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Pentax K-3 Review

April 2014 | By Richard Butler, Jeff Keller
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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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Comments

Total comments: 486
1234
pacnwhobbyist
By pacnwhobbyist (5 months ago)

No offense to the dpreview reviewers, but I've always found judgement of color output to be a subjective observation rather than objective. Another person could review the camera and declare the colors to be outstanding.

Aside from that, this looks like a wonderful camera that is capable of creating some beautiful images. It is kind of refreshing to see that there is still a camera company that views a camera as a tool for taking pictures first and everything else is secondary.

I was in Target recently and saw the Pentax K-50 for sale. While I don't necessarily advocate it being sold at Target, the K-3 needs that kind of exposure in the brick and mortar retailers to gain any sort of traction against it's two main competitors, the 70D and D7100. I would think that having a Pentax kiosk at a place like REI or some other prominent outdoor retailer would be a perfect place to show off the camera's ruggedness and ability to take wonderful photos in all sorts of adverse conditions.

5 upvotes
willax
By willax (3 months ago)

Hey you are spot on REI stores would be perfect my Pentax cam comes out when the other gear needs to go inside ...

0 upvotes
avicenanw
By avicenanw (5 months ago)

Perhaps next a K3 Mk II with improvements in movie mode, jpeg and WiFi implementation?

2 upvotes
Zvonimir Tosic
By Zvonimir Tosic (5 months ago)

Firmware can fix all of that, even some improvements for the wireless FluCard feature set.

Ricoh has made Pentax K-3 a into a very capable and lasting camera, and unlike with other manufacturers, that may indicate that many features will be available via simple firmware upgrade in the future.
Hardware is there, sockets and connectors are there, quality of manufacture and materials used is there, and everything suggests that K-3 needs no replacement in several years.

But all that also took time to develop, which many other company would not bother with. My guess is that K-3 was built to last, and that many new and exciting features may be available in the future.

2 upvotes
dagobah
By dagobah (5 months ago)

For people who came here wondering how the K-3 compares to its APS-C competition (Nikon D7100 and Canon 70D), one really important point that you cannot easily gauge on the internet or by looking at sample image and that is the feel of the camera, and in that category Pentax is very much ahead. If you have all three close by each other, you will feel that the Nikon and Canon feel somewhat plasticky and cheap in comparison (not as bad as their low-end DSLR models, but definitely corners were cut), while the Pentax feels top notch and professional. Ergonomics are also great as far as size, weight, solidity, and button placement. You can control everything you need with well-placed intuitive buttons, and not even have to take the camera away from your eye to look at the camera.

12 upvotes
RonHendriks
By RonHendriks (5 months ago)

Well the K-3 is a great camera. As it is with all camera's there are things to improve. With a little more efford you can make great sportsimages with Pentax camera's and lenses.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/i_am_photographer/sets/72157642534541033/

5 upvotes
willax
By willax (3 months ago)

Wow great Images ,cheers

1 upvote
davids8560
By davids8560 (5 months ago)

Great review! But one inescapable fact was overlooked: at the present time, there will be thousands of more Canon and Nikon users who will one day pass away, far more than those who use Pentax.

Just figured I should make mention of this perhaps morbid but unassailable fact. Just look at the numbers. The K-3 is the less "deathly" camera. At least, by my reckoning! Thanks.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 12 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
photosen
By photosen (5 months ago)

Great review; it's a monster of a camera, and just the thing to appease any concerns over the Ricoh take over. Who would have thought Pentax king of the APS-C lineup (if probably not sales)?

5 upvotes
Heie2
By Heie2 (5 months ago)

Pentax has been king of the APS-C lineup since the K-5 - the K-3 just further solidifies that lead ;)

8 upvotes
Cameron R Hood
By Cameron R Hood (5 months ago)

This would be a PHENOMENAL review if it wasn't of the movie mode...Pentax has to seriously address this. GREAT cameras, and their lenses have always been stellar.

4 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (5 months ago)

Most dSLRs (digital cameras?) have less than great video. People that seriously shoot video use the few models that do it well, the rest rarely if ever use the feature.

I'd rather manufacturers just do it well or not at all. Less-than-great video just adds clutter to the already crowded controls.

Comment edited 41 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Madaboutpix
By Madaboutpix (5 months ago)

Anything but timely, this is yet a very thorough, well-written, and (minor quibbles aside) also fair review of a fascinating camera.

Reading it, I had the feeling that it offered quite a few insights about this model that I couldn't recall reading about before - which may, of course, be due to my ignorance, but would otherwise be a good sign.

I would sure love to harness the capabilities of the K-3 for my own photography, but I guess my K-7 will have to last me little longer till I can afford one.

Kudos Ricoh, for pulling it off, and DPReview for finally reviewing it.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
AlexRuiz
By AlexRuiz (5 months ago)

Because I like gadgets, I may just buy this camera. That way nobody can tell me how good or how bad it is. However I will wait until black Friday, as I expect the price to be about $600 at that time (perhaps a a refurb).

