We just started testing cameras, and our test bench v0.7 is rather simplistic, so we decided to launch without text in the test boxes. If you have any suggestions on what to improve, let us know here. As we gather your suggestions, we plan on making more frequent changes to our methodology and we'll be able to add text to the reviews in the near future.

PENTAX K-3 Mark III Camera Review

Tested using Methodology v0.7
Reviewed Sep 14, 2021 at 10:40 am
PENTAX K-3 Mark III Picture
7.1
Travel Photography
7.7
Landscape Photography
7.7
Sport & Wildlife Photography
3.2
Vlogging
6.4
Studio Video
4.1
Action Video
Body Type
DSLR
Mirrorless
No
Sensor Size
APS-C
Tested Lens
Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL WR

The PENTAX K-3 Mark III is a premium APS-C DSLR camera. It feels well-built and is incredibly comfortable to use thanks to its large rubberized handgrip and well-spaced physical controls, although its fixed screen may be limiting to some. It also has in-body image stabilization and a weather-sealed body to protect from things like rain and humidity, though we don't currently test for water resistance. It has an excellent advertised battery life in photos. However, battery performance is only decent when recording video, and this can vary drastically depending on your choice of settings and usage habits. It delivers excellent image quality with fantastic noise handling capability, making it well-suited to shooting in more dimly-lit conditions. Unfortunately, it has disappointing autofocus performance for photography, and the PENTAX DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL WR kit lens we tested it with is incompatible with autofocus tracking in video mode. Its overall video quality is lacking, and its 4k frame rates are limited to 24 or 30 fps with a noticeable crop. On the upside, it can record at up to 60 fps in FHD.

Our Verdict

7.1 Travel Photography

The PENTAX K3 III is decent for travel photography. It's not the most portable camera to take traveling, but it delivers excellent image quality and feels incredibly comfortable to use. It feels well-built, and its fixed screen is bright enough to overcome glare from the sun. It has an excellent advertised battery life and supports USB charging, though you can't use it while it charges. Unfortunately, its autofocus performance is disappointing for photography.

Pros
  • Excellent image quality.
  • Feels well-built and very comfortable to use.
Cons
  • Poor autofocus tracking performance.
  • Heavy and bulky.
7.7 Landscape Photography

The PENTAX K3 Mark III is good for landscape photography. It delivers amazing JPEG image quality with impressive dynamic range to bring out detail in high-contrast landscape shots. It also has fantastic RAW noise handling capability, so it's well-suited to shooting in more dimly-lit conditions. Its advertised battery life is excellent, and it's weather-sealed to protect from rain, cold, and dust, though we don't currently test this. That said, it's quite bulky, so it's not very convenient to take to remote shooting locations.

Pros
  • Excellent image quality.
  • Weather-sealed.
  • Feels well-built and very comfortable to use.
Cons
  • Poor autofocus tracking performance.
  • Heavy and bulky.
7.7 Sport & Wildlife Photography

The PENTAX K3 III is good for sport and wildlife photography. It has a fast max shutter speed and a good high-speed continuous shooting speed of 11 fps, so you can capture brief moments of fast action. It also feels well-built and delivers excellent JPEG image quality. It has in-body image stabilization, and it does a fantastic job of reducing camera shake when taking photos without a tripod. However, the camera does a poor job of tracking moving subjects for photography when using its kit lens.

Pros
  • Excellent image quality.
  • Good continuous shooting speed.
  • Feels well-built and very comfortable to use.
Cons
  • Poor autofocus tracking performance.
  • Heavy and bulky.
3.2 Vlogging

The PENTAX K3 III is a poor choice for vlogging. It has a fixed screen, so you can't flip it around to face you. It's also a heavy, bulky camera, so it's not well-suited to carrying around for on-the-go vlogging, though it should be fine for sit-down vloggers. Unfortunately, we couldn't test its autofocus tracking performance since the lens we used is incompatible with this feature for video. Also, while the camera has in-body image stabilization, it does a disappointing job smoothing out camera shake in 4k video with its kit lens attached.

