Pentax K-3: Everyday fun with a powerful tool

Started Mar 30, 2014 | User reviews thread
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Pentax K-3: Everyday fun with a powerful tool
Mar 30, 2014

The Pentax K-3 is both a very continuous product for all people who have owned a recent Pentax DSLR and at the same time a large step ahead in so many areas that it makes the tiny upgrades some "new" camermodels get these days look ridiculous.

So what is new for the K-3 compared to other Pentax DSLRs?

  1. 2 SD card slots
  2. focus peaking
  3. 24 MPx sensor
  4. Number of F2.8 AF Sensors now is 3
  5. AF sensitivity is up to EV -3 now.
  6. It is fully compensating for any issues with tungsten lighting
  7. Advanced AF.C configuration using an AF hold timer
  8. 27 AF sensors, 25 of them cross type
  9. Saving HDR RAWs
  10. Multi Auto WB
  11. Tethering via any PC and smartphone possible with no need for a cable or app
  12. gapless display on the backside with 3,2 inch
  13. viewfinder is about 330 mm2
  14. 8,3 FPS
  15. buffer for about 25 14bit RAW files in fast series
  16. shutter lifetime 200,000 pictures
  17. audio out and audio level
  18. video modes P, Av, TAv, M for H.264 in 60i/50i/30p/25p/24p full HD
  19. in-camera timelapse video creation

Now coming to the opinion side of things. What is it that I like the most about the camera?

  1. The incredible amout of detail I can get out of the 24 MPx sensor using an outstanding DA* 300m F4 lens. There is no 300mm lens resolving the same amount of detail out there in DSLR world for less than $2,000. Coupled with the new x1,4 TC the reach is just great.
  2. Ergonomics and usability. They did keep most of the K-7/K-5 build and in all the camera industry I know nothing which even comes close. It's not too small it's not too clumsy. It fits perfectly into my hands and feel rock solid with it magnesium alloy body.
    While a few Canon DSLrs (7, 5 and 1; no others) have generally a similar build they are clumsy, large and loud. You just dont want to drag those around all the time (the lack of ergonomics is another story there). Nikons all have this cheap plastic feel the Sonys have. Yuck.
  3. Very good Viewfinder
    This is the real thing. No eletronic thingy you have to tolerate with smartphones and mirrorless toys. You see the real world with your own eyes.
    And you can easily exchange the matte focussing screen within seconds. No maker stopping you. Get a Type-S from
  4. Quality of lenses for easy enjoyment of casual shooting. Pack up the two pancakes 70 mm limited edition and 15 mm limited edition and you are good to go for almost everything you encounter. No need for large and plastic standard zooms. All metal build. You can put the second lens in your jacket - no need for a large camera bag.
  5. Low light shooting is just outstanding. With fast lenses. Stabilized. 3 full stops of stabilization on the 55mm F1.4, which is sharper wide open than any lens Canon and Nikon can muster in the 50/55mm focal length. Same with all other F1.4 lenses: fully optically stabilised. This 3 stop advantage in noise reduction can not even be reached by using full frame sensors which add a meager 1 stop.
  6. Low light shooting indoors during travels. Are you visiting impressive architecture during your holidays? Such as museums and churches?
    Then you know you mostly cant use tripods there and you need ultra wide angle lenses in these mostly dark interiors. Again 3 stop stabilization helps you out. Buy that Sigma 8-16mm lens.
  7. Less worrying when the climate is challenging.Yes, just as a saftey helmet on a bicycle gives no guarantee against injury, the weatherproofing of the K-3 doesnt either. But: You will feel a lot more relaxed when your out there and suddenly there is a downpour. I shot in these ocnditions multiple times and it helps a lot to see all those Canikon tourists running away and giving you the place for yourself only because of some little rain.
    And as 18-55, 50-200, 55-300 cheap beginner lenses are weathersealed this is open to those with more restricted budgets.
  8. Focus peaking
    This really allows very fast and casual use of fast manual lenses. I am really not deep into shooting with livevew but for this it is just perfect. And it is something few DSLRs offer. Go compare.
  9. Dynamic range
    Ever since Pentax started using Sonys new generation of sensors I can say that this is probaly the biggest thing in image quality as you can correct so much in post without having to worry. And be sure: It is not about wrong exposure. It's about really challenging subjects, where others have to drag a tripod and use multiple shots.
  10. The AF tracking - one of the weak areas of Pentax systems - has been improved a lot by the new logic (AF hold) and the faster calculations. Using the camera with the fast Sigma 70-200 mm F2.8 OS lens is now even better.
  11. No feature crippling, no laughing about customers
    As the K-3 is at about $1,000 Pentax top model you get all the features. No crippling as with other makers. The K-3 as the K-50 and K-500 all have AF systems which work (bright light assumed) down to apertures of F9. Canon very reluctantly offered this after months to buyers of their $3,000 camera... And watch out for 8,3 FPS 25 14bit RAW file performance...
  12. TAv mode with exposure compensation
    As I conside myself an ethusiast I want maximum control over the shooting parameters but at the same time not worry about sudden changes. So yes I want to choose the aperture and the shutter speed manually, but I dont want to fix ISO setting. There I use TAv. This is just perfect for available light photography with fast lenses. Use the DA*55 mm F1.4 wide open at F1.4 (manually chosen) and set a shutter speed of 1/10 (remember the stabiliser?) to grab that shoot of the old man reading a newspaper in a dimly lit tavern. The camera then chooses ISO. Now I know that I want the naturaly atmosphere and that is darker than 18% grey, so I dial in a -1,7 EV exposure compensation. This gives me the best looking results with least noise.
    Try doing this with you Canikon. You can't.

What would I want more?

Even more dynamic range. Even better in-body stabilisation. Even more direct access buttons. Even larger viewfinder. Even lower price. Even smaller and lighter lenses; more pancakes. All lenses to be weathersealed.

While I can dream up more features and settings and I always want "more", this camera is the best fit to my needs on the market today.

beholder3's score
Average community score
bad for good for
Kids / pets
Action / sports
Landscapes / scenery
Low light (without flash)
Flash photography (social)
Studio / still life
= community average
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