Last year I bought an Oly OMD EM-5 based on all the positive internet reviews, and found it to be grossly overhyped...so I sold it.

This year I bought the fuji X-T1 also based on internet noise. I find it only moderately overhyped. Overalll a great camera though. No complaints.

At the end of 2012 I also bought the D600...a camera that people cringe at due to the oil issues (which never happened to me). Interestingly, my all time best shots have been with the D600 and the 50 f1.4 and 35 f2.

My point? In real world practice (and considering what one shoots), features and specifications don't tell the full story.

7 upvotes
robbo d
By robbo d (5 months ago)

+1

....and the reality that virtually nobody could tell which camera and lens you've taken a picture with, say at laptop screen size or less at least. A bit of tweaking, RAW or Jpeg, Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony, Fuji etc...........once you like how something work for you, who gives a continental.
For someone looking at their next purchase, all this will be of value. Yes it's a nice cam, so am I sure that the Xt-1 would be too.

0 upvotes
turvyT
By turvyT (5 months ago)

I think that the AF test made with any dslr or mirrorless would produce similar or worse results. If the biker alters the height of his head or chest or the photographer moves some inches the camera, some parts of his shirt can easily come into or loose focus. Regarding dpreview testers not liking K3 jpeg colors, as many have said, is a matter of taste. I don't have a K3, but in Flickr one can easily see that Pentax colors are probably the nicest, reds included. And if we all use our tastes to rate others, we could begin really beating on the general quality of dpreview samples. I any case, being a Nikon user I find their jpeg colors tend to the cold palette. I wouldn't judge that as a con, neither the warm Pentax tendency.

6 upvotes
Leandros S
By Leandros S (5 months ago)

It's true that it's a completely non-comparative test whose very design suggests that the intention was to simply prove the stereotype. It fails the basic requirement of a proper experimental control.

2 upvotes
Heie2
By Heie2 (5 months ago)

>whose very design suggests that the intention was to simply prove the stereotype.

But that would mean that DPR were biased against Pentax...

Silly troll.

1 upvote
smafdy
By smafdy (5 months ago)

Dollar for dollar, Pentax DSLRs are far and away the best value in image-capture devices, perhaps ever. I love Nikons and Olys (never been comfortable holding a Canon), but they're an old love. Anyone who has used one of the big two extensively (to the point that adjustments/settings/menus become automatic), will immediately notice those areas where Pentax shines (whisper quiet shutters, for one).

The weak point of the Pentax system, IMO, is the implementation of flash photography as a seamless component of the system.

14 upvotes
Michael Piziak
By Michael Piziak (5 months ago)

Nice camera !

3 upvotes
burnymeister
By burnymeister (5 months ago)

If I still shot DSLR rather than mirrorless I would pick Ricoh (Pentax) over Sony / Canon / Nikon. They continue to deliver cameras for photographers rather than spec sheets. Their lens lineup is superb and prices are reasonable.

I hope someday they come out with a good mirrorless system at which point they might catch my eye again (I used the K-5 with great results). Kudos!

14 upvotes
Ajayang
By Ajayang (5 months ago)

83 % ??? only

11 upvotes
Lucas_
By Lucas_ (5 months ago)

Seems a great camera, at a good price! I thought the K-3 had a FF sensor, though. My bad!

0 upvotes
robbo d
By robbo d (5 months ago)

In real life, not a hell of a lot of difference.

8 upvotes
ChazSelf
By ChazSelf (5 months ago)

I've got shots from my *istD that have been blown up to 20x30, cropped only slightly: remarkable quality from Pentax's version of a 6MP APS-C sensor. I'll soon be getting a K3 to replace my current K20D which has done as well or better.

1 upvote
whycantichooseaname
By whycantichooseaname (5 months ago)

@hydrospanner

The K-3 is considerably smaller than the D7100, so your point is kind of invalid.
Here is a size comparison of the two - http://versus.com/en/pentax-k-3-vs-nikon-d7100

It's pretty clear that it has a smaller body, as well of smaller lenses available.

11 upvotes
hydrospanner
By hydrospanner (5 months ago)

Dude...less than a centimeter in two dimensions and heavier.

If it's that drastically important to you, fantastic, go buy one, but for the vast majority of people, it's not really representing a significant difference in terms of actual usage, storage, and portability.

1 upvote
Smeggypants
By Smeggypants (5 months ago)

It's actually a considerable difference in reality http://camerasize.com/compare/#440,485

6 upvotes
keeponkeepingon
By keeponkeepingon (5 months ago)

Yeah and when you combine the D7100 with a Nikon pancake lens it's nice compact package.

Oh wait.....

3 upvotes
AlexRuiz
By AlexRuiz (5 months ago)

NO! The K3 is not "considerably" smaller. It is about 5% smaller, but 5% heavier. In real world practice, anything 20% +/- feels the same.

