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Pentax K-3 Review

April 2014 | By Richard Butler, Jeff Keller
Buy on Amazon.com From $1,029.94


Review based on a production Pentax K-3 with firmware v1.03

Pentax has a long history of being a little different from the 'big two' SLR makers, introducing features that would normally be found on cameras costing quite a bit more, such as weatherproofing and larger, pentaprism optical viewfinders. It's also created some products that seemingly came out of left field, such as the Q7 and K-01 mirrorless cameras.

The Pentax name is now owned by Ricoh (not a company scared to try new ideas itself), which has continued the tradition of innovation, no better illustrated than with the concept of a digital SLR that has an anti-aliasing effect that can be turned on at the push of a button (Nikon recently patented a concept that accomplishes the same thing, but in a different manner). However, it hasn't accomplished this by having the filter just drop into place. No, Pentax is using its sensor-shift image stabilizer to deliberately move the sensor during the exposure, slightly blurring the image to mimic the effects of an optical low-pass filter. Not only can this be turned on and off, Pentax is also offering two 'intensities' to choose from.

The name of the camera with this breakthrough feature: the Pentax K-3. This camera takes the rugged design of the K-5 II / K-5 IIs that came before it and bumps up the resolution, improves the AF system, speeds up the processor, and enlarges the LCD and viewfinder.

Pentax K-3 key features

  • 24.4 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Sensor-shift image stabilization with rotational compensation
  • Anti-aliasing 'simulator' (camera has no optical low-pass filter)
  • SAFOX 11 TTL autofocus system (27-point, 25 of which are cross-type)
  • 3.2-inch LCD with 3:2 aspect ratio and 1.037k dots
  • Pentaprism optical viewfinder with 0.95x magnification, 100% coverage
  • 8.3 fps continuous shooting
  • 1920 x 1080 video recording (60i, 30p, 24p)
  • Dual SD card slots
  • Headphone, microphone ports
  • USB 3.0 support

At first glance, the K-3 may look like the K-5 II with a higher resolution sensor, but that's far from the whole story. Ricoh has improved upon the K-5 II in every way, with special attention given to video recording. On the photo side, there's the new sensor (probably from Sony), improved autofocus and metering systems, larger optical viewfinder and LCD, and of course, the selectable AA filter. Performance-wise, the K-3 shoots at 8.3 fps, up from 7.0 fps on the K-5 II.

The K-3 uses a new SAFOX 11 autofocus system, which has 27 points (25 of which are cross-type). The metering system has been dramatically improved, going from 77-segment on the K-5 to 86,000 RGB pixels on the K-3.

Movie lovers will find all kinds of new features. There's now a dedicated 'red button' for quick recording, mic and headphone inputs, and control over audio level. The frame rate has also been increased to 1080/60i, up from 1080/25p on the K-5 II.

Two features that photo and video enthusiasts will like are dual SD card slots and support for USB 3.0 (the K-3 is only the second camera to support this). Build quality remains top-notch, with the K-3 having a rugged, weatherproof body.

The biggest change to the K-3 isn't a feature at all, but it will probably garner the most discussion. There is now a prominent 'Ricoh' logo on the back of the camera, just below the LCD. Ricoh has stated that Pentax is a 'brand' now, similar to 'Lumix' on Panasonic cameras. We're curious to see how the very loyal Pentax audience will react to this change. With this in mind, it's interesting also to note that the K-3 gains the multi-area white balance feature (which aims to correct for different light sources in the same image) that we've seen on previous Ricohs.

Anti-aliasing simulator

One of the most interesting new features on the K-3 is its 'anti-aliasing simulator'. Like the K-5 IIs the camera has no anti-aliasing filter; this improves resolution, but with the trade-off of an increased risk of moiré. Pentax is using the K-3's sensor-shift IS system to simulate the effect of having the filter.

The AA simulator works by applying 'microscopic vibrations to the image sensor unit at the sub-pixel level during exposure', according to Pentax. Simply put, these tiny vibrations cause just enough blur to give the same effect as having an optical anti-aliasing filter. There are two options to choose from - Pentax calls them Mode 1 and Mode 2 - which we assume increases the 'strength' of the virtual filter. Pentax says that the AA simulator is most effective when the shutter speed is under 1/1000 sec.

We assess the real-world impact of the mode later in this review.

Kit options and pricing

The K-3 is sold in three kits (at least in the US). The body-only option has a recommended price of $1299 / £1099, while a kit with the DA 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 WR lens has a list price of $1699 / £1449. The third kit is the 'premium silver edition' shown above, of which only 2000 will be made. This model includes a special battery grip and strap (but no lens), available from select retailers for $1599 / £1399.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2014 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Discuss in the forums

Comments

Total comments: 500
1234
kadajawi

Are you absolutely sure that the SR works for video? I have tried a K-3 in a shop, and it is _very_ obvious that it does not use the sensor-shift system to stabilize video. Owners of the K-3 all say the same, no SR. Even PENTAX (!) confirms that it does not have sensor-shift based SR.
"#13. Many users do not find electronic video stabilization to be satisfactory. Do you have plans to bring back sensor-shift video SR like in the K-5, or possibly a different type of stabilization? Was there a reason you moved away from mechanical video SR?

