The Pentax K3 and the Crazy-Acting Mirror Sickness by Amy Medina

PentaxK32

Oh Pentax… I tried, I really did.

The Pentax K3 and the Crazy-Acting Mirror Sickness

by Amy Medina

What a frustrating few months it has been. I am going to preface this article by stating this: Pentax really did bend over backwards to try to make me happy, and in the end they did do the right thing for me individually, even if it doesn’t solve the issue (yet) for the many others who may come across it

So it all began back in July. Yes, July. I started having issues with my original K5 and took it to a local retailer for service, being under the silly impression they might be able to fix it there. Their salesman did not tell me otherwise, despite the fact I told him I needed the camera back in a week. Well, Mr. Salesman gave it to Mr. Repairman, not relaying my urgent need for the camera back, and off it went to Pentax without my knowledge.

To keep this long story as short as I can, I’ll spare you all the phone calls and back and forth trying to figure out what was going on with my camera and how much it was going to cost to fix, and who messed up by sending it in the first place (because I could have done that myself)… etc. etc. and fast forward to OCTOBER when I finally got the camera back, not fixed. It was then they finally agreed to fix it for free after all my trouble, and the local Pentax Rep got involved and gave me a K5-II loaner to use. My K5 went back to Pentax.

Then the K3 came out, so I decided to jump in. I was getting a lot more professional work and, though I was frustrated with my recent experience, gave Pentax and my local retailer another chance. The retailer knocked some money off the price of the camera for all my trouble, so I set out to shoot lots of timelapse for my client with my new K3 and my loaner K5-II.

And little did I know, the drama had barely begun.

Almost right away I started having issues with the K3 locking up. In Pentax-Land, we call this “runaway mirror syndrome” or as I like to call it, “Crazy-Acting (or Crazy-Ass) Mirror Sickness” (CAMS). What happens is this: You’re going about your business taking photos or shooting timelapse or whatever, and suddenly, without warning, the mirror goes nuts, starting to slap away rapidly, like a machine gun. The camera goes completely unresponsive when this happens and all you can typically do is pop out the battery to get it to stop. It takes no photos while it’s going nuts either, so whatever shot you were trying to take, well that moment is lost forever. Whatever timelapse you were trying to capture is now lost and interrupted until you stop the camera and get it set back up again to start reshooting.

At first, I obviously thought it was a fluke. Or then maybe it was caused by the weather (it was very cold here). But as time went on, with almost every timelapse shoot I went to, the camera would lock up and go mirror-crazy. I’ve been doing anywhere from one to three of these timelapse shoots per week, so me and the crazy flapping mirror became good friends. And there have been other “silent” lockups too, where the camera just stops shooting and responding.

Having had the contact with the Pentax Rep and Pentax Repair directly now (because of those original K5 problems), I used those contacts to report this problem. And for a long while, I was happy to do testing for them (and for me) to see if we could narrow the problem down. Here’s what I found out.

Crazy-Acting Mirror Sickness (CAMS) of the K3 – A Summary

  • It happens in any temperature, from 10º (F) to 50º (F). So it’s not just in cold weather.
  • It happens in humid (even drippy foggy) weather, as well as dry. Not likely static.
  • It happens indoors and outdoors. So that eliminates most environmental causes.
  • It happens with a multitude of SD cards… different brands and sizes.
  • It happens with a multitude of batteries, from old original K5 batteries to brand spanking new K3 batteries.
  • Pentax even sent me a shiny new NEW battery to try, and it happened with that too.
  • All batteries I’ve used and tried are genuine Pentax ones.
  • I’ve never used third-party batteries, but I’ve heard of others with the issue who have.
  • It happens whether the battery is fully charged, or much more depleted. Doesn’t matter.
  • It happens with all my lenses, not just one.
  • It happens whether you use live-view or not.
  • It happens with one SD card in the camera, or with two.
  • It happens with Shake Reduction on, or with it off.
  • It happens in M (Manual) mode, Av (Aperture Priority Mode) and User Mode.
  • It happened to me shooting timelapse, but reports indicate it happens in all drive modes, including single-shot and continuous shooting.

Another Pentaxian I met online set out to recreate the issue himself, and it happened to him the first day he tried to recreate it. He had the issue crop up with the battery grip. I have never used the battery grip. So it happens with and without.

One user had it happen with the AC Adaptor.

It has happened with all firmware versions, including the latest 1.03.

First part of the video shows a silent lockup. Second half shows the CAMS issue…

 

And worst of all… it happened to me across two K3 bodies.

After all this testing and writing to Pentax Repair about it, they finally told me to exchange the body for a new one. That happened in February. I went to my retailer and he gave me a new K3. That was a Saturday. The following Monday I went to a time-lapse shoot, got half way through the day without a problem (and was feeling optimistic)… and then, just after lunch, this out-of-the-box, new K3 body fell into Crazy-Ass Mirror Sickness.

You can imagine, I wasn’t happy.

Where does that leave me now? Well, very frustrated and disappointed.

Through all of this I’d been communicating with Pentax Repair, who liked to tell me they couldn’t reproduce the issue, which honestly, leaves me asking if they are trying hard enough. It happens to me at nearly every shoot. I know the tech is trying to be helpful when he asks me a lot of questions, but when they are the same questions over and over I get a little irritated. When I send him video of the problem and he tells me “it doesn’t show me anything but your settings” until I tell him to turn up his volume, well you can imagine more than frustration.

And now, my time with the K3 is over. It has been returned in favor of two K5-IIs bodies. So far, with 25,000 shutter actuations on one and 15,000 on the other, I haven’t had any issues. I’ve also bought the Fuji XT1, and since that is time lapse capable, I’ll be testing that out while researching and exploring other options out there as well.

And I will repeat, I am disappointed. Mostly, because I liked the K3 in every other way!

  • Image quality: Outstanding
  • Performance (other than CAMS and random silent lockups): Great
  • High ISO performance: Excellent
  • Autofocus: Much better (more accurate) than original K5
  • Feature-Set: Impressive
  • Size & Weight: Perfect for DSLR
  • Battery Life: Nothing short of amazing
  • Value vs. price: Excellent

but…

  • Service: Very slow.

and…

  • Reliability: Very poor.

… and the end bit, well that’s actually most important when you’re shooting stuff for a paying client.

 

In the end, Pentax is taking care of me. They have let me exchange the K3 out for something else. They fixed that original K5 for me for free because of the retailer’s debacle. They have tried to make me happy. They’ve heard my complaints for months (and to my own credit, have had the benefit of my patient testing for all that time too).

But it makes me sad they haven’t come to a conclusion as to what causes this problem on their flagship DSLR. If they don’t figure it out, it’s possible future bodies will suffer the same problem. If they won’t take the time to reproduce it so they can see what’s happening, it won’t be solved for the other people who run into the issue. I know my shooting is somewhat unique… and because of the weekly timelapse shoots, I run into the issue more regularly, by sheer law of averages. But I’ve heard stories from other Pentaxians who are just shooting regular, typical photography and run into the issue as well. Not good. Not good at all.

Matter of fact, I started a thread at the PentaxForums for people to report the issue, and in a month’s time, it’s accumulated 74 reports of this same issue. And most of those people weren’t shooting timelapse at all.

Other K3 Users Reporting the Issue

I’m not a kid having a tantrum here. My only hope is that Pentax sees this as the serious issue it truly is and decides it’s important enough to track down, address and fix. I’ve actually recommended Pentax cameras directly and indirectly (through reviews) over the years, and have converted several photographers into Pentaxians, amateurs and professionals alike. I want Pentax to be my go-to work camera. And they want me on their side… especially when I’m one of the few who actually likes the K-01. LOL

A great number of you may never run into this issue… and for that I’m glad.

