy by taking a number of images and combining them. Pixel shift resolution is designed to be used on a tripod with non-moving subjects, however, there is also pixel shift Motion Correction (MC) for when there are moving subjects in the shot. The K-1 Mark II adds "Handheld Pixel Shift" - which takes a number of images to improve resolution and detail captured, without the use of a tripod. 

The Pentax K-1 Mark II still offers very good value for money, as other full-frame DSLRs tend to cost more.

Pentax K1 II (4) (Custom)

A floating mirror system reduces the size of the camera's mirror box so that the camera's depth is kept to a minimum, at 86mm compared to the Pentax K-3 II 76mm depth, and the camera weighs 960g without battery and SD memory card, or 1010g with.

Pentax K-1 Mark II Key Features

  • 36.4MP 35mm Full-frame CMOS Sensor 
  • Prime IV 14-Bit Image Processor
  • 3.2inch Flextilt gapless screen, 1037K dots
  • SRII: In-built Shake Reduction sensor, 5-axis, 5stops
  • ISO100 up to 819,200
  • 300,000 shutter rating, 1/8000s shutter speed
  • Pixel Shift Resolution with Motion Correction
  • AA (OLP) Filterless with AA Simulator
  • 100% Field of View Pentaprism Viewfinder, 0.7x magnification
  • 4.4fps full-frame JPEG L (70 frames, 17 raw)
  • 6.4fps APS-C JPEG L (100frames, 50 raw)
  • 33-AF points -3 EV, 25cross type
  • Weather Resistant with Magnesium Alloy Body
  • Wi-Fi connectivity built-in
  • FullHD Video 60i,50i,30p,25p,24p, built-in stereo mic
  • GPS, Electronic Compass, Astrotracer
  • Operation assist light
  • Lightroom plugin for tethered shooting (Image transmitter 2 is an optional extra for live view tethered shooting)

Pentax K 1 MarkII (4)

The Pentax K-1 works with all Pentax K mount lenses from 1975, and all FA lenses will work with the camera using the full-frame. DA lenses will work in cropped mode automatically, producing a 15mp image (can be manually turned on/off as necessary). AF points cover almost all of the APS-C area. 

Pentax K-1 Mark II Video Features

  • Full HD Movie Recording
  • 60i/50i/30p/25p/24p
  • Up to 25 minutes or 4GB
  • 4K Time-lapse movie creation
  • Multiple custom image and digital filter options
  • Built in stereo mic
  • External microphone and headphone jack

Pentax K-1 Mark II Handling

Pentax K1 II (3) (Custom)

The top mode dial has all the usual modes you come to expect with Pentax cameras, plus 5 custom user modes. The locking mode dial can be locked and unlocked with a switch, and when it is locked you simply press the middle button to change the mode. A new top dial, on the right, lets you set the new command wheel operation on the very right of the camera - so, for example, you could set the dial to ISO and then have direct and quick access to change the ISO settings. The layout of controls should be very familiar to anyone who has used other Pentax Digital SLRs, with the layout being very similar to the K-3 II. 

The K-1 Mark II has the same solid feel and premium design as the K-1, along with excellent build quality and a toughness that you come to expect with weather-sealed Pentax DSLR cameras. There is a rubber grip hand grip on both sides of the camera, and there is a rubber grip on the rear for your thumb with a good sized lip giving you a firm area to hold onto, which gives you confidence when you are holding the camera with one hand, even with a large lens such as the Pentax 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

Pentax K 1 MarkII (8)

There are Dual SD (UHS-I) memory card slots, these can be used sequentially, save to both, separate RAW/JPG, and image copy between slots is possible.

There is an optional battery grip that is also weather-sealed. The camera has a battery life that is rated at 670 shots (less than the K-1), although this can be extended with the optional battery grip. The K-1 II feels extremely solid, and with a top design that features bold PENTAX lettering, we think it has the look of a Pentax K-3 II mixed with the medium-format Pentax 645Z

Pentax K 1 MarkII (3)

A "Program Line" option built into the camera works in P or Sv modes, and it lets you choose how exposure is controlled, and by default, this is set to Auto, but you also have the option of:

  • Normal: All-around mode
  • Hi-speed priority: Prioritises high shutter speeds
  • DOF Priority (Deep): Closes the aperture to a deep depth of field
  • DOF Priority (Shallow): opens the aperture for a shallow depth of field
  • MTF Priority: Sets the sharpest aperture of the attached lens when a D FA, DA, DA L, FA, or FA J lens is used

The optical viewfinder (OVF) is quite large, and is clear, with a good level of information visible, including dual-axis spirit levels, and a display of the focus points in use. There is dioptre adjustment, which will be of benefit to anyone with eye-sight that is less than perfect. 

