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Pentax K-3 III Review - Performance

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Pentax K-3 Mark III Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.


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Pentax K-3 III Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Photos taken with the K-3 Mark III show excellent colour reproduction on default settings, with bright saturated colours, and images look great. Images aren't as sharp as we would have liked to see with the 16-85mm kit lens we were provided, however, we suspect that ours was a poor example. On the subject of sharpness, JPEG images are soft, and better results can be achieved by converting raw images, and we've included examples below.

In use, if you switch to live view, you'll find that your camera settings (for example AF settings) are switched when you move over to Live view, and you lose access to the useful rear display control panel.

Face detection is designed to work in both when using the optical viewfinder, and liveview. We found the camera's face detection to work best in liveview mode.

Focus isn't as rapid as we were expecting, particularly in darker conditions, but was rapid in good lighting, when using the 16-85mm lens, which was provided for review with the K-3 III. The first sample of the 16-85mm lens provided was badly out of focus on the right-hand side of the image, which was disappointing, however, a replacement performed much better. It's likely that better results will be possible with an alternative lens, either a good kit lens, such as the 18-135mm lens we also used, or a prime lens.


Pentax K-3 III Lens test images

Lens Performance - We used the 16-85mm lens (the first version was faulty, with a decentred lens), a replacement 16-85mm lens performed much better, with sharper results, but with quite noticeable levels of chromatic aberrations (CA) despite CA correction being switched on. We also used an 18-135mm lens, that performed well for a kit zoom lens, with the added optical zoom being a welcome addition. You can read our Pentax 16-85mm, and Pentax 18-135mm lens reviews to see how these lenses perform in more detail. Lens correction options are built-in and include options for Lateral Chromatic aberration (CA), Distortion, Diffraction (at smaller apertures), and vignetting.


Hi-Res Multi-Shot Mode - This gives you a sharper more detailed JPEG image compared to the standard JPEG images.

Pentax K-3 III - JPEG vs RAW

Standard shot (Bright Image settings, default), JPEG vs RAW, enlarged view (150%).

You can also get sharper, more detailed images, by opening normal raw files in Photoshop, with these looking considerably sharper than the JPEG images, as shown above, in this enlarged view.

Multi-shot JPEG vs RAW

Multi-shot - Similarly, the multi-shot raw images are sharper than the JPEG versions, but the difference between a multi-shot image and a normal shot isn't as big as you might expect.

There are a wealth of image settings you can adjust in the camera to improve the JPEG image quality output from the camera, and on default settings, JPEG images come out looking soft compared to other cameras.


Pentax K-3 III ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Noise performance is good, and depending on the shooting situation, we'd be happy to shoot at some of the higher ISO speeds. However, as with all cameras, using the lower ISO speeds is going to get you more detail, and cleaner images. The lowest ISO speed, of ISO100, shows a reduction in dynamic range captured. Very fine detail starts to drop off at around ISO1600, but noise remains well controlled, up to about ISO12800 / ISO25600, where it becomes more damaging to the image. As the ISO speed is increased, noise also increases, but you could use ISO51200 and ISO102400 if you really needed to (and colour saturation remains good). Above this images look awful, and it's best to not use these higher ISO speeds. One thing that might be worth noting, is that even at the highest ISO speed of ISO1.6million, you can still read the white text of the test chart, so perhaps for night surveillance, this could be useful, depending of course, on your needs.

When we reviewed the K-3 Mark II, we said that ISO25600 and ISO51200 were best reserved for emergency use only. In comparison, the K3 III gives vastly improved noise performance at ISO25600 and above. However, we still wouldn't recommend using ISO51200 or above, unless it's the only way you'll be able to capture the shot.

There are a variety of noise reduction options including slow shutter speed noise reduction, High ISO noise reduction options of Auto, Low, Medium, High, and Off, as well as Custom settings for this, letting you adjust the noise reduction amount for each individual ISO speed. We took these shots on Auto settings.


Pentax K-3 III White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - White balance options include all the usual presets, plus CTE (Colour Temperature Enhancement), 3 manual settings, and 3 Kelvin settings. There's an option to "Auto adjust for source" plus the option to set Auto White Balance correction for Tungsten lighting to High or Low.