The sensor-shift SR is one of our advantages, even for videos, but at this time we have had difficulties solving the problem of sounds of shifting (noise during recording). So it might take time to get a real solution to avoid this problem, and then we will consider how to do it."
http://www.pentaxforums.com/articles/photokina-2014/pf-interview-with-ricoh-imaging-photokina-2014.html

0 upvotes
davids8560

What does it mean when you really just happen to stumble across a $100 used K-x in a garage sale, and like it so much that you decide to buy a cheap, used K-7 without even reading the reviews, and then read the reviews, and realize you really want a K-5, and then buy a brand new K-5, but after using it only five months, you impulse buy a $809 brand new K-3 with a battery grip that will probably never see any use? (The battery grip, I mean!)

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Senistar

It means you are officially infected with G.A.S. Good luck! and enjoy the camera..

4 upvotes
Chris62

Too much denoising and... Denoising in RAW? Why?
RAW is not RAW now...

1 upvote
MikeB1951

I bought one of the first K-3s to replace my K-10D. I needed basic movies, higher sensitivities to photograph horse shows, marginal lighting sometimes indoors, inside buildings, and indoor sports events (ice hockey), and no anti-aliasing filter for astrophotography. I also had a couple of good full frame Pentax lenses. I'm very happy with the camera. I have noticed three distractions that the K-10 doesn't have:
1. The four-way switches on the back are much more sensitive, easier to press, than those on the K-10. I wind up changing white balance in particular with my nose when looking through the viewfinder!
2. The control wheel on the back is closer to the thumb rest than the K-10's. I find I inadvertently change whatever parameter it controls at the time.
3. The grip on the front where the middle finger supports the camera when shooting is sharp. The K-10's was much more comfortable.
That said the camera produces wonderful images. In particular, I find the TAv mode extremely useful.

0 upvotes
raztec

Wow! A .95x magnification viewfinder with 100% coverage. What other company offers that in a DSLR? Even the FF from Nikon and Canon have puny viewfinders in comparison.

The experience of shooting with a nice bright viewfinder is such an engaging experience, that alone is worth switching systems for.

2 upvotes
disasterpiece

You're either trolling or going to let me disappoint you: the 4-year old Nikon D7000 has exactly the same specs for the viewfinder and so do many other cameras from this class. The numbers you're seeing are not absolute but rather relative to the frame size.

0 upvotes
Yoda boy

Pentax ( Ricoh ) is still introducing new products that were likely in the pipeline before their takeover from Hoya. They have the ability to create a niche product by introducing a better and more directed line of lenses. WR and A* are really the only way to go if you have a K 7 or newer body as they create a complete system, especially now that the series II flashes have been created.

For K 5 and K 3 photographers, there also should be a 10 mm or 10-20 mm WR lens, preferably with a 2.8 or 3.5 fixed f to fill a void in their lens lineup.

As to an articulating LCD screen, I personally don't see the point as the more serious photographers seem to be quite happy with fixed screens as is the norm for high end Nikon and Canon. Personally, I think one pays more attention to details when looking through a viewfinder.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
duchamp

For macro photography articulated screen is a blessing.

0 upvotes
avicenanw

The next Pentax flagship DSLR will have an articulating LCD screen which is the trend now with the other manufacturers. Hope they also improve on video performance with better codec and perhaps 4K.

0 upvotes
Class A

The K-3 just won the EISA "Advanced DSLR Camera award 2014-2015":

http://www.eisa.eu/awards/photography/40/european-advanced-dslr-camera-2014-2015.html

5 upvotes
brownie314

There are so many categories, I think every body took home an award.

1 upvote
Yoda boy

It did seem to be that way. It would have been nice to add some of the second place contestants and also some honourable mentions so people looking to make a near future purchase might get some helpful guidance.

Also, an Oldies but Goodies category might have been interesting.

0 upvotes
Tactical Falcon

I have the K-5II and love it. Uncertain if the K-3 will give me more in IQ, in video shooting probably, but want to still learn more before I get one. Certainly has the feature set I want. I am happy with the IQ with the K-5II so far.

0 upvotes
kadajawi

The K-3 offers more control, but the actual video quality of the K-5 is better. Less artefacts due to compression, and a properly stabilized video (the system in the K-3 is electronic only, with a ton of trade-offs, even though this review claims it is a mechanical system). Also the K-3 crops the frame for video.

0 upvotes
chippedoff

I am rather disappointed in the k-3. i recently did a side by side test with identical manual and full auto settings between the k-3 and the Nikon d3300. The D3300 did so much better as far as sharpness and good colour. I can't justify the price of the K-3 even if it's weather sealed and the fact that my k-30 takes better photos under certain conditions. For apparently not having a low pass filter the k-3 images have a haze.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
dual12

Rubbish

4 upvotes
cgarrard

Indeed, rubbish.

2 upvotes
Gazeomon

Yes, total garbage!! You need visual counselling!

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Monobod

Regarding the autofocus speed, I understand that the K-3 has a more powerful in body motor for the spindle focus drive, so it is quicker than say the K-5 by about 50%. With respect to the 'in lens' motors, then Pentax probably does need to up the design parameters here and introduce faster drives, especially for the long focus throw lenses. The shorter primes, even with spindle drive, seem to be quick enough now.

This will happen in time I'm sure and third party lenses may well be the first to go down this route, so there should be plenty of choice.