The 3.2inch flex-tilt screen is clear and easy to see, with good viewing angles, and looks great. The screen is designed to work outdoors with a bright display mode option. Using the flex-tilt screen you can tilt the screen up, and down, as well as tilt it left and right. The ribbon cable that goes to the screen is protected by a rubber shield, and due to the way that it is exposed when the screen is out, we'd recommend keeping the screen closed when moving the camera. 

There is also a customisable Info screen, to give you quick access to settings. The menus are clear and easy to read, and there is some built-in help for some of the options, although it would be good if every option had built-in help. 

When using the Pentax K-1 Mark II, the 33 focus points are quite central, with 25 cross-type focus points. There is a reason for the focus points being in the central area of the frame, and that is so that they are all available when shooting with an APS-C lens, and the 33 focus points cover most of the APS-C image area. The camera can focus down to -3 EV. 

The K-1 II uses TTL phase detection focus, with a SAFOX 12 focus sensor. There are a number of modes including Single AF (AF.S), Continuous (AF, C), and AF point selection options include Spot, Select, Expanded Area (S, M, L), Zone select, Auto (33AF Points). Live view focusing modes include face detection, AF tracking, multiple AF points, select and spot, and uses contrast detection focus. Focus peaking is available, and you can magnify the screen up to 16x.

The camera has a top LCD display that can be illuminated, and operation assist lights show you the buttons, lens mount, dual SD memory card slot, and remote release socket, so you can use the camera in the dark. To illuminate the rear controls you need to pull the screen away from the camera, as the LEDs are located in the back of the screen. By default, these options are switched off, and you can choose which ones you want to have switched on. 

Ricoh Image Sync Playback Ricoh Image Sync Remote Shooting
Ricoh Image Sync Playback Ricoh Image Sync Remote Shooting


To control the Pentax K-1 II over Wi-Fi you need to install Ricoh Image Sync, available for iOS and Android devices. Connecting to the camera's Wi-Fi network is a little bit more difficult than it is on other cameras, as you have to enter the password from the camera to connect. But once connected you can remotely control the camera and change settings, as well as use the touch-screen on the smartphone to set the focus point. You can also download images from the camera to your smartphone.

Pentax K 1 MarkII (9)

Battery life - Battery life is shorted, now rated at 670, down from 760 shots on the K-1, according to Pentax/ CIPA test results. However, this is still reasonable for a Digital SLR without the optional battery grip attached. For comparison, the Nikon D810 offers 1200 shots, and the Canon EOS 5DS offers 700 shots. 

Pentax K-1 Mark II Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

  K-1 Mark II K-1 (Mark I)
Shutter Response <0.05secs <0.05secs (0.2s live view)
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.25secs* 0.3secs (1.1s live view)
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response  0.25secs* 0.2secs (1.0s live view)
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 1.2secs 1.2secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.25secs 0.25secs
Shot to Shot with Flash N/A N/A
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
4.5fps (22 shots) 4.4fps (29 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash N/A N/A
Continuous Shooting - RAW 4.4fps (13 shots) 4.6fps (14 shots)


The camera can shoot at 4.5fps (JPEG) and 4.4fps (raw), although we only managed 22 JPEG (Fine) shots, and 13 raw (DNG) shots before the camera slowed down, which is less than the Pentax specified 70 (JPEG) and 17 raw. You can choose between recording PEF (Pentax raw files), or Adobe DNG raw files.

* Focus performance altered between very quick (0.1s) to quite slow (0.35/0.45s) at both wide and telephoto ends of the lens. We've shown the average here. Focus was also slower in situations with lower light. Tested with the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.

