on 9 June 2014
I have always admired Pentax cameras and in my time have owned many spotmatics, then the K1000 and mx. Since the advent of DSLR's, I have owned 5 Pentax cameras and still have a K10d and a K5. I also own several full frame Nikons, but prefer the Pentaxes when I need something more compact and light. The K3 is very similar in weight and size to my K5 and the controls are similar, so it didn't require any time to familiarise myself with it. The K3 is small and lightweight for an SLR but the build quality is excellent. I haven't owned it long enough to make direct comparisons with my Nikon D600 with a similar pixel count, but I expect the K3 to match it and with the lack of an anti aliasing filter, probably surpass it. The results from my K5 with just 16mp were biting sharp when printed to A3. I can thoroughly recommend this camera to anyone requiring a compact lightweight but well made and durable
DSLR who doesn't need full frame.
on 4 January 2014
This is definitely the best APS-C DSLR on the market. It has a sensor capable of resolving detail that competes with full frame models, and even the D800 struggles to beat its 3600lph resolving power.
The Pentax K-3 delivers stellar image quality at high-ISOs, as well as class-leading resolution at low ISOs, however the lack of an ISO 50/80 option is surprising. Usable images can be produced from the RAW files at up to ISO 12,800. The K-3 excels in RAW shooting and in JPEG mode it is a waste of potential. The RAW files are DNG, which makes it a breeze to edit files as DNGs are compatible with all adobe products, meaning you won't have to upgrade if you're using CS2/3/4/5 or LR2/3/4.
Auto White Balance and metering are improved over the K5ii, although the meter on my camera tends to overexpose by .7 stops. AWB is now better at shooting in indoor environments, and produces photos without color casts even indoors under mixed lighting (halogen, incandescent, and flourescent)
This camera is one of the best handling DSLRs, full-frame or not, available today. The grip is larger than the K5ii's grip, and the front dial is located perfectly, along with the groove in the front grip. The shutter button is precise. On the back of the camera, the control scheme is changed from the K-5 series and now features a stills/video selector as well as a record button, which is cleverly used as a live-view switch when you are in stills mode. The exposure comp and iso buttons are intuitively located, but the metering dial is sorely missed, as the new metering button is awkward to press when the camera is to your face. The mode dial lock switch is a gimmick, and Pentax should have kept the metering dial there.
The camera is built extremely well. All of the ports have thick rubber weather sealing and the camera feels heavy and rugged in the hand. This is to be expected, as it is constructed from magnesium alloy.
PRICE & Conclusion
The K-3 comes in at £1099, which is pretty pricey considering that the D7100/70D are both under £900. The battery grip is a whopping £150+. However, it is better than its rivals. This camera should be bought body-only. The 18-135 is rubbish at the wide end and mediocre elsewhere, and although the 18-55 is a decent kit lens, you really need some nice glass when you have 24MP. Spend £490 on the Pentax 17-70mm f4, it's sharp throughout the range and the f4 aperture is not a limitation with a sensor that is this good at high-isos. Look at SRS Microsystems for good prices on lenses. If you don't already have some Pentax glass, try and find a better deal for the camera.
on 12 December 2013
Now before the Nikon and Canon fan boys start over-turning tables at the title of this review, I must confess I'm a bit of Pentax fan boy. So I'll probably be adding a slightly warmer glow to this review than your average punter. This is my 5th Pentax DSLR, having previously used the *st DL, K10D, K20D and most recently the brilliant K5. I wasn't going to upgrade to this initially, being very happy with the K5's image quality, but in the end I couldn't help myself. So much of this review will inevitably be comparing the K5 with K3, so apologies for those not interested in that, but it's a logical way for me to put the K3 into some sort of context.
**Why Pentax Again**
Why did I buy Pentax again? Well it's partly if course the fact that I've got a lot of Pentax mount lenses, not to mention the lovely and unique Limited range. It's also due to a couple of shooting modes unique to Pentax. Only Pentax DSLRs have the sensitivity priority mode (set the ISO and camera changes the shutter and aperture) and the TAv mode, where you set the shutter speed and aperture and the camera changes the ISO to properly expose.