1 upvote
joyclick

dpr gave the K3 a GOLD award "wholeheartedly"

2 upvotes
russella1

......got to say I'm totally impressed with the K3 which I've been using professionally extensively for almost a year now. I've always used 35mm Pentax since the Spotmatic back in the late 60's / early 70's and have a large selection of Takumar lenses (arguably some of the best, fastest and sharpest lenses ever made)
My K3, old Takumar lenses with screw mount / k mount adapter produces great images with the best of them, and they still produce as sharp results as a lot of the new pentax lenses. The reason I bought the K3 was because I had all of these very expensive and specialised lenses from the days of film and wanted to maximise the use of what I already owned.
In my workplace I also use various Nikon and Canon DSLR models which have their uses, but I am totally biased and must confess that in my opinion for my own personal use the K3 beats them all hands-down in almost every respect.

7 upvotes
Malwina

useful!

0 upvotes
Sandmanusd

So from this review it seems the auto focus on the lenses is the culprit on the Auto focus "problems" not the camera itself. Are there any other reviews out there that indicate that the Pentax Auto Focus is substantially slower than those on Nikon?

I am up in the air between this and the D7100 and really the ONLY thing throwing me for a loop and preventing me from buying the K-3 right now is the problematic slow auto focusing lenses available for the camera.

Is there any other reviews out there on the interwebs that can verify or refute the claims here that the slow AF on the lenses are to blame for the issues with the Cont. AF they see here?

This is a deal breaker for me really if this is true. I want fast auto focus lenses, like those available for the Nikon D7100... Any body with some thoughts or links to shed some light?

0 upvotes
SkilakDeZoo

and how do you do the exposure measuring? spot or matrix? if you shot moving small objects you use spot metering rather than matrix then the results are a kind of a lucky dip. I have D7100 and K-5 and comparing 21mm ltd and 35mm 1.8G , K-5 is not slower but gives more reliable outcomes e.g. exposure and focus. BTW you may find that Pentax does not cope well with Red but Nikon does not cope with Orange and in the field the skin gets pastel orange color (peachy). So it is down to you what you like.

2 upvotes
WaveDancer

Any news about the crazy mirror flapping issue with the K3?

2 upvotes
Westcoast Guy

About "Bulb" and remote cable release use...

I do a lot of tripod-mounted time-laps shots for star trails, weird optical effects in low-light, etc.

How long does the K3 take from the end of, say a 30-min exposure, to copy it to the SD card?

I have a K20-D and I have to allow equal amounts of "shot time" as well as "transfer time". ex. 30 minutes exposure + 30 minute transfer time = 1 hour per shot.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
gLOWx

It is not 30 minutes transfert, it is 30 minutes shot with closed shutter ;)
It takes a "black" frame just to get the noise pattern, and subtract it from the real image.
Any modern camera do this to reduce noise on long exposures.
You can disable it on most cameras.
Search for ""long exposure noise reduction" ;)

2 upvotes
JavaJones

It seems DPR simply doesn't review or care about some of the unique aspects of the K-3. How about an evaluation of the weather sealing and comparison to other models? Or a simple breakdown of lens focal lengths available with weather sealing among different manufacturers. I don't know who would win but it's certainly a worthwhile question, particularly relevant to anyone considering Pentax.

Similarly, what about testing Image Stabilization and its effectiveness? Has this ever been tested here, for lenses or camera bodies? I don't recall, though I know others have. The fact that it's in-body with K-3 is hardly mentioned, much less tested. How does it compare to lens-based stabilization of other systems?

Finally, it's great (really great!) to test focus tracking. But I don't recall seeing similar tests on other recent cameras. Is it just taken for granted that they handle this stuff well, and the K-3 is only being tested due to poor past performance and claimed improvements by Pentax?

4 upvotes
gLOWx

A common (probably true, don't know) scheme is "in-lens" working better for long focals because there is more "margin" to correct shake.
If you like Pentax prime lenses, you don't care.
If you want to shoot birds and safari...take a closer look ;)
And about "past" and Pentax, almost no serious tests are done on Pentax...because it is not Canikon :D
Same applies to Sony Alpha of course. You need to search very hard to get a nice serious review...

6 upvotes
Lassoni

I'm interested in how pentax fares againt the olympus om-d series. This pentax camera looks nice, though maybe it's trying to copy nikon too much with the AF selector position? (Canon has it better).

I wonder how well pentax is holding up. I think nikon bests it due to lens selection alone. OTOH, olympus might also be better, due to smaller size and possibly better quality of lenses (I get impression from reading that olympus has pretty good lenses). Price is also another question mark. Where I live the pentax k3 body costs 200 dollars more than nikon d7100. What's up with that?

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
gLOWx

D7100 was out before, so price is down from release date.
I would not take in account body price difference. You pay a SYSTEM camera. What is important is what you want to do in the future. Thinking "now" is reserved to closed cameras like compact/bridge.With system cameras, you need to know if you want to use complex speedlite configuration (Nikon, Olympus), cheaper amazing second hand manual primes (Pentax all the way) and on and on. With OM-D, you go the m43 format...it is another way ;) If you care about short to medium focal length manual prime lens, Pentax will be cheaper than any other. Olympus makes AMAZING lenses (like Pentax)...but they cost the same price than their APS-C counterpart. Check Pentax Limited series and Takumar :D To me, they are even better than Olympus.
I can't help you on the AF side ;)

6 upvotes
pm1965

I wonder what happened to the intelligence of some of these "expert reviewers"??? The direct competitors of the K3 are the D7100 & 70D. They have similar size, sensor size and price point. I don't understand why on earth do they compare the K3 to a 6D or D600. Does not make sense (different sensor size & price point).

