The modern DSLR is a 21st century toy, flinging pictures around your home via Wi-Fi, hooking up to smartphone apps and shooting camcorder-smashing full HD video. Not so the Pentax K-3.

Like a well-heeled butler standing by with a jar of pomade, it’s a throwback to a bygone age when all cameras did was take pictures. There’s no Wi-Fi, no touch control, no continuous autofocus in video. Not even a flip-out screen – and everything has one of those these days. It’s as if the K-3 has looked around at its rivals and decided that all that tech frippery would just distract it.

And maybe it’s right. With its 24.3MP APS-C sensor, 8.3fps burst shooting, 27-point autofocus and built-in stabilisation, the K-3 is seriously well-specced when it comes to taking photographs. But with other cameras seemingly offering more at a similar price, there’s a lot resting on the quality of those pictures…

Pentax K-3 – in use

Autofocus is generally excellent on the K-3, with 27 focus points and plenty of options for setting autofocus zones or tracking subjects. It rarely misses its target, and locks on swiftly too. It’s also impressive in low light, snapping on to a subject in conditions which would give many other cameras a headache. 

Once you've locked on, you can fire off shots at up to 8.3fps for a total of 60 JPEGS or 23 RAW files - more than enough for most users, if not quite best in class.

Things fall down a little when you switch to Live View. It’s not terrible by any means, but there’s no continuous autofocus and it’s a little slow even in good light. Video is another area where it lags behind its main rivals. Again, there’s no continuous autofocus as you’d get on Canon’s excellent 70D and if you want to shoot in full HD you’ll have to make do with 60i or 30p fps footage, rather than the 60p you get on some rivals. Once again, it’s far from terrible but neither is it the best on the market.

But there are plenty of other plusses here. The dual SD card slots are massively helpful: you can set the camera to shoot JPEGs to one and RAW to the other, or stills to one and video to the other, or just snap away happily safe in the knowledge that you have two cards’ worth of space to fill. The weather-sealed body is similarly great for peace of mind; much of our testing was done in the UK’s sodden winter and we never once worried about rain damage.

And then there’s the in-body image stabilisation: a huge bonus over Canon and Nikon, which both go for the lens-based system; not much use if your lens doesn’t have it. We tested the K-3 with the superb 20-40mm f2.8 lens, but any of Pentax’s extensive range of glass will feel the benefit of the 3.5-stops of shake-reduction.


The Pentax K-3 is a serious camera that takes seriously good stills. It’s packed with features to make your life easier, such as dual SD card slots, weatherproofing and in-body stabilisation and handles as well as any camera we’ve ever used.

If you’re a video addict or are used to modern extras such as built-in Wi-Fi or a flip-out screen, you’d be better looking at the Canon EOS 70D. But if all you really want from a camera is to take great pictures in almost any situation, the Pentax K-3 will do you proud.

Stuff says... 

Pentax K-3 review

The Pentax K-3 may not have all the latest bells and whistles, but as a stills shooter it's hard to beat
Good Stuff 
Superb weatherproof build
Incredibly detailed pictures
Built-in stabilisation
Dual SD card slots
Bad Stuff 
Average video skills
Lacks flip-out screen
No Wi-Fi