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Pentax K-3

Build Quality 
User Interface 
Image Quality 
Reviews Views Date of last review
40 154,790 Sat April 1, 2023
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
98% of reviewers $1,057.94 9.38
Pentax K-3

Pentax K-3
Pentax K-3
Pentax K-3
Pentax K-3
Pentax K-3
Pentax K-3


The Pentax K-3 was announced on October 8, 2013 as the new Pentax DSLR flagship model. Compared to the K-5, it has a 24MP sensor (vs. 16MP for the K-5), a faster frame rate of 8.3 FPS, 27 AF points (op from 11), more AF modes, and a 3.2 inch monitor (up from 3 inch).

Click here for our in-depth review of the Pentax K-3

Of particular interest is a couple of new innovative features:

1) The sensor has no anti-alias filter just like the K-5 IIs, but the effect of an AA filter can be simulated through micro-movements of the sensor using the shake reduction (SR) mechanism. This means that the effect of an AA filter can basically be turned on and off. For subjects with very fine detail in repeating patterns where one runs the risk of false color patterns (moiré) the filter should be turned on. For landscape photography the filter could be turned off and the images would benefit from increased resolution.

2) The camera supports the FLU Card, which is an SD card with built in WiFi. With this card in the camera one can control the camera remotely from a PC, tablet or smart phone. Remote live view is also provided.

3) A new, more sensitive metering system deploying a 86,000 pixel sensor. The metering sensitivity goes down to -3 EV thus matching the impressive -3 EV lowest sensitivity of the autofocus system.

The K-3 has two SD card slots that can be employed in various ways, hereunder setting one slot up for backing up the images, or JPG can be recorded to one card and RAW to the other.

The movie format is MPEG-4 AVC/H.264(MOV), which is more widely used than the AVI format of the K-5 series.

The body is constructed of magnesium alloy on top of a steel chassis and is weather sealed and cold proof to -10C/14F. The body is slightly larger than the K-5 and the battery grip from the K-5/K-7 will not fit. A new grip, BG5, has been developed. The grip takes either a rechargeable D-LI90 Li-Ion battery or 6 AA batteries.

The additional features have called for a few extra buttons to be added to the camera body so that many settings can be changed without having to go into the menu. Details about the button layout is described in our in-depth review.

Major features subsequently added through firmware updates:

  • Version 1.43: Optimized focus operation for the DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED PLM AW lens
  • Version 1.42: Optimized focus operation for the FA Limited 31mm, 43mm, and 77mm lenses
  • Version 1.41: Optimized performance with the D FA* 85mm F1.4 lens
  • Version 1.40: Optimized performance with the D FA* 50mm F1.4 lens
  • Version 1.30: Support for lenses with KAF4 mount, i.e. lenses that have foregone the mechanical stop-down lever
  • Version 1.20: Support for AF buttons on the barrel of the HD Pentax-D FA 150-450mm lens
  • Version 1.10: Diffraction Correction
  • Version 1.03: Support for HD Pentax-DA Rear Converter 1.4X AW
  • Version 1.02: AA Filter Bracketing

Camera Manuals:

