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Pentax K-3 II review




  • Recommended by TR

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Pentax K-3 II
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Our Score:



  • Excellent OIS
  • Good dynamic range and detail
  • Unusual feature set


  • No Wi-Fi or NFC
  • A little large and heavy
  • Flawed JPEG processing

Key Features

  • 24-megapixel APS-C sensor
  • OIS
  • 8.3fps burst
  • Manufacturer: Pentax
  • Review Price: £749.00

What is the Pentax K-3 II?

The Pentax K-3 II is a high-end APS-C 24-megapixel DSLR, the last stop before you end up in full-frame sensor territory. It arrives two years after its predecessor, and while several of its core features seem similar, it improves a few important areas including optical image stabiliation (OIS) and tracking AF.

You’ll pay £749 for the Pentax K-3 II for the body alone. Or, it's available from £849 with the 18-55mm kit lens.

Is it a worthy alternative to the Nikon D7200 and Sony Alpha A77 II? It is, if you can forgive its patchy JPEG processing for its particular strengths. These include great hand-held shooting in low light and the ability to take great photos of the night sky. That’s right: it aims for niche audiences as well as for those who just want a good APS-C DSLR.

See also: Best cameras 2015

Pentax K-3 II

Pentax K-3 II – Design and Handling

The Pentax K-3 II is a fairly large camera in its class. While it has classic DSLR styling, it’s both bigger and heavier than models such as the Nikon D7200, one of its closest rivals.

At 800g with battery, but without lens, it’s on the heavy side for an APS-C DSLR, and both the depth of the body and grip are unusually pronounced. There are some pretty good excuses for this: The Pentax K-3 II’s optical image stabilisation will more than justify the bulk for many of you. But it does mean that handling may take a little getting used to.

I think that most photographers will like the sure hold that the economically contoured, deep grip offers – but I didn't instantly fall in love with it. It feels very different from most other APS-C cameras.

I won’t knock the construction, though. The Pentax K-3 II has a magnesium-alloy outer frame, providing the finish and resilience of a high-end camera.

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It’s also weatherproof, with no fewer than 92 parts making up that water- and dust-resistance. You’ll need a weather-resistant lens to match, but the humble 18-55mm kit lens offers this.

Backing up the Pentax K-3 II’s credibility as a serious camera is the very wide array of manual controls. As well as dual control dials, you get a handy on/off switch right by the lens, plus enough buttons around the rear and top plate to let you control just about any parameter with a very quick motion.

It requires some muscle memory to nail down operation, but then this is a camera for the enthusiast rather than someone who just plans to take it out for a spin a few weekends each year.

It's also worth paying particular attention to the layout here: as the Pentax K-3 II has a secondary LCD up on the top plate, the mode dial has been shifted to the left side. Again, if you just want a casual camera with good image quality, you may prefer something a little simpler.

Using the K-3 II isn’t difficult, but this control layout does mean you need to get your second hand involved.

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Pentax K-3 II – Screen and OVF

Pentax DSLR cameras tend to offer excellent viewfinders, and this one it no different. With a pentaprism design, 100% coverage of what the sensor sees and 0.95x magnification, it’s a top model. Big, bright and clear, it’s among the better viewfinders you’ll find for less than £1,000.

Of course, where using a pentaprism viewfinder in the Pentax K-S2 was a real achievement, in the more expensive K-3 II it’s closer to "par for the course". Still, it’s a great VF.

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The screen is good too. It’s 3.2-inches across and 1.04-mdot resolution, with an LCD panel. Going that bit further than just plugging in a decent screen, Pentax also lets you tweak the display’s colours and contrast, providing the scope to get a true representation of the images you’ll capture.

Or not, if you’re going to heavily process them afterwards anyway.

The Pentax K-3 II’s screen isn't touch operated, and doesn't tilt either. These omissions are pretty common for a more serious camera such as this.


September 15, 2015, 10:29 am

all '8' and '9'....so the final score is...'7'.....


September 15, 2015, 2:46 pm

7 seems like a fairly low score for a recommended product however I whole heartedly agree on the plus points. As a proud owner of its bigger badder medium format brother, the 645z, I can without a shadow of a doubt conclude that it is the best camera I have ever used. It frankly kills my 6D (no surprise) where it matters most and the raw files are a joy to manipulate. Well done Ricoh/Pentax and I cant wait for the full frame release!


September 15, 2015, 4:40 pm

Exactly! Lowest individual score of 8 in the 6 categories should give it a total of 8.2 by my calculation - assuming all scores are weighted evenly.


September 16, 2015, 6:50 am

Agree fully. The name 'trustedreviews' seems like a misnomer for this site. Maybe they are receiving kickbacks from a particular camera company to give high score only to their cameras. Just speculation.


September 16, 2015, 7:23 am

Perhaps if your camera says Nikon or Canon you get an automatic extra 1.5 points!


September 16, 2015, 7:32 am

Exactly. Also, don't understand why the reviewer is incessantly complaining about WiFi. It provides wifi support through 16gb wireless flucard which is bundled along with the camera. See B&H.

Alan D Granger

September 16, 2015, 12:45 pm

Regarding jpg performance, I think Pentax thinks anyone using a camera with these capabilities should be shooting raw.

Don McNaught

October 5, 2015, 1:04 pm

Review states that the camera is bigger than Nikon 7200. All other reviews I have seen say it is smaller as do the respective manufacturers' websites.

Yuliy Kurylo

November 11, 2015, 10:51 am

It's must be mistake.
Usually Pentax DSLR are smaller than Nikon and Canon competitors.
K-3, K-5 and K-7 have almost the same body.
7/10 is too understated score!

The White Knight

January 7, 2016, 8:12 pm

Agree with all posts here, should be 8.5 and above. This a a professional DSLR and if the reviewer was prepared to invest time in usage, the jpeg output is highly customisable and known not to be great with"out of the box" default settings. Once you read the manuals/forum posts you'll get great results. Ignore all the cons listed as they are either easily overcome (Wifi - with a FLU card, weight - best in class and FULL magnesium alloy) or wrong!


January 23, 2017, 2:42 pm

No WiFi? So what? Waste of time anyway. Too slow, much better to put SDHC/XC card straight into the computer! Flucard not mentioned in the review either - which happens to give WiFi... I know Professional photographers who make a damn good living using this camera.

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