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Wednesday, 07 April 2021

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I've seriously considered a K-1, as a high megapixel, full frame counterpart to my Fuji gear that makes casual astrophotography easier sounds cool...but between the camera, and the lenses, it's too much money for too little return. The K3/3 feels like it might be the last great Pentax, a Grumman Bearcat of cameras - fantastic performance, but a footnote operationally. And it looses the internal GPS that makes Pentax's nifty astrotracer work, so it's of zero interest to me - but it's a nifty option for someone with a boatload of Pentax glass.

So tell me, how do we feel about the concept of a "flagship APS-C DSLR"

I don't believe in flagships. If I was interested in an APS-C camera I'd buy a bottom-of-the-line Full Frame Canon RP, and use it with EF-S lenses and an adapter. Sells for <$1,000.00. If I later decide to step-up to Full Frame, all I have to do is use Full Frame lens 8-)

I shot Pentax, both film and digital for 35+ years. I loved the brand and when my K5 was ready for an upgrade, I waited. The K3 didn't offer enough to motivate me. I wanted to stick with APS-C as the sweet spot in sensor (and file) size, so the K1 did not appeal that much, plus I had some nice APS-C glass that would have to be replaced if I went full frame. So I waited.

Finally, after weighing the cost of switching systems, the Fuji XH1 with battery grip was offered at fire sale prices, and I made the switch. It was a decision I expected to regret when Pentax finally came out with the new APS-C flagship, but at $2000, not tempted and no regrets.

I miss Pentax. The XH1 is great in so many ways, but does not fit my hand the way the K5 did. Mirror-less accommodates my failing eyesight much better than a DSLR, so I am happy. Goodbye Pentax--too much, too late.

It's probably a perfectly fine camera, a great one in fact, but not one I'd buy in 2021. Were I to go with APS I'd go with Fuji. In any case, it's gotta be mirrorless in 2021.

I love the Ricoh GR III and I've long wished Ricoh would produce more compact mirrorless options. The GXR was great, but a failed concept.

I have to wonder who would buy the K3 this year? I think you're right on the price; lots of competition and other compelling options.

https://petapixel.com/2010/12/03/ridiculous-pentax-k-r-robot-edition/

“Pentaxes look the way cameras are supposed to look.”

Fully agree.

"The best glass pentaprism viewfinder ever on an APS-C DSLR."

Probably the last one, too.

Like every other camera these days, I'm sure it's quite good. Definitely not the best looking or most popular, but good. Although the difference between $1,200 and $2,000 for a camera body doesn't matter to... Leica buyers, it sure does to most everyone else, like say...
Pentax aficionados.

Re: price. It's not like they can make it up on volume.

OK, I am going to comment on this one two (2 in a row, that is a record for me). Fully agree with your comments with one addition. One glaring problem with this camera is the relative lack of specifically designed lenses for the APS-C format. Problem common to every other brand except Fuji.

I have a Pentax Mx and ME super ( since late 70’s) with 3 Pentax lenses 35 f2.8, 50 f1.2 and 200 f4. Plus a wonderful Tamron 90 f2.5 macro. I use the old lenses with adaptors on a Sony a7r iii or Fuji x-pro 3.

There are a lot of Pentax lenses around, but most are for full frame. Pentax even re issued the limited series recently, again for full frame.

Does this make any sense??

I tend to agree, Mike. My eyes start watering at around the $1,300 mark. I own a K-5 and a K-1 and think they get a lot of things right in those models. In general, camera makers are in a bit of a jam, aren't they? They have to keep the hype going in order to convince customers to upgrade every year or two, but they sort of seem have a ceiling on a per unit cost. In addition, you have to spread those new-camera programming and design costs among a finite number of units sold, and your overall number of units sold is shrinking year over year. Kinda makes you wish there were simply chip upgrades that you could drop into a camera like the film of yore . . .then you could charge for the chip upgrade without swapping out the whole rig. But of course, Moore's law works against you here, even if the camera engineers could make it possible. Your whole chip architecture is going to change every three or four years, so you might was well change all the IC's in the camera. Phooey. Glad I am not in that business.

