High-End Pentax K-3 Announced

Today, Pentax has released the replacement for its popular and highly-regarded K-5 (II) models. Being one of those manufacturers who know how to offer plenty of bang for your buck, the new Pentax K-3 offers a lot of improvements over the older model. This time, though, the headline feature is not a new sensor or improved AF system, but the AA filter that you can adjust on the go for more resolution or less moiré.

Pentax K-3 Front

1) Overview and Specifications

At the heart of the camera there is a new 24 megapixel sensor. From what I can tell, it is not the exact same unit found in Nikon D7100 (click here to read our review), but I can’t be completely sure. It is very similar, though. Why am I mentioning Nikon? Not only because it is a direct rival to the K-3, but predecessors of both new DSLR cameras also shared the same 16 megapixel Sony sensor with small tweaking differences, perhaps. In any case, if previous Pentax cameras are of any indication, the new sensor should perform admirably and on par with competition, certainly very similar to D7100’s sensor. There is also a new 27-point phase-detect autofocus system – certainly a much-needed update which should work in light as low as an impressive -3EV.

Pentax K-3 SD Card Slots

Instead of offering two different models with and without low-pass filter, Ricoh-Pentax found a way to mimic the effect of the filter with its image stabilization system. This way, the feature can be turned on or off at any time by the user. An innovative approach, certainly, but I’ve noticed people fearing for durability of the stabilization mechanism and the sensor itself. Time will tell, but I think it is safe to assume Ricoh ran K-3 through some serious testing before approving the new technology. Pentax K-3 is capable of shooting up to 8.3 frames per second.

Here is the list of key Pentax K-3 DSLR specifications:

  • 24 megapixel APS-C sensor
  • ISO sensitivity range of 100-51,200
  • Shutter speed range of 30-1/8000s
  • Max. continuous shooting speed of 8.3 frames per second
  • New 27-point phase-detect AF system
  • New 86,000 pixel metering system
  • Built-in image stabilization
  • 3.2″ 1.037 million dot LCD at the back
  • Two SD card slots
  • 0.95x size viewfinder with %100 frame coverage
  • Flash sync speed of 1/180s
  • FullHD video recording
  • Battery life rated at around 560 shots
  • Very compact for a camera in this segment – weighs 800g (1.76 lb / 28.22 oz) and measures 131 x 100 x 77mm (5.16 x 3.94 x 3.03″)
  • Magnesium alloy construction
  • Extensive environmental sealing with 92 seals
  • Adjustable low-pass filter effect
  • Body-only price of $1,300

I am not overly enthusiastic about the new low-pass filter strategy as I believe the more there are moving parts, the bigger the chance of failure. However, most users are likely to just leave it off for maximum detail captured and turn it on only in those rare situations where moiré patterns can become a problem. A job well done by Ricoh-Pentax. What I find most impressive about this camera, however, is the body itself. The Pentax K-3 (and K-5 before it) were designed to compete with Canon 70D/Nikon D7100 class cameras, but also tempt potential Canon 7D/Nikon D300 buyers by leapfrogging direct rivals in terms of on-paper specifications. Pentax’s party piece here is its diminutive size. It is much smaller than Nikon’s old and less capable D300s, and even smaller than D7100. Not by much, but sure enough to make a difference. By no means is it cheap, though – K-5 was a very dense and purposeful camera, so is the K-3. The 800g weight will assure you what you that what you are holding is a very capable and durable tool. Weather sealing of the Pentax K-5 has earned high praise from users of all systems during the years and K-3 will be just as impressive.

A silver limited edition version of the K-3 is also available. The limited edition package will be sold along with a matching battery grip and strap for $1600, body-only.

Pentax K-3 Rear

I know we do not talk much about Pentax on Photography Life, but it is not a bad system. Actually, as far as APS-C sensor DSLR cameras go, it is one of the most capable and attractive (not very popular, however). What makes it so good is the great and highly regarded Limited-series lenses, for example – the DA 70mm f/2.4. They are small, very well made with high-quality metal barrel and very good optically. Today, Pentax lot should be happy. Ricoh’s taking good care of them so far.

