Hands-on with Ricoh’s compact Pentax KP

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Key Highlights
  • 24.3MP APS-C AA-Filterless CMOS Sensor
  • PRIME IV Engine with Accelerator Unit
  • Smart Function Exchangeable Grip
  • Full HD 1080p30 Video; 4K Interval Movie
  • SAFOX 11 27-Point AF Sensor
  • ISO 819200; 7 fps Continuous Shooting
  • 5-Axis In-Body Shake Reduction II
  • 3.0″ 921k-Dot Tilting LCD Monitor
  • Pixel Shift Resolution; Built-In Wi-Fi
  • Weather-Sealed Magnesium Alloy Body

Ricoh has taken the wraps off it’s newest DSLR, the APS-C format KP. Resembling a mini Pentax K-1, and inheriting some of the same features, the KP is a more compact, modernized version of the K-3 II.

Hands-on with new Pentax KP

Its price and all we’ve been told point to it being an K-3 successor but the company says it doesn’t replace it. Whether this is to avoid devaluing remaining K-3 II stocks or because it hopes to introduce a higher-end sister model is unclear.

We got our hands on a pre-production sample recently, and we’ve prepared a quick product tour.

Hands-on with new Pentax KP

The KP really does look like a scaled-down K-1, with the same distinctive slab-sided Pentaprism hump. Ricoh tells us that they were aiming for a camera with a similar size as a competitive mirrorless model, but without sacrificing the experience of using an optical viewfinder.

Hands-on with new Pentax KP

One major different between the KP and the K-1 is a built-in flash. It’s not particularly powerful (GN 6, at ISO 100) but should be useful for close-range portraiture and fill-in. Speaking (kind of) of low-light photography, the KP’s 27-point SAFOX 11 autofocus system should be usable down to -3EV.

Hands-on with new Pentax KP

One of the biggest upgrades in the KP compared to the K-3 II is its sensor. The KP boasts a 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor, with a maximum ISO sensitivity of ISO 819,200, supported by a built-in 5-axis ‘SR II’ stabilization system. Ricoh claims that this system will deliver an effective benefit of 5 stops of stabilization.

Hands-on with new Pentax KP

The KP’s 3″ rear LCD features a resolution of 920k-dots, which is average for a midrange DSLR at this point. While it doesn’t offer the highest resolution on the market, it’s clear and detailed, and can also be tilted outwards.

Hands-on with new Pentax KP

Sadly (hey, we’re nerds), the screen articulation mechanism is a conventional tilting hinge. There’s no sign of the K-1’s unique Apollo Lander-style struts. The tilting screen will be handy for several kinds of still photography, and also video. The KP’s video specification is relatively unremarkable (1080/30p) but it does feature a ‘4K Interval Movie mode’. This combines a series of 4K-resolution still images (3840 x 2160 pixels) taken at a fixed intervals to create a single movie file.

For those who want to output video to an external recorder or TV, do note that Ricoh has done way with the HDMI port on the KP. Instead, you need to buy a dongle which attaches to the ‘SlimPort’ (basically a microUSB jack with video output capability). Ricoh says the HDMI port was removed to keep the size of the camera down.

Hands-on with new Pentax KP

Pentax / Ricoh has been adding options to the traditional PASM quartet for years, and the KP is no exception. Its exposure mode dial is crowded with settings, and includes five (five!) custom ‘U’ preset positions plus Scene Analyze Auto, Program, Sensitivity Priority, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Shutter & Aperture Priority, Manual, and Bulb.

Hands-on with new Pentax KP

This view shows off the KP’s nicely-sized front and rear control dials, and another top-mounted mode dial, with another three custom positions. This time for bracketing options, which include two new tools – ‘Motion Bracketing’ (shutter speed) and Depth-of-field Bracketing (aperture).

Hands-on with new Pentax KP

A D-LI109 battery should deliver between 390-420 shots per charge, depending on flash use. This view shows off the rubber gaskets around the battery compartment door. Unusually these days, Ricoh calls the KP ‘weatherproof’ and claims that the KP is ‘dustproof and weather-sealed’ and capable of operating at temperatures as low as -10°C (14°F).

Hands-on with new Pentax KP

Here’s something else that’s a bit unusual – removable hand-grips. The KP ships with a medium-sized grip attached as standard, but with a few turns of an Allen wrench…

Hands-on with new Pentax KP

it can be popped right off, and replaced with smaller or larger grips, which are included in the box.

Hands-on with new Pentax KP

The large grip goes especially well with the new optional battery grip.

Hands-on with new Pentax KP

Please note that the grip shown here is an engineering prototype and is not cosmetically representative of the final shipping product (which will be more textured, and less shiny).

The D-BG7 Battery Grip can hold one extra battery, and an extra memory card (stowed, not as usable media). It will also be sold with a tray to adapt the K-70’s batteries to be used with the KP. The KP’s maximum shooting rate of 7 fps is not affected by the battery grip.

Hands-on with new Pentax KP

Here’s that tray, in action.

The KP will be available on February 25 for a suggested list price of $1,099.95. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

(dpreview.com & dailycameranews.com, https://goo.gl/7cExjv)

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