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Thursday, 14 June 2012

Comments

How can you write an article that is illustrated with pictures of Charing Cross, and mention walking over to Knightsbridge or Regent's Street, and talk of quick camera settings changes? It seems nonsensical. It takes half an hour to walk between any of those places, which is more than enough time to make a settings change on even the world's least user friendly camera. Even a large format one.

I still struggle to find the point of this camera. Since the KX-01 still has DSLR depth, because it has a mirror box sans mirror, I'm not really sure why one would choose this camera over a small Pentax DSLR, which would have the OVF option and phase detect AF.

Interesting that the OP praises the dynamic range of the camera.

What drew my eye to the images was the blown highlights hand-in-hand with some blocked shadows - the opposite of praise-worthy dynamic range. Were these jpg's with over-boosted contrast?

Very encouraging. The dearth of commentary about the K-01 made me wonder if any photographers were aiming to do serious work with it.

An intriguing device. Simple, like a point-and-shoot, except the lens can be changed and, well, manual focus. Eventually, the satisfying complexities of a camera you grow to love start to creep in. After almost three months of shooting, the light went on for me just a couple of weeks ago.

My own humble attempt at an urban diary is here: http://kayohonediary.tumblr.com/

Thanks for the report, and for reinforcing that cameras are for looking 'through' more than looking at. (Guess you can't look thru this sort though, so much for a nice turn of phrase.) Pentax made a surprising choice with the K-01, and purists were not the target audience. Glad to hear how well it works for you, thanks for the tour!

I hate to trash an image viewed on the net, but here goes. The above images are lacking in DR, accurate colour and sharpness. Actually look rather nasty to my eye. I have seen much better from Canon S100's and G12's. Not to mention the excellent Panasonic 4/3rd's cameras. BTW my monitor is indeed fully calibrated. So disappointing.

Delightful article, fun to read. I do however need to report that while I have a dog that is "fixed", the "hump" remains.

I'm not sure about the camera, but Andrew Kochanowski's pictures are great.

Tregix.

Geez, some of these comments are starting to sound like they were pulled from DPR forums. Oh well. C'est le net.

I'm not shopping for a K-01, but I enjoyed the hell out of this article. It gave me a better feel for the reality of using the camera than an exhaustive technical review would, and was a lot more fun to boot. Good work!

Can't help but make fun of this camera, but I bet it can be fun to use- and with that sensor, capable of some surprisingly good results.

Thanks for the interesting and well written article Andrew. The historical present tense in the first part gives a strong sense of "being there".

I would very much like to know why you avoid SLRs when making street photos.

Thanks very much for these impressions, Andrew. I, too, have never owned a Pentax camera but was rather intrigued by this new unusual design. Until reading your positive impressions of the K-01 I had only seen a few preview-style write-ups which were not at all complimentary of its ergonomics. Your comments, however, suggest that the camera's design is very different in the hands of a practitioner than in those of a reviewer.

Re: the images here, c'mon guys you know better than to judge image qualities, especially color image qualities, on the Internet, don't you? Frankly, having looked through Andrew's excellent work and seeing his rock-solid consistency of eye and treatment I'm very much inclined to place far more weight on his impressions than on those of professional "reviewers" (who are generally computer techs, not photographers).

I like the conversational/narrative style of this piece, too. It's refreshing. Well done Andrew. Thank you!

p.s. And congrats on the show in London! Looks intriguing.

IF you want to see the DR, shoot it in RAW. It's there. As for color try DXo or DXo Film Pack + Aperture/Lightroom.

Actually there is an EVF option. It's called the Hoodloupe. I'm using it on my K-5, the resolution is not as good as the best EVF but the LCD being 920k dots it's good enough and the size is much bigger than most native EVF. Of course it also adds a lot of bulk but in bright sunlight I like to be able to review my shots.

The K-01 is intriguing. The lack of EVF is maybe a downside but as a Pentax user I don't see much use for an underfeatured camera almost as expensive as the K-5 or the new K30. AF is mostly sluggish because the lenses are not made for CD-AF. Looks like a bit the worse of both world: not as fast and small as other mirrorless cameras and not as responsive as a DSLR. Not a bad camera by any means but there are sure better options out there even for a Pentax user (K-x for example).

Nice article, Andy. Note that I wasn't the one who called it a biscuit box, I simply noted that any camera that could also hold biscuits was a winner in my book.

