Pentax K-3 Mark III - Review 2021 - PCMag AU
Jun 16, 2021 3 mins, 45 secs
For longtime Pentax owners, the K-3 Mark III is a hotly anticipated camera.

Dedicated Pentax users and SLR stalwarts should take a look, but photographers shopping for an APS-C system camera will be much better served by the Fujifilm X-T4.

Its body is sized and shaped like other cameras, with an ample handgrip for better balance when pairing with the telephoto lenses used for sports, action, and wildlife disciplines.

It's an APS-C sensor camera, not a full-frame like the Pentax K-1 Mark II.

You can still use it with full-frame lenses; one of the strengths of the Pentax system is compatibility with autofocus lenses dating from the 1980s and manual focus optics from the '70s.

The big change on the rear is an eight-way controller, basically a small joystick for direct control of the autofocus area.

It offers a high magnification, in line with full-frame SLRs (0.7x), and just a little bit smaller than similarly specced EVF models like the Fujifilm X-T4 (0.75x).

I enabled the viewfinder framing grid, and it always shows the outline that defines the area of the frame covered by the autofocus system, along with the set focus point or points.

The black boxes that represent focus points are easy enough to see when working outdoors under the sun, but are a little harder to see when working indoors or in dim light.

It's a typical experience for an SLR, and one that shows a problem that mirrorless cameras have solved—with an EVF you'll always see your focus point clearly, even in dim light.

The K-3 III uses the same D-L190 rechargeable battery that's powered Pentax cameras dating back to the K-7.

SLRs don't use as much power as mirrorless cameras, netting an estimated 800 shots per charge.

Any way you slice it, the K-3 III can be an all-day camera with a fully topped-off battery, and if you've been shooting Pentax for years, you're sure to have a few spares around to carry if you do run out of juice.

The K-3 III swaps out the aging 27-point autofocus system for a new version of the SAFOX engine.

It's the best autofocus you'll get out of a Pentax camera, and while not the equal of the Nikon D500, it's not too far behind.

With the HD 150-450mm, a big full-frame zoom with a DC focus motor, I was able to snap shots of birds in flight with a lot more shots in focus than out.

In practice you'll notice some extra noise, especially if the lens has to hunt to find focus.

If you're buying new lenses for the camera today, you'll be limited to Pentax autofocus optics.

The K-3 III puts its 25.7MP BSI CMOS sensor onto a 5-axis image stabilization system.

Mirrorless cameras take it a step further with hybrid systems that benefit from both lens and body stabilization, and always show a steady view in an EVF.

The sensor supports a wide ISO range, starting down at 100 and ranging to an extreme ISO 16000000 sensitivity.

The output at ISO 51200 and 102400 is impressive, especially when you remember this is an APS-C, not a full-frame, camera.

The stabilized sensor opens up a few advanced operating modes.

The camera records at 1080p quality using its full sensor width at 24, 30, or 60fps.

Other cameras, including the Fujifilm X-T4, Nikon Z 6, and Sony a7C, are better all around for moving pictures—they offer superior autofocus, uncropped 4K, and a wide range of picture profiles and flat looks.

They're also all mirrorless EVF cameras.

And there are plenty of reasons to make room in your budget for the Mark III, including an autofocus system that competes with Canon and Nikon SLRs, an updated image sensor for better photos, and compatibility with lenses going back nearly 50 years.

The autofocus engine is especially appealing for Pentaxians photographing moving subjects.

It's still not quite the equal of the Nikon D500, or any enthusiast-oriented mirrorless camera.

The camera comes with premium pricing—it's an APS-C camera that costs more than some with full-frame sensors.

It's built to high standards, and a relatively small market share means that using a Pentax camera today costs more than systems with larger user bases.

It makes the K-3 Mark III a natural upgrade for photographers already working with Pentax cameras and lenses.

It has a wider selection of recent autofocus lenses, a flip-out LCD, and speedy 4K video focus.

Since then he's shot with hundreds of camera models, ranging from pocket point-and-shoots to medium format digital cameras.


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