Previous page Next page

Pentax K-3 Review

April 2014 | By Richard Butler, Jeff Keller
Buy on Amazon.com From $999.99


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.

Previous page Next page
429
I own it
610
I want it
55
I had it
Discuss in the forums

Comments

Total comments: 500
1234
silversalts

FWIW, this is a fair, accurate and complete review. The K3 is a great camera, best I've ever owned. Every time I pick it up I smile - thjere is so little left to work around - Ricoh is moving Pentax quickly into the top reaches of dSLR's.

The reviewer treats the K3's strengths enthusiastically throughout the review, the weaknesses gently, and attributes continued focus shortcomings correctly to the lens motors (which we all know is true), not to the AF system.

Why all the whining? We all say Pentax is different and we want Pentax to stay Pentax and stay different. Well, Pentax isn't Nikon or Canon. Ricoh made different choices because those are what makes Pentax different.

After all this work, if I was the reviewer I would ask never again to be assigned a Pentax to review.

13 upvotes
LensBeginner

Cons:
1. never shot jpg
2. ditto
3. that's a problem with lenses, not camera
4. true. But it's a camera, not a videocamera
5. true

...not many cons there, are there? ;-)

9 upvotes
BJL

And this is why I would be happy if these DPReviews ended at the pros and cons and discussion, leaving each of us potential users to decide how important the props and cons are to us, instead of attempting to reduce all these many aspects to a single number, or a single color of award.

4 upvotes
brendon1000

Yes this seems like an excellent camera at a good price. Pentax has done a very good job with this camera.

Unfortunately as a whole system Pentax isn't very complete and that's holding back potential first time buyers.

0 upvotes
robbo d

@Brendon1000.
Yes it is a good camera, much like everything else on the market right now.
Whilst I am not not aggressively challenging you, we need to look at what it is you and or most people want in a camera that makes the Ricoh/Pentax system so incomplete?
A body with enough lenses to easily satisfy 99% of users, tripods can be purchased anywhere, along with lighting systems for studios, filters from Cokin, has very good astro tracer for astrological buffs, now with FLU card for studio use and perhaps wildlife, battery grips, flash system improving and my Metz branded one gives me great shots everytime, remote controls, almost every 3rd party item can be used for correct thread measurement on end of lenses...........so just asking, is this perceived system thing just another red herring like "lack of lenses" and poor AF ?? I am wondering what cannot be fitted and used to or with a Pentax DSLR that won't satisfy the most largest majority of users??

2 upvotes
brendon1000

Well for starters, a good quality wildlife lens is missing. Not talking about a Sigma 150-500mm lens which is a below average lens but something like a 100-400mm L or a 80-400mm AF-S. Even Sony has a good 70-400mm lens.

The excellent Tamron 150-600mm isn't going to come to Pentax anytime soon at least.

Secondly, they lack an upgrade option. I started the Sony system when there was no FF camera around. Never bothered me as I never thought I would want to spend so much money. Now I wish to get into FF and Sony has an option. Not so with Pentax.

Earlier FF was too expensive compared to APS-C but now bodies like the Canon 6D are available for as low as $1599 so those not looking to shoot in bad weather can have a camera with better IQ than the K3.

Lastly Canon and Nikon are simply better available. In my country there are very few Pentaxians so getting used lenses is difficult. With Canon or Nikon there are generally tons of vibrant used markets in almost any part of the world.

0 upvotes
robbo d

Pentax has the 560mm tele lens, also a 300mm plus a 1.4 x tele converter to go with them. Not to mention they come weather resistent for wildlife, where Canon and Nikon aps-c bodies generally do not.
I'll concede on the FF upgrade, but crop is good choice for wildlife for weight, size and the crop factor plus small amount of difference in IQ unless your going to print large.
Yes Canikon are much more availbale in some countries, here in Australia, no issue, in fact Pentax Aus are the Sigma distributor and awesome to deal with. Pentax are very much improving their sales network after years of neglect..
Also for many, the upgrade path to MF and the impending 645Z will shake a few cages with 50mp, video and it handles like a DSLR....so upgrade path??? I'm hearing you, but I think what i'm getting at is it's more of a red herring than you and many others would think.
For what its worth I couldn't care too much what i shot with, just don't like misinformation.

3 upvotes
brendon1000

I am referring to a 'zoom' lens. A 560mm or 300mm lens are good for birds but not for wildlife. The 560mm is not a lens I would mention is the same sentence as a 100-400mm or 80-400mm lens. :P

The 300mm f4 lens is a good option but its a prime and hence a bit restrictive.

The 645Z seems to be an awesome camera by all accounts. The high ISO capabilities alone are amazing. But as an upgrade path there is one issue - None of the existing Pentax lenses will work with the new body.

I will concede the lens lineup hole is not as great as I thought when I wrote that post but generally there isn't too many lenses in the current Pentax line up that I care for honestly.

And judging by the state of sales of Pentax I am not alone.

0 upvotes
Valeriu 64

Congratulation Ricoh, and team Ricoh - Pentax for your succes.
Pentax K-3 is the best APS-C DSRL at this moment .

God , bless you

Valeriu

25 upvotes
Couscousdelight

Accorded to DPR, the Nikon D7100 is better.

Even if :
It have a ridiculous RAW buffer, and a 1/4 lower burst mode.
No sensor stab, A lower white balance system, a lower light metering system, a smaller vierwfinder, USB2 against USB3, a body with plastic parts (full magnesium for the K3, polycarbonate + magnesium for the D7100),

But hey, the Nikon have plenty of scene presets, a 1/250s flash sync and a 51Af points, and a Nikon logo in front. I guess it makes the difference :)

10 upvotes
svesi

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category:

K-3 = Semi-professional Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
D300s = Semi-professional Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
EOS 7D = Semi-professional Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR

D7100 = Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
EOS 70D = Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
K-50 = Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR

Comment edited 41 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Kim jakobsen

Maybe the price difference was taken into account?

