Score one for the rumor mill: Pentax launches K-mount mirrorless


posted Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 7:02 AM EST

Pentax's K-01 compact system camera. Photo provided by Pentax Ricoh Imaging Co. Ltd. Click to read our Pentax K-01 preview!For more than a year now, rumors have swirled, suggesting that Pentax was planning to launch not one, but two mirrorless camera products with differing lens mounts. Some pooh-poohed the idea, perhaps understandably, but today the believers are vindicated, with the launch of the Pentax K-01.

It's a bold move from Pentax, to be sure. Last summer, they showed a willingness to go it their own way, with the launch of the Pentax Q--a camera whose ethos is clear: make a real interchangeable-lens camera, really small. The Pentax K-01 takes a completely different tack, combining a mirrorless design with the existing Pentax K lens mount. It's a strategy that will bring both advantages and disadvantages.

First, the good news: the 16 megapixel, APS-C sensor based K-01 can accept most-any Pentax K-mount lens made in decades, not to mention an array of third-party K-mount glass. By contrast, rival systems have all had to start from scratch, and can offer up only a relatively limited library of designed-for-mirrorless lenses. If you want more, you're faced with a bewildering array of mount adapters, each bringing their own set of limitations.

Pentax's K-01 compact system camera is available in a selection of three body colors. Photo provided by Pentax Ricoh Imaging Co. Ltd. Click for a bigger picture!

Pentax's K-01 compact system camera is available in a selection of three body colors.
Photo provided by Pentax Ricoh Imaging Co. Ltd.

On the flip side of the coin, though, retaining its K-mount means that the K-01 must also bear much of the bulk associated with an SLR camera, even if it lacks the mirror itself. One of the main advantages cited for the compact system camera is... well, right there in the name: its compact nature. Without that box ticked, the Pentax K-01 must work doubly hard to show advantages in other areas.

In its favor is the fact that it seems to bear much of the DNA from Pentax's popular flagship SLR, the K-5, along with some of the innovations seen since in the Pentax Q. There are also quite a few improvements to be found relative even to Pentax's enthusiast SLR, especially in the video department. Pentax has clearly put some effort into differentiating the K-01 from its rivals wherever it can, as well, hiring well-known industrial designer Marc Newson to give its new camera an image all its own.

Industrial designer Marc Newson with the Pentax K-01 compact system camera. Photo provided by Pentax Ricoh Imaging Co. Ltd. Click for a bigger picture!

Industrial designer Marc Newson with the Pentax K-01 compact system camera.
Photo provided by Pentax Ricoh Imaging Co. Ltd.

The Pentax K-01 goes on sale from March 2012, priced at US$750 body-only, or US$900 in a kit with a new, even slimmer version of Pentax's 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens. There's simply far too much to cover inside the scope of this news article, but fear not... We've just published a hands-on preview of the Pentax K-01, where the story can tell itself. Read our Pentax K-01 preview, and find out where that story leads...

