Creative: Pentax K1


This is perhaps the world’s worst gear review. As many of you know, when it comes to electronics my body emits a death ray of death causing most electro gadgets to self-destruct in a deathy death ray of crackling circuit boards. So when my friend Joey handed me his new brand new Pentax K1 and 50mm lens I whispered a sweet prayer to the Gods of the ElectroMagnetic and hoped for the best.

First thing I noticed was the outline of the camera is the perfect tribute to the original Pentax 6×7 film beast that was, and still is, one of the biggest, baddest medium format cameras ever made. LOUD, built like a tank and available with a bevy of world class lenses. During the 80’s and 90’s so much of the great fashion, travel, advertising and commercial work was done with the Pentax 6×7.

I was once a user of the 6×7 and even pulled it out during a shoot inside a Buddhist temple in Northern California. The art director noticed me pull this baby out and mouthed to me from across the room, “You have GOT to be kidding me?” all the while shaking his head from side to side. I locked, loaded and fired the beast which was akin to dropping a sheet of metal from ten feet off the ground. It was like saying “You feel me?” to the Buddha himself.

I was also a Pentax 645 user, and now that I think about it, my mother was a Pentax user going back to her K1000 in the 1970’s and even her TINY Pentax 110 with interchangeable lenses during the 1980’s. This brand has done a lot for imaging over the years.

This new camera doesn’t seem to get much press, but holy schnikes it sure deserves it. The camera is a great size, fits in my hand and has a massive, moveable preview on the back. I haven’t bothered to look any of this up, so all of it could be completely inaccurate, but I truly believe this to be a full frame, 36 megapixel, silky little thing. It does so many things I can’t describe or understand but trust me when I say “You want one.”

I did what all modern camera testers do. I shot pictures of other cameras. Well, two frames to be exact. Opened in PS. Auto levels(I’m the devil.) then posted here. I have to say there is something so nice about a full frame Dslr, at least one that is small and feels nice. I look at this image quality and think my new gallery is the side of the nearest building. Digital for me has always been about speed, something that doesn’t specifically apply to my photographic life these days, but if and when I ever descend back into the world of the assignment(I am once again doing projects…) having a camera like this would be a integral part of my lead lined, impervious to the deathy death ray camera bag.

If you are full-frame Dslr person then this camera deserves a long, slow look. My friend Joey has done all kinds of interesting things with it in all kinds of interesting places. Africa, Iceland, Costa Mesa. The garden spots. Holy S%$# I just looked up this camera and found out that body only it’s about $1800. That is incredible, and in my mind gives this baby potential pole position for Dslr types, especially for those who don’t have a closet full of Canon or Nikon glass.


Not the Pentax K1 but made with the Pentax K1

11 Comments on “Creative: Pentax K1”

  1. Definitely an interesting choice if you’re thinking DSLR and much more reasonably priced than a digital MF like the 645Z or the soon to be released Fuji.

    That said, I’ve been looking to go back to an original 67 for almost 6 months. Just can’t find one ;-(

    1. Brant,
      Have you tried KEH? I haven’t looked for one in ages, but I know two people still using them on a regular basis. Try the newer version and see if you can find one. It was the gen II.

      1. Thanks Dan,
        Will have a look. Is KEH your go to? I am in search of the 67 over the 67II (perhaps for no really good reason). Just hard to find in good condition these days. Cheers.

        1. Brant,
          I’ve bought a ton from them in the past. Both Blads, some Leica stuff, etc. Nikon’s. Fuji’s.

  2. I own a few cams, mostly film cams. Nikon has been #1 choice for 20+ years. But then entered the P67 Mk|| and 35 film was blown away by 120 MF HQ. I didn’t use the Nikons anymore except when speedy focussing was needed or E6 film had to be loaded. I was tempted by the K-1 and the raving comments on e.g. Pentaxforums, but I can’t leave film shooting and for sure I can’t leave my P67 and it’s lovely 55f4 and 165f2.8 lenses in the dark bag or sell it. Entering a K-1 would make my film usage flatten to 0 and my P67 obsolete. The K-1 seems the film killer. So I will stay in temptation mode for now. This was back to some real gear talk, not?

    1. Reiner,
      I think what would happen is a honeymoon with the K1 then you would find a balance of film and digital. They are all good.

  3. Brant, I’ve purchased from KEH in the past as well. I have found that the condition of items is consistently better than the rating they give it on their site.

  4. It’s always fun, and encouraging, to see pleasant comments about Pentax. I have two AP models (first Asahi Pentax branded SLR marketed in US- both work beautifully,) an LX, a K5 IIs and just about every m42 lens they made. I still enjoy using them all. They serve as a comforting reminder: the fact you are not popular does not mean you are not really good.

    1. Wayne,
      They don’t get a lot of love but they sure have made some great equipment over the years. The LX was awesome. A total sleeper.

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