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.