Pentax evolves sensor based image stabilisation with some cool novel features

Written by Gary on February 18th, 2016

Pentax has just announced their 1st full frame dSLR – the Pentax K-1, a weathersealed 36mp camera with a unique cross-tilt rear LCD screen and illuminated controls to make it easier to operate and change lenses in the dark.

But what I like most is how they have made use of their sensor based image stabilisation system.

I have always been a big fan of sensor based image stabilisation and am unlikely to buy another camera without it – hence I may be waiting a long time before I buy another Canon dSLR to use my many pro lenses with!

Readers will know I love the sensor based IS on my Olympus OM-D Micro Four Thirds cameras as Olympus along with Pentax were trail blazers in this technology.

Olympus has made incredible improvements to the effectiveness of their 5 axis 5EV IS system and in the OM-D E-M5 mark II and Pen F, have added a Hi-Res mode where 8 shots are taken with slight sensor shift and then combined to create a Hi-Res 50mp image without moiré.

Pentax with their 2013 model cropped sensor dSLR, the Pentax K-3, added the capability of rotational compensation to correct for rotated horizons as well as sensor shift to act as a anti-aliasing filter to reduce moiré.

The Pentax K-1 takes the K-3 functionality further by adding:

  • 5 axis 5EV IS
  • Pixel Shift Resolution mode that increases color resolution by shooting four consecutive images with the sensor moved by one pixel – effectively canceling the Bayer color filter array and lowering noise by image averaging
  • Astrotracer system that uses the sensor’s movement to cancel-out the effect of the Earth’s rotation when taking images of stars (something it can calculate using its GPS)

Sure, these features may not be used very often but the astrotracer system could be very handy for marginally extending long exposures of comets, etc whilst minimising blurring of stars by star trailing. It won’t help astroscapes much as it will blur the landscape while keeping the stars clean – probably not that helpful there! It also won’t help with deep sky astrophotography requiring more accurate guiding of stars using an equatorial telescope mount.

Nevertheless, it is exciting to see what the camera manufacturers can come up with – perhaps we will get rear tilt-shift capabilities one day as well.

At present, there are few dedicated lenses available for the K-1 with fast AF optimised for a high resolution sensor, but in the meantime, it is optimised to make good use of legacy Pentax k-mount lenses and can shoot 15mp cropped sensor mode for using APS-C sized lenses.

The camera RRP is $US1799 which is a great price for the features but the system is very limited and early days in development.

Hopefully, Olympus and Sony are inspired to add similar functions to their cameras.

And just maybe, Canon might decide to finally jump on the sensor IS bandwagon before they become a forgotten brand other than for the sports professionals.




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