If you don’t shoot time-lapse or weddings/events professionally, journalism or even birds/animals/nature, it’s probably not an issue to worry too much about… at least in the sense that it will cause you wide-spread problems. If you have to depend on it to get specific shots that you cannot “do over”, and if the camera is getting heavy use, then I’d rethink relying on the K3 until this issue is fixed.

The silver lining in all of this is that as much testing as I’ve done to the K3, I’ve also done to the K5-II… and the K5-II has been rock solid. Not a second of trouble in all the same conditions at all the same shoots. No lockups, no mirror gone cray-cray, no corrupt SD cards or files… not one issue at all. The K5-IIs bodies are proving just as reliable so far. At least we know it’s possible for Pentax/Ricoh to produce a dependable, well performing camera. What is frustrating is that their newest model, with all it’s wonderful new features appears not to be that camera.

I didn’t WANT to give up the K3. In every other way I was truly impressed by the camera and the K5-IIs/K5-II is a step backwards. They have tried to help me, but the exchange isn’t a solution to the problem, only a solution to my predicament at the moment. If it is never fixed, does that mean we’ll all have to worry about the same issue coming up again in their next model? At this point, I’d say that is likely, and that is quite unfortunate.

Below I will share some of the photos I’ve taken for my own enjoyment in the time I’ve owned the K3, and timelapse videos for you to see. I hope you enjoy them. If you’re a Pentax user who has experienced CAMS, please report it to Pentax, even if it only happened to you once. Don’t be silent. If you haven’t had the issue, I hope you never do… and truly, just go forth and enjoy your Pentax K3. But for this issue, there’s a lot to enjoy there.

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136 Comments

  1. It happens in any temperature, from 10º (F) to 50º (F). So it’s not just in cold weather.

    Uh, that is cold weather…

  2. I believe this is due to people not setting the appropriate time interval for time lapse shooting. You have to take into account both the shutter speed and number of shots addition to the time you want the time lapse to occur. This is different than in Nikon or Canon as I have heard. If the person who wrote the article sees this, I would be interested in hearing if this is related. https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/6-pentax-dslr-discussion/289635-pentax-k3-time-lapse-issue.html

    • Not related. In most cases I was shooting at 3 second intervals in bright daylight (at high shutter speeds).

      Fyi: I’ve long since moved on and switched to a much more reliable brand for timelapse shooting. Anyone shooting timelapse professionally benefits from a platform that offers an electronic shutter option. It’s not necessary, but it’s a good option to have to avoid wear-and-tear on the mechanical shutter.

      • Thank you, I understand. Many people have had the issue I described as well. Are you aware if the K-3 II fixed this issue? Also, I believe the relatively new Pentax KP has an electronic shutter option.

  3. I have a K50 and was looking to upgrade to a K3, now I’m not so sure. Does anyone know if Pentax have fixed the problem by now or does it still occur? I’m worried I might get one that’s been lying in the shop for a while so might not have had a fix – if there was one.

    • Re: Shutter flutter in K3. I have a K3 with updated firmware that also has shutter flutter. I have only recently made a connection between the malfunction and a single after market battery when that battery is at less than 30% capacity. I’ve got to take some more time with it, but I know the last two times the shutter fluttered I had a low battery. I’ve got about 50K clicks on my K3 and love it other than that one issue.

  4. I’ve had the same thing happen with my K3, luckily never in a mission critical situation, but unnerving when it happens. I’m at about 31,000 images in a little over a year, and it has happened to me 3 times. That being said, I love my K3 and the images I am able to produce with it.

  5. I’ve been having this issue with the K5 and the K3. It doesn’t happen often tho, and not everytime I use it. Glad to see that I am not crazy or the only person with this issue.

  6. Hi, I’m wondering if there’s been an update on this issue from Pentax. Did they finally work it out in subsequent production runs? Thanks!

      • The firmware update appears to only be a ‘patch’ which stops the runaway mirror, in order to prevent further damage. Blank frames and terminated timelapses are the result. A fix appears to be available, but it requires a hardware fix via repair.

  7. Amy / Steve – Silly question, but,..
    Did the K3 exhibit the mirror flap issue when moving to or from Video mode?

    I bought my K-01 primarily to get used to the form factor before a planned spend on a BMD-CC, and instead have seen to many unsatisfied users with issues with BMD products (including myself with an Intensity Shuttle USB3 ), while my K-01 has just gotten better and better with each firmware update and with each classic lens I’ve snapped up.
    So keeping all my lovely glass that doesn’t ‘look’ Canon,.. And has proper mechanical movement, is important to me.
    ( Watching the look on a Canon film maker testing all my Sigma zooms and finding them all to be Parfocal,… priceless )

    The K3 and an Atomos recorder are now my most likely purchases, so knowing whether the mirror flap and lock up issues occur while shooting video is essential.
    Thanks in advance.

  8. I had same problem 3 times but only with one particular SD card – 8gb Fujifilm SD card (the old one from my K20d days). There was no problems when using 16gb and 32gb Lexar Professional series cards

  9. Thank you Amy for the followup. I’m personally feeling somewhat better about buying a K3 soon-ish.

    Being up in Canada, I’ll be expecting Ricoh to have a ‘fix centre’ up this way as well.

  10. IMPORTANT UPDATE (as of June 11th, 2014)

    Just wanted to come back and fill you all in on what has happened since writing this article.

    First, reports have continued to come in on the Forum Post I started on PentaxForums.com… we are up to a total of 114 members of that forum who have encountered the problem, with three people possibly having other more severe problems occurring to their cameras as a result of the mirror-flapping. Reports and all the information are here:
    http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/172-pentax-k-3/254464-k3-crazy-mirror-sickness-mirror-flapping-lockup-report-yours-here.html

    More importantly though, as of last week, Pentax is now responding differently to people who report the problem directly to them. This started with someone from Germany reporting that he was told he could send his camera in for repair, specifically for the mirror-flapping problem, and that it would be a software-fix that could only be done at a service center. He sent me copies of his paperwork, which seemed to confirm the issue being addressed was mirror-flapping.

    I then contact the rep I’ve been dealing with at Pentax USA who replied and informed me that indeed they were offering a fix now for the crazy mirror-flapping. Though the email is a bit vague in its nature, at least progress. There is no indication as to what the cause is, or what exactly is being fixed/adjusted. The part of evaluation and testing is a bit concerning, but it’s a step in the right direction.

    Another member also inquired about a fix for the problem received a similar reply.

    Below are copies of the emalis:

    – – – – –

    Thanks for the followup. I can confirm that U.S. customers who are experiencing the “mirror-flop” issue (evaluation and testing are still ongoing) with their K-3s will be advised to send their cameras into our main service center in Chandler, AZ for adjustment to help resolve the issue.

    Thanks again,

    Mark Davis
    Product Specialist
    RICOH IMAGING AMERICAS CORPORATION

    Thank you for contacting RICOH.

    We have been informed that there is now a shop adjustment that can be made to help resolve/reduce the reported K-3 “mirror-flop” issue. I recommend you return your camera directly to RICOH Imaging Company at the address listed below for examination.

    RICOH Service Department
    250 North 54th St.
    Chandler, AZ 85226

    • Thanks for the follow up! It’d be great if you could update the main article so your follow up isn’t hidden away at bottom of the page!

  11. I have a K20D bought Jan 2008), my upgrade after a PZ1, after an SF1, etc. going back many, many years of owning Pentax gear.

    I have a small fortune invested in lens. Hence one good reason to stay with Pentax D-SLR bodies.

