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The K-3 long term

Discussion in 'Pentax Chat' started by Monobod, Apr 5, 2014.

  1. Monobod

    Monobod Phantom of the forum


    I am sure a few of you may have bought a K-3 by now. If so, what are your opinions now that the initial excitement is over. Has it met with your expectations and have you found any annoying issues? Would you still recommend it to your best friend? :eek:
  2. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    I'll sell it to anybody, Dave ;) and, whilst I've only sold a few, I've yet to hear
    anything "negative" :)

    I would check with Atavar who, if memory serves, moved over from Nikon (D300, I think) :)


    Last edited: Apr 6, 2014
  3. Atavar

    Atavar Well-Known Member

    Hi there, as far as the camera itself is concerned I have no complaints about it at all. No annoying niggles or hiccups (which I have encountered anyway). There are a tweak or two I would like which would put piping on the icing of the cake, but I'll mention them at the end.

    The things I have found vexing are due to my own skills behind the camera rather than how the camera itself performs, like remembering my diffraction limits have moved (i was a big nay sayer of high mp for that reason on this very forum - now look at me) and it's heightened ability to show off camera shake - things I would have had with any sensor this crowded, so I can't blame the K3! :)

    The only thing I can compare this camera to is my old one (D300s), which considering they are both still (at time of writing) the companies top APS-C sensor offerings it's a good model to compare to:

    Build - Just as good, a very solid body with a reassuring weight in the hand. It feels as if it were hune from a single block of metal rather than being parts bolted together. Pentax lenses are even better as they come weather sealed from kit zoom all the way up to the properly expensive glass. Who minds if a zoom lens is piston type if it is dust proof in the first place? ;)

    Features - The AA simulator is what finally bought me back to Pentax and it performs perfectly. Richos multi-white balance sounds awesome but I have not been able to get my head around it yet. Definitely a feature to check out on YouTube for instructions, as is the GPS star tracker mode (i do not own the GPS module... yet), which offers an ability one would otherwise only achieve with a big money astronomy powered tripod head setup. These are things you currently will just not find anywhere else and if you need or want them, there is only one place to go.

    The Basics - The sensor crams in so much fine detail only my f2.8 zoom really does it justice although if you work the kit zoom or 50-200mm f4-f5.6 WR well enough they perform adequately. Compared to my old sensor there is no competition, higher ISO tolerance, detail etc, it is the improvement you would expect. --- The air-gapless screen is another vast improvement over what I have previously used, in an area of the camera one assumes could not see much more improvement, but there it is in its rich colours and contrast. --- Autofocus is very good, and if you have not experienced the voodoo that is the Nikon Multicam 3500 51 point Autofocus as in my old camera, this SAFOX is an improvement over anything you have used before and a move closer to that industry leader. I have no lenses with internal focus motors but would expect performance to be even more improved with one of those on the front of the camera, and as for its focus ability down to -3 EV? I think it is only a matter of time before a Pentax can focus with its lens cap on ;) --- Dual card slots? My old camera had this too, but how did we live without these? Even when loading pictures into your computer via a card reader the camera has a card ready and waiting to go. Perfect.

    Nice little touches - The ability to select the brightness of the shoulder LCD was very welcome and was immediately set to half, and the colour of he menu backgrounds gives a nice little personal touch which I can change with my mood if I feel like it. It's a tasteful British Racing Green at the moment.

    Coming from nikon it only took half a day to have all the menus and buttons explored and not much longer to be used enough to them to be able to get what I want quickly, which of course is key. Button placement is all good, even the at first seemingly awkwardly placed AE-L button now valued in its position for not being able to be activated accidentally. A LOT of thought went into this body.

    One thing I would like is for the FN button to activate/deactivate the AA simulator. I currently have it set to Anti-shake for quick use when setting up for tripods, but having the AA simulator set would be much more useful for me. That said it is otherwise a mere dive into the graphic INFO menu - again a single button press but you take the camera from your eye doing that, FN button would be nice, and also to be able to see its on/off status in the viewfinder but it is understandable that would not be updated yet as a first outing for the feature :)

    Also, take the PC socket cap off at your peril! That thing is so diddy I now have a small zip bag to put it straight in to so it is not lost. On a camera where even the earphone socket has a rubber body-attached push-cap, this is the one little down side. Not many people use the PC sync, so I can see why it's like this, but I do and I don't want to loose that cap.

