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06-19-2022, 08:35 AM - 7 Likes   #1
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K5iis Tribute / My Experience Migrating from FF to APS-C & Back to FF

TLDR: I don't think I ever got used to the smaller viewfinder of the APS-C bodies coming from bright FF/film SLR ones like on the Nikon F4/F90. Consider trying out the K1/K1ii/K3iii before nailing an older Pentax body purchase if you're crossing over from 35mm film SLRs. You've got these options to explore now in 2022.


Snappiness released a new video recently about the K5iis:



It rekindled many memories as this was my first proper DSLR making the transition from film SLRs. (Great video snappiness if you're reading this!)


I think it is now appropriate (as typing this still feels raw as my K5iis kit was stolen in a break in - this included the DA 18-135mm and 50mm f1.4 Takumar back in Q3 2019) to share some of my thoughts and photos as a reference point for anyone who might be read this for posterity and trying to decided on the K7/5 body based series of cameras - especially the K5iis.


Like many others, I always thought that the K5iis would be a keeper till the end and the video Snappiness did touched on pretty much all the points why I chose this particular entry point into the Pentax ecosystem. Pentax weather sealing was already well known but the K5iis was a cut above the rest of its stable mates from Nikon/Canon/Sony etc. utilising the same Sony 16.3 CMOS sensor especially in dynamic range/DxO scores.

Fuelled by this sense of loss and nostalgia, I went through my old archive of photos taken on the K5iis and was astonished by the appallingly low keeper rate (by my own standards):
  • Especially compared with what I have taken in 35mm film.
  • The images below represent a chronological sequence of notable 'keepers' between 2014-2021.
  • All photos taken with the DA 18-55 WR kit lens except,
  • Puddle reflection & father christmas figurine/idol (50mm f1.4 Takumar)
  • Red Arrows flyby (50-200mm)
  • The peacock was from the last 'roll' of images (DA 50-135mm WR) before the theft.

I tried to make sense of this outcome as the digital camera body did remove the restriction of shooting on a single ISO/image setting within a single body (I used to tote around two 35mm film bodies with ISO400/ISO800 or Trivex/Negative) and a lot of on-site anxiety about rain and moisture with a weather sealed system. By 2018, I have had my 35mm film SLR equivalent in focal length/reach replicated albeit in weather sealed form.


With the lost of the K5iis kit, I became compelled me to move to my eventual current kit consisting of the K1ii and just 2 lenses (DFA* 50mm f1.4 and 70-200 f2.8) and then it started becoming clear that I've been using the K1ii more than the K5iis in the entire duration of ownership between 2014-2021 (even through I've the K1 kit for barely 2 quarters).

It only hit me after finishing snappiness' video that all these years I was never truly comfortable with the smaller K5iis viewfinder:
  • From the outset - I would ask myself before packing for a trip if I would choose the Nikon F4 over the K5iis between 2014-2015.
  • I kept getting smudges on my glasses as I was always trying to push my eye ever closer to my glasses closer to the viewfinder.
  • Went to great lengths to obtain the hard to find (in my region then) O-ME53 magnifier eye cup but to no avail.
  • I would almost always reach for the smartphone instead of the K5iis even though it was in my backpack.
I guess sometimes, it does take some form of loss or letting go on your part to realise that you have moved on to something better.
  • I found myself at the crossroads of moving from film towards digital with the catalyst event of my nearby CVS removing their film processing machines circa 2013; the K5iis simply presented the best confluence of what I could afford and punching way above its weight for the money - but again that was in 2013.
  • I was stuck in the mentality of the K5iis being a significant investment back in 2014 on the budget of a college student - essentially the sunk-cost fallacy at play.
  • Thus, I could have evaluated my position back in the start of 2016 when it was announced objectively.
  • The almost natural switch from the K5iis to the K1ii does stand testament to the viewfinder issue above.
  • I now reach for the K1ii instead of the smartphone even with the substantially heavier DFA* lenses.
Goodbye K5iis. I hope you will make even greater memories whomever you end up with - perhaps I'll still see pictures from you in this part of the forums...

P.S. If anyone's interested - the hand painted out-of-box build of the 1/72 P-51D Mustang 'Lollipoop II' I made was an Airfix - A01004. It's a very fine kit if I might say so myself.

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Last edited by quillasophink; 06-19-2022 at 10:31 AM.
06-19-2022, 10:04 AM - 3 Likes   #2
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The thought of using all my SMC DA Limited primes on one of these keeps crossing my mind, but in the end, I keep resisting. The lack of KAF4 compatibility & no focus peaking in live view keeps me from getting one. I got spoiled. Hahaha!

I still think that the K-5IIs is hands down the best DSLR for slow, get all the details photography. With a set of AF fine tuned primes like the DA Limiteds or the standard primes, one can get some insanely good images out of it with smaller file sizes. One can easily get a very nice looking 30x45 print out of it.
06-19-2022, 10:14 AM   #3
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Nice tribute to the K-5IIs - I enjoyed that... thanks for posting

Honestly, I've never found the smaller viewfinder in APS-C cameras (prior to the K-3III) especially limiting - at least, not for AF use. Although I wear glasses, I don't use them while shooting, and I have the O-ME53 magnified eyecup fitted to almost all of the numerous K-mount DSLRs I own, which helps with manual focus to some extent - though it's still nowhere near as dependable as an SLR's split-prism focus screen. I'd love to try the new K-3III, as the viewfinder in that isn't much different in size to the K-1 (I believe). It'll be interesting to see if Ricoh uses a similar design in the K-1II replacement further down the road.

