Pentax K-3 Mark III Monochrome Edition
April 2023, Carl Garrard
What is so special about the K-3 III Monochrome to me, is that it is the first production level DSLR with a color filter array removed from the sensor from any manufacturer. But further, this camera is so capable already that it opens up many new doors and windows to photography that other production level Monochrome only cameras have not. One of the big reasons I have avoided keeping them in my arsenal for any longer than a trial period. Not with this camera!
Sure there are some third party options out there that have services able to remove the CFA off of your standard camera, but those are expensive options and they void the warranty of the camera the same way modifications to your vehicle void your cars' warranty. You are throwing a hail Mary pass handing over your expensive equipment to a third party company to do this work on your camera. That's some gamble to me. But a production run camera like this has a warranty and peace of mind, and that to me at least, holds great value. On top of that...
There is more icing on the cake than a third party option can offer.
One is that the exterior is customized to denote it's specialty. A very classy touch by Ricoh and might I add that they nailed it. The K-3 Mark III is already a handsome camera (my Jet Black version is to die for), but I think this version may be the most handsome looking version to date (or any other DSLR for that matter).
Secondly, Ricoh has added custom image tuning specifically for Jpeg shooters so you can get the best looking Jpegs right out of camera. There are no longer color options so the menu's are a bit simplified- again adding to the appeal of this model by strictly adhering to the design philosophy.
One of the technical changes of the K-3 III Monochrome that is important to note, is it's minimum ISO setting. It has changed from ISO 100 to 200. This is because removing the CFA allows about one stop of light to hit the sensor that would have been previously blocked out by the CFA. So full dynamic range and tonality is now available at ISO 200. If they add a 100 option in the future with firmware, that will then have to be a "push" ISO setting with slightly less image quality than a 200 setting. Another advantage is less noise and cleaner ISO settings than the previous model. The K-3 II was already a full framer contender this way, but now this model clearly brings it into full frame territory in terms of comparable image quality, and actually out-performs many full frame models.
The benefits of shooting Monochrome only are well documented. Not only are there image quality benefits, but shooting Monochrome only will strongly encourage improvements on technique in composition, lighting, and subject framing. I relate this advantage to how it feels to shoot a prime lens only vs. a zoom. The photographer will think more, thus leveraging the advantages of the fundamentals of photography to become a better photographer.
Lastly, shooting with a Monochrome only camera adds value to a photographers portfolio- in that they are bringing something unique to their clients that many other photographers do not. Sure there are black and white only photographers out there, but none have ever used a production level black and while only DSLR for their work. This fills a much needed and ignored niche for stills photographers that they have had on a wish list for over two decades.
Congratulations to Ricoh for again thinking outside of the box and doing something other manufacturers do not have the courage to produce. If you are interested in more, you can pre-order here as well as get more fine details.