How Good is the K-3 / K-3ii?


Link Posted 04/10/2015 - 19:09
Often I read threads on the Forum which are negative towards Pentax cameras, e.g. AF is poor, too much image noise, not good enough at high ISO's etc., so I wanted to post something positive and also generate some opinions and debate from K-3 / K-3ii owners.

In the past week I've taken a large number of images in testing conditions, with both my K-3 and my K-5iis, i.e. last weekend at T-fest with darkness, variable lighting, lots of movement and the need to use ISO's up to 3200, then last night with my K-3 only at a 'class of 1982' school reunion, most of which took place in semi darkness.

I have been very impressed with my K-3 which performed brilliantly at both events and last night demonstrated an ability to consistently nail autofocus in near darkness and in rapid time. Of 73 shots I took at the event there is not one out of focus, which amazes me. It also demonstrates the significant abilities of the Sigma 17-70 f2.8-4 HSM OS lens, which was used at both events to great effect.

The shots (at all ISO's up to 3200) are sharp with great colour balance (multi auto WB works brilliantly on the K-3) and noise levels are nothing to worry about, in fact I haven't felt the need to apply any noise reduction to most of them.

So, what do you think about your K-3 or K-3ii? What is great about these cameras?

After having owned a K-3 for almost 2 years and used it side by side with my K-5iis (also a great camera), I am convinced about its abilities and it is my 'go to' camera when I need reliable performance.

Lets have some positive debate, also I'm interested to know if anyone has less positive views on the K-3.


Nicola's Apartments, Kassiopi, Corfu

Some cameras, some lenses, some bits 'n' bobs


Link Posted 04/10/2015 - 20:40
Where are the sample images.... As someone who is looking for a new Pentax camera, and very much into low light music photography. I would be keen to see the results. Not convinced the K3ii is so much of an improvement over the K3. Full frame is looking further and further away....
K-1Gripped K-1 ungripped K-5ii K7 Various lenses



Link Posted 04/10/2015 - 21:42
I never thought that the qualities of the K3 and K3II were ever in doubt .... Most of the press coverage I've seen puts them straight at the top of their classes, and there are always the unique selling points and special technologies which are well documented.

I also thought that the cameras were well renouned for extreme low-light focusing abilities (without AF assist technologies). Tracking has always been questioned, but I have certainly been aware recently of improved user feedback regarding this with the K3 models.
My Guides to the Pentax Digital Camera Flash Lighting System : Download here from the PentaxForums Homepage Article .... link
Pentax K7 with BG-4 Grip / Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC / DA18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL WR / SMC A28mm f2.8 / D FA 28-105mm / SMC F35-70 f3.5-4.5 / SMC A50mm f1.7 / Tamron AF70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD macro / SMC M75-150mm f4.0 / Tamron Adaptall (CT-135) 135mm f2.8 / Asahi Takumar-A 2X tele-converter / Pentax AF-540FGZ (I & II) Flashes / Cactus RF60/X Flashes & V6/V6II Transceiver


Link Posted 04/10/2015 - 22:07
I have done very little (well actually zero) gig photography but had the chance just a few weeks ago while visiting the Dorset steam fair. The K-5IIs nailed it every time (60-250mm f4 attached) .... I'm not sure the K-3 could have done any better tbh.

Lionstar - Dorset Steam Fair 2015 by Mike.Pursey, on Flickr

Lionstar - Dorset Steam Fair 2015 by Mike.Pursey, on Flickr
. My Flickr


Link Posted 04/10/2015 - 23:13
I managed to get these at Silverstone Moto GP on the Saturday night gig they have. They were taken hand held with the K3II and a 150-450 + 1.4XHD Converter attached. Not sure who the lady is but the gentleman is a certain "Adam Ant".



Link Posted 04/10/2015 - 23:16
stub wrote:
Where are the sample images.... As someone who is looking for a new Pentax camera, and very much into low light music photography. I would be keen to see the results. Not convinced the K3ii is so much of an improvement over the K3. Full frame is looking further and further away....

There are some images in my gallery portfolio and also on a recent thread on the Forum, see link:


The ones in that set are a mix of K-3 and K-5iis, both cameras performed well but the K-3 is slightly more reliable and quicker on AF, also it has better metering and White Balance performance which to me gives it a real edge over the K-5iis. My intention on this thread was not for an image comparison, but to understand what other K-3 users think about their cameras and why they like or dislike them.


Nicola's Apartments, Kassiopi, Corfu

Some cameras, some lenses, some bits 'n' bobs


Link Posted 05/10/2015 - 09:50
I bought a late K3 (1.18 firmware pre-installed in it), love it. See my gallery on here.

The 50 percent more pixels allows more cropping of wildlife. I think low light ISO performance a stop worse than the K5 though, as the price to pay.

Much quicker screw drive motor. Poorer battery life though with beefed up computing power. Twin card slots useful and much quicker write rate despite extra megapixels.

It's getting heavier every model. This needs to stop I think. A composite hard shell instead of mag alloy on steel rethink perhaps? They probably don't have the resource at moment while developing the 35mm frame sensor model. I hope APSC isn't treated as second best in the future for this make.

The new 'Ricoh' second option for 'multi auto white balance' (sub menu oddly) a huge improvement. odd it isn't the default.

I don't think a lot of the AFC (and its umpteen unexplained hold modes) and 27 multi point and continue to use AFS and spot centre point AF generally with centre weighted metering as with my three years using a K5. This may be different for the MK II owners

I currently use a 12 - 24 F4 DA, a 18 - 135 DA WR, a 300 F4 DA star and tele adapter.

For now very happy.