2 upvotes
Leandros S
By Leandros S (5 months ago)

@AlexRuiz: I arrive at a figure of 1.097, i.e. 10%. However, an even larger difference exists if you consider the height of the handgrip rather than the prism box. Also compare the K-30 and Canon Rebel SL1 for giggles.

0 upvotes
Valeriu 64
By Valeriu 64 (5 months ago)

Hallo .
I have Pentax K-5 , Sigma 150-500mm , Sigma 70-200mm f2,8 and Tamron-f 1.4x pz-af mc4.
Even with TC Tamron-f 1.4x pz-af mc4 , the AF-C on Pentax K-5 is very, very quick.
I think with Sigma 150-500 mm , or Sigma 70-200mm f2,8 , Pentax K-3 work fantastic.
Is a good for dpreview ideea test Pentax K-3 with Sigma 150-500mm HSM, or Sigma 70-200mm f 2,8.

Have a good day , Valeriu

4 upvotes
audiobomber
By audiobomber (5 months ago)

I owned a Sigma 150-500mm HSM OS. Now I have a DA*300 f4 and Pentax HD 1.4x TC. I never tested them against one another because I had them at different times, but my recollection is that the DA*300 has faster AF than the Sigma.

I have so many accurately focussed BIF shots with the K-3/DA*300/1.4x TC that I'm deleting them by the dozens. AF is very quick and accurate.

4 upvotes
robbo d
By robbo d (5 months ago)

Despite the tardiness at bringing this review out.........
A very fair and well presented effort.
Agreement on lens AF speed, the 50-135 is a beautiful lens but a bit of a slug.
There is so much option now and no truly bad cameras out there, just buy what suits your need.
But a truly fine camera.

0 upvotes
RichRMA
By RichRMA (5 months ago)

Well, the half-plastic exercise in cost-cutting (relative to its predecessor) the D7100 gets 85 points, I presume it is the strength of the Nikon lens offering that gave the lesser camera the edge?

11 upvotes
Zvonimir Tosic
By Zvonimir Tosic (5 months ago)

An altogether different category. DPR has put K5II and D7100 in the "Midrange DSLR cameras" category. But K-3 in the "Ssemi-pro DSLR category".
Mind you, it is DPR's categorisation, and scores are comparable •only• inside same category.

Comment edited 17 seconds after posting
8 upvotes
waxwaine
By waxwaine (5 months ago)

Or maybe dpr are preparing the category to receive 8D and D400 possibly arrive, leaving 86% score available?

1 upvote
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (5 months ago)

It's an interesting - if pointless - exercise: does the K-3 compete with the D7100 and 70D, or with the 7D and (KIA) D300s, or with the X-T1 and OM-D E1? Or with the A7 or even the D600?

The fact is for about $1000 +/- a couple of accessories, you an get anything from a refurbished D600 to a brand new V3, with everything in between in play. Fun times.

Comment edited 46 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Iznogoud
By Iznogoud (5 months ago)

Regarding AF tracking, wouldn't it be a good idea to use two third party lenses (say a 18-55f2.8 and 70-200f2.8) with Ultrasonic motors to level out lens influence on AF tracking tests? That's in addition to testing with the manufacturer own lenses, not as a replacement. Maybe that's too much of a hassle for testers but I'd be interested to know what the K3 can do re. AF tracking with, say, a Sigma HSM lens. Great camera nonetheless.

3 upvotes
Leandros S
By Leandros S (5 months ago)

That's what imaging-resource does, and it's clearly the only fair and scientific approach. Iirc, they use a Sigma 70mm macro that is available for all systems.

In fact, IR only test focus verification, not attainment, and they give some good reasons why they do this.

2 upvotes
Steve_
By Steve_ (5 months ago)

A macro lens to test C-AF? I've had a 70 Sigma and sounds crazy to me.

0 upvotes
Leandros S
By Leandros S (5 months ago)

@Steve: If you read carefully, you'll have noticed that they measure focus verification, i.e. the lens is already focused. What they measure is the delay for the camera to realise that focus is good, and to fire the shot. So AF.C focus attainment from an unfocused position is not tested. As I've said elsewhere, look at Labo Fnac or printed magazines to find some relevant tests.

0 upvotes
keeponkeepingon
By keeponkeepingon (5 months ago)

The flash and white balance pictures were shot with:

smc PENTAX-DA* 50-135mm F2.8 ED

The compared to pictures were shot with

smc PENTAX-D FA 50mm F2.8 Macro

A zoom and a macro seems like an odd lens to use for your tests? Have you shot any other tests with a macro lens?

THanks!

Comment edited 18 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Ben Ramsey
By Ben Ramsey (5 months ago)

I'm pretty sure they used to use Olympus' 50 f/2 macro for 4/3 cameras which is apparently quite an excellent lens.

0 upvotes
dosdan
By dosdan (5 months ago)

A true macro lens is often a good choice for these sort of tests because it has little curvature-of-field (focus is the same across the whole frame) and macro lens are usually quite sharp.

