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Pentax's first full-frame DSLR is here

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Almost fifteen years after it canceled its first attempt, and one year after showing off a prototype, Pentax has finally announced its first full-frame DSLR. The company, now owned by Ricoh, has used the opportunity of next week's CP+ show in Japan to reveal the K-1, a DSLR with a 36.4-megapixel full-frame sensor and a competitive price of $1,799.95 — hundreds of dollars less than the list prices of Canon and Nikon's least expensive full-frame models, though you can get them for cheaper today.

The K-1 mostly looks like you'd expect, but it does put some twists on the standard DSLR formula. The tilting screen design in particular stands out as unique, with a twisting mechanism that allows the 3.2-inch panel to be viewed at various angles while remaining on the lens' optical axis, and the screen also has a light on the rear so the camera's buttons can be seen in dark conditions. The magnesium alloy body is weather-resistant and dustproof. Maximum ISO is 204800, the top shutter speed is 1/8000 sec, and the camera can shoot at up to 4.4 frames per second in continuous mode.

Microscopic vibrations avoid moiré

The viewfinder offers a "nearly 100-percent" field of view and around 0.7x magnification, and the camera body features five-axis in-body image stabilization with a high-resolution mode that shifts the sensor around and combines multiple images into a single sharper shot, similar to what Olympus introduced on the E-M5 Mark II. Although the sensor has no optical low-pass filter, Pentax says it can avoid moiré by "applying microscopic vibrations."

The biggest problem for Pentax right now is that its late arrival to full-frame means it's lacking in modern K-mount lenses that can take advantage of the K-1's bigger sensor, though it does of course have a strong legacy of excellent 35mm SLR lenses from the film era. The company is also introducing a 15-30mm f/2.8 ultra-wide angle zoom and a 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 general purpose zoom alongside the K-1.

The K-1 is set to ship in April, and we should be able to take a closer look at CP+ in Yokohama next week, so stay tuned.