The difference between cameras and computers is that with computers, more processing power is always a good thing, but with cameras, once you are at "good enough" your customer base thins out quite rapidly. How many folks, for instance, are really going to go for a 100 m-pixel camera when they are already at 35-50? And heck, they had me at 12 mp . . .

"...that my primary allegiance isn't to brands, it's to the people who use the brands..."

I understand. Back when I was a Leica shooter (film), one of the darlings in the Leica world was David Alan Harvey. On the various forums we'd all discuss how he could do entire assignments with an M6 and a single lens (his "Cuba" book is 100% 35mm Summilux). It was something to try to emulate, and we'd all try the minimalist thing.

Later, he switched brands and the image that they used in the news release that he was let go from Magnum for possible sexual improprieties was of him out on the street with a Fujifilm X-T2 and the 27mm pancake lens.

So, one of my influencers used two of my brands and models, uh...never mind.

Mike,

I'm sorry to be catty, so blame it on my cats. But really, if the difference between $1200 and $2000 is trivial to you, it's gods way of saying you have too much money.

I think we're going to see more carving of niches with commensurate price tags in the coming years.

Much of the internet is abuzz with the coming DSLR demise. Canon's recent announcement that it was discontinuing several popular and/or high profile EF lenses (40mm f/2.8 STM, 60mm f/2.8 EF-S, 70-200mm f/4L IS II, 85mm f/1.2L, and 200mm f/2L) is a pretty good sign of their intent with regards to DSLR production. Nikon seems to be on track to issue a few more DSLRs but it's not hard to imagine them dropping DSLR production to really start pushing the Z lineup in the not to distant future.

I think Ricoh Pentax is sticking a flag in the DSLR ground and saying "this belongs to us." That kind of makes sense to me. There are still a lot of folks who appreciate an optical viewfinder. Pentax's history of backwards compatibility is a boon here, too. DSLRs that can use vintage glass will definitely be appealing to a number of users.

The problem shows up when one realizes what that number is. I don't know what it is but it has to be small. Niches always bring premium pricing. Sometimes very premium. Witness the price for a Leica MP or an M-A. There's enough demand to keep making them but they come at a cost. I think that's what we're starting to see with the K3III and its pricing.

I think we're likely to see more of this, too. If JIP is to turn the old Olympus into something profitable, I think they're going to have to really start pushing the size advantage of m43. Look for the same kind of price premium. The $7500 150-400mm is probably a good reference point for this. It's a specialty lens that offers a tremendous size and weight advantage for what it is/does but it comes with a big price tag because it's targeted to such a niche market (backcountry birders and wildlife shooters, I guess?).

With Canon/Sony/Nikon starting to really duke it out for the full frame mirrorless market, I could see other manufacturers also looking for niches. Panasonic has always had a leg up with regards to video oriented stills cameras and it doesn't seem like a big stretch to see them keep pushing that. Fuji has picked an interesting strategy by avoiding the full frame market and splitting their systems into APS and bigger than full frame. Leica will always be Leica.

The last bastion of DSLRs seems to be a good niche for Ricoh Pentax. I wish them luck and hope that they can find a way to make it work.

Selling to a very small audience obviously.

They need to stay relevant but that's not going to do it. Not sure if this is even possible but here's my idea on how to make a DSLR relevant in the mirrorless world. First contact Fuji and find out if you can buy whatever tech they use to combine an optical and electronic VF. If it were possible to have the mirror in the up position and display an LCD panel in the VF that would actually be kind of cool.

Of course you'd need to have good focus in live view which I have no idea what Pentax has in that department. If they don't have good live view AF then they have to get in touch with Canon and buy their DPAF technology.

If they keep at it I'm sure with enough money they can make this camera relevant.

