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Ricoh Pentax K-3 II DSLR builds on predecessor’s strength

When it came time to update the Pentax K-3 II, Ricoh held onto the strengths of the K-3. Ricoh added several features that justify the new model, such as high-speed autofocus, GPS, and better image stabilization. The camera will be available in May for $1,100.

The original K-3 was well received (we gave it our Editors’ Choice award), so Pentax kept the building blocks. The K-3 II has the magnesium alloy casing and metal chassis of its predecessor. It also has the same 24.35-megapixel sensor, 27-point autofocus, anti-aliasing filter simulator, and 8.3-frames-per-second continuous shooting.

New features on the camera include an improved shake-reduction system with 4.5 shutter steps, with the help of a gyro sensor; Ricoh says it’s the widest camera-shake compensation of any K-series DSLR, even when panning. While the original had 27-point autofocus, version II has a new high-speed auto-focus algorithm. Pentax added GPS to geo-tag photos, and combined with the shake reduction, it helps orient the camera for celestial nighttime shots. The Astrotracer “uses GPS and orientation location data together with magnetic and acceleration sensors to calculate the motion needed to synchronize the CMOS sensor with the movement of the stars, making it possible to capture stars as points of light rather than star trails during long exposures.”

The K-3 II also has Pixel Shift Resolution, which allows the camera to shoot with higher resolution. How it works is, it uses the shake reduction mechanism to shift the sensor by a single pixel to shoot four images, and then merged to create the higher-resolution images. And, instead of capturing a single color in each pixel, it captures all color data for more accurate color reproduction and finer details, Ricoh says. This feature requires a tripod, and works best with still-life images.

Since the K-3 II is an enhanced version of its predecessor, we predict we will like this camera as well.

Related: Ricoh launches new K-S2 DSLR, WG-5 rugged compact in March 2015