The Pentax K-1 Mark II has just been announced and will begin shipping in April 2018. It's a well-balanced full-frame DSLR that ticks a number of boxes, but how has the Mark II progressed (or has it?) from the first generation K-1 camera?
In 2016, Pentax entered the full-frame market with the Pentax K-1, a well thought-out full-frame contender that wasn’t trying to compete in the megapixel race nor the speed race of the sports camera. It was a middle of the road entry that did several things well and had a novel feature set.
At the time of release of the K-1, lens availability for the new camera that took advantage of the megapixel count and full-frame sensor was an issue, but Pentax made strides in this regard in the interim two years, adding to its lineup (though still lacking in fast primes) and making the K-1 an overall steal of a system for a group of photographers interested in looking at Pentax. The other major criticism of many reviewers of the camera was its auto focus system simply failing to meet the standards of a camera at this price point. With the latter issue, we can hope the Mark II's upgrades create an improvement in performance so this new camera can succeed on its own merits.
When comparing the K-1 Mark II specifications with the original K-1 specifications, we have an ISO sensitivity increase of two stops from 204,800 to 819,200. The K-1 Mark II also has some additional connectivity via updated ports including the HDMI D (Micro) and USB 2.0 Micro-B ports with an addition of an X-Sync Socket. Internally, the original pixel-shift system has been upgraded to the Pixel Shift Resolution System II:
PENTAX-developed technology uses the same in-camera shake-reduction (SR) mechanism and sensor-shift capabilities as the original Pixel Shift Resolution System found in the PENTAX K-1, which captures four images of the same scene, and then synthesizes them into a single, super-high-resolution composite image. With the Pixel Shift Resolution System II, the camera also obtains RGB color data, resulting in images with significantly finer details and truer colors than those produced by typical full-frame sensors.
The overall main updates to the K-1 Mark II seem to be internal with the circuit board being the primary point of interest for this camera. Many photographers will look at each camera to compare the models and see very little in obvious changes, and I feel that Pentax may have dropped the ball here. Pentax has a more mature lens lineup than during the original K1 release and a definite user base that prefers its cameras. The price point is on target to take market share away from Canon, Nikon, and Sony shooters that may be looking for a robust feature set, but I can’t see there being a compelling and obvious reason to buy the new K-1 Mark II over its competitors. Hopefully with its release, there may be a significant update to the autofocus system that isn't readily obvious in the details, which would be a turning point for this camera system.
If you currently own a K-1, Pentax is offering an upgrade offer to current owners of the camera body. Essentially, the cameras will be upgraded with a new circuit board from the K-1 Mark II and will be re-branded with the Mark II logo for a fee of $550. To find out more regarding the program, look over the press release from Ricoh Imaging
What do you think of the new Pentax K-1 Mark II camera? Is it a step in the right direction or a missed opportunity for Pentax to leap into the fray with the other big-name full-frame camera companies? Are you going to purchase a new Pentax K-1 Mark II?