The new Pentax K-3 II is out of this world

New DSLR has special skills for snapping the stars and clever pixel-shifting tech

Pentax K-3 II

Space: the final frontier. Unimaginably vast, overwhelmingly odd, forever beyond the reach of us mere mortals. Well, unless we pick up one of Pentax's new K-3 II DSLRs.

While it's not quite capable of doing the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, the K-3 II's built-in GPS module and Astrotracer software will together let you track celestial objects as they traverse the night sky.

Throw in a rugged, waterproof build - ideal for all those drizzly nights on a dark hill in the Peak District - and high-resolution 24.3MP APS-C sensor and you have a seemingly great camera for astrophotography. 

The GPS unit can be used for more than just the night sky though - it'll record location, latitude, longitude, altitude and direction, plus there's a built-in compass which can be viewed on the 3.2in, 1,037,000-dot LCD screen.

Pentax K-3 II rear

Pentax K-3 II above

Pentax K-3 II side

The K-3 II looks like being a great choice for landscapes too, thanks to its Pixel Shift Resolution System. This works by capturing four photos of the same scene, but shifting the sensor by one pixel for each image. The camera then combines them all into one superphoto which will supposedly have finer detail, lower noise and far more accurate colour reproduction than a standard pic.

Elsewhere, the K-3 II is not massively changed over 2013's excellent K-3. You again get in-body image stabilisation - this time reckoned to be good for up to 4.5 stops - plus a 27-point autofocus system, ISO of up to 51,200 and burst shooting of up to 8.3fps. Those figures were all pretty special two years ago but seem a little so-so now. Video is similarly unchanged, maxing out at 1080p @ 60i or 30p; no 4K round these parts.

One thing you don't get on the K-3 II is an anti-aliasing filter, an omission which should make for sharper photos in most circumstances. As with the K-3, though, you do have the option to simulate one if the subject you're shooting is beset by pesky moire patterns. Unlike the K-3 there's no built-in flash on the II, so you'll have to add one via the hot-shoe.

The Pentax K-3 II will be available from 22 May for £770 in body-only guise. We'll put it through its paces just as soon as we can.

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