You are really reaching with the cons against the Nikon. Besides the ridicously low buffer, none of the things You mention as cons, will make any difference to Your photography, whereas the difference in AF performance and flash sync actually will.

To Me, the two cameras come out just about even, but with quite a substantial price difference, so a higher score to the D7100 is fair.

0 upvotes
brendon1000

The K3 for all its many pluses doesn't have the best AF system. The AF system on the D7100 is about the best you can get with any APS-C DSLR today and that makes a difference.

0 upvotes
JacobSR

Sure, and you guys have tested both.

1 upvote
Zvonimir Tosic

Not quite brendon1000. Many competent photographers have noted that Nikon may indeed subjectively appear to lock in faster AF, but Pentax will produce more keepers. Nikon and Canon sacrifice accuracy for the sake of speed and leave the rest to DoF to sort out. Pentax, on the other hand, plays differently.

Mind you, the test of the AF is *NOT* how fast camera appears to lock in, but is it able to produce a sufficient number of usable photographs. In that regard, Pentax AF does not lack.

5 upvotes
brendon1000

^^ Look at the DPreview test and see how many OOF shots they got while tracking. Tracking focus is one area where everyone other than Nikon and Canon lag behind.

I myself am a Sony user and while for static subjects I am happy with the AF, for tracking ability my friends basic 60D is much much better.

0 upvotes
Richard Murdey

The title of "best APS-C DSR" is no longer the prize it once was.

(c.f. X-T1 review.)

0 upvotes
cgarrard

Go Pentax.

7 upvotes
solarider

One useful pro feature of the K3 (that I couldn't find in the review) is the
shutter cycle having been tested by Pentax and rated to 200,000.

I think this standout feature in this class is a noteworthy one.

26 upvotes
Zvonimir Tosic

The GR, then Pentax K-3, and now — early next week — a 645 Z. Ricoh indeed proves they are one of the most exciting, yet most understated camera manufacturer today.

Funnily, not a word about the 645Z on the DPR news page anywhere, despite the official teaser running for a week already on all Ricoh Imaging websites, and despite rumours that the 645Z may be the groundbreaking new camera that will redefine the meaning of the MF and image quality in general.

But, many other photography "news" are presented on DPR, including "possible announcement of a firmware update from Sony", or a "possible lens patent from Apple", or a "Mini M" from Leica (which was not mini M at all) ... are all readily presented for digestion and anticipation.

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

Good point. The low price of the new 645Z is making my eyes light up and I'm seriously thinking about selling one of my D800E's and a few lenses to get one.

4 upvotes
Zvonimir Tosic

Better hurry up. 645 lenses in second-hand markets are already disappearing very quickly.

6 upvotes
bossa

I'm at a loss to understand why Metering and Focus are represented as one in the graphic summary. Last time I looked these were two different functions of a camera.

Why is the mobile sensor in this camera not listed as a Pro?
The sensor of the K-5 & K-3 series of cameras can:
1: Sensor Shift allows stitching small panoramas without panning the camera
2: Turns EVERY lens into a limited Shift Lens
3: Vibrates to Self Clean dust
4: Map bad pixels
5: Automatically correct for tilted horizons
6: Sensor can track the stars using the O-GPS for Astro shots
7: Check for dust on the sensor and display a graphic on the rear screen with dust indicated on a white representation of the sensor.
8: The K-3 can anti-alias the image to overcome moire where required.

These (and other ) Pro's are conveniently left out or undervalued in their importance in this review IMO.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
24 upvotes
bossa

Oops! I didn't mention that the sensor also does Optical Stabilization (OS, VR, VC or SR)

Why isn't all that a "pro" and if not then why isn't it listed as a con?

Maybe DPR just forgot.. like I did ;)

Comment edited 41 seconds after posting
6 upvotes
bossa

It's interesting that no answer was forthcoming here.

0 upvotes
pacnwhobbyist

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

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

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

2 upvotes
Zvonimir Tosic

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

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

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

Wow great Images ,cheers

1 upvote
davids8560

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+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

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

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

>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

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

Nice camera !

3 upvotes
burnymeister

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

83 % ??? only

11 upvotes
Lucas_

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

0 upvotes
robbo d

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

8 upvotes
ChazSelf

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

@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

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

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

6 upvotes
keeponkeepingon

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

Oh wait.....

3 upvotes
AlexRuiz

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

@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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 upvote
Richard Murdey

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

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

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_

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

0 upvotes
Leandros S

@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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@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

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

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

3 upvotes
Dave Oddie

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

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

Maybe you should consider shooting raw?

7 upvotes
Eli Allan

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

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

@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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@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

"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

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

@ 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

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

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

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

@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

@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

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
0 upvotes
NDaniel

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

1 upvote
Dale108

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

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

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

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

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

"tribe of whiners"

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

2 upvotes
benjicon

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

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

1 upvote
Richard Shih

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

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

@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

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

0 upvotes
backayonder

Dual card slot too. Weddings anyone?

1 upvote
Expat Nomad

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

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

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

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

@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

@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

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

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

Nikon and Canon have left the building.

1 upvote
Leandros S

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

1 upvote
starjedi

Thank you for this review!

1 upvote
vincent0923

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

8 upvotes
abortabort

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

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

A77 II is coming in May I believe.

1 upvote
bossa

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

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

Labo Fnac?

1 upvote
Total comments: 500
1234