Pentax K-3
©, sharable with attribution
Year Introduced
In Production
No (Discontinued 2016)
Current US Price
In-Depth Review
Click to Read
Sensor Format
Sensor Type
4000 x 6016 pixels
AA Filter
No (AA filter simulator)
Super Resolution
Bit Depth
Minimum ISO
Maximum ISO
ISO Range
100 - 51,200
Exposure Modes
Green, HyP, Sv, Av, Tv, TAv, HyM, X, B, User(3)
Program Modes
Auto, Normal, Action, Depth of field (deep/shallow), MTF
Maximum FPS
Continuous Shooting
Hi: 8.3 fps up to approx. 60 frames (JPG), up to approx. 23 frames (RAW), M: 4.5 fps up to approx 100 frames (JPG), 32 frames (RAW), Lo: 3 fps uup to approx. 200 frames (JPG), up to appox. 52 frames (RAW)
Shutter Speeds (Auto)
30s - 1/8000s (stepless)
Shutter Speeds (Manual)
B, 30s - 1/8000s. Up to 300s in Astrotracer mode
Shutter Life
Exposure compensation
+/-5 EV (+/-2 EV in movie mode)
Auto bracketing
Exposure (2, 3 or 5 frames), one-push EV bracketing
Expanded dynamic range
Highlight (auto, on, off), Shadow (auto, high, medium, low, off)
Exposure lock
Self timer
2 s with mirror lock-up, 12 s
Metering Sensor
86K Pixel
Meter range
-3 to 20 EV
Meter pattern
Multi-Segment,Center Weighted,Spot
Mirror lock-up
Interval shooting
Up to 2000 frames, 2 sec to 24 hours interval
HDR mode
Multiple exposures
Yes, average, additive and bright, 2 to 2000 shots
Pixel mapping
Scene Modes
Exposure modes with M and K lenses are restricted to Av (with aperture always wide open) and M (with stop-down metering)
Lens Mount
KAF2 (no aperture coupler)
Composition Adjustment
Yes (sensor-shift SR)
Power zoom
Supported (zoom only)
Supported Lenses
All Pentax K-mount lenses. Manual focus only with K-, M-, and A-series lenses. Stop down metering only with K- and M-series lenses. M42, Pentax 645 and Pentax 6x7 lenses with the appropriate adapters (stop down metering and manual focus only).
Lens correction
Distortion,Lateral Chromatic Aberration,Vignetting,Diffraction
Autofocus (viewfinder)
Yes (SAFOX 11, 27 focus points (25 cross type))
AF Points
Autofocus sensitivity
-3 EV
Front/back focus correction
Yes (adjustment for up to 20 lenses)
Autofocus with SDM
Autofocus assist
Dedicated LED
0.95x, 100%
Viewfinder type
Diopter adjustment
-2.5 to +1.5
AF Points in viewfinder
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
Digital preview
Yes (with image magnificaion)
Live View
Focus Peaking
Back LCD
3.2 in., 1,037,000 dots, 3:2 aspect ratio
Weather resistant
Control wheels
Battery grip
D-BG5 (takes D-LI90 or 6x AA)
Card slots
Dust removal
Yes, Ultrasonic DR II
Dust alert
Memory card type
SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS-I Compatible), Eye-Fi, Flucard
Size (W x H x D)
131.5 x 100 x 77.5 mm
715 g (800 g with battery and SD card)
File format
Battery life
720 images (560 images with 50% flash usage) Video playback time: 370 minutes
D-LI90 lithium-ion rechargeable
Built-in flash
Yes, GN 13 (ISO 100/m)
Sync speed
P-TTL flash
Flash functions
Auto discharge, On (leading curtain sync), Redeye reduction, Slow-speed sync, Trailing curtain sync, High-speed sync*, Manual, Wireless*, Contrast control*
* Available when combined with external flash
TTL flash
Flash exposure comp
-2 to 1 EV
Resolution / Framerates
1920x1080 (16:9 Full HD) at 60, 30, 25 and 24 fps,
1280x720 (16:9) at 60, 30, 25 and 24 fps,
Interval Movie (4K, Full HD, HD)
Exposure Modes
P, Av, TAv, M
Movie mode restrictions
AF During Recording
Sound in Movie mode
Stereo (external mic), Mono (built-in mic). Adjustable sound level
Via Accessory
Via O-FC1 FLUcard
USB 3, HDMI out, stereo mic, headphones, DC in, X-sync, cable release
Latest Firmware
Link to download page
User reviews
In-depth review
Astrotracer compatible, Diffraction correction requires firmware update, Electronic level, Embed copyright information in EXIF, High ISO NR can be customized for each major ISO value, Image plane indicator, In-camera RAW development, Moiré suppression via SR mechanism, Moiré suppresion bracketing (with firmware update), Save last JPG as RAW, Save JPG from movie, The RAW button is customizable and can perform a variety of functions, hereunder exposure bracketing
Special Editions

Prestige, Silver

Megapixels: 24.0
ISO Range: 100-51200
Weight: 800g
FPS: 8.3
LCD: 3.2"
In Production: Buy the Pentax K-3
Type: Advanced DSLR
Weather Sealed: Yes
In-Depth Review: Read our Pentax K-3 in-depth review!
Price History:

Add Review of Pentax K-3 Buy the Pentax K-3
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 40
New Member

Registered: November, 2019
Posts: 1

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: April 1, 2023 Recommended | Price: $560.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Well-built. Intuitive Controls. Great Image Quality.
Cons: Personally I'd like more ISO range at lower end of scale,eg ISO 64/50/25
Years Owned: 6 years    Ergonomics: 9    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 9    Autofocus: 8    Features: 10    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 9    New or Used: Used   

A latecomer to digital photography, after fifty years as a keen amateur and semi-professional film photographer, my K-3 was my first DSLR.