Of course the handling of the camera is very similar to the K5, and feels very similar on your hands. It's got that same high quality feel, derived from the magnesium alloy body and high quality rubber. Some buttons have been added and moved, but nothing that takes much getting used to. The main addition is of a dedicated movie button, which is most helpful, and certainly quicker to use than a locked shooting mode dial (where it was on the K5).
The main draw for me with the K3 was the dual memory card slots. I don't know about you guys, but I really like the ability to wirelessly connect to a computer, and send images to it, or the cloud. I shoot RAW+jpeg at the same time, and send the RAW image to my Sandisk Extreme 32gb card, and the jpegs to my wifi sd card. It works perfectly and means I can share some shots more readily, and also have more storage. It also means that the write speeds improve (v K5), which I'm guessing is due to the fact that all the data is not having to be placed on one card, as opposed to the K3 being quicker.
Where the K3 is noticeably quicker v the K5 is it's autofocus. It is much quicker, although to be fair it probably only brings the Pentax into line with the focus speeds of some of the competition. The tracking and speed is much better in low light.
Another key difference versus the K5, is the screen. It's only slightly bigger but boy it is much brighter and easier to view in sunlight.
Got my K3 drenched the other day whilst out and about (with a WR lens attached), and as you would expect, no damage whatsoever. It really carries on the impressive weather sealed performance of it's predecessors. You can take this out in a downpour and feel confident snapping away.
Well, like I said at the start, I wasn't actually disappointed with the K5, but the K3 takes things up a notch again. I'm not sure that is much difference in the low light performance, but then the K5 was/is pretty awesome at high ISO, low noise shots. The auto white balance seems to do a more accurate job, I find myself adjusting far less frequently.
One of the key features of the K3 is the AA filter. Now I'm not convinced I really know what they are talking about, but I've not noticed any moire in my shots. The idea, from what I understand, is that the K3 should capture more detail than the K5. I'm certainly not unhappy with the results, but I would have to really pixel peep to see the difference. As I do a fair bit of post processing in Lightroom, I always prefer to have the max detail to work with, and so any fine tuning of noise control etc on the Mac. I think I need to use it a fair bit more before I really understand the benefit of this feature. I've still got the K5 so I plan on running some tests.
Overall, I'd say if full frame isn't a must have for you, then you will struggle to find a better all round package in the APS-C class.
on 25 November 2013
This impressive piece of kit continues Pentax's return to form which started with the excellent K-5. It's similar in some ways with it's weather resistant magnesium body but has some interesting improvements.
The first is a 24MP sensor (made by Sony) which delivers resolution on par with the very best lenses available for APS-C (at about 3600LPH for the more technical reader)and manages to have noise levels close to those of the K-5's, which are still class leading.
The second is a moire filter that can be switched on and off; it's achieved by vibrating the sensor to slightly blur the image and works beautifully.
The in built image stabilisation, which also works by moving the sensor, seems a tiny bit better than the very good K-5's.
Next is the faster AF and increased number of AF sensor points and the claimed 8 frames per second shooting speed (I make it about 7.5 fps in practise). Shutter noise is reduced compared to many of it's rivals.
Controls have been reorganised slightly and ergonomics are good, making it a delight to handle and shoot with. The screen is a bit larger; being 3:2 ratio rather than the 4:3 of the K-5 and most current Nikons and Canons and the processor is more powerful so operations such as reviewing a stored image happen very quickly, with no perceptible lag. Storage has been improved with two SD card slots - a feature of pro DSLRS.
As always with Pentax, the K-3 is backwards compatible with almost all Pentax lenses made since the late 70s.
Mine appears to have no bugs or problems and feedback from other users on the internet suggests that Pentax (now owned by Ricoh) have got it right from the start, rather than launching a half-finished product onto the market.
