Amateur Photographer - - Testbench -

With the Pen­tax K-1 Mark II, Ri­coh has taken its flag­ship full-frame DSLR and added a few small im­prove­ments. The re­sult turns out to be a mi­nor up­date, but a timely re­minder of the K-1’s qual­i­ties. I’m sure this cam­era would be much more highly ap­pre­ci­ated if it had a Canon or Nikon badge on the prism.

In­deed, with its rugged body, ex­ten­sive con­trols and ex­cel­lent im­age qual­ity, the K-1 Mark II can lay claim to be­ing the most ca­pa­ble sub-£2,000 DSLR on the mar­ket, un­less you specif­i­cally need high-speed shoot­ing and rapid aut­o­fo­cus tracking. It would be a great choice for land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy, for any­one pre­pared to cart around a 1kg body.

How­ever, al­most any­one think­ing of buy­ing a £1,600 cam­era will al­ready be heav­ily in­vested in a favoured brand. It makes lit­tle sense for Canon or Nikon users to switch sys­tems, es­pe­cially as the full-frame Pen­tax lens range is quite lim­ited; for in­stance there are no light­weight, pre­mium qual­ity f/4 zooms and rel­a­tively few fast primes. Third-party lens sup­port is di­min­ish­ing, too: it’s a sign of the times that Sigma now makes its lat­est Art primes in Sony E-mount, but not Pen­tax K.

The K-1 Mark II feels em­blem­atic of the cur­rent tech­no­log­i­cal shift from DSLR to mir­ror­less. Ri­coh has failed to up­date the cam­era in any sig­nif­i­cant way, while Sony’s lat­est Al­pha 7 III is packed full of ma­jor im­prove­ments, mak­ing it a stun­ning all-rounder in a much smaller body. Good as the Mark II is, it feels rather left be­hind by ad­vances else­where.

So in re­al­ity, the mar­ket for the K-1 Mark II is pretty much lim­ited to ex­ist­ing Pen­tax SLR own­ers. I don’t think it’s worth up­grad­ing from the orig­i­nal K-1; there are too few ex­tras to jus­tify the cost. But for any­one who has a col­lec­tion of K-mount lenses and wants to make the step up from APS- C to full-frame, it’s very easy to rec­om­mend.

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