Pentax K-3 Field Tests

Pentax K-3 Field Test Part I

Initial impressions

by Mike Tomkins |

Before I get down to my thoughts on the Pentax K-3, a little background would probably be appropriate. When I'm reviewing cameras, I'm pretty brand-agnostic: What the camera can do for me is far more important than the badge on the front. I can't afford to own everything I get to review, though, or to keep changing allegiance to a new lens mount. For the last few years, I've used Pentax's flagship DSLRs as my daily shooters, after the original Pentax K-7 brought me into the fold back in 2009. A couple of years later, I upgraded to the K-5, but I skipped the subsequent K-5 II, as it was a fairly modest update.

When I first heard news of the Pentax K-3, I was thrilled. There's a lot I love about my K-5, but there are areas in which I wanted to see the company make some improvements -- especially autofocus -- and with the K-3, it seems to have done so. As well as the new AF system, I also found the prospect of better metering, dual flash card slots, a better and wider-aspect LCD monitor, and a brighter viewfinder to be particularly appealing. And the promise of greater all-around performance doesn't hurt, either.

Check out my initial impressions of the K-3.

Field Test Part I

Pentax K-3 Field Test Part II

Time for some more exciting glass!

by Mike Tomkins |

In the first part of my Pentax K-3 Field Test, I shot exclusively with the 18-135mm kit lens that can be purchased in a bundle with the camera body. In part, I did so because that's the one lens K-3 shooters are most likely to own, and we always try to ensure we cover kit lenses for that reason -- even if they're not the most exciting optics available. It also didn't hurt that I happened to own a copy of the same lens myself, meaning I could shoot side-by-side with my K-5, with no fussing and changing lenses back and forth.

With a consumer camera, the kit lens might very well be the only lens you'll shoot with, but that's almost certainly not the case with an enthusiast SLR like the Pentax K-3, though. For that reason, I was keen to get out and shoot with some of my nicer lenses. Sadly, I didn't have duplicates of these, so shooting side by side with these meant an exceptional amount of switching lenses between bodies.

Check out how the K-3 handled some classic Pentax lenses!

Field Test Part II

Pentax K-3 Field Test Part III

Off to the races!

by Mike Tomkins |

And finally, we come to the last section of my Field Test -- and my decision whether to buy the Pentax K-3 for myself. This section has been a while coming, for which I apologize -- every time I've gone to return to shooting and writing, something else has come up. Just one example: The subject I'd chosen for my planned autofocus and burst performance testing didn't cooperate. I'd been intending to shoot with the K-3 and K-5 side by side at a local drag racing strip to get a good sense for how the two cameras' performance compared. Come the day, heavy rains had flooded the pit lane and the track day was canceled.

Check out how the K-3 AF performed at the go-cart track!

Field Test Part III

Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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