 

Pentax K-1 Mark II Sample Photos

Low Light Bokeh (Cobra) | 1/60 sec | f/2.8 | 70.0 mm | ISO 320<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-Low-light-bokeh-IMGP0073_1523522527.jpg">High-Res</a>
Low Light Bokeh (Cobra) | 1/60 sec | f/2.8 | 70.0 mm | ISO 320
High-Res
Fine Malt Whiskies (Low Light) | 1/60 sec | f/2.8 | 70.0 mm | ISO 1000<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-Low-light-drinks-IMGP0071_1523522547.jpg">High-Res</a>
Fine Malt Whiskies (Low Light) | 1/60 sec | f/2.8 | 70.0 mm | ISO 1000
High-Res
Low Light Indoors | 1/40 sec | f/2.8 | 50.0 mm | ISO 6400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-Low-light-indoors-IMGP0049_1523522584.jpg">High-Res</a>
Low Light Indoors | 1/40 sec | f/2.8 | 50.0 mm | ISO 6400
High-Res
Low Light White Lion | 1/60 sec | f/2.8 | 24.0 mm | ISO 2000<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-Low-light-White-Lion-IMGP0065_1523522606.jpg">High-Res</a>
Low Light White Lion | 1/60 sec | f/2.8 | 24.0 mm | ISO 2000
High-Res
Low Light Handheld (Nissan PAO) | 1/5 sec | f/2.8 | 35.0 mm | ISO 2500<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-Low-light-handheld-IMGP0086_1523522565.jpg">High-Res</a>
Low Light Handheld (Nissan PAO) | 1/5 sec | f/2.8 | 35.0 mm | ISO 2500
High-Res

Sample Photos - Photos taken with the Pentax K-1 Mark II show very good colour with good levels of saturation, and we used the camera on the "Auto" (colour) mode. Images could benefit from slight sharpening if we were being picky, although this could easily be corrected by adjusting the in-camera settings. Exposure was generally reliable, although there is a bias towards under-exposing images.

There are a number of options to expand dynamic range recorded. The options include D-Range compensation: highlight correction, shadow correction. You can also shoot HDR images handheld, with a variety of options including auto, HDR1, HDR2, HDR3, advanced HDR, with the exposure bracket value adjustable, and automatic composition correction function. There are Skin tone options: Off / Type 1 / Type 2 and using these the camera smooths skin after you've taken the image.

 

Pentax K-1 Mark II Lens test images

Normal Shot | 1/250 sec | f/7.1 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-normal-shot-IMGP0215_1523955126.jpg">High-Res</a>
Normal Shot | 1/250 sec | f/7.1 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Handheld Pixel Shift (Handheld)| 1/320 sec | f/7.1 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-handheld-pixel-shift-IMGP0216_1523955066.jpg">High-Res</a>
Handheld Pixel Shift (Handheld)| 1/320 sec | f/7.1 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Hires Mc Off (Tripod mounted) | 1/200 sec | f/7.1 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-hires-mc-off-IMGP0217_1523955088.jpg">High-Res</a>
Hires Mc Off (Tripod mounted) | 1/200 sec | f/7.1 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Hires Mc On (Tripod mounted) | 1/200 sec | f/7.1 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-hires-mc-on-IMGP0218_1523955108.jpg">High-Res</a>
Hires Mc On (Tripod mounted) | 1/200 sec | f/7.1 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Leaves | 1/320 sec | f/6.3 | 70.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-Leaves-IMGP0226_1523888948.jpg">High-Res</a>
Leaves | 1/320 sec | f/6.3 | 70.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Fly On Tree | 1/400 sec | f/7.1 | 70.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-Fly-on-tree-IMGP0225_1523888928.jpg">High-Res</a>
Fly On Tree | 1/400 sec | f/7.1 | 70.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Trees JPEG | 1/250 sec | f/7.1 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-Trees-JPEG-IMGP0231_1523889687.jpg">High-Res</a>
Trees JPEG | 1/250 sec | f/7.1 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Trees Raw To Jpeg | 1/250 sec | f/7.1 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-Trees-raw-to-jpeg-IMGP0231_1523889719.jpg">High-Res</a>
Trees Raw To Jpeg | 1/250 sec | f/7.1 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

Lens Performance - The camera has built-in lens correction options for distortion correction, peripheral illumination correction (vignetting), lateral chromatic aberration correction, and diffraction correction. We took photos with just diffraction correction and lateral chromatic aberration correction switched on. 

