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10-31-2013, 10:39 AM - 3 Likes   #1
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In the Field with the Pentax K-3 - First Impressions

I’ll start this with a quick introduction. I’m a visual journalist based in Tokyo. I mainly work in areas related to politics and technology. I’m also the person who makes many of the videos you see here. As such, I’ve been given an opportunity by Ricoh to test a pre-production version of the new Pentax K-3 DSLR and give my first-hand impressions. Please note, I am not giving a professional review, but rather my personal opinion on the camera as a professional in the field. Please do not take my word as final, but rather use my informal thoughts as a piece of the puzzle on how to describe this new camera.

As this is a pre-production camera, I am only permitted to show photos no larger than XGA resolution and must contain a watermark noting the pre-production status. I’m not a fan of such restrictions, but I must respect the conditions I agreed to.

First, I’ll say I did not notice an immediate difference on looks alone. After a few moments with the layout, it became clear that this was a fairly different setup from previous models. I spent the first night with the camera going through the manual and configuring it to my needs.

One important change I’m happy with is the relocation of the AF button. It’s in a far more comfortable location. This is quite important to me as I disable autofocus on the shutter button and only allow if by use of the AF button. This allows for better control over my autofocus needs.

Another major plus is the mode dial lock switch. I really was not a fan of the need to push a button just to turn the dial. I often switch between AV and M mode. The ability to do this slightly more quickly and easily may not seem like much, but it makes all the difference when a fraction of a second is vital, as is often the case in photojournalism.

I’ve only had the camera for a day before my assignment covering a
Japanese Self-Defense Force exhibition. This event was used in part for Prime Minister Abe to send a message to China about Japan’s resolve to defend its territory from China’s recently more aggressive actions in its claim to the Senkaku Islands. Part of his message was delivered by showing off some of Japan’s advanced military hardware. This allowed for an opportunity to test out the new K-3 with some interesting subjects.

One of the big headlines is the new AF system, which has more points and is said to be better for tracking. I can confirm that it indeed is better than the system in the K-5 in just about all AF areas. I had a far greater keeper rate with only a few out of focus shots from my entire shoot. I’m highly impressed with the results. Not only is the AF improved, the buffer is much bigger and faster than before. This is HUGE for me. I found the buffer and write speed of the K-5 limiting at times. There was no concern this time with the K-3.

There was a bit of confusion on my part due to the change in layout, but that’s really a “me” thing. I had the same issue when I went from a K20 to a K-7 some years ago. I guess I’ll need to make that adjustment again. While I am pleased with most changes, I prefer some of the old ways.

I do miss the old metering and focus point switches. I’m just not a fan of push a button and turn a wheel, but I guess it’s a must now considering all the options available. I feel was if it will slow me down, but again it might just be a matter to adjusting to change.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with the changes except for one – the movie record/live view layout. I honestly preferred the way it was done on the K-01. I was hoping for a setup with a dedicated live view button like on the K-5 and a dedicated movie record button like on the K-01. This way, I do not have to choose one or the other, but have both ready at just one push.

Another annoyance is that I can no longer assign the composition adjustment to the RAW button. For my normal use of it, I can just press the RAW button and get to work. I can also reset just by pressing the RAW button again. If I don’t need it but do need live view, I can just press the live view button on my K-5.

On the K-3, I need to enable composition adjustment in the settings menu under live view. The issues with that now I either have it on or off all the time. If I want the composition adjustment, then it’s easy as it’s only one push. But if I only want live view, I need to press OK after I press live view, making just normal live view a two step process. It becomes a three step process if I had the switch left in movie mode. Overall, I prefer the old way, but this is not bad either. I can get used to it. The live view does feel much nicer on the K-3 either way.

I need more time with the camera before I give more impressions on it, but so far I’m very impressed with it overall and do see it as a worthy upgrade to the K-5. I skipped the K-5II simply because it was not much of an improvement, but the added features and performance increase of the K-3 is just so much better for me in a job where a fraction of a second makes all the difference. I’m very happy with it and it is on my wish list.

I need to return the camera soon, but I will have a production version in a week or two. I’ll write up my additional thoughts and impressions when I do. I’ll also place some full-sized RAW files for you guys then too. For now, I’ll leave you with some photos from the SDF event. Also, I’m a bit short for time, but I will make every effort to answer any questions you have. So please forgive me if I’m a bit slow to respond!

10-31-2013, 10:43 AM   #2
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Thank you very much for your review! Great to hear that the AF is a marked improvement over the k-5 in reliability and tracking.
10-31-2013, 11:06 AM   #3
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10-31-2013, 11:20 AM   #4
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THanks for the review, most of the photos were very clear, and with all the shades of green on uniforms and vehicles did a great job of showing how sharp the K-3 is.

10-31-2013, 11:50 AM   #5
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you mention K-5, Does that include the K-5 ii and iis or just K-5 in general meaning all series under K-5
10-31-2013, 11:57 AM   #6
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Well, I was encouraged by your comments about the AF, until you said that you were coming from a K-5. The II/IIs really did have considerably better AF, so some of the speed/accuracy increase you're seeing will not be as noticeable to owners of those bodies.
10-31-2013, 12:22 PM   #7
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Thank you!
10-31-2013, 12:22 PM   #8
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Call me out of touch, but this is the first time I have heard of a "visual journalist".

10-31-2013, 12:25 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by kricha6431 Quote
you mention K-5, Does that include the K-5 ii and iis or just K-5 in general meaning all series under K-5
I believe Albert uses the original K-5, not the II or IIs.

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10-31-2013, 12:26 PM   #10
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I am curious what lens or lenses you used in these shots.
10-31-2013, 12:32 PM   #11

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#5. I guess the truck is the subject. Was the shutter speed too slow to cause what looks like OOF?
10-31-2013, 12:32 PM   #12
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k-3color reproduction

thanks on your earlier thoughts on the camera....looking forward on your next try with the production model...convinced with the AF. thank you for sharing it's first images..
10-31-2013, 01:11 PM   #13
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I think the truck is out of focus because it nailed focus on the crowd beyond. Nice shots. Maybe DOF too shallow too.

Last edited by olypdd; 10-31-2013 at 01:11 PM. Reason: edit
10-31-2013, 01:22 PM   #14
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Some good shots in there but not convincing ... it is only me ?

Then again, I am no pro ... what do I know ?

Would the pics be better if this could have been avoided: "only permitted to show photos no larger than XGA resolution"

10-31-2013, 01:26 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by jpzk Quote
Some good shots in there but not convincing ... it is only me ?
I thought it was my monitor or the browser I am using but agree they all look a little soft. Was the lens used mentioned?

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