On the 22nd of February Pentax announced an update to their highly successful K-1 camera. They have named it the Pentax K-1 Mark II. Astute Pentax fans will notice that the camera looks remarkably similar, exactly the same even, to the K-1 Mark I… and with good reason:
Buy the Pentax K-1 Mark II on Amazon
The new camera keeps much of the internals from the older K-1 and add’s what Pentax is calling an ‘accelerator unit’, as found in the Pentax K-70 into the camera’s circuitry.
The accelerator unit in the new K-1 Mark II is a pre-processing unit that sits between the CMOS sensor and the Prime IV imaging chip. Pentax are claiming that the pre-processor allows an increase in signal-to-noise ratio (ie. better noise performance) and other image quality enhancements.
Only time will tell how successful the new processor is at reducing image noise – however Pentax has increased the maximum ISO value from 209,400 to a whopping 819,200 which suggests that they are quite confident that things have improved significantly in this area (819K is 2 stops more sensitive than 209K).
With the update Pentax have introduced the “Pixel Shift Resolution System II” which aims to enhance the current Pixel Shift System. The new system, which still combines 4 images to produce images with more resolution, dynamic range and colour accuracy is now able to be used in conjunction with the 5-axis image stabilisation for use while handheld.
Real-Time Scene Analysis System
Pentax have also introduced improvements in the Autoexposure algorithms based on ‘deep-learning’. This system analyses brightness, colour and movement to better aid the camera in recognising the scene and adjusting exposure accordingly.
The press release also made mention, but didn’t go into specifics, of speed improvements. It isn’t clear if this means an increase in image processing speed (a bigger image buffer when doing high-speed burst shooting) or a faster frame rate (or both).
K-1 Owners can upgrade their current camera!
Current owners of the Pentax K-1 (Mark I) will be able to send in their camera to have it upgraded to the Mark II version for a cost of $US550/$CAD690. This is an awesome move by Pentax that will please current K-1 owners. The upgrade price is around 25% of buying the camera new, and assuming that the image quality improvements live up the Pentax’ claims will offer great value for money.
Noting that I have zero experience in the camera manufacture and design business – I would love to see more of this type of thing in the future. As sensor technology matures and image processing improves it would allow camera manufacturers to provide image quality upgrades at a much lower cost to consumers, and reduce the material waste involved in replacing an entire camera. Hopefully the other camera makers are taking note here!
Pentax has advised that more information on the upgrade program will be released in the coming weeks. They have currently announced the plan for the US, Canada and Europe. No word yet for Australian or Rest-of-world Pentax owners.
More information on the Pentax K-1 Mark II can be found on the official website: http://www.ricoh-imaging.co.jp/english/products/k-1-2/