3 upvotes
Simon Joinson

I'm confused. I see we compare the K3 with many cameras (mostly the D7100 and 70D you mention), but not the 6D or D600... or am I missing something?

2 upvotes
Anjey

I'm curious why K-3 is only compared to D300s and EOS 7D as direct competitors but not to D7100 which seems more logical for me? I mean the picture quality not handling. So far, D7100 was the leader in the crop category.

2 upvotes
Leandros S

I'm still concerned that the review draws a conclusion about AF-C in this camera without TESTING whether any other camera would have performed better under *the same conditions*.

6 upvotes
drummercam

Is Pentax's Hyper-Program operational interface mentioned anywhere in this review? I did not find it under "shooter's experience" where it ought to have been, nor anywhere else. Have I missed it, or was it not mentioned?

6 upvotes
Zvonimir Tosic

After pulling out EXIF data from some DPR test shots, it was concluded DPR indeed did a sloppy job in evaluating the K-3.
In the AF-C test, they have left the Shake Reduction on, which means camera wanted to stabilise each image in consecutive firing like it would do in a single shot mode.
The Conclusion? DPR made a wrong conclusion about the camera's AF, of course. Their verdict is invalid and wrong and inconsistent with results experienced users are getting out of K-3. Truth is the K-3 is a very sophisticated machine, allowing for many settings. It is not a P&S toy.
Get to know your gear, especially with a less known and more unique brand of cameras, and have a thorough attitude before testing or making public verdicts.

Comment edited 49 seconds after posting
14 upvotes
Richard Butler

If neither the manufacturer nor the manual suggest any conflict between SR and AF-C, it doesn't seem outrageous to test what appears to be a reasonable combination.

Equally, we also tested without SR on, with the camera on a tripod, without any additional success.

I won't claim to be an expert Pentax-using sports shooter, but we spent a lot of time testing the K-3 in an even-handed manner and judged it against reasonable expectations. A perfect and repeatable AF tracking test may well be impossible, so we made every effort to give the K-3 a fair opportunity and were careful not to make any claims beyond what we experienced.

Comment edited 42 seconds after posting
7 upvotes
Zvonimir Tosic

Camera is by no mean a mind reader which knows what next move a user will do, and how quickly the panning / camera motion speed will increase. Thus it is generally recommended to leave the SR off in AF-C. (Despite some users' claim they always and on all Pentax cameras successfully used AF-C with SR on, but which is wrong use despite the fact it may work in some specific instances).
We'd love to see all the motion tracking images you have taken with the SR off, to analyse exif data and see other variables and how can you improve K-3 handling and technique.

8 upvotes
Zvonimir Tosic

Or in terms of a sport's vocabulary, what you showed us is a punch below the waist, Richard. Those images should be pulled down asap, as they show wrong use, and are shots against the recommended settings.
If you want to make us believe K-3 delivers same results with or without SR turned off, then we shall at least say to readers of this review that is not true.
However, if that is really the case, then please substitute same poor images with SR on with poor images with SR off, to give readers more precise evaluation to conclude whether it's the camera's fault, or your lack of skill. Thank you.

12 upvotes
awaldram

Richard.....
From the manufacturer
"The Shake Reduction function will not fully work when shooting with a very slow shutter speed, for example when panning or shooting night scenes.
In this case, it is recommended to turn off the Shake Reduction function and use a tripod.!"

I don't think it reasonable to expect manuals to regurgitate 'standard' functions usage .

Sensor shift SR is now over 10 years old nothing is different in its use than Optical so it difficult to understand why you thought SR on was OK for panning in direct conflict with standard usage of all manufacturers solutions when panning.??

All SR systems either auto disable or are required to be off or partially disabled (true for Sony, Sigma, Tamron , Canon , Nikon or Pentax ) when panning.

Whilst most optical system can be disabled in on plane to allow SR for the other whilst panning the Pentax system also corrects rotational shake so cannot be partially disabled.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 10 minutes after posting
15 upvotes
EricCul

It seems reasonable to ask that the mistake in the review is corrected.

7 upvotes
Zvonimir Tosic

To put it simply, SR is designed to correct for accidental movement when photographer is trying to hold the camera steady.

If the camera is meant to move (when panning, tracking a subject, etc) for which a photographer will most likely use AF-C, then the SR should be turned off.

1 upvote
Alessandro Iannuzzo

Yes true, you can make the test, with the tripod the SR must be set OFF, Sad

1 upvote
Richard Butler

Tests conducted on a tripod had SR off, tests conducted handheld had it on. Despite claims that it is 'recommended' that SR be off for AF-C, I can find no evidence of these recommendations.

@Awaldram, we were not using slow shutter speeds of the type your message notes. We were not panning in the sense of using a slow shutter speed to show background blur - which that clearly refers to.

The images we posted were the most consistent of the examples we shot. I'm not sure we still have all the other examples, since we re-shot those bursts many, many times (different lenses, different focus area modes, on and off the tripod), and generated several hundred images.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
SkilakDeZoo

Just out of curiosity: is it that Pentax jpgs are over-saturated or Nikon's under-saturated?;)

0 upvotes
D1N0

K-3 now got the ipa award for best expert level dslr http://www.tipa.com/english/award-details.php?iId=3634&sAward=Best%20Digital+SLR++Expert

5 upvotes
Madaboutpix

You lost your "T" ;) , but thanks for posting. It did, and deservedly so, I think. Of course, that doesn't affect anyone's day-to-day shooting. Yet, if it shows anything, it may be another signal that Ricoh/Pentax are back on the block, where they should be.

