Marc Newson has designed wares for companies as far-flung as Alessi and Qantas, but his latest product, for Pentax, has kind of left me cold. He wasn't joking when he said at the launch event for the K-01 today that he wanted to create something "unique."
Available in black-on-black; black-on-silver, and yellow-on-black, the K-01 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera which doesn't go down the stylised retro-route Olympus, Sony and Panasonic and more have trodden on. Instead, he's cast his mind back to the '80s, specifically to the Fisher Price "My First Camera" toys we probably all had.
That's not to say that what's inside the K-01 isn't great. My brief play with it showed that the new Pentax-DA 40MM F.28 XS unifocal K-mount lens (officially the world's thinnest interchangeable lens) is fast and clear, and that the 16.28-megapixel camera produces some nice shots, particularly in the low-light environment I was testing it. The ISO range goes up to 25,600, and it is capable of shooting full HD video. The 3-inch LCD may not be touchscreen like so many of the cameras around today, but the colours were reproduced colourfully and crisply.
Given the K-lens mount, the camera can take any one of Pentax's 124 lenses, but the company is offering it for £680 with the aforementioned 40mm DA XS lens, or with a DAL 18-55mm lens for the same price. For a few bob more, you can get both lenses for £800, or if you already have a few lenses knocking about, the body by itself costs £630.
On sale late March, you can read more about the K-01 in the press release below:
PENTAX RICOH IMAGING COMPANY LTD. is delighted to announce the launch of the PENTAX K-01 interchangeable-lens digital camera in conjunction with the world’s thinnest interchangeable lens* - the smc PENTAX-DA 40mm F2.8 XS unifocal. This latest addition to the popular Pentax K series and the new lens were both designed in partnership with world renowned designer, Marc Newson.
The PENTAX K-01 features 16.28 megapixels, high-speed burst shooting, an extra-wide sensitivity range with a top sensitivity of ISO 25600** and Full HD video recording.
The camera also features the reliable and ever-popular PENTAX K lens mount, so users can make effective use of their entire range of PENTAX lenses, including those produced for film-format SLR cameras.***
The PENTAX K-01 is a creative and bold step in camera design and has been developed with Newson’s three design themes in mind — TIMELESS, TRUSTY and TOUCHABLE, whilst still maintaining the full array of advanced functions and user-friendly features that you would expect from a digital interchangeable lens camera.
PENTAX RICOH IMAGING COMPANY has a strong history of innovation – it was the first to develop colour digital SLRs and front customizable compacts, as well as pioneering concept models created in collaboration with various designers and artists.
Newson’s K-01 is a modern digital camera with a contemporary yet timeless design. The body consists of clean and simple lines creating an elegant graphical composition whilst preserving all the functions of a professional camera. Original-design push buttons and control levers are efficiently laid out across the body, while bright colours are used on two key buttons for instant recognition: red for the video recording button, and green for the functional green button. The combination of machined aluminium and natural rubber provide the user with a tactile and durable piece of technology. The mode dial and the power switch are made of a high-quality aluminium alloy, while the memory card slot and connectors on the comfortable, easy-to-hold grip are covered with protective rubber.
Newson’s original design concept is evident in all elements of the K-01, including the product logo, the camera strap and even on the start-up screen when the K-01 is turned on.
The optical viewfinder and quick-return mirror were eliminated during the design process to allow more freedom in the design of the camera body. The result is a camera that shows Marc Newson’s originality in every detail.
Speaking of his design inspiration, Marc says: “I wanted to create something that represented quality and expertise in photography. Some of my favourite photographic devices have been Pentax products. I wanted to return to the high quality roots of the brand and create something which was really unique and iconic.”
The K-01 is the perfect choice for anyone looking for their first easy-to-operate digital interchangeable lens camera or those photographers who demand a camera with originality and style. The K-01 makes a wonderful second camera for current PENTAX SLR users requiring a stylish back-up for their photographic system.
The PENTAX K-01 comes in the following colour combinations:
Black with black grip
Black with yellow grip
Silver with black grip
The PENTAX K-01 will be available from end March 2012.
K-01 body only - £629.99
K-01 + 40mm DA XS lens - £679.99
K-01 + DAL 18-55mm lens - £679.99
K-01 + DAL 18-55mm lens + DAL 50-200mm lens - £799.99
1. Exceptional image quality
The PENTAX K-01 comes equipped with a newly developed CMOS image sensor measuring 23.7 mm by 15.7 mm. With 16.28 megapixels, this sensor ensures a high-speed readout of image data signals. It also offers an extra-wide sensitivity range — from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, or to ISO 25600 when expanded using a custom function — while minimising digital noise at all sensitivity levels.
2. High-quality video recording
The PENTAX K-01 comes equipped with a Full HD video-recording function to capture high-quality movie clips (1920 x 1080 pixels). The H.264 format offers great images whilst recording at a choice of frame rate (30, 25 or 24 frames per second). It also comes with two new features to facilitate video recording: a video recording button for instant pushbutton start, and a stereo microphone for more realistic sound.
Personal touches can be added to recorded clips using various Custom Functions. Alternatively, the subject can be recorded in a series of video clips using the interval movie shooting mode. The PENTAX K-01 also comes with an HDMI terminal, which allows the user to simultaneously output both Full HD movie clips and stereo sound. It also has an external microphone input terminal. In addition, the K-01 features the new “PRIME M” imaging engine to ensure first-rate movie recording performance.
