Ricoh has announced the Pentax K-1 Mark II, price tag £1,799.99 / $1,999.95 with a March 2018 release date, a camera which the company says can produce images with finer detail and more accurate colours than other typical full-frame sensors.
Reading through the press announcement, we must admit we were a little uncertain of the differences between the Pentax K-1 Mark II vs the Pentax K-1.
Chief among them appears to be an upgrade to the full-frame DSLR’s Pixel Shift Resolution System, which is now called Pixel Shift Resolution System II and includes a Dynamic Pixel Shift Resolution mode.
The press announcement was rather confusing, if we’re honest. Pentax says:
In addition to the innovative Pixel Shift Resolution System — the super-resolution technology that uses the camera’s in-body shake-reduction mechanism to capture four images of the same scene by shifting the image sensor by a single pixel for each image, then synthesizes them into a single composite image — the PENTAX K-1 Mark II also features the Pixel Shift Resolution System II, which obtains RGB colour data for each pixel to produce super-high-resolution images with finer details and more truthful colours than those produced by ordinary full-frame sensors. In the new Dynamic Pixel Shift Resolution mode, which can be used during handheld shooting, this system can be used jointly with the camera’s shake-reduction mechanism, since it synthesizes the captured super-high-resolution images by detecting the slight fluctuations of the subject’s position during continuous shooting. The camera also provides ON/OFF switching of the Motion Correction function, which detects moving elements of the continuously captured images to minimize the effect of movement during the image synthesizing process.
In our Pentax K-1 review from 2016, we said: “Pentax has also included its Pixel Shift Resolution system that’s designed to record better colour and definition.
It works by moving the sensor by a pixel width between each of four shots which are then composited into one image. For the first time there are two modes for this.
The first being the one we have seen before that should only be used when camera is on a tripod and with a motionless subject and a second new option that is able to cope with moving subjects and the camera being hand-held. Pentax still recommends using a tripod for the best results though.”
So what’s new about Pixel Shift Resolution II. We think it may be that the revamped mode produces a larger image than standard, but it’s not clear. The original mode in the K-1 composites four images, but the final image is the same size as a single image. We’ve asked Ricoh for clarity on this and will report back.
Another key difference between the Pentax K-1 Mark II vs the Pentax K-1 appears to be what Ricoh is calling a “newly incorporated accelerator unit to assure high-quality images and excellent super-high-sensitivity imaging performance.” The company says:
To place priority on image resolution, the PENTAX K-1Mark II features a 35mm-format full-frame CMOS image sensor with an AA (anti-aliasing) filter–free design to produce high-resolution images with approximately 36.4 effective megapixels. It also features a new accelerator unit, which optimizes the image data obtained by the full-frame image sensor before delivering it to the high-performance PRIME IV imaging engine. Because of this, the camera produces high-quality images with minimal noise, while retaining excellent resolution at all sensitivity levels, from normal to super-high sensitivities. PENTAX has also made a thorough review of all image-processing parameters to assure adherence to its original colour scheme, with special emphasis on deep blues and lively greens. PENTAX has also drastically improved the camera’s noise-reduction performance at a high-sensitivity range — up to ISO 819200 — to expand creative possibilities in super-high-sensitivity shooting.
So what does this mean? Again, we’re not entirely sure! We think it may be a new method of applying gain – something that enhances the amplification that has to be applied to an image signal.
Otherwise, the Pentax K-1 Mark II specs sheet looks fairly similar to the origina: the same 36.4-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor sans anti-aliasing filter, the same five-axis, five-step SR II system, the SAFOX 12 AF sensor module with 33 AF sensors (25 cross-type sensors positioned in the middle), the flexible tilting 3.2-inch, 1,037k-dot LCD screen and, as you would expect from Pentax, thorough weather sealing.
Pentax K-1 Mark II Price & Release Date
The Pentax K-1 Mark II price tag will be £1,799.99 / $1,999.95 for the body only. The K-1 Mark II price rises to $2,399.95 for a bundle that includes the K-1 II body plus HD PENTAX-D FA 28-105mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR zoom lens. The UK price for this bundle is not yet confirmed.
The Pentax K-1 Mark II release date will be March 2018.