The image stabilisation (IS) system uses sensor-shift shake reduction (SRII) and works with any lens attached to the camera, letting you take photos at a slower shutter speed than normal, and we were able to take sharp photos at shutter speeds as slow as 1/5s. For manual lenses the camera you can set the focal length manually. There is also a 5-axis electronic level function which is displayed in the optical viewfinder (OVF) and on the LCD screen (Horizontal and vertical). 

There is a fairly wide range of full-frame Pentax lens options available, with more on the way, and APS-C lenses work in crop mode on the K-1. You can use any K mount lens from Pentax, including old and discontinued lenses that were released before digital cameras existed. 

 

Pixel Shift Resolution

Using the Pixel Shift Resolution mode, you end up with a 160-180MB raw (PEF) file compared to the more normal 40-55MB for raw (PEF) files, JPEGs are around 15-20MB. Using this mode, the camera takes 4 shots (using an electronic shutter) at slightly different pixel positions and combines them so that you get a sharper image, with better colour detail, although there is the risk of ghosting with moving subjects (like tree branches, people or cars). Olympus use a similar system for 40 / 50-megapixel images, and this too has issues with moving subjects. You can use the Pixel Shift Resolution with MC (Motion Correction) to help with this.

Under the Pixel Shift Resolution menu option there is now a Handheld "Pixel Shift" mode, this works by taking multiple shots (using an electronic shutter) but uses the movement in between shots from handholding the camera to create an image with more detail, much like the "Super-resolution" technique. In some images, there was minimal noticeable difference, but in others, there was a slight improvement in detail and sharpness. You're likely to get a similar benefit or increase in sharpness by processing raw files yourself and adding sharpness. Although your results may vary, depending on the subject your are shooting, lens sharpness, camera settings, etc.

Pixel Shift Examples
Click to view larger (at 100% pixel size) - Using these modes there is an additional delay while the camera processes the image. 

 

Pentax K-1 Mark II ISO test images

ISO100 | 0.3 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-ISO100-IMGP0008_1523433346.jpg">High-Res</a>	| <a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/raw/IMGP0008.DNG">RAW</a>
ISO100 | 0.3 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res | RAW
ISO200 | 1/5 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 200<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-ISO200-IMGP0009_1523433370.jpg">High-Res</a>	| <a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/raw/IMGP0009.DNG">RAW</a>
ISO200 | 1/5 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 200
High-Res | RAW
ISO400 | 1/13 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-ISO400-IMGP0010_1523433391.jpg">High-Res</a>	| <a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/raw/IMGP0010.DNG">RAW</a>
ISO400 | 1/13 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res | RAW
ISO800 | 1/25 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 800<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-ISO800-IMGP0011_1523433410.jpg">High-Res</a>	| <a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/raw/IMGP0011.DNG">RAW</a>
ISO800 | 1/25 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 800
High-Res | RAW
ISO1600 | 1/50 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 1600<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-ISO1600-IMGP0012_1523433432.jpg">High-Res</a>	| <a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/raw/IMGP0012.DNG">RAW</a>
ISO1600 | 1/50 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 1600
High-Res | RAW
ISO3200 | 1/100 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 3200<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-ISO3200-IMGP0013_1523433457.jpg">High-Res</a>	| <a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/raw/IMGP0013.DNG">RAW</a>
ISO3200 | 1/100 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 3200
High-Res | RAW
ISO6400 | 1/200 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 6400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-ISO6400-IMGP0014_1523433479.jpg">High-Res</a>	| <a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/raw/IMGP0014.DNG">RAW</a>
ISO6400 | 1/200 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 6400
High-Res | RAW
ISO12800 | 1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 12800<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-ISO12800-IMGP0015_1523433501.jpg">High-Res</a>	| <a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/raw/IMGP0015.DNG">RAW</a>
ISO12800 | 1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 12800
High-Res | RAW
ISO25600 | 1/800 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 25600<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-ISO25600-IMGP0016_1523433527.jpg">High-Res</a>	| <a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/raw/IMGP0016.DNG">RAW</a>
ISO25600 | 1/800 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 25600
High-Res | RAW
ISO51200 | 1/1600 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 51200<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-ISO51200-IMGP0017_1523433557.jpg">High-Res</a>	| <a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/raw/IMGP0017.DNG">RAW</a>
ISO51200 | 1/1600 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 51200
High-Res | RAW
ISO102400 | 1/3200 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 102400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-ISO102400-IMGP0018_1523433592.jpg">High-Res</a>	| <a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/raw/IMGP0018.DNG">RAW</a>
ISO102400 | 1/3200 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 102400
High-Res | RAW
ISO204800 | 1/6400 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 204800<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-ISO204800-IMGP0019_1523433618.jpg">High-Res</a>	| <a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/raw/IMGP0019.DNG">RAW</a>
ISO204800 | 1/6400 sec | f/8.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 204800
High-Res | RAW
ISO409600 | 1/6400 sec | f/11.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 409600<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-ISO409600-IMGP0020_1523433653.jpg">High-Res</a>	| <a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/raw/IMGP0020.DNG">RAW</a>
ISO409600 | 1/6400 sec | f/11.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 409600
High-Res | RAW
ISO819200 | 1/6400 sec | f/16.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 819200<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-ISO819200-IMGP0021_1523433679.jpg">High-Res</a>	| <a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/raw/IMGP0021.DNG">RAW</a>
ISO819200 | 1/6400 sec | f/16.0 | 58.0 mm | ISO 819200
High-Res | RAW

