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Pentax K-3 II sensor review: Reaching for the stars

By Kevin Carter - Friday August 07 2015

Sensor Review
Introduction | Measurements: Excellent overall performance | Comparison 1: Pentax K-3 II vs. Pentax K-3 vs. Pentax K-5 IIs: Balanced performance | Comparison 2: Pentax K-3 II vs. Canon EOS 7D Mark II vs. Nikon D7200: Competitive but marginally behind best-in-class sensor | Conclusion
Pentax K-3 II sensor review:  Reaching for the stars

Announced earlier in the year, this model is the upgrade to the Pentax K-3 and features the same chassis and casing, 24-Mpix sensor, 27-point AF system, and high 8.3fps continuous shooting as the original, while adding new Pixel Shift resolution technology and an improved 4.5-stop shake reduction option.  Read on to find out how well the sensor in this new upgraded model performs.

Specifications and Features

Announced earlier in the year, the K-3 II is the mid-term upgrade to the maker’s top-of-the-line K-3 model which already had impressive specs, including a stabilized 24-Mpix CMOS sensor, 27-point AF system (with 25 of those being horizontal and vertical line-sensitive, cross-type sensors), up to 8.3 fps continuous shooting, and a durable metal body designed for pro use. Although the new model no longer offers a built-in flash, improvements over its predecessor include an upgrade to the stabilized sensor platform.

Arguably the most significant upgrade, however, has been the introduction of Pixel Shift technology. Sometimes referred to as multi-shot technology, the sensor platform moves in one-pixel increments to capture red, green and blue data at each pixel location. Four shots are captured and combined into one image. As well as improved color, this technique results in improved detail and reduced moiré.

The new model also includes a built-in GPS receiver, recording not just location and time data, but also altitude and camera orientation. In addition, the K-3 II has a new Astrotracer feature, effectively combining the GPS and stabilized sensor-shifting capabilities to allow the camera to calculate the motion required to track and capture celestial bodies, such as stars and planets.

The Pentax K-3 II measures 5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1" / 13.2 x 10 x 7.9cm and weighs 1.76 lb / 799.5g, body only. It is available now at $1035 (USD) for the body only.

  • 24.3-Mpix APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Anti-aliasing filter simulator
  • Shake reduction and Pixel Shift resolution
  • 27-point AF (25 cross-type)
  • Prime III image processor
  • 3.2-inch 1.03m-dot LCD
  • Full HD 1080p video at 30/25 fps
  • Expanded ISO 51200 max sensitivity
  • 8.3 fps continuous shooting
  • Built-in GPS, compass, and astrotracer feature

Measurements: Excellent overall performance

Comparison 1: Pentax K-3 II vs. Pentax K-3 vs. Pentax K-5 IIs:  Balanced performance

Comparison 2: Pentax K-3 II vs. Canon EOS 7D Mark II vs. Nikon D7200: Competitive but marginally behind best-in-class sensor

Conclusion