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Ricoh, makers of Pentax DSLRs, just announced a new flagship DSLR. This professional models features a 24 megapixels APS-C CMOS sensor without anti-alias-filter. This sensor is mounted on a revised Shake Reduction mechanism which claims up to 4.5 stops of stabilization, one more than the previous flagship. Just like on the predecessor, this same SR system is used to provide Automatic Horizon Correction, Composition Shift and Anti-Alias Simulation.

Pentax K-3 II

The new Pentax K-3 II forgoes a built-in flash in favor of a GPS, including digital compass and high-precision gyroscope. This introduces the ASTROTRACER feature right into the camera body, allowing for trail-less astrophotography which normally requires an expensive and heavy tracking mount. The GPS is less power-hungry than a built-in flash, so battery like of the K-3 II reaches 720 shots-per-charge instead of the rather-short 560 of its predecessor.

The main specifications of the Pentax K-3 II remain equally impressive as those of the original K-3. It has a fully weather-sealed and freezeproof body with a large 0.95X magnification 100% coverage OVF and numerous direct controls, including dual control-dials. The body remains nearly identical which is has one of the most ergonomic and intuitive layout of any digital camera.

The 24 megapixels APS-C sensor may be the same as its predecessor or may be a revised unit. Along with the new SR and gyro-sensors, it offers a new feature called Pixel Shift Resolution. This lets the camera take a series of 4 images shifted by one sub-pixel which are combined into a single image with full color information at each photosite. This augments color but not special resolution and will obviously be problematic for moving subjects, just like any multi-image technique. However, still scenes would result in improved imagery with greater color-accuracy.

We can only hope the new sensor performs better at high ISO than its predecessor as it is lagging behind recent 24 MP APS-C cameras and never matched the output of the 16 MP Pentax K-5 IIs reviwed here, still the leading low-light APS-C sensor camera. Neocamera intends to publish a comparison review as soon as a Pentax K-3 II is made available to us.

General availability of the Pentax K-3 II is expected next month for a suggested retail price of $1099 USD or $1299 CDN. Adorama and B&H Photo are already accepting pre-orders.

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