The new Pentax K1 Mark II

Pentax just announced that they’re releasing an upgraded k1, a full-frame camera. For a camera company with so few models, it elicited one response from me: “About time!” along with an eyeroll that’d impress most teenagers.

Reading the specs, I’m not very impressed by the upgrade. I’ll get into the whys in a minute.

New:

  • ISO range up to 819,200
  • Improved Pixel Shift
  • Better greens and blues

Same:

  • Weather resistance
  • Articulating LCD
  • Nearly 100% optical viewfinder
  • 33 AF points
  • Burst mode 4.4fps
  • 1080/30p video mode
  • 36MP
  • Same 2012 sensor
  • Astrotracer
  • And more

As you can see, the list for features that were unchanged is longer than the new features list. And a couple of the new items are borderline.

Now, if you’re an established gadget company with a huge fan base like Canon or Apple, you can afford to release new products with minor updates.

Pentax/Ricoh is not.

The bump in the ISO isn’t that impressive. At that resolution, you’re basically looking at a Skittles mosaic.

The Pixel Shift upgrade, while a good feature, is a feature that Pentax could’ve issued via a firmware update.

The blue and green improvement – that’s fix Pentax should issue for all cameras. The magenta shift is not a desirable feature to have, and I’d go as far as to say it’s a recall-worthy problem because it afflicts several of Pentax’s model lines. My k5, for example, has a noticeable magenta tint in low light conditions and long exposures that I always have to correct in post processing.

What Pentax should’ve done for the Mark II model? Upgraded the sensor, upgraded the shutter system, upgraded the AF, the video mode (4k is fast becoming standard), and the burst mode. Those are worth shelling out for.

Between this lackluster update, the lack of serious marketing in USA, and other issues, I have a sneaking suspicion that Ricoh is quietly shopping around for a buyer for the dSLR line. And that makes me wonder: how does the sales for the Pentax dSLRs compare to their Theta line?

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