Over the next few weeks, I’m going to take a look at each camera brand and dive into their current lineup of cameras. The aim is to help you decide which system and which camera is right for you. We’re going to start with Ricoh and Pentax cameras as they’re the most misunderstood platforms out there.

I’ll preface this by saying that I have used Ricoh and Pentax cameras for many years. When I was younger, I shot 35mm film with a K1000 and a Pentax Espio 160! Cameras from Ricoh/Pentax have come a long way since then. More recently, I have owned and shot with the Pentax Q7, the K1-II, the K-S2, the K3-III and many other Pentax cameras.

Today, Pentax and Ricoh have a very diverse lineup of cameras that includes both mirrorless and DSLRs and sensors that range from APS-C to 645 medium format. Here’s just a few of the images I’ve photographed over the years with Ricoh and Pentax cameras:

The Ricoh and Pentax cameras available today are feature-packed, built like tanks, and have incredible sensors. The K mount and 645AF mounts have more than enough lenses to satisfy the needs of modern photographers. In fact, Pentax Limited and Star lenses are some of the best you’ll ever use. It’s a shame that so many photographers overlook Pentax cameras.

Pentax cameras are incredible tools of the trade that will help anyone grow and create gorgeous images. Using Pentax cameras is an experience. The perfectly sculpted grips to the gorgeous pentaprism viewfinders and controls that keep you out of the menus, all of these things lead to a great experience when using them. They’re photographers’ cameras through and through. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at five Ricoh and Pentax cameras for every type of photographer.

For the beginner — Pentax K-70

Photo by John Bradford

Out of all the Pentax cameras listed here, the K-70 is the best pick for new photographers. At under $550, you’d be hard-pressed to find a camera with as many features as the K-70. In true Pentax style, the K-70 features incredible ergonomics, dust, freeze, and weather-resistant construction, and IBIS. It’s also small, light, and easy to manage.

There’s a fully articulating 3-inch LCD, and the 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor produces gorgeous images and it offers a ton of dynamic range. The Pentaprism viewfinder offers 100% coverage, and with the optional GPS unit, the K-70 can track the stars with Astrotracer. This is a DSLR that you’ll be able to grow with easily. Still not sure? Check out this real-world review of the Pentax K-70.

For the street photographer — Ricoh GR III

For street photographers, it doesn’t get much better than the Ricoh GR III. This pocket powerhouse features an incredible 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor, a 28mm f/2.8 equivalent lens, and image stabilization. Impressive for a camera that can easily slip into the pocket of your jeans. I took the GR III for a spin and said:

“The Ricoh GR III is a solid camera for street photographers and those who like photo walking with minimal gear. The Snap Focus feature alone makes this camera brilliant. Add in its small size, IBIS and other features, and you have a very capable camera.”

Brett Day

For less than $900, you’re going to get a pocket-size camera that packs a massive punch. Autofocus is rapid, snap focus is one of the best features I’ve ever used, the camera is comfortable to hold and use for long periods, and the image quality — especially the JPEGs — are sublime. It’s a camera that can go pretty much anywhere. You’ll never want to leave home without it.

For wildlife and sports photographers — Pentax K-3 III

pentax cameras

The latest in the lineup of Pentax cameras is the K-3 III. While critics out there will moan and complain about it being a DSLR (get over it), this camera is seriously impressive. The K3-III is quite possibly the most ergonomically pleasing camera I have ever held. It packs enough tech to please and who can argue with the gorgeous optical viewfinder. In our recent review, we said:

“The K-3 III is perfect for landscapes, wildlife, sports, and even street/documentary photography. The Pentax K-3 III is rugged, ergonomically sound, feature-packed, and the image quality is fantastic. When paired up with Pentax Limited or Star series lenses, images from the Pentax K-3 III delight!”

Brett Day

This 25.7-megapixel APS-C camera boasts 5-axis IBIS, a responsive touchscreen, a self-leveling sensor, an excellent live view mode, two SD card slots and fantastic high ISO performance. 12 frames per second burst modes and the new and improved SAFOX 13 autofocus systems make it perfect for fast-paced genres like wildlife, birding, and sports. The K3-III has tons of weather sealing too. Pair this camera up with the DA* 300mm f/4 or the Pentax D FA 150-450mm f/4.5-5.6 and you’ll have a winning combo.

For portrait, landscape photographers — Pentax K-1 II

pentax cameras

This was my camera of choice for years. Yes, the camera is a chonk. Yes, the floor would break if you dropped it. However, this full-frame camera with a wonderful 36-megapixel sensor never let me down. I used this camera for countless portrait shoots, landscape sessions, events, astrophotography, and more. I’ve used hundreds of cameras, but the RAW files from the K1-II make my jaw hit the floor more than any other RAW files.

Pentax crammed a ton of tech goodies into the K-1 II. There’s 5-axis IBIS, a self-leveling sensor, hi-res picture modes and Astrotracer, which moves the sensor to account for the earth’s rotation. There are two cards slots, a unique tilting screen, incredible ergonomics, great battery life and the best weather sealing you’ll find on any camera. Period. It’s not the fastest camera in terms of autofocus, but for its intended audience, it delivers more than enough performance. This is one of the best Pentax cameras ever made.

For landscapes and fine art photography — 645Z

pentax cameras

The Pentax 645Z is the camera that started to shake up the medium format camera market. When it was launched, the Pentax 645Z was so much cheaper ($8500) than medium format cameras from Hasselblad and Phase One that cost upward of $25,000! These days, you can find the 645Z for under $5,000, which is still a bargain for such a revered digital medium format camera.

The Pentax 645Z uses a 51.4-megapixel sensor that has an Anti-Alias Filter-Less Design for maximum sharpness. It has a rugged magnesium alloy body that’s weather-sealed at 76 points. There’s a 3.2-inch 1037K dot tiltable air-gapless LCD, and it can fire at 3fps. Let’s also not forget the gorgeous Pentaprism viewfinder. This camera has a few years but it’s still one of the best Pentax cameras out there. It’s perfect for those who want to capture every detail.