Pentax K-01
Pentax's K-01 compact system camera. Photo provided by Pentax Ricoh Imaging Co. Ltd. Click for a bigger picture!
Camera Type Compact System Camera
Manufacturer Pentax
Model Number North America: K-01
Dimensions 4.8 x 3.1 x 2.3 in.
(122 x 79 x 58 mm)
Weight 19.8 oz (561 g)
Planned Price $900
Planned Availability March 2012
Image Capture
Sensor Type CMOS
APS-C (approx. 1.12 in. diagonal)
16.49 megapixels (total)
16.28 megapixels (effective)
Filter Type RGBG
Focal Length Multiplier 1.53
Aspect Ratio 16:9, 4:3
Image Dimensions 4928 x 3264 (16.1 megapixels)
4224 x 2816 (11.9 megapixels)
3456 x 2304 (8.0 megapixels)
2688 x 1792 (4.8 megapixels)
4352 x 3264 (14.2 megapixels)
3840 x 2880 (11.1 megapixels)
3072 x 2304 (7.1 megapixels)
2304 x 1728 (4.0 megapixels)
4928 x 2776 (13.7 megapixels)
4224 x 2376 (10.0 megapixels)
3456 x 1944 (6.7 megapixels)
2688 x 1512 (4.1 megapixels)
3264 x 3264 (10.7 megapixels)
2880 x 2880 (8.3 megapixels)
2304 x 2304 (5.3 megapixels)
1728 x 1728 (3.0 megapixels)
Capture Speed Continuous: 6.0 frames per second
Image Quality 3 levels
Image Preview / Review
Viewfinder No
LCD 3.0 in. diagonal
921,000 dots (approx. 307,000 pixels)
Lens Type smc PENTAX-DA 40mm F2.8 XS, 5 elements in 4 groups
Fixed focal-length
27mm lens thread
Lens Mount Pentax K, KA, KAF, KAF2/3
Image Stabilization Yes
Focal Length 40.0mm (actual)
61mm (35mm equivalent)
Aperture Range f/2.8 (wide) / f/22 (tele)
Focusing System Contrast Detection: Auto 81 Point, User-Selectable, Center; AF Single (w focus lock, focus/release priority selectable), Face Detection AF, Tracking AF, Manual
Has AF assist lamp
Manual focus possible
Focusing Range Normal: 16" - 4,081" (40 cm - 9,999 cm)
ISO Sensitivity Auto: ISO 100-12800 (1, 1/2, 1/3 steps), expandable to ISO 100-25600, Auto ISO range selectable; Manual: ISO 100-12800 (1, 1/2, 1/3 steps), expandable to ISO 100-25600
Shutter Speed 30 - 1/4000 second
Exposure Modes Aperture, Shutter, Manual
Metering Modes 1024-segment Multi, Center-weighted and Spot
Exposure Compensation +/- 3.0EV in 0.3EV increments
White Balance Image Sensor - Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Fluorescent (D, N, W, L), Tungsten, Flash, CTE
Internal Flash Guide Number: 12
Modes: Auto, Auto + Redeye, On, On + Redeye, Slow Sync, Slow Sync + Redeye, Trailing Curtain Sync, Off
Range: Lens aperture dependent
Flash Exposure Compensation -2 to +1 EV
Scene Modes Scene modes: Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Moving Object, Night Scene Portrait, Sunset, Blue Sky, Forest, Night Scene, Night Scene HDR (JPG only), Night Snap, Food, Pet, Kids, Surf & Snow, Backlight Silhouette, Candlelight, Stage Lighting, Museum; Custom Image modes: Bright, Natural, Portrait, Landscape, Vibrant, Radiant, Muted, Bleach Bypass, Reversal Film, Monochrome (including film filters, infrared, sepia toning), Cross Processing; Digital filters (capture): Extract Color, Toy Camera, Retro, High Contrast, Shading, Invert Color, Color
Self Timer Yes, 2, 12 seconds
Time Lapse Yes
Movie Format MP4 (AVC H.264), AVI/MJPEG for Interval Movie with audio
Recording Medium SD/MMC including SDHC, SDXC, Built-in, UHS compliant
File System Complies with Design Rule for Camera File System (DCF)
File Format 12-bit DNG RAW , JPEG
Video High definition: Yes (HDMI)
Standard definition: Yes, NTSC / PAL switchable
Computer USB 2.0 High Speed
Other Mini HMDI (Type-C), 3.5mm stereo microphone input
Battery Type Lithium-ion rechargeable
Battery Form Factor Proprietary D-LI90
Product Bundle
Software Software CD-ROM S-SW120
Battery / Charger 1 x Proprietary D-LI90 Lithium-ion rechargeable battery and charger
Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) compliant Yes
PictBridge Compliant No
Internal Microphone Yes
Internal Speaker Yes
Tripod Mount Yes
Remote Control Yes, Optional Infrared
Notes Machined aluminum frame under black, white or yellow exterior, 16MP APS-C sensor, Pentax K-Mount, Sensor-shift Shake and Dust Reduction (4-stops), 6fps Burst Mode, Full HD 1080p Movies, HDR mode, Focus peaking in manual focus mode.
More Photos
Pentax's K-01 compact system camera. Photo provided by Pentax Ricoh Imaging Co. Ltd. Click for a bigger picture!
Pentax's K-01 compact system camera. Photo provided by Pentax Ricoh Imaging Co. Ltd. Click for a bigger picture!


Press Release

Pentax Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation Introduces Pentax K-01 Designed By Marc Newson

DENVER, CO February 2, 2012…When is a camera more than a photographer’s tool?  The answer is when it’s an object designed by Marc Newson, one of the most acclaimed and influential contemporary designers.