    I was looking to upgrade to a K-3 this week.

    BUT, after all this about the machine gun “feature’, I probably won’t. Maybe checking the serial # sequence…

  12. Good grief ! I’ve been researching for my first digital camera purchase. After reading this forum and based on so many opinions about dslr’s, I don’t think I will buy any camera. If quality control of cameras has become like automobiles….it’s a shot in the dark and I can’t be hassled with such insanity. My eye/mind/memory image will have to do. It appears the marketing departments of the camera industry are doing the work for the engineers and the assembly departments. Thanks Amy for exposing extortion tactics. Extortion is my description of present world economics.

  13. The photos are very nice. Steve, I hope you will post a complete “review” of this camera and what it is capable of. I understand that there are issues.. however, we all know that 1st gen of any line has its glitches…I have owned several Ricoh/Pentax products and have been treated very well whenever I have had an issue. The reviewers complaints are valid and thanks for the Caveat Emptor – assuming Pentax will resolve this issue – I really would like to see a comprehensive review of what seems to be an otherwise excellent product and a comparison and contrast of other cameras in its class and its predecessors in only the way you know how.

  14. Hi, Amy. Kudos to you for (a) a nicely written analysis and (b) fighting the good fight. 🙂 I haven’t seen the following issue addressed in the remaining comments, so I’ll add it here…

    Frankly, I think that this mirror-flap issue is more systemic than we Pentax lovers would like to acknowledge. I had it happen with my K-r (as did many other K-r owners), I know that it happened with the original K-5, and now it’s happening with the K-3. From my experience, I’m guessing that it has to do with some faulty circuitry (can provide details if you care). Since the majority of users do NOT encounter it, it’s likely either from poor quality control or a (recurring) bad batch from a supplier.

    My experience with my K-r was eerily similar to yours. My local shop had to send it to CRIS. CRIS “fixed” it by sending it back untouched. My first shot in the shop, in front of the tech, went into machine gun mode. I was speechless, especially after three months in the shop. Either CRIS never fired a single test shot or they just sent it back and pretended to fix it. Ultimately, it was sent in for repair again, and they replaced the entire aperture mechanism.

    I’m happy to see that you’re making an issue of this flaw since it seems to not have been adequately addressed in several models now. Either Pentax is conveniently ignoring the issue or is woefully out of touch with the repair center.

  15. Nice review – oh, wait, there is no review, but first a report of what didn´t work at all for you. Nice… I have the K-3 since November last year without any issues, and I agree, that if there are issues, they should be reported and solved, and Pentax/Ricoh has to do that, but I don´t remember any smashing reports preceeding reviews for other brands… (now, conspiracy, I will get crazy if this continous).

  16. As one who has been looking at the K3 VERY closely after having to sell my 3 Nikons a few years ago due to severe hardship, I’m glad this info is being reported; and that Steve is not only standing by Amy’s reports and credibility; but also that Steve had a K3 lock up on him out of the box, speaks volumes. (I’d been eagerly awaiting a review of this camera from Steve)

    Let’s hope Pentax fixes with this once and for all. I can’t wait to jump back into the photography, and I’d really like a K3…that works consistently without a flapping mirror. Thank you, Steve, and thank you, Amy.

    • Well, in the mean time, read the positive reviews at Imaging Resource and other professional sites and then see what you think. They know what they are talking about.

      • I may do that. But I’m also looking at the Fuji X-T1 as an alternative option. I do also believe that both Steve AND Amy know what they are talking about.

  17. I’ve followed every discussion on every forum and site I can find on this issue because I’m heavily invested in Pentax, and I love them, and always have.

    Here’s what – IMHO – causes people to adversely react. You’re not hearing about this issue via normal channels, in the mainstream ‘press’ if you will. There are hundreds of thousands of Pentaxians, with their ears to the ground, and it’s just not a ground swell of “….oh my God, epic fail…..”. I know, and recognize, that 44 people now have had a problem, and I understand that that is significant because only 1% of the 1% of sales of Pentax cameras post to forums.

    But to be succinct, here’s the issue – two posters above indicate (paraphrased) “….Pentax has had this problem for years…..” Well, no, because if they were incapable of making the OVERWHELMING majority of their cameras without the issue, they certainly after numerous years would not be in business any longer. So that’s issue one, they got some problems, but for the VAST majority of their cameras, they are as good as anybody else.

    Second, two posters above responded, “…..well, I would have but not N-O-W, no way……” And here’s the issue there –> Amy and Steve are not rebutting those statements. Not their responsibility to rebut them, okay, fair enough. What about the reverse? To wit……….

    Yes, Amy’s postings are factual, accurate, non-biased; all the goodies. She doesn’t say, hate this camera, spit on it at every opportunity. But others are reading her (and Steve’s) comments above and walking away with that imprint.

    So to the point in sentence one –> people are reacting because they know this is a valid issue for a very small percentage of the cameras out there, but this is being treated as a major, life-altering, DO NOT BUY THIS CAMERA issue; and the critical thinkers, IMHO, are thinking “….wait a minute, this seems a little bit overdone, doncha think…..” And the spearhead (she didn’t ask for it, but she is), and her friends/followers, aren’t slowing the mob mentality.

    Thing is, read Amy’s post very, very carefully; she knows the above, and she is doing her level best to address the above. We need her circle to take their lead from her, let’s point out ONE user’s experience, backed up 43 others, and take away that there IS a problem with a marginal piece of the market, but when there isn’t, this camera has a s***-load going for it.

    • Scott,
      If it was ‘marginal’ or only affected a handful of K3 bodies, it’s extremely unlikely Amy would have received a replacement with the SAME PROBLEM! I have the same issue (possibly worse) with my K3 as well. What are the odds? What were the odds of the 1st atomic bomb setting the world’s atmosphere on fire? Yeah, we got lucky or we wouldn’t be posting here. I wasn’t so lucky with my K3 purchase, and now I’m stuck with it unless Ricoh/Pentax comes through and replaces it when the issue is not easily reproduced…something they’re loathe to do and slow about IF they do! B&H didn’t want any part of it because, they say, the 30-day retailer’s warranty had lapsed. They wouldn’t have replaced it prior to the 30-day window expiring because “they hadn’t heard of the problem,” and couldn’t duplicate it. At least NOW, when they say that (and they did!) I, et ux, can point to this forum and others online Pentax discussions commiserating about the issue. In unity, there is strength. And, when it comes to service from Pentax/Ricoh, if we don’t hang together, we will hang separately. The internet is truly a blessing for consumers. Don’t look a gift horse (or Amy) in the mouth.
      -amicuscuria.com/wordpress-

  18. “The Pentax K-3 has been voted as the “Best Expert DSLR” of 2014 by editors of the Technical Image Press Association (TIPA), an organization consisting of 29 photography magazines from 16 different countries.” This on top of the glowing professional reviews all point to the fact that the K3 is a truly outstanding camera.

    • MGM, therein lies the paradox of ‘experts’. It was the ‘experts’ who decided to detonate the first atomic bomb in Alamogordo, NM, when the best scientific minds of the time thought the odds of the device catching the earth’s atmosphere on fire ran something like approximately 1,000 to 1 or less. And did they ask, given the potential for destroying all life on earth, the consent of others sharing this earthly coil before pulling the trigger? Later, the world’s first thermonuclear fusion device (using heavy hydrogen) was planned and detonated. Where?–not in the Sahara, but in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, of course! Odds had improved, however. The best nuclear physicists estimated the odds of catching the world oceans on nuclear fire were remove–perhaps 10,000 to one. I smaller risk than the first bomb of the nuclear age, to be sure, but trivial?…hardly! Again, did the ‘experts’ ask the consent of the world’s residents? Of course not, they were the ‘experts’.

