The new Pentax K-3 – It means business!

The new Pentax K3 – It means business


So Today Pentax announced the new K3 DSLR camera and it looks mighty fine if I do say so myself. Back when the K5 was released I loved it as I did the K7. They were a SMALL DSLRs of high quality and felt really good to shoot. The results with the beautiful Pentax Limited primes were as good as anything from Canon or Nikon (in my mind, even better) and now with the K-3 Pentax appears to be back in action with a really serious little powerhouse.

It was just announced today but should start shipping on November 1st. I will be reviewing this one because I feel it offers what most people want in a high-end serious camera, and with those gorgeous new Limited lenses, that are SMALL yet high quality, this could be a serious contender.

What I like? Size, Pro Build, Weather Sealed, 23 MP, up to ISO 51,200, 8FPS, 1/8000 shutter and SELECTABLE AA filter that you can turn on or off. THIS IS AWESOME! Also has in body IS, which is GREAT to have. TWO SD cards can be used which is usually reserved for true PRO bodies. Yep, this K-3 means business.

The K-3 has weather sealing with 92 seals on the body alone.

Read more below in the official press release, and you can pre-order HERE at B&H Photo.


The Pentax K-3

The Pentax K-3 DSLR Camera is an advanced DSLR featuring a 23.35MP APS-C CMOS sensor and PRIME III image processor to produce high-resolution still imagery and full HD 1080i/p video with high low-light sensitivity to ISO 51200. Full-resolution continuous shooting is supported up to 8.3 fps for 22 consecutive RAW frames, with a top shutter speed of 1/8000 sec., and the SAFOX11 autofocus system utilizes 27 focus points, with 25 cross-type points, to maintain sharp focus in a quick and accurate manner. Benefitting the image quality is a selectable anti-aliasing filter, which can be turned on or off to either garner the highest resolution and sharpness possible or provide enhanced protection against moiré. Additionally, in-camera Shake Reduction image stabilization renders any K-mount lens stabilized and helps to minimize the appearance of camera shake when working with greater shutter speeds or longer focal lengths.

The K-3’s body design incorporates 92 special seals to render it cold, dust, and weather-resistant and the magnesium alloy cover with stainless steel chassis contribute to overall durability and ruggedness. A 0.95x magnification optical pentaprism viewfinder is incorporated into the body as well as a 3.2″ 1,037k-dot LCD monitor for a choice of bright, clear viewing means. Dual SD card slots extend the recording versatility of the camera and FLU memory card support enables wireless image transferring and remote camera control possibilities when in use.

23.35MP APS-C CMOS Sensor and PRIME III Processor

A large 23.35MP APS-C CMOS sensor and PRIME III image processing engine work together to enable high-resolution imaging and full HD video recording with notable low-light sensitivity from ISO 80-51200. The image processor also contributes to a wealth of shooting speed for the camera, including a top full-resolution continuous shooting rate of 8.3 fps for up to 22 consecutive RAW images or 60 JPEGs and a maximum shutter speed of 1/8000 sec. This highly durable, advanced shutter is rated to 200,000 cycles and employs a range of innovative technologies that independently regulate the shutter, mirror, and diaphragm to minimize mirror shock for accurately-render images when shooting at higher frame rates.

Selectable Anti-Aliasing Filter

A unique and innovative mechanism allows you to toggle the anti-aliasing filter’s effect either on or off, providing support for both the high-resolution abilities of a filter-less design as well as advanced moiré protection. With the filter in the Off position, the K-3 is more prone to acquiring maximum sharpness, resolution, and detail from an image for the highest attainable image quality. When the filter position is set to On, an anti-aliasing simulator applies microscopic vibrations to the image sensor unit at a sub-pixel level during exposure; working to the same effect as an optical anti-aliasing filter. Having both options available extends the camera’s versatility and allows personalized selection of the benefits best-suited to individual applications.

SAFOX11 Autofocus Module

A redesigned SAFOX11 autofocus module has been integrated into the K-3 and employs 27 focus points in order to deliver a metering range of -3 to +20 EV. 25 of the 27 sensors are cross-type, in order to gain the highest precision while focusing, and three of the sensors are dedicated to low-light performance.

Real Time Scene Analysis Metering

The Real Time Scene Analysis System utilizes an 86,000 pixel RGB light-metering sensor with enhanced metering algorithms to increase the accuracy of exposure metering and white balancing as well as aiding the autofocus system.


