Pentax K-1 II Review: A minor—but worthwhile—update to an already-great camera
posted Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 9:58 PM EDT
Psychologists and retail experts alike will tell you about a phenomenon known as "extremeness aversion". In a nutshell, if consumers are offered a choice of three outwardly-similar products, they'll tend to opt for the middle-priced of the three. The lower and higher-priced offerings will sell in smaller quantities, because we see them as "budget" and "luxury" options. The best value, we assume, is in the middle offering.
Yet sometimes, it's actually so -- and one example can be found in the interchangeable-lens camera market, where Ricoh offers us a choice of three sensor formats. The budget-friendly Pentax K-70 and KP both share APS-C sized image sensors, while the pro-oriented Pentax 645Z sports a medium-format sensor. And splitting the difference with a full-frame image sensor, there's the Pentax K-1 II, a camera whose review we've just finalized.
When compared to its siblings, the K-1 II clearly provides the best balance between the size, resolution and performance of the image sensor, and the bulk of the overall camera, providing really excellent image quality without the heft of the 645Z. It also represents the middle ground on pricing, selling body-only for around US$1,800, a good bit below the magic US$2,000 price-point.
And despite being far more compact and affordable than the medium-format flagship, the Pentax K-1 II is in some respects now the most feature-rich offering in Ricoh's entire lineup. It's the only one to provide not just a multi-shot Pixel Shift Resolution function, for example, but also to allow a similar function when shooting handheld. It also boasts the most recent and sophisticated AF system in the Pentax lineup, has better connectivity and built-in GPS, and more besides.
Sure, some would point out that the K-1 II is in most respects the same camera as the K-1 which preceded it, but we see that as no bad thing. The earlier model scored a Camera of Distinction mention in our 2016 Camera of the Year awards, after all, and the K-1 II keeps all of what made the earlier camera great while making noticeable steps forward in terms of noise versus sensitivity, and in its new handheld Pixel Shift Resolution mode.