The moment that many passionate Pentaxians have been waiting for is finally here: Pentax has officially announced the 24-megapixel Pentax K-3, a flagship APS-C DSLR that's slated to replace the K-5 II/IIs. Being an advanced camera, the K-3 is primarily targeted at enthusiasts and professionals, and it will likely satisfy even the most demanding photographers. The new PRIME III processor ensures the camera will deliver the speed that photographers need and expect from a camera of this caliber.
In this article we'll be telling you all about the K-3, including its specifications, highlights, and key features. We have had a chance to try out a pre-production K-3 hands-on, so some of our commentary will relate to how the camera handles in real life. This article is the first in a series of posts about the camera, as we will be following up this post with a hands-on Q&A, and shortly after that you can expect to see our in-depth review of this exciting camera.
While the K-3 may appear very similar to the K-5 on the outside, its hardware has seen a complete overhaul to the point that virtually all of its specifications are improved over those of its predecessor. Pentax is finally ditching the 16-megapixel sensor that they used in eight consecutive camera models, and the company has equipped the K-3 with an all-new 27-point autofocus system, making it their first DSLR to feature more than 11 autofocus points. Pentaxians will also be thrilled to hear that the K-3 has dual SD card slots, a best-in-class burst mode, and wireless tethering capabilities.
In fact, on paper, the K-3 looks like it will be one of the most capable APS-C DSLRs on the market. Launching at a price tag of just $1299, it will start shipping in early November. There will also be a special silver edition of the K-3 for $300 more (with grip). Let's start by taking a quick look at the key specifications of the K-3:
Pentax K-3 Specifications
|Sensor||24-megapixel APS-C CMOS Sensor
6016 x 4000px max. recorded resolution
24.71 megapixels total
23.5 x 15.6mm physical size
|AA Filter||No hardware anti-aliasing filter
Simulated AA filter/moire suppression via SR mechanism (user-configurable)
|ISO Range||100 - 51200|
27-point TTL phase detection autofocus (25 cross-type points in a 5x5 grid)
86k-pixel RGB sensor with -3 to +18 EV sensitivity
New feature: multi-pattern white balance
|Continuous Shooting||Continuous H: 8.3 FPS (up to 60 JPG / 23 RAW)
Continuous M: 4.5 FPS (up to 100 JPG / 32 RAW)
Continuous L: 3 FPS (up to 200 JPG / 52 RAW)
|Shutter Speeds||1/8000s - 30s, Bulb|
|Viewfinder||Pentaprism optical viewfinder
100% coverage, 0.95x magnification
3.2" LCD with 1037k dots
Live view & video focus peaking support
1/180s sync speed
Full HD: 60i/50i/30p/25p/24p
25-minute maximum recording time
|Media Slots||Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC slots|
|Still File Formats||PEF and DNG RAW (14-bit), JPEG|
|Tethering||Full remote control and desktop transfer capabilities
via FLU wireless SD card technology
|Weight||800g (loaded and ready)|
|Battery||D-LI90 (up to 720 frames w/o flash, 560 w/ 50% flash)|
|Battery Grip||D-BG5 (6x AA or 1x D-LI90 support)
$199.95 US MSRP
Yes; 92 dust and moisture seals
|Connectivity||USB3, mic input, AV out, HDMI out, cable switch, x-sync socket, DC in, headphones|
|Dust Removal||Ultrasonic "DRII"|
|Processor||Single PRIME III|
|Stabilization||Body-based Shake Reduction|
While there's no denying that the K-3 plays catch-up with the Nikon D7100 (its closest competitor) in many areas, it does leap ahead in others: it has a best-in-class continuous framerate/buffer as well as the ability to record full-HD videos at 60 frames per second.
The K-3 also has a new 86k-pixel metering sensor, which is nothing short of professional grade. The D7100 can only record up to 50 JPEG files or 7 RAW files at maximum resolution before reducing its framerate, and its full-HD mode is limited to 30 FPS. Compare this to the K-3's 60 JPEG / 23 RAW buffer and 1080i 60FPS recording.