Pros
  • Feels well-built and very comfortable to use.
Cons
  • Heavy and bulky.
  • 4k frame rates and recording capability are limited.
6.4 Studio Video

The PENTAX K3 III is passable for studio video. It has a full array of inputs and outputs, including headphone and microphone jacks and a clean HDMI output, meaning that you can connect an external recorder without overlays. Its menu system is easy to use, and it has decent internal recording capability in FHD with a 25-minute recording limit. Battery life is decent, though this can vary in the real world, and it could overheat during long sessions. Its overall video quality in FHD is okay. However, its 4k video capability is more limited since it can only record 4k video for up to seven and a half minutes at a time, and you can only shoot at up to 30 fps with a noticeable 1.33x crop.

Pros
  • Feels well-built and very comfortable to use.
  • Wide array of inputs and outputs.
Cons
  • Heavy and bulky.
  • 4k frame rates and recording capability are limited.
4.1 Action Video

The PENTAX K3 III isn't well-suited to action video. It isn't designed to mount on a helmet or chest rig, and it's a heavy camera, so it isn't the most convenient to carry around for long periods. It's weather-sealed but not waterproof, though we don't currently test for this. Its overall video quality is underwhelming, and it's limited to 30 fps in 4k, though it can shoot at up to 60 fps in FHD, which is suitable for capturing fast action but not for generating slow-motion footage.

Pros
  • Weather-sealed.
  • Feels well-built and very comfortable to use.
Cons
  • Heavy and bulky.
  • 4k frame rates and recording capability are limited.
  • Not waterproof.
  • 7.1 Travel Photography
  • 7.7 Landscape Photography
  • 7.7 Sport & Wildlife Photography
  • 3.2 Vlogging
  • 6.4 Studio Video
  • 4.1 Action Video
  1. Updated Sep 14, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Sep 08, 2021: Early access published.

Check Price

Black (Body Only)
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com
Black W/ 18-55mm lens
Unavailable
Amazon.com
Silver (Body Only)
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
1.5
Design
Portability
Height 4.3" (10.9 cm)
Width 5.6" (14.3 cm)
Depth 3.4" (8.6 cm)
Volume
81.8 in³ (1,340.8 cm³)
Weight
1.80 lbs (0.82 kg)
Weight With Lens
3.57 lbs (1.62 kg)

See the camera with its kit lens attached here.

8.0
Design
Build Quality

  • Sturdy magnesium alloy body
  • Rubberized texture on both sides of the camera and near thumb rest
  • Dials feel solid and easy to use
  • Battery compartment covered by a locking hinged door
  • Battery grip flap is a rubber flap that isn't attached to the camera, so it may be easily lost
  • Inputs and outputs covered by rubber flaps

Design
Body
Water Resistance
Weather-Sealed
Rugged
No
Hot Shoe
Yes
Customizable Button
Yes
Command Dial
3
Tripod Mount
Yes
Lens Mount
KAF2 Mount
Built-In Flash
No

Note: This camera is also compatible with KA, KAF, KAF2 (with power zoom), KAF3, or KAF4 lenses, including compatible SLR lenses.

Design
In The Box

  • PENTAX K3 Mark III camera body
  • PENTAX DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL WR lens
  • Front and rear lens caps
  • Lens hood
  • Sensor cap
  • Hot shoe cover
  • Eye cup
  • Viewfinder cover
  • Shoulder strap
  • D-LI90 battery
  • AC adapter
  • AC adapter plug
  • USB-A to USB-C cable
  • User manual

9.0
Design
Ergonomics & Comfort
Hand Grip: Small Hand
Yes
Hand Grip: Medium Hand
Yes
Hand Grip: Large Hand
Yes
Hand Grip: Extra-Large Hand
Yes