3 upvotes
keeponkeepingon
By keeponkeepingon (5 months ago)

It just seems the faster lens would have an advantage shooting at F5.6 (2 versus 4 stops from "wide open" compared to a F1.4 lens). The olympus F/2 was also used for the panasonic tests in the past and I wager responsible for a lot of M43 sales (it's a very very good lens) but all the olympus samples are now shot with the 45mm F1.8. I'd wager the pentax 50mm F2.8 FA is the slowest lens used in any of the dpreview sample shots.

Comment edited 32 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
suntek101
By suntek101 (5 months ago)

This seems to be a wonderful camera but I like to do low and high angle shooting and I have been waiting for Pentax to incorporate an articulated LCD screen into their next camera since the K10. Hopefully the "K1" will be released in a year or two and my wish will come true. Are you listening Ricoh/Pentax? Until then, I'll just dream of the K3 while making the most of my old K10!

3 upvotes
DatBokeh
By DatBokeh (5 months ago)

There are an equal number of Pentax fans who adamantly DON'T want an articulated screen due to concerns about durability and weather sealing. I love my K-3 and don't have a strong opinion on the matter but Pentax can't make everybody happy unless they come out with two different versions of the camera (not likely).

6 upvotes
Zvonimir Tosic
By Zvonimir Tosic (5 months ago)

I know the feeling; imagine how Robert Capa and all the photojournalists must have felt when dragging their noses through the mud to make photographs that changed the way we see and imagine our world.

1 upvote
Mike Hiran
By Mike Hiran (5 months ago)

with the flu card sending a live view image onto my cell phone, I'm thinking this might give me added flexibility compared to a flippy screen if I have a tripod or monopod to use. I wonder if there's a way to attach my phone to the hot shoe and angle the phone to different angles...?

4 upvotes
T3
By T3 (5 months ago)

@Zvonimir Tosic - every generation works with the technology available, and they live with those limitations. If Capa had today's technologies and today's camera features, they would have used them. If Capa had been using a digital camera, he probably wouldn't have lost those images he shot on D-Day (all but eleven frames melted in the darkroom)!

Plus, it's rather naive and foolish to think that everyone should be "dragging their noses through the mud to make photographs" when he have technologies such as swiveling LCD screens that allow us to get low-angle shots much more easily.

Peter Read Miller of Sports Illustrated has said that he does a lot of his shooting through a Canon Right-Angle Finder (an OVF attachment) to get low-angle shots from the sidelines. I own one. But it's a pain to use because you're squinting down into a narrow tube, its angle is fixed at 90 degrees, and you can't see the full viewfinder. An articulating LCD works much better!

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Alex Sarbu
By Alex Sarbu (5 months ago)

Why I don't want an articulated LCD (though I'm not really opposed to it):
- the camera will have to be thicker (which is IMO the only dimension where the K-5/3 series could lose some weight)
- the LCD itself will have to be somewhat smaller - because of the added margin. The K-5/3 cameras are quite compact with lots of controls, and unless they would increase the size or move the controls around it's just not possible to make an articulated LCD of the same size as they currently have.

4 upvotes
Leandros S
By Leandros S (5 months ago)

Another vote here for leaving things as they are. If you need tiltable, get a Swivi.

3 upvotes
Dave Oddie
By Dave Oddie (5 months ago)

The objections to a tilting LCD are bonkers in my opinion.

I own a Sony A77. It's weather sealed, the tilting LCD doesn't affect this nor does it add bulk. Just how thick do you think these things are?

The fact it can be turned round so the LCD screen faces the body protects it from damage when not in use. You can't do that with fixed LCD screen so it is actually better from a durability point of view than camera with fixed LCD's.

Why any digital camera doesn't have a tilting LCD I really do not understand. It is an option this modern technology brings to the table.

And as to the comment about Capa, do you not use things like auto focus or in-body stabilization? Please turn them off so you can enjoy the full photographic experience!

3 upvotes
Karroly
By Karroly (5 months ago)

Review says "Finally, there's a 'Custom' setting that allows the user to choose a different amount of noise reduction to apply at each ISO setting"
Great !
But would be even greater to allow to set the amount of color saturation and sharpening level and type (standard, fine, extra fine) for each ISO setting...

3 upvotes
Mazhe
By Mazhe (5 months ago)

Maybe you should consider shooting raw?

7 upvotes
Eli Allan
By Eli Allan (5 months ago)

It actually has these options already. You can customize the jpeg rendering in camera with sliders for color, hue, saturation, sharpening, nr, shadow/highlight correction and contrast. Its a pretty simple process that the reviewer probably didn't realize was there. You can also save raw files out of the buffer after the fact when shooting jpeg. Which is a useful little trick when you suprise yourself with an unexpectedly good photo.

