Pentax announces the world’s only DSLR designed exclusively for black and white photography


posted Wednesday, April 12, 2023 at 6:00 PM EDT


Ricoh Imaging has announced the Pentax K-3 Mark III Monochrome. The new DSLR combines many of the features of the company's flagship APS-C DSLR, the K-3 III, with a newly developed monochromatic image sensor, making it the world's only DSLR designed for black and white imagery.

"The concept of a monochrome-specific digital SLR camera attracted a great deal of attention and interest from photographers who participated in an online fan event held in November 2021," says Ken Curry, president of Ricoh Imaging Americas. Curry continues, "Pentax has since conducted extensive research on the development of a commercial product based on this concept and we're excited to announce it today."

Pentax K-3 III Monochrome

Arguably, Pentax sells relatively niche products already, as the last manufacturer focused exclusively on digital SLR cameras. Pentax cameras and lenses attract a very loyal fanbase that appreciates Ricoh's unique approach to product development and design. If anyone was going to make a DSLR designed for monochrome photography, it's Pentax.

© 2023 Kerrick James

The K-3 III Monochrome isn't the only digital camera designed for black and white photography, even if it is the only DSLR of its kind on the market. Leica has monochrome-only cameras like the Leica M Monochrom and Leica M10 Monochrom. Phase One also sells achromatic digital backs, such as the IQ4 150MP Achromatic Imaging Resource reviewed alongside the Phase One XT field camera last year.

Pentax K-3 III Monochrome

What primarily separates the K-3 Mark III Monochrome from its colorful sibling is the new image sensor. Pentax has outfitted its new camera with a unique monochrome-specific 25.7-megapixel APS-C image sensor.

The sensor includes special benefits for monochromatic photography. Pentax writes, "A typical color image sensor composes a black-and-white image by converting the color data to monochrome. This new custom sensor does not have to convert any data because it can reflect the brightness obtained by each pixel in the image, thus producing extra-fine sharpness in images that only the monochrome-specific sensor can deliver."

© 2023 Kerrick James

The camera also includes a trio of exclusive Custom Image modes designed for black-and-white photography. There are "Hard" and "Soft" modes for high-contrast and low-contrast photography, respectively, plus a "Standard" mode. Each mode can be customized by the user with adjustments for tone, key, contrast, and sharpness.

Pentax has also given the camera body itself a fresh coat of paint to match the new monochrome sensor. The camera's logos and text are now all monochrome, including three different shades of gray. The camera's top display has a new white backlight, and the camera's menus are set to grayscale by default.

Pentax K-3 III Monochrome

The Pentax K-3 Mark III Monochrome will be available as a body-only option in late April for $2,199.95. The camera will be available directly from Ricoh and its authorized retail partners.

Image credits: Ricoh / Ricoh Imaging Ambassador Kerrick James