A well-built camera with totally intuitive controls, I took to it like a proverbial 'duck to water' and was instantly rewarded with very satisfying results. It now acts mainly as back-up to my K-1, but can always deliver the goods when I call on it to do so. I use it exclusively with prime lenses and frequently fitted with a D-BG5 battery grip, which is a real boon when shooting in portrait mode and aids my handling of the K-3 as I have big hands.

Image quality is excellent in J-PEG, certainly good enough for cropping down to square format for the 16" square 'head-shot' portraits I produce these days.

Like my K-1, it has more facilities than I either need or will ever use. Despite this I think it's a brilliant camera and I'm well-pleased it was my entry point into digital photography.
New Member

Registered: April, 2020
Location: Lincolnshire
Posts: 6

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: April 18, 2021 Recommended | Price: $700.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Reliable, sharp image quality, high frame rate, weather sealing.
Cons: High ISO noise
Years Owned: 7    Ergonomics: 9    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 10    Autofocus: 9    Features: 8    Value: 9    Image Quality: 9    Noise: 8    New or Used: New   

I've had my K3 for 7 years and it has not missed a beat due that time, I now have a K1ii which is phenomenal but I still use the K3 as a backup or if I need a high frame rate. The K3 has been out in some very poor weather used WR rated lenses and has not suffered any ill effects. Even though it's an crop sensor the 24 megapixel sensor produces images which stand being blown up to A2 prints without problem.

Registered: November, 2014
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 1,745

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: January 2, 2020 Recommended | Price: $600.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Image Quality, Ergonomics, Speed
Cons: Video quality, weight
Years Owned: 1    Ergonomics: 9    Build Quality: 9    User Interface: 9    Autofocus: 7    Features: 8    Value: 10    Image Quality: 9    Noise: 8    New or Used: Used   

Having shot the K-3 for a year now I want to share my experience using it. I got the K-3 used from a forum member when I felt I had run up against the limitations of my K-30, which I had been shooting for four years. Those limitations included resolution (the K-30 had 16mp with anti-aliasing filter), auto-focus capabilities, high-iso performance, speed of operation, etc. I just needed that little bit more oomph that the K-30 lacked. The K-3 delivered! For the most part, it is by far enough camera for me. And ergonomically, especially with the additional grip, it feels molded to my hand. However the excellent build quality has one downside - it's a heavy heavy camera

If I could improve it, another stop of ISO performance, like in the new K-70 and KP models, would be really nice. I shoot up to 1600 on the K-3, 3200 if I neeed to, 6400 is too much quality degradation for my tastes. Autofocus could be stronger - I manage with birds-in-flight but sometimes its a bit tricky. For the most part it's pretty good (I haven't done a DPR bicycle test though ). As for a flip screen, I've only infrequently been in a position where I could use it, but I can see why others could appreciate it. Not a high priority but it would be nice. Finally, the one thing that I'd want to improve the MOST would be a decent video codec. I'm not looking for anything fancy - right now I shoot video with a used Panasonic GH3 and adapt my K-mount glass to it. That is 2012 level video quality! If Pentax could incorporate a good 1080p codec that would seal the deal for me - Pentax already has some of the best manual video controls of any dslr. Pentax focus peaking is brilliant.

For the value today, this camera is a steal for what it provides
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2015
Location: Osaka
Posts: 158

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: December 7, 2019 Not Recommended | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Great ergonomics, very easy to use, logical layout, good picture quality, fast AF
Cons: Inaccurate AF, runaway mirror, locks up with Sigma lenses
Years Owned: 4 years    Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 10    Autofocus: 2    Features: 10    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 10    New or Used: Used   

I have had this camera for a few years now and just wanted to write a quick review for anyone considering buying a second hand. Overall the build quality and ergonomics are outstanding. This is a very easy camera to use and produces excellent image quality. However, I am considering a replacement due to a number of nagging issues.

Firstly, the AF through the viewfinder is NOT accurate. This is not the lenses as I have tested and re-calibrated all my lens and the issue remains. The AF is fine with live view.

