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Pentax’s long-awaited full-frame DSLR goes on sale in April

Updated on March 4, 2016: Ricoh Japan uploaded several samples taken with the K-1 (via PetaPixel). If you have a large display, enlarge the photos to full-view and check out the terrific details.

Ricoh has announced the arrival of its first full-frame (35mm) DSLR, the Pentax K-1. The camera has been long awaited by photographers, particularly Pentax shooters, and bridges the gap in the Pentax lineup between the APS-C DSLR and medium-format cameras. The K-1 will be available in April, priced at $1,800 (more affordable than other high-end full-frame cameras, but not the cheapest either).

This particular camera’s development was announced last year at the CP+ show in Japan, but a full-frame Pentax camera has been teased since 2001, as DPreview points out. The K-1 gives current APS-C Pentax users a higher-resolution option without trading up to the pricier medium-format camera (or leaving the brand altogether), and the ability to use existing Pentax lenses.

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The weather-sealed K-1 uses a 36.4-megapixel full-frame sensor (rumors suggest it’s a Sony sensor used in the A7R), 5-axis image stabilization (SR II Shake Reduction), 33-point autofocus system (25 cross-type points), and a new optical viewfinder with close to 100-percent field of view. The K-1 uses an anti-aliasing simulator instead of a filter, like in the K-3 and K-3 II. It also features Pixel Shift Resolution (also found in the K-3 II) that lets you take even higher resolution photos by shifting the sensor by a single pixel to shoot four images, which are then merged to create the photo. ISO sensitivity ranges between 100-204,800.

Sample image with Pixel Shift on.

Sample image with Pixel Shift Resolution turned on. Click to see the details in the full-sized image at 7360 x 4912.

Ricoh Imaging

Photography is the K-1’s strong point – it can shoot 14-bit RAW files. It can also record video at Full HD 1080, but only up to 30p (H.264 format); there is a mic input, however. Continuous shooting is at 4.4 frames per second, up to 23 in RAW or 70 in JPEG.

The K-1’s 3-inch LCD has a “flexible-tile” mechanism that lets you position it in a variety of angles. There are also small LEDs, called Operation Assist Lights, which help you operation the camera in low light, such as changing lenses, setting controls, or swapping memory cards. A Smart Function dial lets users quickly select frequently used settings. There’s also Wi-Fi for pairing with phones and tablets, and GPS for geotagging purposes. The K-1 has dual SD card slots.

With the K-1’s Crop Mode, existing Pentax lens owners can use Pentax APS-C lenses with the camera. At launch, there will be 12 compatible lenses, including two new options: a 15-30mm f/2.8 ultra-wide-angle zoom ($1,500, in April) and a 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 compact zoom ($500, in April). Both new lenses are designed for the K-1 (they can be used with Pentax APS-C cameras but cropped), and feature special coating to reduce lens flares and ghosting, and a quick-shift system for switching between auto and manual focus. The 15-30mm lens also has a Supersonic Direct-drive Motor (SDM) for quiet operation, and a weather-resistant construction. It gives you the benefits of a fixed prime lens, but a bit of zoom when you need it.