Harvey photos full screen from Cuba book.

https://www.davidalanharvey.com/cuba3

It's always about the people you associate with the brand, isn't it? Circuitously related to the Pentax K-3-3-3 (I joke, but then I own 5 Pentax cameras and 15-some K-mount lenses, so St. Penta will absolve me)... anyone remember that Sigma makes cameras, too?

Back in the day, Sigma was the bottom-tier lensmaker of bargain plastic tubes and strange-mount cameras. Then the founder's son (Kazuto Yamaki) took over... and today they make some of the best lenses available for any mount. Also some quirky cameras with those "Foveon" sensors.

IIRC, the SD1 was originally priced at $9,700 and got plenty of notice for it, but few buyers. Yamaki-san humbly repriced it as the SD1 Merrill at just above $2k, and even today they still make Foveon cameras (at a loss) as an homage to their founder.

IMHO, Pentax knows they are only selling to the faithful at this point, and also that if they priced it within reason, no one else would take notice anyhow. If anything, they got you to write about it! ;)

I'll bet the new Pentax is a really superb camera, and imagine someone finally fixed the APS-c DSLR Viewfinder and made it an asset rather than a compromise.......but it is just SO late to the party.
I wish them well.

Pentax is inspired by the performance of Bitcoin.

"Corporations are not actually people,"

Ever since Citizens United, the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision allowing unlimited corporate and union spending on political issues, Americans have been debating whether, as Mitt Romney said, “Corporations are people, my friend.” Occupy Wall Street protestors decried the idea, late night comedians mocked it, and reform groups proposed amending the Constitution to eliminate it. Today, however, the Supreme Court endorsed corporate personhood — holding that business firms have rights to religious freedom under federal law. Not only do corporations have rights, their rights are stronger than yours.

Pentax has some great DA limited lenses - 15mm, 21mm, 35mm, 40mm, 70mm, 20-40mm. All small jewels. I was thinking of pre-ordering the K3 III, but wound up ordering a KP yesterday from Adorama for $696, roughly a third the price of the new iteration of the K3. That being said, I could still see getting the new K3 in a year or two if the autofocus and everything else about it really lives up to all the pre-release publicity. There's a lot to like about Pentax, at least for me.

Early reports are that the AF is much improved, which has been the primary complaint for a number of years. I looked at some high iso sample images comparing them to the K1 II and surprisingly they looked better. But really the only thing that made me a little frustrated using my K1 was inconsistent focus, so if they have that fixed, I think they should be sitting pretty. Can't wait for the $3500 K1 III : ).

Well I for one am much more interested in this than a FF mirrorless. APSC hits something of a sweet spot for me in terms of image quality vs portability, especially when you factor in the ridiculously large lenses that come with FF nowadays; not interested in carrying a bag full of those, but a small bag with a few well-chosen DA Limiteds is a much more tempting proposition. Pentax build and handling is generally excellent, I care not about video, and yes please to a decent viewfinder and battery life. I think people need to get used to Pentax being a small scale boutique manufacturer now; the Leica of dDSLRs but not quite with the red dot tax. I hope it works for them as they’re a much more innovative manufacturer than they are given credit for, and know how to make cameras that just feel great when you use them.

Considering that they improved compatibility with pre-Pentax-A lenses, and they have a small lens line-up, I suspect that they need to make more money on camera sales because they won't make as much on lens sales as Canon and Nikon. Can't just "break even" on cameras to make money on lenses.

While I'll wait for the next K-1, I can hope that the K-3 III and K-1 III will use a focusing screen that's better for manual-focus lenses, taking advantage of light gain elsewhere in the finder system.

The praise for the K-3 III finder reminds me of what I love most about my Pentax LX -- the finder.

