Pentax K-S1 User Review – Featuring Rachel Ong
03rd February 2015, Singapore – Pentax Ricoh announced the Pentax K-S1 in September 2014 and it had managed to grab the attention of many DSLR users locally. Attracting mostly the younger photographers who are artistic, fashion-minded, hip & trendy, the new Pentax K-S1 created a new market segment altogether with its launch. Many of you would have remembered the astounding success when the Pentax K-X came to our shores in many colors (the White K-X was the 1st in the world then) and it was later followed up with the Pentax K-R then the K-30/K-50. This is the entry level range of Pentax’s DSLRs but for those who know, photographers are getting more than just an entry-level camera. To compete in the strongly competed segment that are predominantly dominated by brands like Canon, Nikon & Sony, Pentax’s survival can be attributed to its value-for-money package. In layman’s term, you paid for an entry-level DSLR and you get semi-Pro level functions.
Photo: The Pentax K-S1 comes in 12 colors. (And 3 more after the jump)
The Pentax K-S1 is nothing like its predecessors. It has a hard-to-explain futuristic and space-like design cue which seems carry through the whole camera and personally, I like the rear control cluster which feels more like a car dashboard (than a camera) and this is just awesome. The camera body feels really solid. At 558gm, the K-S1 is very manageable in terms of weight and the size is compact – similar to the earlier models. The LED cluster (05 units) on the handgrip also reacts to the camera functions and shows the camera status too which is pretty clever. It accepts K-mount lenses like its siblings so there is no issue if you have a huge inventory of old & new Pentax lenses. Handling the K-S1 is pretty easy, the buttons/ dials are easy to reach and use. The grip also feels assuring although on first look, it looks a little shallow – until I held it.
Before I carry on, if you are looking for technical reviews for the Pentax K-S1, please look elsewhere, there are tons of it. Or you can read it over here. Over here, we are only keen on user functions, usability and real feedbacks from users.
Function wise, this little monster has a 20.42 megapixel CMOS sensor that comes without the AA filter for the craziest of resolutions, and of course, the company’s long proven Shake Reduction (SR) technology that put an image stabilizer with almost any lens used on the body. The K-S1 has a fastest shutter speed of 1/6000 & a continuous shooting speed at 5.4 frames per second; this is very decent and adequate for most fast speed subjects. What I personally like most is the 100% view from the pentaprism viewfinder, it makes framing and composing photos really easy – what you see IS what you get.
As with other Pentax DSLRs, the K-S1 comes with an array of (really fun) digital filters that can be customizable to suit your creativity needs. ISO range from 100 – 51,200 but rarely people will shoot at peak ISO but realistically speaking, the K-S1 can produce pretty decent and clean photos up to ISO 6400 which, to me, it’s already a bonus. (You can try to compare with Canon 700D or Nikon D5300 which on the same market segment with the Pentax K-S1).
Metering comes from a 77 zones RGB sensor and it works pretty well rendering well calculated exposures and colors. Although the K-S1 comes with a standard 11 focusing points, it has 9 cross-type points which means the AF engine is so much more sensitive (and probably much faster) than other DSLRs. Don’t understand this? (Like 50+ focusing points & 9 cross-type points? Go do your maths). Apart from the above highlights, the Pentax K-S1 is essentially everything Pentax and plus all the expected “standard functions” all packed into one.
We invited Miss Rachel Ong, 26, a Logistic Executive and a Pentax user to be the Guest Reviewer for the Pentax K-S1 and after we let her have the Pentax K-S1 for 2 weeks, we wanted to find out what she thinks about the K-S1. Here’s our little chat below;
Editor: Which Pentax Camera are you currently using?
Rachel: I am using the Pentax K5IIs.
Editor: And how long have you been into photography?
Rachel: It’s my second year right now.
Editor: Wow! 2 years and you are already using the Professional-range Pentax K5IIs! So which genre are you into?
Rachel: I do pretty much of everything but more inclined toward landscape photography.
Editor: Honestly, would you like to share on your first impression of the Pentax K-S1?
