Pentax Pentax K-01 Joins the Mirrorless System Camera Fray


Hall of Famer
Today Pentax announced the Pentax K-01 mirrorless system camera:
The Pentax K-01 joins the Fuji X-Pro1, Sony NEX, Ricoh GXR, and Samsung NX cameras in the mirrorless APS-C category. Leica is expected to enter this space with their own product, likely later this year at Photokina.

The major selling points of the Pentax K-01 are as follows:
  • Natively uses all Pentax K lenses
  • 16MP APS-C sensor featuring the excellent image quality we've come to expect from Pentax DSLRs
  • Sensor-based image stabilization (unlike Sony, Fuji, Ricoh, and Samsung)
  • High quality video
  • Design by Marc Newson
In order for the body to natively use Pentax K lenses, the mount to sensor distance is the same as that on Pentax DSLRs and SLRs. Therefore, the body is overall no smaller than that of current Pentax DSLRs, and the ability to adapt lenses from other systems is severely limited. However, one thing I haven't seen discussed anywhere is that the lack of a mirror theoretically allows Pentax to design new lenses which sit deeper into the camera, closer to the sensor, and protrude less from the camera. Imagine a pancake lens which, upon mounting, automatically extends the rear element deep into the camera. Thus, there is the potential for this camera system to be more compact even though the camera body itself is not. Pentax is releasing the camera along with an even thinner version of the Pentax 40mm f/2.8 pancake, which will bear the "XS" designation.

In striking contrast to the Fuji X-Pro 1 and Sony NEX-7, the Pentax K-01 offers few tactile controls and no eye-level viewfinder. The design seems to be all about simplicity:



One of the most significant questions which has not yet been answered is how effectively the new camera will autofocus existing Pentax autofocus lenses. Unless Pentax has made great strides in contrast-detect AF of their current lenses, this could prove to be a major sticking point for current Pentax DSLR users who might otherwise consider this system. On the other hand, this camera will feature focus peaking, which helps quite a bit with manual focus.

I can't help but feel that Pentax missed an opportunity here to be the only APS-C mirrorless system around with both body image stabilization and the ability to adapt a wide variety of lenses. At first glance, I'd say that the Pentax K-01 offers very little aside from design to make it more appealing than a comparably priced Pentax DSLR. Hopefully additional lenses will follow with designs that take advantage of the lack of a mirror.

The K-01 will go on sale in March with a price of $750 (US) for body only or $900 for the 40mm lens kit.


Bangalore, India
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Here's Marc Newson talking about the K 01 and his collaboration with Pentax.

Interview of Marc Newson PENTAX K-01 Designer - YouTube

My two bits -

I think Pentax needn't have worked with Marc Newson on this camera. With this huge resurgence of nostalgic retro cameras in the market, driven by the Fujifilm X series, they could have taken the K 1000 and added an exposure compensation button and that would be it. No 'modern' interpretation necessary. Especially since there are no mount adapters needed to use the many Pentax lenses (usually available dirt cheap on ebay) the last thing they needed was a polarized market based on what the camera 'looks' like. It will be far greater uphill battle now.


Another hand-on review of a pre-production model



Zen Snapshooter
SW Virginia
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I agree, Boid. I don't think it's ugly, but I don't think it's much of a design either. Take the prism hump off a Spotmatic, add the needed buttons, and you're done. Heck, take the hump off a k-5 and you're done. I think the best selling point for Ricoh-Pentax would be as a stripped down DSLR at a lower price.


Milwaukee, WI USA
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I agree with Boid as well. I don't HATE the new design, but I don't find it particularly inspired or inspiring. Pentax cameras have all kind of had a readily indentifiable look to them. Why throw all those years of design out the window?


Portland, Oregon
There will be much chatter around the interwebs about the look and I agree it is polarizing. But in the end its a camera and not someone I'm trying to pick up at the pub. This camera will work for me because it leverages the great glass I already have with what should be the same or better image quality of the K-5 for far less money. My experiences with the TL-500 and the X-10 have already prepped me for LCD composing, so I don't care much about viewfinders. Manual focus using focus peaking. Yea!


Coral Gables
Seriously no EVF either built-in or as an accessory, wow, that just tells you its not aimed at enthusiast but main stream off course. I like the design, it looks cool, just the right amount of buttons on the back and top plate. I see this camera being largely discounted in about 9 months marked by the next iteration, perhaps the K-02 with the EVF built in or as add-on. For me its a more compelling camera at $550 than at its introductory price.


