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Pentax K-3 vs K-70

The Pentax K-3 and the Pentax K-70 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in October 2013 and June 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The K-3 has a resolution of 24.1 megapixels, whereas the K-70 provides 24 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Pentax K-3   Pentax K-70
Pentax K-3 Pentax K-70
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Pentax K mount lenses Pentax K mount lenses
24.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 24 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/60i Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 100-51200 ISO 100-102400
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.2" LCD, 1037k dots 3.0" LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
8.3 shutter flaps per second 6 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
560 shots per battery charge410 shots per battery charge
131 x 100 x 77 mm, 800 g 126 x 93 x 74 mm, 688 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Pentax K-3 and the Pentax K-70? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Pentax K-3 vs K-70

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Pentax K-3 and the Pentax K-70 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Both cameras are available in two different colors (black, silver).

Size Pentax K-3 vs Pentax K-70
Compare K-3 versus K-70 top
Comparison K-3 or K-70 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax K-70 is notably smaller (11 percent) than the Pentax K-3. Moreover, the K-70 is markedly lighter (14 percent) than the K-3. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

Concerning battery life, the K-3 gets 560 shots out of its D-LI90 battery, while the K-70 can take 410 images on a single charge of its D-LI109 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Pentax K-3» 131 mm 100 mm 77 mm 800 g 560 Y Oct 2013 1,299- i Pentax K-3
 
Pentax K-70« 126 mm 93 mm 74 mm 688 g 410 Y Jun 2016 649 i i Pentax K-70
 
Canon 70D« » 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
 
Nikon D7100« » 136 mm 107 mm 76 mm 765 g 950 Y Feb 2013 1,199- i Nikon D7100
 
Olympus E-M1 II« » 134 mm 91 mm 67 mm 574 g 440 Y Sep 2016 1,999 i i Olympus E-M1 II
 
Panasonic GH5« » 139 mm 98 mm 87 mm 725 g 410 Y Jan 2017 1,999 i i Panasonic GH5
 
Pentax KP« » 132 mm 101 mm 76 mm 703 g 390 Y Jan 2017 1,099 i i Pentax KP
 
Pentax K-3 II« » 131 mm 100 mm 77 mm 800 g 720 Y Apr 2015 1,099 i i Pentax K-3 II
 
Pentax K-5« » 131 mm 97 mm 73 mm 760 g 740 Y Sep 2010 1,099- i Pentax K-5
 
Sony RX10« » 129 mm 88 mm 102 mm 813 g 420 Y Oct 2013 1,299- i Sony RX10
 
Sony A99« » 147 mm 111 mm 78 mm 812 g 500 Y Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony A99
 
Sony A77« » 143 mm 104 mm 81 mm 732 g 470 Y Aug 2011 1,399- i Sony A77
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The K-70 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 50 percent) than the K-3, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Pentax K-3 vs K-70

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.

Pentax K-3 and Pentax K-70 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the K-3 offers a slightly higher resolution of 24.1 megapixels, compared with 24 MP of the K-70. This megapixels advantage translates into a 0.3 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the K-3 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.90μm versus 3.91μm for the K-70). Moreover, it should be noted that the K-70 is much more recent (by 2 years and 8 months) than the K-3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

The K-70 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.

Unlike the K-3, the K-70 has the capacity to capture high quality composite images by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).

The Pentax K-3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax K-70 are ISO 100 to ISO 102400 (no boost).

K-3 versus K-70 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Pentax K-3» APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.713.4121680Pentax K-3
 
Pentax K-70« APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i----Pentax K-70
 
Canon 70D« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668Canon 70D
 
Nikon D7100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.213.7125683Nikon D7100
 
Olympus E-M1 II« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280Olympus E-M1 II
 
Panasonic GH5« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p23.913.080777Panasonic GH5
 
Pentax KP« » APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i----Pentax KP
 
Pentax K-3 II« » APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.613.6110680Pentax K-3 II
 
Pentax K-5« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/25p23.714.1116282Pentax K-5
 
Sony RX10« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.912.647469Sony RX10
 
Sony A99« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.014.0155589Sony A99
 
Sony A77« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.280178Sony A77

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60i).

 

Feature comparison: Pentax K-3 vs K-70

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The K-3 and the K-70 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), as well as the same magnification (0.63x). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Pentax K-3 and Pentax K-70 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
Pentax K-3»optical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 Y Y Pentax K-3
 
Pentax K-70«optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y Pentax K-70
 
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n Canon 70D
 
Nikon D7100« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n Nikon D7100
 
Olympus E-M1 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 1/8000s 18.0 n Y Olympus E-M1 II
 
Panasonic GH5« »3680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 1/8000s 12.0 n Y Panasonic GH5
 
Pentax KP« »optical n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/6000s 7.0 Y Y Pentax KP
 
Pentax K-3 II« »optical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 n Y Pentax K-3 II
 
Pentax K-5« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y Y Pentax K-5
 
Sony RX10« »1440 Y 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/3200s 10.0 Y Y Sony RX10
 
Sony A99« »2359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 6.0 n Y Sony A99
 
Sony A77« »2359 Y 3.0 921 full-flex n 1/8000s 12.0 Y Y Sony A77

One feature that is present on the K-3, but is missing on the K-70 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

The K-70 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the K-3 does not have a selfie-screen.