PENTAX RICOH IMAGING AMERICAS CORPORATION introduces the Marc Newson designed PENTAX K-01* interchangeable lens camera (ILC).  The new PENTAX K-01 is another bold effort from the manufacturer that is known for pushing camera size, color, durability, and now, design, to the limit. Widely known for designing a wide range of objects from furniture and household products to bicycles, cars, aircraft and yachts, Marc Newson has had collected works displayed in The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City and many other major museums.
*pronounced ‘kay- zero-one’

The contemporary, timeless K-01 houses a full array of advanced functions and user-friendly features in a camera body with remarkable form and function. The elimination of an optical viewfinder and quick-return mirror gave Newson more freedom in designing the camera body, and the K-01 showcases Newson originality in every detail.  Available in black, white and Newson’s signature yellow colors, the K-01 features the designer’s autograph logo stamp on the bottom of each camera.

The famed designer’s touch also is evident in a new smc PENTAX-DA 40mm F2.8 XS interchangeable lens.  As the world’s thinnest interchangeable lens,* the new 40mm combines with the PENTAX K-01 camera body to deliver a unique ILC system that is perfect for photographers who are as keen on design as they are on performance.  Together, the K-01 and 40mm lens system mark the intersection where high technology and high design meet.

Key features of the PENTAX K-01 include:

  • Durable machined aluminum frame under a stylish black, white, or yellow exterior.

  • PENTAX mirrorless body design is compatible with 25+ million PENTAX K-mount lenses spanning decades.

  • Large 16 megapixel APS-C sized CMOS image sensor with low noise image capture and multiple aspect ratios.

  • Bright, high resolution 3 inch LCD with 920,000 dots.

  • Full HD 1080p video capture at 30 FPS with h.264 compression (60 FPS at 720p) features outstanding video capture flexibility.

  • Sensor-shift PENTAX Shake and Dust Reduction system is compatible with every mounted PENTAX lens.

  • Fast 6 FPS burst mode is ideal for fast-action photography.

  • Flexible ISO range of 100-25600 ensures gorgeous noise-free imaging in any lighting condition.

  • Focus peaking mode provides fast and accurate manual focusing for critical focus applications.

* The world’s thinnest interchangeable lens for lens-interchangeable digital SLR cameras, as of February 1, 2012 (based on PENTAX’s research).

The K-01 will be available in yellow, black and white in March 2012 for $749.95USD (body only) and $899.95USD (lens kit including new DA 40mm XS) in Marc Newson designed packaging and with the Marc Newson designed strap.  The smc PENTAX-DA 40mm F2.8 XS unifocal interchangeable standard lens will ship at the same time for $249.95 USD.

Additional information is available here: and a video interview with Mark Newson regarding the K-01design may be viewed here:  Images of other Marc Newson creations are available here.

PENTAX is a leader in the production of a variety of adventure ready digital cameras including weather-resistant digital SLRs and stylish, compact, waterproof cameras, as well as lenses, flash units, binoculars, scopes, and eyepieces. For more than 90 years, PENTAX has developed durable, reliable products that meet the needs of adventurous consumers and businesses. With new headquarters in Denver, Colorado, PENTAX RICOH IMAGING AMERICAS CORPORATION is a subsidiary of PENTAX RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. effective October 1, 2011. Additional details may be found here:

# # #


Marc Newson commissioned design
PENTAX commissioned designer Marc Newson to develop the contemporary, timeless design of the PENTAX K-01’s body.  Newson’s retro-meets-contemporary design is evident in all elements of the
K-01 including the product logo, camera strap (included) and start-up screen that appears when the K-01 is powered on. Buttons, shutter release and control levers are purposefully placed and accented with colors for instant recognition including a vibrant red button for Video Recording and a brilliant green for the PENTAX Green button. The mode dial and power switch are made of high-quality aluminum alloy, while the memory card slot and grip connectors are covered with protective rubber. The design optimizes both form and function on a camera that is as suitable on a photo shoot as it is in a museum display that honors design as art.

