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V. User Interface

Handling the camera as if it were an extension of your body

Masahiro Inazuka

Masahiro Inazuka

Leader of K-3 Mark III Development

Shinichiro Sanada

Shinichiro Sanada

Mechanical Designer

“Just hold the camera and release the shutter:
you’ll feel the comfort delivered by this epoch-making camera.”

Great operability with the eye on the viewfinder

Inazuka:I believe that one of the most distinctive features of PENTAX SLR cameras is their ability to stir up the photographer’s imagination and creativity, and capture highly personal images, just by looking into the optical viewfinder.

With the PENTAX K-3 Mark III, we paid special attention to its operation system that lets the user complete a most camera control and mode/function-setting operation without needing to take the eye off the viewfinder.

Most of the buttons, levers and switches likely to be used during photo shooting are positioned within easy reach of fingers, while the photographer’s hand remains on the camera grip. This layout achieves a high level of operability — so much so that the photographer can handle the camera as if it were a part of the body, and without effort.

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The addition of an AF point selector lever

Sanada:To make the PENTAX K-3 Mark III a camera worthy to be the APS-C-format flagship model, we increased the number of AF points and expanded the AF coverage area, while upgrading the image tracking performance. To make the best use of these new features, we also incorporated a lever used exclusively for focus-point control, for the first time in the PENTAX K series.

In past models, the four-way controller performed the dual role: to shift the focus point, and to set various factors such as the white-balance level and the Custom Image mode. But the new lever allows for direct, intuitive control of the focus point. Since the lever is designed to be an independent control device, it allows the user to instantly set the camera back to the shooting mode, while the menu is still displayed on the LCD panel.

Inazuka:For menu-setting operations, we added a new touch-screen panel to the four-way controller and front/rear electronic dials — a conventional combination featured in past K-series models. We believe that this new control system helps users to clearly distinguish menu-setting functions used during viewfinder shooting from those used for playback and editing of captured images.

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The advancement of Smart Function

Inazuka:Another notable feature of the camera’s operation system is use of a control button for the selection of Smart Function options. In the previous system, the user had to select the desired function from several preprogrammed choices, then finalize the change using the setting dial.

By adopting pushbutton operation for Smart Function selection, the user can preprogram a maximum of five desired functions from a total of 22 options, then instantly recall one of these preprogrammed functions via the electronic dial.

Sanada: We took painstaking efforts to determine the placement of the new Smart Function button, because it must be positioned in the ideal spot for easy reach of the right-hand index finger during shooting, so that the photographer can concentrate on picture-taking. We also designed the shape and determined the amount of protrusion with great care, to make it clearly distinguishable from the ISO and exposure compensation buttons.

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Optimizing the camera’s responsiveness quality control

Inazuka:We made some last-minute adjustments to optimize the camera’s responsiveness quality control, which would determine the shape and layout of the camera grip and control buttons to assure optimal comfort during photo shooting.

Over the years, we had developed our own database using various SLR models, by collecting camera-related data such as the hand size, photo-shooting posture, and viewfinder-viewing style of PENTAX employees.

When we started developing this camera, we selected 10 of the most devoted members, who were then assigned the task of evaluating the layout of the grip and control buttons using a mock-up.

Sanada: This select group provided the advantage of a short-term, repetitive cycle of mock-up production, evaluation and feedback. These members were the keenest photo enthusiasts among all PENTAX employees, so we were confident that their opinions were valid and trustworthy. Although some of their comments sounded somewhat intuitive, a group of specialists, including myself, were engaged in the analysis of affecting factors to find the best solutions. We then moved onto producing a new mock-up for another cycle of evaluation.

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Improving comfort during photo shooting

Sanada: To ensure maximum comfort for the photographer during photo shooting, we decided to use a leaf switch, which assured a lighter, crisper shutter-release stroke than any other K-series model.

We worked on reducing the reaction time of the shutter mechanism, while minimizing the impact noise of inner drive mechanisms — the sound clearly noticeable in past models — to make a pleasant shutter-release sound without annoying noise. As the result, the PENTAX K-3 Mark III provides a sharp, crisp shutter-release stroke.

Inazuka:We also used a leaf switch in the vertical-position battery grip, another step in working to assure a pleasant, comfortable shutter-release stroke, just as for the camera body.

This optional battery grip also features the Smart Function button and the focus-point lever, to further improve the functionality and operability of the PENTAX K-3 Mark III imaging system. By installing this grip, the user can comfortably and effortlessly handle the camera in both horizontal and vertical orientation.

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Structural drawing of leaf switch
Structural drawing of leaf switch

In conclusion

Inazuka:Many of the main features of legacy PENTAX camera products have been fine-tuned in the PENTAX K-3 Mark III.

Just hold the camera and release the shutter: you’ll immediately understand the comfort delivered by this epoch-making camera.

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