Pentax K-3 II Walkaround

by Mike Tomkins

As we noted at the outset, the Pentax K-3 II shares a nearly-identical body with its predecessor, the Pentax K-3. A development of the body that debuted way back in 2009 with the original Pentax K-7, it's one of our favorite APS-C DSLR bodies, with excellent ergonomics and well-considered controls.

It's also surprisingly compact for a weather-sealed magnesium-alloy body, especially one for a camera so feature-rich as the K3 II. With dimensions of just 5.2 x 4.0 x 3.1 inches, it's actually just a touch smaller than consumer DSLRs like the Canon Rebel T6s / T6i. It has grown a scant 0.1 inch from the K-3 due to the new pentaprism, though.

It's quite a bit smaller than the Nikon D7200 and Canon EOS 70D, which are probably its nearest competitors. (The D7200 is 0.2 inches wider, 0.2 inches taller, and 0.1 inches less deep; the 70D is 0.3 inches wider, 0.1 inches taller, and precisely the same thickness.)

Weight is another story altogether. The Pentax K-3 II is just a little lighter than was its predecessor, at 24.7 ounces body-only, a half-ounce lighter than the original K-3. That's a full two ounces lighter than the Canon 70D, but still 0.8 ounces heavier than the D7200, likely because the Nikon combines both plastic and alloys in its body, whereas the Pentax is predominantly magnesium-alloy.

The consumer-oriented Rebel T6s and T6i, meanwhile, are a full 6.3 and 6.7 ounces lighter, respectively, nicely demonstrating why entry-level cameras typically eschew exotic alloys in favor of plastic.

Seen from the front, the Pentax K-3 II is very, very similar indeed to its predecessor. Beyond the model name at the top left shoulder of the camera (as seen from the rear), the most notable difference is a higher top to the pentaprism viewfinder assembly. Formerly, this housed the K-3's flash strobe; now it accommodates the built-in GPS receiver, which apparently required a little more room. Note that the Pentax K-3 II no longer features a built-in flash strobe.

Jumping to the top deck, again things look mighty similar to the original K-3 body. The Pentax K-3 II sports the exact same controls in the same places, right down to the Mode dial with its on-demand locking lever and central locking button.

You can, of course, see that the pentaprism hump is taller and has a narrower peak. You can also see a small grayish dot on the left side of the hump, which we'll come back to in a minute. (It's better seen from the left side of the camera.)

Moving to the rear of the Pentax K-3 II, there's almost no change at all. Every control sits just where it did, and literally the only way to tell the K-3 II apart from its predecessor without turning it around is to note the slightly taller pentaprism housing.

Yet even as little as things have changed, we have a feeling that this is the view which will get some Pentaxians hooping and hollering. The reason? The Ricoh logo that graced the back of the Pentax K-3 is gone, leaving only the Pentax brand unless you look at the labels on the base of the camera.

Personally, we never understood the uproar about that little logo: The fact of the matter is that Ricoh owns Pentax, and it seems a little ungrateful to begrudge them a small recognition of that fact. The Pentax brand was front and center on the pentaprism, right where it always was. Still, we know some Pentaxians found the Ricoh logo offputting, and its removal should, thankfully, put an end to the arguments.

Looking at the right side of the Pentax K-3 II body, the various compartment covers sit just as they did in the earlier camera. As well as the taller pentaprism housing, you can, however, note that the slight protrusions which once allowed the flash strobe to be raised into position are gone.

From a pro's point of view, it's one less thing to break if you accidentally drop the camera, or the strobe gets raised by mistake in a camera bag. (It does, however, also mean that there's no longer any in-camera wireless flash support, something experienced shooters may miss.)

From a consumer point of view, it means you need to buy and carry an extra accessory with you if you want to add some light to your subject. Enthusiasts likely see validity in both sides of the argument, and so it's down to individual tastes.

As we come to the left side of the Pentax K-3 II, it's from this angle that you can see the most change. As well as the reprofiled pentaprism housing and absence of the popup strobe, the most obvious change is that what was once the flash button is now the GPS button.

And as for that small dot, just forwards of the Mode dial on the pentaprism housing, that's an indicator LED for the GPS receiver. This will blink while the camera is seeking a GPS lock, and then illuminate once at least three satellites have been located. (That's the minimum to triangulate your position; as more satellites are located, the precision of your location fix will improve.)

And finally, the bottom of the K-3 II looks identical to its predecessor, and maintains compatibility with the optional D-BG5 Battery Grip.

Buy the Pentax K-3 II



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