Ricoh Pentax, the company everyone loves to hate for no good reason, might be gearing up to release a new camera, and deep down, I’m hoping it’s the Pentax K-1 III.
Ricoh is arguably the most polarizing camera maker on the planet. This company is dividing photographers in two because they insist that DSLRs aren’t dead. I for one still love DSLRs, and I’m glad the company is sticking to its beliefs rather than being intimidated into jumping into the world of mirrorless cameras. While mirrorless cameras are great, DSLRs still have their advantages, and there’s still a lot of life left in the technology, which is why hopefully we’ll see a Pentax K-1 III.
We saw it with the release of the Pentax K3-III in 2021. Pentax’s APS-C camera (read our full test here) blew us away with its new SAFOX 13 autofocus system. This DSLR AF system enabled the eye tracking in the optical viewfinder and improved overall tracking. The K-3 III also worked wonders in low light situations and has one of the best ergonomics of any recent camera.
The dedication to the K-3 III proves that Ricoh is fully committed to DSLRs. It gives me hope that at some point we will see a successor to one of the most underrated cameras, the Pentax K-1 II. Sure, it’s a long shot, but a recent patent filing for a new Ricoh battery charger (shared by Pentax Rumors) suggests a new camera might be on the way. This deposit could mean a lot of things, and I know I’m getting there. However, hopefully this, along with the slew of new and reissued full-frame lenses, means a Pentax K-1 III is in the works.
The Pentax K-1 II is the most underrated camera of our time
I have written many times about my love of Pentax cameras, and in particular the Pentax K-1 II. So yes, this article is a way for me to indulge myself a little with a camera of my dreams; the Pentax K-1 III. Ask anyone who’s used the Pentax K-1 or K-1 II what they think of the camera, and they’ll tell you the same thing. It’s one of the best full-frame cameras you can buy for your money. At under $2,000, the K-1 II is an absolute bargain.
The Pentax K-1 packs a 36.4-megapixel sensor, IBIS, excellent weather sealing, excellent ergonomics, a large, bright pentaprism viewfinder, two card slots, an auto-leveling sensor, Astrotracer and Pixel Shift technology. The K1-II built on this by packing a beefed-up processor that improved autofocus speeds. The K-1 II also added portable pixel shift modes. The RAW files produced by the K-1 and K-1 III are also spectacular. You can push, pull and manipulate them as you wish. Find out what Mattias Burling had to say about the files here.
The K-1 can do it all
For many creators, especially landscapers, astrophotographers and portrait photographers, the K-1 and K-1 II are the perfect cameras. Although not known for their speed, they could definitely be used for action photography if you knew what you were doing.
For example, check out the footage I captured above at a Blue Angles backstage event. I’ve also used the K-1 II for wildlife and sports photography. There’s every reason to think that the potential Pentax K-1 III would only improve on the K-1 II.
What I would like to see in the Pentax K-1 III
I’m sure my wish list for the Pentax K-1 III is different from the wish list of many others. Still, I imagine I wouldn’t be the only one wanting a higher megapixel sensor. The K-1 II used an excellent 36.4 megapixel sensor. It was very similar to the Nikon D810 sensor. However, it would be wonderful to see the Pentax K-1 III use the same or a very similar 45.7 megapixel sensor found in the Nikon D850. The resolution bump and a new Ricoh image processing engine would create magic.
The Pentax K-1 III is also expected to feature the new super-fast SAFOX 13 autofocus system. Aside from the Nikon D500, the K-3 III has the best DSLR autofocus system I’ve used. Relying on this system for a full-frame sensor should be high on Ricoh’s to-do list.
One of the biggest weaknesses of the K-1 II was the live view mode. An improved live view mode with better peaking for older manual focus M42 and K mount lenses would be a great addition to the Pentax K-1 III. I hope Ricoh will also decide to use an articulated screen. The K-3 III’s fixed rear LCD gave my old legs pain. However, I’m hoping it’s a true tilting screen instead of the single articulating screen found on the K-1 and K-1 II. Faster burst rates (the K-1 II topped out at 4 fps) and improved handheld Pixel Shift modes would also be nice.
Retaining and improving unique features such as self-leveling sensor, GPS and Astrotracer, digital anti-aliasing filter and 5-axis IBIS should be a no-brainer. These features set the K-1 II apart from all other DSLRs on the market. In fact, some of these features are still unmatched in today’s mirrorless cameras.
Maybe Ricoh could add focus features like Starry AF and Live Composite found in Olympus and OM SYSTEM cameras. The Pentax K-1 III would then be the ultimate astrophotography camera. The K-1 III would certainly benefit from better battery life as well. The K-1 II could only fire around 600 rounds per charge, so an improvement here would be welcome.
What would you like to see?
I know I am speculating a lot in this article; give us Pentaxians a break, though. We don’t have much to remember when it comes to new gear. One thing is certain, the Pentax K-1 II needs an update. The K-1 was launched in 2016 and the K-1 II in 2018. A lot has changed in six years, so Ricoh could do a lot to make the Pentax K1-III the best DSLR ever.
What would you like to see in the Pentax K-1 III? Do you think we’ll see one soon? Should Ricoh ditch DSLRs and go mirrorless? Let us know in the comment section below.