ISO Noise Performance - The camera's ISO range goes from ISO100 to ISO819200. Noise is low from ISO100 to ISO3200, with some more noise creeping in at ISO6400. At these lower ISO settings, you may want to use the custom noise options to set the camera to lower noise reduction to retain as much detail as possible. However, we'd still be happy using the camera at ISO12800, as noise is quite grainy (and some would say film-like), with very few red, green and blue dots spoiling the image. Noise performance at ISO12800 is reasonably good, with a slightly better result from the Pentax K-1 Mark II, when compared to the K-1, and raw files also look better.

At ISO25600 noise becomes stronger and we'd recommend avoiding this setting and higher unless you were going to process the raw files yourself or resize the images for use on the web. ISO51200 may still provide a usable result (just about) if you processed the image further, but noise gets quite unpleasant at ISO102400, and above. At ISO409600 and above images look awful, and unless you're shooting in the dark as a PI, then I doubt you'll ever want to use this setting.

Noise options include show shutter speed NR (for slower than 1 second): Auto, On, Off, and High-ISO NR: Auto, Low, Mid, High, Custom, Off. Custom lets you choose how much noise reduction is applied at each individual ISO setting, and the options are Off, Low, Mid, High. 

 

Pentax K-1 Mark II White-balance test images

AWB Tungsten | 0.4 sec | f/8.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-AWB-Tungsten-IMGP0003_1523433637.jpg">High-Res</a>	| <a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/raw/IMGP0003.DNG">RAW</a>
AWB Tungsten | 0.4 sec | f/8.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res | RAW
AWB Multi Tungsten | 0.4 sec | f/8.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-AWB-Multi-Tungsten-IMGP0004_1523433606.jpg">High-Res</a>
AWB Multi Tungsten | 0.4 sec | f/8.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
WB Tungsten | 0.4 sec | f/8.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-WB-Tungsten-IMGP0005_1523433693.jpg">High-Res</a>	| <a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/raw/IMGP0005.DNG">RAW</a>
WB Tungsten | 0.4 sec | f/8.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res | RAW
Converted From Raw +0.5 Ev (Colour tweaked) | 0.4 sec | f/8.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-MarkII-converted-from-raw-0-5-ev-comp-IMGP0005_1523436933.jpg">High-Res</a>
Converted From Raw +0.5 Ev (Colour tweaked) | 0.4 sec | f/8.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
AWB Mixed Light | 1/5 sec | f/8.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-AWB-Mixed-Light-IMGP0002_1523433576.jpg">High-Res</a>	| <a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/raw/IMGP0002.DNG">RAW</a>
AWB Mixed Light | 1/5 sec | f/8.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res | RAW
AWB Fluorescent | 0.6 sec | f/8.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-AWB-Fluorescent-IMGP0006_1523433543.jpg">High-Res</a>	| <a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/raw/IMGP0006.DNG">RAW</a>
AWB Fluorescent | 0.6 sec | f/8.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res | RAW
WB Fluorescent | 0.6 sec | f/8.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/K1-Mark-II-6728/highres/Pentax-K-1-II-WB-Fluorescent-IMGP0007_1523433667.jpg">High-Res</a>
WB Fluorescent | 0.6 sec | f/8.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) gives a warm result under tungsten light with the multi-area AWB giving a more accurate and less warm result. The tungsten preset gives the most accurate result. AWB gives good results under fluorescent lighting. There are four different fluorescent presets available, although most of them give a colour cast, and for more accurate results the use of manual white balance is recommended. Alternatively, you can adjust the auto white balance settings yourself. We left the AWB in tungsten light set to strong correction, there is also the option for subtle correction. 