      It’s like that scene in the movie, CHICAGO, where the sleazy lawyer to entertaining his dinner guests in an expensive restaurant with a tale of his most recent client’s husband’s demise. She comes home after a hard day’s work at the office, he says, and finds her spouse in bed with TWO women. She starts to lose it, overwrought with emotion and jealousy as she pulls out a pistol and points it at her philandering husband. “Listen, doll,” he desperately explains, “are you going to believe what you see, or what I tell you?”

      Believe what you SEE…not what the ‘experts’ tell you!
      -amicuscuria.com/wordpress-

  19. April 25, 2014 Update, in case anyway is interested.

    As of today, there are now 90 reports that have come in since March 12, 2014, within 44 days, through the PentaxForums.com thread.

    In those reports, serial numbers reporting the issue extend from 482XXXX to 491XXXX.

    • Amy, you’re ignoring the K3 Silver limited editions. Mine was purchased in the U.S. through B&H with serial #2574437.
      -amicuscuria.com/wordpress-

  20. A lot of cameras had issues “out the gate”. The Nikon F2 had a backlash problem when used with a motor drive, it was revised and corrected after the first couple of batches. The D600- a design flaw, finally being corrected- after the model was replaced by the D610. The production run of the F2 was 10 years, modern digital cameras – maybe 3 years of production before being replaced. Chances are, the manufacturer goes to a replacement model before revising and correcting errors in ones on the market.

    Obviously a design flaw in the K3. Good to know, either Pentax needs to correct their error or the camera should just be avoided.

  21. Hello Steve! You’re absolutely right to post it here. I was a big fan of Pentax but moved from it due to very low service quality and a lot of technical problems. Still have few lenses =)
    P.S. Love what you do and wish you all the best!

  22. Review or not a review. I don’t care. It’s too bad the camera is not reliable. That image quality seems second to very few. Wow.

  23. hi amy,

    when will you post your XT1 review. your pics from it on your facebook page are great. thanks.

  24. Hello to all, I’ve been following this issue for a while now, as I have both a K-3 and a K-5. Before those I’ve had a K-7 and a K200D. And, yes, I like Pentax as I spend time in Costa Rica’s rainforest, and Pentax bodies have served me well. I also have an Olympus OM D5, two NEX-7’s, a Bessa R. and a Contax G2. I like hardware – both cameras and computers. I work in the computer IT world, and started building music synthesizers back in the 60’s. I’ve watched cameras go from being fine mechanical instruments to hybrid electro-mechanical objects. Now, with millions of transistors inside them, and complex firmware controlling them, it doesn’t surprise me that they have bugs once in a while. Actually, it surprises me that they actually work as well as they do. Now, the question about Pentax (and any camera) is whether or not this defect is serious enough to cause one to reject the camera. For me, the answer is clearly no, this issue does not affect what I try to do at all. It’s a non-issue. You say ‘Pentax’ and I think of all the good qualities of Pentax that makes it a useful tool for me. Now, if time-lapse photography was an important part of my needs in a camera, I wouldn’t buy a Pentax. From what Amy has documented I wouldn’t think of it, and if a person were to ask my opinion now of the K series Pentax, I would be happy to recommend them if, and only if, the person has no interest in time-lapse photography. If they wanted to use it for wildlife stills in adverse conditions, I would say that it can hold it’s own against any other brand, at a substantial savings, and speak positively about it.

    To me, it is obvious that Amy has documented a serious defect in some Pentax models, I certainly don’t read of a private agenda to bash Pentax. Heck, it’s been her camera of choice, and I hope Pentax would fix this issue so it will continue to be her camera of choice.

    So, thanks Amy and Steve, it is a well documented article and this site is a great place to have it published so that it may get Pentax’s attention. This is not a forum rant, rather its a serious article on a site that enjoys a high level of credibility. So hopefully they will address this issue that can’t help but reflect on their sales and reputation.

    • yeah ok..
      @bruce: i found your reply interesting, and I’m tired of reading people complaining about a particular feature of a camera that doesn’t work as well as it should, and yet this feature doesn’t stop the camera from taking fine pictures. these people need to get a life and move on.

      • I haven’t used my K3 for time lapse photos at all, just normal stills and some video. I run into the runaway mirror stutter/flutter problem more often than not when I go out for a day’s shoot. Because the vendor “hadn’t heard of it”, and they will return a unit as they found it if they can’t duplicate the problem, I ended up stuck with the K3 beyond the 30 days (even though the problem appeared right off once I actually received the K3) B&H allows for returns. If I’d sent it to them in the first month sans all the confirmations from others K3 users burdened with the issue, B&H would have sent it right back to me and deemed it seemed to be operating normally. It’s only now, with the weight of the internet and the documented experience of other K3 sufferers that I have a credible issue. I, for one, do NOT want my existing K3. I want a K3 Silver edition THAT WORKS WITHOUT the mirror flutter. It has deposited debris on the sensor and is clearly tearing apart the internals of the unit. The issue arises no matter what mode or settings I’ve applied in the K3. You’re trivializing it does potential consumers a disservice. Worse–until Pentax acknowledges this is a serious issue and offers to remedy the problem including indemnifying hapless purchasers, feckless buyers may end up stuck with the problem because (as every retailer I’ve called claims) the sale people (even B&H) say they “haven’t heard of the problem”. I’m 6-months beyond when I actually received my K3 after I preordered it from B&H. I want one that works. I want one that isn’t tearing itself apart and leaving bits of itself on the sensor. I’d like a company (Ricoh) that claims to be reputable to step up to the plate and remedy not only MY problem with the unit, but EVERYONE who has experienced it including isolating the problem itself and FIXING it! Imagine if the K3 were an aircraft! Those who trivialize this issue should volunteer to be placed on life support controlled by the K3. Perhaps that would concentrate their minds wonderfully.

  25. Amy,
    One more question on your X-T1. Can you see the autofocus select area and the auto focus point in the EVF ? Meaning, can you move the autofocus select point within the autofocus area while viewing through the EVF? I tried doing this through the OVF of K-3 at our local camera store and I can only see a red dot that moves around in the frame. Also, on K-3, on the LCD, is the bottom right display for autofocus point select, a viewfinder view of it (Because it cannot be displayed on the OVF) ? Thanks
    Vivek

    • Can’t answer about the K3, don’t have one anymore to check.
      As for the XT1, yes, you can see the autofocus select area and move it around while you are viewing through the EVF.

  26. Amy, your classic processing.
    Gosh how many thousands of photogrpahers online, yet to me your processing is instantly recognisable.

    Dang (heehee) that photo looking htorugh the two holed concrete brick is super SUPER

  27. Look at Dan B’s reaction. This seems more appropriate.

    If the camera seems to have an issue send it back under warranty. If this one then has an issue send that one back. Finally, if there is never a positive resolution vote with your feet and never buy another camera from them again.

    • One user who reported stated that when the fault happened, it also seemed to have broken his camera completely. It would no longer power on after the mirror-flapping fault occurred. Considering the aggressive nature of this flaw, I think the attitude of “one time is acceptable” is a bit short-sighted.

      In addition, I know I ran into this problem more often than most because of the sheer number of of shutter actuations I was putting on the camera – it’s law of averages. For example, if on average, you are only going to run into it every 3,000-5,000 photos, how often is the average user going to run into it? Probably not all that often. To the users who say “I’ve put 5000 frames on the camera and the issue only happened once”, I would respond that it doesn’t surprise me, but it equally is not going to be surprising if the issue happens to you again in the future. Hopefully, without camera-breaking consequences.