In any case, I'm fairly sure I got all the crumbs out before I handed it back to you in London.

Nice hands on review. I enjoyed it and the photos very much. Thanks.

"Re: the images here, c'mon guys you know better than to judge image qualities, especially color image qualities, on the Internet, don't you?"

It's funny, the blog software/template really does suck something out of the images. Mostly it doesn't matter, but even though Andy sent me 800-pixel wide sRGB files, they do seem to have a dimensionality that the blog software obliterates. I opened one of the files as he emailed it to me then opened the large version of the picture as posted, and they're very close--it's tough (for me) to see much difference. And yet the version on TOP is just a bit softer and flatter. And in this case it makes a difference.

I used to like looking at pictures on the monitor but I'm tired of it now. I *sometimes* want to see more resolution without necessarily enlarging the image. Monitor images of photographs are to real pictures as MP3 files are to high-res formats.

Mike

I've been secretely following Andrew Kochanowski's photography since I first saw his photos long time ago in photo.net; I found his work phenomenal, with a very personal movie-like signature to his images. And I'm glad that someone doing interesting work finds useful this Pentax camera, which has to be the most bashed Pentax camera I remember (no wait, that's the Pentax Q). Technophiles don't even want to give credit for that beatiful Sony Sensor; is good that a real photographer praises this camera. Thanks to companies like Pentax we have options, for those that complain, I can only say, "vive la difference".

DPR indeed. The article is written crisply enough, but hate having to say it, the photos weren't particularly compelling. It hasn't anything to do with DR, sharpness, etc., rather the images didn't seem to have much to say, hardly any story to tell, at least that I could discern.

If DPR had reviews like this I might read DPR.

Do you think you could rewrite this article to remove the trash talk, hyperbole, and misinformation? The E-M5 is not a faux anything. Any system that doesn't support a viewfinder is obviously lacking -- all my photos today would have failed without one. Micro Four-Third does not have crude manual focus -- after all, it accommodates just about any lens in the world. And the sensors lack nothing considering the form factor.

There are many other examples, but those will do. Glad you like your camera but get some perspective!

Some nice images there. Glad they weren't rocks>water>mountain>sunset>blamo

I'm tired of camera reviews, and stopped reading halfway through it. All I do anymore is go to the DPR review and look at the "Conclusion," and then only on cameras that are causing a sensation of some kind. Sooner or later I'll stop reading the "Conclusion," and only check to see what kind of award it got -- silver or gold. Is there a bronze? I hope not.

re: "Thanks to companies like Pentax we have options, for those that complain, I can only say, "vive la difference"

No, no, no, no, no! You do not understand. Down at the camera club there are strict rules regarding what are acceptable cameras. They must be black. They must have large lenses. They must absolutely have viewfinders. They must have names that start with "C" or "N" or maybe "L" Anyone who shows up with anything else will get a serious snickering and boy will he feel stupid. He will go get an acceptable camera tomorrow because, more than anything else, he (and it is always a "he"isn't it?) wants to avoid being snickered at. A camera that looks like it came filled with animal crackers? I think not.

The viewfinder thing has always bothered me; I just never thought I could cope without a proper eye-level cinematic viewfinder (ironically, something Pentax have always been good at, from the MX to the K-5). But then I got myself an Olympus E-PL3 with its tilting screen (more adjustable than Sony's 5N) and realised I had a waist-level finder - it's brilliant!

I think it was brave for Pentax to offer what is essentially a K-5 without a finder, but I just can help but think it would have been more fun with a flipping screen like the E-PL3.

The sad thing is it's now become impossible to criticize most anything without being accused of 'hating' or being an internet 'couch critic'.
I thought the images looked really strange - as someone else said, the dynamic range looks totally squashed, while the highlights are horribly blown. There's something very wrong with the color of the first image - in the man's face the blue values are higher than red or green and that tends not to happen in any world I live in.*

*Naturally there would be nothing wrong with doing this with artistic intent - but I don't think that's what the image was about.

Tough crowd! When Andrew says he enjoyed using the camera, and liked the results, we can have no reason to question that.

The web version images are processed a little dark for my own taste and viewing circumstances - but that's just my taste, just processing, and just how I am looking at them (grin). Nonetheless, for example the subtle materiality of the fur coat mingled with the woman's hair caught my eye immediately. That takes considerable coherence both in capture and processing, which is not always managed (to understate). As a Londoner, I "believe" the sense of place shown and fully appreciate how steep and deep the lighting can get here. Suffused in an optimistic glow... not so much.