2) Official Press Release

Here is the official press release by Ricoh:

Ricoh Imaging Sets New Standard of Performance

Pentax K-3 Top

New PENTAX K-3 advanced enthusiast DSLR features 24 megapixel sensor, selectable anti-aliasing filter and fast 8.3 frames per second frame rate

DENVER, CO, October 7, 2013 – Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation (Ricoh Imaging) is pleased to establish a new standard of performance with the debut of the PENTAX K-3 advanced enthusiast DSLR. As the Premiere DSLR in Ricoh Imaging’s robust and full-featured APS-C lineup, the PENTAX K-3 brings unparalleled technology and advanced specifications presenting photographers with a solution that raises the bar while removing limitations.

Elevating standard performance, the PENTAX K-3 boasts a 24 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, incredibly fast 8.3 fps (frames per second) frame rate, innovative selectable anti-aliasing (AA) filter technology and outstanding HD video performance; all while giving demanding photographers dual card slots for quick and easy image recording and seamless wireless remote capture and image transfer capabilities.

“Ricoh Imaging has made an investment to ensure that our product lineup features the most complete and capable APS-C offering in our history,” said Jim Malcolm, Executive Vice President, Ricoh Imaging. “This goal was realized with the introduction of the K-3. Its unmatched feature set and revolutionary technology set a benchmark of excellence that raises the bar for the entire APS-C category.”

Housed in the PENTAX K-3’s sleek and ergonomic body is a host of cutting-edge technology including the innovative and proprietary selectable AA filter which allows photographers to toggle anti-aliasing functionality on or off using the lauded PENTAX SR (Shake Reduction) mechanism. This breakthrough in imaging technology empowers photographers to retain greater control of image output while eliminating the need to commit to supreme resolution or superior moiré control by providing both options in a single camera body. Also new to the PENTAX K-3, and the APS-C category, is the PENTAX FLU SDHC memory card that delivers wireless connectivity with unprecedented functionality to a compatible PC or connected device via a web browser. Using this advanced technology, photographers are able to perform a variety of functions including inspect a live-view image, release the K-3’s shutter, shift the AF sensor point, and check images recorded on the card using any connected device with a web browser. And, thanks to its SD card-based, internal placement the PENTAX K-3 retains its weather-resistant, moisture-tight capabilities with no protruding devices preventing door closure.

The K-3 also features an enhanced video recording experience including the ability to change from still image to video recording with the flip of a dedicated switch to capture full HD movie recording in H.264 format. The K-3 comes equipped with a headphone terminal and stereo mic terminal for external microphone connection. The user can also adjust the audio recording level manually and monitor sound levels during recording. In addition to a variety of creative special-effect modes, the K-3 also provides an upgraded interval movie mode, which captures a series of 4K-resolution movie clips (3840 x 2160 pixels) at a fixed interval.

Rounding out the new and advanced capabilities offered in the PENTAX K-3 is a newly designed autofocus module, SAFOX11, which boasts 27 AF sensors and high light-sensitivity, covering a wide AF working range of –3EV to +18EV. Finally, the new Real-Time Scene Analysis System features an 86,000 pixel RGB light-metering sensor and improved algorithms that further enhance the accuracy of exposure, white balance and auto-focusing.

Pricing and Availability
The PENTAX K-3 will be available for purchase online at www.us.ricoh-imaging.com and retailers nationwide in November 2013 for a suggested retail price of $1,299.95 for body only and $1,699.95 for the kit including the DA 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 WR zoom lens.

The PENTAX K-3 Premium Silver Edition* will also be made available in a limited quantity with only 2,000 units being offered worldwide. This limited-edition model features a silver body with a silver BG-5 battery grip designed exclusively for the K-3, making it a perfect match for the silver HD PENTAX DA Limited lens series, which is designed for unrivaled image rendering. This special package also includes an exclusive leather strap and silver D-BG5 battery grip. The PENTAX K-3 Premium Silver Edition will be available for purchase online at www.us.ricoh-imaging.com and retailers nationwide in November 2013 for a suggested retail price of $ 1,599.95.

The PENTAX FLU SDHC 16GB memory card and D-BG5 battery grip will be available for purchase online at www.us.ricoh-imaging.com and retailers nationwide in November 2013 for a suggested retail price of $99.95 and $229.95, respectively.

To learn more about Ricoh Imaging’s unmatched lineup of APS-C DLSRs and lenses as well as other Ricoh Imaging products, please visit www.us.ricoh-imaging.com.
* The specifications of this limited-edition model are identical to those of the PENTAX K-3.

Pentax K-3 Limited Silver

3) Pre-Order Links


  1. 1) Sören
    October 8, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Maybe a wakeup call for Nikon and its D400 project if it hasnt been put already to the doomed projects bin … by now I doubt that Nikon will come up with a D400.

