Best lenses for the 24-MPix Pentax K-3: Recommended primes and zooms

By Kevin Carter - Monday January 06 2014

Lens Recommendations
Introduction | Lenses measured on Pentax K3: Database Overview | Best prime lenses for the Pentax K-3 | Best zoom lenses for the Pentax K-3
Best lenses for the 24-MPix Pentax K-3: Recommended primes and zooms

Continuing our series of evaluation of lens systems we’ve assessed a modest range of Pentax and third-party lenses for their optical quality on the firm’s new flagship Pentax K-3 model. As the replacement for the K-5 II and K-5 IIs, the Pentax K-3 has a new higher pixel density 24-Mpix sensor without an AA filter, and is a promising platform for lens evaluation. Read on to find out which models perform best, and which, if any, that should be avoided.

As the new flagship model in the range the Pentax K-3 resembles previous iterations in terms of robust and weatherproof build, control layout and high-end features. These include a 0.95x magnification viewfinder with a 100-percent field of view and a 1/8000th sec top shutter speed (albeit with a still somewhat low 1/180th sec flash sync). The K-3 also has a 27-point AF system (comprising of 25 cross-type sensors with sensitivity to an unusually low -3 Ev, twin SD slots and a continuous burst mode of up to 8.3 fps (without an additional battery pack).

Together with a 24-Mpix APS-C CMOS sensor, the Pentax K-3 is one of the few professional-level cameras offered in this format with this high pixel count, outdoing both the Nikon D300s and the Canon EOS 7D but on a par with the Sony A77 and NEX-7.

Like the K5-IIs model before it, the new Pentax K-3 has no optical low pass filter. Instead it is the first of its kind to feature a selectable anti-aliasing mechanism. This new system adopts the camera’s built-in stabilized sensor platform to apply additional microscopic vibration at sub-pixel level thereby slightly blurring the image and simulating the effect of an optical low-pass filter. The user can choose between two intensities to reduce the effects of moiré, or to switch it off completely for maximum clarity and resolution.

As with its predecessors, the K-3 boasts one the largest lens ranges specifically designed for the smaller APS-C sensor. The range consists of affordably priced DA zooms and primes, high-grade ultrasonic equipped DA* models and highly compact DA Limited primes.

The Pentax lens range also consists of full-frame digital optimized D FA models and an earlier series of FA lenses designed originally for use with old Pentax film cameras (they’ve yet to introduce a full-frame DSLR).

The older FA series also encompasses the FA Limited models, which, like the DA Limited models, are highly coveted for their attractive rendering, or ‘drawing style’, perhaps even more so.

The result is an appealing and unsurpassed range of primes and zooms designed for DSLRs using APS-C format sensors. With no AA filter and a pixel dense 24-Mpix sensor, the Pentax K-3 is the most demanding model yet and will highlight any deficiencies in lens performance.

Lenses measured on Pentax K3: Database Overview

Best prime lenses for the Pentax K-3

Best zoom lenses for the Pentax K-3

See also : Best lenses for Pentax K-3: Recommended wide angle, telephoto and standard lenses