Pentax K-S1 Review – Introduction

Watch our video review of the Pentax K-S1 on YouTube

At a Glance

  • 20.12-million-pixel, APS-C-sized sensor
  • 77-segment metering
  • ISO 100-51,200 sensitivity range
  • 100% pentaprism viewfinder
  • 11 AF points – 9 cross-type points
  • 3in, 921,000-dot LCD screen
  • £439 (body only)

For years, Pentax has been trying to bring the DSLR to a younger generation. It has done this by taking existing camera models and offering them in a variety of different colour combinations, even with the option to design your own.

In Japan, few people would give more than a passing glance to a camera that was dusk gold, sunset orange, dawn purple or linen brown. In the UK, however, we are a more conservative bunch, and generally we prefer our cameras to be black or silver. So the new Pentax K-S1 is a bold step. Not only is it available in 12 ‘fashionable colour combinations’, according to the press release, but it also has an illuminated interface. Basically, various buttons light up.

It would be easy to simply dismiss the K-S1 as a gimmick – an attempt to make a colourful DSLR with a few flashing lights. But the camera makes use of some of the very latest imaging technology – and those illuminated buttons and dials do actually serve a purpose.

So before you take one look at the white version of the camera I was given to test, draw your own conclusions and stop reading, let’s keep an open mind and concentrate on what the camera is actually like. It is, after all, also available in black.


It is fairly safe to assume that the Pentax K-S1’s 20.12-million-pixel CMOS sensor is a variant of the sensor made by Sony and used in its own Alpha 3000 and 5000 compact system cameras. Like the Pentax K-3, the K-S1 sensor doesn’t feature an anti-aliasing filter, meaning that the full resolution of the sensor can be realised. However, where moiré patterning may be a concern, the ingenious AA filter simulator mode can be switched on. This utilises the camera’s sensor shift image stabilisation to shift the sensor just fractionally while the image is being taken. This slight movement is enough to soften the image to reduce moiré patterning to the same extent as if an actual AA filter had been fitted. It is great to be able to offer photographers this choice in-camera.

The sensor has a sensitivity range of ISO 100-51,200, which is more than enough given the camera’s target audience, as is the 1/6000sec maximum shutter speed and a shooting rate of up to 5.4fps.
There’s also a wealth of different digital filters and image-processing effects for those who wish to edit their images in-camera, including a new black & white infrared effect.

So when you strip back the bold exterior, there is a lot going on inside the K-S1 – certainly enough to keep entry-level and enthusiast photographers happy.

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