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.