Well, this is a bit of an odd announcement. Although, perhaps Pentax sees themselves as being to DSLRs what Leica is to rangefinders… and then it makes total sense. Either way, Pentax has announced a new monochrome version of the Pentax K-3 Mark III DSLR. It appears to be like the standard Pentax K-3 Mark III in almost every way, except that there’s no Bayer filter array over the sensor.
Despite lacking a colour filter, it uses a same resolution 25.7-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor. It does see the ISO increased a stop, though, as there’s no light lost in the absence of the colour filter. Removing the filter also means there’s no chroma noise. There are also none of the camera’s usual colour modes. Instead, it offers processing modes, allowing for options such as high or low-contrast photography.
On the outside, the Pentax K-3 III Mono looks pretty much identical to the standard Pentax K-3 III. The only real exceptions are that the Pentax logo is grey instead of white and it has “Monochrome” written above the LCD on the rear of the camera. Its APS-C-sized sensor is still capable of capturing the same resolution of 25.73-megapixel images, but without the colour filter, the images should tend to be much cleaner and more detailed.
One other exterior change that isn’t as obvious is that the backlight colour of the LCD on top has been changed to a white colour. The information it displays, however, remains identical to the functionality of the original Pentax K-3 III.
The concept of a monochrome-specific digital SLR camera attracted a great deal of attention and interest from photographers who participated in an online fan event held in November 2021. PENTAX has since conducted extensive research on the development of a commercial product based on this concept and we’re excited to announce it today.
– Ken Curry, President, Ricoh Imaging Americas
It’s nice that Pentax isn’t completely ignoring their customers in a world where they’re literally the only company still making DSLRs. But I wonder what Pentax hopes to achieve with this camera. Are they just looking to add value to the product range for existing Pentax customers in case they want to buy one? Or are they hoping it’s priced enough below Leica’s monochrome camera to attract new users to the system and away from other camera manufacturers?
I think the latter is unlikely, although I suspect some photographers from other manufacturers may buy one of these in addition to their regular kit for specific purposes, even if not as a replacement for it. I have to admit, the idea of shooting some 4K video with a monochrome sensor is quite appealing for certain shots. It sure should beat the quality of standard Bayer array footage converted to mono.
The Pentax K-3 III Monochrome will available to pre-order at the usual outlets from late April, with an MSRP of $2,199 ($200 more than the standard model MSRP).
Would mono make you buy a Pentax?