In one of the longest-awaited sequels in DSLR history, Ricoh has finally formally announced its latest flagship APS-C DSLR, the Pentax K-3 Mark III. Don’t be deceived by the ‘Mark’ designation, though; compared to the Mark II of 2015, this is to all intents and purposes an entirely new camera.
Pentax has built the Mark III around a 26MP APS-C sensor that employs a backside-illuminated design in a bid to reduce noise and improve dynamic range. The sensitivity range is vast, stretching from ISO 100 to 1,600,000; however in the past we’ve found such ultra-high settings to look much better on the spec sheet than in actual photographs. The continuous shooting speed of 12 frames per second is genuinely impressive, though, especially for a DSLR.
One notable feature is the SAFOX 13 autofocus system, which provides no fewer than 101 focus points, of which 25 are cross-type. The camera is also said to be able to autofocus in light as low as -4 EV, and a new 307,000-pixel metering sensor aids with subject identification for focus tracking purposes. Files are recorded to dual SD slots, one of which supports faster UHS-II cards.
Five-axis in-body image stabilisation is included, offering up to 5.5 stops shake reduction. The system also delivers a range of other goodies, some of which are exclusive to Pentax DSLRs. Alongside a pixel-shift multi-shot function, it can simulate the effect of an optical low-pass filter in suppressing imaging artefacts, and offers automatic horizon correction which can be really useful for hand-held shooting.
The optional vertical grip adds a duplicate set of controls for shooting in portrait format, including three dials and a joystick
Pentax DSLRs have traditionally offered excellent handling and superb viewfinders in robust bodies, and the K-3 III looks set to continue that trend. Its optical viewfinder is as large as those found on full-frame DSLRs, providing 0.7x equivalent magnification and 100% coverage of the image area. The three-dial control system is a development of that on the compact-bodied KP, and in a very welcome move, there’s a new joystick to position the AF area. As with previous K-3 models, the camera is extensively weather-sealed.
The Pentax K-3 III is due to go on sale in a choice of black or silver on 23rd April for £1,900 body-only, or £2,200 in a premium kit that includes the matched D-BG8 battery grip. This is more than double its predecessor’s price back in 2015, and £100 more than the full-frame K-1 Mark II’s street price. The grip itself accommodates a second battery for double the shooting time, boasts a duplicate set of controls for portrait-format shooting including a joystick and three control dials, and will cost £330 on its own.