As you can see, under Tungsten lighting, all of the Auto White Balance options gave a warm image, even with correction set to High (there was minimal difference between high and low correction). Using Live-view the images looked correctly corrected (which a white background), so couldn't be trusted as a totally accurate guide for white balance settings (in this indoor shooting situation). The Tungsten preset gave a more corrected result under Tungsten lighting. Under mixed lighting, the camera gives a warm result. The camera's AWB performs well under fluorescent lighting, and the Fluorescent preset we chose does a good job here. AWB performs well under daylight (window light), and outdoors in other shots.

The multi-shot pixel shift "high-resolution" mode gives an image with slightly more detail, and improved noise performance, thanks to combining 4 images, taken with full RGB colour information for each pixel.


Pentax K-3 III Digital filters

Digital Filters - The camera gives you a number of Custom Images to choose from, including Auto, Bright, Natural, Portrait, Landscape, Vibrant, and more. Each of these can be customised, with options to adjust saturation, hue, high/low key adjustment, contrast, contrast (highlight), contrast (shadow), fine sharpness, with additional options available when shooting monochrome images (including toning, and filter effects).


Video - There is a crop when recording 4K video, and you can record resolutions up to 4K UHD 30p. Whilst the Pentax K-3 III is not likely to be your first choice when recording video, as you may want 4K 60p video at this price point, it does have microphone and headphone sockets, which will benefit those interested in video recording. There is also a flat profile available (but no "Log" profile). The lack of a tilting screen is likely to be a drawback for video - particularly vlogging.

Video Crop Fullhd Vs 4kuhd
Video Crop FullHD Vs 4K UHD Crop

The in-camera shake reduction (SR) system can help keep video steady but does struggle when panning handheld. We recorded the following video with wind reduction switched on, however, this didn't entirely reduce wind noise. We also found the Auto setting for microphone level left us with audio that was too loud,  with too much gain in quieter recordings, so you'd be wise to manually set the audio level.


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Pentax K-3 Mark III Body Silver APS-C DSLR Camera - Field of view 100%~1.05x optical viewfinder, 5-axis 5.5 step in-body SR mechanism, ISO 1.6 million, weather resistant, up to 12fps, Touch screen
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Photographs taken using the Pentax K-3 III

43924The Tin CoastCheekyPeacockWatchingFiremanTin MineCamera ShySuperb StarlingSunset....On The Crest Of A Wave....Riding Along..Engine DriverTintagel Castle

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28 Jul 2021 5:51PM
Interesting review. Having used mine for the last 2-3 months I'd like make the following points about the camera and the review.
1. There seems to be quite a bit of nit picking in the review. Hardly anything comes with a printed manual these days. It hardly affects the quality of the camera. Same applies to software. It's quite clearly identified in the downloaded manual (pages 97/98), so why waste time, effort and space in the review?
2. You failed to mention the new (for Pentax) highlight exposure mode which is, IMO, is very useful when there is strong sunlight on the subject.
3. You made a lot about not providing an external battery charger with the camera but failed to mention that a charger and lead are provided for charging the battery in the camera. Again, IMO, this is a plus, not a negative. It's far easier than having to take the battery out every time it needs charging. Plus it takes up less space and weight when you are travelling.
4. I've tried using the camera on continuous to tog the Gannets at Bempton and have personally not had an issue with buffering when using a UHS-II card. It was a problem when I tried it with the other, UHS-I, card. If I'd have kept my finger on the button much longer I'd have probably been better using the video mode.
5. Again, with or without my glasses on, I couldn't see what your issue is with the viewfinder relief
6. I've found the camera to be far heavier on battery use than my K1. I put this down to using Bluetooth for recording GPS data from my phone.
7. For me the lack of a tilting screen is not a problem. Again this is a personal preference, but I don't think it should be noted as a con or as a pro.
8. It's definitely an improvement on the K3-II
9. As for the price/value for money, could it be that Pentax are taking advantage of the fact the big boys appear to be losing interest in dSLRs and Pentax are positioning themselves for when dSLRs are a niche market product?

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