Pentax K-3 Mark III - Could this be the Last Ever DSLR Camera?
No, this isn't an April Fool's joke - Pentax really have just announced a new flagship DSLR camera with an APS-C sensor that will cost a whopping £1,899.99 in the UK and $1,999.99 in the US.
In a world where everyone is scrambling to conquer the growing mirrorless market, new DSLR cameras are rarer than hen's teeth, so it's either great or surprising to see Pentax sticking to their DSLR guns, depending on whether you are a fan of either the brand or the technology.
You certainly can't deny that Pentax have pulled out all the stops to at least make the range-topping K-3 Mark III an interesting camera. For starters, it has a mightily impressive optical viewfinder with an almost 100% field of view and massive 1.05x magnification.
It also uses a new 25 megapixel BSI sensor and PRIME V image processor that are capable of pushing the ISO range all the way up to ISO 1,600,000, along with a new SAFOX 13 autofocus system with 101 AF points, in-body Shake Reduction (IBIS) worth 5.5 f-stops and burst shooting of up to 12 frames per second. There's even 4K video recording...
We can't help feel that Pentax have ignored the memo about the near-future of DSLR cameras - the one clearly marked "Extinct" - and have ploughed on with the development of the K3 III regardless of whether anyone will actually buy it. After all, nearly £$2000 will buy you a lot of mirrorless camera - almost the excellent Canon EOS R6 with its full-frame sensor, for example, or you could save a lot of cash and go for the outstanding Fujifilm X-T4 APS-C camera.
Pentax Press Release
PENTAX K-3 Mark III - The new flagship model of PENTAX APS-C Series
RICOH IMAGING presents the PENTAX K-3 Mark III, the new top model in the current PENTAX series of APS-C format SLRs, which embodies the passion for traditional photography and sets new standards with a range of advanced functions.
From the very beginning, the development of the PENTAX K-3 Mark III followed the aspiration to continue the tradition of SLR technology with a camera that meets the highest technical standards in keeping with the PENTAX philosophy. With over 100 years of history, PENTAX has pioneered many developments and inventions without which modern cameras would be inconceivable today. With this in mind, RICOH IMAGING has established five guiding principles for the development of the new PENTAX K-3 Mark III.
The five PENTAX principles:
- We design new cameras through sheer devotion.
- Our goal is to produce cameras with the power to capture images that allow for direct communication with the subject.
- We design cameras that allow our users to enjoy all the processes involved in taking a picture.
- We pursue a level of quality and performance that can’t be measured by numbers alone.
- We respect and value the photographic experiences of our users and view this as an invaluable asset.
Following these principles, the PENTAX K-3 Mark III has been designed to provide the maximum photographic experience for passionate photographers.
Hidden beneath the classic SLR design of the PENTAX K-3 Mark III hides a completely updated interior. A large and bright prism viewfinder with 100% field of view and approx. 1.05x magnification allows the photographer to immerse himself fully in the shot. The new 25 megapixel BSI sensor in combination with the new imaging engine and accelerator unit delivers outstanding image quality with an exceptionally high peak light sensitivity of ISO 1,600,000. With further technical features, such as the new SAFOX 13 autofocus system, in-body Shake Reduction (IBIS) and the fast frame rate of up to 12 frames per second, the new PENTAX K-3 Mark III shows that traditional photography and innovative camera technology do not have to be mutually exclusive.
In addition, the ergonomic housing design and controls are optimised for different hand sizes and finger lengths. A high-strength aluminium housing and numerous seals ensure the stability, weatherproofing and cold resistance typical of PENTAX to give photographers unrestricted enjoyment over a long period of time.
The PENTAX K-3 Mark III in detail
Large and bright prism viewfinder with 100% field of view and approx. 1.05x magnification
The PENTAX K-3 Mark III has an optical viewfinder with an almost 100% field of view and 1.05x magnification. The high-refractive-index glass prism allows for a wide eye relief while providing a wide field of view equivalent to that of a 35mm full-frame SLR.
By using a distortion-correcting optical element and optimising the lens coatings, the viewfinder delivers a clear and lifelike image without distortion. The brightness has been improved by almost 10 percent compared to the viewfinder of the PENTAX K-3 II.
The Natural Bright Matte III offers easy manual focusing and supports the benefits of using the viewfinder to frame a subject, with faithful reproduction of the bokeh effect in the image.
In addition, the transparent display of a wide range of operating data in the viewfinder window allows for direct monitoring of important parameters during shooting. This underlines the importance of this essential camera component for image composition. With the large prism viewfinder of the PENTAX K-3 Mark III, the photographer has everything in view without having to take the camera away from the eye at the crucial moment.
New 25.73 megapixel BSI sensor with peak light sensitivity of ISO 1,600,000
The PENTAX K-3 Mark III features a BSI sensor for the first time. This back-illuminated sensor, with an effective resolution of approx. 25.73 megapixels, in combination with the new PRIME V Imaging Engine and the newly designed accelerator unit, ensures exceptionally high image quality. By additionally dispensing with an optical AA filter (anti-aliasing), the camera produces super-high resolution and sharp images.
Due to the design, not only is the dynamic range extended, but noise is also minimised, even in the low or super-high range. By significantly improving noise reduction, the PENTAX K-3 Mark III offers a super-high peak light sensitivity of ISO 1,600,000.
Body-integrated Shake Reduction II System (IBIS)
When PENTAX first installed an electromagnetic Shake Reduction System to prevent camera shake in SLR cameras 15 years ago in the K100, this technology was not initially taken very seriously and was widely underestimated. Today, however, In Body Image Stabilizing (IBIS) systems are state of the art and should not be missing from any modern high-performance camera. In the PENTAX K-3 Mark III the Shake Reduction System fulfils a number of different functions.
Camera shake compensation with compensation of 5.5 f-stops
The built-in Shake Reduction System prevents camera shake that can occur, for example, when using lenses with a long focal length and / or slow shutter speeds in low light conditions which can be the cause of blurred images.
Image stabilisation takes place in five axes. In addition to sensor rotation, horizontal and vertical shift, the PENTAX K-3 Mark III also offers horizontal and vertical tilt correction, which can occur, for example, during macro photography. Horizontal pan movements are automatically detected and corrected accordingly.
All in all, this system ensures exposure reliability of up to 5.5 LV steps and thus expands the limits of freehand photography.
It works independently of the lenses used. This means that adapted M42 lenses can be used in exactly the same way as the current lens series. Once stored, the lens information required for compensation can be retrieved as needed.
Pixel Shift function to increase resolution
With the previous model, the PENTAX K-3 Mark II, sensor shift was used for the first time to improve image resolution. This technique can now be used without a tripod with the PENTAX K-3 Mark III.
With conventional systems, missing RGB colour information of the sensor has to be interpolated, as the different colours are not captured by all pixels of the sensor. With the Pixel Shift function, the PENTAX K-3 Mark III offers the possibility of taking four shots in a row. The sensor is shifted up, down, left and right by one pixel at a time and the camera calculates a single image from this, which can be saved as a JPEG or RAW file.
With this technique, the 25.73 megapixels are fully utilised for the image file, resulting in significantly higher sharpness and colour rendition as well as lower image noise.
Low-pass filter simulation
By omitting an AA filter (Anti-Aliasing), a higher image sharpness is achieved.
To avoid a possible moiré effect, the sensor unit is set into micro-vibrations and thus ensures minimal blurring. This works just as effectively as a built-in low-pass filter. Two levels provide adjustment to the appropriate shooting situation.
Sensor shift and auto horizon correction
The IBIS is also used for automatic horizon alignment. An oblique camera position up to an angle of view of 2° can be corrected automatically by the sensor.
However, the sensor can also be shifted manually. This can be done horizontally or vertically with a total shift of up to 1.5 mm and even in rotation up to 2°.
DR II (Dust Removal)
Ultrasonic vibrations are used to remove dust particles from the sensor.
This function can also be set as an on/off function, but can also be performed manually.
SAFOX 13 autofocus system with 101 focus sensors
The SAFOX 13 phase comparison autofocus system has been newly developed for the PENTAX K-3 Mark III. It has a total of 101 AF sensors, 25 of which are positioned centrally as cross sensors. In order to focus reliably even when shooting at night, three special sensors are centrally positioned, which already work at an EV of -4.
For the first time, the camera is equipped with a small joystick with which the individual focus points can be intuitively selected.
The new AF system is supported by a new RGB-Ir image sensor with approx. 307,000 pixels and a newly developed image tracking algorithm. This means that even subjects in motion are reliably detected and focused more precisely.
PENTAX Real-time Scene Analysis System
The PENTAX Real-time Scene Analysis System supports camera control with the latest artificial intelligence technology. Based on the RGB-lr image sensor with approximately 307,000 pixels, the processor uses advanced image recognition technology to optimise exposure and autofocus. Shooting scenes are analysed and, based on colour or brightness distribution, subject as well as motion detection, certain exposure parameters such as shutter, autofocus, white balance are adjusted accordingly and taken into account for the image calculation.
By introducing Deep Learning technology with Artificial Intelligence, the PENTAX K-3 Mark III guarantees better and more reliable scene recognition and assessment than ever before.
Sophisticated operation systems for image conversion
- The exclusive "Hyper Operation System" was first used in the PENTAX Z-1 and is still an important element for exposure control today. Not only can it be switched between aperture and shutter speed without any changeover in programme automatic mode, as before. Now ISO sensitivity tracking is also possible.
- Another PENTAX development is the Smart Function System. Five functions can be selected and called up quickly and easily for camera control. The control information is displayed in the viewfinder.
- In addition, ten different control buttons offer a further possibility for customisation, with which frequently used functions can be called up quickly.
- The HDR (High Dynamic Range) function has become very popular with many PENTAX photographers. An image is calculated from three individual shots and offers a balanced exposure despite a huge contrast range.
PENTAX K bayonet - proven lens mount for generations
PENTAX is the camera system with the greatest lens compatibility. This means that lenses from the early days of the K bayonet can be used effortlessly on the new APS-C top model, and with an adapter even M42 lenses. It is precisely these much sought-after and used treasures of the digital past that bring so much pleasure to many photographers today. The focal length information required for IBIS can now even be saved and is also written to the EXIF data.
High-resolution LCD monitor with intuitive touch-screen controls
For the first time in the PENTAX system, the 3.2-inch LCD screen, with a resolution of approx. 1,620,000 pixels, has a touch screen with intuitive menu control and image zoom function during image playback.
The PENTAX K-3 Mark III also uses the tried and tested screen construction with "Air Gapless" technology for improved visibility. A special resin is inserted between the screen layers, which effectively reduces reflections and the scattering of light.
Beneath the viewfinder eyepiece, which extends beyond the display, is an eye sensor that optionally turns off the monitor when the photographer looks into the viewfinder. This prevents the illumination of the monitor from impairing visibility during the shot. Another advantage especially for night photography is the night vision LCD display function to quickly adjust the brightness of the monitor depending on the shooting location.
High frame rate - when every second counts
The mirror and shutter mechanism has been redesigned for the PENTAX K-3 Mark III. In combination with the new processor technology and the fast image processing parameters, the PENTAX K-3 Mark III makes it possible to shoot series of images at a previously unknown frame rate. 32 RAW files can be captured at 12 frames per second. At 2.5 frames per second and in JPEG format, the shooting series increases to 90 images before the camera has to save. Despite the highest load, the shutter is designed for at least 300,000 shots.
Video function with 4K resolution
The PENTAX K-3 Mark III was developed in the tradition of SLR technology, but the desire of many PENTAX photographers for a 4K video function could not be ignored. So the camera now records video clips in 4K resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels; 30p/24p frame rate) or Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels; 60p/30p/24p frame rate) in the H-264 recording format. For sound, there is a connection for a stereo microphone and headphones. It is possible to adjust and monitor the audio recording level.
One of the two SD card slots is prepared for the UHS-II standard in order to be able to process the data volumes at high frame rates or video recordings accordingly.
Original PENTAX reliability - robust, weatherproof and compact
One of the main advantages of the APS-C system is its small size. To ensure that the camera can be used as a mobile camera in any situation, special attention was paid to the compact size and low weight combined with high robustness. The housing is made of a light yet high-strength magnesium-aluminium alloy. The weatherproof housing construction is resistant to temperatures as low as -10°C and has 95 seals that protect against dust and moisture.
In-camera image and video editing and RAW development
The PENTAX K-3 Mark III offers numerous options for editing videos and photos directly in the camera. Various filters and the original PENTAX Custom Image function, which simulates different types of film, are already available when shooting. Further filters and RAW development expand the options. For video recordings there are simple film editing options.
Thanks to the many possibilities, no complex image editing programme is necessary to create your own distinctive image style.
Camera control and image transfer via "Image Sync" App
The PENTAX K-3 Mark III can be connected to devices such as smartphones or tablets via Bluetooth® or Wi-Fi.
By installing the free Image Sync app on a mobile device, the user can display Live View images on their screen, change camera settings and take pictures.
Captured images can be transferred to a mobile device and shared directly from there on social networks.
D-BG8 Battery Grip
A battery grip has been developed for exclusive use with the PENTAX K-3 Mark III. Like the camera, the battery grip features a dustproof, weather-resistant construction. In order to ensure comfortable operation even for portrait format shooting, many important controls are located on the battery grip as on the camera itself.
The battery grip is also powered by the D-LI90 battery, doubling the number of shots to approximately 1,800, and is also charged via the camera's USB-C port.
O-HC177 hot shoe cover
An optional exclusive metal hot shoe cover enhances the look of the camera.
RAPID BATTERY CHARGER KIT K-BC177E
Battery charger for D-LI90 Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery. A discharged battery can be fully charged in about 150 minutes, which is much faster than the K-BC90 charger.
The D-BC177 charger is also available without a quick-charging adapter and can be charged on the move via USB-C cable.
The most important features of the PENTAX K-3 Mark III at a glance
- Bright TTL prism viewfinder with 100% field of view and approx. 1.05x magnification
- 25.73 megapixel BSI sensor with a peak light sensitivity of ISO 1,600,000
- Pixel Shift function for higher image quality
- Body-integrated SR II system (IBIS)
- SAFOX 13 autofocus system with 101 focus sensors
- PENTAX Real-time Scene Analysis System
- Sophisticated operation systems for image conversion
- High-resolution LCD monitor with intuitive touch screen controls
- High frame rate with up to 12 frames/sec.
- Video function with 4K resolution
- Original PENTAX reliability - robust, weatherproof and compact
- PENTAX K bayonet - proven lens mount for generations
- In-camera image and video editing and RAW development
- Camera control via "Image Sync" app
- Information display on the top of the camera
- HDR shooting function for achieving higher contrast range
- High energy efficiency for up to 900 images on one battery charge
- Charging via USB cable - also from mobile power banks
- Programmable long exposure, up to 5 minutes in 10 second increments, then up to 20 minutes in minute increments
- Five memory locations for user settings
- Five individually programmable smart functions
- Interval shooting up to 9999 shots
- Multiple exposures up to 20 shots
The PENTAX K-3 Mark III will be available in a black or silver body from April 2021.
Official Product Names
Suggested Retail Price
PENTAX K-3 Mark III Black
23rd April 2021
PENTAX K-3 Mark III Silver
23rd April 2021
PENTAX K-3 Mark III Black Premium Kit
23rd April 2021
PENTAX K-3 Mark III Silver Premium Kit
23rd April 2021
In addition the following accessories will be available:
Official Product Names
Suggested Retail Price
BATTERY GRIP D-BG8
23rd April 2021
Hot Shoe Cover O-HC177
23rd April 2021
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