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08-13-2019, 09:39 AM   #1
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Pentax K-3 vs K-1

I am the owner of a Pentax K-3. My photography interests are landscapes and astrophotography. I have owned the k-3 for about 2 years. I have been perfecting my skills and knowledge in DSLR photography techniques and technology. I am considering upgrading to a full frame K-1 or possibly to a Nikon (for action photography interests).

Can anyone give me some guidance. I am not heavily invested in lenses for the K-3. I am looking to move into semi-professional range in the near future as I will be retiring soon. I would like to pursue photography in a serious way and would gauge the quality of my work by the ability to sell some of it.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

08-13-2019, 10:16 AM - 1 Like   #2
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You will experience a big step up moving to K-1: higher dynamic range and richer colours, more consistent exposure and overall better out of the box photos that require little post processing, or so is my experience after using K-1 II and K-3 II for a while (I keep the latter exclusively for telephoto shooting). Probably your biggest decision is what full frame lens to pair the body with: if your photography style is slow and deliberate there's a wider range of options, not so if you need to be light and fast, when only a couple of lenses fit the bill. Also factor in the software support: K-1 II is still notably ignored by the likes of Capture One, MacOS, etc. and you may have to accommodate new workflows like ON1, etc. If you are more specific about your intents and habits I'm sure you will get more targeted advice.
08-13-2019, 11:51 AM   #3
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I planned on keeping my k3 for telephoto use when I got the k1. didnt take long before i sold the k3.
get the k1. for landscapes and astro im not sure you can do better, without going to medium format.
08-13-2019, 11:52 AM - 1 Like   #4
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I went through that and this is what I experienced:
K-1 has a better picture quality
K-1 is bigger and heavier
K-1 doesn't have cheap wide angle alternatives (the best option is the 15-30 but filters are expensive)

PS - I still have the K-3

08-13-2019, 11:56 AM   #5
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The K-1's low light performance is a big leap forward compared to the K-3.
08-13-2019, 12:18 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by lmckeller Quote
Thanks in advance for any advice.
What lenses do you own ?
08-13-2019, 01:26 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Having owned them both the pros and cons:
+ fast frame rate
+ size and weight
+ pulling power due to lens factor
- high ISO performance

+ superior image quality
+ high ISO performance, dynamic range
+ somewhat better AF
- size,weight and price

I sold my K-3 and use the K-1 exclusively now. However, once the new APS-C body is available, I will probably buy it for telephoto use.
08-13-2019, 01:45 PM - 1 Like   #8

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You would most likely have different uses for the K-1 than the K-3, being that the K-1 is a full frame camera and the K-3 is aps-c. I would suggest that you hold on to both, using the K-1 where you see it is effective, and using the K-3 where you find that most effective. You will most likely want the reach that the K-3 gives you for telephoto, and want to use the K-1 for more closely located subjects where you may want more detail.

08-13-2019, 02:00 PM   #9
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I switched from a K-3 to a Nikon full frame. Nikon full frame probably has the same capabilities as the K-1, you can even get the older Nikon D800e or D810 and get similar results as the K-1 and similar price for used ones. Dynamic Range on Nikon Full frames are really good. However if you do a lot of manual focus, Nikons are not well suited for that. You will need autofocus lenses. But Nikon is also highly backward compatible with its legacy lenses and so there are a lot of cheap and quality options available for Nikon, Besides you have more Third Party lenses as well to choose from. Plus if you plan on using external flashes/strobes, there are a lot of third party options available for Nikon/Canon/Sony for cheap (Godox). Nikon loses the in camera image stabilization. But I can't say I miss that a lot. You can't shoot below 1/60 handheld. I also got a Sony A7ii full frame, but like the Dynamic range of the Nikon much better. I have the Nikon D750. Had the D600 before than and it has the same sensor. But the sony mirrorless are lighter. I use both Nikon and Sony now because I use a lot of manual focus lenses and sony makes it very easy to use them. Sad to say, I don't own a pentax anymore. I definitely loved the brand, but love the additional benefits I get from Nikon when it comes to lens selection and lighting.
08-13-2019, 02:36 PM   #10
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before investing in the K 1, you might want to consider renting one and run your own trials