Would be kind of cool if they could supplement that one with the TIPA for Best Professional DSLR with the 645Z next time around ... :)

2 upvotes
D1N0

Maybe they will, but it Depends on whether Canon or Nikon will come out with something new later this year.

0 upvotes
phoenix15

So what could be the next now Pentax ?
1. Pentax K-02, mirrorless with new mount to maintain compactness
2. Pentax FF with 36 MP, DSLR.
3. Lastly, lenses with better AF. 12-24, 17-70, 16-50, 50-135. They all need new updates.

3 upvotes
D1N0

I think mirror less part 2 will happen in 2015. For now de Pentax Q7 is the companies Mirror less. This year a new mid-level K-60 and hopefully a full frame (24mp, same chip as Nikon D610).

0 upvotes
Glenn Schultes

I am hoping for a Monochrome only K5ii
Take out the Bayer filter and that is 48 megapixels of sensor dedicated to B&W

0 upvotes
WordsOfFarewell

If Pentax released a FF body I'd finally have a reason to upgrade my K5 ;)

1 upvote
willax

Pentax already got Full Frame+....
Pentax also got best or close to best APSc cam
Pentax got best weather sealed bodies& lenses
Pentax owners need to loose up a bit,......really

0 upvotes
Benedito

Can we see in live view the apature change (not the neumeric) .. Can anyone reply

0 upvotes
Couscousdelight

Yes, it's... live ;)

1 upvote
Benedito

Can we see aperture changes in live view in Pentax k3
as in Canon dslr.

0 upvotes
xmeda

of course, even K7 can do this.. just use DOF preview switch

1 upvote
gillamoto

great camera.. just wondering how will the next generation will be :D

0 upvotes
EthanX

Hey, is it just me or have many new samples recently been added to the review, including some excellent low light images (e.g. those of the cat)?

I'm pretty sure I haven't seen them before...

0 upvotes
HussainJanjua

Good camera but its bit expensive than its Compitators

0 upvotes
xmeda

certainly not

5 upvotes
dyoon153

Really? check again :)

3 upvotes
spodeworld

How much is the AF tracking likely to be able to be improved via a firmware improvement?

0 upvotes
Zvonimir Tosic

Not a single source has established a thorough evaluation of the new AF from Pentax. DPR, IR, many others have reflected on it through "a subjective feeling", which is nonsense. Thus the final conclusion on it is yet to be said, but so far, it is as good as any of its best peers, with room for (1) uncovered perks and extra speed due to many people's unfamiliarity of the new Pentax tech, and (2) ability to improve it even further with firmware updates.

5 upvotes
spodeworld

I guess I was trying to understand, that if there are AF tracking issues, how much room is there to improve it through the firmware? Or, is that more likely a hardware problem?

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
noirdesir

Have I missed something? Or why is the Sony A850, a FF camera, in this 'Semi-professional Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR' group and not the A77?

1 upvote
Josh Bailey

not the most attractive looking camera out there is it haha

0 upvotes
joseluismx

Since most DSRLs look similar, I can't imagine what you find unattractive about the K-3.

15 upvotes
Gazeomon

@ Josh Bailey. But it takes pictures, har har

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Münchhausen

Thx a lot for this review that I find balanced and right. I already have a K-3, and I just love it, the best Pentax camera up to date...

9 upvotes
stig777

Wish there was more mention and test of the full weather seal. Thats an important factor, i feel to show as Pentax does weather sealing better then anybody else i feel then is comes to DSLR.

6 upvotes
Danyel39

I think as already suggested, even if emotionally not easy, that I might take a serious look at FF with VERY High Iso capabilities. I also often Crop, and image quality e detail rendition are critical.I really love the Outsider Philosophy of Pentax, humbly and quietly delivering what I consider the best aps-c camera 3-4 years ago ( the K-5). Now time has changed and I believe you cannot win the competition with selectable anti aliasing filter.
The game , or the war, is on other grounds.

0 upvotes
waxwaine

Shooting at ngiht you must consider first MF(Pentax 645Z or other), with lower budget any last generation of 135mm frame dslr. Any way, leaving Pentax(K-5II or K-3) for other ff camera you will loose f2.8 AF capability on lowlight condition. Not if you take 645Z road off course.

Comment edited 32 seconds after posting
1 upvote
turvyT

Why don't sell all your Pentax equipment? Although no gear is going to be 100% satisfactory... But at least, you'll contribute to local and global economy.

0 upvotes
Danyel39

Hi,

thanks to all for the replies.
I'm trying to play and change some of the settings but still not 100% happy with the results.
I will give my self time in order to know and understand better if the K-3 can match my expectations.
Especially when looking at the image quality comparison of professional reviews I understand that some other " Systems" might be more suitable for my needs.
Pentax colour rendition is sometimes weird. When you photograph at 2-3 am neon signs of some shops or other artificial lights the colours seem to be sometimes similar to what you see after taking an hallucinogenic.
Very warm , maybe too much, is like the colours are the colours of a marker-highlighter. I tried to change WB, SCENE, still I'm not convinced. Other cameras have a more natural and balanced approach.

0 upvotes
ruggiex

I would think you would shoot in RAW and correct any color in post doing night shots. I'm not aware any camera is problem free in difficult conditions - cameras are dumb.

