Pentax K-01: Thoughts after a few weeks

Drum line

See that picture?  That’s straight out of the camera.  Or SOOC.  SOOC = Shot Out Of Camera.  In case you didn’t know that. Don’t worry, I didn’t know what SOOC was for a long time.

Photographers love their acronyms.  DSLR, OOF, AWB, APS-C, CMOS, OVF, EVF, EVIL, TTL, ISO, IQ, EV, HDR, EXIF, DOF, FF, FPS, IS, P&S, B&W, I mean the list is frickin’ endless.  Anyway.

I uploaded it into Lightroom, then immediately exported as a .jpeg.  I did nothing to it.  Check it out.

Drum line detail

OK, yes, there are some blown highlights, and maybe some faint purple fringing, but mostly I think that’s pretty amazing.  Look at the detail retained in the belt and the fabric of the Tartan, the sweet, sharp lines on the metal elements of the Sporran, the strong bold colors well captured.

That kind of quality can be yours for $516.94, camera and lens.  $299.99 for the K-01 without a lens, $216.95 for the 35mm DA L F2.4 AL lens (acornyms!).  Plus tax. That’s it.

I’ve talked before about how Pentax is the best bang for your buck you can have in photography right now, and today just cemented that idea further.

The last time I wrote about the K-01, it was only the first impressions, but now that I’ve had it for a few weeks, and especially today after spending all morning shooting at the City Of Henderson St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Car Show, I thought I would share some more in depth impressions of this camera.

First, the good about the K-01: Image quality.  Just outstanding, and I can’t emphasize this enough.  Even now the K-01 sports one of the best APS-C CMOS sensors (those damn acronyms again!) on the market, and I can really see the image quality is a tremendous leap over my Pentax K-x.  Which, frankly, was no slouch to start with.  This camera has really helped take my photography to the next level, fact.

The ergonomics are still fine, too. I’ve held this camera for hours on end and it has never been a chore.  Again, on this, you’re mileage may vary.  I have large hands.

Pretty much everything else is fine with this camera.  Battery life: fine.  Weight: fine.  Ease of operation: fine.  It’s mostly all fine.

The bad: that would be the lack of viewfinder.  OK, so it’s not that bad.  In fact, a lot of times I don’t miss it specifically.  What happens, though, is because I’m not tethered to a viewfinder, I try to put the camera in really odd positions, like waaaaaay up high in the air, or all the way on the ground, and just try to compose the picture using the LCD screen (bloody acronyms!!!!).  At night, this works most of the time and isn’t any hassle. During the day, however, it can get difficult to read the screen in bright sunlight.  So, there’s that.

Also, that damn flappy door to where the SD card is (ACRONYMS!!!) is still bothersome.

Now, the ugly: the autofocus.  Yes, I’ve updated the firmware.  Twice, now, with the release of version 1.03. Boy, it’s slow.  Real slow.  Uncomfortably slow.  And almost unusable at night.  The autofocus is, for me, the Achilles’ heel, the weakness that almost kills this dead.  And, again, I’ve updated the firmware.  So don’t ask.

I can’t tell you how many shots I missed today, in bright daylight, waiting for the camera to make up it’s mind about what to focus on.

Now for me, and the type of photography I do, mostly parked cars and large buildings and motionless objects, this isn’t an issue.  I can take all the time I need to compose my artsy shot of the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute, it’s fine.  But doing anything else, and I mean ANYTHING else, be very wary.  This is not a camera you want to take to your kid’s soccer match.

Now, a little bit about my 35mm lens. The lens is, as I’ve said before, very sharp.  Most reviews say that it is just as sharp as lenses twice the price and higher.  I totally believe that.  It’s a little, plastic piece of magic.  And, as a small prime lens, it’s a perfect companion to the K-01, which I would imagine would be a struggle to handle with any large lens.

As far as the 35mm focal length, I’m totally getting it now. This is a wonderful walk around length.  Do I find myself wanting a broader field of view?  Absolutely.  But, with the sharpness and great bokeh, I have no regrets about the pictures I do get.

I imagine I’m going to work this combo for a long time.

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