Pentax K-3 II Performance

Timing and Performance

Very good overall performance for its class, but slow buffer clearing.

Startup/Play to Record

Power on
to first shot

~1.2 seconds

Time it takes for camera to turn on and take a shot.

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.5 second

Time until first shot is captured.

The Pentax K-3 II's startup time was a little slow for a DSLR, but switching from Play to Record and taking a shot was quite fast.


Shutter Response (Lag Time), Optical Viewfinder

Full Autofocus
Single Area AF
(Center AF point)

0.140 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture. (All AF timing measured with Pentax 35mm f/2.8 Limited lens).

Full Autofocus
Single Area AF
Flash enabled


Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, Auto Flash enabled.

Manual focus

0.094 second

For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "pre-focused."


0.090 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Shutter Response (Lag Time), Live View mode

Live View

0.274 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

The Pentax K-3 II's full autofocus shutter lag when shooting the same target multiple times was good for a prosumer DSLR. The K-3 II required only 0.140 second for full AF using the Pentax 35mm f/2.8 Limited lens, about the same speed as the K-3. Manual focus shutter lag was even faster than autofocus as expected, at 0.094 second. When prefocused, shutter lag dropped a little further to 0.090 second which is a little slower than average for a prosumer DSLR however still a bit faster than the K-3.

The Pentax K-3 II's prefocused shutter lag time in Live View mode was 0.274 second, noticeably slower than when using the optical viewfinder, but not bad for a DSLR. Note that we no longer test full AF lag in Live View mode for DSLRs, because the lens used makes such a huge difference that comparing is pointless. We'll try to comment on real-world Live View AF performance in our our field reports.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance.


Cycle Time (shot-to-shot)

Single Shot mode
Large Best JPEG

< 0.3 second

Average time per shot.

Single Shot mode
14-bit RAW + L/B JPEG

~0.6 second

Average time per shot.

Early shutter


Some cameras refuse to snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous H mode
Large Best JPEG

0.12 second (8.06 frames per second);
50+ frames total;
22 seconds to clear

Time per shot, averaged over 50 frames with no signs of slowing down.

Continuous H mode
14-bit RAW

0.12 second (8.16 frames per second);
22 frames total;
26 seconds to clear

Time per shot, averaged over 22 frame buffer. Slows to an average of 0.56 second or 1.79 fps when buffer is full.

Continuous H mode
14-bit RAW + L/B

0.12 second (8.20 frames per second);
23 frames total;
37 seconds to clear

Time per shot, averaged over 23 frame buffer. Slows to an average of 0.56 seconds or 1.80 fps when buffer is full.

Flash recycling


Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s UHS-I SDHC memory card. Slower cards will likely produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and other settings such as highlight/shadow corrections or NR can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Shot-to-shot cycle time was so fast when shooting Large Best Quality JPEGs that it was difficult to measure accurately. (Fast single-shot cycle times depend a lot on the tester's agility and rhythm, so your results may vary.) When shooting RAW+JPEG files, the K-3 II's cycle time was a bit slower but still quite fast, at about 0.6 second. We no longer test just RAW files in single-shot mode, as it's usually somewhere in between JPEG and RAW+JPEG cycle time.

Continuous H mode speed was very good for a DSLR at between about 8.1 and 8.2 frames per second depending on the file type, very close to Pentax's 8.3 fps spec and about a frame per second faster than the K-3. (Note that we test cycle times at ISO 200 to be able to read our electronic timer display, while Ricoh specifies burst speed at ISO 100.) The K-3 II also offers Continuous M and L modes rated at 4.5 and 3.0 frames per second respectively, but we did not test those modes.

Buffer depth in Continuous H mode was excellent when shooting just JPEGs at over 50 Large Best Quality JPEG frames with no signs of slowing (the manufacturer claims 60 frames). When shooting RAW files, buffer depths were quite good at 22 RAW frames and 23 RAW+JPEG frames before the camera started slowing down.

Buffer clearing was quite slow, though, even with our fast 95MB/s UHS-I SDHC card, taking 22 seconds to clear a burst of 50 JPEGs, 26 seconds after a max-length burst of RAW files, and 37 seconds after a max-length RAW+JPEG burst.

Bottom line, the Pentax K-3 II's performance was generally very good for its class in our tests, though startup was a bit slow for a DSLR, as was prefocused shutter lag. But if the K-3 II's performance has an Achilles' heel, we'd say it's the slow buffer clearing after long bursts. Be sure to buy the fastest UHS-I card you can afford!


Battery Life
Below average battery life for a prosumer DSLR.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Optical Viewfinder,
(CIPA standard)
Live View LCD,
(CIPA standard)

The Pentax K-3 II uses a custom rechargeable D-LI90 lithium-ion battery for power, and ships with a dedicated charger. CIPA-rated battery life when using the optical viewfinder is well below average for a prosumer DSLR when you consider the K-3 II has no built-in flash, and Pentax does not specify battery life for Live View mode, which will certainly be a lot lower. We strongly recommend you pick up a spare battery and keep it freshly charged and on-hand for extended outings, or consider purchasing the optional D-BG5 portrait grip which doubles battery life with a second D-LI90 battery installed.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on either a fresh set of disposable batteries or a fully-charged rechargeable battery as appropriate), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))


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