Rachel: I love the sleek design and it is very stylish to begin with. It managed (the K-S1) to break away from the traditional DSLR design. I find that the shooting mode switch (Mode Dial) that had found its way to the back panel very refreshing too. On overall, it is very minimalistic and the flashing LED lights are very fun and special. There is not a DSLR that is designed this way, very unique. The K-S1 is also compact, perfect for traveling.
Editor: I like the design too. But after using it for about 2 weeks, how do you find it?
Rachel: It feels solid, but a little heavy for a camera of this size. This is probably due to more alloys being used instead of plastic. I was a little unsure of the grip as my fingers are slightly longer so when I am holding the K-S1, there is a little fear of the camera slipping off my hand. Luckily, the grip is grippier than I thought and that helps me to regain back the confidence of holding it. The control dial is easy to reach and I can do almost everything at the back panel using my thumb. This is decent.
Editor: I have that same feeling too when I first saw the K-S1. Looks are indeed deceiving. It has a good handling feel to it. Can you tell me more about the images that you had taken with the K-S1?
Rachel: I like the 11 focusing points, not too many to confuse myself and not too little so that I can still do selective focusing creatively without much hesitations. The images produced are of excellent quality (when coupled with my 50mm lens). The focusing is very responsive (thanks to the 9 cross-type focus points) and fast. On the ISO, it handles noise very well and this is an advantage over past Pentax entry-level models – a huge improvement. The images produced by the K-S1 has rich colors and contrasty, which I love so much.
Photo: Chinese New Year decorations at Chinatown, Singapore. Photo by Rachel, Shot by Pentax K-S1.
Editor: You sound very impressed. Why not share with me and our readers what are the things you like most on the Pentax K-S1?
Rachel: The cool and stylish design, non-existent of the AA Filter that lets me extract every single bit of the resolution into my images, the 100% coverage on the viewfinder and lastly, the super-fast focusing.
Editor: Ok, let’s be fair here, what do you hate about the Pentax K-S1?
Rachel: I will not say I hate anything about the Pentax K-S1 but I do hope that the handgrip can be a little bigger, a little deeper so that it will give me an absolute grip – or for those who has long fingers like me. 🙂
Rachel: Definitely I will. Especially for people buying their first DSLR, or those looking for something different, or upgraders from compact or bridge cameras. Do not be fooled by the Pentax K-S1’s look, it is a very decent and good performing DSLR inside – unless you are allergic to flashing LED lights. 🙂
Editor: You are funny! Thanks Rachel for being our Guest Reviewer for the Pentax K-S1, it had been a pleasure.
Rachel: Thank you Allan!
To summarize this review, if you are looking for a fun DSLR without breaking the bank, get the K-S1. The K-S1 may not look like any of its Pentax siblings, but it has everything Pentax in it. From the array of digital filters, built in Shake Reduction for stabilizing images, good ISO range, fast focusing and allow the use of almost every K-mount lenses that was ever made and to lastly the friendly asking price, it’s a good DSLR that I will recommend for purchase.
Following the initial launch of the original XX colors, Ricoh Imaging had also announced three additional colors for the Pentax K-S1, named as “Strawberry Cake”, “Blue Cream Soda”, and “Lime Pie”, (K-S1 Sweets Collection).
PENTAX RICOH IMAGING CORPORATION was originally founded in 1919 under the name Asahi Optical Joint Stock Co. In the 1950s, launched the first SLR camera, the Asahiflex I, and the company haven’t stopped since. From the Asahi PENTAX single-lens reflex camera to the Spotmatic and to our most recent K-5IIs and incredibly tiny Q10, Pentax empowers and inspired photographers around the world.
For information on Ricoh, click here.
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Audio & Photo Distributor (Far East) Pte. Ltd. formerly known as MHE Consumer (S) Pte. Ltd was founded in 1973.
Since its inception Audio & Photo has had been the distributor of many well-known international consumer brands such as Konica cameras from Japan, Kenwood and Nakamachi hi-fi products from Japan, and Metz flash and accessories, Rollei cameras and Jos Schneider enlarging/professional lenses from Germany, to name a few.
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