4 upvotes
Smeggypants
By Smeggypants (5 months ago)

Review says "Finally, there's a 'Custom' setting that allows the user to choose a different amount of noise reduction to apply at each ISO setting"

The K-5 had this already

3 upvotes
Karroly
By Karroly (5 months ago)

@Eli Allan,
I know that you can set saturation, sharpening, contrast, etc for the JPEG engine, but the same settings applies to ALL the ISO values. It would be fine to apply an adaquate settings for EACH ISO value. Another nice feature would be to define an ISO threshold so that the camera automatically shoot JPEG below this threshold (because you find the JPEG is clean enough) and RAW above. If you like to process RAW file...

@Mazhe,
I HATE spending time on a my computer to correct the weaknesses of my camera and lenses. I have better things to do. So the more customizable the in-camera JPEG engine, the better for me. I prefer to spend time with post-processing for creativity purpose when I feel I can get something more aesthetical from my pictures. Photography must be fun, not a chore (I am not a professional photographer).

0 upvotes
Class A
By Class A (5 months ago)

The f/2.8 AF sensor in the centre with improved accuracy and the general ability to focus at -3 EV should have been mentioned (and listed as "Pros").

If you had tested for it, you would have also found that the AF works accurately under Tungsten as well as daylight. Its level of colour temperature independence may not be met by every camera on the market.

The K-3's AF-C is not on par with Canon/Nikon yet, but to only focus on this part of the AF system seems unwarranted.

BTW, if you want to make such tests meaningful, you should actually measure the speed of the subject and not "estimate" it.

9 upvotes
Karroly
By Karroly (5 months ago)

Review says "What we couldn't so easily achieve was a way of adjusting the color response to our tastes, despite trying".
One nice feature of Pentax DSLRs is that you can fine-tune each white balance setting individually in a blue-amber and green-magenta space. Even AWB and "manual" white balance can be fine-tuned.
So, why not use this more accurate way of adjusting color response rather than the "hue" setting ?

11 upvotes
Karroly
By Karroly (5 months ago)

Review says "The K-3 is one of the few cameras that lets you adjust not only the intensity of its sharpening, but also the radius over which it's applied".

The K200D, K-x, K-r (that I owned) and certainly all the following Pentax DSLR models already feature "standard" and "fine" sharpening, giving you the choice between two radiuses.

1 upvote
Teru Kage
By Teru Kage (5 months ago)

It’s interesting how replies on Pentax posts generally congregate into 2 groups: the detractors that sound like Canikon snobs and the supporters that desperately want to defend their buying decision.

For the most part, today’s digital cameras are so advanced that basically any brand will give more than adequate performance for a majority of the target market. I think the main deciding factor that matters now is thoughts on upgrading. Unlike the film era, digital users tend to replace their cameras more frequently. So the decision isn’t so much a choice of camera but a choice of system. Pentax cameras may offer more value per dollar within their categories, but Pentax’s overall system is still smaller than what big brands like Canon and Nikon can offer. And in terms of resale value, Pentax definitely lags behind, meaning the cost of upgrading will be relatively steeper.

3 upvotes
Teru Kage
By Teru Kage (5 months ago)

Cont'd

Regardless of whether it’s deserved or not, the fact is that Pentax is valued lower than Canikon, so potential buyers should keep than in mind when choosing cameras. If the camera meets your needs, than by all means go for it (you can use the saved dollars into more lenses). But just keep the bigger picture in mind if you plan on upgrading.

0 upvotes
Timbukto
By Timbukto (5 months ago)

You sound like you belong in the Canikon snob bunch...as if anyone needed a lesson in finances and depreciation here spanning 2 posts. Don't worry however I probably belong in the Canikon snob bunch as well since I'd say the so-so AF with a good sampling of lens such that its AF is only on par with a much smaller and lighter mirrorless camera (that quite possibly isn't even the reigning champion of mirrorless AF) is the white elephant. Fact of the matter is, if you only came here to not have a strong stance either way pro or con, you probably wouldn't have posted, so most people posting will belong in one camp or another.

4 upvotes
badi
By badi (5 months ago)

Teru said: "Unlike the film era, digital users tend to replace their cameras more frequently."

I think this trend is slowing down more and more. A few years ago indeed upgrading to a new iteration of camera was a big performance & IQ boost. Nowadays not so much. So most of people will not update those cameras that often ... unless money is not an issue at all.
Compare whatever 2011 ... 2014 model, and you will see what i mean.

2 upvotes
Teru Kage
By Teru Kage (5 months ago)

@Timbukto
Good point. Seems my opinion gradually formed while I was framing my reply. I guess sometimes you don't know how you really feel until you start to articulate your thoughts.

0 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (5 months ago)

"Disappointing JPEG color response"

A lot hinges on just *how* disappointing, but that seems to me like a pretty fundamental negative. If I'm paying $1000 for a dSLR it should produce pictures with pleasing color without too much fuss. If it can't that's quite a heavy burden to have to live with.

