Pentax K-3 - Design and Performance

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Pentax K-3: Design

The Pentax K-3 is certainly pitched as an enthusiast DSLR, and its design and control layout only go further to cement this position.

The K-3 is equipped with a wealth of customisable functionality, with some 27 different options you can tailor to suit your desires. These include one-touch exposure bracketing, AF fine tune and exposure linking to AF point selection – all of which are normally features you’d expect to find on more high-end models.

The standard controls have also been well thought out, with all of the main exposure and shooting buttons located on the rear of the camera. The K-3 also benefits from an LCD display on the top panel that displays all of the basic shooting settings.

Thanks to a magnesium alloy shell, the K-3 is fully weather sealed and as such has a rugged feel and is certainly durable.

If you’re to combine the K-3 with any of Pentax’s growing range of weather-resistant ‘WR’ lenses it’ll prove even more durable and even storm proof, and the good news is that the K-3 ships with an 18-55mm WR lens as part of the kit.

The robust feel is backed up with some impressive claims through durability testing, with Pentax stating the K-3’s shutter has been tested up to 200,000 shutter actuations.

Pentax K-3: Performance

In general the Pentax K-3 is certainly a capable performer, although there are certain areas in which it falls down somewhat.

One area that has seen improvement on previous Pentax DSLRs is the LCD screen, and it’s definitely a more than capable unit. It measures in at 3.2-inches and, thanks to the removal of a previously-present air gap, along with some high-spec protective glass, the screen reduces reflections and features increased contrast.

Composing images is also a pleasure thanks to the substantial viewfinder. It offers 100% coverage of a scene and is as clear and as bright as any APS-C DSLR on the market.

The K-3’s sensor also delivers in terms of performance and dynamic range on offer. It might not be as wide as some 16MP sensors – as you might expect – but it’s certainly wide enough to cover most conventional scenes.

One of the sticking points with the Pentax K-3, as with quite a few other Pentax DSLRs, is the model’s AF system. In good light the focus system performs well, and it only really struggles in terms of speed when the lighting conditions deteriorate.

The real issue, however, is with regards to the noise of the AF motor. It makes quite a racket and certainly gives the impression of being slower than it actually is. While this noise is a touch annoying, it could prove more problematic when shooting in sensitive conditions such as shooting wildlife.

If you’re to invest in some quality Pentax optics then the noise is

slightly more muted, although the kit lens is particularly loud.


Video aficionados will find the K-3 an appealing prospect thanks to the capacity to capture full 1080p video at 24, 25 or 30fps. An added bonus, no doubt, is the ability to attach an external microphone for audio capture, while a headphone socket is also available for audio monitoring.

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