  • Large rubberized handgrip is comfortable, grippy, and suitable for most hand sizes
  • Includes several buttons and dials, including three command dials and dedicated ISO and exposure compensation buttons
  • You can customize up to 10 buttons
  • All controls are clearly labelled and well-spaced, so you don't press an input accidentally
  • Small display on top of camera makes it easy to check settings and battery life at a glance
  • 'Hyper Operation' system makes it easy to quickly switch into Av (aperture priority), Tv (shutter priority), or TAv (manual shutter speed and aperture, auto ISO) modes when the camera is set to P (Program)
  • Smart function ('S.Fn') button gives you more customization options by adding 5 programmable functions that you can adjust by turning the E-dial
  • Thumb stick can only be used to set focus points
  • Button on side of camera allows you to temporarily change file format to RAW
  • Eyecup is soft and comfortable to use
  • Screen is fixed, making it more cumbersome to shoot from unconventional angles when using live view
  • SD card slot is easily accessible on the side of the camera, even when mounted on a tripod

8.0
Design
Menu System
Guide Mode
Yes
App Name
Image Sync

  • Menu is thorough but easy to navigate with clear, simple language
  • 'Info' button can be customized and used as a quick menu to quickly access certain settings
  • Smart function ('S.Fn' button) menu can also be customized to access up to five settings out of a list of 22 options
  • Guide mode to help explain settings to novice users

Design
Viewfinder
Type
Optical
Advertised Coverage
100%
Advertised Resolution
N/A
Advertised Magnification
1.05

Note: Instead of a typical pentamirror mechanism, the PENTAX K-3 Mark III uses a pentaprism in its viewfinder, which adds some weight to the camera but improves image quality in the viewfinder.

5.1
Design
Screen
Screen Articulation Type
No Articulation (Fixed Screen)
Screen Max Brightness
900 cd/m²
Advertised Resolution
1.62 million dots
Size
3.1" (8.0 cm)
Touchscreen
Yes

Note: The PENTAX K-3 III's screen has a 'Night Vision' mode that decreases its luminosity and turns the display red for nighttime shooting.

Design
Sensor
Sensor Type
BSI CMOS
Advertised Effective Pixels
25.7 MP
Processor
Prime V
Extended ISO Minimum
N/A
ISO Minimum
100
ISO Maximum
1,600,000
Tested Firmware
Version 1.10
7.0
Design
Battery
Battery Type
Pentax D-LI90
USB Charging
Yes
Use When Charging
No
Advertised Battery Life In Photo
495 photos
Tested Battery Life In Video
87.5 min

Note: This camera may overheat and shut down during long video recording sessions, after which you may need to wait for it to cool before recharging.

6.9
Design
Lens
Lens Type
Interchangeable
Maximum Aperture
3.5 - 5.6
Max Aperture (Full Frame Equivalent)
f/5.3
Minimum Focal Length
18 mm
Maximum Focal Length
55 mm
Max Focal Length (Full Frame Equivalent)
84 mm
Luminance
80.5%
Light Falloff
56.9%

Note: The kit lens we tested is also weather-sealed. Also, this camera has a 'Lens Correction' menu with a setting to correct light falloff. With this setting on 'High', we achieved a light falloff result of 70.3%. You can see the corresponding test photo here.

Photo
Photo
Photo Features
JPEG File Format
Yes
RAW File Format
DNG + PEF
Shutter
Electronic and Mechanical
Minimum Shutter Speed
30 s
Maximum Shutter Speed
1/8,000 s
Silent Shooting
Yes
HDR
Yes
Focus Peaking
Yes
Zebra Pattern
No
Histogram
Yes
Time Lapse
Yes

Note: The PENTAX K3 Mark III includes eight different shooting modes to give you more control over exposure parameters and 12 custom image modes to adapt to different scenes or desired effects. Each image mode is customizable, allowing you to manually adjust settings like hue, contrast, saturation, color temperature, and more. Also, the electronic shutter function is only available after upgrading to firmware version 1.10.

7.7
Photo
Shooting Speed
Low Speed Continuous
3 fps
High Speed Continuous
11 fps
Silent Shooting Continuous
11 fps
Raw Buffer Size
39 RAW Photos
JPEG Buffer Size
58 JPG Photos
Buffer Empty Time
10 s
5.5
Photo
Autofocus
Advertised Coverage
N/A
Advertised Focus Points
101
Manual Focus Assistance
Yes
Face Detection Distance
124" (315 cm)
Eye Detection
No
Face Tracking Success Rate
57%
Object Tracking Success Rate
29.3%

Note: While the camera has an advertised 101 focus points, only 41 are user-selectable.

