While Nikon and Canon are the most popular DSLR manufacturers, Ricoh/Pentax shouldn't be overlooked--they're continuing to prove their worth with the introduction of the Pentax K-3 II, a high-end APS-C DSLR that offers improved autofocus speed and Pixel Shift Resolution for still life images.
One of the biggest perks to choosing a Pentax DSLR is the weather-sealing. The K-3 II can't go diving without extra housing, but it won't have any problems in the rain and can also handle dust, sand and cold better than a non-sealed option. Factor in the magnesium alloy construction and the K-3 II is a pretty sturdy shooter. Since it's the flagship for Pentax's APS-C DSLRs, it also features dual control wheels, two memory card slots and a secondary screen at the top.
The original K-3 piqued our interest with an anti-alliasing filter that can be turned on and off, the K-3 II appears to have just eliminated the filter entirely to achieve the enhanced detail. The K-3 II has the same resolution, but it also adds what Pentax is calling Pixel Shift Resolution. In simple terms, this mode combines four separate images into one to achieve a higher resolution than a single image. It can't be used with moving subjects (which also means it requires a tripod), but looks like it could be beneficial in product photography, for example.
The Pentax K-3 II also adds sensor shift image stabilization, with this system, Pentax says camera shake is held off for up to 4.5 more stops than before. The 27-point autofocus system is now faster in this model as well. GPS, gyro sensor panning detection and automatic horizon correction are also new additions.
While there's a handful of new features, the K-3 II is building on what was already a pretty solid set of features. Images can be captured in a 8.3 fps burst mode, that with the faster autofocus will be good for shooting sports and other action. The top shutter speed of 1/8000 and top ISO of 51200 is excellent as well.
Pentax is a bit quirkier than other brands, but that weather-sealing plus a still solid set of features makes this a tempting choice. The Canon EOS Rebel T6s is currently about $200 cheaper, but has a slower shutter speed and burst mode, and doesn't have the weather sealing. The Nikon D7200 is closer in price and speed and offers more autofocus points, as well as weather sealing.
The Pentax K-3 II's weather-sealing is going to be a big perk for shooting wildlife and other outdoor subjects, and the new pixel shift resolution makes it a good option for product photography too.