1 upvote
Zvonimir Tosic
By Zvonimir Tosic (5 months ago)

The review also says ... "Lots of control over JPEG output, including three styles of sharpening".
Thus, you buy a camera to explore and use its full potential, or buy it determined not to use it?

4 upvotes
zxaar
By zxaar (5 months ago)

@ Zvonimir Tosic , Richard is a default setting shooter and jpeg only. After all if he pays 1000$ for a camera he is not expected to use his head. Camera shall do everything right outta box.

Comment edited 23 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
RichRMA
By RichRMA (5 months ago)

I don't get this. JPEGs are infinitely tweakable in modern cameras and most have 1-10 custom set modes where you can store what you believe are settings that provide the most pleasing results. Are we so lazy we can't do at least that to better images?

2 upvotes
Treeshade
By Treeshade (5 months ago)

As a RAW shooter, I would say good jpeg is a very nice bonus features. It does not improve my RAW files but it improves my work flow.

Tweaking photos could be tiresome, even with custom profile. Olympus and Fujifilm jpeg save time when you shoot thousands, or need a quick upload.

1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (5 months ago)

May I point out the section of page 12 where I specifically demonstrated the effect of difference JPEG settings?

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (5 months ago)

@Richard Butler

"As you can see, these settings aren't really usable for general shooting"

So you can correct for it, but not as a general, once off adjustment. That's not all that great, is it?

That said, from the examples shown I'm not really sure what all the fuss is about. Pentax "bright" setting, with the saturation dialed down a notch, as always worked for me in the past. Perhaps I'm so used to the magenta I no longer see it.

1 upvote
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (5 months ago)

@RichRMA

"Are we so lazy we can't do at least that to better images?"

Lazyness has nothing to do with it. No one wants to infinitely tweak their images, even if it were possible ... ideally a camera should give a basically decent default that you might want change a little to taste. Once you start messing around with hue and tone curves and such, just to get something you like, its clear things the partnership isn't going to work out.

1 upvote
onlooker
By onlooker (5 months ago)

If Ricoh now starts taking lenses seriously instead of just slapping a new coat of paint and doubling their price, their Pentax-branded cameras might become competitive.

8 upvotes
stevo23
By stevo23 (5 months ago)

Agree!

0 upvotes
NDaniel
By NDaniel (5 months ago)

Fair review... but I guess not everyone will satisfy though...

1 upvote
Dale108
By Dale108 (5 months ago)

A fair review of an excellent camera. I agree that the weakness of the Pentax AF is now in the lenses. A well deserved Gold award.

Dale

4 upvotes
JONNO G
By JONNO G (5 months ago)

I swear pentax could come out with a full frame with 3 card slots at 75 mp with being fully waterproof and dpreview would mark it under 85%

5 upvotes
badi
By badi (5 months ago)

well... why would you have 3 card slots... for a backup to the back-up one? ... interesting :p

just saying that having whatever feature or gimmick does not make for a 100 score. Is the dpreview score right for this camera? I don't know/care (even if I feel it's ok), but you get a good idea about the camera reading the review, and that's the point.
Also it got the gold award.

0 upvotes
Iskender
By Iskender (5 months ago)

Something you can be even more sure of: whatever way they review Pentax cameras, the Pentax fans will do a lot of whining.

It used to be that the Olympus fans were the worst whiners, but my, how things have changed.

1 upvote
hydrospanner
By hydrospanner (5 months ago)

Iskender: Right on the money. It's a fine camera, but the tribe of whiners that have showed up to these comments can't handle reading anything other than blind praise and lashing out at anyone who deviates from that.

0 upvotes
mauritsvw
By mauritsvw (5 months ago)

"tribe of whiners"

Well, you're obviously new to internet forums. It's a whiners' paradise (like you whining about whiners).

2 upvotes
benjicon
By benjicon (5 months ago)

I believe the poll on the dpr front page says more about the camera than this skewed review. Its trouncing the other cameras in the most popular stakes.

5 upvotes
aftab
By aftab (5 months ago)

No, it doesn't. If it did then Pentax won't be struggling to stay alive.
Excellent camera, anyways.

1 upvote
Richard Shih
By Richard Shih (5 months ago)

The most popular cameras is an aggregate amount of traffic for each product. Top products in that sense come and go based on what's published and whether it's just announced. The K-3 having the latest review just means that it's what people are reading and talking about now. When the Df was announced just about everyone visiting the site was looking at some piece of content covering it.

3 upvotes
solarider
By solarider (5 months ago)

Re aftab: "...then Pentax won't be struggling to stay alive."

Huh??? Pentax' has daddy big bucks Ricoh owning it now. They're quite comfortably doing well.

It sounds like you're trying to shoot down Pentax/Ricoh while tripping up on your own diatribe/lack of understanding.Cheap shot.

You're right about the excellent camera.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 15 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Leandros S
By Leandros S (5 months ago)

@Richard Shih: Well, thanks for disproving what your senior editor has been claiming all along - that Pentax wouldn't generate page views. Maybe you want to mention that to him and consider it in your review scheduling in future.