4 upvotes
ravi pratap

yes ! u r abs correct, the color rendition is not correct as the camera shows pink as magenta and blue as deep blue,
yes exactly like marker !!!

0 upvotes
naththo

Pink is same thing as Magenta no difference at all to me. I prefer skies to be true blue NOT cyan blue or too green skies. I like Pentax colour fidelity. Also Sony Nex 7 is pretty close to Pentax colour while A7 isn't and is shifting toward bit like Fujifilm but in low contrast with bit too green skies. Thats the issue problem currently this time. But thankfully I shoot raw and can fix that though.

0 upvotes
maksa

I have a K-5 and I don’t need better image quality. Its sensor surpasses all my needs. But I need better menus, ergonomics, more precise exposure and WB metering, faster AF and a viewfinder optimized for MF. K-3 is half way from K-5 to my ideal camera. And the sensor doesn’t play any significant role.

I think the K-3 is the best APS-C camera at the moment, and Ricoh’s share of this market will grow. That’s the way to a good competition and to the best choice of cameras for all the photographers.

Comment edited 20 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
Danyel39

Hi I own a K-5 ( Silver ) and one month ago I received my K-3 ( Silver ).
I don't know what will be the future of APS-C but I'm unhappy with the results of the Image Quality Compared. Olympus is almost there, for my personal opinion D7100 is performing better and when compared to Sony 7R........
I photograph mainly during the night ( color rendition and low light capabilities are crucial ) and I'm starting to think that maybe time has come to sell everything and check both Nikon ( D4s, DF, D400 ? , ) and Sony 7R.
K-5 was my first camera and loved it but it seems to me the future is going into another directions. Image quality of Sony is unbeatable. low light capabilities of some nikons also. Don't know.
Can someone cast light on my considerations ?

1 upvote
JGoodard

K3 uses a sony sensor. D7100 uses a Toshiba sensor. Have you adjusted your camera's custom image parameters? There's plenty to work with there.

Who knows what branded sensors Nikon and Pentax will use in each of their respective future flagship APS-C bodies.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
solarider

Re Danyel39

There are several items to turn off or change from factory settings. One is certain noise reduction settings and AF setting. The K3 has more in-camera possible personal settings than the D7100. Probably much more.

Please check with the Pentax forum on this site http://www.dpreview.com/forums/1036 to get the particulars on the K3. The out of the box factory settings for noise reduction are too aggressive and can be easily changed to get the most out of the K3.

Thanks

Nic

Comment edited 39 seconds after posting
8 upvotes
brujo74

Hi! I'm not very happy with Sony's IQ, let alone low-light performance. I've tested an Alpha65 some time ago and it was nowhere near my K-5 in both respects. I don't know about the new ones, haven't seen them with my own eyes. You can't go wrong with Nikon's D4s, but that's in another league (pricewise too). I think your best bet would be a Nikon D3s if you can get it for a good price.

0 upvotes
dagobah

Do you typically zoom in and pixel peep, i.e. view the images at 100% magnification on the screen? If so, you are actually viewing at a significantly higher magnification than the K-5 (because it is 24MP K-3 vs. 16MP K-5) and therefore the per-pixel noise is not a meaningful comparison. If you reduce the K-3 image to 16MP, it will look as good or better.

2 upvotes
ambercool

You say you shoot mainly during the night so I would think that the first two things that would come to mind for you is Full Frame and fast lens. Even full frame has trouble with night shooting as you compare all ISO to darkness and shadows you're going to see visible noise past ISO 800 no matter what sensor you are using.

I would start looking at all my full frame options and f/1.2 or lower. Good luck!

0 upvotes
tinetz

Hi, you should definitely consider the Pentax 645Z. With ISO 204,800 and 51MP you can photograph at darkest night and and by downsampling the results to your needs you should get rid of all noise ;) Just kidding (except you have some money aside already)...

0 upvotes
Benjamin Kanarek

Excellent review...objective and well balanced ! :-)

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
driftnomore

is my k-5 better than the k-3?

0 upvotes
paulski66

Yes, it's 2 better...

7 upvotes
driftnomore

wow! thanks paul...if we have only choices of lenses here in europe.lenses here are scant and are more expensive.thought of sellimg my k-5.

0 upvotes
photohounds

Nice cam, bit heavy ..
Does it also have the mirror flop issue?
.
I ask because a friend is quite enamoured and has asked me my opinion.
.
My blanket reply "they are all pretty good, just get the one that suits you", didn't wash too well :(

0 upvotes
paulski66

Well, on the plus side, at least we won't have to read any more posts from all the Pentax fanboys complaining "Where's the K-3 review?" every time DPReview posts a review of any other camera.

5 upvotes
waxwaine

Don't think so. No comes Pentax 645Z time ;)

5 upvotes
D1N0

You don't have to read any posts at all you know.

14 upvotes
paulski66

Would that I could avoid them, D1NO. Every review DPR publishes is met with the same chorus of bitching and whining from the Pentaxians, though hopefully this will give us all a temporary respite.

And btw, where the hell is the D4 review?!? The D4 was released over 2 years ago! The K-3 is less than 6 months old, and already we get a full review of it, while we patiently wait and wait for the D4 review and...nothing.

Outrageous!

Comment edited 10 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
robmanueb

Holy bitchin pentaxians batman!

1 upvote
KonstantinosK

The whining was well justified, in my opinion. DPR rushed the Df review in no time, just before the Christmas season. And it's not the only example...

