UPDATE: New reports suggest that no fewer than six different versions of the Pentax K-3 Mark III are in development, including dedicated monochrome and astrophotography models.
Additional coverage of the company's online presentation, held in Japan in December 2021, indicates that the Pentax K-3 Mark III will come in six variants: one with a gunmetal finish, a version with a modified shutter release button, a manual focus version, a monochrome model, and an astro model (as reported by Pentax Rumors).
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The translated event report reveals that the jet black model will be completely black, including the logo and all engravings. The "shutter stroke change model" is designed for faster shooting with a shallower shutter stroke. The K-3 Mark III MF will be entirely dedicated to manual focus, while the gunmetal model will resemble the base color of the original K-3 Prestige Edition.
Clearly the DSLR isn't dead yet, at least as far as Pentax is concerned!
ORIGINAL STORY (02 Dec 2021): Rumor 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.
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.