 

Digital Filters - There are a number of different Custom image settings including Auto Select, Bright, Natural, Portrait, Landscape, Vibrant, Radiant, Muted, Flat, Bleach Bypass, Reversal Film, Monochrome, Cross Processing (Random, Preset 1-3, Favorite 1-3). You can also customise these, and the camera lets you adjust saturation, hue, high/low key, contrast, highlight, shadow, and sharpness (with additional options for fine sharpness or extra sharpness). Another option is the Clarity setting which is off on default settings but has 4 levels from 1 to 4.

There are also digital filters: Extract Color, Replace Color, Toy Camera, Retro, High Contrast, Shading, Invert Color, Unicolor Bold, Bold Monochrome, with a few more available in playback when editing raw files. There's also the option to adjust the composition: ±1.5mm up, down, left or right (1mm when rotated); 1 degree of range. There is a Colour Moire correction option in playback that can be used to reduce colour moire in images, although we did not notice the need for this in our shots. 

 

Video - There is a built-in stereo microphone, although if you want to record higher quality sound, you can use the mic and headphone sockets on the side of the camera. There are options for setting the recording sound level, wind noise reduction and headphone volume. You can choose between recording using the full-frame or using an APS-C crop for FullHD video recording. In the video mode, you have access to the custom image settings, and there is a "Flat" option available which will be of interest to those that want to adjust video later. Video quality was good, with good audio quality, and the built-in image stabilisation did a good job keeping video steady, even when recording handheld. 

 

Pentax K 1 MarkII (1)

Value For Money

The Pentax K-1 Mark II is available for £1799 (body only) which makes it very good value for money for a high resolution full-frame Digital SLR, and the competition offering this resolution or higher is more expensive:

Nikon D810, 36mp, 5fps, ISO32-51200, FullHD video, £2549
Nikon D850, 45mp, 7fps, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4K video, £3499
Nikon D750, 24mp, 6.5fps, Wi-Fi, FullHD video, £1749
Canon EOS 6D Mark II, 26mp, 6.5fps, FullHD video, £1728
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, 30mp, 7fps, 4K video, £3249
Canon EOS 5DS / 5DS R, 50mp, 5fps, FullHD video, £3099 / £3449
Sony Alpha A7 Mark III, 24mp, 10fps, 4K video, £1999
Sony Alpha A7R Mark III, 42mp, 10fps, 4K video, £3199

Have a look at more full-frame DSLRs in our Top 10 Best Full-Frame Digital SLRs. You'll also need to buy a memory card (or two) and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

 

Pentax K-1 Mark II Verdict

When the K-1 first came out, it offered a high-resolution sensor at a competitive price, with a number of unique features. Whilst the K-1 Mark II still offers the same 36mp sensor, and keeps the same unique features, the market has moved on, with the majority of competitors offering faster continuous shooting speeds, and more focus points. Unfortunately, there have been no improvements made in continuous shooting speed or the number of focus points.

The improvements made are fairly minor, and there have been improvements made in noise performance, these are quite minimal but welcome all the same. A new handheld "Pixel shift" mode can give additional image quality, for when you don't have a tripod available. Focus performance is improved, slightly, although we found the camera struggled in low-light conditions.

It would be nice if the continuous shooting speed (and buffer) was improved if USB3 was adopted, UHS-II cards were supported, and adding 4K video would make the camera appealing to videographers. Live view focus remains relatively slow. Maybe next time? 

The Pentax K-1 II excels in the same areas that the K-1 did, but offers slightly improved image quality, whilst still being one of the cheapest 36mp cameras available. The K-1 II offers Pixel Shift Resolution and in-camera image stabilisation. Pentax's Pixel Shift Resolution mode gives improved image quality, which will be particularly useful for still life and detailed product shots. With Pentax's 5-axis sensor-based image stabilisation every lens attached to the camera can benefit from image stabilisation, including older lenses, and the camera will also confirm focus with manual focus lenses.

