Ricoh has taken the wraps off its latest flagship Pentax DSLR, the K-3 II. As we've grown to expect from high-end Pentax K-series offerings, the new camera features a sturdy weather resistant body paired with some impressive specs. This time around that includes an enhanced shake reduction system, and the ability to shoot images with full RGB color information for each pixel using a new sensor-shifting Pixel Shift Resolution mode.
Following on from the Pentax K-3 which was released in 2013, the K-3 II is the new flagship Pentax DSLR (though a full-frame Pentax DSLR which will take that mantle is due before Christmas). As such, it boasts some of the best features seen in recent Pentax DSLRs like the K-S1, K-S2 and the medium format 645Z, while also adding a few new tricks of its own to help it compete with the Canon EOS 7D II and Nikon D7200.
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At the heart of the K-3 II is a 24.35-megapixel APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm) CMOS sensor, which lacks an AA (anti-aliasing) filter to produce sharper images. The sensor is paired with the Prime III image-processing engine and enables a wide ISO range of 100 to 51200, along with a top continuous shooting speed of 8.3 fps (frames per second) which can be maintained for a respectable 60 JPEG or 23 RAW shots before the buffer fills up.
However, the highlights of the K-3 II spec sheet are features based around its sensor-shift technology. Advanced SR Shake Reduction has been enhanced with the addition of a new high-precision gyro sensor, meaning it can better counteract camera movement. This will help to reduce the number of blurry shots by offering up to 4.5 shutter steps of camera-shake compensation. An AA filter simulator mode can also minimize moiré by applying microscopic vibrations to the image sensor.
The sensor-shift mechanism is also used to capture more detailed images in a similar way to the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, but does not increase the overall megapixel count. Pixel Shift Resolution captures four images of the same scene, moving the sensor one pixel between each shot, and then produces a composite image with full RGB color information for each pixel. Resulting images are still 24-megapixel, but have more truthful colors and less noise than those captured with the typical Bayer method. Obviously, as the camera needs to take a series of photos to use this feature, it's best suited to tripod-based studio and landscape work rather than action or portraits.
Autofocus is dealt with by a SAFOX 11 sensor module with 27 AF points, 25 of which are the better cross type, and is said to offer improved tracking and continuous performance. Full HD 1080p video recording is possible at 30/25 fps in the H.264 recording format, or HD 720p video at 60/50 fps, and the camera has microphone and headphone ports for better audio recording. An interval time-lapse movie mode is also present which captures images with an interval of two seconds to one hour and combines them into a 4K video.
A stainless steel chassis with a lightweight magnesium alloy body provides the sort of sturdy camera we've come to expect from the Pentax K-series, while 92 seals in the body also mean it is dust-proof and weather-resistant. On the rear of the KAF2 bayonet mount camera there's an optical viewfinder along with a fixed 3.2-inch LCD monitor with 1,037k dots. The camera measures 131.5 x 102.5 x 77.5 mm (5.17 x 3.94 x 3.05 in) and weighs 785 g (28.2 oz) with one of the few physical changes from its predecessor being that the new model lacks a built-in flash.
Other features of note include built-in GPS which can be used to record location data with images (including direction thanks to an Electronic Compass) and keep a track of a photographer’s movement. An Astrotracer function also uses GPS data to simplify the tracing and photographing of celestial bodies. While there's no built-in Wi-Fi, the K-3 II is compatible with FluCard SD cards (it has dual SD slots) for remote control and image sharing via smartphones, tablets or computers.
The Pentax K-3 II will be available in May for US$1,100 body-only.
Product page: Pentax K-3 IIView gallery - 10 images