1 upvote
Richard Shih
By Richard Shih (5 months ago)

You must have misinterpreted what I said. That list usually reads like the order in which we reviewed cameras.

0 upvotes
backayonder
By backayonder (5 months ago)

Dual card slot too. Weddings anyone?

1 upvote
Expat Nomad
By Expat Nomad (5 months ago)

Cheers for completion of the review.

I'd agree with the focus speed on the zooms (one of the reasons I have a 18-135mm), but not necessarily with something like the DA 70 or 21mm limited, both of which have an extremely short throw and focus extremely quickly. Slower than the competition, not sure. Noisier, yes...

0 upvotes
Class A
By Class A (5 months ago)

Why is "Built-in sensor-shift shake reduction effectively stabilizes all mountable lenses" not a "Pros" point for the K-3?

It is for the K-5 II.

The following "Pros" points for the Nikon D7100 apply to the K-3 as well:

* 3.5mm Stereo mic and headphone inputs
* In-camera raw processing
* 100% viewfinder coverage

Why are they not mentioned as "Pros" for the K-3?

Comment edited 36 seconds after posting
24 upvotes
Midwest
By Midwest (5 months ago)

In-body image stabilization is not a 'pro' for any DSLR. It leaves the metering and AF sensors with an unstabilized view with which to do their tasks, making it harder to do. (Not to mention making framing and composition harder for the user, at longer focal lengths.) The fact that the K3's focus tracking ability is less than Canon and Nikon is not just a coincidence. This is why IBIS should not be considered a 'pro on a DSLr. (It works fine for mirrorless though.)

Comment edited 14 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
Freestyler
By Freestyler (5 months ago)

Yeah, giving years of legacy lenses the ability to shoot at much lower shutter speeds via IBIS is a real downside... /s..

My prime lenses are all stabilised via Pentax, including my 50mm f/1.2. That doesn't happen with Sigma or Canon prime lenses very often for example. (And when it does, it comes at a definite cost).

My Sigma 50-500mm has OS, which again comes with it's own benefits especially focusing over 300mm+.

So your comments are completely rubbish.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
13 upvotes
Class A
By Class A (5 months ago)

@Midwest:
Metering and AF sensors work very well, without being stabilised.

Note that metering and AF sensors are not stabilised on a Canon/Nikon camera either, unless you use a stabilised lens.

However, some lenses (wide-angle, small primes, affordable but great manual focus glass, etc) are not available as stabilised versions.

The in-body stabilisation system clearly has its advantages -- such as when it gets improved, all your lenses benefit and you are not paying for stabilisation with each new lens over and over again -- and these advantages are widely recognised among shooters and review sites (including DPReview for other Pentax cameras).

The fact that the K-3's AF-C is not on par with the very best Canon/Nikon models is not due to in-body image stabilisation. You'd see that if you tried a stabilised Sigma lens on the K-3.

Comment edited 30 seconds after posting
6 upvotes
Class A
By Class A (5 months ago)

@Richard Butler:
Apologies for mentioning "In-camera raw processing" as a not-listed "Pros" point.

You do have it listed with different wording.

I hope you'll consider adding the other points.

4 upvotes
Underdog 3000
By Underdog 3000 (5 months ago)

Well played DPR. Placing it in the retired category of your semi-pro, you essentially compare it to 4 year old cameras. Hell hath no furry like a p.o. Canikon

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
Midwest
By Midwest (5 months ago)

If a 4 year old 'Canikon' can do a better job of AF tracking, that should tell you something about the Pentax.

5 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (5 months ago)

Nikon and Canon have left the building.

1 upvote
Leandros S
By Leandros S (5 months ago)

@Midwest: Did you notice that no Canons or Nikons were put to the same test?

1 upvote
starjedi
By starjedi (5 months ago)

Thank you for this review!

1 upvote
vincent0923
By vincent0923 (5 months ago)

It's the only good-looking DSLR I must say!

8 upvotes
abortabort
By abortabort (5 months ago)

Hmmm goes to show my memory is slipping, A77 buffer is definitely not 'bigger', except against the D7100 maybe ;)

I think I was thinking about the a6000... lots of which will be in the A77 II it seems (plus some).

0 upvotes
Scottelly
By Scottelly (5 months ago)

I wish Sony would make an A79, with no anti-aliasing filter. The A77 had a 24 megapixel sensor 2 years ago! It did 1080p60 video 2 years ago! WTF?

0 upvotes
abortabort
By abortabort (5 months ago)

A77 II is coming in May I believe.

1 upvote
bossa
By bossa (5 months ago)

I would have thought that the wireless flucard, that allows use of a phone or tablet as a remote, would have replaced the need for a tilt screen and added some value.

This camera deserves at least 85% IMO.

5 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (5 months ago)

Very interesting Performance page, thanks DPR! But you gotta develop a proper, repeatable and comparable method of C-AF evaluation. If not you, then who?

