New Pentax K-3 II Sees Stars

April 23, 2015

By Greg Scoblete

Ricoh has updated its all-weather Pentax K-3 DSLR, packing the new K-3 II with a GPS sensor, improved image stabilization and new AF algorithms. 

What hasn’t changed is the K-3’s tough, magnesium alloy build. It’s weather-sealed in 92 places, making the K-3 II dust proof, splash proof and able withstand freezing cold temperatures. Also unchanged is the image sensor; it’s the same 24.3-megapixel APS-C-sized CMOS image sensor with no anti-aliasing filter and a maximum sensitivity of ISO 51,200 as was found on the original K-3. 

Among the enhancements is a new image stabilization system. Thanks to the inclusion of a precision gyro sensor, the in-camera stabilization is able to deliver up to 4.5 stops of image stabilization, according to Ricoh.

The K-3 II features a new high resolution mode dubbed Pixel Shift Resolution that slightly repositions the image sensor for a series of four images and then merges those four stills into a single, higher-resolution image. The method captures all the color data in a single pixel. The images can be processed with a free plug-in from Ricoh or in the camera itself. Ricoh didn’t disclose how large the resulting image would be. Olympus employs a similar system on the E-M5 Mark II using eight exposures and it managed to produce a 40-megapixel image from a 16-megapixel sensor. 

The Pixel Shift Resolution feature and the built-in GPS chip team up to give the K-3 II another new trick: a feature Ricoh is calling “Astrotracer.” The feature uses GPS and orientation location data together with magnetic and acceleration sensors to calculate the motion needed to synchronize the camera’s sensor with the movement of the stars. Rather than capture stair trails during long exposures, Astrotracer will photograph stars as points of light. 

The autofocus system features 27 AF points, including 25 cross-type sensors positioned at the middle to enable the camera to catch light flux from an f/2.8 lens. A new AF algorithm and Ricoh’s Real-Time Scene Analysis system give the K-3 II improved performance during AF tracking. High speed shooting tops off at a maximum rate of 8.3 fps for as many as 23 RAW images or 60 JPEGs.

Rounding out the K-3 II’s feature set:

* 1080/30p video capture in H.264 with a mic input and headphone jack

* manual audio level adjustment during video recording

* 3.2-inch LCD with 103,700 dots

* shutter rated for 200,000 releases

* dual SD card slots

The K-3 II will be available in May for $1,095. It is available for pre-order now.