It's €2299 or ($2730) if you pay VAT and taxes like we do in the EU. The way I look at it is this, I have a K-3 that has given me 7yrs of faultless service and a K-1 that must be 4yrs old now and again faultless service and enjoyment. So paying a few grand that will enhance my system of 10 Pentax Star or Limited grade (excluding a couple of macros) lens is a no brainer to me. I get a wider usable ISO range, faster burst rate, an enhanced HyperProgram mode, an OVF that is almost equal to the K-1's OVF, get to use the same batteries (must be 5th generation for me now), and AF that can handle a bit of movement and an improvement in focusing on black cats in coal bunkers :)
My 70-200 will feel like it can reach a bit further, my macro's can have a bit more DOF, and I get a 50‰ improvement over the K-3 in fps. I also get to understand the new control system that elements of will migrate to a K-1 III
I'll get the premium version in black, the grip might help balance the DFA* range better (zoom especially) but a K-3 III, sans grip, elegant leather strap, FA43 and a fresh spring morning having a wander about Paris draws a very stylised visual whilst remaining photographically inclined in my minds eye.

Genius.
Simply genius.
Kudos to the person at Ricoh who magicked up the idea of a silly retail price. Now people will be talking about their new camera, thinking about their new camera, and then? They drop the price. By 30 percent?

It didn't work out for Sigma with their Merills of course. LOLZ!

I ordered the K3-3 today, when I first saw the price I was stunned a bit, too - fully expecting it to be no more than $1,500, and then thought I’d just get a KP at the reduced $696 pricing but there was a run on those when everyone saw the K-3 release... Even so, I get it - Pentax knows they only have a sliver of a declining camera industry so they might as well offer a premium product to those remaining few takers. It’s the overall package with the gem of the Limited lens set that makes it a unique experience, including the 20-40mm (30-60mm eq) “variable normal” that you’ve written about before... And quite frankly, I’m getting overwhelmed at staring at so many electronic screens these days, getting hard to even buy a car anymore without a dash full of ‘em so I for one will be glad to have one of the last great OVF experiences in my camera.

ANECDOTAL GENERALITY ALERT -
I look at cameras on ebay. A lot. Yes, it's an illness. Anyway. As a seasoned gear watcher, I'm of the opinion that Pentax DSLR 'gear' is the most used gear there is. It's normally in pretty crap condition. Which is good. It means that they get worn out, so to speak. Given how well they're screwed together, that's no small feat.

Only loved gear gets worn out. The most clapped out guitar your have is the one you played to death, because using it gave you the most rewarding sound. Get where this is going yet?

Some people still buy Porsches because of how great those cars once were (compared to their peers in the market). And so it is, lest we forget that the Pentax K10D is still lurking in older enthusiasts psyche. Tank like build. Angelic ergonomics. Unique ISO-shift mode. Great viewfinder. And a shutter sound like two pirates clashing cutlasses. Think "KAR-CHIINNK-UH!". And weather proof. Great colour signature too.

2021. The year of the nostalgic? Why not. It's only money. Buy something you love.

Question is, does it still have the little green button? On a serious note, 820 grams?

Still got my K20D. But have moved on to mirrorless. Once used to exposure (comp) correctly reflected in the EVF there's no going back no matter how good the pentaprism.


They will need to ask a lot of money because they will sell very few of them. Additionally it must be expensive to make an slr compared to a mirrorless camera. I remember the days when to own a Pentax was to be up there with the best, and they were lovely cameras. This will probably be their last slr. Let's hope not their last camera.

The K3 Mk. 3 is certainly a great camera. It's for Pentaxians. That's a rare group nowadays. I like the feeling of a Pentax in my hands, the haptics are much better than Nikon, Canon or Sony imho. For the rest, especially AF performance I prefer to use one camera for a long time and get to know it's flaws and powers. Any camera has this.

I still have and use a K3 Mk. 1. I did not upgrade when they omitted the internal flash. I normally use an external flash, for sure. But for travel and nature photography I like to reduce weight and rather take a third lense than a flash, so having the internal one is better than having none ... This means, the new K3 is nothing for me.