      The biggest problem with this whole mirror-flapping issue is it’s unpredictable and sporadic nature. Users who want to say they haven’t had the issue… of course they are welcome to say that. However, using a car analogy, we don’t knew if that’s equivalent to saying “I’ve never had to change my oil” — or if it’s more like “I’ve never had to change my brakes — or even if it’s more like “I’ve never had to change my timing belt”. We just don’t know how likely or often a person is going to have the issue, if at all, in the lifetime of their camera. That’s where Pentax needs to step up and investigate, because I don’t think 80+ reports (as of today) of the issue in a month’s time is insignificant.

      Lastly, I couldn’t send the camera back under warranty considering Pentax was clear in telling me they had no idea what was causing it. What were they going to fix if they didn’t know what was broken? As for not buying another camera from them, I’m not an irrational person. Since the K5-II was able to perform without one single issue under all the same conditions, it was fairly logical for me to stick with that rather than rashly, and rather inconveniently, changing my entire system.

      • > One user who reported stated that when the fault happened, it also seemed to have broken his camera completely.

        You really like to tell that story, but how can you be sure the failure he experienced is the same issue that you had? You may be lumping totally different issues together. Electronics fail, especially when new, that is a known fact.

        People who have had a lock-up or flopping mirror said it clears when you remove the battery. It’s not ideal, and I wish it hadn’t happened to me. I missed a good shot of a rarely seen (around here) gyrfalcon. Nevertheless, I still wouldn’t trade my K-3 for any other camera or system. I expect the problem will be fixed eventually and what happened to me personally so far was pretty minor.

        • Of course I can’t be sure, but sometimes the simplest conclusion is the right one. If the camera has a more significant problem immediately following the mirror-flapping-crazies, it’s not unreasonable to assume they are related.

          There was just another report this morning from someone who had a mirror-flapping episode, and it seems to have caused other issues… debris on the sensor and stray plastic (or something) caught in the viewfinder.

  28. Well, by one reported account this happens to less than 1/2 of 1% in Australia. It also seems to me that if Ricoh-Pentax haven’t yet isolated the problem they have done all that they possibly could. Seems an over reaction given what Ricoh-Pentax have done to try to recompense the customer.

    If this occurrence is proven to be greater than the maybe 0.3% I stand corrected.

    Anyway, I would prefer an actual review by Steve Huff rather than this. Are we going to start to send complaints to every blog on the planet?

    As and aside, I come to this website every now and then but that’s about it. What was the reaction to the Nikon D600 fiasco?

    • To quote Steve in a reply above: “I had one that froze up so did not get a chance to review it. Sent it back.”

      And yes, I saw that post on DPR too from the guy who said he talked to a tech in Australia who said they were seeing the problem in very small numbers. That’s ironic, since in the same forum the poll asking people if they had the problem shows that it has occurred to 14.7% of users. Point being, we actually don’t really know how wide-spread the issue is, by the shear sporadic nature of the problem itself.

      Nothing changes the fact we’ve got 80+ people now who’ve had the issue crop up once or more, and three users who have been through more than one K3 body that had the problem. Maybe 80 doesn’t sound like a lot to you, but given the nature of forums, how small the Pentax community is, and even smaller the K3 user base, I happen to think it’s significant enough. The fact there are several people who have owned more than one K3 body with crazy mirror-flap should definitely point to an obvious, if not at least interesting, issue. The odds of that happening are statistically, very very small, if it’s NOT a bigger, more wide-spread fault.

  29. Ami,
    I would love to see your Fuji X-T1 review though. I am a heavy Pentax K-01 user. Just got a sigma 30mm art to go with it and it just rocks. Wish it had a view finder. I still love it.
    Vivek

  30. I am one of the 75 who reported a problem. I had the mirror flap issue once, in January after about two months use. I sent my K-3 to Pentax Canada, who could not reproduce the runaway mirror. They upgraded the firmware and returned the camera to me. No issues since, 6300 images taken to date. I’ve never done any time lapse photography. The K-3 is an awesome camera for my uses (general photography, birding).

  31. Amy,
    For this pb, an information can be useful: when the mirror ” packs what is what the meter of view(sight) thus increments the device knows that it makes several photos or is that the device counts a single photo and it is the mechanism of lifting that mirror which gets into a panic.?

  32. Amy, this may be way off base for you; but, have you ever tried a Nikon V1 for time lapse photography. I understand that for most “professional” use the V1 is not recognized as a viable alternative- but they are cheap, work well, and seem very reliable. If you are in a position where you can shoot ISO 100, the image quality is very good. I own two. I picked up the second one when I ran across a used one that had the Nikon grip attached. The store offered the grip to me for $50.00 but said I could have the whole thing for $150.00- lens included. If nothing else, it would allow time lapse experiments without burning up more expensive equipment.

    I predict that, one day, those numerous used V1s are going to disappear and the photography community is going to be full of folks saying: “For $200.00, I should have bought that thing.”

    • Yeah, I need to be able to shoot up to ISO 1600 at times. Interiors can often be dark, and I rarely have the room (or the time) to set up lights. Another issue could be battery life. And yet another, would be weather-sealing. I’ve had several shoots already when I was outside all day in rain or snow.

  33. 70d duel pixel issue, nikon oil on sensor, k3 cams……eh which camera do i buy guys.. or do i stick to my 400d until a reliable camera never arrives by which time my kids have grown up, my eye sight has diminished and i ditch photography and take up bridge

  34. Just wanted to say I love your images, Amy. I’ve enjoyed your photographs since seeing them on the Micro Four Thirds forums back in the early days of MFT. You were also one of the first who shot with “Adapted” lenses on MFT. Aside from your amazing vision, your post processing style is very identifiable, and it’s still working for you many years later! Glad to hear you are a working pro these days. Good for you!

  35. One hope for this is if the problem is one in the software. That can be fixed with a firmware update. If it is in the electro-mechanics of the camera itself, then it needs a recall, like any other faulty product does. Software issues can crop up with any camera, or automated system for that matter. What to look for is how well a company verifies their software. If they have a history of issues, then they may be pushing to release them too early, like we’ve seen with computer programs and APPs, or they don’t have a rigorous enough testing program. Thanks, Steve & Amy, for pointing out something to keep an eye on.

  36. I am a Pentax user (K3 & K5IIs) and both cameras working fine so far but if so many people have problems with the K3 then this should be documented and dealt with. Pentax should pay attention and do something about it. Nikon also had a number of product quality issues and tried to ignore this ‘oil and crud splatter’ disaster. They were (or are) facing law suits and got dragged into the open by the Chinese government and told to fix their shoddy cameras or get stuffed. All these brand name apologists just doing damage to their own brand.

  37. A quick question to Amy… Why use a focal plane shutter camera at all for time lapse? In my experience something like the little Ricoh GR is probably the best time lapse camera ever made, the fact that it is small, cheap, flexible, brilliant battery life (when doing time lapse) and best of all superb sensor (same as K-5 IIs) mated with a superb lens make it my first choice for any time lapse. The only time I would use something different is if I absolutely had to have full frame and faster lens.

    • Thanks for the suggestion Matt.
      I don’t believe the Ricoh is shutterless… though I’d have to read more about it. It still has a shutter life, but of course I can’t seem to find that information now. The only reports I could find were less than 50,000, which would make it worse for the job.

      I’ve actually considered the K-01 because it’s cheap and has the same shutter life as the K5 (100,000). I do already have one as one of my backups.

      Someone else suggested electronic shutter cameras to me. However, they come with their own set of problems… bad battery life (in comparison), less durable and not weather-sealed, not as good high ISO capabilities, or not fast enough lenses… etc. I actually think the money spent on the Pentax DSLR bodies delivers great performance and value, and makes for a reasonable choice, when they perform well.

