Pentax K-3 Comparison Review
The Pentax K-3 is a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera that was revealed to the public in October 2013 and is equipped with an APS-C sensor. It offers a resolution of 24.1 megapixel.
Is the Pentax K-3 a good camera? The K-3 has a Camera Elo of 2192. This rating puts the K-3 among the top 30 percent of all digital single lens reflex cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (APS cameras), the K-3 ranks among the top 40 percent. Based on its within category standings, the camera earns a 4-star performance rating.
|Digital single lens reflex|
|Pentax K mount lenses|
|24.1 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|ISO 100 - 51 200|
|3.2 LCD, 1037k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|8.3 shutter flaps per second|
|560 shots per battery charge|
|131 x 100 x 77 mm, 800 g|
Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.
Body comparison with a credit card
An illustration of the physical dimensions of the Pentax K-3 vis-à-vis a credit card is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Pentax K-3 alongside a set of similar cameras. If you want to review a particular camera pair side-by-side, just move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.
|1.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|2.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|3.||Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|4.||Pentax KP||132 mm||101 mm||76 mm||703 g||390||Y||Jan 2017||1,099|
|5.||Pentax K-70||126 mm||93 mm||74 mm||688 g||410||Y||Jun 2016||649|
|6.||Pentax K-3 II||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099|
|7.||Pentax K-5 II||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2012||1,099|
|8.||Pentax K-5||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2010||1,099|
|9.||Sony RX10||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||420||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|10.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|11.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Pentax K-3 was launched in the US market at a price of $1,299. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
The Pentax K-3 features an APS-C sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Pentax K-3 among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of alternative cameras.
|6.||Pentax K-3 II||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|7.||Pentax K-5 II||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/25p||23.8||14.1||1235||82|
|10.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The K-3 indeed provides movie recording capabilities. The highest resolution format that the K-3 can use is 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the K-3 has an optical viewfinder that provides a field of view of 100% and a magnification of 0.63x. The adjacent tables list some of the other core features of the Pentax K-3 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Pentax K-3||optical||Y||3.2 / 1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||Y||Y|
|2.||Canon 70D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||7.0||Y||n|
|3.||Nikon D7100||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|4.||Pentax KP||optical||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/6000s||7.0||Y||Y|
|5.||Pentax K-70||optical||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/6000s||6.0||Y||Y|
|6.||Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2 / 1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y|
|7.||Pentax K-5 II||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||Y|
|8.||Pentax K-5||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||Y|
|9.||Sony RX10||1440||Y||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/3200s||10.0||Y||Y|
|10.||Sony A99||2359||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||Y|
|11.||Sony A77||2359||Y||3.0 / 921||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||Y||Y|
One convenient feature of the K-3 is the presence of an on-board flash. While this built-in flash is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light to brighten deep shadow areas.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Pentax K-3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Pentax K-3||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Canon 70D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|3.||Nikon D7100||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Pentax KP||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||-||2.0||Y||-||-|
|5.||Pentax K-70||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Pentax K-5 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Pentax K-5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Sony RX10||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|10.||Sony A99||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Sony A77||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the K-3 has a microphone port. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
While the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the K-3. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]).
|1.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|2.||Canon 70D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199|
|3.||Nikon D7100||5/5||+ +||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|4.||Pentax KP||4/5||..||3/5||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||1,099|
|5.||Pentax K-70||4.5/5||..||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2016||649|
|6.||Pentax K-3 II||4.5/5||..||..||..||5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099|
|7.||Pentax K-5 II||5/5||..||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,099|
|8.||Pentax K-5||4/5||..||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,099|
|9.||Sony RX10||5/5||+||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|10.||Sony A99||5/5||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|11.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||..||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Pentax K-3 FAQ
Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the K-3.
What type of imaging sensor is used in the K-3?
The camera has a CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor at its core.
Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?
Pentax equipped the K-3 with the PRIME III image processor.
What is the ISO sensitivity range of the K-3?
The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200.
What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Pentax K-3?
Pentax mentions a shutter rating of 200 000 actuations for the K-3. This number represents a Mean Time before Failure, that is an average value. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust the expected shutter life of the K-3 over, say, three years, one would have to take about 200 pictures each and every day.
How do I find the shutter count on my K-3?
Pentax embeds the number of shutter actuations in image metadata. You can check the number of shots that your K-3 has taken up to now by uploading a recent image to the free online shutter count finder app.
Do I need to purchase an external camera trigger to shoot time-lapse sequences?
No, the Pentax K-3 has an intervalometer built-in, so that low frequency shooting (for example, flower blooming, sunset, moon rise) can be undertaken without the need to purchase a separate external intervalometer and related software.
Is it difficult to use manual focus lenses with the Pentax K-3?
The K-3 offers focus peaking as a manual focus aid. This feature works by placing a colored highlight on in-focus zones within the image.
Does the Pentax K-3 feature an autofocus assist light?
Yes, the camera has a lamp built-in that can illuminate the subject and improve autofocus in low-light settings.
What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?
The K-3's flash sync speed is 1/180 sec.
Does the Pentax K-3 support the Ultra High Speed (UHS) bus interface for SD cards?
Yes, the camera can indeed use UHS-I cards (data transfer speed of up to 104 MB/s).
Which battery does the K-3 use?
Is there a vertical grip available for the K-3?
Yes, Pentax offers the D-BG5 as an optional accessory to facilitate shooting in portrait orientation and to provide additional battery power.
Camera to camera comparisons
In case you are interested in seeing how this camera compares to another one, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 20D vs Pentax K-3
- Canon 6D vs Pentax K-3
- Canon T100 vs Pentax K-3
- Leica CL vs Pentax K-3
- Leica S Typ 007 vs Pentax K-3
- Leica X Typ 113 vs Pentax K-3
- Nikon D3000 vs Pentax K-3
- Olympus E-PL1 vs Pentax K-3
- Panasonic FZ80 vs Pentax K-3
- Panasonic G80 vs Pentax K-3
- Pentax K-3 vs Pentax K-5
- Pentax K-3 vs Ricoh GR III
|Camera Model||Pentax K-3|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 1 299|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||367 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6 016 x 4 000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.90 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.56 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51 200 ISO|
|Image Processor||PRIME III|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||80|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1216|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|LCD Size||3.2 inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen|
|V-logging Friendliness||No front-flip|
|Touch Input||No touchscreen|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||8.3 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||200 000 actuations|
|Silent Shooting||no E-Shutter|
|Time Lapse Photography||Intervalometer Built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Type||D-LI90 power pack|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||560 shots per charge|
131 x 100 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||800 g (28.2 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.