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I have loved Pentax cameras for over 40 years - approaching 45. My first serious camera was a Spotmatic F and it had the best ergonomics of any camera available at the time. Build quality was excellent, and the lenses were legendary. I had 10,000's of pictures through a pair of Spotmatics used at sport events for the local newspapers, AP, action, portrait, weddings, and college parties and high school graduations (you get the picture, no pun intended). Pentax was late to the game for serious digital photography, and I was no longer working as a professional, so I indulged in some Canon Powershots that were good - but never felt exactly right. A couple of years ago I got a Pentax K3 II, for a number of reasons (including shooting my kids sporting events and some serious overseas travel) and fell in love all over again. My K mount lens collection grows, and I really miss my old 85mm f1.8 portrait lens, but the quality of modern zooms is amazing. The ergonomics are stellar, as before. In legendary Houston flooding and 1" an hour storms, the K3 weather sealing held up just fine as did the lenses that claim weather sealing. I decided to go for the K1-II as there is finally a full frame camera with the Pentax ergonomics, weather sealing like the K3, and improved pixel shift. I will simply say that the quality is outstanding. Comparing night time 6-man football photographs (I swear the lighting is a couple of 100 watt bulbs at either end of the field) between the K1-II and K3 you can see the lower noise and higher quality of the K1-II. Putting the K1-II in APS-C mode means you give up full frame, but the improved sensor still gives higher quality than the K3. Another plus for action is your 300mm lens becomes 450mm using APS-C mode, and at the same time the sensor gives better results. It's a win all the way around. As for battery life, I used my 2 year old batteries from the K3 in the K1-II just to test. A full night of shooting, over 300 photos, and the battery still had not gone down 1 notch. I call that impressive. The K1-II can hold its own against any camera. The first photo (players in white and blue) was made using the Pentax K1-II and Pentax 55-300mm zoom lens at 108mm, 1/400 sec, f4.5 using APS-C mode. ASA 25600, that is twenty-five thousand six hundred. The second photo (two blue players) is the K3 II, same lens, 115mm, 1/640 sec, f5.6, ASA 25600. No retouching or cropping. Lighting on the (same) field is minimal. The lower noise on the K1-II is apparent.
Update Aug 2018: I have had the opportunity to use the K-1mkII at NHRA events and off highway events and I objectively cannot find a gap in this camera. I wish the horizon correction option could be turned on and off from the main info menu like the KP but that is a nit. That is something you want to do for night long exposure work, I update images taken with both Pentax and Tamron glass. The night NHRA was sot at ISO 6400 and I have not seen better image quality by any other camera OEM at that ISO. Phenomenal.
I did not purchase the K-1mkII from Amazon. But as I have commented on my Amazon KP purchase I wanted to share my thoughts on this model that I purchased from a NY store 2 months ago. I believe the K-1mkII took the best updates of the KP and put them in a FF package. The image quality is superb. I also bought the DFA 150-450 and this has become and unbeatable duo of camera and lens. An aspect of the K-1mkII I really like is the ability to work with a FF lens, a APS-C lens or shoot in 1:1 mode. Yes if you shoot in APS-C mode your effective pixels are less than a KP but since the pixels are larger I see amazing image quality even in that mode. The redwing blackbird attached is the APS C mode with the DFA at 450 making it essentially a 688mm handheld. BTW the fps in APS-C mode is 6.5 so good for sports that way. Autofocus on the K-1mkII is fast and accurate and the image of the swallow was caught that way. Folks have commented that getting a swallow in flight is very hard and it is, but made easier with the K-1mk2. If you are a Pentaxian, the K-1mkII is the time to add a FF back to your camera kit. If you are looking for your first FF DSLR, Pentax has so much more to offer for the money than Canon or Nikon. No one makes as durable, weather resistant and ability to allow you to be the creator of an image, not just taking a picture
In writing, I am comparing this camera to the K3, which I have used for a very long time.
I held off buying this camera in part because it has no internal flash. WHY? This is ESSENTIAL in my opinion. I don't want to have to carry around a bulky flash unit all the time. Why did they leave this out? Yes, I know they put the GPS stuff in its place. That doesn't excuse this!
The other omission is that NO CORD is included, for downloading images to a PC. This is so BASIC! Why? And I didn't see any information on what cord to get. It took a fair amount of effort to get this information. Pulling out the memory card to download is a lousy substitute. It is truly shocking that a company that makes such excellent cameras would omit these two TOTALLY BASIC things!
I found that transferring my skills at exposure, etc. from the K3 produced some really bizarre results. And they were not readily correctable in a paint/photo program. It was a bit of a learning curve to adapt to this camera, which appears to do a better job of some exposure/color issues. Most of the time now I get decent pictures. That said, the one problem that troubles me the most was not corrected. I do a lot of shooting of birds against the sky. I set the camera to meter only in the center. It SHOULD meter only in the center, but it doesn't appear to do so. I still get black birds against a washed out sky. I have to set the exposure to get a decent photo. I'm used to doing that, but when you can set the camera to meter only in the center, IT SHOULD ONLY METER IN THE CENTER.
The other problem is that I don't see a way quickly to switch to HD. I think the K3 was actually better in this regard.
That said, there are several things I really like about this camera. The BEST thing is the improved display for manual focusing. This is WONDERFUL! It shows a square in the center of the view when you are close to being in focus. This square gets larger as you improve focus, and turns red when the focus is perfect. I really like this feature.
I haven't played much with auto focus on flying birds. From what little I have tried, it would appear that there is some improvement, but that it is still not as good as Canon or Nikon. I was hopiang for better.
Putting on my Pentax 150-450mm lens gives me exceptionally detailed and sharp photos when a close bird is in focus. I can see the individual strands of the feathers. The same lens did well on the K3, but this is even better. You can shoot at a higher ISO, although it looks like you NEED that, because this camera does not appear to be as sensitive to light as the K3. Graininess at higher ISO is not nearly as noticeable as on the K3, partly beause of the larger image size (number of pixels), but the grains are more like just a variation in shade rather than a sharp dot. If the lower sensitivity to light is why, I can live with that.
On the other hand, if I get a bird in the distance, and it only fills the very center, now I can actually see detail in the bird, whereas formerly I could not.
I find writing images to disk is a bit slower than I'd like, but I can live with that.
I haven't tried this camera on scenery much yet, but so far, no complaints. My focus has been on bird photography.
The camera is a huge upgrade from my K20D. However, I have purchased a series of DA lens and the K1 needs FA lens. This would have been great to know before committing my purchase. now I need to invest into full frame lens. The cost between a DA vs FA lens is dramatically different. $400 DA lens to a $1000 FA lens
Have been a Pentax user for the past 12 yrs, previously owned K10D, K5 &K3. Great improvement in auto focus and the picture out of the box is amazing. Needs very little to none post - processing. Thought, it might be big and clunky and was surprised with the design and ergonomics, fells great in my hands (safe & secure ) and very easy to handle like my previous cameras. If you're on the fence whether this makes a difference in your pictures, I can tell you "IT WILL". Love using my primes now, especially 77mm, Pentax knocked if out of the park with this.
This is my second Pentax DSLR, bought this after 9 years of using the Pentax K-&. I use if for family, events and travel and even in low lighting, the shots are amazing! No photo-shopping, the images are as is!