      Luckily, despite all the issues with the K3, I’ve had no issues at all with the K5-II and IIs.

      • Thanks for your reply Amy. Yes the GR has a mechanical shutter (almost all large sensor cameras do due to relatively slow readout compared to smaller sensors), however it is a leaf shutter (like the X100, RX1, R1, RX100, RX10, X-Vario, DP Merrills etc) and these can and usually do last a lot longer than focal plane shutters (often 200,000+ easily), while also not being loud (they are pretty well whisper quiet).

        There are cameras such as some of the Panasonics that have fully electronic shutters in some modes, but these do have their limitations, one of which is often they cannot have an expose time longer than 1 sec and have other IQ issues associated with electronic shutters.

        The GR has some fairly unique features for time lapse, such as the long default maximum shutter time (300 seconds) and the battery life during time lapse is exceptionally good as well. The other nice thing about the GR, while being a fixed lens 28mm equiv it can crop to 35mm equiv and 47mm still with plenty of resolution for 1080p TL (or you can crop in post obviously as well) plus has the ability to take a wide angle adapter that, relatively speaking performs very well and is inexpensive (compared to buying a 21mm equiv lens for a system camera). This means you get a very useful 21-47mm equiv range that is razor sharp corner to corner even wide open @ f2.8, combined with the no-AA sensor, it has so much detail and resolution that cropping and panning etc works very well.

        For the price they are, including lens they are an absolute steal. Also small and discrete enough to tuck away just about anywhere, Gorillapods work very well etc.

        Anyway, it was just a thought 🙂

        • Thanks for the detailed reply Matt, and I will certainly read more about the GR.

          However, the biggest issue I see is the fixed lens. At my most recently shoot, I was a using a 10mm (15mm equivalent), and in general, I’m often using wider than 28mm equivalent or greater than 47mm equivalent (though with cropping, the latter isn’t as important). The wider end however, is.

          It’s certainly food for thought and worthy of investigation though.

  38. I can understand her desire to stay with Pentax. All you have to do is pick up and handle a k5, k5II, or a K3; they impress with solid feel and compactness; the d7100 feels like a cheap toy in comparison. Add to this the weather sealing of the Pentax cameras and they are a very attractive product line. This is not to mention the great layout of controls and menus associated with the Pentax cameras. In body stabilization, superb image quality- the list goes on.

    I purchased a K5 when they were first brought to market. Although my camera never acted up, these “mirror sickness” and camera lock-up issues were reported on Pentax forums almost from day one.

    I do not believe Pentax/Ricoh are unable to trace these problems to simple design quirks and fix them. It is possible that the problems are related to:

    1. The production facility is in such a state that it is not possible to produce a high percentage of reliable cameras.

    2. Pentax has determined the best way forward is to simply humor the faithful when problems occur.

    Unfortunately affable, sympathetic demeanor in sales and service representatives is no assurance of the same in corporate higher ups.

    I like the K3 and want one. Were it not for this problem, I would have one.

    • The most interesting thing in all this though Wayne, is that the I’ve now had three K5-II bodies (one K5-II and two of the K5-IIs), and none exhibited this same problem. The K5-II operated perfectly right up until 115,000 shutter actuations, and then the shutter failed, which was completely expected on my part. The K5-IIs bodies have been chugging along now for me for weeks, with not a single problem. It’s so very curious that the original K5 had a version of this strange mirror-flapping syndrome, and now the K3, but not the K5-II or IIs.

      • In all honesty, to be fair to Pentax, there is a third possibility:

        When I purchased my K5, it was universally compared to the Nikon D7000. I guess it was because of similarity in price. I jumped on the K5 because, to me, it was a much more solidly constructed camera. Pro build quality? Honestly, at the time, the Nikon unit that should have been compared to the K5 was the D300s, and that camera was priced well above the K5. It may be that Pentax is just overdoing it with value. Maybe they are learning, through experience, that to build a camera of this type they will have to price it a little higher in order justify higher quality in production.

        I have no animosity toward Pentax/Ricoh. I truly hope they survive.

  39. I’m waiting for the Olympus OMD self ejecting buttons review, the Nikon D800 faulty left AF points review, the Canon 1DX freezes up in -20C review, the cracked Leica Sensor review and multiple decentered lens reviews.

  40. It’s kind of hilarious that 99.9% of the articles on this site are “ra-ra, this is awesome, the best product of all time, etc. etc.” and when someone posts something about Ricoh/Pentax it’s this.

    • Watch for my ra-ra the Fuji XT1 is great review coming soon. 😛
      And if you read the whole thing, actually, it’s a positive review for the K5-II and K5-IIs. That’s at least one positive.

      • At $600-$700 right now, the K5 II series cams are a steal. Bought a K5-II from BH last november during the sale-wonderful shooting experience. Design, ergonomics, build quality, feature set, etc. And the DA 35 2.8 limited Macro w/ 18-135 WR will keep me busy for years to come. I can only hope the Ricoh takeover will keep Pentax relavent for the long term.

  41. This is why I recommend Lomo cameras. If they break, you’ll only know it because the pictures suddenly got better.

    Best regards
    Huss

    • Or a damn smartphone camera :(( I’m an iPhone fanboy, but I just read an article on a Nokia phone that has real multiple lenses (not digital zoom) embedded in the phone’s body. The files are so good, the photographer actually sells commercial images using the phone DNG files alongside his DSLR’s (just doesn’t tell his client). Completely OT, but another reason why IMO camera manufacturers are taking a hit in sales.

  42. man that sucks – does it have a mirror lockup function? my guess is it is that.

    Terrible fault and annoying as hell for the buyer. I would ask for a replacement, no excuses for this.

    • I did, and the second K3 had the same issue. In the 75 reports I’ve collected from other users, I believe there were at least two who see the mirror lockup function. I was not using it when the fault happened.

  43. Well, I see no problem with Steve writing an article about a known problem with the K3. And at least to me, him reporting this issue with more than one K3 is a review of sorts. If I were ever thinking about getting a K3, this article would be a public service.

  44. What a tantrum.
    I have never had any problem with my K20 but, I do not know who on this planet wants to use Pentax for pro work even Pentax sponsored Ben Kanarek switched to Nikon. Try to rent something Pentax here in NYC.

    • she is writing about the K3 and K5. Not K20. She also made clear, that the K5ii and K5iis had zero issues.

      Believe me, there a lot of people using Pentax for pro work. If you don’t know the reasons, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. There are many kinds or pro work with very tight budget. That means, for some kind of jobs, reliability is less important than low equipment costs. To me, Pentax still offers great value for the money. Savvy?

      PS: Did you know, that most pro work is done with non-pro (consumer) equipment? And on the other side, that most pro gear is sold to hobbyists?

  45. Why is she still with Pentax? Buy Nikon D7100 or Canon 70D and be happy. The quality of Nikons and Canons top APS-C cameras are actually extremely good. In terms of handling and build quality they leave all others in the dust. I would pick a D7100 over a K3 any day.

    • There same reason people stick with Fuji X systems with all it’s quirks (excluding xt1). Brand attachment

        • I shoot Nikon & Pentax. In terms of handling and built quality my 2 Pentax cams leave leaves my 2 Nikon’s in the dust , let alone image quality.

      • And for a good reason. One of them being that I’m confident that Fujifilm will address any issue that their products have. They’ve proven to be a good listener to the community, releasing firmware upgrades to improve their products. X-t1 lightleak? Within a few days they released a statement saying serial no. so until so are affected. We’re sorry, production error, send it to us and we’ll fix it under the warranty.
        They’re not waiting until the user notices the problem with the camera to have it fixed. That gives me the feeling I can rely on them.