Unique to the Pentax K-1 / II is the illuminated controls, and you'd have to pay much more for this on another DSLR, such as the Nikon D5 which would set you back around £5000. You also get GPS and Wi-Fi built in, and the GPS can be used for its Astrotracer facility, which gives you additional options for astrophotography, including star trails. We were impressed by the screen quality and construction, along with the flexibility provided by also having the ability to tilt the screen left and right, which will be of use when shooting in portrait mode at different heights.  

If you're a Pentax fan, then the K-1 Mark II is a very good camera, and if you are looking for a full-frame Pentax camera, then this is the one to get. If you already have the K-1, then it's a bit more difficult to justify the upgrade. If you are happy with the performance and features of the K-1, then the Mark II will give you slightly improved image quality, along with a few new features, but perhaps not enough to justify the upgrade. 

 

Pentax K-1 Mark II Pros

  • Pixel shift resolution for sharper more detailed images with better colour
  • Capable of taking excellent images
  • Slightly improved noise performance
  • Customisable ISO controls for noise reduction
  • 5-axis image stabilisation sensor
  • LEDs light up camera in the dark
  • 3.2inch Flex-tilt screen
  • Weather-sealed body
  • GPS and Wi-Fi built-in
  • Built-in Astrotracer
  • AA Filter Simulator
  • DNG or PEF RAW format

Pentax K-1 Mark II Cons

  • Slower continuous shooting than the competition
  • AF Fine tune adjustment may be needed to get the best from your lenses
  • Auto white balance could be better
  • USB2 / UHS-I slower than USB3 / UHS-II
  • Focus is slow in low-light
  • Shorter battery life than the K-1

Features: 5/5
Handling: 4.5/5
Performance: 5/5
Value: 4/5
Overall Verdict
4.5/5

Pentax K-1 Mark II Specifications

ManufacturerPentax
Lens
Effective Magnification 1x
Image Sensor
Pixels 36.4Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W) 7360
Pixels (H) 4912
Sensor Type CMOS
Sensor Size Full-frame
Sensor Size (width) 35.9mm
Sensor Size (height) 24mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor 3.2in
Screen resolution 1037k
Touch Screen No
Focusing
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
  • Centre
  • AF Fine Tuning (Micro Adjustment)
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest 1/8000sec
Shutter speeds longest 30sec
Bulb mode Yes
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Program Variable
Metering
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
  • TTL
ISO sensitivity 100 - 819200
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
Exposure Comp +/-5
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting 4.4fps
Video
Movie mode Yes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
Video FPS 60i/50i/30p/25p/24p
Stereo Sound Yes
Optical Zoom with Video Yes
Other Features
Image Stabilisation Yes
Interface
HDMI Yes
USB USB 2
Wi-Fi Yes
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery Type Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery D-LI90
Battery Life (CIPA rating) 670shots
Box Contents
Box Contents No Data
Dimensions
Weight 1010g
Width 136.5mm
Height 110mm
Depth 85.5mm


Related Photos
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RobL

Link Posted 18/04/2018 - 07:55
First up, the comparison at the top shows lcd night mode only on mk II but it was added to K1 in a software update.
Last Edited by RobL on 18/04/2018 - 07:56

joshwa

Link Posted 18/04/2018 - 08:09
Hi Rob, thanks for the info, I'll update.

211Oakland

Link Posted 22/04/2018 - 17:54
The review says:
Quote:
Under the Pixel Shift Resolution menu option there is now a Handheld "Pixel Shift" mode, this works by taking multiple shots (using an electronic shutter) but uses the movement in between shots from handholding the camera to create an image with more detail, much like the "Super-resolution" technique.

But I think this is incorrect; it uses the mechanical shutter in handheld—dynamic pixel shift mode. The manual states:
Quote:
Image Stabilization On: Captures an image while performing image stabilization using the mechanical shutter....

EthanMidgett1984

Link Posted 24/04/2018 - 00:12
It is the one I use, I totally recommend that!

tommyastrom1962

Link Posted 26/04/2018 - 14:54
What a wonderful camera this is. It's almost perfect.
Tommy.

EugeneWelch

Link Posted 25/07/2018 - 20:48
Pentax K-1 Mark II is a product that I need to buy very soon. I am little busy with an www.rushmypapers.me project that I am currently working on, but once that's completed, you can bet that I will buy this printer. It's simple.
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