Pentax K-3 DSLR.
Price: $1398 (with 18-55mm lens as tested)
A photographer's camera
This 24mp DSLR is weather-sealed with image stabilisation by sensor shift. It has a true pentaprism optical viewfinder with complete coverage. The special feature of the K-3 is the removal of the anti-aliasing filter, promising sharper images. There is a filter simulator for situations where it might help, such as when photographing rigidly geometric patterns. There are dual SD memory card slots that can be configured for different capture modes. Serious video is provided for with headphone and microphone ports, and adjustable audio levels. RAW capture is either the Pentax PEF or universal DNG format. Every important camera setting can be made from buttons and knobs on the camera, with hardly any need to go into the menu settings.
The sheer functionality of the Pentax is remarkable, suggesting that this camera has been designed by photographers and not by salesmen. It is responsive and generally fast, although auto focus can be hesitant in low light. Image quality is excellent, with one reservation.
Image noise is not handled as well as we expected. We found noise (graininess) pronounced at ISO1600.
This camera stands out as quite extraordinary value for money, and that is not meant as faint praise. Its features and specifications put it ahead of any other APS-C camera at the price. The only suggestion of cost-cutting is in the aesthetics department - it doesn't look or feel as luxurious as its competitors.