For me the difference between the $1200 and the $2000 camera is very meaningful: the $1200 one would not give me what I want. Yes, the $1200 camera would be "cheaper" but it would be money wasted; the $2000 one looks like a more cost-effective option (YMMV).
Let's think about it: Nikon's 153 points AF was simultaneously introduced with the $2000 D500, and the much more expensive D5; the previous 51-points AF was introduced on the D300/D3 cameras. For $1200, the best Pentax could do was SAFOX 11...
How about the new viewfinder? That high refraction glass pentaprism proved challenging to process, and that tells me 'expensive'.
How about the thoroughly reworked mechanics, and the new high precision coreless motors? (they help the AF as well)
I don't see how Pentax could've included all that and much more, and slash the price almost in half. While Fujifilm is allowed the $1700 X-T4...

So, Mike, before complaining that Pentax built a flagship camera instead of a mid-level one, take a look at what's inside!

Great topic and comments as usual on TOP.

Here are my inflation-addled two cents.

I can empathize with your price sensitivity, Mike. Full disclosure: I am so cheap that I have never bought a new piece of gear. I got into MF SLRs 15 years after AF came out. My first (and still-current) DSLR is a D300 I bought in 2017...you get the idea.

The purchasing power of our dollars basically hasn't moved in the last 40-45 years. That got me thinking about the cost of the top-of-the-line Pentax from 1978, the K2DMD. Without the motor drive or data back (which both really should be included for the closest feature comparison and would more than double the price) the K2DMD sold for $1,525 USD at Competitive Camera adjusted for inflation($369 in 1978, body only). That was with zero weathersealing, no IBIS, no AF, an ISO range of 8-6400, 2 fps max frame rate, and a shutter designed for 50K cycles...

An earlier commenter noted that Pentax historically was a value brand and that the typical Pentaxian was a "skinflint". I fully concur, but would add that today this "average" Pentaxian is now over 65 and likely has enough disposable income to afford a $2G DSLR, at least according to Ricoh ;-).

And that to me explains the initial pricing. Ricoh looks at the K3-III as the equivalent of a D500 (even though we all know the AF won't be as good; Pentax has been at least two-generations behind top AF performance since the 1990s). And I would bet that the build quality and weathersealing, not to mention IQ, will be as good or better.

The thing is, Ricoh is not looking to get D500 owners to defect, they are looking at the "average" Pentaxian, today as niche as it gets. This will likely be the last DSLR for most of them. What's a few hundred more for the most capable Pentax SLR ever made to this point, and likely the last, barring a final K1 iteration. And if that's still too much, wait 6 months or a year for the inevitable price drop.

To me, Ricoh's biggest "mistake" is labelling this mostly new design as a K3, which draws more attention to the previous model and its $1100 USD price. They could have went with K2, pulling on those nostalgia strings a bit harder ;-) and also emphasized all the advancements with this model rather than allowing for the natural comparison with its predecessor.

Looks like they have been hitting the hookah harder lately like you said, Mike.

Take care everyone and be safe.

The camera makes it very easy to use K- and M-glass (no more a green button: all in the release button). The OVF is better. There's a touchscreen. AF is far better. More shots per second if you want that. Great IBIS. ISO is far better: improves on the K-1 II. Ricoh made it a small but highly capable camera, and rethought every aspect of it to make clear that it's a flagship. That comes with a price tag.
Moreover, it is expected that the K-3 will be differentiated from the future K-1, that has a flip screen. Action vs Landscape.
My only question was: should I wait for the new K-1 that will no doubt inherit most of the improvements, or should I drop for this K-3.

Who the heck is Rob L who knows what a Grumman Bearcat is? That made me smile.

You never know what you'll come across on this blog.

Signed: Someone who saw Bill and Corkey fly together.

The kay-three-three. Reminds me of my favourite limerick:

The was an old lady named Parr
who took the three-three to Forfar.
"For", she said, "I believe
it is likely to leave
far before the four-four to Forfar."

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