Object of Desire: Pentax K-01 Camera

March 1, 2012

By Dan Havlik

We don’t know exactly how we feel about the Marc Newson-designed Pentax K-01 and that’s why we like it. So many cameras these days look the same, even the trendy, slim models that come in pretty colors and are supposed to be “sexy” and “different.” The 16-megapixel K-01 (pronounced “kay-zero-one”) may not be “sexy,” per se, but it is different and that’s not just because you have to be told how to pronounce it.

The Australian-born Newson is a well-known industrial designer of aircraft, furniture, jewelry and clothing, but the K-01 is the first camera he’s worked on. While it doesn’t redefine the genre, there are some appealing touches.

We had a chance to play with a prototype of the K-01 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the chunky build of this mirrorless compact system camera feels comfy and substantial. We also liked the ridged, rubberized covering over the camera’s aluminum frame, particularly the version in yellow, which is Newson’s signature color choice. Buttons, dials and switches on the K-01 are slightly oversize, making the camera feel like a toy for adults, which it ultimately is.

In contrast to the bulkiness of the body, the K-01’s interchangeable DA 40mm f/2.8 XS lens is as flat as a pancake, making it seem like there’s no lens attached at all. Features on the K-01 are decent but not as exciting as the design: a 3-inch LCD; full 1080p HD video shooting; and the ability to fire off 5 fps bursts. The K-01’s APS-C CMOS image sensor is as large as what’s in a digital SLR and, while that’s not groundbreaking, it certainly is welcome.

Price: $749.95 (body only); $899.95 (with 40mm kit lens)

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