Secondly, the runaway mirror syndrome in cold weather. Even with new batteries and the latest software I still get this issue is cold weather. The mirror runs away with its self and the camera locks up. This happens intermittently but it is still an issue for me.

Finally, it locks up when I use Sigma lenses. I need to take out and put the battery back in to unlock it. This doesn't happen with Pentax lenses.

I may just have a bad copy. Overall, the camera is great but these nagging issues would stop me buying another one.
New Member

Registered: August, 2017
Location: Ronneburg
Posts: 1

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: December 2, 2019 Recommended | Price: $484.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: very high IQ, Excellent handling, solid build Quality, WR, USB 3.0, bright optical viewfinder
Cons: non for me, i don't film only take photos
Years Owned: half    Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 9    Autofocus: 9    Features: 10    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 10    New or Used: Used   

After usage a ist DS K10d /K20d/K-x/ K-5 in this sequence.

What can i say? it is a real pleasure to use this awesome tool.

You'll never disappointed in the majority shot situations, assumed the camera has the preferred positions of the user adjustments.

And of course, never use this camera with bad lenses, if it is possible only prime lenses and better zooms.

Otherwise the potential of the camera does not come to validity.

For me to date the best APS-C Pentax.

PS: I am not a native speaker, please apologize some mistakes in the grammar and word order.

Registered: June, 2011
Posts: 486

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: November 26, 2019 Recommended | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: image quality, build quality, feel, weather sealing
Cons: video and auto-focusing (when compared to competitors)
Years Owned: 3    Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 10    Autofocus: 8    Features: 10    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 10    New or Used: Used   

I LOVED this camera. I'm using a K-1 now, and there is still not a week that goes by without me remembering this camera and wishing I still had it. That's how good it is.

In short, it has everything you need. The IQ is modern and keeps up with the best, the durability and reliability is top notch - I admit I have used this camera in rain and snow just pushing it to get one last shot before shutting it off and running for cover so I wouldn't destroy it. Never missed a beat.

I came to this camera from a Canon 70d, which is a fine camera in and of itself. I noticed the K-3 was WAY worse with auto-focus. It was slow, it would hunt, you couldn't always rely on it. In part, I could have done more to understand the auto-focus system and tweaks its modes to get the best out of it. But I didn't have to for the Canon. I just set it to the mode that seemed to make sense and it worked. The video was also worse, and still is bad. If you're coming from Pentax you know this and probably don't care, but it's worth mentioning if you care about hybrid shooting.

Okay, so why didn't I go back to Canon? Because when I picked up this camera I was in photographers heaven. It felt like a tool, not a toy. It felt purpose built. It quickly felt like an extension of my body. All of that mattered way more to me in the long-run, because I missed too many shots with the Canon because I just never got used to the menus, buttons and dials.

Image quality wise, the K-3 dominated, in my opinion. I love Canon colors, but the K-3's looked more mature. The files were better to deal with. The dynamic range was better. I just liked the images better.

Nowadays, you can get this camera for $300-400, which is amazing. Paired with the right glass and I don't think you can go wrong.
Forum Member

Registered: July, 2011
Posts: 76

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: March 30, 2018 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent detailed image quality, fast AF, Weather sealed body
Cons: Dim viewfinder markings, live view doesnt reflect actual exposure in manual mode, heavy body,
Ergonomics: 9    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 8    Autofocus: 9    Features: 9    Value: 9    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 8    New or Used: Used   

I must admit I stopped using dslrs a long time ago as I made the switch to Mirrorless camera systems. I still have a few dslrs lying around such as a canon 5d mark 1 and a pentax k-x but dont use them much. I made the switch to mirrorless bodies mainly due to size and weight issues. Also mirrorless bodies like the Sony 7r and Fuji XT1 give excellent image quality. An issue with mirrorless systems is the cost factor [when it comes to lenses] and many of their lens offerings are not weather sealed. The A7r and XT2 are weather sealed but I dont have any of their expensive weather sealed lenses. Sometime back when I had gone out and it started raining and it was so beautiful to look at but alas I couldnt go and stand under the rain to click some nice pics as the lens on my xt2 [a 16-50mm] wasnt weather sealed. It was then I realised the value of a weather sealed body and lens. I already had a pentax 18-55 WR lying around [bought it used for 50£] and just neeeded a good pentax body with weather sealing to use with it. After doing a search I found a used pentax K3 would be the best option for me. I bought one used from a used camera dealer for 325£ here in UK.