    So, yeah, I think those are only really the two things that I could expect to be improved on this camera :)
  4. Monobod

    Monobod Phantom of the forum

    Hi Avatar,

    Great review, nice to hear from someone who bought it by choice and tells it how it is. There is a possibility of funds allowing me to get one too and keep the K-5 as a backup body, so your positive report is encouraging.

    The D800e is a real attraction, but pie in the sky because of the cost of lenses and other replacements. One has to be realistic.

    You mentioned some susceptibility to camera shake, is this with the anti shake on or off? I must say, I am using my tripod and monopod much more these days, the improvement is really noticeable. :eek:

  5. AlexMonro

    AlexMonro Old Grand Part Deux

    Atavar, thanks for a highly informative write up. The K3 is firmly on my wish list, and I see the price is still gently falling...

    Do I gather from what you were saying about autofocus is that this is no longer the Achiles Heel of Pentax that it once was? Since my main interest is landscapes, this isn't too much of an issue for me, but I occasionally try for shots of dogs running around fields, so something better than the K20D's AF would be nice.

    Of course, although camera shake and diffraction are more visible at 100% with the higher resolution sensor, they're still the same if you make the same size prints.

    I know what you mean about the PC socket cap - I'm amazed I still have mine for my K20D after over 5 years. Mind you, I don't use flash that often, but when I do, it's usually via cable rather than hotshoe. Did you ever resolve the question of how well the AA simulation works with flash?
  6. Ffolrord

    Ffolrord Well-Known Member

    From the feedback on the various forums the K3 is highly regarded by users and thought to be a worthwhile upgrade from a K5. I haven't noticed any particular issues with the camera, the odd thing which always happens but no systematic problems.

    I have chosen not to upgrade my K5 which I still find to be an excellent camera and in terms of image quality which is my key concern at the moment I think holds its own against the K3. Noise performance in particular appears pretty much on a par. I would rather save my funds wait and see whether or not Pentax release a full frame. If they don't then I'm not sure where my future lies.
  7. Monobod

    Monobod Phantom of the forum

    I am still trying to understand what it is about FF sensors that I am craving. At one time it was the reduction in signal/noise ratio and on the other it was the shallow depth of field available.

    The first issue seems to have been pretty well addressed in the K-5 and the K-3 and a friend who has the D800e says the shallow depth of field with long telephotos can be a real tester for 'birds in flight' photography, where the eye may be sharp, but the far wing is not always so.

    Perhaps it is the larger viewfinder that appeals, or the additional pixels (D800e) that allows a tighter crop......Hmmm. Ponder on I must.

    I am beginning to think that the K-3 is a better choice, especially with the advent of good quality 10mm (15mm equivalent) lenses for landscapes/seascapes. My Sigma 10-20 EX is a cracking lens and it is paid for! :D
  8. Ffolrord

    Ffolrord Well-Known Member

    Fair point and there are of course swings and roundabouts. Personally it is the better higher iso noise performance that appeals. Plus my favoured lenses, the FA Ltds, just make a lot more sense on full frame, which is of course what they were designed for. From what I have seen they look fantastic on the SonyA7R. But there is no hurry, the K5 I think heralded the 'good enough' coming of age for digital.
  9. Atavar

    Atavar Well-Known Member

    Ah, this is the peril of pixel peeping and very high resolution sensors - you look hard enough for something, you will be bound to find it :)

    Anti-shake provides great stabilisation and from what tests I have done there is definitely a marked difference between on and off at low shutter speeds... as mentioned later in this thread by AlexMonro, if you print at the same size then the effect is identical so it's a false impression caused by higher resolution sensors as long as you are working to the same sizes you were, but venturing into extreme crops be wary that here may be some new issues you will need to account for.

