Steve Huff has gamely posted a review of the new Pentax K-01 mirrorless camera on his blog. I say gamely because the specs indicate that this camera doesn't have much to offer and Huff's review confirms that.
Beyond the fact that the Pentax K-01 is just fugly, it doesn't bring anything new to the table. I really don't understand what Pentax was thinking. All kinds of advantages can be imagined with mirrorless cameras. The most obvious one, size, is largely neglected by this fat monster- I'd be curious to see if it's any smaller than a Sony a35 translucent mirror camera. I also like mirrorless cameras for their electronic viewfinders- it's a lot easier to manually focus on an electronic viewfinder, especially one with a zoom option, than it is using any APS-C optical viewfinder camera on the market. But this camera is no Panasonic GH2 or Olympus OM-D E-M5 and it doesn't have an electronic viewfinder.
I will concede that the image quality on the samples Huff provides is pretty good- better than, say, the Nikon 1 or the Fuji X10. But the Nikon 1 and the Fuji X10 are small pocket cameras. Anyone looking at the Pentax K-01 would be better off taking a look at the Pentax K-r, which isn't much different in size and comes with the advantage of being $200 cheaper (while the K-r has been discontinued, there are still new copies available on the market).
The Pentax K-01 does have one noticeable advantage over its mirrorless competitors- it's compatible with Pentax's K-mount, giving users an instant catalog of lenses to choose from. Pentax is known for making nice small lenses, like the 31mm and the 77mm primes. Why couldn't Pentax have released something like the E-M5?
Steve Huff concludes this in his review of the K-01: "For me? NO."
I would have to say the same.
I'm also not impressed with the lens that Pentax chose to roll out this camera with, a 40mm f/2.8 pancake (60mm equivalent on an APS-C sensor). Pentax has made a 40 f/2.8 pancake lens for years, but now has released a flimsier discount version to go with the new camera (only $150 more if purchased with the kit). While this is small, light and cost effective, who wants a 40mm f/2.8 to use on an APS-C camera? Panasonic has a 20mm f/1.7 (40mm equivalent) that doesn't cost much more. Samsung has a 30mm f/2 pancake (45mm equivalent) that goes for $299 and a 55mm f/1.8 on the way. An f/2.8 portrait lens (because what else would you do with 60mm equivalent?) just doesn't make much sense to me.
Want something small with APS-C quality? I predict the Fuji X100 will drop to $1,000 next Christmas. Canon is going to roll something out when they finish playing coy. Samsung sensors are not great, but the cameras are small and easy to hold, give you access to a strong lineup of reasonably priced lenses, and the NX20 is due to be released any day now. This isn't a world without competition. The latest micro four-thirds sensors have narrowed the gap and I'm giving strong consideration to the E-M5.
I'd love to hear from anyone who can offer a single reason why the K-01 would be a good purchase.