        Reading Amy’s article gave me the feeling that Pentax was acting a bit passive around this (significant) issue. They’re not denying the problem exists, but they’re not far from that.
        That’s the impression I got.

  46. The Spotmatic was a fine camera, but it more or less ended there, which is a shame. For serious, dependable use, stick to the known names. Nikon, Canon. They have their issues, but they keep working.

      • I read the whole article, don’t worry. Cameras may have their flaws (my D800 certainly has) but they should keep working, no matter what.

  47. Amy, Just terrific images, esp the brick on the beach. Sorry to hear about the trouble with Pentax. Pity, as I’ve heard from others that they’re great devices.

    • Thanks Hoff (love the nickname – LOL)
      Like I said in the article, in every other way the K3 is a great camera. It’s one of the reasons I’d like to know that Pentax fixes the issue, so maybe I can buy one again in the future! 😀

  48. I had the same problem with a K5 two years ago and Pentax France replaced all the mirror mechanism under warranty. Never had the problem since.

  49. That is such a shame. I had k-r and it was superb, handling, images, etc. In fact I had gone to the shop to buy a canon and just looked at pentax out of curiosity and fell in love with the body. So much so, that I have been thinking of trying a K3 myself. I won’t of course now.

  50. I feel for her, but why stay with pentax? Try and get them to refund all your money and move on? If they won’t help, dispute the charges on your credit card. It’s almost like shame on them the first time, after that maybe you need to move on. Do their camera do something that other brands don’t?

    • Hi Chris, thanks for asking.

      There were a few reasons I stayed with Pentax. Most importantly, continuity… I have had steady shoots for the last several months, and could not be without a camera or lenses, and starting over just wasn’t worth the investment, both money-wise and time-wise.

      I did buy a Fuji XT1, and since it’s time-lapse capable, I’ll be testing it as a possible alternative. I mention that in the article.

      With all the problems I had with the K3, I had a K5-II at all the same shoots, doing the same thing… and didn’t have a second of trouble with it. The K5-II certainly proved itself to me as the reliable camera the K3 is not. Since getting two K5-IIs bodies now, I have had no problems with those either. So whatever this issue with the K3 is, similar to an issue that cropped up with the original K5 years ago, the K5-II and K5-IIs don’t seem to be plagued with it.

      Lastly, price vs. value. I still happen to think you get quite an excellent system with Pentax (just not the K3). Even if I have to replace the shutter twice in a year, I’ll still be at less invested than some of the more “high end” cameras… and that’s assuming my $20 extended Pentax warranty won’t cover it. I’m not sure if it will or it won’t.

      Hope that answers it for you 🙂

      • Thanks and that makes sense, but “replacing the shutter twice in a year” would destroy my sense of continuity and isn’t acceptable for to me. That’s like having my engine or transmission replaced twice in a year. 🙂 To each their own.

        I forgot to mention earlier, I like the images posted, excellent job.

        • Thanks for the compliment on the photos 🙂
          When I’m shooting as much as I am, unless I spend thousands more, I’d go through the same thing with the other brands. Most are only rated at 100,000 or 150,000. And continuity is also why I keep multiple backups…. of which I’d have to also replace if I switched systems.

    • why you are so aggressive?

      All camera brands have issues. Nikon/Canon have indeed a better service, which is payed by their customers with big $$ in advance.

      So, the K3 issues may be serious and their service may be inferior (and cheaper) then Canon/Nikon, but there is still no reason to be rude.

      Just my 2 ct.

      • Coincidentally, yesterday I just renewed my CPS Gold membership for $100/year. Not terribly expensive to gain reduced repair costs, expedited services and loaners if required. And I agree with your concern over rude postings. Seems to be pervasive pretty much anywhere on blog posts 🙁

  51. As much as individuals complain about Canon & Nikon, as one that uses his cameras to make my living (as you’re starting to do), having Canon’s CPS service is a godsend. I found that out when I had to send in a fairly-pounded 24-105 IS zoom in for service. The part was backordered in Japan so Canon US gave me a loaner while my lens was waylaid for 6-weeks.

    When I started getting into Leica, (which I use now more than my Canon gear) the aperture ring on my 2-month old 75mm 2.5 lens took a dump. I finally got it back from Leica 2 months later 🙁 No CPS-type of pro support from Leica to take advantage of. If your living depends on it there is something to be said about having strong manufacturer support on the back-end. Very frustrating all around!

  52. blogging about a personal experience with a known, repeatable issue, especially one this serious is definitly suitable. I agree with Steve on this posting

  53. I had similar issues with my K5. Direct to Pentax for repair, problem reappeared a couple of months later on safari in Tanzania just as an albino monkey crossed our path and disappeared into the jungle. (never before seen by our guide) and also at other “once in a lifetime” opportunities.

    Back to Pentax for repair. I had a shoot coming up so told them it was urgent. They turned around the repair in the one week I required and after two years, the problem has not reappeared.

    All this to say it’s an issue that they should be well aware of, and that can be repaired. My fear is that they have no way of testing the component that is failing so they just keep replacing it until they hopefully get a good one. Scary to see that they fixed it for the K5II but it continues with the K3. What with the FF be like? 😉

  54. That’s a painfull and frustrating story, Amy. As you mentioned, reliability is one of the most important aspects of a camera. These kind of issues can cause a company’s demise. Hopefully they can work it out!

  55. I’m all in favour of bucking trends and sticking it to “the man”, but you know there’s some really good reasons why people use Canon and Nikon, right?

    • I don’t think that Canon’s or Nikon’s quality control is any better. Almost every company has had it’s problems with certain cameras.

    • I agree with Marc J, quality control issues persist regardless of manufacturer. Pentax can definitely make a great camera.

      The Pentax K7 will always be my favorite, and I currently shoot a Nikon D3x. K7 was a reliable performer under 800 ISO, built like a tank, never froze, never a problem in 3 years of hiking, rain, fog and 100,000+ exposures. I accidentally dropped it (badly) three times with no damage except blemishes, still wish I didn’t sell it.

  56. I was so looking forward to a review but a review this is not. Its more of a rant of one individual’s experience than anything. Something more suitable for a forum post.

        • Sorry Luciano, but in the end it is my site that I pay for and that I manage and have been doing so for almost 6 years. This is a known issue, repeatable and experienced by many who bought this camera. It is an issue, and nothing wrong with pointing out issues. In fact, it is needed to get the message to Pentax that this needs a fix. NOT posting would be the wrong thing to do. I have known Amy for YEARS and trust her judgement 100%. She knows how to use a camera and has been a huge Pentax fan for a long time. This is an issue that needs exposure, so liljimmy80 is wrong.

          • Hi Steve, Amy: My apologies. Didnt mean that it is not important to exposed a known issue, it is. Just that the title which stated review had no review in it. Anyways carry on.

            P.S. Love the site.

          • If ANYONE is interested, I have Amy’s problem too! My K3 Silver limited edition serial #2574437 was preordered through B&H. I didn’t actually receive the unit until some months later in December of 2013. I noticed the shutter flutter within a week, but, of course, no one had heard of it so sending it in would have resulted in their returning it to me. I have the problem more often than not when I go to shoot for the day. I’ve been through similar issues before. If they can’t reproduce the problem, they just send it back to you the way it was. I had this issue with overheating in the K5. They never resolved the overheating issue. I just had to use the unit less.

