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12-27-2010, 05:10 PM - 4 Likes   #1
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My K5 Experience...

Just wanted to share my experience with those considering changing from another brand who may be interested in the K-5 and Pentax in general.

As a previous Nikon and Canon user, and also having time with Olympus E series, I thought it may be useful to share what I have experienced in trying very hard to adopt Pentax as my new SLR of choice. Just want to share facts without any emotions; I really have no set loyalty to any brand, and simply enjoy photography as I have since the good old days where I learned photography with a match-needle Canon FTBn and one or two prime lenses.


Background:
I've been using a Nikon D700 since the release back in 2008. Wonderful camera. Stunning IQ and it truly is the master of low light. I changed from a Canon 5D with many L's to experience the vasty superior AF and quality zooms Nikon offered. But with this change came the weight and bulk which I have grown tired of. Most of my photography is during travel capturing the places I visit for work which range from military outposts in the Middle-East to the islands in Asiana to arctic latitudes north of 70 degrees. The Nikon has served me well but the weight and bulk were slowly becoming reasons to leave the equipment behind. When the new Sony 16 megapixel sensor was announced, with excellent low light performance, I made the decision to migrate to this new "film" and buy into one of the bodies holding this sensor. Lenses had to be good; as an old school guy it is all about the lens and film or today it is the sensor. So after what I thought was adequate research, Pentax was the choice due to the following:

- K5 had the new Sony sensor in a small, rugged body
- K5 was weather resistant
- K5 had SR which I thought would be a big plus (all lenses would benefit)
- Pentax had small, compact primes with excellent characteristics
- Pentax had small zooms also weather sealed
- Zeiss and Voigtlander had Pentax lenses as options
- Pentax prices were reasonable considering the way things are these days

So I ordered a K5 along with a number of DA primes and DA* zooms.

Why not the new D7000? As being a Nikon user I expect folks may wonder why not stay in the same system, and I struggled over this. Ultimately, the reasons for changing were 1. I had little invested in Nikon (already sold off my Nikkors at a good profit because of the yen jump); 2. the small size of the Pentax primes were attractive; and 3. the SR and true weather sealing features sounded like advantages over the D7000. I wasn't concerned over the price delta between the two bodies, and really wanted to reduce size and weight which was the reason to change.


K5 Experience:
I've already posted my first experience which was receiving a body with a large cluster (not just one) of hot pixels near the left of center in the image. Although masked out for photos, the cluster was totally visible under video so this was exchanged for another body. Wasn't really too concerned as this is to be expected - hot pixels - in every digital camera. It's more a question of how many and where they are located. Near the center was bad. New body was fine for pixels; very clean with no hot ones in video or photographs. But here is when throubles start...

AF Issues:
Yes, it seems to be a real problem with the K5 and V1.01 firmware. The K5 has trouble autofocusing in low light levels. At first I thought it was the DA* lenses I had purchased as both would heavily (I mean really severely) front focus in low light indoor shots. It was perplexing as at the time in late November there wasn't much on the net from others saying they had this problem as well. Day photos were tack sharp, and the clue to low light being a factor wasn't easy to spot at first. Tried using the AF adjust but this would only make it worse at the opposite end of the zoom range, and then would totally be off under well lit conditions. So both lenses went back for exchange (these were the 16-50mm and the 50-135mm). The replacement 16-50 came back and of course had the same focus issue, but also had another problem which I posted which was a very bad horizontal shift when changing zoom direction. The shift was about 5% of the frame. The replacement 50-135 also continued to heavily front focus indoors where the light level was lower, or incandescent as some are theorizing. Both went back and I stuck with the DA primes.

DA Primes:
Fabulous! Absolutely wonderful - I would compete these against the best from Canon or Nikon. Very, very small and lightweight yet the results are truly impressive. I ordered the DA15, 21, 40 & 70, and all produced excellent contrast and sharpness. With the small number of lens elements I have to believe the T-stop values are quite high, and that they are actually faster than comparible lenses using more complex designs. But they are worthless if there is no body to use them with. And all had focus issues - working fine outdoors in decent lighting and varying degrees of front focus when shooting indoors. Disappointing to say the least as my hope of having a small, compact and lightweight 'system' started to become only just a hope. Also purchased some lower cost DA zooms and they too exhibited this front focus issue.

