Pentax K-3 review – Build and handling

One of the strong points of Pentax enthusiast-level DSLRs has always been the build of the body, and the K-3 is no exception. With a fully weather-sealed, magnesium-alloy body, the K-3 is a very robust camera, certainly capable of withstanding inclement or rough conditions. Much of the time spent testing the K-3 was in the wind and rain, and I didn’t once feel that the camera would be compromised.

However, it isn’t just the camera itself that needs to be weather-resistant; there are also the lens and accessories to consider. Thankfully, Pentax has a growing range of WR (weather-resistant) lenses. As a standard kit, the K-3 comes with the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 WR kit lens, so the camera and lens are weatherproof straight out of the box. A weather-sealed battery grip and two weather-sealed flashguns are also available.

Making the K-3 even more attractive to demanding photographers is the durability of the shutter, which has been tested up to 200,000 actuations. This will be particularly appealing to those photographers keen to take advantage of the K-3’s ability to create time-lapse videos at a 4K video resolution.

As you’d expect, there is a good array of buttons and dials, and most of them are placed fairly logically. However, I was confused by the handling of the K-3 when the rear status screen was turned on.

The rear status display does not allow for the individual settings to be highlighted and then changed via the directional control. However, a number of times I instinctively went to use the directional control to move or change a setting on the rear display. In fact, all the settings on this screen are controlled via direct button presses. To change other settings, a press of the info button brings up an on-screen menu that reveals all the other key image settings. This can be changed via the directional button.

Resolving this was straightforward. I simply turned the rear status display off and used a completely blank rear screen, relying on the physical buttons and the camera’s top LCD panel to know which settings I had the camera on. Of course, the quick menu is still available at the press of a button for changing image settings, but the camera handled far more intuitively with less information displayed.

As usual with Pentax, there is a wealth of custom options – 27 to be precise. These include a standard AF fine-tune feature, one-push exposure bracketing, and whether you want the exposure linked to the AF point in use. You really can make the K-3 behave as you want it to.

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