Ricoh has just posted image samples from its upcoming Pentax K-1 DSLR. Although all of the images were shot at ISO 100 and we are yet to see high ISO image samples, the 36 MP sensor on the K-1 seems to be very similar to that of the Nikon D810 in terms of image quality and color reproduction, which is superb. At $1800, the Pentax K-1 represents phenomenal value, not only because of the sensor alone, but also because of the different technologies packed into the camera body. The “Pixel Shift” capability, in particular, deserves a lot of attention, because the camera is capable of moving its sensor in order to capture all the colors that a typical Bayer sensor is incapable of capturing in a single shot. As a result, one can get results previously only possible when shooting with a medium format camera in terms of extreme detail. This kind of technology is disruptive, because it is innovation we have previously not seen from any full-frame camera.
Just take a look at the massive difference in detail between the Pixel Shift mode being on and off on the Pentax K-1:
It is hard to believe that such sharpness and detail level could come from a full-frame DSLR! It feels like an image captured at much higher resolution and then down-sampled to 36 MP. And here is the real kicker – the above image was shot with a $500 enthusiast-grade zoom lens, HD PENTAX-D FA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 ED DC WR!
If you would like to observe all the details yourself, here are the two images with Pixel Shift resolution turned off and on:
Please keep in mind that the images presented here are in full 36 MP resolution. To see all the extreme details, I recommend either opening each image in a separate browser window, or right-clicking each image and clicking “Save the Link” to save the full resolution version on your computer.
And the rest of the published image samples from the Pentax K-1:
Kudos to Pentax for making such a phenomenal camera. I can imagine the impact of the Pixel Shift technology on photography in the future. I can’t wait to give it a try when shooting landscapes. The only concern is, one would need ideal conditions to use Pixel Shift – i.e. no wind, camera shake or other types of movements. I wonder if Pentax can figure out a way to use the same technology to increase total resolution, similar to what we have seen on some of the Olympus mirrorless cameras. I can imagine what a 100MP+ image would look like with all this detail!