Pentax K-3 Mark III First Shots: Sample images from Ricoh’s long-awaited flagship APS-C DSLR
posted Wednesday, May 19, 2021 at 8:30 AM EDT
Editor's Note: 05/22/2021: Upon closer inspection, we've determined that the initial series of sample images were slightly front-focused. We've decided to take down the K-3 III sample images for the time being and will update the samples page with a new First Shots series as soon as possible. Thanks to the readers for helping us spot the issue!
We imagine Pentaxians eagerly awaiting an update to the flagship Pentax K-3-series of crop-sensor DSLRs were beginning to get a little worried, wondering if a successor to 2015's K-3 Mark II would ever come to light. Fortunately, we began to see teasers and discussion of a Mark III model back in October of last year, and then finally, the full unveiling of the Pentax K-3 Mark III took place in March of this year. Fans of Pentax's rugged and feature-packed yet compact K-3-series APS-C DSLR can breathe a sigh of relief; the new version is here!
Like its predecessors, the K-3 III maintains that classic DSLR shape and design, along with Pentax's characteristic durability and weather-sealed construction. The new K-3 III offers several updates and improvements both inside and out compared to the previous model. The optical viewfinder -- a characteristic feature of a DSLR camera -- gets special attention with the K-3 Mark III, as it offers a large and clear optical viewfinder with a 1.05x magnification. According to Pentax, the K-3 III's OVF should offer a similar user experience to a full-frame DSLR. Under the hood, the new K-3 model gains an all-new 25.7-megapixel BSI APC-S CMOS sensor and a new PRIME V image processor plus a new "Accelerator Unit II." Despite the crop-sensor, the K-3 Mark III offers an incredibly expansive native ISO range. No expanded ISOs here. The K-3 III offers a base ISO of 100 and a high ISO of 1,600,000. Yes. 1,600,000.
We just got our hands on a review sample of Ricoh's new Pentax K-3 Mark III DSLR, and as always, the first stop was a trip to our testing lab for First Shots. Our First Shots series of standardized sample images offer a chance to see how a camera's image quality performs across its full ISO range -- and in the case of the K-3 III, it's quite a range, indeed! Much like most of our First Shots series, we have two series, one using the camera's default in-camera noise reduction processing and then another with it completely disabled or set to its lowest setting. In the case of the K-3 III, it can be disabled, so please check the "NR0" series to see JPEGs with no noise reduction. (As always, we also have unedited RAW files to download, as well.)
Additionally, the K-3 Mark III keeps Pentax's clever Pixel-Shift Resolution shooting mode that we saw in the previous model, which takes four images in quick succession. Following each shot, the camera's sensor moves in one-pixel increments. The camera then combines the information into a composite, and while it's not higher-resolution in terms of the megapixel count, it offers the ability to have images with greater detail and improved color rendering. We also noticed here with the K-3 III that with PSR mode (and even with in-camera NR disabled), the higher ISO image quality is noticeably improved in some respects -- extreme ISOs, such as ISO 102400, and even ISO 1,600,000 are much more "usable" than the standard JPEGs at that ISO.
Jump over to our Pentax K-3 III Samples Page for our full array of First Shots images. And of course, if you want to compare the First Shots from the K-3 III against nearly any other camera we've reviewed over the years, head over to our Comparometer tool.
Stay tuned! More to come with our Pentax K-3 III review!