Ricoh Pentax, the company that everyone loves to hate for no good reason, could be gearing up to release a new camera, and deep down, I hope it’s the Pentax K-1 III.
Ricoh is, without a doubt, the most polarizing camera manufacturer on the planet. This company splits photographers down the middle because they insist that DSLRs aren’t dead. I, for one, still love DSLRs, and I’m thrilled that the company is sticking to its beliefs rather than being bullied into jumping into the world of mirrorless cameras. While mirrorless cameras are great, DSLRs still have their pros, and there’s still plenty of life left in the technology, which is why I hope we will see a Pentax K-1 III.
We saw this with the release of the Pentax K3-III in 2021. The APS-C camera from Pentax (read our full review here) blew us away with its new SAFOX 13 autofocus system. This DSLR AF system allowed eye tracking in the optical viewfinder and enhanced overall tracking. The K-3 III also performed miracles in low-light situations and has some of the best ergonomics of any recent camera.
The dedication to K-3 III proves that Ricoh is fully committed to DSLRs. This gives me hope that, at some point, we will see a successor to one of the most underrated cameras, the Pentax K-1 II. Of course, this is a long shot, but a recent patent filing for a new Ricoh battery charger (shared by Pentax Rumors) suggests that a new camera could be coming. This filing could mean many things, and I know I’m reaching here. However, I hope that it, along with the slew of new and re-released full-frame lenses, means that 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 about my love of Pentax cameras, and in particular, the Pentax K-1 II, many times. So yes, this article is a way for me to self-indulge a little about a camera that I dream about; the Pentax K-1 III. Ask anyone who has used the Pentax K-1 or K-1 II how they feel about the camera, and they will tell you the same thing. It’s one of the best full-frame cameras that you can buy for the money. At under $2,000, the K-1 II is an absolute bargain.
The Pentax K-1 packed a 36.4-megapixel sensor, IBIS, great weather sealing, excellent ergonomics, a big, bright pentaprism viewfinder, two card slots, a self-leveling sensor, Astrotracer and Pixel Shift technology. The K1-II built upon this by packing a beefed-up processor that improved autofocus speeds. The K-1 II also added hand-held pixel shift modes. The RAW files that the K-1 and K-1 III produce are spectacular, too. You can push, pull and manipulate them to your hearts’ content. Check out what Mattias Burling had to say about the files here.
The K-1 could do it all
For many creators, especially landscape, astrophotographers, and portrait photographers, the K-1 and K-1 II are the perfect cameras. While they weren’t known for their speed, they could certainly be used for action photography if you knew what you were doing.
For example, check out the images I captured above during a behind-the-scenes Blue Angles event. I also used the K-1 II for wildlife and sports photography too. There’s every reason to think that the potential Pentax K-1 III would only improve upon the K-1 II.
What I’d like to see in the Pentax K-1 III
I’m sure my wishlist for the Pentax K-1 III is different from the wishlist of many others. Still, I imagine I wouldn’t be alone in wanting a higher megapixel sensor. The K-1 II used an excellent 36.4 megapixel sensor. It was very similar to the sensor found in the Nikon D810. 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 should also feature the new blazing-fast SAFOX 13 autofocus system. Aside from the Nikon D500, the K-3 III has the best DSLR autofocus system I have used. Building upon this system for a full-frame sensor should be high on the to-do list for Ricoh.
One of the biggest weaknesses of the K-1 II was live view mode. An enhanced live view mode with better peaking for manual focusing old M42 and K mount lenses would be a great addition to the Pentax K-1 III. I hope that Ricoh decides to use an articulating screen, too. The fixed rear LCD on the K-3 III made my old legs suffer. However, I hope it’s a true tilting screen instead of the unique articulating screen found on the K-1 and K-1 II. Faster burst rates (the K-1 II topped out at 4fps) and improved hand-held Pixel Shift modes would be nice, too.
Keeping and improving unique features such as the self-leveling sensor, GPS and Astrotracer, the digital anti-aliasing filter, and 5-axis IBIS should be a no-brainer. These features set the K-1 II apart from every other DSLR on the market. In fact, some of these features are still unmatched in today’s mirrorless cameras.
Perhaps Ricoh could add focusing features like Starry AF and Live Composite that are 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, too. The K-1 II could only rattle off roughly 600 shots 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 grip on to when it comes to new gear. One thing for sure is that the Pentax K-1 II is due for an update. The K-1 was launched in 2016, and the K-1 II in 2018. A lot has changed in six years, so there’s a lot Ricoh could do 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 will see one soon? Should Ricoh forget DSLRs and move on to mirrorless? Let us know in the comment section below.