Full HD 1080i/p Video Recording

Full HD 1920 x 1080 video recording is supported in multiple frame rates, including 60i, 50i, 30p, 25p, and 24p, in the high-quality H.264 format. HD 1280 x 720 video is also supported in 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, and 24p frame rates. Audio can be recorded along with video using the built-in stereo microphone or, additionally, a 3.5mm microphone terminal is available for use of an external mic. A headphone port is also incorporated into the camera for real time audio monitoring for precise in-camera manipulation of the audio levels. A dedicated switch permits instant transition from still to movie shooting and an HDMI terminal is integrated into the body’s design for direct HD output to a television or monitor.

In-Camera Shake Reduction

In-camera sensor-shift type Shake Reduction (SR) works to minimize the appearance of camera shake when using any mounted lens. Ideal for working in low-light conditions or with longer lenses, since the image stabilization is located within the body, both past, legacy lenses as well as current Pentax lenses all receive the benefits of SR.

Body Design

Revolving around a durable magnesium alloy body with stainless steel chassis, the K-3 is fully weather and coldproof due to the inclusion of 92 independent seals. These seals protect the camera from water, fog, snow, sand, and dust for ensured performance in a wide range of conditions.

Two SD memory cards slots are incorporated into the body for greater flexibility and potential capacity when shooting and support both overflow and JPEG/RAW file separation. Support is also availed to dedicated 16GB FLU memory cards, which provides wireless connectivity to the camera for remote adjustment over camera settings, remote live view monitoring, and wireless sharing of files. Eye-Fi wireless cards are supported, too.

Also housed within the body is a bright, low-profile glass pentaprism viewfinder with 0.95x magnification and 100% frame coverage. The glass has been treated with an optimized coating to improve brightness and reflectance for clearer viewing. Additionally, optional interchangeable focusing screens can be used depending on personal preference for critical focusing and composing. A 3.2″ 1,037k-dot LCD monitor is available, too, for bright live view monitoring, image playback, and menu navigation and features an anti-reflective (AR) coating and gapless glass design for greater clarity when viewing.

Other Camera Features

When working in live view, an electronic level can be used to help ensure level horizons and plumb verticals.

Multi-pattern white balance recognizes and independently analyzes different lighting sources and types within an image and applies separate white balance adjustments to optimize the overall color reproduction.

Native support is offered for both Pentax PEF and Adobe DNG 14-bit RAW file types. It is also possible to retrieve RAW data from JPEG files if still present in the camera’s buffer memory.

In-camera HDR capture is possible for extending the dynamic range of an image; achieving greater details in the highlights and shadows with an extended range of mid-tones.

A customizable RAW/Fx button provides easy, direct access to some of the most oft-used camera settings.

A built-in pop-up flash is available, with a guide no. of 42.65′ at ISO 100, and supports P-TTL metering. A hot shoe and X-sync terminal are also available for external flash connection.

Multiple exposure shooting is possible in composite mode with additive, average, and bright settings for 2 to 2000 individual exposures.

Interval recording permits up to 2000 individual images to be recorded with 2 sec. to 24 hour delays in between frames.

Custom Image Modes: Bright; Natural; Portrait; Landscape; Vibrant; Radiant; Muted; Bleach Bypass; Reversal Film; Monochrome; Cross Processing; HDR: Auto, HDR1, HDR2, HDR3; Exposure Bracket Value adjustable; and Automatic composition correction function.

Digital Filters: Extract Color, Toy Camera, Retro, High Contrast, Shading, Invert Color, Unicolor Bold, and Bold Monochrome.

Language support: English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Greek, Russian, Korean, Chinese (Simplified/Traditional), and Japanese.


  1. Steve, you wrote “I will be reviewing this one because I feel it offers what most people want in a high-end serious camera, and with those gorgeous new Limited lenses, that are SMALL yet high quality, this could be a serious contender.”.

    Are you still going to review this camera?

  2. I’m in love with this camera. Best peformance jump coming from K-5 since I went to the K-7 from the K10d. I’ve tried other systems and just keep coming back to Pentax with their limiteds.

  3. Thanks again Mike !!!! I was not confused with your input. Understood all of it. Does Pentax have a new 18- 270 mm or something like that ? Anyway, I’m thinking of picking up the SIGMA 17-50 2.8 pentax mount rather than TAMRON ‘S. I’ve had experience with sigma 17-50 2.8 NIKON mount and it was fast AF, sharp and just right weight to it. Thank you for the input. I appreciate it. I’ll post something as soon as I get a K 3. 🙂

  4. Thanks Mike !!!!! from the 6 ones you have tried , which one would you recommend and which one do you own ? Also, what wide angle combo ( 17- 50, 18- 55 ) would you recommend for the K 3 that’s going to be available soon ?

