So far yet so close... (Pentax K-01 and video)

So far yet so close...
There's a Pentax K-01 in there somewhere. I had hoped to use it as shown for a video shoot tomorrow. And while the setup looks complex, it's that way to make up for some shortcomings of the camera.

That Tascam on top for example is hooked up to the Sennheiser shotgun mic because if I hook the Sennheiser to the K-01 I have no way of monitoring audio. The K-01 doesn't even show level meters on the rear LCD while recording or playing back. That's an interview without any audio or poor audio just waiting to happen. Thus the Tascam.

Just below the Tascam is a SmallHD LCD display. Why bother, you might ask, if the K-01 already has an LCD? One reason - the K-01 doesn't provide focus peaking while recording video. Only before. So if the subject moves - say leans forward during an interview - you can't use focus peaking to regain focus.

No worries, I think, the K-01 has HDMI out! I'll just hook up the SmallHD and use its focus peaking to make sure that my subject stays in focus.

Alas, all's not well in videoland. The K-01's HDMI port is only capable of playing back photos and video. It's not live during recording. Not only that, the moment you plug in an HDMI cable into the K-01 it goes immediately into Play mode with no way of taking a picture or shooting video.

I was so looking forward to trying this setup out tomorrow. I guess I'll just have to swap in the Panasonic GH2...

So close Pentax, so close...


  1. Hi John, great article!

    Would the K-5 then have fewer caveats? AFAIK, it does have live view out via hdmi during recording and the audio level seems to be constant. So, with a mic like the Rode VideoMic with its two amplifier settings, it should work ok w/o monitor. At least, last time I checked with a K-7 it was.

  2. Thanks Falk! The smallHD works fine with the K-5 - my wife's used this setup with focus peaking to shoot her pottery. But the K-5 doesn't have manual video control and the sensor overheats.

    Regarding audio, I'll shoot without monitoring if I'm just playing around. But even with a Rode and visual confirmation of levels, you are still shooting blind so to speak. I just tested the Sennheiser MKE400 for example on the rig shown and it was picking up noise from the follow focus gears. Without monitoring you wouldn't know when something like that was happening.

    At the end of the day, the Panasonic GH2 is still a better video camera, but it also lacks audio monitoring, focus peaking, and image stabilization. Panasonic's probably protecting its higher-end video gear from cannibalization, but Pentax has no such worries.

    Still, Pentax never made any promises about the K-01 video capabilities; it was over-enthusiastic Pentaxians that were hoping for a breakthrough. We're not there yet...

  3. Eddie Smith9:02 AM

    Sorry to hear it hasn't lived up to the initial promise John. Maybe the next gen of the K5 will Possibly even the modified K5n that is rumoured will)

    you're missed over on PF BTW.
    The voice of reason is always nice to have as part of the mix :D

  4. Thanks for the kind words, Eddie. As good as the GH2 and other cameras are (i.e., Canons), they still are missing key features. A K-02 that provided HDMI output during recording, focus peaking during recording, and metering and monitoring of audio would still be a unique product.

    As it stands, the K-01 is still an excellent stills camera - better than the GH2 for sure. So it still has a well-deserved place in my bag.

  5. John, can you tell me what filter holder you're using in the shot? I'm looking for something that's not so imposing like typical matteboxes tend to be. Thanks.

  6. Hey Chris,

    That's a Cokin P System IIRC. The Cokin NDs have a color cast though, so be sure to plan accordingly.

  7. Other brand ND filters (made from Glass) will fit the Cokin Holder though John, But they cost an order of magnitude more than the cokin stuff (heck as a cheap alternative if you are shooting bw and want extreme ND performance for cloud movement etc the replacement glass for a welders mask is very cheap and fine for b/w work - colour cast is nasty for colour

  8. Love the welder's mask tip, Eddie! I tried welding, once. Can't see a damn thing without an arc but can't get an arc if you can't see what you are doing. They are like ND one million.

    And I know I should bet Lee filters instead of Cokin, but boy are they expensive! I'm making the common mistake of buying cheap = buying twice. I do that often.

  9. sr,
    about the video quality,
    Is it good? I mean lets say compared to the nex-5n?

    I know that it is great for the low light video but what about other factors?
    saturation of colors, sharpness of details, shaking on a tripod????

    my concern is about great video quality(less that a pano and more than a canon).

    sorry about my english & thank in advanced.

    1. Hi Mar, Thanks for writing. I have not shot video with the NEX-5n so I can't really compare. Doesn't the 5n and K-01 share the same sensor?

      Overall, the image quality is quite nice. I haven't really used it too much, but it is more than good enough for online. Colors are nice, sharpness is ok with a good lens. Dynamic range is less than a still, but you work with it. Here are some samples:



  10. Yes it's a shame about the HDMI output, but the AV output does show live screen, I use it all the time.


    1. Hey Chris, I recently heard about the AV output, which is nice. I'll have to try that...