9 upvotes
brujo74

Nikon D4 doesn't need a review, paulski66 !

0 upvotes
Leandros S

I'm just glad you're not bitching about anything, paulski.

6 upvotes
D1N0

I see more people bitching about pentaxians than bitching pentaxians.

5 upvotes
Yoda boy

As someone who is very interested in the K3, and has a K5, I can advise that when talking to Ricoh Canada reps recently, they have advised that the K3 is much improved in many ways compared to the K5 trio. I tried the K3 with a few lenses and found no focusing problems at all. Ricoh has had lots of feedback on making all their lenses WR and becoming the WR camera company. I personally think this is a great idea as this would make the brand a natural choice for outdoors/landscape photographers. Their new flash units are WR and so are their grips.

One item not often mentioned in reviews is the feel when holding a camera. The Pentax K 7 and up all feel very comfortable when hand held and very substantial to boot. Something that I appreciate. Privately, several camera store reps have said how they secretly love the Pentax brand. They usually shoot with Nikon or Canon, only because they already have lenses and such and because of discounted pricing at certain times of the year.

0 upvotes
gravelhopper

Interesting to see that dpr does not mention the K3's AF capability in low light. For every in-door available light photographer this is as cruicial as low noise at high ISO. When reviewing the K5 II this was mentioned: "As for light levels, I was able to compare the K-5 II with the Nikon D7100, and found I was able to focus with the K-5 II in lower light than with the Nikon. In exceptionally low light (a large blacked-out room lit with a single tungsten bulb) there was a clear point where the Nikon's AF system (rated down to -2EV) just gave up, never delivering a focus confirmation beep, and the K-5 II (rated down to -3EV) kept on making accurate decisions." Also something I do not understand: for both the K5 ii and the K3 the whole "performance" section is missing while it is being part of other reviews. Anyway, I hope the K5 ii low light capabilities are a base feature in all Pentax bodies now.

Regards

10 upvotes
robbo d

...yes the K5II low light AF is insanely good

1 upvote
joseluismx

Indeed, @gravelhopper. I've been trying to find a worthy FF camera to move to. I currently own a K-5II and and K-5IIs. For the type of photography I do, i need -3EV AF sensitivity. None of the current FF are better than my cameras or if they match the Pentaxes (like the Canon 6d), they're heavily crippled.

0 upvotes
Keith Reeder

Zvonimir,

you've made that ALL up.

1 upvote
robbo d

Whilst he doesn't produce evidence or a link to a test...and neither can I right now, I do recall a test between the original K5 and the D7000 a couple of years ago where this was the result, not by a huge margin..........in fast moving subjects I would find that hard to believe. However having the K5IIs, I can attest that I have so few failed AF and it can focus in Low light like you wouldn't believe. It would make an interesting test and there would be a margin of error for individual cameras and lenses and human factor, but I think the perceived and legendary and supposed poor AF is now a thing of the past, was never really a major issue and any current problems rest with a few of the lenses. How many milli seconds really makes any sort of difference to 99% of users??

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
8 upvotes
robbo d

It's become such a blown out of proportion issue, much like Pentax's perceived lack of lenses from other brand users fanboys and pimply faced salesman with no real knowledge, who choose to find any crumb of evidence to put down someone else, where in fact Pentax has the best APS-C range around and still a significant 3rd party manufacture usage.
If people can't shoot decent results with ANY of the current crop of cameras from any brand, be able to AF and find mostly enough lenses to suit then they have issues.....

8 upvotes
JustDavid

I think this is what you're looking for
http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3100452

And here is a link to the original PDF of the test:
http://multimedia.fnac.com/multimedia/editorial/labo/reflex_2012.pdf

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
robbo d

Yes, that's the one i'm thinking of......

0 upvotes
Zvonimir Tosic

Many competent photographers have noted that Nikon peer cameras may indeed subjectively appear to lock in faster AF, but Pentax will most likely produce more keepers with a similar lens. Nikon and Canon, in their mutual race against each other, sacrifice accuracy for the sake of speed and first impression, and leave the rest to DoF to sort out. Because later on, it is easier to blame yourself for misses than a camera that has locked-in fast.

It is a purely psychological game Nikon and Canon are playing.

Pentax, on the other hand, plays differently.

Mind you, the test of the AF is *NOT* how fast camera *appears* to lock in, as some believe, but is it able to produce a sufficient number of usable photographs. Isn't that what should matter? So iIn that regard, Pentax AF does not lack at all.

So instead of asking why Pentax seems "to lag", ask yourself why are you being sold an illusion of speed that sacrifices real matters? If you don't believe this, try it yourself.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
24 upvotes
joseluismx

This is purely anecdotal. I shoot mostly ballet presentations. I have a friend who also shoots ballet. Whe sometimes cover the same events. His photos frequently look soft/missfocused. He shoots with the D600 a I shoot with the K-5II and K-5IIs. It may be that the theater lighting is lower than the D600 can handle, which is rarely an issue with my Pentaxes.

9 upvotes
Iznogoud

@Zvonimir Why are you saying that Canon or Nikon sacrifice precision for speed in AF tracking? I can't quite understand the concept since I see well focused pictures with my Canons when shooting indoor sports every weekend... Maybe I have faulty 5D and 1DMkIIn, (both circa 2005 cameras)... Compared to the Pentax I had, I get both faster focusing AND better accuracy... Maybe if you show me an example where the K3 gets more keepers in a given sequence than my 1DMk2n (they both shoot at the same fps) I'll start buying this Pentax made urban legend...

