Pentax follows Leica: K-3 Mark III Monochrome coming at the end of April

The SLR camera in APS-C format Pentax K-3 Mark III appears as a monochrome edition. Ricoh Imaging wants to appeal to photographers who specialize exclusively in black and white images.

At the beginning of December last year, Pentax showed the first prototype of a monochrome K-3 Mark III. The company has now announced the market launch: The monochrome housing will “probably be available from the end of April 2023,” Pentax writes somewhat cautiously in a press release. The announcement mentions 2500 euros as a recommended price, the street price of the usual K-3 Mark III with Bayer filter is currently around 1700 euros.

The new monochrome DSLR is based on a 25.7 MP BSI CMOS sensor in APS-C format, as is also used in the color-sensitive sister model. However, the chip comes without color and low-pass filters, so it captures the brightness values ​​directly and without interpolation per pixel. An AA filter simulator is added to prevent moiré.

Externally, the Monochrom resembles the colour-sensitive sister model. It differs only in the colors of the lettering (now in gray) and the lighting of the shoulder display (now in white).
(Bild: Ricoh Imaging)

The camera’s native sensor sensitivity increases by one notch compared to its sister model, from ISO 100 to ISO 200, while the maximum ISO setting remains the same at ISO 1,600,000. The advantages according to Pentax: The monochrome version of the camera delivers sharper images at any ISO value and improved performance in low light conditions.

Ricoh Imaging equips the monochrome model with customized processing modes and parameters. In addition to still images, the camera also records videos in a resolution of up to 4K/30p. The minimalist features of the available modes show that the camera is not intended for videographers. Especially newer standards are not to be found.

Externally, the camera differs from its sister model in that the backlight for the LC shoulder display is white instead of green, and the controls are labeled in gray.

While the K-3 Mark III is the first SLR to feature a five-axis stabilized monochrome sensor, the concept of a pure grayscale camera is not entirely new: Leica introduced the M Monochrom rangefinder model back in 2012 and currently offers the M10 Monochrom while Phase One stocks an achromatic back for its IQ4 system. However, these cameras offer a significantly higher resolution, but also at even higher prices: The Leica M10 Monochrom offers 40 megapixels in full format for 8350 euros and Phase One in medium format 100 megapixels. Here the prices start at 10,000 euros.

The monochrome cameras serve niche target groups. With the K-3 Mark III Monochrome, Pentax is taking a double risk, because buyers of the new monochrome model not only forgo color, but also the advantages of an electronic viewfinder. Still, Pentax has its fans. The built-in phase autofocus worked reliably and accurately in the c’t photography test, even in low light. The housing is robust, cold and weatherproof. The battery lasts a long time, according to the manufacturer up to 800 shots (CIPA standard).

The color-sensitive sensor is also particularly interesting for astrophotographers, because it enables tracking of the Milky Way with the integrated astrotracer function. Like the monochrome model, however, it lacked the integrated GPS for this. An optional module is required here.

The monochrome model also offers two card slots – one of which is UHS-II-capable – 14-bit raw output, internal raw development and an electronic shutter up to 1/16,000 seconds. The battery can be charged in the camera via USB-C.

The camera should already be available at the end of April 2023 for 2500 euros. However, Ricoh Imaging states in the press release that some special parts of the model may delay production and thus delivery. Buyers should therefore not be in too much of a hurry.

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