The sensor in the K-3 is likely to be the same Toshiba chip found in the Nikon D7100 and D5200, as all three sensors have a total resolution of 24.71 megapixels. Reviews of the latter two cameras have shown that the new 24-megapixel sensor is capable of outperforming the K-5/D7000's old 16-megapixel chip in terms of overall image quality, albeit to a small extent. (Update as of 10/10: we will be confirming the sensor manufacturer directly with Pentax in Japan. Remaining questions about the K-3 will be answered in an upcoming hands-on preview).
Already convinced? You can reserve your K-3 by pre-ordering at B&H Photo and pay when it ships.
Pentax K-3 with new D-BG5 battery grip and DA L 18-55mm WR lens
The K-3 also features some fresh innovation:
- It is the first camera to be able to simulate the effect of an antialiasing filter by vibrating the image sensor, thus reducing moire when activated
- It supports wireless tethering functionality via a dedicated FLU Wi-Fi SD card (discussed later)
- The new metering sensor enables multi-pattern white balance, which can apply different WB presets selectively
So far, this camera really looks like a big upgrade for any current Pentax user, and it will certainly hold its ground against the competition. But specifications aren't everything, so let us take a look at what changes have been made to the camera's buttons and ergonomics. Later on in this article we will also be examining the K-3's highlights more closely.
Pentax has just announced that they will be adding the 'WR' (Weather Resistant) epithet to the DA 55-300mm, one of the most popular lenses that Pentax currently has in its lineup. The HD DA 55-300mm WR is a variable aperture medium-to-super telephoto zoom lens that is designed specifically for Pentax's APS-C line of digital DSLRs (Pentax K-3, K-5/II/IIs, K-50, etc.).
Continue on after the break for the main features of the new HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR as reported directly from the Ricoh Imaging Company press release, as well as our initial synopsis what it all means.
In response to yesterday's lens announcement, an updated version of the Pentax K-mount DSLR Lens Roadmap / Lineup has appeared on the Japanese Pentax web site (now branded as a Ricoh Imaging site).
The new roadmap, which is available for download here, indicates that four new DA lenses as well as a SDM-compatible teleconverter will be launched in the near future. These lenses include:
- A wide-angle Limited zoom (~20-40mm)
- A wide-angle zoom (~10-30mm)
- A general-purpose zoom (~16-85mm)
- A telephoto zoom (~100-400mm)
The general-purpose zoom, which was previously slated to be a premium DA*-series lens, is now shown as a standard consumer DA lens.
Additionally, the five new HD DA Limited lenses have replaced the previous SMC versions on the updated roadmap.
Pentax have just announced a facelift of their entire DA-Limited lens lineup, as optically-improved and cosmetically-redesigned "HD" versions of the DA 15, 21, 35, 40, and 70mm Limited lenses will soon be replacing the current DA-Limited lenses. All of the new "HD" lenses will be available in both black and silver, and their glass has been treated with Pentax's new HD coating, a nano crystal lens coating that does a better job of reducing ghosting and flare than traditional multi-coatings. In the past, silver versions of DA limited lenses were only offered as special editions.
The aperture diaphragm in all the new lenses also getting an upgrade: their aperture blades will now employ a fully-rounded design.
For the full specifications of each of these lenses, please visit our lens database:
- HD Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited
- HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited
- HD Pentax-DA 35mm F2.8 Limited Macro
- HD Pentax-DA 40mm F2.8 Limited
- HD Pentax-DA 70mm F2.4 Limited
The five new lenses feature a simplified all-metal design complete with red rings to designate the presence of HD coating. The fundamental appearance of the lens barrel remains unchanged, and the design continues to be minimalistic and focused on compactness above all else.
SMC Pentax-DA 40mm Limited (old) vs HD Pentax-DA 40mm Limited (new)
For those who are unfamiliar with the Pentax lens lineup, know that "Limited" does not mean limited-edition or limited-production. This word simply designates a trademark lineup of high-end Pentax prime lenses that feature metal barrels and premium optical performance. These lenses are designed to be very compact, so their maximum apertures are typically slower than what is offered by DA* or DA prime lenses. DA-series lenses are designed for use on APS-C DSLRs only (however, tess have shown that the DA 40mm does cover the "full-frame" image circle, as it is based on an older film lens design).
