Rumour has it that Ricoh is considering an expansion of the Pentax K-3 Mark III product line by adding a monochrome camera as well as an ‘Astro’ variant.
It might seem strange to release a black-and-white version of the Pentax K-3 Mark III, which would on paper appear to challenge cameras like the Leica M-10 Monochrom, but an astrophotography version makes more sense.
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The news comes from a report by Digital Camera Info, keeping track of several different online events that were held recently by Ricoh Imaging in Japan. The report shows that the Japanese outlet Ten Riff had been tweeting updates mentioned in Ricoh’s Pentax Meeting Online 2021.
It was supposedly announced in the online meeting that Ricoh is “considering a derivative model of the K-3 Mark III equipped with a monochrome sensor… K-3 Mark III Monochrome: uses a monochrome sensor without a color bayer filter… Achieves natural resolution and noise-like image quality without bayer complementation”.
The translated tweets may not convey a perfect description, but it is evident that a lot of thought has gone into the design of these potential models. Further tweets tell us that “Pentax [Ricoh] is considering a model for astronomical objects ‘K3 Mark III Astro’… to prevent infrared voyeurism? It is a premise to make a pledge that ‘it will be used only for astronomical photography… general shooting is not possible’.”
The meeting also revealed that a calibration-free update to the K-3 Mark III’s Astrotracer feature – which uses the camera’s sensor shift stabilization in tandem with an optional GPS module to shoot trail-free astrophotography – will be provided in a firmware upgrade expected in spring 2022.
The Astro model supposedly has a Hα (hydrogen-alpha) sensitivity of x10, so it’s likely that nebula will photograph well using this proposed camera. A hydrogen-alpha filter is commonly used among other filters in astrophotography kits to assist in photographing deep sky objects in what’s called true-color or broadband.
Here’s hoping that Ricoh will officially announce these new progressive models in the coming months, but we should probably practice our backyard astrophotography in the meantime.
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