currently is running a special with 20% off if you rent by August 23

limited offer 20 % off rental from LensRental -

Information on Businesses that offer cameras and lenses for rent -
08-13-2019, 05:23 PM   #11
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I have a K-3 II and a K-1 II that I upgraded from a K-1. For action, I would go to my K-3 II and 55-300 PLM zoom. That is your best bet for frame rate and buffer and focus speed. I have the 150-450, so I have the same FOV equivalent for my K-1 II, but the buffer and frame rate give it to the K-3 II. However, the auto focus is much improved on the K-1 II, and that's improved over the K-1. This aspect makes the K-1 II and 150-450 attractive, but it's also considerably heavier to handle and lug than the K-3 II and 55-300PLM, and it's not as fast, but it's a nice combination which will give you some great quality shots. I do not shoot astro, but I think it's hard to beat the K-1 for that. There is debate over noise reduction in the K-1 II over an ISO of 640 that may or may not be of concern to you. I find the low light performance of the K-1 II to be pretty tremendous, and I'll take the trade off the accelerator unit may have for the faster AF performance and ease of very high quality high ISO shots. From what I have read, if you are shooting at ISO 100 and pushing around 5 stops, you might have a magenta cast. Dig around here for some threads on this. Somewhere in here I recall a discussion about changing the EXIF to say it's a K-1 may remedy this, but consider this hearsay and do some research if it is of concern. And for landscape, I think I'd have to say K-1 II. All the capabilities of the K-1 plus improvements in pixel shift (hand held option) make it hard to beat.
08-13-2019, 05:25 PM   #12
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I switched from the K-3 to the K-1 and I'm very happy with the change. I ended up totally revamping my lens and filter collection which was not an inexpensive endeavor. But I really appreciate the strengths of the K-1. For me, the number one strength is the ability to crop to a large degree and still have a decent shot. I also appreciate the high IQ the camera provides. I have been able to handle the size and weight increase without difficulty. I generally use the large full-frame Pentax D FA zooms, but I also picked up a Samyang 14 mm to provide relief when the 15-30 is just too big or heavy. I think the rear screen is another big advantage as you sometimes have to shoot in a very awkward position and I used to have to do this without actually seeing the screen with the K-1. In general, the K-1 is a significant step-up that has been very beneficial for me. I kept the K-3 as a second body for a while, but I gave it to my son due to lack of use. Good luck with your decision!
08-13-2019, 05:36 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChatMechant Quote
I planned on keeping my k3 for telephoto use when I got the k1. didnt take long before i sold the k3.
Same, except I haven't sold my K-3ii yet. Not because I use it or anything, it's because I'm lazy. The 150-450 + K-1 is so much better when you don't need to crop; when you do need to crop, well, yes it's a little worse but the K-1 uncropped is so much better I just gave up on having long crop shots for print. I may take fewer bad photos, but I also take more good ones... That said, I think there are some amazing options out there for sports/action photography where higher frame rates may be the difference in capturing the critical moment and not. I do OK with birds and action, but it's probably more work and fewer total keepers. I haven't personally used any of the new high frame rate competitors though so I am no use in helping provide a recco.

I've heard feedback from my friend with a Nikon that if he wasn't invested in the lenses and totally knowing all the menus etc, he'd consider Pentax after seeing my K-1.

If you're going pro, you'd likely end up with multiple bodies -- If I were you, I'd get the K-1 because it will be familiar and easy to get going with. If you find there are specific things that you can't get done with the K-1, then consider what body/lens combo might change that!
08-13-2019, 10:11 PM   #14
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I have the K-3. And since buying the K-1, there was no looking back. My only regret to leaving the K-3 is that I can't use my DA15mm f4 lens on the K-1. I took my K-3 out recently, and was... well... sorely disappointed. I was shooting birds in flight with my D-FA 150-450. And though the burst rate on the K-3 is faster, the AF was noticeably not as accurate. It's all relative but once having the K-1, I haven't found myself going back to the K-3. And the K-3 is an excellent camera. But what everyone else has said in this thread about why the K-1 is better, is absolutely true, so I won't repeat it. The good news is, my wife now uses the K-3, which for her, is a big step up from her K-30. So my K-3 is getting loved again.
08-14-2019, 05:59 AM   #15
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I'll play devil's advocate. I borrowed a k1 for a month with the 24-70. I found it to be heavier and bulkier than I could justify. The lens sizes of today's modern lenses for full frame makes the system bigger than I was willing to use.
So my k3 remains my workhorse. But to be fair, while I have sold a few things I'm not doing anything with income in mind.

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