I am not sure what street photography is meant to look like, what further story it is meant to tell, or how unfeasible it is supposed to be without an optical viewfinder; but I don't think we can conclude anything about those things on this evidence - which seems, to me, compellingly favourable.

Nice write-up. And it's great that you mention the excellent and tiny Pentax primes.

Too often, I see many so-called reviewers saying they don't see the point of the K-01 vs a similar NEX for example, saying the body is just too big.

But pair any of the excellent Pentax Limited primes to the K-01, then not only do you have a set-up that's as small as a NEX + lens, but you also have a full range of superb, well-built and small primes (from 15/21/35/40/43/70/77) that are available NOW.

And I agree with David's comment above - glad that your images aren't the usual rock, water, mountain, sunset.

It's great to see some street shooters here on TOP. And I'll always have great respect for any photographer good enough to get into Burn My Eye.

The thing about "street" is that something has to be happening which makes the image greater than the sum of its parts. There's nothing happening in any of these images.

I'm with John Camp, I don't need a new camera, despite mine being pretty "old hat" and the relentless turnaround of consumer electronic masquerading as cameras is a complete turn off for me, as are the endless reviews, and everyone being an expert at RAW headroom and dynamic range. For my money Fuji are the only company doing anything innovative, although Pentax have a nice mix

Good writing about photography is what I want, can't remember the last time I went home sobbing because I didn't have 14 stops of dynamic range

I read the article while drinking coffee before work and came back pm to check the comments. I enjoyed it all, it had fizz.Thanks.

A less than subtle attempt to elevate this unloved puppy. As the saying goes "you cannot polish a t***".

Niggling detail -- the camera designer's last name is not "Newsom" as written in the article, but "Newson".

OK article, OK pictures, OK camera. (I maintain, though, that if you're getting one of these, you should go all the way and get the yellow one).

A fine review that I very much enjoyed. I look forward to following Andrew's work.
I use a similar camera - the Ricoh GXR with Voigtlander 28mm lens and it's a real winner. Too bad I cannot buy it in yellow...

May I suggest to the critics here to go look at Andrew's work, and carefully examine each picture before emitting any opinion about it ? This guy has been doing street photography for years (decades ?) and has a very personal style.

You may like it or not, but you have to admit his work has very little to do with randomness (short of the random implied by street photo, of course).

@Robin

I agree with Andrew, the em-5 is a faux slr, when is a dslr camera not a dslr camera? I'd say when it doesn't have a mirror pentaprism to reflect the image up to the eye. And yet, it tries to mimic the look of a traditional slr down to the pentaprism hump.

In fact I'm confused by Olympus and Panasonic design of the ep-X and gf-X series as well they're not rangefinders yet shaped liked one and when you add the evf looks like a dslr with rangefinder stylings - it looks at odds with itself, faux rangefinders with split personality. Personally I feel that they're just pandering to our nostalgic feeling for familiar things but I'm guilty of falling for it too (just not with the evf).

In this respect, the Sony Nex 7 has a better camera design. The evf is off to side and my nose is not jammed against the screen, leaving oily/greasy residue on the screen.

The Pentax K-01 to me, is simplicity. It is the same thing I feel about the Nikon J1. Clean lines and I feel both design are focussed in that respect. And the only thing I don't like about the K-01 is waiting for their new rumoured lenses. For the J1? The lack of accessory port - ah the possibilities missed.

Furthermore, in some of the discussions I have read elsewhere, I simply don't understand the argument of not having an evf and saying that it is hard to compose with the lcd screen when in the next line the same posters will espouse the importance of a tiltable screen for shooting (...say whaaaa?).

Andrew, while reading some comments, I try to remember the name of this guy that you probably know oh Yes, Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, a great photographer too.

I rarely comment twice, but I just want to say that some of the comments are reflective of a misunderstanding about what street photography is. Sometimes I have to look at a street photo several times and sometimes over several days before I finally "get it." You cannot just glance at these photos and judge them. It is about what is going on in the photo, not the technical aspects. And it may take some time to see what is going on and what was actually captured.

Street photography is particularly tough to do in color. That's why much of it is in black and white. The lighting is often weird or mixed and sometimes color is the hardest thing to get to look right.