Link Posted 05/10/2015 - 10:38
Me too still a happy bunny having moved from K5 to K3 early last year. I find the enlarged grip better for me. I'm with Bill on the AFC - I still stick with AFS but usually just with lower point AF for DoF control in landscapes and with matrix metering. Same as I used on the K5.

Interesting comments about the multi-auto WB - haven't tried this but will do so now.

For me the only downside is battery life - I certainly have to re-charge more often than with the K5.

I can't comment on differences/advantages between K3 and K3ii but the current K3 prices are very attractive IMO.
Best regards


Link Posted 05/10/2015 - 21:37
My path has been 7 - 5iis - 3 and frankly I rarely pick up the 5 nowadays. The AF on the 3, as alluded to earlier, is awesome in the dark, it's buffer and processing of the much larger files is a step change. The ability to crop closer with the extra pixels is a bonus for little birdies. I have used the Flu card and it is great if you want closer shots of twitchy birds and the Astrotracer works superbly. I know it works on earlier models but the usage on the 3 is much simpler.
Full frame will happen and it will happen in the spring of next year and as far as I'm concerned it is the only thing that would sway me away from my 3, although I'd hang on to it and p/x the 5iis and use it for the wildlife.
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"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans" (John Lennon)


Link Posted 05/10/2015 - 22:48
SteveEveritt wrote:
Astrotracer works superbly. I know it works on earlier models but the usage on the 3 is much simpler.

Yeah I've got the K-5iis pretty happy with it. Also got the O-GPS1, but to have it builtin would be good. Makes the package smaller and easier to use.

The K-3ii is calling me. BUT the K-5iis is still a hell of camera.

FF will need to offer significant DR/ISO performance to interest me. The increased cost of the system is a factor IMO. It would also be nice if the FF has the Astrotracer built in.


Link Posted 06/10/2015 - 19:50
I have a K-3 and had to use my k-5 for a while as the motherboard developed a fault and the step down in AF speed/accuracy was very noticable.

The 'cropability' factor for wildlife when used with my DA*300mm is excellent, its surprising how much you can get away with, very handy fro small birds.

And the low light AF is rather good, was AF on badgers in woodland after the sun had set (but was still twilight) successfully.

It can be a bit more noisy, but the increased level of detail from the higher resolution means I can be more ruthless with the Noise reduction in PP. I've not heard any major complaints about the noise from anyone who actually has used the camera.
UK Wildlife blog ----- UK Wildlife Facebook page ----- UK wildlife Twitter


Link Posted 06/10/2015 - 21:10
I went through a Kr, K200d, K7, and 2 different K5 bodies before selling up and going to a Nikon D7100. Then I came back to a K3 and a K5ii and have to say I am very happy with the all round performance of the K3 in particular, that said the K5ii is a great camera too.

When it comes to all round shooting the K3 out performs the Nikon hands down especially when the light drops. AF, dynamic resolution, noise and white balance are all controlled really well by the K3. There is a definite and noticeable difference in these areas over any other Pentax body I have owned.

So, all in all, I am really pleased with the K3, stunning, tough well made and versatile camera. This one is for keeps

"I'm here because the whiskey is free" - Tyla

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Link Posted 07/10/2015 - 14:42
I`ve used or owned most of the Pentax range in auto-focus since the SF7 years ago and each model has progressed somewhat. The continuous auto-focus mode has never been as good as the other main makers but it is better now than its ever been (on my K3II at least). Pentax are catching up slowly but surely, and other features such as weatherproofing etc are an added bonus.
One less positive view for me is that silly red dot they use for focus points is not as clear as it could be in the viewfinder and perhaps doesn't help in positive subject selection sometimes. I also use a Canon and the auto-focus black square/s are easily visible in the viewfinder making subject selection a lot better. That said put the Pentax and Canon pictures side by side and I will always choose the Pentax shot ... the quality is always much better.




Link Posted 08/10/2015 - 15:28

He needs to learn to count ... GPS, inbuilt astrotracer, anti-shake up from 3.5 to 4.5 stops, new high-speed AF algorithm, Pixel shift resolution. I am not very good at arithmetic but I make that 5 changes . Admittedly they may not be everyone`s cup of tea, and some may be minor changes ... but changes they are. Is it worth the price to upgrade? Well that`s a choice everyone has to decide for themselves.
I personally upgraded as I picked up the K3II secondhand at a bargain price from a buyer who bought it then decided to go the CSC route for weight and portability. I then sold my K3 so the upgrade worked out at around the 100 mark give or take a few pennies otherwise I probably would not have upgraded, although am now glad I did
The pixel shift and astrotracer I will probably not use the others I do. For me GPS is handy for checking at racetracks to see where I took certain shots from.
As previously stated the continuous AF does seem quicker and picks up faster with my 150-450. I cant say about other lenses as since I had the 150-450 it has been on the camera for most shots since its purchase. I also noticed that on aircraft shots with the planes heading directly towards you that the camera seems to get a few more in focus shots, locking on better than my previous cameras. The camera is the earlier serial number but I have had no problems with it freezing using the GPS. The seller did mention that it was OK with GPS and at the time I did not realise there had been a problem and did not query it, so perhaps it had been back on the recall and sorted. Not sure if there is any way to check it but as stated all seems OK (touch wood).
I agree with his full frame comments though as unless you need wide angle shots I cant really see a need for it. I can print A3 no problems whatsoever and have had A1 quality poster prints made as well. I for one wont be interested in full frame when they bring it out unless there is some special feature that might be of use to me i.e even quicker/better focusing etc etc as I use longer lenses most of the time so my K3 sensor`s crop factor is a been advantageous for me
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