9.0
Photo
Image Stabilization
In Body Image Stabilization
Yes
Minimum Shutter Speed Achieved
1/5 s
8.5
Photo
Image Quality
Dynamic Range At ISO 100
8.98 f-stops
Color Accuracy (dE2000)
11.27
JPEG SNR 18% At ISO 800
40.98 dB
JPEG Sharpness At ISO 800
2.227 pixels
JPEG SNR 18% At ISO 1600
40.12 dB
JPEG Sharpness At ISO 1600
2.42 pixels
JPEG SNR 18% At ISO 3200
38 dB
JPEG Sharpness At ISO 3200
2.569 pixels

ISO Setting Sample Photo
ISO 100 Photo
ISO 200 Photo
ISO 400 Photo
ISO 800 Photo
ISO 1600 Photo
ISO 3200 Photo
ISO 6400 Photo
ISO 12800 Photo
ISO 25600 Photo
ISO 51200 Photo
ISO 1600000 (Max) Photo

Note: The PENTAX K-3 III has a 'Pixel Shift' feature that takes multiple photos and combines them with a higher overall resolution. This feature is meant to be used with a tripod and a static subject. We tested image quality using this feature and got the following results:

  • JPEG Sharpness At ISO 800: 2.452 pixels
  • JPEG SNR 18% At ISO 800: 40.5dB
  • JPEG Sharpness At ISO 1600: 2.36 pixels
  • JPEG SNR 18% At ISO 1600: 39.1dB
  • JPEG Sharpness At ISO 3200: 2.937 pixels
  • JPEG SNR 18% At ISO 3200: 37.31dB
  • Score: 8.4

The camera can only shoot photos in a 3:2 aspect ratio, so the samples may not be fully comparable with other cameras we've tested.

9.5
Photo
Luminance Noise
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 100 41.23 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 200 40.14 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 400 39.26 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 800 37.84 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 1600 35.69 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 3200 33.34 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 6400 30.38 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 12800 27.61 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 25600 25 dB
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 51200 22.76 dB

Note: The PENTAX K3 III includes two different RAW formats: DNG and PENTAX's proprietary RAW format, PEF. The above results are what we measured using PEF. Below you can see the results using DNG and see the graph here.

  • RAW SNR 18% At ISO 100: 41.11 dB
  • RAW SNR 18% At ISO 200: 40.01 dB
  • RAW SNR 18% At ISO 400: 39.11 dB
  • RAW SNR 18% At ISO 800: 37.75 dB
  • RAW SNR 18% At ISO 1600: 35.62 dB
  • RAW SNR 18% At ISO 3200: 33.06 dB
  • RAW SNR 18% At ISO 6400: 30.59 dB
  • RAW SNR 18% At ISO 12800: 27.65 dB
  • RAW SNR 18% At ISO 25600: 24.89 dB
  • RAW SNR 18% At ISO 51200: 22.61 dB

Sample Gallery
Sample Gallery
The Skate Park

Format Link
JPEG Photo
RAW Photo

See the original with a 3:2 aspect ratio here.

Sample Gallery
The Polish Church

Format Link
JPEG Photo
RAW Photo

See the original with a 3:2 aspect ratio here.

Sample Gallery
The Studio

Format Link
JPEG Photo
RAW Photo

See the original with a 3:2 aspect ratio here.

Sample Gallery
The Stairway

Format Link
JPEG Photo
RAW Photo

See the original with a 3:2 aspect ratio here.

General Video
General Video
Video Feature
Full HD Video
Yes
4k Video
Yes
6k Video
No
Clean HDMI Output
Yes
Advertised Max Chroma Sampling Over HDMI
Not Advertised
Advertised Max Bit Depth Over HDMI
N/A
Log Picture Profile
No
Recording Light
No

Note: While this camera doesn't have a recording light, it has a self-timer lamp and an autofocus assist light.