    • Ok, this is going to sound excessive and well it is 🙂
      I have the Pentax F50 f1.7, FA50 f1.4, DA* 55 f1.4, voigtlander nokton 58 f1.4, helios 58 f2, Pentax k50 f1.2, Cosina 50 f1.2, Pentax m50 f1.7, Pentax m50 f4 macro. My favorite among these are the DA*55 and the voigtlander, but the 1.2’s are great too. The FA50 is really good too so if you can get this at a good price (used $250-ish) it’s worth getting.

      That said, the DA50 f1.8 looks to be a great lens and I wouldn’t hesitate in getting it if the DA*55 was out of range financially. If you’re comfortable w/ used, the FA50 would probably be what I’d get if budget was a big concern (and after buying a new top class body, it would be for most people).

      Of the wide to normal zooms, I’ve owned or still own the DA18-55 wr, DA16-45 f4, DA*16-50, tamron 18-200, DA18-135 and the Sigma 18-50 f2.8. If you don’t have WR lenses, I’d get at least one and the DA18-55 wr would be fine and wouldn’t hit your wallet that hard. The DA*16-50 is my preferrence if weight isn’t a concern. The DA16-45 optically is superior to the 18-55 but it’s not WR. Also the difference in 16mm vs 18mm is pretty significant. If the 16-50 is out of range but you want WR, the da18-135 would be my first choice, budget permitting. If you want something optically very good and need a fast-ish aperture, I’ve read the Tamron 17-50 f2.8 is a great lens, better than the Sigma 18-50 f2.8 which I owned until I gave it to my brother recently but I liked quite a lot more than the 18-55. But having WR at the beach or where it’s dusty or when rain is a possibility is very important to me. I don’t want to baby my gear to the point where I can’t use it in pretty much all conditions. Beauty doesn’t stop when the wind blows or if it rains or snows…

      Anyways, hope this wasn’t too confusing but it comes down to your priorities and budget. Good luck and congrats on your decision on the k3! I’d love to get one soon, but budgets will keep me from getting one for a few months 🙁

  5. I’m thinking of picking up a PENTAX 50 MM 1.8 . the one that’;s a little bit cheaper in the $ 100-200 range. Any comments on this lens for the K3 would be appreciated . thanks all.

    • I’ve tried 6 different Pentax 50’s and they are all good. This is one of the few that I have not tried, but I’ve read it’s not unlike the others – but this one has rounded aperture blades for smoother bokeh (which has been good on all the other pentax 50s so if this is better, that’s great), and fast focusing because of it’s light construction. If you get a lens hood, your contrast should improve in bright conditions. Really, you can’t go wrong as long as a 75mm field of view is what you’re after. Another good inexpensive AF lens is the DA35 f2.4. I have this one and it’s quite good.

      Another good lens that you can get for cheap on the used market is the DA40xs f2.8 – amazingly small pancake lens that is super sharp and very fast focusing. Don’t care for the lens cap that much but I haven’t had a problem with it. Reason why it’s so cheap – it came as a kit with a Pentax K01 which did not sell so well and it was firesaled off so now there is a ton of supply of this lens. You should be able to get it used for around $150 even though it’s a $300 lens.

  6. I own a K5 and I am very satisfied. Usually use the 31 mm Limited. Also have an old Pentax 50mm (no autofocus but have Katzeye microprism etc) Guess I will wait for a year and get the K3 when it is cheap and hand over the K5 to my girlfriend 🙂
    In general very pleased with Pentax. Had troubles to come from analog to digital with Nikon D60. Pentax gives me feeling like in old black and white times with my Fuji…

  7. Okay here I go. I have asked about the Olympus and the use of a 75 MM Summarit Leica lense and it seems it is an OKAY. Now my question is what about this Pentax? I have my eye on both cameras but would like to make use of the Leica of course. I have the Ricoh GR and it is amazing so believe their work with the K3 is as good a standard but then the Olympus looks stellar. Hmmm Decisions Decisions. Anyway about the use of the Leica lense will it work on the K3 and if so better or worse in opinion? Thanks again.

    • Well, on K-3 the crop is 1.5x, on Olympus the crop is 2x. K-3 sports the brand new Sony’s 24 MP sensor, that can spunk Leica’s own performance wise. K-3 also sports revamped pentaprism with changeable focus screen options, and a focus peaking feature too, for easier manual focusing. That’s just at a glance.

