Body & Design
The K-3 is a mid-sized DSLR that offers a hefty, weather-sealed body. The magnesium alloy body leaves no doubt that the K-3 is a well-built DSLR, though some may be put off by its weight (800g / 28.2 oz fully loaded). The camera's large grip gives it a secure feel in your hands, though you'll definitely want to use your left hand to support the lens.
|The K-3's body is primarily constructed from magnesium alloy.|
Like its predecessors, the K-3 is fully sealed against the elements. Its body has 92 seals, which keep water and dust out. In addition, the camera is functional at temperatures as low as -10C/+14F. Pentax claims that its shutter is rated for 200,000 cycles.
The K-3 has buttons scattered across three sides of its body, which can be overwhelming at first. The I/O ports on the left side include microphone, USB, HDMI, DC-in, and a newly-added headphone socket for monitoring audio during move recording. On the opposite side you'll find another new addition: dual SD card slots. Under that is yet another port, this time for an optional wired remote control.
On the bottom of the camera is a lockable battery compartment, which holds Pentax's D-LI90 battery, contacts for the optional battery grip, and the tripod mount, which is in-line with the lens.
Top of camera
There's really only one significant change on the top of the K-3, and it's related to the mode dial. On the K-5 II, you had to hold the button in the center of the dial down in order to rotate it. A new lock switch (which replaces the metering switch) unlocks the dial, which you can then freely spin.
In your hand
|The K-3 features a new grip, which is a bit deeper than the one on the K-5 II. It's a nice improvement, as the K-3 is a fairly weighty camera. There's a large thumb-rest on the rear of the camera, which should keep your fingers off of any controls.|
Viewfinder and LCD
One of the improvements on the K-3 is its pentaprism viewfinder. While the coverage remains at 100%, the magnification has risen to 0.95x, compared to 0.92x on the K-5 II. This makes the K-3's optical viewfinder one of the best-in-class, sitting alongside the Nikon D7100 in the top spot, but eclipsed by the EVF on the Olympus E-M1.
The LCD on the K-3 has also received a bump. It's gone up both in size (3.2 vs 3.0 inches) and resolution (1.04M vs 921k dots). In addition, the K-3's LCD now sports a 3:2 aspect ratio, compared to 4:3 on the K-5 and K-5 II.
While the K-3 doesn't have built-in Wi-Fi, it can take advantage of a Pentax-specific version of the strangely named 'FluCard' memory cards - one of the competing formats of wireless SD card. A 16GB Pentax-branded FluCard sells for $99/£130 to connect to smart device, either through a dedicate app or via the browser. Impressively, the dedicated version of the card allows a degree of remote control of the camera: something we've not seen before in a wireless SD card.
In addition to using the card, we've commissioned a Pentax shooter to write a review of the FluCard and its functions. Click here to read more.