Design and features
The first thing that comes to mind when looking at the K-01 is "peculiar". This certainly doesn't look like your run-of-the-mill interchangeable-lens camera (ILC). It's boxy, it sports a teensy-tiny pancake lens on the front and it comes clad in a startling canary yellow. Black is also available, for the less brave.
While the body of the K-01 might be chunkier than most ILCs, what this camera lacks in discreetness, the 40mm f/2.8 lens makes up for in droves. It's incredibly slender, so much so that many observers who commented on it didn't actually realise that there was a lens on the front at all.
It's all standard fare from here on in, though, with a mode dial housing the main controls. There are full PASM control, automatic, scene modes, bulb, movie, no flash and an HDR option, all on the top. The power switch flanks the shutter button, which is shaped almost like a teardrop.
The HDR mode (left) is pretty subtle, compared to the standard shot (right).
The camera was designed by Marc Newson, he of the peculiar-looking Ford concept car and ridiculously cool Embryo Chair. When you take a look at these two objects, then observe the K-01, you'll get some idea of why it looks like it does.
Around the back, you get a nice, bright, high-resolution 3-inch LCD screen (921,000 dots). The camera sports a 16.3-megapixel CMOS sensor, and, to make it more appealing to Pentax users, the lens mount accepts all K-mount models. There's also the added benefit of in-body image stabilisation, as well as dust reduction.
There's no option to mount a viewfinder, which may be a deal breaker for many photographers. The K-01 is also heavy — 561 grams of heavy — which puts it firmly in the league of entry-level digital SLR territory.
The K-01 accepts SDXC cards, and connectivity is via a mini HDMI and proprietary mini-USB port. There's also a microphone input. All of the external flaps are rubberised and take a lot of effort to push closed.
The autofocus system seriously lets down this camera. While you wouldn't think a 40mm lens would need to hunt for focus all that much, it routinely finds it difficult to lock on to a subject, even a stationary one, without a lot of back and forth. We didn't have any other lenses supplied to us during our review, so we were only able to gauge how bad the problem was using the 40mm — and it is quite poor. Low-light focus is even worse.
Image processing is also slow; for example, the built-in HDR mode takes at least 20 seconds in order for it to put together the finished photo from three exposures.