I had a good keeper rate with my own K-5 once I'd AF-fine-tuned all lenses using a proper test target and tripod. Having said that, my requirements were (and still are) quite undemanding. When using PDAF, most of my shots utilised AF.S rather than AF.C, with static or slow-moving subjects, centre AF point only in the majority of cases (using focus and recompose for off-centre subjects), taken in reasonable-to-good natural light or non-tungsten artificial lighting. My keeper rate improved after switching to back-button focusing, but even before that it was satisfactory. I get the same kind of keeper rate with my older bodies too, so I guess it's down to the subjects I'm shooting. As I said, I'm not a very demanding user where AF is concerned

Glad to hear you're enjoying your K-1II (a fine camera indeed), and good to see you can look back fondly on the K-5IIs

Last edited by BigMackCam; 06-19-2022 at 02:35 PM.
06-19-2022, 10:48 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by The Squirrel Mafia Quote
The thought of using all my SMC DA Limited primes on one of these keeps crossing my mind, but in the end, I keep resisting. The lack of KAF4 compatibility & no focus peaking in live view keeps me from getting one. I got spoiled. Hahaha!

I still think that the K-5IIs is hands down the best DSLR for slow, get all the details photography. With a set of AF fine tuned primes like the DA Limiteds or the standard primes, one can get some insanely good images out of it with smaller file sizes. One can easily get a very nice looking 30x45 print out of it.
Indeed - snappiness has got the right idea in the opening shot of his video - having the 100mm Macro mated to his K5iis.

I can't seem to remember which lens this picture was taken with (likely the 18-55mm kit as it would have been too wide with the 50mm Takumar). Yes I bought two D1s and gutted one of them down just out of curiosity...it was 9USD per piece on eBay...

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06-19-2022, 01:37 PM   #5
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I just sold my k5iis ( for a 2nd time) The thing I like the most about it is the size. It is truly a compact camera, smaller than the K-3 and nearly as small as the K-70 and not much heavier. That being said, the k3iii is such an amazing camera that I did not feel the need for my K-3 or the K-5iis (or the K-70 for that matter). I still have my K01 which has a similar sensor but with an AA filter if I need to go with a 15mp sensor. If I need to go smaller, I use my Fuji xt series cameras.
06-19-2022, 02:53 PM - 3 Likes   #6
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And inside the K1ii is a K5ivs.
So the K5 is still alive but like me a bit bigger in the body. ,😁
06-19-2022, 10:42 PM - 5 Likes   #7
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I still have my K5IIs - I use it for timelapse work these days. Coming from the Pentax K7 with its rather heavy handed AA filter, the K5IIs quickly became my pentax wildlife camera of choice.




Pentax K5IIs - Sigma 100-300mm f/4 APO EX



Pentax K5IIs - Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 11mm




Pentax K5IIs - Sigma 100-300mm f/4 APO EX



Pentax K5IIs Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 @ 28mm f/1.8


Pentax K5IIs - Sigma 100-300mm f/4 APO EX



Pentax K5IIs - SMCP-FA77mm f/1.8 Limited


Pentax K5IIs - Sigma 180mm f/3.5 APO EX


The keeper rate I had was quite decent, though there have been instances with the K5IIs where I reviewed the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 - and experienced the most perplexing AF issues.

06-20-2022, 06:50 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Great write up. Since I never owned the camera before it has been less of revisiting a camera and more of experiencing the camera I had always wanted but never had the chance to get. I jumped from the K200D to the K-3. I think the K-3 probably is still the better camera, but the k-5iis is no slouch and I think would've performed just as admirably for me. But everyone knows my OG K-3 is my favorite camera of all time

QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Nice tribute to the K-5IIs - I enjoyed that... thanks for posting

Honestly, I've never found the smaller viewfinder in APS-C cameras (prior to the K-3III) especially limiting - at least, not for AF use. Although I wear glasses, I don't use them while shooting, and I have the O-ME53 magnified eyecup fitted to almost all of the numerous K-mount DSLRs I own, which helps with manual focus to some extent - though it's still nowhere near as dependable as an SLR's split-prism focus screen. I'd love to try the new K-3III, as the viewfinder in that isn't much different in size to the K-1 (I believe). It'll be interesting to see if Ricoh uses a similar design in the K-1II replacement further down the road.