    Bear in mind this is not just for the K3, this applies to any Very High MegaPixel sensor - the smaller the pixel pitch the more likely you may see shake if you take advantage of those megapixels and crop in excessively.
  10. Atavar

    Atavar Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately I am a AF-S kinda guy most of the time which has not let me down, but I have a day off work tomorrow so I'll three to get down the river to see if I can track some ducks :)

    Not as yet, I think I will need to invest in a moire test sheet. Logic dictates that wobbling the sensor while a flash of thousands of a second happens would not be effective, however how long does a flash actually happen for? Would going high power long duration flash sync with the AA simulator where as low power short duration only have half effectiveness? Or No effectiveness? It's a good question worth testing.
  11. AlexMonro

    AlexMonro Old Grand Part Deux

    Thanks Atavar, I await the results of your testing with interest.
  12. Atavar

    Atavar Well-Known Member

    Well, that was a fraught day :) had to teach myself BIF 'togging - ended up getting my best results with a shutter speed of a mere 1250th.

    AF wise, i'd say I would expect a lot better results from a nicer lens - the 50-200mm WR is ok - cheap and weather sealed had to save a bit of money somewhere - but I experienced what you would expect from a kit lens level tele-zoom. Let's put it this way - I will not be afraid to use this lens in the rain, and not because it is water resistant! :eek:

    So, on to the AF experience:

    First, the not so great points - To start with, to have much joy from continuous one has to alter some settings such as the priority given to the focused subject: off, low, medium or high. If this is not selected the first twig between you and the subject has the focus scampering off into he middle of nowhere. Once that was sorted, I also had to alter the shutter settings to allow the shutter to trip for out of focus shots, not just the in focus ones. It noticeable slowed the 8fps top speed wih focused only running.

    So, after all that I started off trying the selected point tracking the subject, something my last camera was probably most skilled at over anything else - well, the K3 gave it a good go, but unfortunately did not manage to keep what I wanted tracked for long. Such a shame, it's nearly there but the algorithms seem to be out - even choosing a yellow beak where nothing else in the frame is yellow (what I would expect to be the simplest subject to keep tabs on), the point would wonder off after a while and seem to be choosing other stuff. Whether it was still locked and the point was not displaying properly in the viewfinder I'm not sure but it did not instil me with the confidence it should have...

    BUT moving on from there I tried Auto 9 and Auto 27 - well, this was much better and I felt the results were much easier to predict (an oxymoron with auto anything, I know) the only time it let me down was when I was trying to get pics of birds through branches and bushes, but his is where the selecting tracking point came into its own. When the subject was in the thick of it (and the priority was set for the focused subject in the menus) with the all round lower momentum of the subject the function performed much better.

    So in all for AF, for fast moving subjects, BIF, Auto 9 points would be my personal choice, and for when the subject has come to land SEL 25 for the little blighter going between branches etc. Shame that function is not yet up there with Nikon yet, but this is a brand new AF system and it is still early days yet: instead of it feeling like it would never happen it feels like it is only a couple of firmware tweaks away. Just need to get the cross sensors and RGB sensor talking to each other (with a few measurements etc) and I cannot see why this should not be a very capable AF module. Whether my hopes are answered I cannot tell, but from what I have heard of previous SAFOX units this is definitely an improvement over what came before.

    N.B. I am still looking for a dependable moire generating scene, I have a Metz 45 I can chuck light with all day but it's finding something which displays it first. Went round the whole house in live view and could not find hide nor hair of any moire :eek:
  13. AlexMonro

    AlexMonro Old Grand Part Deux

    Another interesting post - thanks!

    I suppose the screw drive focus of the 50-200 may well have let things down a bit - you might do better with an SDM lens, such as the 60-250/4 (and an extra stop at the long end probably wouldn't come amiss either), but it's another grand or so. Sigma's HSM might be a good alternative, but their decent glass still isn't cheap - unless you manage to win a 150-500 HSM in the AP competition of a month or so ago! :)

    Still, I gather you managed to get some worthwhile results with auto 9 - which is a lot better than I've ever manage with a K20D and the 55-300 (the skill of the photographer may also be a factor here... )

    I guess no news is probably good news on the moire front... :)
  14. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    Hi Alex,

    If you don't fancy spending the K-3 amount, I would recommend the K-50, albeit sans "as durable body" and AA removal, but it is very well sealed and, IMO, has very decent "servo focus" capability for running dogs :)

    Checking out SRS Microsystems … the K-3 is £899 b/o -- K5II is £598 -- K5IIs is £698 -- the K-50 b/o is £429.

