Pentax K-3 review: Shooter’s Report Part I - Early thoughts from a K-5 owner


posted Thursday, December 26, 2013 at 6:17 PM EDT


I've just published the first installment of my Shooter's Report for the Pentax K-3, one of the most technically interesting cameras of 2013, and a Camera of Distinction in our 2013 Enthusiast DSLR of the Year awards. I've been a Pentax shooter myself for about four years now, first with the K-7, and then the K-5, and so not surprisingly I'm very interested in the massively-upgraded K-3. My review, then, serves something of a dual purpose -- informing readers about the camera, and helping me decide whether it's time for an upgrade.

In the first part of the Shooter's Report, I take a look at the Pentax K-3 from the perspective of a photographer getting ready for the upgrade. My K-5 shared its body design with the earlier K-7 and subsequent K-5 II / IIs, so for several generations there's been little if any adjustment to the basic control layout in Pentax's enthusiast flagships. Although it's roundly similar, the K-3 has some important differences in its control layout, and I was keen to see what I'd think of them in the field.

The other main issue I wanted to get a feel for in this first part of the Shooter's Report is how the Pentax K-3 performs with high sensitivity / low light shooting. Hence, I took the K-3 around downtown Knoxville at sunset a few days ago, shooting it side-by-side with my own K-5, and with the same lenses and setup on both cameras. Then I took a close look at images from both to see if the K-3 could hold its own in the high ISO department, despite a much higher-resolution sensor. (And I've uploaded my gallery photos shot with both cameras, so you can make that judgement for yourself.)

Other points touched on in the first part of the Shooter's Report include the K-3's radically overhauled autofocus system, an interesting difference in white balance between the K-3 and K-5, and what seems to be a little bug we've uncovered in the exposure bracketing system.

Watch out for subsequent parts of my Pentax K-3 Shooter's Report coming soon. I'm planning on putting some more interesting glass -- some of my Limited prime lenses -- on the K-3 and K-5 for a real-world look at what all those extra pixels will get you, plus what effect the on-demand optical low pass filter simulation function has on moiré. I also want to try out tracking autofocus with the new AF sensor, give the increased burst shooting performance a spin, see how the new metering sensor responds to more challenging environments, and try out the K-3's completely overhauled movie capture capabilities, among other things.

In the meantime, read the Pentax K-3 Shooter's Report Part 1 to see what I'm thinking of Pentax's latest APS-C flagship. If there's anything you want to know about the Pentax K-3, let us know in the comments below and we'll do our best to give it a test for you!