Gear Reviews

Pentax K-3 Mark III v K-3 Mark II; 9 key differences

How does Pentax’s latest flagship APS-C DSLR compare against its predecessor?

It seemed to take forever, but the Pentax K-3 Mark III is finally here. The brand’s new flagship DSLR takes over from the K-3 Mark II that was launched way back in 2015 and as you’d expect features some major new upgrades. But how exactly do the two DSLRs compare? Well, we’ve highlighted nine key differences to make sure you have all the info.

One – Resolution:

Although both cameras feature an APS-c size sensor that results in a 1.5x crop factor (turning a 70-200mm lens into a 105-300mm optic), there is a small difference in the resolution between the two cameras. While the older K-3 Mark II offered 24-megapixels, the newer Mark III increases this figure to 26-megapixels (or 25.7 effective megapixels if you prefer). This now results in a maximum file size 6192×4128 pixels, enabling photographers to make big prints or crop in on files without compromising image quality.

Two – LCD:

Both the K-3 Mark II and the Mark III feature large, 3.2-inch LCDs, but there is one important difference between the two cameras. While the older camera’s screen is non-touch sensitive, the newer model does feature this clever technology, allowing photographers to establish focus simply by tapping the screen when in Live View mode. The touch-sensitivity also enables the user to trip the shutter with a tap or adjust settings using the large screen too as an alternative to the control dials.

Both cameras offer large 3.2-inch fixed LCDs but only the newer Mark III is touch-sensitive.

Three – Burst rate:

While the K-3 Mark II was seen as a camera for general photography, the K-3 Mark is very much weighted towards action photography and this is because of its rapid burst rate. While the older K-3 Mark II offered a burst rate of  8.3 Frames Per second, which is decent but probably not enough for the serious shooting wildlife and sports photographers carry out, the new K-3 Mark III delivers a lightning burst rate of 12 frames per second, which is more than enough to capture split-second moments.

Four – Autofocus:

The improvements to the speedy burst rate on the K-3 Mark III aren’t the only thing that has quickened up as the autofocus system has also benefited from an overhaul, too. While the K-3 Mark II delivered 27 AF points, the Mark III builds on this and offers 101 AF points – 25 of these being the more sensitive cross-type. The autofocus system is also well placed to perform well in low light conditions and is able to operate down to -4EV. 

The K-3 Mark III offer a faster burst rate and autofocus system.

Five – Video: 

Okay, so maybe Pentax’s range of DSLRs may not be the first choice for videographers, but the brand has actually improved this area of the camera quite a bit. While the Mark II offered Full HD, the Mark III goes even further delivering 4K video up to 30p. What’s more, add in the fact that there’s ports for external headphones and an external mic for enhanced audio can be both recorded and monitored and actually there’s plenty of features for the photographer who wishes to capture the occasional bit of video.

Six – ISO range

A vast ISO range will allow photographers to continue shooting in low light conditions and the difference between the two cameras is huge. While the K-3 Mark II offers an ISO range of 100-51200, but the new Mark III blows this figure completely out of the water, delivering 100-1600000. Of course, many photographers may never need to use the top end of this range, but it’s nice to know that it’s there if needed.

Both cameras offer top plate LCDs to display information.

Seven – Viewfinder:

Pentax made a big deal about the quality of the optical viewfinder in the new K-3 Mark II and users will find a viewfinder with a high-refraction glass pentaprism to provide approximately 1.05-times magnification. In fact, the viewfinder offers an almost 10-percent increase in brightness, so the user can get a clear view of what they are lining up with the camera.

Eight – Weight: 

Despite all these improvements, there isn’t that much difference between the older Mark II and newer Mark III. The K-3 Mark II is the lighter of the two cameras and tips the scales at 800g, while the new model weighs 820g (including battery and SD card). That’s actually not too heavy considering the rugged body is made from magnesium alloy, plus there is room for dual SD cards, too.

Nine – Battery: 

A longer battery means more time shooting and less time fumbling around in your back pack to swap out a spare. What’s more, battery life is an area where DSLRs still have the upper hand over mirrorless cameras so it’s no surprise to hear the K-3 Mark III returns a decent figure, offering up to 800 shots on a single charge, 80 more than the Mark II. What’s more, if you are going to be out in the field for an extended period of time, you’ll be pleased to hear there is an optional battery grip available too.

Get longer shooting time with the optional battery grip.