Japanese DC.Watch had showed the process of how Pentax K-1 Upgrade Service looks like from the inside. So, if you are still wondering what upgrades your “old” K-1 will get, just read this article.
Ricoh Imaging offered a unique and unprecedented opportunity for K-1 users to upgrade their cameras to the newest Mark II model. In general, this process is called “replacement of main board”. This means that all current K-1s will be reborn as the new Pentax flagship K-1 Mark II, released in April 2018.
The price of this upgrade, depending on the region, is about EUR 500. And if are curious what exactly will be done upon you K-1, a DC.Watch representative had visited the Ricoh Imaging Repair Service Center in Tokyo to lift the veil of the whole process.
Preparation before work
When a user brings his camera for upgrade, the first step is checking of the camera itself and its accessories: battery, eye cup, hot shoe cover, connectors caps, etc. This important to return the camera body with all its “original” content.
Next step is checking the technical condition for possible faults. If failure is found, it is necessary to fix it, so the service center representative will contact the owner to get his consent.
Before starting the work, K-1 is connected to the PC to install the maintenance software. At his stage the engineer will check whether the user had exceeded 300,000 shutter releases. If yes, then he will apply to the user with an offer to replace the shutter. As a general rule, when conducting the upgrade it is recommended to change the shutter if it already has more then 200,000 releases. But such extra service will have additional charge.
At the same time, such information as custom settings and user profiles are transferred to the PC for storage. Later this data will be used to restore the camera to its original state.
Replacement of the main board
The whole upgrade process can be roughly divided into “replacement of main board” and “adjustment of camera”. Here is the whole visual upgrading process.
Loosening of screws and removal of the bottom cover.
Removal of the rear LCD display and flexible cable connectors from operational units and main board. The replacement main board is in the upper right corner.
Removal of the lead wire soldered to the board. In total there are more than 20 places of soldering.
Removal of flexible cable connectors and main board.
Removal of the main board from the body. The silver frame holds the SR unit on which the image sensor is located.
K-1 main board (left) removed from the body and K-1 Mark II main board (right) ready to be installed. New accelerator unit (below the PRIME IV with PENTAX name) is hidden under a noise protection cover and is manufactured by Ricoh.
Installation of the new main board (everything in reverse order to removal).
Soldering of cables, insertion of flexible connectors. Attachment of special sheet of noise protection cover.
Temporary assembly of back plate and battery for testing purposes. Checking for short circuits in the internal components.
If no problems with electricity was detected, the assembly starts. With all covers been fixed. Preparation for final adjustment and restore.
Adjustment work (the most time consuming)
For camera adjustment engineers use special test charts and special software developed for K-1 Mark II. But as far as they are confidential, no images are available.
At first, engineer inspects the AF sensor, adjusts the physical position of the AF sensor using dedicated equipment. Then, he conducts software adjustment of the AF accuracy. This activity is performed in the factory during the production, but as far as main board was replaced, it is necessary to start this process from the very beginning.
Presence of any dust on the AF sensor can lead to errors. This means that cleaning has to be performed and the sensor reinspected. This is due to the fact that AF function malfunction is often caused by dust on the AF sensor. As a result, AF accuracy returns to the same one as new. To adjust the AF engineers use different patterns.
Subsequently, engineer adjusts the position of a image sensor with dedicated equipment and checks whether the sensor is positioned correctly. With the use of special software the image sensor position is centered.
In addition, engineer uses special equipment to adjust the noise reduction function, detect hot pixels and dead pixels on the image sensor, checks white balance, etc.
Acceleration sensor that detects orientation of camera shake reduction (SR) and digital leveling is adjusted with the change of the camera body orientation. Then engineer inspects the battery level display by changing the voltage of the power supply. After this the shutter speed check is performed.
Final stage and labelling
After strict inspection and adjustment, the engineer peel off the K-1 label seal on the bottom of the body and replaces it with K-1 Mark II label. The serial number is not changed.
SR badge is replaced with Mark II badge to demonstrate that this K-1 camera body was upgraded to K-1 Mark II.
Original and Mark II badges.
After this, engineer conducts the cleaning of the camera exterior and surface of the image sensor. Then he conducts the so called general check, finally confirms the focus and Live View operation. If everything is fine, the engineer restores the original custom data of the camera. And this completes the upgrade process.
When returning the camera, service center should also provide the user with a new Mark II user manual and new CD-ROM containing the latest software.
Since the specifications after upgrade is the same as of K-1 Mark II, the number of shots on a single charge is reduced from 760 to 670, because the newly added accelerator unit consumes more power. Also, the continuous shooting in cropped mode is reduced from 6.5 frames per second to 6.4 frames per second, because of the need to process data by accelerator unit which takes a little longer than before. Continuous shooting in full-frame mode remains the same.
As a new feature of Mark II, camera is also able to shoot at high sensitivity of up to ISO 819 200 and has Hand-Held Pixel Shift Resolution mode. In addition, performance of single AF and continuous AF are improved. So, the upgrade brings not only new main board, but also a set of new features.
Here is the final upgraded camera body. Yes, it still has a K-1 badge on the right side, but all other labels were changed to Mark II. Old main board and labels will be disposed by the Ricoh service center.
The whole amount of work and components of this upgrade process are really well priced and worth it. It is not just a main board replacement. It is a set of replacement, software fine tuning and different inspections. Finally you will get your new old camera, but with the full-scale service center inspection.
At Ricoh Imaging Repair Service Center.
Consider that this offer is limited and will be provided until September 30, 2018. But we will see will Ricoh extend this period or not, depending on the demand for upgrade service.
Original article by DC.Watch (in Japanese)
Images by Fumio Nakamura