            B&H won’t take it back because it’s past their 30-day warranty. But they wouldn’t have taken it back within the 30-day warranty if they couldn’t reproduce the problem. The problem is erratic and unpredictable, as Amy discovered. The problem has not been corrected. I’ve taken excellent care of my K3. It hasn’t been dropped, scratched, or exposed to moisture, dust, or hostile environments. I’d like Pentax to replace it with a non-problematic K3 silver limited edition since B&H will not. And, I’d like them to fix the quality control issue. It sounds like there is a deep problem within the guts/electronics of the unit–a manufacturing defect. The story about Pentax France replacing the mirror-shutter mechanism which eliminated the problem seems perspicacious. I don’t know precisely what causes the problem, only that it’s frustrating, annoying, and appears futile to complain. I want what I paid for–a functioning reliable camera. It want to be able to trust Ricoh/Pentax. I’m having a tough time doing that right now.

            The moderator is absolutely correct. Most people don’t post the problems they experience with their cameras. In fact, it’s a hassle to post on most of these forums because of having to register, etc. For every post you see relating to a problem camera, there’s 100 you don’t. Amy’s getting a subsequent K3 with the same issue demands contemplating the odds. If it were an aberration or fluke, how likely is it her next unit would display the same flaws?

            Pentax/Ricoh should send out a letter or e-mail to ALL purchasers of the K3 and ask them for confirmation of this problem. Those who have it should be made whole. It would benefit Pentax by tracking the serial numbers of the units that experience the problem. Perhaps it’s just a certain assembly line or component? But, unless Pentax makes an effort to invite reports and indemnifies its customers against the problem, it will be left with a difficult problem to isolate and a tarnished reputation.
            -amicuscuria.com/wordpress-

          • Sorry Steve, you are wrong about this one. Amy and a few others have beat this to death on a few forums. There is no real evidence yet that “many” have experienced this issue unless you define 70 or so out of thousands sold and there is no evidence that Ricoh is ignoring the issue as Amy has suggested unless she has inside information that no one else has. Amy and many other forum posters fail to realize that most savvy large corporations don’t rely on forums and social media for their “critical” information. The data is just too unreliable particularly when compared to actual data retrieved from product returns, service inquiries and the like. Then when they don’t get immediate firmware updates to fix their “issues” they get upset.

          • Sorry Mike, but you are a little in the dark here. “Thousands Sold” will take into consideration that A: You know how many were sold and B: That EVERY owner goes online to a forum to complain. They do not, only a small percentage does. Many who buy this camera will never post anything in an online forum. The fact that 70 have had this exact issue tells me and everyone else that IT IS INDEED a problem. If 5 people had the issue it would be something to look into..when 25 have the problem it should be REALLY taken seriously, when 70 people (just those who complained on a forum) have had the problem it is an issue. The fact that Amy had TWO that had the issue clearly shows there is a problem. Hiding it and sweeping it under the rug will NOT fix it, in fact, that will just irritate those who have the problem. Pentax needs to fix it, easy. Many here know that I had a review unit of the K3 here for 2-3 weeks. I did not review it. Why? Because I had a few issues with it and did not get them resolved before having to return it so no review because I was not able to really put it through its paces. I thought it was strange as I have always had zero issues with Pentax cameras. But saying I am wrong for showcasing an issue that MANY users have is ridiculous. I am guessing it is the Pentax fans who are saying this. Me, I love all cameras and I do not have any more love for a Leica than I do a Sony or Olympus or Pentax. I enjoy a camera that works and works well. When one does not work well and it becomes a problem for those who have invested thousands of dollars in the system then it needs to be talked about.

            At the end of the day, what gets posted here on this site is MY choice and no one else’s. You can choose to read it or not, like it or not. Either way, I post what I think is relevant and what should be posted. I do not play the political games that many blogs do, never have. I just post reality, and I would have posted this even if it was only Amy that had the issue with two cameras, because it was HER user experience.

          • Steve, I applaud the choice to share this post on your site. Forum complaints do not effectively communicate the important issues that camera manufacturers need to address.

            As a longtime Pentax user I have known about this issue for years, it is a shame that it is still happening on their newest products. Hopefully this will gain their attention.

          • I did not even know a Pentax K3 existed and I can understand the comments here against this post. Its not that there is a problem, its how it has been presented which turned me off.

            In fact I would have missed all the GREAT photos at the bottom of the post had it not being for my curiosity as to what other readers might have thought …

          • Steve – just wanted to say that I really think it is ridiculous anyone has the nerve to tell you that you’re in the wrong to post this here. Your website is one of the best, and, most importantly, YOURS! You want to feature whatever content you want, you go for it!

          • “Beat to death” is a funny accusation. I started exactly two threads about it on Pentax Forums, the second thread being just for others to report the issue. On DPR, I think I started two threads about it (over two months), but I somehow get blamed for starting a whole lot more.

            I held off submitting this article to Steve for MONTHS to give Pentax a chance to resolve the issue. I held off putting up a negative review on Amazon for MONTHS for the same reason. And even my first post about the issue on DPR was after months of having the problem and testing, and communicating with Pentax. I certainly did not jump on them for the sake of it… and I’m probably the most patient and reasonable user-with-a-problem they ever had. And I’m actually still a Pentax user!

            Should warranty cover it? Certainly. But if you read, I replaced the camera once and the second body had the same issue… and after all my testing it was reasonable to assume a third would have done the same thing. I can’t get something fixed under warranty if the company itself admits they don’t know what causes it. It’s up to them to figure it out… and I think I was pretty nice to try to help them do that for about five months.

            You’re welcome to your opinion of course, but so am I, and all I did here was share my experience. Others looking to buy the K3 can take the information as they wish. If you want to presume that my forum posts and article here will hurt Pentax, well, I’m not the one at fault for that. They are the ones that produced a camera that me and quite a few others have had this problem with… It’s up to them to address that problem and resolve it.

          • And I hope they will fix it. It’s an interesting story. I think you have done some good work. I guess it’s a software issue, some kind of check with a little something forgotten, if this than do that, while x, unless, but not, except… and oops! There goes the crazy mirror.

        • I wasn’t aware you and lijimmy80 were the arbiters of what is appropriate for the site. It’s Steve’s site, and this is really useful information — more useful than a review actually.

          • Thanks Amy, very valuable information, you are saving many pleaple trouble for lot of folks like me simply won´t take the risk and buy it. Many thanks again,

          • I find it funny that a “real world” contribution is submitted and the gear enthusiasts are having a sook about it. Surely this is about as gear focused as it gets.

            As to the general whinging directed towards Amy (on this and other reviews on this site). I would like to say that the reviews that Amy made on the X-E1 and a 50mm 0.95 (I think). Are the reviews that initially made me return to this site. She has a really distinctive and artistic style (you should check out her website) and certainly isn’t bdropping thousands of bucks on every new piece of gear to take photos of her kids with. So if she thinks this is problem, there’s a good chance it actually is.

            If you don’t like a post, go and do something else rather than writing negative nonsense. Just my ten cents.

    • Posting this on Steve’s site draws far more attention to the issue than posting on a forum. Pentax has probably read this post already and hopefully their R+D and customer service departments are taking notes.

      It’s also worth noting that this post is very reasonably written. The details are clear and the author points out what she liked about the K3 in addition to the problems she had.

      And posts are not a zero-sum game. It’s not like Steve had to choose this article over another one. There is plenty of room on this site for more gear reviews.

  57. So sad, I liked the IS on the sensor and the no AA, but the sensor moves if the lowering of sharpness is needed. The rest of DP review looked very favorable on this old camera name. I hope they fix the problems. But I do dislike poor repair service, in contrast Fujifilm service is outstanding and Leica is OK. Good luck, hopefully a firmware upgrade will help.

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