The most interesting feature of this camera is its 24 mp sensor without an AA filter. This lets you capture sharper images at risk of some moire appearing under certain situations. This feature was already available in k5 iis but that has a 16 mp sensor while this one has 24. This also has a faster processor, faster af, larger buffer.

The camera came with firmware ver 1.00. I updated it to 1.30.

Now let me mention the pros and cons

Pros [in random order]

1.Excellent image quality. Very detailed upto iso 800.
2.Weather sealed body
3.24mp sensor without aa filter
4.Excellent feature set with options for customisation
5.Fast phase detect af with 27 cross type af points
6.Fast contrast detect af in live view
7.Very low shutter noise and slap
8.Dual sd card slots
9.14 bit raw
10.Excellent in body stabilisation. I managed to get sharp shots at 1/5 [careful handling required - keep shutter button pressed till shutter fires and then remove finger and not before]. In my xt2 and sony 7r I dont have inbody stabilisation and need to have shutter speeds of 1/50 when using manual lenses.I have to increase iso but results in more noise. The same shot which needs iso 3200 and 1/50 on my mirrorless bodies without ibis I can get with 1/10 and iso 800 [just a rough estimate] with the k3. Also keep in mind as iso goes up the dr goes down. So you have an advantage with manual lenses and ibis with the K3

Cons [in random order]

1.The stock viewfinder focuing screen doesnt have clear viewfinder af point markings. Pentax seems to be using the same screen in all of their dslrs. I can hardly see the markings in normal day light leave alone at night or low light. It makes it difficult to compose a shot when you cant see the markings and have difficulty in focusing on a subject. Cameras from Nikon and Canon have such detailed focusing screens [even their older models from early 2000s] its surprising pentax still uses this focusing screen. For a camera sold as a pro grade body the focusing screening is a big let down.I know there are replacement focusing screens with more detail but it would have been a good thing if a good came along with body.

2.Another issue with the focusing screen is location of the af points most of which are a tiny square in the centre of the screen. Bodies from nikon like the d2h came with af points spread on almost the entire area while this one has most of them in the centre area only.

3.Live view in manual mode doesnt reflect actual exposure settings, Since early pentax models with live view like the K7 Kx Kr pentax doesnt have a live view which reflects the exposure settings in manual mode. Mirrorless Cameras from likes of sony, fuji, samsung reflected exposure settings in manual mode which is very helpful in shot composition but sadly inspite of technology available pentax didnt implement this in K3. The only useful thing is you get a brignt screen even when aperture has been set to a very high number [which results in a dark screen in mirrorless bodies] and helps in shot composition

4.When using manual lenses in live view you cannot scroll the area you want to magnify. When using af lenses you can chose af point but you cant do the same with manual lenses. You need to magnify screen and scroll to area in screen you want to view. I vaguely recollect pentax kx which let you select area you want to magnify but its missing in this one. I searched through menu but couldnt locate an option for it. Also area for magniication is just 60% of screen. In sony cameras like nex 5n you could magnify entire screen till very corners.

5.Very heavy body. You need strong hands to hold this camera if you are planning on shooting lots of pics. My elbows started to ache after I shot 100 pics within 2 hours. This is where mirrorless bodies score which are far more lighter and let you shoot more pics without body aches

6.Moire in video. Although this camera has an ok video/movie mode it exhibits moire [due to the sensor] and there is nothing much you can do. Keeping sharpmess to lowest will slightly help

7.No on body button/switch button to chose af-s or af-c on body. Pentax still gives you choice of af and mf only. If you want af-s or af-c it has to be selected in menu or a biutton has to customised for it. Some Nikon, canon dslrs and some mirrorless bodies like xt2 give this option on the body.

