Pentax K-1 Review: Unleash Your Creativity with This Pro-Level Camera

Are you a professional photographer in search of the perfect camera for your art? The Pentax K-1 might just be what you need. This full-frame DSLR camera is designed to provide exceptional image quality and versatility, making it one of the best cameras you can get your hands on. In this blog, we will take a deep dive into the features, specifications, and capabilities of the Pentax K-1 that make it a popular choice among professional photographers.

Written by Victor Chan | Updated: Mon May 01 2023

Pentax K-1 article cover photo

Key Features

Feb 17 2016


36 megapixels


Sensor TypeFull frame

Other similar cameras

Pentax K-01 thumbnail

Pentax K-01

Released May 30 2012 | 16MP resolution

Pentax K-70 thumbnail

Pentax K-70

Released Jun 08 2016 | 24MP resolution

Pentax K-S1 thumbnail

Pentax K-S1

Released Aug 27 2014 | 20MP resolution

Overview of the K-1

Photography is an art that requires the right tools to capture the essence of the subject. And what better tool than the Pentax K-1, a high-end DSLR camera that boasts exceptional image quality and advanced features to help you unleash your creativity. This camera has been a popular choice among professionals ever since its launch, and for good reason. From its full-frame sensor to its advanced image stabilization system, the Pentax K-1 offers a range of features that make it a top contender in the world of photography. Let's explore what sets this camera apart and why it might just be the right choice for your photography needs.

Pentax K-1 Pros and Cons

Now, we will look more closely at our review of the Pentax K-1 camera. We will see what it can do and compare it to other cameras like it. We will tell you what's good about it and what's not so good. This way, you'll know if it's the camera for you!


36.4 megapixel full-frame sensor
33-point autofocus system
Weather-resistant body
High ISO capabilities
5-axis image stabilization
Large and bright viewfinder
Detailed and sharp images
Built-in GPS and Wi-Fi
Excellent dynamic range
Unique "pixel shift" technology


Heavy and bulky body
Limited lens options
Slow burst mode
Outdated menu system
No in-body flash
Only one SD card slot
Pricey compared to competitors
Limited video capabilities
Mediocre battery life
Slow startup time

Build and Construction

Body and dimensions

Pentax K-1

Weather sealed
Dimensions137 x 110 x 86mm

Weather Sealing

The Pentax K-1 camera is equipped with environmental seals that make it resistant to weather, preventing water and dust from entering the camera. If you enjoy outdoor photography and need a camera that can handle extreme conditions, the K-1 is an excellent choice.

Design and Handling

Main design features

View FinderOptical (pentaprism)
Screen TypeFully Articulated
Screen Resolution1,037k dots
Body typeMid-size SLR

Suitable for:

PhotographyAbove Avg.
VideographyAbove Avg.
TravelAbove Avg.

LCD Screen

This camera has a fully articulated 3.20" screen, with a display resolution of 1,037k dots. This makes the Pentax K-1 very suitable for those looking for a vlogging camera as you can view yourself while shooting selfies. Unfortunately, the camera does not have a touch screen, which may make it less user-friendly.


K-1 includes a optical (pentaprism) viewfinder with no electronic viewfinder of resolution with a coverage of 100% and a magnification of 0.7x. This feature enhances the camera's suitability for outdoor photography in bright conditions.

Image Quality

Pentax K-1 has a 36MP sized CMOS sensor. You can shoot at maximum resolution of 36 pixels. Pentax K-1 has a native ISO range of 100 - 204800 which can be boosted to null - null. It can also save files in RAW format which gives you a wider room for post processing.

Key Features

Feb 17 2016


100 - 204800

ISO Range

SensorFull frame
Extended ISOnull - null
Max resolution7360 x 4912 pixels

DXO Sensor Scores


96 / 102

Color Depth

25.4 / 26.5

Dynamic Range

14.6 / 14.8

Low Light ISO

3280 / 4505

DXO mark sensor scores

The DXOmark rankings indicate that the Pentax K-1 camera has excellent color depth performance, which refers to the number of colors the sensor can distinguish. Additionally, its dynamic range is also excellent, allowing it to retain medium amounts of details in both bright and dark areas of a scene. The camera's low light ISO performance is average, which is an important factor to consider if you plan to use it in dimly lit indoor environments or at night. Overall the image quality of the K-1 is excellent

Crop Factor

Camera crop factor (or focal length multiplier) refers to how a camera's sensor size affects the apparent field of view of a lens. Crop factor is determined by comparing the size of a camera's sensor to that of a full-frame sensor, which is a standard reference size for camera sensors.

Size comparison

Medium FormatFull FrameAPS-C (Sony, Nikon)

Crop factor calculator

Crop factor


Full frame equivalent


This camera: Full frame



Connectivity, storage, battery

StorageDual SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I)
Battery Life760 shots
Battery ModelD-LI90
Wireless Connectivity


The Pentax K-1 supports Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I) with 2 slots for storage. Having dual SD card slots on the Pentax K-1 is highly advantageous as it mitigates the risk of losing footage due to memory card malfunctions. This feature is particularly beneficial for wedding photography and other professional settings.


The Pentax K-1 uses the D-LI90 model of battery pack. This is rated for 760 shots shots which is high. If you intend to take photos or record videos for an extended period, it might be a good idea to bring along additional batteries.

Photography Features


The Pentax K-1 does not have a built-in flash, but it does offer a flash shoe that allows you to attach external flashes. This provides more versatility in your lighting choices.


The Pentax K-1 boasts a maximum mechanical shutter speed of 1/8000s, which is ideal for shooting fast-moving subjects in bright environments, such as in sports photography. Faster shutter speeds enable you to freeze the action and capture every detail, making it easier to get the perfect shot.

With a continuous mechanical shutter speed of n/a or an electronic shutter speed of n/a, this camera is not capable of capturing the perfect moment more easily, making it not as suited for wedding, sports, and wildlife photography. Higher shutter speeds make it easier to capture fast-paced action, ensuring that you never miss the perfect shot.


The Pentax K-1 includes two autofocus (AF) systems: contrast detection and phase detection, with 33 number of focus points.

While contrast detection is generally more accurate and precise, phase detection autofocus is faster and more effective in most situations, particularly when photographing moving subjects.

Phase detection autofocus works by dividing the incoming light into pairs and then analyzing how they intersect on the camera's sensor. This method allows the camera to determine not only if a subject is in focus but also the direction and distance needed to adjust the focus to achieve perfect sharpness.

On the other hand, contrast detection autofocus works by analyzing the contrast of an image and adjusting the focus until the highest contrast is detected. While this method is very accurate, it can be slow, especially in low light conditions or when photographing moving subjects.

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What is the sensor size of the Pentax K-1?

The Pentax K-1 features a CMOS sensor

Is the Pentax K-1 weather sealed?

Yes the K-1 does have weather sealing.

When was the Pentax K-1 announced?

The Pentax K-1 was announced on Feb 17 2016

Does the Pentax K-1 have in-body image stabilization?

Yes the K-1 does have in-body image stabilization that can compensate for camera shake, making it easier to shoot handheld in low light conditions.

What is the ISO range of the Pentax K-1?

The K-1 has a native ISO range of 100-204800, which can be expanded to ISO null-null for even greater sensitivity in low light conditions.

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