Having spent some time with the photos in this post, and having a special interest in street photography (even though I do not do much of it myself), my opinion is that these are quite good photographs and I think at least two of them are brilliant.

Just my two cents.

It works for the photographer. To me the camera is a big fail which is why Pentax had to pay a designer to "style" it and the look and signature becomes a selling point. Nothing new here that is any different from a lowered, chopped Mercury from the 50's. Just a crippled Mercury making a statement about the owner. Even the chop is inconsistent. The prism housing, but not the mirror box.

I think it is significant that almost all the illustrations are photos taken in low light conditions, inside, night, or in shade, the limited areas where an LCD functions. If that is adequate, whatever floats your boat.

"...the blog software/template really does suck something out of the images...the version on TOP is just a bit softer and flatter..."

Perhaps, Mike, but even if it tried, blog software couldn't obscure the excellence of Jack's S-2 brewery shots. Perhaps his files were so superior to begin with that blog degradations hardly showed. :-)

My old view camera could hold a lot of biscuits! I really enjoyed the article and the absurdity of many of the comments!

Congrats on the show!

There are a few things that I take from this remarkable post.

Andrew Kochanowski is a photographer and a writer who I will watch from now on.

His photographs transcend mere imagery and technology to tell human stories.

His writing has a snap and verve that perfectly matches his shooting style.

Andrew's point is that only when you can shoot through and past the complexities of the camera so that it ceases to come between you and the shot that you have any chance at all of finding the art in what you see.

While he clearly likes the Pentax, I believe that he is also proving once again that the shooter and not the camera is the most important thing.


It's nice to see someone understands the purpose of this camera. I made many similar points on my review of it. As an existing Pentax user, I found even more reasons to own one as a second camera. I often use two cameras at once at events. For that purpose it have many benefits such as using the same battery as my K-5. Sure, it isn't new-system mirrorless sized, but it is smaller than a K-5 and takes the same lenses without an adapter that would make other mirrorless cameras just as big. I actually find the different way of composing shots refreshing. I have noticed I use the camera differently, resulting in angles I wouldn't normally do with my SLRs.

Wow, nothing like liking an unliked camera to draw out "interesting" comments. Only two of the shots really appeal to me, but that's just me.

But I think the real point is "the camera was faithfully used." Andy likes it. I wouldn't, but hey, he's the one using it.

I am inspired, though, to head out with a rangefinder loaded with film. That's good.

The E-M5 finder is centrally placed for the unique 5 axis stabilisation to work. the sensors need to be at the highest central position in line with the centre of gravity.

Excellent pictures. Thank you. And the article was informative too. Although I really like my Olympus OMD.

I particularly liked the South Beach photo; an excellent night shot.

Also good to hear positive noise about the K01. Way too much negativity about this camera because it does not have some sort of viewfinder other than the screen on the back.

News flash: more photos are taken today with an iPhone than all viewfinder dslr cameras combined. Seems that the viewfinder is not the line in the sand that some people want it to be.

I've entertained getting a K01 so I can try it out with my wife's Pentax 31 limited lens (a lens which I have found rivals my Leica glass). I suspect this will be a great walk-around camera.

Thanks for sharing.

Know nothing about camera...but boy, If I can get that many great shots in one outing!

I found Andrew's article and photos crisp and refreshing. The K-01 is cool if a departure from Standard Operating Procedure.

When I first saw the K-01, I figured that it with the excellent Pentax 21 and 43 mm Limited lenses would make for an interesting niche use camera. It's inspired me to give a go to setting up my Ricoh GXR with A12 Camera Mount and 21 + 40 mm lenses, sans any viewfinder but the LCD, to see what I can do with it.

Ya never know how something will work until you give it a whirl. :-)

Best camera review I've read in a long while. Any site can do tech specs. I want to know about the user experience.

Also, is it wrong that I LOL'd at the drama?

I can understand the Pentax K-01 being chunky; it's a fair price for awesome compatibility. But what right does it have to be so heavy? Apparently, for 90 grams more you can get a K-30...

Anyway, keep up the great shooting and the refreshing attitude displayed in this writeup. Bookmarking your links now!

Thanks for the review

i am happy with my K5 ... but ...

I don't see why CSC should be small

They have good video potential .... no mirror slap .... and expect they are the way to go ....

All the K lenses .. great ... for me though with no viewfinder I demand an articulating screen .. then this would be great on the street ... for me in black though!!

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