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Pentax K-3 vs KP

The Pentax K-3 and the Pentax KP are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in October 2013 and January 2017. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 24.1 megapixels.

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

Headline Specifications
Pentax K-3 versus Pentax KP
Pentax K-3 Pentax KP
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Pentax K mount lenses Pentax K mount lenses
24.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 24.1 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/60i Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 100-51,200 ISO 100-819,200
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.2 LCD, 1037k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)
8.3 shutter flaps per second 7 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
560 shots per battery charge390 shots per battery charge
131 x 100 x 77 mm, 800 g 132 x 101 x 76 mm, 703 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Pentax K-3 and the Pentax KP? 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

The physical size and weight of the Pentax K-3 and the Pentax KP are illustrated 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 KP
Compare K-3 versus KP top
Comparison K-3 or KP rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax KP is somewhat larger (2 percent) than the Pentax K-3. However, the KP is markedly lighter (12 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 KP can take 390 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.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Pentax K-3 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 28.2 oz 560 Y Oct 2013 1,299i
 
Pentax KP 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.0 in 24.8 oz 390 Y Jan 2017 1,099 i
 
Canon 70D 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199i
 
Fujifilm X-H1 5.5 in 3.8 in 3.4 in 23.7 oz 310 Y Feb 2018 1,899 i
 
Nikon D7200 5.4 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1110 Y Mar 2015 1,199i
 
Nikon D7100 5.4 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 950 Y Feb 2013 1,199i
 
Pentax K-70 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.9 in 24.3 oz 410 Y Jun 2016 649 i
 
Pentax K-3 II 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 28.2 oz 720 Y Apr 2015 1,099 i
 
Pentax K-5 5.2 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 26.8 oz 740 Y Sep 2010 1,099i
 
Sony A6500 4.7 in 2.6 in 2.1 in 16.0 oz 350 Y Oct 2016 1,399i
 
Sony A99 5.8 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 28.6 oz 500 Y Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Sony A77 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 25.8 oz 470 Y Aug 2011 1,399i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The KP was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 15 percent) than the K-3, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to 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.

Technology-wise, the KP uses a more advanced image processing engine (PRIME IV) than the K-3 (PRIME III), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Pentax K-3 and Pentax KP sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 24.1 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the K-3 and the KP have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the KP is much more recent (by 3 years and 3 months) than the K-3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time. 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.

Unlike the K-3, the KP 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 KP are ISO 100 to ISO 819200 (no boost).

K-3 versus KP MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Pentax K-3 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.713.4121680
 
Pentax KP APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i........
 
Canon 70D APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
 
Fujifilm X-H1 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p........
 
Nikon D7200 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.514.6133387
 
Nikon D7100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.213.7125683
 
Pentax K-70 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i........
 
Pentax K-3 II APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.613.6110680
 
Pentax K-5 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/25p23.714.1116282
 
Sony A6500 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.513.7140585
 
Sony A99 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.014.0155589
 
Sony A77 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.280178

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60i).

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The K-3 and the KP 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 KP along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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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
 
Pentax K-3optical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 Y Y
 
Pentax KPoptical n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/6000s 7.0 Y Y
 
Canon 70Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
 
Fujifilm X-H13690 Y 3.0 1040 full-flex Y 1/8000s 14.0 n Y
 
Nikon D7200optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D7100optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
 
Pentax K-70optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
 
Pentax K-3 IIoptical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 n Y
 
Pentax K-5optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y Y
 
Sony A65002359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 11.0 Y Y
 
Sony A992359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 6.0 n Y
 
Sony A772359 Y 3.0 921 full-flex n 1/8000s 12.0 Y Y

One feature that is present on the K-3, but is missing on the KP 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 reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the KP is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).

The Pentax K-3 and the Pentax KP 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 KP 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 KP 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

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 KP and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Pentax K-3YmonomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Pentax KPYstereomonoY--2.0Y--
 
Canon 70DYstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Fujifilm X-H1YstereomonoY-micro3.0Y--
 
Nikon D7200YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-
 
Nikon D7100YstereomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Pentax K-70YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Pentax K-3 IIYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Pentax K-5YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Sony A6500YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-
 
Sony A99YstereomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Sony A77YstereomonoY-mini2.0---

It is notable that the K-3 has a headphone jack, which is not present on the KP 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 KP) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

The KP is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Pentax. In contrast, the K-3 has been discontinued (but 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

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Pentax K-3 or the Pentax KP – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Advantages 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 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (560 versus 390) 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).


Arguments in favor of the Pentax KP:

  • High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (PRIME IV vs PRIME III).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 97g or 12 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 released into a lower priced segment (15 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 3 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 : 8 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

K-3 11:08 KP

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Pentax K-3 and the Pentax KP 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 KP perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Pentax K-3..83/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,299i
 
Pentax KP..82/1005/5..4.5/5 Jan 2017 1,099 i
 
Canon 70D+ +83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199i
 
Fujifilm X-H1+86/1004.5/5..4.5/5 Feb 2018 1,899 i
 
Nikon D7200+ +84/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Mar 2015 1,199i
 
Nikon D7100+ +85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2013 1,199i
 
Pentax K-70..79/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Jun 2016 649 i
 
Pentax K-3 II....5/54.5/55/5 Apr 2015 1,099 i
 
Pentax K-5..83/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,099i
 
Sony A6500+ +85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 1,399i
 
Sony A99..84/1004.5/5o4.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Sony A7791/10081/100..4.5/55/5 Aug 2011 1,399i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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 KP:
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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Pentax K-3 vs Pentax KP

    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 KP
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Pentax K mount lenses Pentax K mount lenses
    Launch Date October 2013 January 2017
    Launch Price USD 1,299 USD 1,099
    Sensor Specs Pentax K-3 Pentax KP
    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 24.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 6016 x 4000 pixels 6016 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 3.90 μm 3.90 μm
    Pixel Density 6.56 MP/cm2 6.56 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60i Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 51,200 ISO 100 - 819,200 ISO
    Image Processor PRIME III PRIME IV
    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 KP
    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 3.2inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1037k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs Pentax K-3 Pentax KP
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus PeakingFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/8000s 1/6000s
    Continuous Shooting 8.3 shutter flaps/s 7 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy200 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Electronic Shutterno E-Shutterup to 1/24000s
    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 KP
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 3.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port External MIC port
    Headphone Socket Headphone port no Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Body Specs Pentax K-3 Pentax KP
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type D-LI90 D-LI109
    Battery Life (CIPA)560 shots per charge390 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 131 x 100 x 77 mm
    (5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0 in)
    132 x 101 x 76 mm
    (5.2 x 4.0 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 800 g (28.2 oz) 703 g (24.8 oz)

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