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
PentaxRev

Thanks DP review for finally getting your review of the K-3 done. I have always appreciated how comprehensive your reviews are and the review of the K-3 is not a disappointment.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
gdfthr73

It Just drives me nuts. So many amazing full frame lenses for the K mount camera and no full frame K-mount camera exists. WTF

3 upvotes
bossa

I suspect Ricoh already has a FF sensor being tested in a K-3 body (at least) and probably a mirrorless one as well.

Give them 12 months and they'll definitely have a FF out there.

8 upvotes
brendon1000

People have been waiting for a Pentax full frame camera for many years now. Don't know if it will ever happen. The problem is they have plenty of prime lenses for FF but hardly any zoom lenses.

The 16-50mm f2.8, 50-135mm f2.8, 12-24mm f4, 60-250mm f4 are all APS-C lenses. So they will need a whole range of FF zoom lenses to go with a FF camera. Currently they lack even one FF zoom lens.

1 upvote
robbo d

If it drive you so...nuts....then go buy a Canikonony.
They may well do so soon, but why wade into a small market share area, when you do so well at 'crop sensor' which really is so close to FF anyway.
Ricoh are currently posting profits and it must come down to doing things either properly, cost effectively, profitably or not at all.

2 upvotes
brendon1000

Then why go APS-C when 4/3rd is so close ? And why go 4/3rd when 1 inch is so close.

You want the best IQ this side of medium format you need FF.

I have shot extensively with Full Frame while still using crop and FF is just better. Not that I can't take good photos with crop but FF is noticeably better.

1 upvote
robbo d

Brendon,
Ultimately it comes down to your 'power to weight ratio' so to speak. What do want to lug around vs what IQ you really need. The reality is even many pro's are using lesser sized sensor systems now when FF is not really needed, like aps-c or 4/3. If your photographing for the average wedding or a small magazine article, the IQ of these smaller sensors is producing the quality of FF a few short years ago.....so how good do you need for most applications? Where really a K3, Xt-1 or OM-D would easily suffice.

1 upvote
Richard Murdey

Option 1. Wait for Ricoh K-1 FF dSLR.
Option 2. Buy an A7r and K-mount adapter.

Since most of those great K-mount FF lenses are manual focus anyway, a non-native camera body isn't such a huge disadvantage (mirrorless has no problems metering in stop-down mode).

My gut feeling is Ricoh will introduce a full frame camera relatively soon, as an APSC K-3 successor will be very difficult to sell at $1200 when by that time there will be many full-frame alternatives in the market at a similar or lower price.

0 upvotes
brendon1000

@robbo - Yes its true many pros are getting smaller systems for less serious work but their main work is generally always done with FF or MF.

And if I really need small I would rather get a Fuji or Olympus m43 system than a DSLR. The m43 system current IQ is ridiculously close to APS-C now.

And their primes are even more compact than the primes from Pentax.

And I disagree that APS-C has caught up with old FF cameras. Maybe the 5D MK 1 but the MK II and D700 are still better than current APS-C sensors. Its not just high ISO performance but general IQ that is better. I have generally found FF images to 'pop' more than APS-C photos.

0 upvotes
gdfthr73

They do have some oldie moldy ff af zooms from the film days (remember the k-mount system has been around for a very long time) Primes are my preference anyway though. I thought the K-01 was a cool concept. Cosmetically it was laughable but a full frame equivalent with classic Pentax looks would be it

0 upvotes
willax

Did not Pentax have the very first full frame DSLR Prototype?

Anyway FF is way overrated unless you have specific needs and you could always go for Pentax 645

I use Pentax K3 ,Nikon D800 ,D3s and Nikon 1 cams - all of these are shithot!
the choices nowadays are great and you don't even have to pay for film and processing
Anyone out there sick of their FF 645 Pentax - instead of taking it to the dump please post to me (I will pay for postage, cheers)

0 upvotes
davids8560

The K-3 is a solid, straight-forward DSLR that should strike a positive chord with just about any DPR devotee. I think this was a good review.

However, I did read about a fellow in Ohio who bought a K-3 and then, several days later, was struck by a car at a quiet, residential intersection near his home. His leg was broken. While this doesn't establish a pattern, it is perhaps something to be on the lookout for.

And then there was that thing about the werewolf biting in the moors of Scotland. The guy wandered off the main road. The simple local folk at the little pub in the village had told him to stay on the main road. But he must have gotten disoriented. Needless to say, things didn't turn out so well for him. But this could be only hearsay

But certainly, anyone who has ever read a Ken Rockwell review should be able to take a decent .jpg image of a static subject ten feet away in normal daylight with this camera, even with the kit lens. Of course, YMMV. IIRC. IMHO.

Thanks!

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 14 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
mjphoto2013

Of course, with saturation and sharpness set to +11.

5 upvotes
linslus

The guy who wandered off the main road, he had a K-3 right?

1 upvote
Daniel Bliss

Looks like a nice machine, and I have to confess, substantially better build quality than any Nikon except the D4. The front plates on all the other current Nikons are simply not strong enough.

Nikon and Canon, I hope you're paying attention here. (Well, not to everything, you probably don't want the slower flash sync or Pentax's JPEG engine, but you get my drift). For people who aren't interested in an FX upgrade, Pentax is probably the most versatile APS system right now.

9 upvotes
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