The only things missing some people might want, is a tiltable or vari-angled rear screen and built-in Wi-Fi compatibility. I'm undecided about these as I owned a Panasonic micro 4/3 G3 body with a vari-angle screen and, in practise, rarely folded out the screen and now own a Sony NEX 5R with wifi, a tiltable screen and the ability to link to a tablet and rarely use these facilities either (Both these cameras have their uses, being very light and compact, but cannot match the picture quality of the K-3).
One does wonder where Ricoh Pentax can go from here, as they are closing in on the limits of resolution and noise reduction for this size of sensor as defined by various laws of physics and optics. Perhaps better dynamic range (The ability to pull detail out of very dark and very bright parts of the same image) will be the next big target, although the K-3's dynamic range is already pretty good.
In conclusion: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED...
on 24 February 2014
My use of Pentax cameras goes back more years than I care to count, starting with a secondhand SP1000 from a local junk shop! More recently I've had a K10D, a Samsung (Pentax) GX20 and a delightful little K-500 only 4 months ago.
In spite of loving the K-500 I was tempted to go back top-of-the-range sooner than I expected when I saw Amazon Warehouses had a reduced price K-3 body. The box was damaged as advertised, but the camera itself seems to be in perfect condition, none of the mentioned scratches.
My first impression was that after being used to the 500, the 3 is definitely back to the house-brick build of the K10D. In both handling and performance the K-3 shouts both Pro and Top-of-the-Range at you and is most definitely a serious bit of kit.
Now I'll leave the techie bits to others, and I'm never interested in 'debates' between makes as I'm never going to be rich enough to change all my lenses, flashes etc. in one go.
Having set the camera's parameters similar to the K-500 my first model shoots have produced excellent results - the expected high resolution but with nice, smooth natural skin tones. (I'd set the colour to Natural then just boosted the contrast and saturation a shade, but still softer colours than Bright) But I love the way the camera handles, nice and solid but quietly positive with the focussing and mirror/shutter.
Other Likes? Well being able to insert 2 SD cards to have 2 copies of vital shoots secured is a good one. Going back to a preview switch on the shutter release is another, But whatever the niceties, and there seem plenty, this is quite simply a superb top-of-the-range camera.
on 23 May 2014
I've already used this to gather source material in France for a new project. The images saved as DNG's were absolutely stunning.
I haven't bought a DSLR since I bought the Pentax istD as I've been waiting for them to produce a model that delivers more than 20MP.
That was 8 years ago but it was worth the wait.
on 7 February 2016
The K3 is a heavy camera and to get the best out of it you need lenses which are themselves heavy. But this is just inevitable if you want a metal water resistant body and lenses with the aperture and resolution to maske it worth paying for a 24Mpx sensor in the first place. I use it mainly with the Sigma 18-50 f/2.8 and the Pentax 55-300mm lens, for nature photography.
Stabilisation by sensor movement ought to work better than in-lens OIS, and it has enabled me to work handheld at over 200mm (300mm equivalent) where in the past I would have needed 800 ISO film and a 300mm f/2.8 lens, which really is a big, heavy and expensive beast. The 55/300 lens is a compromise but very adequate and inexpensive for amateur work.
I bought the K3 to return to photography after a long break, before which I was doing some medium format commercial work and had a Pentax 35mm camera for travel. Despite the complete change of technology I found that the K3 was still recognisably a Pentax and I was able to adapt to it quickly. In practical terms that means easy handling, a lack of gimmicks and an excellent viewfinder. Battery life is more than adequate and battery change is simple. The water resistance means a little care is needed in replacing the doors for the sockets and the SD cards, but really I expect anybody capable of making full use of this camera to be able to deal with a little mechanical complication. If you can load a Hasselblad or Mamiya film back, nothing on the Pentax will present a problem.
I don't film video on this camera so can't comment.