Hall of Famer
Jersey Shore
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The new camera isn't that much smaller than a K-x but I can forgive that because it accepts all K-mount lenses. And while I don't love the styling, I don't mind it either. It's not beautiful or sexy but it is kind of cool in an old Volkswagen Beetle kind of way.

But the lack of a built-in EVF limits the usefulness of the camera and severely restricts which K-mount lenses one can use on it in a practical sense. Primes are fine - pancake or not - and so are smaller zooms like the DA 18-55. But can you imagine trying to frame a shot via the rear LCD with a DA 18-250 or 55-300 on it? And it's not even an articulating LCD.

I suspect Ricoh wanted to get a mirrorless offering beyond the Q out there quickly. I also appreciate their respect for the K-mount. And there's nothing to say they won't bring out a mirrorless camera with viewfinder in the future. But I can't see buying this myself. I'll read the reviews - perhaps there'll be something to change my mind. In the meantime, I still have my K-5, K200D and nine Pentax lenses. I also have my micro four-thirds kit that I will continue to to use and enjoy.


Bring Jack back!
Houston, Texas
Real Name
I tip my hat to Pentax for not calling the new cam KX-01 or something else with the letter "X" in it!

I think the camera will live or die likely on how well (or poorly) it can AF the current K mount lenses. Otherwise, unless the new versions of the K lenses are much better than the current ones, it makes no sense (to me) to switch to a camera that is not much smaller than the K-5.


Super Moderator Emeritus
Down Under
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So many colours to choose from...and yet none appeal to my sense of fashion at all - though the market just doesn't seem to cater for brown corduroy :blush:

Honestly, aesthetically an all-black model wouldn't go astray But essentially, as others have picked up, some key design features and requirements remain wanting. This confirms my decision in leaving Pentax, they have the agility of a boulder (everyone enjoying their full-frame?) and I remain baffled as to who they are actually listening to?....
...I thought the Ricoh take-over would be a good thing but....the Q and now this!!!!

Even turns me off wanting to buy an LX any more :laugh1:


Hall of Famer
They seem pretty clear on the market they're aiming for. The 'fashion and design market'. This interview made me laugh out loud.
Pentax unveils its "compact" K-01 mirrorless camera - British Journal of Photography

The Pentax UK GM's answer to the question "What are these mirrorless features that you don't find in a DSLR?" was awful. There are plenty of things to say to that (video capability, number of AF points, ability to link face recognition to metering etc etc), and he couldn't come up with a single one.


Ontario, Canada
Real Name
I'm with Armanius - I admire the awesome innovation of a new camera without an 'X' name. So bold...

They chose an interesting mix in touching their respected lens base, but not doing the same with the body. In setting aside something well known it is likely best to replace it with something better - a new icon. I'm not sure they have succeeded.

I hope it works for them.

Naveed Akhtar

London, UK
Yes the nomenclature of Pentax models are always clean .. K-5, K-m etc always short and punchy. Actualy K-01 is slightly longer than usual Pentax standards. Why not K1? I am also happy they didn't put x in it, but probably they are making one :)) with more retro look, who knows.

Well name part aside, I think, it will look better in hands then in photos, while mostly others are, the other way around. Partially because of its metal body, if am not wrong; and its clean and different colors with simple finishing can give you some surprises.

Its featured pack, everything you would want, I dont mind if it wont use adapter to mount canon lenses. I am an early adaptor of m4/3 , arguably the best system that can adopt any lens, yet I know I only am using native lenses for their AF performance and small sizes.

So yes, sielent shutter, big APSC sensor, thin lens, eye catching unique design (yes I like it, its cute) in tough body shell + better movie mode 1080p, multi-aspect sensor (I know how much I love it in GHn and LXn series), MF peeking mode are all great features and I love them all. But I won't get into this new system and wont call its legacy lens support a unique feature if its Contrast based AF performance doesn't exceed K-5, which after using m4/3 C-AF, is painfully slow.

I agree to Amin's assumption that they can use the extra space within the mirror box now, to design new more portable lenses, but until they are released and their performance is not tested, can't say much about the new system with surity.