8.Very slight mushy noise reduction seems to be implemented from iso 1600 onwards [happens even if nr is turned off]

9.Clipped hightlights in overexposed areas [under certain conditions]. Not much latitude when processing raws

10. A typical pentax sensor noise which show up at high iso. It usually appears as tiny white noise at random places [to be mistaken for hot pixels]. I think this has to do with their primary rgb filter. It is less prominent on the K3 as compared to older pentax bodies like the kx

11.In the xt2 body which I have noise is less on higher iso than this body. Also you get to see more detail in higher iso. Thing is both cameras dont have an aa filter yet images are more detailed at higher isos on the xt2 than this one? Must be something to do with the exclusive color filter on the fuji x camera systems which lets you have more detail at higher isos

Inspite of above shortcomings I will keep this camera as I need the weather sealed body for use in extreme weather conditions. Also the cost of an excellent weather sealed body and lens came to around 375£ for me

Would I recommend this? Yes and NO. Would recommend this to enthusiast photographers who want a little more from their dslr. Will not recommend this to new photographers.

Thank you for reading my review
Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2017
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 2,881
Review Date: January 15, 2018 Recommended | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: focus peaking, live view
Cons: Battery life
Years Owned: 3 weeks    Ergonomics: 9    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 8    Features: 9    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    New or Used: Used   

Adding my review mostly to provide a used price data point. I bought it this camera 3 weeks ago used at a local shop. Paid $400 for it and it came with 3 extra batteries. The first picture I took was shutter count 2315 so it was a camera that had seen very little use.

I primarily use old M42 lenses so the focus peaking is the feature I like most so far, especially when zoomed in with it to get the focus spot on. One thing I have noticed is that the metering is off on most of them with my Tokina 28-70 f/2.8 metering about 1.3 stops darker than it actually is (always overexposed) and most of the others metering 1 stop brighter (always underexposed).

So far I have mostly taken pictures of stuff around the house as I learn how to operate this camera so those have all been junk pictures as I wanted to learn the camera. I did take it up to the Como Park Conservatory last weekend for some actual use and was very pleased with the image quality produced by this camera as well as having the features that are useful to me with old manual lenses.

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 10,496

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: March 25, 2017 Recommended | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Well built, fast AF, excellent controls, very good image quality
Cons: Flimsy mode dial, terrible white balance, auto-exposure inaccuracy
Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 9    User Interface: 10    Autofocus: 8    Features: 9    Value: 9    Image Quality: 9    Noise: 7    New or Used: New   

I bought the K3 to replace my aging K200D, mostly to get better AF, better high ISO image quality and to stop using AA batteries, which cause a lot of problems in the K200D (even using the best ones available on the market).

I was happy to find that the K3 is a success in all of those counts. AF is fast and accurate (all of my lenses are screw-drive) and high ISO image quality is 1.5 to 2 stops better than the K200D (but not up to the standard of the 16MP sensor in my Fujifilm X-M1). I'll use the K3 up to ISO 1600 in colour and I've used it up to around 8000 in B&W, though results that high are grainy and not that sharp.

The camera feels great in the hand - solid, extremely ergonomic and with all the controls easily found. The only part that lets down the build quality is the mode dial, which I take great care with as it's clearly very flimsy and not up to the standard of the rest of the camera. It has a lot of buttons and once you learn your way around it's easy to find and change any setting quickly.

With the grip added I find the camera ergonomically perfect for my large hands, though it adds quite a lot of weight (even empty) so for travel it tends to stay at home.

Image quality at lower ISOs is very good indeed, exceeding that of the K200D in dynamic range (but not in colour - the K200D with it's CCD sensor is superb in that respect). The 24MP has very occasionally come in handy for severe cropping (such as the last shot below) but is totally unnecessary for the majority of shots.

As for the negative aspects of the camera, I'd sum them up as:

1. The flimsy mode dial (already mentioned)
2. The poor white balance
3. Exposure inaccuracy
4. AF calibration "jumping"

The white balance of shots is wrong around 80% of the time, often by a lot and it's usually not possible to correct it in camera. The auto WB gets it wrong and then the pre-sets are also wrong so the only way to get it right is later on a computer. This is extremely frustrating and means that when using a wifi SD card in the field to be able to share shots to a smartphone and then on to a social network or such I have to settle for less than ideal WB.

Exposure inaccuracy is part-and-parcel of DSLRs to some degree because they don't "see" the whole scene until the photo is taken, but the K3 is no better than the K200D in this regard. Like the WB, auto-exposure is wrong 80% of the time and has to be corrected in post. The camera is limited to 2 stops up or down (and they have to be full stops) in processing RAWs so if more is required or smaller increments are needed, like the WB fixes, it has to be done on a computer later. You would think that in the six years between the K200D and the K3 Pentax would have managed to improve this somewhat. My mirrorless Fujifilm X-M1 is spot-on almost always.