I had a good keeper rate with my own K-5 once I'd AF-fine-tuned all lenses using a proper test target and tripod. Having said that, my requirements were (and still are) quite undemanding. When using PDAF, most of my shots utilised AF.S rather than AF.C, with static or slow-moving subjects, centre AF point only in the majority of cases (using focus and recompose for off-centre subjects), taken in reasonable-to-good natural light or non-tungsten artificial lighting. My keeper rate improved after switching to back-button focusing, but even before that it was satisfactory. I get the same kind of keeper rate with my older bodies too, so I guess it's down to the subjects I'm shooting. As I said, I'm not a very demanding user where AF is concerned

Glad to hear you're enjoying your K-1II (a fine camera indeed), and good to see you can look back fondly on the K-5IIs
This has been my experience with the viewfinders as well. I bought the K-3 III back in January and have been rocking it ever since, but I just haven't found the viewfinder upgrade to be that big of a deal. This is going to be highly personal, so I appreciate that others will have different opinions. But like you, I have never felt like the older APS-C bodies had small viewfinders. 100% coverage, decent magnification. If I hold my K-3iii to my eye and then the k-5 and then back there's a clear difference - don't get me wrong. But when I pick up the camera out in the field it's never once felt like it's enhanced anything.

That wasn't supposed to come out negative I think it's really cool that they built such a technically amazing viewfinder, and for some I've heard it's helped a lot. And if you're going to stick with DSLRs, better make the best dang OVF.

As for AF, I am pleasantly surprised with my K5iis. As long as there's sufficient light it's been snappy. I included shots of my kids on the swings to try to help illustrate that. That's one of my tests for any camera I try, and many cameras can't keep up with a kid on a swing. That was with the Pentax-F 100mm f2.8 macro too. Not exactly a fast AF lens. The big difference was when light levels drop, and then it just hunts like crazy. That's just an area that's really improved over the years I guess. Depends what you like to photograph as to whether that's a big deal or doesn't matter at all.

QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
I still have my K5IIs - I use it for timelapse work these days. Coming from the Pentax K7 with its rather heavy handed AA filter, the K5IIs quickly became my pentax wildlife camera of choice.

The keeper rate I had was quite decent, though there have been instances with the K5IIs where I reviewed the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 - and experienced the most perplexing AF issues.
Really lovely pics. Shows off what the camera is capable of in the right hands

I really like the camera. I wish I had a big trip coming up so I could really show off what it can do with landscapes. But there's plenty of old pictures taken with the camera for people to see.
06-20-2022, 09:49 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Snapppy Quote
Great write up. Since I never owned the camera before it has been less of revisiting a camera and more of experiencing the camera I had always wanted but never had the chance to get. I jumped from the K200D to the K-3. I think the K-3 probably is still the better camera, but the k-5iis is no slouch and I think would've performed just as admirably for me. But everyone knows my OG K-3 is my favorite camera of all time



This has been my experience with the viewfinders as well. I bought the K-3 III back in January and have been rocking it ever since, but I just haven't found the viewfinder upgrade to be that big of a deal. This is going to be highly personal, so I appreciate that others will have different opinions. But like you, I have never felt like the older APS-C bodies had small viewfinders. 100% coverage, decent magnification. If I hold my K-3iii to my eye and then the k-5 and then back there's a clear difference - don't get me wrong. But when I pick up the camera out in the field it's never once felt like it's enhanced anything.

That wasn't supposed to come out negative I think it's really cool that they built such a technically amazing viewfinder, and for some I've heard it's helped a lot. And if you're going to stick with DSLRs, better make the best dang OVF.

As for AF, I am pleasantly surprised with my K5iis. As long as there's sufficient light it's been snappy. I included shots of my kids on the swings to try to help illustrate that. That's one of my tests for any camera I try, and many cameras can't keep up with a kid on a swing. That was with the Pentax-F 100mm f2.8 macro too. Not exactly a fast AF lens. The big difference was when light levels drop, and then it just hunts like crazy. That's just an area that's really improved over the years I guess. Depends what you like to photograph as to whether that's a big deal or doesn't matter at all.



Really lovely pics. Shows off what the camera is capable of in the right hands

I really like the camera. I wish I had a big trip coming up so I could really show off what it can do with landscapes. But there's plenty of old pictures taken with the camera for people to see.
In the now somewhat hazy memory of owning the K5iis, I’ve never quite experienced the AF hunting behaviour with the 18-55mm and 18-135mm?! Always thought it was a bit of an urban legend…

The lenses I did have hunting present itself was oddly enough actually the 40mm limited and 15mm limited…do any of you have this experience?

I always felt that the 18-135mm was a match made in heaven for the K5iis. My keeper rate drastically increased after especially with the more silent AF.
06-20-2022, 10:20 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by quillasophink Quote
The lenses I did have hunting present itself was oddly enough actually the 40mm limited
I've never had problems with the HD DA40 hunting, but my copy at least has what I believe is a tendency to overshoot when the camera makes AF adjustments, only when using PDAF through the viewfinder. There's absolutely no play in the mechanism, so it's not that, but it doesn't happen in Live View where focusing is slower. I have a theory that the speed of the screw drive combine with minimal mass of the barrel - and hence little resistance - is resulting in overshoot. It's very minor, only really affects close range, shallow depth-of-field shots, and most folks probably wouldn't notice. It's minor enough that it doesn't bother me too much, as in most other aspects it's an awesome little lens...
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