The Pentax K-3 and the Pentax K-70 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the K-3 and the K-70 write their files to SDXC cards. The K-3 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the K-70 only has one slot. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.

 

Connectivity comparison: Pentax K-3 vs K-70

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 Pentax K-70 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Pentax K-3»YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Pentax K-3
 
Pentax K-70«YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Pentax K-70
 
Canon 70D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 70D
 
Nikon D7100« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D7100
 
Olympus E-M1 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro3.0Y--Olympus E-M1 II
 
Panasonic GH5« »YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-YPanasonic GH5
 
Pentax KP« »YstereomonoY--2.0Y--Pentax KP
 
Pentax K-3 II« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Pentax K-3 II
 
Pentax K-5« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Pentax K-5
 
Sony RX10« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony RX10
 
Sony A99« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0---Sony A99
 
Sony A77« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Sony A77

It is notable that the K-3 has a headphone jack, which is not present on the K-70 This port makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process.

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Pentax K-3 (unlike the K-70) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

The K-70 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Pentax. In contrast, the K-3 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the K-3 was succeeded by the Pentax K-3 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Pentax website.


Review summary: Pentax K-3 vs K-70

So what is the bottom line? Is the Pentax K-3 better than the Pentax K-70 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-3:

  • Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 921k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/6000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8.3 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (560 versus 410) on a single battery charge.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in October 2013).


Advantages of the Pentax K-70:

  • High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
  • Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for quicker and more confident autofocus.
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • More compact: Is smaller (126x93mm vs 131x100mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 112g or 14 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (50 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 8 months of technical progress since the K-3 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the K-3 emerges as the winner of the contest (11 : 9 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

K-3 11:09 K-70

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Pentax K-3 and the Pentax K-70 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the K-3 or the K-70 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews: Pentax K-3 vs K-70

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Pentax K-3»-83/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,299- i Pentax K-3
 
Pentax K-70«-79/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Jun 2016 649 i i Pentax K-70
 
Canon 70D« »+ +83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
 
Nikon D7100« »+ +85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2013 1,199- i Nikon D7100
 
Olympus E-M1 II« »+ +85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i i Olympus E-M1 II
 
Panasonic GH5« »+ +85/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2017 1,999 i i Panasonic GH5
 
Pentax KP« »-82/1005/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 1,099 i i Pentax KP
 
Pentax K-3 II« »--5/54.5/55/5 Apr 2015 1,099 i i Pentax K-3 II
 
Pentax K-5« »-83/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,099- i Pentax K-5
 
Sony RX10« »+80/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,299- i Sony RX10
 
Sony A99« »-84/1004.5/5o4.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony A99
 
Sony A77« »91/10081/100-4.5/55/5 Aug 2011 1,399- i Sony A77
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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Pentax K-3:
Check Ebay offers
Pentax K-70:
Check Amazon price

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Pentax K-3 vs Pentax K-70

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Pentax K-3 Pentax K-70
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Pentax K mount lenses Pentax K mount lenses
    Launch Date October 2013 June 2016
    Launch Price USD 1299 USD 649
    Sensor Specs Pentax K-3 Pentax K-70
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.5 x 15.6 mm 23.5 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 366.6 mm2 366.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.2 mm 28.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 24.1 Megapixels 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 6016 x 4000 pixels 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 3.90 μm 3.91 μm
    Pixel Density 6.56 MP/cm2 6.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60i Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 100-51200 ISO 100-102400 ISO
    Image Processor PRIME III PRIME MII
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 80 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.7 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 13.4 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1216 ..
    Screen Specs Pentax K-3 Pentax K-70
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.63x 0.63x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.2 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 1037k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Pentax K-3 Pentax K-70
    Autofocus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus PeakingFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/8000/s 1/6000/s
    Continuous Shooting 8.3 shutter flaps/s 6 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy200 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inIntervalometer built-in
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Pentax K-3 Pentax K-70
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 3.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port External MIC port
    Headphone Socket Headphone port Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Body Specs Pentax K-3 Pentax K-70
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type D-LI90 power pack D-LI109 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)560 shots per charge410 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 131 x 100 x 77 mm
    (5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0 in)
    126 x 93 x 74 mm
    (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.9 in)
    Camera Weight 800 g (28.2 oz) 688 g (24.3 oz)

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