    Plus, if you like the versatility of using AA batteries (Eneloops, perhaps ;)) the K-50 can use 4, albeit sans BP/VG,
    where as the others, albeit with a BP/VG, have to use 6 AA batteries :eek: and, personally, boooooo :)


    Last edited: Apr 11, 2014
  15. Atavar

    Atavar Well-Known Member

    Ohhh, don't go assuming that I'm any better, I spent most of my time trying to work out how to take pics of Birds In Flight so I would say we can safely assume that I'm no maverick :)

    I jumped on that competition wholeheartedly, if I could have entered more than once I would have a million times! I'm no cheat though, only entered the once. Fingers crossed for both of us!

    Auto over SEL would be my choice for now - until some algorithmic voodoo can be done to stop the selected point wondering off. If only it would stay locked on it would be amazing, but I don't blame Pentax for this, it's a new AF unit and metering sensor and i'm sure there is a deep degree of complication for a camera to track a subject in three dimensions - the subject is moving further away from you (essentially changing size, and also shape as it turns) as well as moving sideways in space.

    I have no idea how it works, but would expect the metering chip to have to act like a video sensor, analysing the scene it sees (in the AF point area at least) for the thing you locked the tracking point to, then getting it to report to the AF sensor which point it should be reading from, while the AF sensor reports back which direction toward or back from the camera the item is moving, so locking on to an orange beak the metering sensor has to report where in the AF frame it is, and also keep track of what shape the beak is (long and thin looking away from camera, thin and flat looking toward) and what directions said beak is wobbling around the frame AF frame, and adding the direction info from the AF module, taking all this in real time, doing a ton of maths to work out combined speeds etc to be able to get the AF to predict the next point the lens has to be focused on for the tracking to catch the next shot... all whilst metering too. What an arseache!

    Having an 86,000 RGB pixel metering sensor would suggest a definitive step in the right direction (presumably it should be able to tell an orange blob and how many and the shape of the pixels it comprises of - as long as it can keep it logged and compare the blob from one moment to the next it should not matter if it changes shape or gets bigger or smaller as long as the sensor has a fast enough refresh rate. With an 86,000 RGB metering sensor and 27 point phase detection AF module effective down to -3ev potentially all is set for just having the right software set up to have all these different parts of its senses talking to each other and doing the property maths to have these independent components producing some magic results... assuming there is enough computing grunt in that compact little body to pull off such a stunt :)

    P.S. Sorry about not finding any moire as yet, the search continues :-/
  16. Ffolrord

    Ffolrord Well-Known Member

    Actually SRS have got some very good deals on ex-displays, which come with the full 2 year warranty. K3 £799, a K5II for £475.

    It's pretty satisfying to know that I'll be able to pick up a K3 in a year or two for under £500.
  17. AlexMonro

    AlexMonro Old Grand Part Deux

    Thanks. If I win, I'd lend it to you when I wasn't using it, if you lived any nearer. But if you're ever on holiday down in the sunny South West... :)

    Having worked in industrial control fimware engineering, give me an infra red absorbtion total CO2 basic oxygen steel converter monitor system over a a camera AF system to get working any day... :) I just wish they could implement auto hyperfocal setting - I'm sure it must be easier!

    Ah well, still no news is good news!
  18. AlexMonro

    AlexMonro Old Grand Part Deux

    Unfortunately, I don't seem to be able to find those on their website - perhaps they've sold them all already :(

    Well, it's been true of the last few top of the range Pentax DSLRs, they start at just over a grand when launched, and after a couple of years they're end of line at around £500.

    Of course, in a couple of years time, we'll probably be lusting after the K2, or whatever it's called (thought the K9 might be a bit of a dog! :))

    (Yes, I did fight a hard battle with myself over that pun, but I lost! :( )
  19. Ffolrord

    Ffolrord Well-Known Member

    Just click on the 'used equipment' banner on the front page, takes you to their ebay shop.

    I'm not sure I will forever be lusting after the next best thing as soon as it comes out. Not until the ff anyway.

    Never heard the K9 pun before (looks for the Not smiley).
  20. AlexMonro

    AlexMonro Old Grand Part Deux

    Thanks - found it. There's quite a few interesting lens bargains there too.

    Apologies again for the pun.

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