Pentax K-3 review: First impressions of a TRULY revolutionary update
posted Monday, October 7, 2013 at 6:00 PM EDT
Since the launch of the K-7 in 2009, Pentax's flagship, enthusiast-grade APS-C DSLRs have been among our favorites. After a couple of evolutionary models, the brand-new Pentax K-3 has arrived, and it's a revolution in the making. Not only does the K-3 bring significant changes inside and out, it also includes an industry first. The K-3 is the only SLR to feature on-demand low-pass filtering, which lets you choose whether ultimate resolution or resistance to moiré are more important for any given shot.
And there's plenty else besides that makes the Pentax K-3 an exciting upgrade, including a brand-new body that retains the spirit of the design first introduced with the K-7, yet makes significant changes to the controls for the first time in several generations. The 24.3-megapixel Pentax K-3 also sports significantly higher resolution, and yet thanks to a new PRIME III image processor, shoots faster and longer than ever -- a whopping 8.3 frames per second for as many as 60 frames. And despite the significant resolution increase, the K-3 still offers a maximum sensitivity of ISO 51,200 equivalent.
Pentax has also gifted its newest APS-C flagship with a brand-new 86,000 RGB pixel metering sensor and a much more capable 27-point autofocus sensor. All but two focus points are cross-types, and three of them will work to f/2.8. The Pentax K-3 also boasts double the shutter life of its predecessor, an improved image stabilization system, a brighter pentaprism optical viewfinder with greater magnification, and a larger, higher-resolution LCD monitor. Storage and connectivity options have been refreshed, too: the K-3 provides dual SD card slots with support for high-speed UHS-1 cards, boasts a much more up-to-date movie feature set, and sports a brand-new USB 3.0 SuperSpeed data connection.
Clearly, a lot has changed. The good news is that almost everything we loved about earlier Pentax flagships has been retained for the K-3. It still sports a solid magnesium-alloy body with great ergonomics, and despite an enthusiast-friendly control layout, it's still barely any larger than the typical consumer SLR. The Pentax K-3 is also still freezeproof and fully weather-sealed. And as you'd expect, it retains enthusiast-friendly features such as a 100% pentaprism viewfinder, twin control dials, a built-in flash sync terminal, and support for an optional portrait/battery grip.
Available from November 2013, the Pentax K-3 digital SLR is priced at US$1300 body-only in the US market. A kit including the DA 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 WR zoom lens will ship for US$1,700 or thereabouts. And breaking with tradition somewhat, the Pentax K-3 Premium Silver Edition will arrive at the same time as the regular edition, bundled with a matching silver battery grip, and priced at US$1,600 with a limited production of just 2,000 units worldwide. (Usually, Pentax saves these limited edition, silver versions for later in the production run.)
For much more hands-on information about the impressive Pentax K-3 enthusiast DSLR, and its groundbreaking on-demand anti-aliasing system -- and we do mean MUCH more information! -- be sure to read our Pentax K-3 review for our first impressions.
Alongside the Pentax K-3, the company is also launching several new accessories, all of which ship at the same time as the camera body in November. The Pentax D-BG5 battery grip replaces the earlier D-BG4 that was compatible with the Pentax K-7, K-5, and K-5 II / IIs models. It will be priced at around US$230 list. There will also be a new weather-sealed HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR lens, priced at about US$450. Finally, a Pentax-branded, Wi-Fi capable Flucard SDHC card will ship for US$100 in a 16GB capacity. Not only will this allow wireless data transfer -- it will also let you control your camera remotely (including live view feed) from your PC, or from recent Android / iOS smart devices.
Ready to order? We're not surprised, and we doubt you're alone! Get in queue now, by placing your pre-order with trusted Imaging Resource affiliate Adorama: