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Pentax K-3

Est. $1450 (with kit lens)
Reviewed
February 2014
by ConsumerSearch
Pentax K-3

Pros
  • 27-point autofocus system
  • Excellent high ISO quality
  • Weather-sealed for extreme temperatures
  • Anti-aliasing option
Cons
  • Slow autofocus

Bottom line

The Pentax K-3 -- Pentax's top-of-the-line model -- wins awards as the most full-featured prosumer DSLR camera on the market. With great performance, excellent image quality and superior handling, the rugged K-3 is a semi-pro camera that successfully competes with its Canon and Nikon rivals.

Ease of use

Controls need practice. The Pentax K-3 looks like the less expensive Pentax K-5 II (Est. $925 (with kit lens)) , but it's slightly bigger and heavier. The K-3 is designed for the more experienced DSLR user and its more than 30 external controls reflect this, with quite a few of them having more than one function. This results in a learning curve for those coming to the K-3 from simpler, entry-level DSLR cameras. The onscreen control interface is "enthusiast-friendly," which another reviewer calls "relatively unrefined."

Performance

Excellent all-around performance. From the Pentax K-3's fast startup time of one second, its performance and photo quality are just excellent. One reviewer says, "We really can't think of anything bad to say about the new Pentax K-3." Noise doesn't kick in until ISO 1,600, and becomes more apparent at higher ISO settings when looking at images at 100 percent on the screen. Color is accurate throughout the entire ISO range, and users can turn the anti-aliasing filter on or off to increase crispness and detail. In tests, night photography allows for the capture of light in all situations. The one downside is the contrast autofocus system, which some users found to be rather slow.

Durability

Fully weather-sealed. The Pentax K-3 has a compact, solid body made of lightweight magnesium steel alloy on a stainless steel alloy frame. The K-3's body is full-size and designed for "normal hands." Using a system of 92 special seals, it provides a fully weather-sealed and dustproof environment, and its cold-resistant construction will withstand hostile outdoors conditions down to minus-10 degrees Celsius.

Features

Top of the Ricoh line. The Pentax K-3 is the top-of-the-line DSLR offered by Ricoh. It has Ricoh's most sophisticated 27-point autofocus system and its largest viewfinder. However, the LCD screen is less innovative than that of some rivals, being fixed and not a touch screen. There's an anti-aliasing simulator that can be turned on or off, and 10 ISO settings. For creativity, Digital Filters apply special effects to images and Custom Image options -- preset combinations of sharpness, saturation, contrast and color tone settings -- can be customized to your needs. The Pentax K-3 also offers a multi-exposure mode that allows you to combine between two and 2,000 different JPEG or RAW images into a single photo.

image
Pentax K-5 II 16.3 MP DSLR DA 18-135mm WR lens kit (Black)
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Pentax K-3 lens kit w/ 18-135mm WR 24MP SLR Camera with 3.2-Inch TFT LCD and 18-135mm WR f 3.5-5.6 (Black)

 (63 reviews)
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Our Sources

1. PhotographyBlog.com

Winning PhotographyBlog.com's highest award nets the Pentax K-3 a maximum rating of 5 out of 5 stars, with full marks for image quality and value for money. Mark Goldstein places the K-3 firmly in the semi-pro market and says it's easily the best video DSLR Pentax has to offer.

Review: Pentax K-3 Review, Mark Goldstein, Nov. 26, 2013

2. PhotographyBlog.com

Winning PhotographyBlog.com's highest award nets the Pentax K-3 a maximum rating of 5 out of 5 stars, with full marks for image quality and value for money. Mark Goldstein places the K-3 firmly in the semi-pro market and says it's easily the best video DSLR Pentax has to offer.

Review: Pentax K-3 Review, Mark Goldstein, Nov. 26, 2013

3. DPReview.com

The Pentax K-3 wins the DPReview.com 2013 Readers' Choice Award for best digital SLR camera. There's uncharacteristically only a brief review of the K-3 here, but editors say it is an "extremely capable addition to the market," and they can't think of what Ricoh could add to the camera.

Review: Pentax K-3, Editors of DPReview.com, Not dated

4. DPReview.com

The Pentax K-3 wins the DPReview.com 2013 Readers' Choice Award for best digital SLR camera. There's uncharacteristically only a brief review of the K-3 here, but editors say it is an "extremely capable addition to the market," and they can't think of what Ricoh could add to the camera.

Review: Pentax K-3, Editors of DPReview.com, Not dated

5. Imaging-Resource.com

Reviewers at Imaging-Resource.com stress the newness of the Pentax K-3, calling it revolutionary and not evolutionary when compared to previous Pentax DSLR cameras. They consider the most significant feature to be the "impressively-clever on-demand optical low-pass filtering system."

Review: Pentax K-3 Review, Mike Tomkins, Oct. 7, 2013

6. Imaging-Resource.com

Reviewers at Imaging-Resource.com stress the newness of the Pentax K-3, calling it revolutionary and not evolutionary when compared to previous Pentax DSLR cameras. They consider the most significant feature to be the "impressively-clever on-demand optical low-pass filtering system."

Review: Pentax K-3 Review, Mike Tomkins, Oct. 7, 2013

7. DXOMark.com

Replacing the Pentax K-5 II and K-5 IIs at the top of Pentax's range, the Pentax K-3 is a "tempting choice" for both enthusiasts and professionals. This is mainly due to its quasi AA-filter design, which lets the user select whether to use the anti-aliasing feature.

Review: Pentax K-3 Review: Unshakeable Image Quality, Kevin Carter, Nov. 25, 2013

8. DXOMark.com

Replacing the Pentax K-5 II and K-5 IIs at the top of Pentax's range, the Pentax K-3 is a "tempting choice" for both enthusiasts and professionals. This is mainly due to its quasi AA-filter design, which lets the user select whether to use the anti-aliasing feature.

Review: Pentax K-3 Review: Unshakeable Image Quality, Kevin Carter, Nov. 25, 2013

9. ePhotoZine

The new Pentax K-3 is Ricoh's flagship DSLR and has a "breathtaking array" of features, says John Riley. The K-3 throws down a challenge to more expensive professional DSLR cameras, and photographers looking for a rugged, all-weather, well-rounded camera need look no further.

Review: Pentax K-3 Digital SLR Review , John Riley, Nov. 14, 2013

10. ePhotoZine

The new Pentax K-3 is Ricoh's flagship DSLR and has a "breathtaking array" of features, says John Riley. The K-3 throws down a challenge to more expensive professional DSLR cameras, and photographers looking for a rugged, all-weather, well-rounded camera need look no further.

Review: Pentax K-3 Digital SLR Review , John Riley, Nov. 14, 2013

11. PCMag.com

Jim Fisher says the Pentax K-3 takes the best of the Pentax cameras and adds in the best-yet autofocus system and burst-shooting mode. The K-3 wins an Editors' Choice award, with just some minor complaints noted. Fisher says the K-3 is better than the previous winner in the high-end category, the Nikon D7100.

Review: Pentax K-3, Jim Fisher, Nov. 20, 2013

12. PCMag.com

Jim Fisher says the Pentax K-3 takes the best of the Pentax cameras and adds in the best-yet autofocus system and burst-shooting mode. The K-3 wins an Editors' Choice award, with just some minor complaints noted. Fisher says the K-3 is better than the previous winner in the high-end category, the Nikon D7100.

Review: Pentax K-3 Review, Jim Fisher, Nov. 20, 2013

13. Amazon.com

With just more than 25 reviews on Amazon.com, the Pentax K-3 DSLR camera is not the most popular choice on the website. However, the average rating is 4.9 stars out of 5, so users are very satisfied with their purchases. No one rates it below a 4.

Review: Pentax K-3 SLR Camera, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2014

14. Amazon.com

With just more than 25 reviews on Amazon.com, the Pentax K-3 DSLR camera is not the most popular choice on the website. However, the average rating is 4.9 stars out of 5, so users are very satisfied with their purchases. No one rates it below a 4.

Review: Pentax K-3 SLR Camera, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2014

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Pentax K-3 lens kit w/ 18-135mm WR 24MP SLR Camera with 3.2-Inch TFT LCD and 18-135mm WR f 3.5-5.6 (Black)
Buy from Amazon.com
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New: $1,649.95 $1,229.27   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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