The infamous stain - the final factor:
Really didn't think there was an issue here but was proven wrong by my camera. Here is what it produces full frame at 1/125 and f/22:




Nice big black cluster in the near center of the frame. It shows clearly in any shot from around F5.6 up. That sucked...

And a close up (ignore the dust spot to left - the stain is to the right with halos and total group is about 8 spots):





So, this is where the story ends. The K5 is going back. The lenses are going back. I spoke with Pentax USA today and they confirmed this stain is a known problem and they also confirmed the low light AF issue. The words from their CS person was something to the effect of knowing there was a crisis or major problem with the K5. The CS person also said there is no known fix for the stain issue as in any no known good batches here in the US. And this was the deciding factor for my saga. I asked for a reference to a "good" serial number or batch for a camera and would be happy to take/replace my K5 for a known fixed one. But they stated as of today, December 27th, there is no known solution to the problem. So back it goes...

Really sucks as the prime DA lenses were fantastic and I had really hoped the rumors of a "good batch" had been real. I also would have held on knowing that Pentax was working on an AF fix but the tech could only say it is known issue and nothing else. Guess I needed to hear confidence which I didn't. So I will wait it out and see what happens over the next few months. Hope Pentax figures it out. If they do, I will be able to experience the DA's to their fullest! If not then I will be on another camera's website enjoying their product. Pentax has to make some tough business decisions as this is what it is all about - they're not making cameras to make us "happy" - they want to make money like any respectible company. And as of today I would say they blew it by releasing a product before its time probably due to the pressure of Q4 and Christmas sales. I've been there and I live it - the business side of things...

Thanks for reading. Hope this is helpful and again, no bias, no fanboyism, no trolling, no care for any brand. I just want to enjoy the latest in photography with a system that fits MY needs.

12-27-2010, 05:35 PM   #2
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I am patiently waiting on the sidelines for all of the K-5's issues to be resolved before pulling the trigger, but I am fairly confident that such will be the case in the not too distant future. As most photographers know, there is hardly a camera in any price range that does not have some defects when first released. Other than the sensor "stain" problem, most users have been ecstatic about the K-5, so I'm sorry to hear that your experience was not so positive.

Rob
12-27-2010, 05:58 PM   #3
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Agree that every camera has its issues. Nothing is perfect in this world. But the disappointment people may have in the K5 is understandable as the essence of the digital camera body today is to have "good film", and if something is wrong with the "film" then it is something to be concerned about.

I'm actually going back to focusing on the D700 for now. It's "great film" albeit at a price...
12-27-2010, 06:00 PM   #4
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well I think Kubicide wrote from my heart too..having two very well working bodies (k200d and K-x) I should have waited with my purchase of the K-5..as the replacement body I received is also faulty..and those prime lenses are really really tempting-my plan was..and it is still my plan..to have a K-5 category body with Limiteds..now I think owning those Limiteds would be much better than owning a camera which was away for the last three weeks and will probably be away for the next two weeks..

I think we are all in love with the "idea" what Pentax "dreamed" for us..now please let's make this dream come true..

12-27-2010, 07:34 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kubicide Quote
Agree that every camera has its issues. Nothing is perfect in this world. But the disappointment people may have in the K5 is understandable as the essence of the digital camera body today is to have "good film", and if something is wrong with the "film" then it is something to be concerned about.

I'm actually going back to focusing on the D700 for now. It's "great film" albeit at a price...

Have you thought about the K-x? It is admittedly entry-level "film", but fairly inexpensive and it will allow you to use the limiteds and more.
I have one and will keep it for that reason, can's say the same about the K-5, in fact I am seriously thinking of giving the D7000 a try...
12-27-2010, 07:47 PM   #6
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I have not bought a K-5 yet because shipping often takes up to 30 days here and having to wait 30 days for one to get here just to send it back would be discouraging.

If they don't fix these issues I won't buy one, but I'm fairly certain they will.
12-27-2010, 08:29 PM   #7
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Haven't thought about the K-x because of the sensor - the film - as I wanted something that had good low light sensitivity. Find myself usually only getting out at night while on travel so this is when I need the camera to work.

Bit of irony here with the K5: it has a great sensor for low light but problems with focusing under these conditions, whereas, the previous gen body or bodies had the opposite problem.

