Ricoh has just posted image samples from its upcoming Pentax K-1 DSLR (see our announcement post for details). 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, the 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!