The bottom line is that if you are used to film 35mm SLRs, prefer real (and accurate) optical videwfinders and want to be able to use a range of good lenses with a degree of outdoor water resistance, this is close to ideal.
on 22 December 2014
I was/am a Canon shooter but bought this because I have always loved Pentax from the days of film. Even with the kit 18-135 lens the results are fantastic and the dng files have more latitude than any I get from my Canons - both full frame and APS-C. The camera is a joy to use - just so intuitive and it just feels 'right'. In summary, whenever I go out now I just reach for the Pentax - my Canons stay in their bags.
on 10 March 2015
The Pentax K3 is the company's current flagship model and competes roughly in the same class and is priced almost exactly as the Nikon D7100 and Canon 70D, both of which I was able to handle briefly in the past. I upgraded to this camera from a Pentax K-r, a 2010 entry-level model.
- Build Quality and Ergonomics -
As usual for a Pentax, the build quality is superb. Not just good - superb. The K3 is built like a tank. Its full-metal chassis feels considerably more solid than either the D7100 or 70D and it fits perfectly into my hands. The rubber parts and deep grip make it comfortable to hold. Then there is the weather sealing, of course. I shot a Holi festival recently and the camera received a couple of colourful splotches, then it started to rain and it got thoroughly wet. When I came home I carefully rinsed it off under the shower. No problem at all, works like a charm. Of note is the fact that all kit lenses Pentax offers with the K3 are weather sealed, as opposed to the policy of competitors which sell weather sealed cameras, but only offer weather sealed lenses that cost almost as much as the body.
As to be expected from a semi-pro camera, the K3's body is riddled with buttons that are intuitive to use and provide access to most functions without having to dive into the menu. I use the camera with my left eye and keep stabbing myself in the eye or smudging my glasses when using the back AF button, maybe it can be moved further outside in the future. The viewfinder provides 100% coverage at 0.95x magnification - it is bright, clear and generally a pleasure to work with.
- Image quality -
The image quality of the K3 leaves little to desire. Provided a decent lens is mounted, pictures are sharp, detailed and crisp. The default JPEG style is not to everyone's taste, but it can be changed and I shoot RAW anyway. The camera's dynamic range is impressive and it allows for shadows to be pulled up several stops in PP without unacceptable losses in image quality. The one area where the K3 did not quite meet my expectations is high-ISO noise performance. I am slightly hesitant to use images shot at ISO 3200, but I guess my standards might just be a tad bit high. In general high-ISO performance is good, but nothing to rave about.
- Performance -
The K3 feels very responsive. It powers up quickly and hasn't given me any errors or freezes yet. The AF is a bit of a mixed bag. It is very fast and accurate and does very well in low light, but still fails to perform satisfactory in subject tracking. When using AF.C I often find it to be rather hesitant in reacquiring focus when the subject has moved. The number of AF points (27) could also be higher and spacing wider, but at least the majority (25) are cross type and the centre 3 are rated down to f/2.8, which is very good. Of note is also the lack of dedicated sports lenses with high performance AF in Pentax' lineup. If you shoot a lot of fast paced action and sports you should probably consider other options (which is a shame considering the stellar frame rate of 8.3 fps). For anything else, the K3's AF is great. When using manual focus in live view, the K3 offers focus peaking - really useful for all the cheap, old, but optically great MF lenses the Pentax system has on offer. I use it a lot with the SMC-A 50 f/1.7 which was very hard to focus through either my K-r's viewfinder or liveview.
- Conclusion -
The K3's only notable drawback is that it's definitely not the first choice for the dedicated sports photographer. Everyone else gets a camera that delivers impressive image quality, high performance and superior build quality and weather sealing. For me it's the complete package.
on 30 April 2015
An exciting camera, I also have a Canon700D, there is nothing wrong with the Canon, I like it, sturdy and reliable.
The Pentax felt heavier at first, but after a few hours the weight was no problem, it is a very versatile, interesting and exciting camera, it is very easy to use, the kit lenses supplied are very good, I bought a t2 adapter for the mirror lens, great fun, just waiting for a 50mm prime lens.
The Pentax K3 will enable you to improve your photo skills.