We watched the information revealed about this camera in detail so far and now it is time to look at it in even more depth as we try to review it. The Pentax KP comes with the standard Pentax features such as the weather-sealed body and the in-body five-axis Shake Reduction while also having the features that you could find in the previous K-1 model such as the Pixel Shift Resolution. The design is new for this camera, very sleek and you can remove the grip so that you can maybe choose a different one, making it highly flexible.
The sensor is a 24MP APS-C CMOS with a top ISO of 819,200 and a minimum range of ISO100. You don’t get an anti-aliasing filter on the sensor but this is somewhat simulated for the situation where moire may come up due to the image based stabilization system of the sensor.
Among the unique features we should count the horizon correction, composition adjustment and the Astrotracer but the GPS unit isn’t present here so you have to buy that separately as an optional feature. The exterior is made of magnesium alloy and the camera is weather-resistant, cold-proof and dustproof so you can shoot in any condition without worrying about damage to your device.
The AF sensor has 27 points and 25 central cross-type points, the RGB metering sensor helps with subject tracking and exposure and has an 86,000 pixel resolution while the continuous shooting options can go up to seven frames per second.
We mentioned the grips, the interchangeable ones provide you with three options: the smaller S version which is the one equipped when you buy the camera and this can be replaced with the medium or large version in case those are more to your liking.
The camera doesn’t provide GPS support as we mentioned but you do have Wi-Fi communication and the electronic shutter has a speed of up to 1/24,000 sec through the viewfinder. The PRIME IV processor allows great JPEG image quality but the battery life is quite a bit lower (400 shots) when compared to the older models from Pentax.
Aside from the front and rear command dials, the KP comes with an additional setting dial on the top. All of the three can be customized and as with all of the Pentax cameras, the shooting modes offered differ a bit from the ones you might find on other brands. So aside from the P (program), Tv (Shutter priority), Av (Aperture priority) and the M (manual) which are common, you also have the Sv (Sensitivity priority) in which you change the ISO speed and the TAv (Shutter and Aperture priority) in which you can adjust the aperture and shutter but the camera will change the ISO speed automatically.
We said that the camera comes with Pixel Shift Resolution and his means that the system of shake reduction moves the sensor by one pixel, taking the photo four times and then bringing the images together so that the image will be much sharper and have a lot of extra details.
The optical viewfinder has a 0.95x magnification and the LCD screen is three inches but without touchscreen capability. As for the video quality, the camera records FullHD videos and has stereo microphones built-in as well as the option of using an external microphone.
The camera is really robust and the rubber grips on the rear, front and left sides all make it very comfortable to hold. One other great thing is the diopter adjustment which means that you can adjust it to suit your own vision.
The rear screen can be tilted to take pictures from more angles and it is just as solid as the rest of the camera but this model is a bit larger than the others as well as quite heavy compared to other Digital SLRs that are meant to be more compact.
The menus of the KP have different sections for the video, photo, playback, settings and custom settings and you can customize the layout of the panel so that it fits your style better and you have some help options right there so you won’t have to bring your manual everywhere as you get used to the camera.
The dials are placed in an ergonomic way and everything makes sense and the Function Dial is something that permits you to control the camera without needing to take your eyes off the viewfinder so this is one of the strong points of the KP.
Autofocus and Performance
The AF point selection isn’t ideal as you cannot reassign each function of the 4-way controller to different dials or buttons and thus it can get cumbersome in some situations. The KP uses the SAFOX 11 autofocus system with 27 points, 25 cross-type AF points concentrated toward the center and two normal points on the left and right.
Single AF works quick enough but subject tracking or AF-C aren’t where the KP stands out so if this is what you are looking for then you might want to find better options.
The image is improved from previous models though the updated noise reduction algorithm that provides some very impressive JPEG images and the high ISOs are something that the KP really excels at. With raw images the noise is very low for an APS-C camera and it leaves the competition behind in this aspect, making it a very good choice for someone who requires frequent shooting at high ISOs.
The video quality is quite soft due to the image stabilization that offers good results even when holding the camera with your hand but the lack of on-sensor PDAF means that the autofocus in the videos may be suboptimal in many situations.
To conclude, the Pentax KP stands out through the robust build, the ease of use, high degree of customizable features, changeable grip, 5-axis image stabilization, Pixel Shift Resolution and especially through the very good image quality with high ISO performance but there are some issues as well such as the autofocus or the short battery life but overall it is a really good product that can prove a great choice for many situations.