        • Almost all of the primes of Pentax is fantastic, if you have the money, The DA* 55 f1.8 is an excellent choice and is weather sealed. All of the Limiteds gives Leica a run for the money too.

          If it is the DA70 f2.4 vs the FA77 f1.8, I’d choose the DA70 since it focuses faster than the FA77 f1.8, can take advantage of the new faster AF of the K3 and the IQ difference is really hard to differentiate.

          • The DA*55 has a max aperture of 1.4 fyi.
            I’ve had both the DA70 and the FA77 and there’s something about the bokeh and look that I just love about the FA77. The DA is no slouch, but I preferred the FA even though the focusing is a little slower and there’s more CA in high contrast areas.

            For budget primes, the DA35 f2.4 is great and I’ve heard the DA50 f1.8 is another winner.

            Personally, my favorite primes are the FA77, DFA100 wr macro, DA*55, and the DA15. I hope to add the DA21 to my collection soon. The FA31 and FA43 are also amazing lenses.

            For non Pentax lenses, the Sigma 24 1.8, the Sigma 70 f2.8 macro and the Sigma 105 f2.8 macro are awesome. They are much larger than Pentax lenses though so I have sold them except the 24mm. I also own the Sigma 30 f1.4 and that’s nice too though the corners and edges can be a bit soft.

            Manual focus lenses – samyangs have been pretty good like the 85, and 14. If you can get the Voigtlander Nokton, that’s a special one. Also the 1.2 by Pentax, Cosina, or Reuvenon are great too. Actually there’s a ton of really good manual focus glass out there, some of them really cheap.

  8. Also, the K-3 is the first camera this year to sport a brand new Sony’s next gen 24 MP sensor. So, not a Toshiba, not old Sony 24MP from A77 and NEX 7, but a brand new one.

  9. brillat, excellent, etc. …but it is stilla DSLR with the whole size/weight disadvantage of the system. Comact System Cameras are from that perspective clear winner. The latest Oly E-M1 no so much…it is heavy but the lenses are smaller, lighter. Fuji cameras are not quick (AF) but X-E1 to the Oly

  10. I have been shooting for nearly 40 years in Alaska with Olympus OM1 first then, K1000, Pentax 67, Pentax 100d and Pentax 20D. I look forward to owning the K-3 that have already ordered. P.S., ever since I started shooting Pentax I have not ever had to looked back. Great history and cameras.

  11. This announcement has me stoked!
    I owned both the K5 and K5ii until my video needs overtook the camera’s abilities.
    Coming from a Nikon full-frame background, I instantly fell in love with the jpegs from Pentax, and never felt the need to shoot RAW anymore.
    I switched to Olympus, but have never been as happy with the output or handling as I was with Pentax.
    I can’t wait to get my hands on the K-3 and start shooting those bold jpegs again!

  12. Hi Steve, on the official Pentax website under Specification there is the required Information about the resolution of recorded Images which specifies 6016 x 4000 in 3:2 aspect ratio.

    With best regards,


  13. I use the K5 daily since launch in combination with limited primes – my favorite is the DA15mm. In my opinion the best street-DSLR; very compact yet rugged, great high iso and those small primes keep the kit portable. Quiet shutter too, which is very important to me as I try to get close to people with the wide angle.

    This new camera is even better? Wow.

  14. Hope you check the AF performance, this was a major flaw with the K5. I was not impressed by the highly praised LTD. lenses. Sample variation is a problem here. The third 31mm was ok but the first 2 performed worse then the zoom kit lens. The best lens i had was the 77mm. Be careful with the 43mm.

  15. It looks like a huge camera, and thanks Allah, his 92 names have been eternalized by 92 seals. One can not miss that number of seals in this report, and since all good things are 3 they are reported at least 3 times, hahaha.

    So, I don’t know if you will give this camera a test shooting, it’s not a mirrorless, and hardly to compare to a Leica, but, let’s wait and see. I wait patienty to see the first shots online. That Sony 24 mpix sensor starts getting somewhat dusty, but it seems the best option they have. I would have better appreciated them to use the new 20 mpix sensor, it does, to my opinion, a better performance. Unfortunately, Sony has given it a start in low end cameras only.

  16. This looks like a home run for Ricoh Pentax! I am still very happy with my K-7 and 21,35 & 70 Ltds but man, if I were in the market for a new rig, I’d buy this in a heartbeat.