The AF on my K3 was perfect out of the box - AF was spot-on on all of my AF lenses (the vast majority of which had been perfect on my K200D). That was until one day, for no reason at all, it suddenly "jumped" and all my lenses were misfocusing until I changed the setting to +4 across the board. I've no idea why this happened but I lost a lot of shots due to this problem until I realised what had happened.

In summary, the K3 is an impressive machine and a pleasure to use, but it does have aspects in which it falls flat on it's face and in most cases it's due to basic functions which there's really no excuse for not having fixed in this day and age. It's a very good tool for any type of photography, which can't be said about all cameras.

Some sample images to show what it's capable of.

by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Playa de las catedrales, Galicia
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Sunset on the beach, Washington state
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr
Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2017
Posts: 1,866

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: March 24, 2017 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: handling build quality features
Cons: noisy autofocus, poor battery life
Years Owned: 18 months    Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 9    User Interface: 9    Autofocus: 7    Features: 10    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 8    New or Used: New   

In Sept 2015 I decided it was about time I got a DSLR for some of my more serious use. I have and still am a fan of film. The choice was between the K3, the K3ii or a Nikon D7200 as I have a lot of legacy lenses from both systems I wanted to keep using. I preferred the feel of the Pentax cameras in hand so chose to go with them, finally settling on the original K3 as I believed at the time I was more likely to use built in flash than the GPS or pixel shift of the K3ii. I've yet to use the flash but probably would have used the pixel shift on occaison! Oh well.
Its taken me this long to actually work out which settings work best for me as there are so many of them, but finally I am getting results that I am finding really satisfying. Although I still have not fully explored all the settings and combinations!
Initially I was using it with a Pentax A 28mm f2.8, Pentax A 50mm f1.7, and Tamron SPii 90mm f2.5, but soon acquired a DA 50-200mm WR and DA 35mm f2.4. I've lately added DA 50mm f1.8.
I find I get best results with the DA glass or the Tamron.
If I was to go through the process again I would probably choose the K70 for pixel shift and flippy screen or K3ii for pixel shift and build quality.
The autofocus with my DA glass is relatively noisy, but I actually quite like this, screw drive is tried and tested simple tech. The noise is not really that loud and not on for very long as the lenses snap into focus quickly.
The battery life is poor for a DSLR when compared to Pentax rivals Nikon and Canon but its still good enough for my use and it is no bother to carry a spare battery or make sure you are fully charged before going out for a day
I have discovered a really useful feature of the K3. I do not know if it is available on other Pentax models, I guess it probably is although which ones no idea. Anyway I have started to take pictures in RAW, and I can post process in camera to get the colours and contrast just right. For me this is fantastic as I am not a fan of spending ages sat down at a computer screen arsing about with files and programs - might as well go back to film and darkroom! Joking aside, this feature is great as I have no need to use a computer for the vast majority of my shots. It is really quick and easy to do -
1. shoot RAW files
2. In view mode, press the arrow down/flash button
3. scroll to digital filter then OK
4. select base parameter adjustment, press info button
5. adjust for brightness, saturation, hue, contrast and sharpness
6 press OK twice to save adjusted image as JPEG. If you have 2 SD cards loaded you can choose which one to save to. I take RAW on card one and save adjusted images to card 2.
I now only ever need to use my computer if I need to dodge and burn or adjust for perspective - very rare for me.
This also makes it so much easier also when printing images as now only the best are on card 2 and can be found much more quickly.
I have upgraded my initial ratings from 8 to 9 for for user interface and 9 to 10 for features

Well I've had this thing now for nearly 3 years. I am more and more impressed by it. So much so I keep adding prime lenses! Here's the thing....When shooting different lenses they behave differently to each other on the same camera. The afore mentioned in camera RAW processing is not only very convenient to get your look just right, but you can also see exactly how each of your lenses behaves and how much adjustment to give each of them. For example the 2 HD DA lenses I have require almost no base parameter adjustment for for colour, contrast, exposure or sharpness, whilst many of the other ones do, to a greater or lesser extent.
The green button is so easy to use with legacy K mount glass
I've also acquired a battery grip which greatly improves the already decent handling the handling, and I do not mind the extra weight. In addition I appreciate the extra battery life the grip provides.
The only criticism I can level at the camera, from my point of view, and this is deeply subjective and personal, is that I find black and white images disappointing from it, to the extent that I bagged a bargain Fuji X1 Pro recently just for B&W use. But for colour photos in any kind of light the K3 is superb!
Closed Account

