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Pentax reveals high-end, compact K-01 camera

The compact camera has a mirrorless design that can use Pentax's K mount SLR lenses, has a relatively large sensor, and costs $900 with a fast 40mm lens.

Pentax K-01
Pentax K-01 (click to enlarge)

Pentax fans will be delighted to know they won't have to make do with the ill-starred Pentax Q when it comes to higher-end compact cameras.

Thanks to a gun-jumping announcement by camera retail powerhouse B&H Photo Video, details on the rumored Pentax's K-01 have now emerged. The camera uses the relatively large APS-C-sized sensor and corresponding K mount lenses from Pentax's SLR line, but omits the bulk-inducing flip-up reflex mirror used for SLRs' optical viewfinders.

Update 5:10 p.m. PT: Pentax has officially announced the camera, and B&H's specs were spot on. Pentax also showed sharp-looking yellow and white versions of the camera body, instructed us that we're to pronounce the camera name "K zero one," and said it'll cost $750 for the camera body or $900 with a new 40mm pancake f2.8 lens when it ships in March. The lens alone costs $250.

Pentax K-01 with the new 40mm pancake lens
Pentax K-01 with the new 40mm pancake lens (click to enlarge) Pentax

In short, Pentax seems to have made more of a mini-SLR than a mega-compact, compensating for the runty Pentax Q sensor with a large, premium-sensor design (though, of course, it's not nearly as vast and expensive as the sensor in the medium-format Pentax 645D camera). The K-01 approach means that Pentax shooters can keep their lenses--a contrast to how Sony came up with its new E mount for its NEX line of compact interchangeable-lens cameras with APS-C sensors.

Pentax's new 40mm f2.8 pancake lens
Pentax's new 40mm f2.8 pancake lens PR Web/B&H Photo

Pentax's choice also means that the K-01 design is relatively bulky. Smaller sensors don't offer the same image quality, but they permit smaller lenses. Overall, the approach tilts more in the direction of a smaller option for SLR shooters than the step-up camera for compact camera owners.

Cutting down on the bulk will be the new pancake lens, the Pentax DA 40mm f/2.8 XS, which B&H also revealed. The retailer is accepting preorders for the camera and said the lens will ship in March.

The K-01's 16-megapixel sensor has a range up to ISO 25,600 and can shoot H.264-encoded video at 1080p and 30 frames per second or 720p at 60fps, B&H said. The K-01 also uses Pentax's sensor-shift technology to counteract camera shake.

The camera can shoot bursts of 6 frames per second and use shutter speeds up to 1/4000 second, B&H said. It's got a pop-up flash and a mode for shooting in-camera HDR (high dynamic range) images. The camera and lens were designed by Marc Newson.

The top of the Pentax K-01
The top of the Pentax K-01 (click to enlarge) Pentax