3. New-generation HDR mode
The HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode, which produces one extra-wide-gradation composite photo from three images taken at different exposure levels, has been upgraded to create a greater range of visual effects. This upgraded HDR mode can be instantly selected with a turn of the mode dial. The user can take advantage of newly added features to select one of three exposure increments as well as the level of effects, while an automatic position adjustment function assures precise alignment of three images even when they are taken handheld.
4. A selection of image processing tools for personalised effects
The PENTAX K-01’s Custom Image function allows the user to select the most appropriate imaging characteristics for a particular subject or scene from 11 preset custom image functions. These functions include: Bleach Bypass to create a dramatic visual effect used in motion pictures and Cross Process to produce an image with unusual colours.
5. The K-01 also features 19 distinctive digital filters — including Miniature, which makes a real life scene appear as an image full of miniature models. Users can be as creative and imaginative as they like by applying multiple digital filters to a single image.
6. Smooth, quiet, high-speed burst shooting
The PENTAX K-01’s high-speed burst shooting mode allows users to capture fast-moving subjects in a series of images, as it captures up to five images per second. With its mirrorless construction, the K-01 also offers exceptionally silent mechanical operation.
7. Large, wide-angle 3-inch LCD monitor with approx. 921,000 dots
The PENTAX K-01 features a large, easy-to-view, high-resolution 3-inch colour LCD monitor with approximately 921,000 dots. Its wide-view design guarantees a clear view of the monitor from approximately 170 degrees horizontally and vertically, making it particularly useful in low and high-angle shooting.
8. PENTAX-original SR mechanism for sharp, blur-free images
The PENTAX K-01 incorporates the PENTAX-developed SR (Shake Reduction) mechanism, which effectively reduces annoying camera shake by approximately four shutter steps. Usable with all compatible lenses, including those produced for film-format SLR cameras. This mechanism produces sharp, blur-free images even under demanding conditions that are prone to camera shake, such as when using a telephoto lens, shooting in the dark without flash illumination, or capturing landscapes in the twilight.
9. Effortless, user-friendly Auto Picture and Scene modes
The PENTAX K-01 features the PENTAX-original, user-friendly Auto Picture mode, which selects the most appropriate shooting mode for a given subject or scene from Portrait, Landscape, Macro and other distinctive shooting modes, while optimising all camera settings, such as aperture, shutter speed, white balance, saturation, contrast and sharpness. The K-01 also offers 19 different Scene modes, which simplifies the photographing of difficult subjects or demanding scenes — such as Night Scene, Portrait, Pet and Backlight Silhouette mode — simply by choosing the corresponding icon on the camera’s LCD monitor.
10. Other features
I. TTL image-sensor metering, with a choice of multi-segment, centre-weighted and spot modes
II. Contrast-detection autofocus system, with 81 selectable focus points
III. DR (Dust Removal) mechanism to shake off dust adhering to the surface of the CMOS image sensor
IV. CTE (Colour Temperature Enhancement) white-balance control mode to emphasize the predominant colour of a particular scene, such as a sunset
V. A choice of four image ratios (4:3, 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1) to accommodate different subjects and photographic situations
VI. Multi-exposure mode (up to nine exposures on a single image), with an auto exposure compensation function
VII. Interval shooting mode, useful in time lapse recording of landscapes and flowers/plants from an exact same location and angle
VIII. Compatibility with the new-standard SDXC and UHS Speed Class 1 memory cards
IX. SILKY Developer Studio 3.0 for PENTAX RAW-data development software (developed by Ichikawa Soft Laboratory) included. In-camera RAW-data development also available
Major Features of the smc PENTAX-DA 40mm F2.8 XS lens
1. Exterior design by Marc Newson
Marc Newson designed the exterior of this lens, as well as the K-01 body.
2. Easy-to-use, super-thin lens for everyday use
This unifocal standard lens offers a focal length equivalent to 61mm in the 35mm format, and measures a mere 9.2 mm in length, making it the world’s thinnest interchangeable lens. Thanks to its super-thin design, it is highly portable and easy to store and carry. Its optics were designed based on those of the acclaimed smc PENTAX-DA 40mm F2.8 Limited lens. Its maximum aperture of F2.8 produces sharp, bright images in a wide range of photographic situations, including snapshots, scenic photos, portraits, and even low light indoor shooting.
3. SP coating to block dirt and dust
The front surface of this lens is treated with an SP (Super Protect) coating, which applies an exclusive fluorine compound to the lens surface through a vapour deposition process. This SP coating not only repels dust, water and grease, but also makes it easy to wipe off oily stains such as fingerprints and cosmetics.
O-CC120 Camera Case
Like the PENTAX K-01 camera body and the smc PENTAX-DA 40mm F2.8 XS lens, this camera case also features Marc Newson’s original design. Made of genuine leather, this case protects the entire camera system — the K-01 camera body with the lens mounted.
*The world’s thinnest lens for interchangeable-lens digital cameras, as of February 1, 2012 (based on PENTAX’s research).
*** K-, KA- KAF, KAF2, and KAF3- mount lenses can be used with the PENTAX K-01, while screw-mount lenses, 645-system lenses and 67-system lenses can be used with an adapter. Some functions may not be available on certain lenses.