Home / Technology / Ricoh Launches the New K-3 II SLR

Ricoh Launches the New K-3 II SLR

 K3 II offers some interesting features which is a development of the previous versions, the integrated GPS, increased resistance tos hocks, and high resolution capture mode. In addition there is a new feature called Pixel Shift Resolution feature that can combine imagestaken from 4 quickly shots.

The new Pentax K-3 II offers some compelling upgrades when compared with the K-3, including an integrated GPS, improved shake reduction, and a high-resolution capture mode that’s not far off in concept from what we saw in theOlympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II.

Aside from that, the weather-sealed K-3 II is very similar in design to the original K-3. It does omit an in-camera flash to make room for the GPS module, but aside from that the body design is pretty much the same. It uses the same 24-megapixel image sensor, powered by a PRIME III image processor that supports shooting at up to ISO 51200. The 27-point autofocus system is unchanged, and the rear 3.2-inch 1,030k-dot LCD is identical to the one used on the K-3. Ricoh states that autofocus performance, especially when tracking subjects, has been improved, and continuous shooting tops out at 8.3fps.

The marquee new feature is what Pentax refers to as the Pixel Shift Resolution System. It works similarly to the Olympus E-M5 Mark II in that it shifts the image sensor by one pixel, rattles off four quick shots, and then combines the images into one file in-camera—it’s only useful for static subjects when shooting with a sturdy tripod. But unlike the Olympus, it doesn’t output a file that’s higher in resolution than the image sensor.

Instead of trying to boost resolution, the shift mechanism eliminates the need for interpolation. Color images are created by overlaying a Bayer color filter array over an image sensor that’s natively monochrome. A repeating 4-by-4-pixel pattern of red, blue, and green pixels means that the camera has to interpolate—that is, make an educated guess—about colors at each specific pixel site. They generally do a good job, but it does put a limit on detail. We’ve seen how much more sharpness you can get out of a camera that doesn’t use a Bayer filter, like the Sigma dp2 Quattro and its color Foveon sensor, and theLeica M Monochrom’s dedicated black-and-white sensor.

Ricoh states that, in addition to crisper images with more accurate color, its system will offer improved performance at high ISOs, which has long been an issue with Foveon cameras. Raw capture is also supported, but at launch support will be limited to the in-camera development and the Pentax Digital Camera Utility 5 software that’s bundled with the K-3 II. There’s no word on if or when Adobe software will support Raw images shot with Pixel Shift enabled.

The other big new feature is an in-camera GPS. That it comes at the expense of an in-body flash may be a turn-off for some—a pop-up flash isn’t often used to illuminate a scene by photographers buying a camera on this level, but it’s useful for triggering off-camera strobes. If the GPS was simply there to add location data to images that would be a questionable design decision. But the GPS doubles as an integrated Astrotracer module; this moves the image sensor during long nighttime exposures to compensate for the rotation of the Earth. Pentax has long offered an external accessory to do this, but now astrophotography buffs have that functionality built into the body.

It should also be noted that there is one big feature that’s still absent from the K-3 II—Wi-Fi. If you want wireless functionality you’ll need to invest in an Eyefi Mobi Pro or Pentax FLUCARD memory card. There are two memory card slots, so you can use a fast card in the main slot to capture Raw images and a slower, wireless card in the second to record JPGs.

The K-3 II is set to go on sale in mid-May. It’s only going to sell in a body-only configuration the U.S., with a $1,099.95 price tag.

About Suzanne McNamara

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