Friday, 1 March 2013

Pentax K-01 is history

Pentax has now ceased the production of their only large sensor mirrorless camera, the K-01:



The camera was in production for about one year. It was without doubt the most unusual mirrorless camera of all, for a number of reasons.

First of all, it is large. The main reason is that it does not employ a shorter register distance. When removing the mirror assembly, the other mirrorless systems also shorten the register distance, allowing for a smaller camera body. Also, the shorter register distance allows for constructing smaller lenses. Especially wide angle lenses can be made smaller this way.

Pentax's choice of retaining the same register distance and lens mount as their DSLR cameras has a clear advantage: They don't need to create a whole line of new lenses. Hence, their investment is much smaller than that of the Micro Four Thirds and other mirrorless systems: Panasonic and Olympus needed a whole array of lenses to be a viable alternative to existing DSLR systems.

While the camera was launched together with a new 40mm pancake lens, this lens is based on an existing lens design for their DSLR line of cameras, and, hence, is not really new.

Also, the Pentax K-01 is a very unusual looking camera. Designed by Marc Newson, it is a camera you either lover or hate. The camera probably lets form go over function, but still is quite good to handle, and has some charm.

Technically, there is nothing wrong with the camera. It has much of the same sensor and imaging pipeline components as their K-5 semi-pro camera model. It has sensor shift stabilization, otherwise only seen in the Olympus M4/3 camera models in this market segment. It can even accommodate old style screwdriver style focusing with legacy Pentax AF lenses.

Thus ends the era of the strangest mirrorless camera so far. It now sells at a reasonable price, and you have a chance to snatch up this piece of history if you are into collecting.


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