Pentax K-3 Review
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.
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.
Pentax week continues! In this video, Chris takes us for a ride on the wayback machine to look at the most important Pentax cameras in history.
Canon USA takes down two eBay sellers accused of selling counterfeit batteries using the company's trademarks.
Fotodiox has launched another Canon EF to Fuji GFX lens mount adapter, this one with a built-in neutral density filter and support for automated functions.
The incremental firmware updates address a few minor issues and improve overall stability, but don't add any new or revolutionary features.
It's tempting to scoff at a black-and-white-only digital rangefinder, but there are a few reasons why going without a color filter is more than a gimmick. Here's why we're excited to go shooting with the M10 Monochrom.
Leica has introduced its latest dedicated black and white camera, the M10 Monochrom. Based largely on the M10-P, it features a newly designed 40MP sensor, touchscreen LCD and lower base ISO than previous mono models.
The 85mm F1.8 FE lens is the first in Tokina’s new atx-m mirrorless lens series, which will feature lenses for multiple mounts and sensor formats.
Australian researchers have pioneered the development of a lithium-sulfur battery technology that may revolutionize consumer gadgets, cameras, electric cars and more.
The TZC-01 will work with over 60 EF-mount lenses from Canon, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina and Zeiss.
A new power adapter from Kessler makes it possible to charge cameras and other gear using ordinary DeWalt power tool batteries.
The team behind the Platypod is back with a new accessory called Platyball, an entirely new type of tripod head with electronic stabilization.
Heathrow Airport, the busiest in the United Kingdom, has installed an anti-drone system that detects and blocks drones entering its airspace.
A recent look into the latest macOS beta release revealed evidence of an upcoming feature called 'Pro Mode' that boosts performance for professionals.
We've just gotten our hands on a full production Nikon D780 – the long-awaited update to the D750, which we'd called one of the most well-rounded cameras we'd tested. Take a deep dive into all that the new model offers right here.
DJI, the world's leading drone manufacturer, posted an article outlining the need for Remote ID. However, the company does not agree with what's proposed in the FAA's NPRM.
Sharp's 8K Video Camera has once again been showcased at CES, this time with more details on what the camera will offer and when it will be available.
Tamron announced that its 20mm F2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 lens for full-frame Sony E-mount bodies will be available on January 30th for $350.
Boasting only 2 propellers, instead of the typical 4 on a consumer-grade drone, Falcon's bi-copter can fly up to 50 minutes – about 20 minutes longer than leading competitors.
Luminar 4.1 brings a number of new tools and features to improve your post-processing workflow.
Acer joined HP and MSI in unveiling new laptops at CES 2020 that are made specifically for photographers and other graphics professionals.
Roger and Aaron are back at it again with a teardown of Nikon's premium 24-70mm F2.8 zoom lens for its Z-series cameras.
Patent documents filed by Xiaomi show a pop-up mechanism with dual front-cameras and a penta-camera setup at the back.
Planned restrictions put in place by Capital Police will ensure no still photos are taken of the transfer of the articles of impeachment and will severely limit the ability of photojournalists and reporters throughout the remainder of the Senate trial.
It's Pentax week on DPReview TV, so Chris and Jordan review the DA* 11-18mm F2.8 ultra-wide zoom for Pentax APS-C cameras. Do they like it? They sure do! Enough to inspire Jordan to sing. And sing some more. Get out your earplugs.
Check out these full resolution images shot with the Pentax DA* 11-18mm F2.8 ultra-wide zoom lens, captured while shooting this week's episode of DPReview TV.
A smaller and lighter version of an existing lens joins the XCD system bringing with it a smaller price and a smaller maximum aperture too.
Paul C. Buff Inc. has finally launched a new product in its flash unit product line with the new 800WS. This portable 800-watt strobe light will be available in Spring 2020.
Manfrotto claims its new cards are waterproof, freeze-proof and crush-proof; and some of the best read/write speeds available for high frame rates and 4K video
The GP-VPT2BT Shooting Grip With Wireless Remote Commander works with nine Sony mirrorless cameras and is set to ship in North America this month for $140 ($180 CAD).
Autel has officially announced 3 iterations of the EVO II drone at CES 2020.