Still, thumbs up to Pentax for releasing this system at a very lower introductory price, though I personally don't mind paying etc for K-5 to get its faster Phase detect AF and weather sealing over this model, if C-AF is same.

The only thing I can see that could have improve C-AF performance could be a newer Sensor design with massively improved Sensor readout, which will directly impact on processing C-AF, but I doubt it. Let's see!


Awabakal Country
Real Name
I'm disappointed to say the least. No EVF - fail. Design - fail. No articulated LCD - fail. I'll stick with my K-5. There's nothing about this beast that makes me have a GAS attack. (yes, its FUGLY!!)


Bangalore, India
Real Name
With due apologies to Amin and everyone who likes the design of this camera, and a thousand more apologies to Marc Newson and Pentax, but this is how I think the Pentax K-01 was birthed.

The scene opens at a Pentax board meeting a few months ago -

CEO - After our last debacle with the Q system we need to come back strong with a killer product.

*pin drop silence*

CEO - Did we fire the idiot who thought it would be a good idea to call our optics 'toy lenses'?

*silence continues*

CEO - Well, I've just about had it with you suits. You are all out of touch with what the market needs. We need some fresh inspired thinking! Someone who can think digital. Where's that intern we hired from that Hippie School of Design?

*intern is led into the board room bewildered and weary*

CEO - Turn around and show me the label on your jeans.

*examines label*

CEO - "Seven for all mankind", never heard of it. You'll do. What do you think you designer jeans wearing types would want in a camera?

Intern - Ummmm... uh... dunno.

CEO - For god's sake man, think! Apply yourself!

Intern - Well... it'd be cool if Lady Gaga designed it. I'd buy it. No wait! Marc Newson. He's a cool chap, you should totally get him to design a camera.

CEO - Who's Marc Newson?

Intern (gushing) - He's like the most awesome designer ever, man! He like, makes these cool furniture and bicycles and shit.

CEO - Has he ever designed a camera before?

Intern - Man, he can design anything! He's done aircrafts and shit man. He even has his stuff in MOMA dude.

CEO - What's a moma?

Intern - Museum of Moh-dun art dude! Like totally rad.

CEO (suitably impressed) - Go call Marc Newson... and stop calling me dude.

Intern (perking up) - Awesome dude... I mean, man, sir.. right away.

Three months later at Marc's first presentation, the suits are not happy. The camera looks like a colourful bar of soap with buttons and strange protrusions.

Marc - I have this vision of the world, where everything is 'designified' by adding primary colours to boxes.

CEO (glancing at intern to make sure the jeans crowd is suitably impressed) - Right, right.

Marc - One button needs to be red, and the other green... hmmm... we need yellow to complete the set and make it look like a traffic signal... Hey, I know what! Let's make the camera body yellow!

CEO - For God's sake Marc! Don't be ridiculous we can't have a serious photographic tool that looks like a something an African bee will try mating with when shooting outdoors!

Marc - Ok ok. Maybe you're right, hmm... lets just have ONE variant in yellow then, and all the people who agree with my world view will buy that. Just you wait and see. It'll outsell the other variants.

CEO - Marc, how about adding a viewfinder?

Marc - Never use it.

CEO - But ummm... people do you know.

Marc - Pah! It ruins the fluid lines of ridge. No viewfinder.

CEO - It's also kind of umm... big.

Marc - This is precisely why we need to develop the right shade of yellow for the camera body! Distract the users from figuring out that its the same size as the K5.

CEO (still stealing sideways glances at the ecstatic intern standing at the back of the room) - You might be right. We'll highlight the yellow camera in all our press shots.

Meeting ends with congratulations all around. Everyone leaves the board room but for the CEO and his Chief Engineer Yamamoto.

Eng. Yamamoto (coughs discreetly) - CEO-san, I have humble idea as backup plan.

CEO - What is it?

Eng. Yamamoto - CEO-san We should make sure this new camera can house all our Pentax K series lenses without an adapter. Just in case the yellow is not as big a distraction as we think it'll be.

CEO - Hmmm...

*camera launches*

In the meanwhile, the intern has already quit Pentax in anticipation of his next job as a core team member at Apple's ideation team, now that he has a beefed up resume and has proved his chops by recommending Marc to Pentax he's sure he's snagged it.

Unfortunately for him, Apple has seen what the camera looks like.
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