PENTAX K-1 MARK II
Enthusiast Digital SLR
There may have been no contest here, but the K-1 Mark II has the potential to take on any challenger given it represents the peak of D-SLR technology as we know it now. Just what parent company Ricoh has planned for Pentax down the track isn’t immediately clear, but the K-1 II admirably holds its own against the previous winners of this category that are still currently available. Let’s hope something interesting in mirrorless cameras is coming from this venerable brand in the not too distant future.
While the Mark II model represents a fairly modest upgrade on its predecessor, it’s a very interesting package overall, starting with the advances made to its pixel shifting capability. Pentax was an earlier adopter of this technique for creating higher resolution images by combining multiple images captured via four single-pixel shifts of the sensor (i.e. left, right, up and down). Pentax primarily uses the technique to enhance colour reproduction (as each pixel point ends up with a red, blue and two green components), but there are also enhancements to resolution and sharpness, plus reduced noise and the elimination of the colour artefacts caused by conventional interpolation. Normally, it’s necessary to use a tripod as multi-frame capture is involved, but Pentax’s ‘Dynamic Pixel Shift Resolution’ now allows for handheld shooting… which is quite a step forward in shifting’s useability. This mode uses an additional processor to analyse the way the camera is being held and applies selective shifts accordingly… which is pretty clever stuff.
Additionally, the sensitivity range is pushed further to the equivalent of ISO 819,200 and the focus tracking’s speed and reliability are improved via a new algorithm. The nifty ‘AA Filter Simulator’ from the previous model is retained and allows the degree of moiré correction to be balanced with optimising resolution. It remains the best thought-out solution to dealing with moiré patterns.
Add these features to the K-1 II’s weather-sealed and insulated metal bodyshell, 36.77 megapixels full35mm sensor, 33-point AF, 86,000 pixels RGB metering, five-axis IBIS, and 300,000 cycles FP shutter; and you have what is arguably the most capable ILC (of any type) on the market. Plus there’s some really clever little design touches such as the four strategically positioned ‘Operation Assist’ lights, the ingenious flexible tilt LCD monitor (so it can even be set at an angle) and the single-action function dial which make this camera something quite special. It’s a bit of a mystery why it hasn’t attracted much more attention… something we hope this award might help rectify.