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Pentax makes subtle changes to create full-frame K-1 II

Create: 10/29/2018 - 21:50
Pentax K-1 II


  • 36.4-MP full-frame CMOS sensor
  • Top ISO rises to 819,200
  • Changes made to suppress image noise

Pentax is one of the beloved names of photography, first capturing a generation with the Spotmatic and then introducing 35mm film via the K1000.

In the digital space, the Pentax name hasn’t been at the top of the leaderboard. Even with the Pentax brand now being part of Ricoh.

But that doesn’t mean Pentax doesn’t have a viable digital camera. In 2016, Pentax released its first full-frame DSLR, the K-1. This year, the camera has undergone an update.

At US$1,995.95, the K-1 II is just $200 more than the original camera.

A look at the major changes:

  K-1 II K-1
Sensor Full-frame 36.4-MP CMOS no anti-aliasing filter
ISO range 100-819,200 100-204,800
Shutter Manual, 1/8,000-30 seconds, plus B Manual and electronic, 1/8,000-30 seconds, plus B
Dimensions 5.4 x 4.3 x 3.4 inches (136.5 x 110.0 x 85.5 mm)
Weight 32.6 ounces (925 grams) 35.6 ounces (1,010 grams)

The K-1 II is not a video titan, although it can record Full HD 1,920 x 1,080p, as well as HD 1,280 x 720p. ISO for video now tops out at 25,600.


Images are now handled by the Prime IV image processor, which works in conjunction with the Accelerator Unit, which was developed by parent company Ricoh. The Accelerator Unit suppresses noise and retains detail when shooting at high ISOs. It was first made available in the Pentax K-70 and then the KP before being added to the K-1 II.

To minimize the effects of camera shake, the K-1 II uses Pixel Shift Resolution II. This works by taking four photos with each shifting by a single pixel, allowing each pixel to capture all colors. The K-1 II also employs Motion Correction, in which the Prime IV processor detects a moving object in part of a scene and uses only one pixel from that part of the scene.

In instances in which Motion Correction doesn’t apply, the four images are combined into a single high-resolution photo.

The body has five-axis image stabilization, known knows as SRII, and provides five stops of compensation, Pentax claims. It works with all K-mount lenses.

Although it lacks a physical anti-aliasing filter, the K-1 II provides two types of AA effect by using microscopic vibrations of the image sensor to help reduce moire.


The K-1 II has a true pentaprism for viewing, as well as the 3.2-inch variable-angle LCD monitor that helped set apart the K-1 from every other DSLR on the market. This allows the LCD monitor to be adjusted to any angle and to be rotated slightly, too.

The K-1 II is built to withstand hard use. In addition to the magnesium allow that covers its metal frame, it has 87 seals around various switches, buttons, dials and port covers. The accessory D-BG6 battery grip, which continues unchanged and fits both K-1 models, is sealed in 47 locations.

What is unusual about the grip is that it holds a second battery while the first battery remains in the camera. Also, the grip can use six AA batteries, should your second battery exhaust itself.

The K-1 II also has four small LED lights to assist the photographer. They are located above the lens mount, behind the LCD monitor, at the memory card slot and at the cable switch terminal.

Compared with other high-end cameras, the Pentax K-1 II is not a speed demon, topping out at 4.4 frames per second when shooting either RAW or JPG images. RAW files can be saved in one of two formats: PEF or DNG.

Photos and videos are saved to a single SD memory card.

The Pentax K-1 II again has the AstroTracer feature, which helps astronomers photograph celestial objects by moving the sensor to match the path of stars.

About the Author

Mike Elek is a longtime journalist and was one of the original editors for The Wall Street Journal Online. He also has worked as a reporter and editor in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Vineland, N.J.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New York City; and Hong Kong. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He shoots with film and digital cameras.