General Video
Audio
Audio Test Sample
Audio Recording
Stereo
Microphone Level Display
Yes
General Video
Video Exposure Assistant
Zebra Line
No
Histogram
Yes
Waveform
No
General Video
Recording Format And Compression
MP4 H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
No
MP4 H.265 / HEVC
No
MOV H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
Yes
MOV H.265 / HEVC
No
AVCHD H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
No
All-I Compression
No
4k Video
5.9
4k Video
4k Frame Rate
240 fps In 4k
No
120 fps In 4k
No
60 fps In 4k
No
30 fps In 4k
Yes, with a Crop
24 fps In 4k
Yes, with a Crop
Crop At Max Available fps
1.33 x
5.0
4k Video
4k Video Autofocus Performance
Eye Detection In 4k
No
Face Detection In 4k
Yes
Face Tracking In 4k
N/A
Object Tracking In 4k
N/A

Note: The lens we tested this camera with isn't compatible with the camera's AF-C feature in video mode, so we couldn't test its object or face tracking success rates. The video above is included for reference.

6.0
4k Video
4k Video Stabilization
In Body Video Image Stabilization In 4k
Yes
Walking Test In 4k
14.14 pixels/frames
Running Test In 4k
41.49 pixels/frames
Crop
1 x
5.9
4k Video
4k Internal Recording
Bitrate Maximum In 4k
90 Mbps
Bitrate Minimum In 4k
61 Mbps
Chroma Sampling In 4k
4:2:0
Bit Depth In 4k
8 bits
Record Time Limit 7.5 min
Overheat Recording Interruption
Yes
6.6
4k Video
4k Video Quality
Low Light Capability In 4k
7.0
Test Scene Extract In 4k
7.3
4k Rolling Shutter
7.10°
Full HD Video
8.5
Full HD Video
FHD Frame Rate
240 fps In FHD
No
120 fps In FHD
No
60 fps In FHD
Yes
30 fps In FHD
Yes
24 fps In FHD
Yes
Crop At Max Available fps
1 x
5.0
Full HD Video
FHD Video Autofocus Performance
Eye Detection In FHD
No
Face Detection In FHD
Yes
Face Tracking In FHD
N/A
Object Tracking In FHD
N/A

Note: The lens we tested this camera with isn't compatible with the camera's AF-C feature in video mode, so we couldn't test its object or face tracking success rates. The video above is included for reference.

8.0
Full HD Video
FHD Video Stabilization
In Body Video Image Stabilization In FHD
Yes
Walking Test In FHD
7.24 pixels/frames
Running Test In FHD
11.95 pixels/frames
Crop
1
7.4
Full HD Video
FHD Internal Recording
Bitrate Maximum In FHD
63 Mbps
Bitrate Minimum In FHD
17 Mbps
Chroma Sampling In FHD
4:2:0
Bit Depth In FHD
8
Record Time Limit 25 min
5.2
Full HD Video
FHD Video Quality
Low Light Capability In FHD
6.0
Test Scene Extract In FHD
3.8
FHD Rolling Shutter
3.05°
Storage And Connectivity
Storage And Connectivity
Storage
Card 1 Slot
SD Card UHS-II
Card 2 Slot
SD Card UHS-I

Note: This camera includes three different storage settings when two SD cards are inserted, including sequential, duplicate, or an option to store RAW and JPEG photos separately on each card.

9.5
Storage And Connectivity
Input / Outputs
USB
USB-C
HDMI
Micro (Type D)
Headphones
Yes
Microphone
Stereo
Wi-Fi
Yes
Bluetooth
Yes

See the other inputs and outputs here and the battery grip contact here.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The PENTAX K-3 Mark III comes in two color variants: 'Black' and 'Silver'. We tested the 'Black' model, which you can buy in a bundle with the PENTAX DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL WR lens or without a lens.

Let us know if you come across another variant or your PENTAX K-3 III doesn't correspond to our review, and we'll update it.

You can see our unit's label here.

Discussions