Registered: March, 2015
Posts: 8,694

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: June 22, 2016 Recommended | Price: $1,015.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: 24 megapixels, build quality. ergonomics, great features, low light auto-focus
Cons: None for me
Years Owned: December 2013    Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 10    Autofocus: 10    Features: 10    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 9    New or Used: New   

This camera body is a true gem IMO. The button layout is very intuitive for me and a pleasure to use. The low light auto-focus is fantastic. I teamed mine with a genuine D-BG5 grip and find this combination excellent. The specifications for this camera are common knowledge now, so I don't need to go into them, but if you want a great APS-C body, this would be my recommendation. With many owners of this camera moving to the Full Frame K-1, some bargains are sure to be had. There are no issues with this body anymore as the mirror flap problem was sorted out long ago with a firmware update. The photographs in the member galleries are a testament as to how good this camera is. I have included 2 of mine which I am quite happy with, just to show the versatility of the K-3. If you get a chance to pick one up, I can highly recommend this body.

Junior Member

Registered: February, 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 34
Review Date: March 28, 2016 Recommended | Price: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: 100% view finder, Weather Resistant, In Camera SR
Cons: No Tilting Screen, Although more AF points Actually not as good as K5 IMHO
Years Owned: 2014    Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 10    Autofocus: 8    Features: 10    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 10    New or Used: New   

I don't think it's possible to find a better APSC camera from any manufacture at present. Image quality is excellent, build quality is first rate not that i would try but i swear i could hammer a nail in with this and not do it any damage. There's several reason why i buy Pentax every time which are 100% OVF, SR, WR and Build Quality. The only thing i would really like to see is a tilting LCD screen. I know people bang on about 4K video but Pentax knows its strength lies in Stills imagery and they excel at this. If you want Video i'd buy another brand but if you want great Stills Images then the K3 or its successor the K3II wont let you down.
Forum Member

Registered: September, 2013
Posts: 62
Review Date: January 16, 2016 Recommended | Price: $700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: metal body, dedicated grip, TOP camera at all
Cons: not found yet
Years Owned: 1    Ergonomics: 9    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 9    Autofocus: 10    Features: 10    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 9    New or Used: New   

upgraded from K-30

I can say the camera is made at the highest level.
metal body, very efficient work of all the buttons and dials.
it is the TOP camera without doubts.
very strong an solid.
very fast and precise AF.
very silent shutter.

Only one strange moment, I must point out - it is imposed on the 4-way controller access to changing color profiles. I do not need use this function to much often. with this button You can change the color profile accidentaly and unexpectedly get really strange colors in the photos.
in the case of shooting on RAW it is not so important, but... in any case the camera is very good.
Junior Member

Registered: September, 2012
Posts: 29
Review Date: January 4, 2016 Recommended | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: great build quality and ergonomics, good stabilization, great IQ
Cons: shortish battery life
Years Owned: less than 1    Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 10    Autofocus: 9    Features: 10    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 9    New or Used: Used   

Upgraded to the K3 from the K30. The K3 is awesome value for money when you compare it to Nikon/Canon rivals. The RAW files this camera produces are a joy to use. The build quality of this camera is awesome - the K3 makes similar priced cameras such as the D5500 feel like a toy. My only complaint is that the battery life in a bit underwhelming compared to what is advertised - not a big issue though.

Registered: July, 2011
Posts: 2,324
Review Date: October 19, 2015 Recommended | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: compact, SR, weather sealed, many features
Cons: slow AF, no fast primes (not recent)
Years Owned: 2    Ergonomics: 8    Build Quality: 9    User Interface: 8    Autofocus: 6    Features: 9    Value: 6    Image Quality: 8    Noise: 8    New or Used: New   

Pentax cameras drop in price by almost 50% 1 year after introduction. The basic concept still hold, but it has been soem time that a decent APS-C lens was added. D-FA lenses with interesting specs are promised as is a FF body.
AF is not up to oponents speed, precision, ... K5 was much worse here, but there is still some room for improvement.
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