    Steve…any chance you’ll be reviewing this camera, perhaps paired with one of the new HD coated Limiteds anytime in the not too distant future (pretty please???)?

    • There was few DSLR cameras in Pentax Line-up which were a disappointment for me (I had K100d super, K20D, K7, Kx, K5 and K3 now, also tried K-r, K10d). Those cameras are K-r and K7. Why K-7? Well, it was not better than a K20d and actually worse in some aspects (high ISO performance, for example). K-r had problems with front focus and this was a serious issue with this model on the market.

      So any upgrade above K-7 will be noticeable for you. K30, K5-II/IIs, K3 (not suggesting K50 only because it’s just a redesigned K30).

  17. The DA* lens line have the highest quality and toughest weather sealing among all pentax lenses (even above that of WR).

    • Not necessarily. The WR 100 f/2.8 Macro is a bit better built than most of the DA* lenses (metal barrel, much smoother focus ring action) and beats the pants off them in quality.

  18. Excuse the possibly novice question, but how would you compare the K3 to the Olympus OM-D E-M1? Both are weather sealed, both seem to bring novel innovations and the K3 is only modestly bigger. I have a OM-D E-M1 on pre-order, but now have to seriously consider the K3. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

    • K3 will be much larger, heavier and is a DSLR with a standard optical VF. E-M1 is a mirrorless camera, smaller, EVF – both systems have amazing small primes available, both are tough as nails it appears. Pentax has an APS-C sensor, micro 4/3 is a 4/3 sensor.

  19. I thought it was supposed to be a full frame? Why couldn’t they do that? I’m not against it it’s just they haven’t made one yet.

    • I think one of the main reasons is their current lens line-up. Only few of the primes and none of the zooms can fill full frame image circle ( so they would have to create a new line of lenses dedicated for full frame sensors to make the system competitive. This of course costs money and requires a lot of time.

      But yeah, it would be nice to see more manufacturers enter the full frame market. 🙂

      • Hi.

        Well I have heard from a Pentax rep just weeks ago (he has been an avid Pentax user since the 70s) who is very close to a few top workers from Pentax Japan. They have told him that a FF Pentax is on its way. Rumoured to be a 36mp. As for lenses. They are re-releasing new versions of the old/amazing FA* lenses for starters, let alone other lenses to fill the FF lens line up. Apparently the official announcement will be in the beginning of next year.

  20. This looks just brilliant. I really can’t wait to see how this beauty performs. I have always thought though that 24 mp was just too much for the APS-C sensor. However, just look at that spec. But Pentax along with Olympus have always been great innovators going right back to the dear old 135 film days. Having said that though my budget won’t allow for yet another camera so I will be sticking to my old faithful K5 still a great camera. Just excellent keep it coming Pentax and Ricoh.

  21. Pentax always intrigued me, in a good way. They have a very sexy lineup of quality primes specially designed for APS-C sensors. Pentax cameras have always been rather compact (for a DSLR), with proven weathersealing, and great ergonomics. I’m not in the market for an APS-C DSLR, but if I was, this would certainly be on the top of my list…supposing they get AF right, which seems to be a bit of hit and miss with previous incartations of the “K” series.

  22. It says it has a “Sensor-shift image stabilization with rotational compensation” is this something similar to the Olympus’ 5-axis?

    • It has, but it only has 3 axis (left/right, up/down and rotation by something like 2°), the Olympus can also tilt the sensor, which is pretty amazing. Also, the E-M1, like the Pentax K-5 also did stabilization during video shooting, while the K-3 does not have stabilization (it has a warp stabilizer, but apart from the higher above 1080p resolution it can work with there is absolutely NO advantage to using it over warp stabilizer in Premiere Pro (which you can fine tune). It does not try to reduce jello, it corrects for movements of the motif, even if the camera itself is stationary, and you don’t see the actual framing that is going to end up on the SD card on the screen).

  23. And what about the feature that allows for different white balance in the same picture? So if you have tungsten in a room while daylight is coming through a window the camera will assign different white balances to make it look the same.

    The following is from the Ricoh website (

    Multi-pattern white balance

    When shooting scenes that include multiple light sources, such as sunlight and shade or flash, light sources are recognized automatically and the image is separated into different areas. White balance is adjusted separately in each area according to the different light sources to achieve optimal color reproduction.

  24. So, Steve. If I’m not mistaken, the K-5 was the higher line compared to the K-3. But this K-3 is their flagship camera, even better than the K-5 ii s? Also, the upcoming limited HD lenses are made for this new K-3 24mp sensor?

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