Exceptional image quality
The PENTAX K-01 is equipped with a newly developed CMOS image sensor measuring 23.7 millimeters by 15.7 millimeters. With approximately 16.28 effective megapixels, this sensor assures high-speed readout of image data signals. The K-01 also features a new “PRIME M” imaging engine to assure first-rate movie recording performance in a digital interchangeable lens camera. The K-01 offers an extra-wide sensitivity range — from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, or to ISO 25600 when expanded using a custom function — while minimizing digital noise at all sensitivity levels.

Compatibility with every PENTAX K-mount lens ever made
The PENTAX K-01 accepts a wide array of PENTAX interchangeable K-mount lenses* so users may choose the most suitable lens for a particular subject or scene.
*K-, KA- KAF, KAF2, and KAF3- mount lenses can be used with the PENTAX K-01, while screw-mount lenses, 645-system lenses and 67-system lenses can be used with an adapter. Some functions may not be available on certain lenses

High-quality video recording

The PENTAX K-01 features Full HD video-recording function to capture high-quality movie clips in 1080p resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels). H.264 compression format offers a choice of frame rate (30, 25 or 24 frames per second) to accommodate user-specific applications. Two new features facilitate video recording:

  • a video recording button for instant pushbutton start

  • and a stereo microphone with audio gain control and wind noise suppression for more realistic sound

Video record options are flexible, offering the photographer to select aperture or shutter exposure control, and PENTAX Shake Reduction helps stabilize captured video. Users may add personal touches to recorded clips using various Custom Image modes or record subjects in a series of video clips with the Interval Movie Shooting mode. The PENTAX K-01 also comes with an HDMI terminal (which allows the user to simultaneously output both Full HD movie clips and stereo sound) as well as an external microphone input terminal.

New-generation High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode
The High Dynamic Range mode (which produces one extra-wide-gamut blended photo from three images taken at different exposure levels) is accessible with a turn of the mode dial and allows users to select one of three exposure increments as well as the level of effect, while an automatic position adjustment function assures precise alignment of three images even when they are taken with a handheld K-01.

Custom Image Modes and Digital Filters for personalized expression
The PENTAX K-01’s Custom Image modes allow users to select the most appropriate finishing touch for a particular subject or scene to express the photographer’s creative intention or taste.  Two of the 11 Custom Images functions are Bleach Bypass to create a dramatic visual effect used in motion pictures  and Cross Process to produce a fanciful image with unusual colors. The K-01 also features 19 distinctive digital filters including Miniature to convert an actual scene into an image full of miniature models for an unusual visual effect. Users may be more creative by applying multiple digital filters to a single image.

Smooth, quiet, high-speed burst shooting
The PENTAX K-01’s high-speed burst shooting mode comes in handy when preserving the action of fast-moving subjects in a series of images, since it captures up to six frames per second. With its mirrorless construction, the K-01 offers exceptionally silent mechanical operation that allows users to concentrate on photography even when shooting such subjects as stage performances.

Large, wide-angle 3.0 inch LCD monitor with approx. 921,000 dots
The PENTAX K-01 features a large, easy-to-view, high-resolution 3.0 inch color LCD monitor with approximately 921,000 dots.  The wide-view design assures a clear view of the monitor from approximately 170 degrees horizontally and vertically, which is useful in low- and high-angle shooting.

PENTAX-original Shake Reduction (SR) mechanism for sharp, blur-free images
The PENTAX K-01 incorporates the PENTAX-developed SR mechanism, which effectively reduces annoying camera shake by approximately four shutter steps. Usable with all compatible lenses, including those produced for film-format SLR cameras, this mechanism produces sharp, blur-free images even under demanding conditions that are prone to camera shake, such as when using a telephoto lens, shooting in the dark without flash illumination, or capturing landscapes in the twilight. Equipped with the PENTAX O-GPS1 device (an optional GPS unit launched in June 2011), the K-01’s SR system helps astrophotographers track and shoot celestial bodies.

Effortless, user-friendly Auto Picture and Scene modes
The PENTAX K-01 features the PENTAX-original, user-friendly Auto Picture mode, which selects the most appropriate shooting mode for a given subject or scene from Portrait, Landscape, Macro and other distinctive shooting modes, while optimizing all camera settings, such as aperture, shutter speed, white balance, saturation, contrast and sharpness.  This allows a new photographer to concentrate on image composition and shutter opportunity. The K-01 also offers 19 different Scene modes to help simplify the photography of challenging subjects or scenes such as Night Scene Portrait mode, Pet mode, and Backlight Silhouette mode. Users simply choose  a corresponding  icon on the camera’s LCD monitor.