Read on for a closer look at each of the new lenses, as well as for pre-order links. Prices for these new lenses range from $549.95 to $749.95 in the US. This represents a $50 price increase over the older lenses. The new HD lenses will start shipping in September.
Pentax have just announced the AF 360FGZ II and AF 540FGZ II flashes, updated versions of their two main off-camera flashes. While we were expecting this news following unveiling of new prototype flashes at the CES and CP+ trade shows, what comes to us as a surprise is the fact that both of these flashes are fully-weather sealed thanks to an AW (all-weather) design.
Apart from the addition of weather sealing, the most notable change is without a doubt the fact that the new AF 360 flash now has a swivel head, a feature that was previously only available on the AF 540 and third-party flashes. Furthermore, it looks like the AF 540 flash, the more powerful of the two, has been made much more compact. Both new flashes now also have a built-in LED video light.
Over the past several years, our users have been posting complaints about the flimsiness of various parts of the old flashes. Given the weather-sealed design of the Mark II versions, we would expect these issues to be resolved, but we will have to get our hands on both of these flash units before such a conclusion can be made. Therefore, stay tuned for an in-depth review of these flashes soon!
The full specifications of the new flashes are available in our Pentax flash database.
With the announcement and recent launch of the Pentax K-500 and K-50 entry-level and weather-sealed DSLRs, it was inevitable that it would only be a matter of time before the predecessor of these cameras, the K-30, would start to be in short supply. The Pentax K-30 was originally launched last July. As we say farewell to it, let's take a look back and see what made this camera so special!
The K-30 (like the K-50) can be considered an upper entry-level DSLR, though it was rather unique in what it offered. Despite being targeted at beginners, this camera came with full weather sealing, dual control wheels, and a 100%-coverage viewfinder: features normally reserved for top-tier DSLRs. Although originally not the cheapest among its competitors, it was the most affordable weather-sealed DSLR on the market until the launch of the K-50.
Thanks to these advanced features, in our comparative review of various upper entry-level DSLRs we found the K-30 to be the best fit for photographers primarily interested in stills. While not cutting-edge in terms of video recording or otherwise ground-breaking, the K-30 was still an exceptional value for all that it brought to the table. Even more importantly, it seems to have set a great precedent for the quality of future entry-level cameras from Pentax.
Pentax Ricoh Imaging, the company responsible for the design and development of Pentax cameras, has recently beed officially renamed to just "Ricoh Imaging". This name change, which went into effect on August 1st, seems to also have affected the branding of all the official Pentax web sites.
Pentax.jp, the official Japanese Pentax site, has been moved to ricoh-imaging.co.jp. The Pentax name has also been removed from the site's header. Although the new homepage has gotten a minor facelift, most of the site content remains unchanged, and everything continues to be available in both Japanese and English as before.
Pentax-imaging.com, the official US Pentax site, has been moved to us.ricoh-imaging.com. The header has been redesigned to look just like the one of the Japanese site. Similarly, Pentax.ca, the official Canadian Pentax site, has been moved to ricoh-imaging.ca.
While the domains of Pentax.eu, Pentax.com.au, and Pentaxwebstore.com remain unchanged for the time-being, these sites have also been re-branded.
With these changes, it seems that we won't be seing the "Pentax" very often outside of product references. This comes somewhat as a surprise to us, as "Pentax" is a without a doubt a much stronger name in the camera industry than "Ricoh". Will this move confuse consumers further? Our web site will of course not be renamed to RicohForums.com as a result of this news.
Fortunately, Ricoh Imaging representatives have assured users that Pentax cameras will continue to be produced, and that the Pentax name will certainly not be disappearing from existing product lines.
The Pentax K-500, originally announced in June, has finally hit the shelves in the US!
This new entry-level camera is very similar to the Pentax K-50, which you can read more about in our hands-on preview or hands-on video. We will be posting our in-depth review of the K-50 in the coming days, and we will follow up with a review of the K-500, so stay tuned!
The K-500 is priced at $599 with a 18-55mm kit lens, which makes it about $150 cheaper than the K-50. Compared to the K-50, the lower-end K-500 lacks weather sealing, an electronic level, and autofocus points in the viewfinder, but the camera retains all of the K-50's other innovative features, making it a compelling choice in the entry-level DSLR market.