    Kind regards, Sören

    • 1.1) Global
      October 8, 2013 at 10:20 pm

      As a Nikon user, the first thing I thought was, “I wish Nikon would let Pentax make a D400!”

      Not to mention the all-weather sealing and in-body image stabilization. I’m glad that Nikon or Canon didn’t buy Pentax — they would have ruined it. Sony is a future Nikon/Canon, if it can get its camera finances in order and build up its lenses.

      Pentax, Panasonic, Olympus are good to have around and put downward pressure on the big guys.

      • 1.1.1) Carl R.
        October 9, 2013 at 2:21 am

        fully agree!

      • 1.1.2) Douglas
        October 12, 2013 at 2:37 pm

        I couldn’t agree more. Tell Canon and Nikon to stay away from the smaller guys. They have the lions share of the pro/enthusiast market cornered so leave the rest of us to enjoy our ‘off the wall’ brands that do things a little differently.

  2. October 8, 2013 at 11:15 am

    I switched from Pentax to Nikon for full frame (D800), but I still have a big soft spot for this brand and their cameras. If the K-3 is anything like the K-5 line in feel and image quality, this is going to be an impressive little package. I’d be all over it if I was still shooting Pentax and I might still given that I have a couple of lenses remaining behind… This would make an excellent wildlife camera.

  3. 3) Kyle
    October 8, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    No GPS and no wifi?

  4. 4) Ron
    October 8, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    I wonder if the old pentax takumar lenses would fit?

    • 4.1) Crystal
      October 10, 2013 at 4:13 am

      Pentax is backwards compatible with all previous K-mount lenses even screwmount ones (with an adapter) so yes.

    • 4.2) Douglas
      October 12, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      For sure they will. The Pentax K-mount with an adapter will work just fine. Been using my Takumar lenses with my K10D for years and now my K-5 II is doing the same.

  5. 5) Vasudeep
    October 8, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    8.3 fps and 24mp at such a price is a deal breaker for sure…

  6. 6) Frank Jr.
    October 9, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Magnesium alloy shell over stainless steal chassis, weather sealed, 24 mega-pixel APS-C CMOS sensor, 8.3FPS (without additional battery grip) with a selectable anti-aliasing filter. All for under 1.3k Wow! Nikon may have to go back to the drawing board on the D400. I am looking forward to a competent trustworthy photographer to put this camera in their hands and do an in-depth review. Nasim, hint hint. ;-) K-3 Home Page: http://www.us.ricoh-imaging.com/dslr/K-3_#!product-highlights

    • 6.1) Dave
      October 16, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      Like you Frank, I can’t wait for a hands on with the final production unit (of course with the right kind of photographer). If the new features prove out to be as functional as they are innovative, we may really have something here.
      The biggest ? to me will be how effective the auto focus will be both in low light and the ability to respond quickly in tracking situations. That with the soft AA solution would make this a landmark body.

  7. October 12, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    I just bought a Pentax K-5 II so I’m not in the market for the K-3. It looks like this will be the finest camera Pentax has built to date (not including the 645D medium format). I like the higher FPS and ther higher number of focus points. A much more sophisticated camera for sure. I’m not sure the K-3 is ‘replacing’ the K-5 II and K-5 IIs though. Cost being one thing and the 16 MP sensor vs the 24 MP sensor being another. The K-5 series is still a viable alternative in my opinion.

    One the best things about Pentax cameras is the backward compatibility with their older lenses. I have a collection of Asahi Takumar lenses that I use with my K-5 II. All you need is an adapter. They work great.

    I added the battery grip to mine and it makes for a rock solid photo tool. The K-3 will be much the same with a few more ounces thrown in.

  8. 8) Dave
    October 14, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Ahh! Here it is!

  9. October 21, 2013 at 2:36 am

    Here is a manufacturer which doesn’t give the consumers what they had been craving for years, a Pentax Full Frame DSLR and they counter it with a ‘high spec’ APS-C DSLR which is as much a waste of cash to pay for with just a minimal to add to equal with the cost of a Canon 6D or a Nikon D600. I could stay on with my Pentax K20D for awhile.

  10. 10) Henavy
    May 6, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Yo opino que con esos 24.000.000 de píxeles tiene que dar una resolución brutal” . Yo poseo la k5 con grip original y lente pentax 18 – 135mm. y estoy muy satisfecho.

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