Pentax K-1 II Field Test
Pentax K-1 II Field Test Part I
Return of the king: Ricoh's full-frame flagship is back and better than ever!
I knew that the bayonet design which Pentaxians know and love dates back to 1975, when Asahi Pentax (as the company was then known) replaced its earlier screwmount design for the K2, KX and KM film cameras. What I didn't know was that the new bayonet's initialism was a play on the logo for Asahi Pentax, as the brand was then known. The logo included a crown, and the letter K stood for "king". (The subsequent Q-mount, of course, was the "queen".)
For a couple of years now, the K-mount throne has been occupied by the very capable Pentax K-1, a full-frame camera which answered years of pleas from Pentaxians for just such a product. But late last spring, Ricoh -- for some years now the owner of the Pentax brand and its legacy -- announced a new ascension to its full-frame throne, as the K-1 stepped aside to make way for the brand-new Pentax K-1 II.
Pentax K-1 II Field Test Part II
A second look at one of our favorite cameras of 2018
It's official: The K-1 II is an award-winner, too
In fact, we've been impressed enough with the Pentax K-1 II that we recently named it a Camera of Distinction in the Best Professional Camera category of our 2018 Camera of the Year awards. So believe me when I say that, when I've managed to get out and shoot with it, I've continued to greatly enjoy the experience of using this camera. (For still images, at least; it's not really aimed at videographers as we'll discuss in a moment.)
When I filed my first field test, I'd intended to follow up with two more. The second would look at the newly-overhauled Pixel Shift Resolution System II (which adds handholdability to the resolution-boosting multi-shot function's capabilities), and would also make a side-by-side comparison with the original K-1, both for Pixel Shift Resolution capture and for single-shot stills across the sensitivity range. Then the third field test was to focus on low-light and long-exposure shooting, plus video capture.
Pentax K-1 II Field Test Part III
There's a noticeable detail boost from handheld Pixel Shift Resolution!
A brief recap of Pixel Shift Resolution
But in a nutshell, the technique works by capturing four frames in the shortest time possible -- which varies depending upon whether an electronic or mechanical shutter is being used -- and microscopically adjusting the position of the image sensor between frames. In the process, the amount of light gathered is quadrupled, because instead of 2/3 of the incoming light being lost to a Bayer color filter array, every pixel location is now full-color sensitive, with data having been captured in red, green (twice) and blue.
Combined with an antialiasing filter-free design and a quality lens, this technique allows for extremely impressive per-pixel image quality and much better resistance to false color and color moire effects than a single shot. But there have until recently been some important gotchas due to the multi-shot nature of the technique. (And it still may not prove appropriate if there's a significant amount of motion.)