1 upvote
Leandros S
By Leandros S (5 months ago)

Labo Fnac?

1 upvote
Underdog 3000
By Underdog 3000 (5 months ago)

I can tell DPR is a fan of the X-T1. Now that they have such emphasis on video, I wonder how it would score?

0 upvotes
Underdog 3000
By Underdog 3000 (5 months ago)

Sorry, maybe too much sarcasm.

0 upvotes
Zvonimir Tosic
By Zvonimir Tosic (5 months ago)

For those complaining about scores, please note that K-3 is now the only contemporary crop sensor DSLR left in the Semi-professional Interchangeable Lens Camera category. That was the category reserved once for D300/s and 7D.
The K-5II was enlisted in a Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera category, together with D7100 and 70D.
Therefore scores between the D7100 or 70D and the K-3 are NOT comparable.

8 upvotes
RichRMA
By RichRMA (5 months ago)

A very good and fair review for THE BEST sub-FF camera around. Sorry Nikon, still think no "real" successor to the D300s is a travesty..

5 upvotes
Zvonimir Tosic
By Zvonimir Tosic (5 months ago)

Actually it's a pure business common sense for Nikon. They are moving towards the FF altogether, and will not waste time and money developing another line of pro-DX bodies and lenses when they have pro-FX lenses aplenty!

Currently the K-3 is the only semi-pro crop camera left in that category. If you like crop sensor cameras, instead of complaining about Nikon try a K-3; you may even like it better and Pentax is fully committed to crop — they have the largest and best crop sensor lens range in the world.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
samfan
By samfan (5 months ago)

We'll see how much sense it makes for them when people continue to leave DX for other brands instead of going FX.

2 upvotes
Alizarine
By Alizarine (5 months ago)

@samfan: Yeah when salaries all over the world go dramatically higher too to suddenly afford FX lenses yes.

0 upvotes
Dpreviewmember
By Dpreviewmember (5 months ago)

it's just me or the OMD M1 jpegs, up to iso 3200 & 6400 look nicer than K3 and X-T1 in the image comparison tool, contrary to what the review conclusion says.
Is it referring to Raw ?

1 upvote
Underdog 3000
By Underdog 3000 (5 months ago)

Who shoots Jpeg?

12 upvotes
bossa
By bossa (5 months ago)

I never look at the jpegs and immediately switch to the RAW settings in the test scene comparator.

6 upvotes
fotokeena
By fotokeena (5 months ago)

Underdog 3000 “Who shoots Jpeg?”

The majority!Much much more than you realize。

5 upvotes
Underdog 3000
By Underdog 3000 (5 months ago)

Are you referring to the masses? Not sure the masses could understand half of what this camera does. The "majority" also shoots solely in green mode and their only lens is a plastic kit lens. (just ask the Rebel fan base)
However, Jpeg is handy in a pinch and DPR is correct in complaining about Pentax's "Bright" default setting.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
quiquae
By quiquae (5 months ago)

Who shoots JPEG? How about Getty Images photographers shooting Sochi Olympics?

http://gizmodo.com/the-inside-story-of-how-olympic-photographers-capture-s-1521746623

"The second a photographer fires the shutter on a camera, the resulting image—a high quality JPEG, not an uncompressed RAW file—is transported by ethernet to Getty's central editing office in about 1.5 seconds."

1 upvote
Underdog 3000
By Underdog 3000 (5 months ago)

That's because they have to.
Data takes time.

4 upvotes
wansai
By wansai (5 months ago)

@underdog, many photogs shoot jpeg +raw to get best of both. if you have a camera that can output jpegs to your liking, it can cut down processing times signifigantly. i often use jpegs but will fall to raw if the jpeg cant render the scene as i like. it means i do less overall processing.

both have their place.

0 upvotes
Dpreviewmember
By Dpreviewmember (5 months ago)

I guess some people don't understand what they read.
My question was related to jpegs, that's because I, as well as several other people, shoot jpegs mostly for a number of reasons. Having others things to do than to play with raw being one of them. So elaborating on the question : If you would buy a camera to shoot mostly jpegs, judging by the jpeg quality, would the Oly OMD M1 be a better option ?

0 upvotes
Felixography
By Felixography (5 months ago)

Thanks for the K3 review.

4 upvotes
utomo99
By utomo99 (5 months ago)

For the Jpeg I hope pentax can release firmware update to improve it.

0 upvotes
Alex Sarbu
By Alex Sarbu (5 months ago)

All that's needed is an user willing to set it up according to his liking.
There's nothing wrong with the Pentax JPEGs IMO, even with those cameras where DPReview would claim is "soft" and not really on par with the competition.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
5 upvotes
JeanPierre Thibaudeau
By JeanPierre Thibaudeau (5 months ago)

DPR, please fix, in the last paragraph of page 12, the word "and" to an, in "... an essential feature".

Thank you DPR.

2 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (5 months ago)

Thanks for spotting that. I've changed it.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 486
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