I'm sure Pentax will get things fixed.
12-27-2010, 09:09 PM   #8
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bummer, good thing you have that D700 to fall back on

12-28-2010, 07:54 AM   #9
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Thanks for the writeup...I didn't think it was biased or trollish in any BTW.
The low-light focus was a showstopper for your type of shooting.

You might want to at least give the D7000 a try to see if it meets your lighter weight needs, but try to avoid the Nikon 24-70 and 70-200 beasts :-)
When I checked it out at a show, I was fairly impressed. It'll still have hotpixels, and unfortunately worse than the K-5 because it has no hotpixel cleanup (I'm surprised the hot pixel cleanup didn't clean it up the video on your K-5?).
12-28-2010, 08:56 AM   #10
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I share your frustration, but have discovered a few things along the way about the K-5 that have convinced me to keep it for now. First, it took me three bodies, but I finally managed to get one (B&H) that had no stains or e-dial problems. My current body is from the most recent batch sent to the US (389XXXX, I think).

The low light focusing was a real problem for me as low light performance is one the main reasons to get this camera. I saw the problem regardless of the light source. It front focused in any low light situation. However, the third body seems to do so less severely which leads me to the conclusion that this may be a calibration issue. The worst offending lens is the Tamron 28-75mm which is going back to Tamron for calibration.

However, my most interesting discovery came after purchasing the 18-135mm. It has virtually zero low light focusing issues. Dead on. I have no idea why that is the case (perhaps the problem is related to large aperture focusing), but it at least enables me to confidently use the camera in low light when needed.

I should also add that live view autofocus is usually spot on regardless of lens or low light. This is admittedly a work around, but it at least buys me some time for Pentax to work out the kinks.
12-28-2010, 09:27 AM   #11
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Well I hope that the problems will be fixed in januari and maybe we will see you back with Pentax.

My first K-5 went back for stains and now I have a clean one. So it seems that things are going the right way. Waiting for new firmware to deal with the AF-issue.
12-28-2010, 11:35 PM   #12
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It breaks my heart to consider leaving Pentax behind but I've dealt with the focus issue for years with my k10. I was really hoping Pentax could get it right with the k5. I do believe Pentax has the best image quality and build but none of that matters if it produces unreliable focus results.

Is there a Pentax body that doesn't have focus issues?
12-28-2010, 11:51 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Framed Quote
It breaks my heart to consider leaving Pentax behind but I've dealt with the focus issue for years with my k10. I was really hoping Pentax could get it right with the k5. I do believe Pentax has the best image quality and build but none of that matters if it produces unreliable focus results.

Is there a Pentax body that doesn't have focus issues?
My K-5 was noticeably faster focusing than my K-7. I can't imagine going from my k10d to a K-5....would be night and day.
12-29-2010, 12:21 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kubicide Quote
Just wanted to share my experience with those considering changing from another brand who may be interested in the K-5 and Pentax in general.
Thanks for your input on this.

I have the same issues, but can wait. The stains are there, but for me they don't bother at all. But one day I am going to sell this camera and I want it fixed.

Regarding the AF, I believe Pentax is going to fix this soon. Pentax normally don't tell beforehand of what they are working on. The pre-announce of the first firmware fix in November was the first time Pentax ever pre-announced anything. In fact, we have seen they fix errors and silently upload a new firmware to the web without writing anything about it. Strange policy, but I can live with it.
12-29-2010, 04:05 AM   #15
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I have nothing against Pentax or Hoya. But, in my mind I am sure Pentax knew about all the problems before it was shipped. It is the nature of business. Especially the stains. I can see the low light AF issues being something that bit them in the ass. I also learned the hard way. To wait ....... at least six months with new electronic products. I am hoping they get things straightened out. Butttttt... They are sucking hind tit in this market. And i have a feeling financing is a bit of a problem for them with the DSLR's. Also i imagine the R&D dept. is really feeling the pinch. So with my style of photography the K-X is still the winner.... Ahhhhhh.

Regretfully I am already switching to another brand... I am 58, and just do not want to wast anymore of my time with the screw ups. I would like to go out and enjoy my hobby.

Last edited by garyk; 12-29-2010 at 04:15 AM.
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