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First Look: Pentax's high-end dSLR (hands on)

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First Look: Pentax's high-end dSLR (hands on)

3:21 /

For the K-3, Pentax changes everything from the sensor to the controls.

Hi. I'm Lori Grunin and this is a pre-production version of Pentax's latest flagship APS-C DSLR, K-3. Pentax overhauls the K-5 II successor inside and out. It's got a new anti-aliasing filter-free 24-megapixel sensor, a new body design, a new 27-point AF system and a new 86,000-pixel RGB metering system. There's also an improved performance with continuous shooting increasing up to 8.3 frames per second. The new auto focus system unfortunately doesn't have any live view optimizations. The Pentax says that five of the AF sensors are specifically for low light and even the pre-production model was able to lock focus in some pretty dim conditions. Like the 70D, it now implements its own focus, though it doesn't display the zone, just the selected focus point when you pre-focus. It does seem to select the center of the zone which is good, more often than not. Per Pentax, the new Viewfinder has improved coatings. And well, I didn't really see a perceptible difference, it's still a nice viewfinder. It's also the first camera to support USB 3.0. I'm not quite sure of the implications yet because that depends upon implementation but it does open the door for faster download speeds to the computer and improved bandwidth for tethered shooting. The camera also potentially delivers improved image stabilization. Pentax claims an extra stop and better durability of the shutter for up to 200,000 cycles. Pentax brings its movie mode into parity with the rest of the world. Now, it has 1080/30p and 720/60p options, along with a mic input and a headphone jack. The body design will not completely overhaul, it does have many significant changes over the K-5 Series. It's still sturdy with a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body, kinda heavy. The mode dial is now lockable though I'm not sure about the implementation. There's a lock switch that you use in conjunction with the more typical central button. It seems a bit overkill to me. Oh, I like the interface, which is typical Pentax. The company does tend to think different. Another cameras on the brief infoscreen, you hit a button and then navigate it around the screen changing settings. On a Pentax, you see all the important settings on the control screen but have to hit different buttons to change its setting. To change multiple settings from a single screen, you have to go into the more crowded and difficult to quickly parse infoscreen. On the K-50, which has fewer features, this isn't so bad. On the feature packed K-3 though, it's more to wait through. The new navigation buttons are designed with slightly raised edges on the side that you can use to navigate diagonally. That's pretty clever. And there are some disappointments. For one, it's got a fixed rather than articulating LCD. For some reason Pentax is the only manufacturer that resists incorporating movable LCDs and the camera lacks built-in WiFi. Pentax instead opts to use an SD card-based solution from FLU card, which will have a custom option for supporting wireless tethering via web browser. As for Pentax scenes, you don't need the latest and greatest. The K-5 II and II S will remain in the line at a lower price. I'm Lori Grunin and this is a pre-production version of the Pentax K-3.

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