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Pentax launched today their new SLD, the Pentax K-01. This one features the same excellent low-noise high-sensitivity sensor as the Pentax K-5 and the same sharp 3″ LCD with 920K pixels. Most importantly, the K-01 uses the Pentax K-AF2 lens mount, giving it access to all K-mount lenses and making it the most expandable SLD system on the market.

The K-mount gives the K-01 a significant advantage over most competitors which created new lens mounts and had to introduce entire lineup of lenses for their new mounts. The irony of course is that Pentax has one of the smallest DSLR lens lineup but ends with one of the largest SLD lens lineup, tied with Sony which has Alpha mount SLDs in addition to their compact E-mount NEX-series.

While most SLD allow the use of legacy lenses with adapters, those are generally restrictive and may cause functionality issues including the loss of autofocus and stabilization. With the K-01, a built-in Shake-Reduction system stabilizes all lenses at no extra cost and therefore breathing new life into existing optics.

Pentax K-01 Lineup

Like all current SLDs, the K-01 features full manual-controls, including manual focus and custom white-balance. It features relatively fast 6 FPS continuous drive and the ability to record full 1080p HD video with stereo sound using the mini-jack audio input. For this camera, Pentax developed a new  81-point Contrast-Detect autofocus system which is the biggest unknown in terms expectations.

Where Pentax completely departed from its traditions is in terms of design. Instead of the usual camera enthusiasts, they commissioned this time a design by Marc Newson, suggesting a completely different target audience than its present lineup. While this makes some sense as to not cannibalize its present offerings, the new design is much more visual than ergonomic: the flat top is likely to be less comfortable than the sculpted K-5 design with its angled shutter-release; the short distance between the only control-dial and EC button will probably be uncomfortable and the mode-dial looks awkward to reach. In other words, fewer buttons with a less organic shape will most likely result in an experience which certainly wont feel like a Pentax!

Of course, as soon as a K-01 is available we will give it an extensive review and go over its ergonomics and performance.  The K-01 will is expected in March for $749 USD on its own or for $899 with an all-new DA 40mm F/2.8 XS lens which is a mere 9mm thick and lacks both a filter-thread and a hood mount.

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