Additional features

  • TTL image-sensor metering, with a choice of multi-segment, center-weighted and spot modes

  • Contrast-detection autofocus system with 81 selectable focus points

  • DR (Dust Removal) mechanism to shake off dust adhering to the surface of the CMOS image sensor

  • CTE white-balance control mode to emphasize the predominant color of a particular scene, such as the sunset

  • A choice of four image size ratios (4:3, 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1) to accommodate different subjects and applications

  • Multi-exposure mode (up to nine exposures on a single image), with an auto exposure compensation function

  • Interval shooting mode, useful in time lapse recording of landscapes and flowers/plants from an exact same location and angle

  • Compatibility with the new-standard SDXC and UHS Speed Class 1 memory cards

  • SILKYPIX Developer Studio 3.0 for PENTAX RAW image data development (developed by Ichikawa Soft Laboratory) included; in-camera RAW image development also available

smc PENTAX-DA 40mm F2.8 XS Lens FACT SHEET

Marc Newson commissioned design
The exterior of this ultra-slim new lens was designed by Marc Newson to complement the clean, contemporary design of the K-01 body.

Easy-to-use, super-thin lens
This unifocal standard lens offers a focal length equivalent to 61mm in the 35mm format and measures a mere 9.2 millimeters thin (only 0.36 inches) making it the world’s thinnest interchangeable lens. The ultra-thin design is highly portable and easy to store and carry.  Designed with the acclaimed smc PENTAX-DA 40mm F2.8 Limited lens in mind, the maximum aperture of the new lens is F2.8 to produce sharp, bright images in a wide range of applications, including snapshots, scenic photos, portraits, and even incident-light indoor shooting.

Exceptional image-description
PENTAX conducted numerous image-quality tests of hundreds of images taken with this lens. Upon assessment, the lens offers outstanding optical clarity and subject reproduction characteristics. Rounded diaphragm blades produce a smooth, natural bokeh (out-of-focus) background effect.

SP coating to block dirt and dust
The front surface of this lens is treated with SP (Super Protect) coating, an exclusive fluorine compound applied to the surface through a vapor deposition process. This SP coating not only repels dust, water and grease, but also makes it easy to wipe off stubborn stains such as fingerprints and cosmetics.

HDMI, the HDMI Logo and High-Definition Multimedia Interface are trademarks or registered trademarks of HDMI Licensing LLC.
All other brands or product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.
Designs and specifications are subjects to change without notice.

Marc Newson is the most acclaimed and influential designer of his generation. He has worked across a wide range of disciplines, creating everything from furniture and household objects, to bicycles and cars, private and commercial aircraft, yachts, various architectural commissions, and signature sculptural pieces for clients across the globe.

Born in Sydney, Newson spent much of his childhood travelling in Europe and Asia. He started experimenting with furniture design as a student and, after graduation, was awarded a grant from the Australian Crafts Council with which he staged his first exhibition - featuring the Lockheed Lounge - a piece that has now, twenty years later, set three consecutive world records at auction.

Newson has lived and worked in Tokyo, Paris, and London where he is now based, and he continues to travel widely. His clients include a broad range of the best known and most prestigious brands in the world - from manufacturing and technology to transportation, fashion and the luxury goods sector. Many of his designs have been a runaway success for his clients and have achieved the status of modern design icons. In addition to his core business, he has also founded and run a number of successful companies, including a fine watch brand and an aerospace design consultancy, and has also held senior management positions at client companies; including currently being the Creative Director of Qantas Airways.

Marc Newson was included in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, has received numerous awards and distinctions; he was appointed The Royal Designer for Industry in the UK, awarded an honorary doctorate from Sydney University, and holds Adjunct Professorships at Sydney College of the Arts and Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

His work is present in many major museum collections, including the MoMA in New York, London’s Design Museum and V&A, the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Vitra Design Museum. Having set numerous records at auction, Newson’s work now accounts for almost 25% of the total contemporary design market.

Newson has been the focus of on-going and intense interest in the media, generating significant editorial value for his clients, and has been the subject of a number of books and documentary films.

He is married with two children.