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05-24-2011, 12:27 AM - 1 Like   #1
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A Ramble: From K-x to K-5

When the K-5 first came out, and the high ISO test shots and DR test shots and initial user reports came in, I was quite amazed. I could only dream, though, being a lowly senior year high school student I had no way of getting the means to get that. Plus I blew my Christmas and birthday presents on lenses ;D But then I got a job. And then suddenly, the k-5, this legendary, much-raved about beast, was within reach...After a few weeks, and with some help from my parents, I treated myself to a graduation present.

It's damn amazing.

But first, a digression cause I'm horrible at storytelling. I'd taken the film photography course at my school for 3 years, which gave me a good sense of how to expose a picture properly, but I never really developed creatively during that time. Then, last summer, I got a K-x. And boom, creativity exploded. Though the more I learned about photography, the more I hit the limits set in place by my camera. However, I figured that it wasn't quite limiting my creativity yet, and I could work around it.

Stuff like my lenses back or front focusing, oh well, I could just use the debug menu to get around it. Grainy (to my liking) at high ISO above 3200 or so? Ah well, I'll live with it. Only one dial? Got used to it. Having to menu dive to change between AF-S and AF-C? I could just set it to AF-C and then have only the AE-L button enable autofocus. Could use it as AF-S when I wanted or hold it down to track. DFS? Well, long exposures might as well be that much longer. AA batteries? Well, I've never had a lithium-ion camera as a reference but they give me a good 600 shots or so (eneloops), that's quite nice right? No visible AF points, but hey, let's just center point and recompose. Shutter was pretty loud, but it sounded nice and mechanical (unlike the strange, artifical sound of the Canon Rebels or the Nikon D5100)

So, with those things in mind, knowing that I would never get my hands on a K-5, I made do. But eventually, it just all came together to put a damper on my creativity overall.

And in particular, the D-FA 100 WR. This was the first lens I bought, and quite the beauty. Though sometimes its bokeh is a bit bland (with the enigmatic FA43 as a reference), it's simply great and does what's supposed to do, in spectacular fashion. But, it backfocuses. No big deal, I could fix it just fine by going to the debug mode on my k-x.....but it just kind of put the brakes on my creativity and it had such a stigma in my mind that every time I considered reaching for it in my bag I decided the shot wasn't worth the effort.

This all culminated in this event I shot for an organization I volunteered for. K-x + FA43 was my main combo that night, and it was pretty dim, but I'd had no troubles shooting with the DA40 in that same event previous times...it hunted all night long, super loudly, too. And a lot of the shots it "locked" focus on were out of focus. Really quite discouraging by the time the end of the night came about.

Finally, I'd had enough.

Now that I had the means, I put in my order for a k-5.

And I haven't regretted a thing at all. It trumps my k-x through and through, in every possible aspect. Man, I can go on and on all day long about the improvements I've noticed, and none of them are incremental: they're all in spades.

Just from image quality:
-high ISO has been spectacular. ISO 3200 was my "only when I'm desperate" ISO on the K-x (I blame 100% crops for giving me such high standards), but on the K-5, it's just where the fun begins. I think I'd go with ISO 12,800 in a pinch if I had to, and not regret it.
-haven't had much opportunity to shoot contrasty landscapes so can't comment much on the DR yet, but the little bit of fill-lighting fun I've had has been pretty exciting
-16 megapixels is awesome, can't wait to make some large prints out of this....
-I was a bit worried about the earlyish reports about the K-5 being a bit more prone to purple fringing since I absolutely abhor it. CAs I can live with since they're more easily corrected, but PF..../shudder. Thankfully, I haven't noticed much/any more than with my K-x

And useability, from the most basic points onwards:
-it feels like a tank in hand. I work at a pretty large and well-known electronics store, in the cameras department. My store doesn't see too much activity so I play a lot with the demos in the downtime, but we only have Canikons and Sonys and Olympuses (Olympi?). I quite like the rubbery grip of the 60D, and the D7000 is alright too.

Compared to those two, the K-5 takes a dump on them, to me. It feels more solidly built, maybe a shade more heavy, while much, much smaller - it feels very dense in hand, making the D7000 seem so airy and unnecessarily hefty. And the 60D feels nice, but the buttons are in all the wrong places (though on that note, so's the Nikon's, particularly the metering and ISO buttons). The k-5's layout simply works. I don't get why CaNikon feels the need to reinvent their layout with each new camera. Pentax has its shortcomings, but they sure have ergonomics down to perfection. The little lip where your middle finger slips into on the grip is just perfectly indented; it was a bit too shallow on the K-x.

-autofocus speed and accuracy, my god. After dialing in the appropriate corrections, that was it. Nothing more was needed to do. Luckily for me, it focuses fine in low light (with the odd miss-focus, but that's cause I'm not used to this novel idea of being able to use more AF points than just the center...), but...man, the speed, the accuracy, the ability to have multiple lens corrections saved.

I feel like a debilitating handicap has been taken off of my D-FA 100 WR, a lens I once really really liked and am now beginning to like it again (the awesome metal barrel, the beautifully damped focusing ring....I sound a bit too obsessed now ), simply because I can now mount it on my camera and get to shooting, no menu diving to dial in lens corrections every time I put it on.

Interestingly, from my playing around in the store, I've found that my k-5 focusses quite a bit quicker than the D7000 (I have the FA43 on the K-5 and the kit 18-105 on the D7000). Though in fairness to the D7000, I guess its focussing speed is quite lens-dependent, and it does have 3D tracking which the K-5 lacks. Still, the K-5/FA43 is like the K-x/DA40, a combo whose AF speed I've always been impressed by

-on a similar note, having an external AF-S/AF-C switch is awesome. I could ramble more about it, but let's interject my wall of words with some pictures to show just why I love it (and 7fps!) so much:









'nuff said.

-no DFS = I can't wait to do more long exposures. It'll be great not having to wait twice as long for each shot....

-the bells and whistles, the electronic level and composition adjust I haven't had as much opportunity to play with, but that's definitely cool to have as god only knows how much time I spend agonizing over whether or not a picture is level (especially when there's no clear horizon)

-the ability to attach a battery grip is great. Not only is my battery life now anywhere from 2000 to 2500 photos (though after the first charge I still haven't made a dent in the battery life bar on my camera, absolutely amazing!), but I don't have to contort my wrist awkwardly when I take portrait photos. Plus, when I'm out and about casually, K-5 + FA43 or DA15 is nice and small and unassuming. When someone questions my legitimacy as a "serious" photographer though...K-5 + battery grip + D-FA 100 WR (what can I say, boys'll be boys.)

-100% viewfinder is great. It's also pretty nice and bright too; I love that I don't have to worry about something not quite making it into the shot (or unwantedly making it into it)...Surprisingly, I've found the K-5 stock screen to be pretty easy to manual focus with it...I haven't tried longer distances where it'd definitely be more challenging, but within my computer room, I can lock focus with my takumars pretty easily.

-Live view AF is now so fast I think I just might use it pretty regularly for landscape. Quite impressive indeed

-being weather sealed, I now have renewed LBA for some weather-sealed lenses besides just my 100mm (though thankfully they're all expensive enough for me to not bother saving up). But it does give me confidence when it's raining and I have the 100mm mounted, which is cool.

and finally.......


the shutter. My god, the shutter. It sounds amazing. In my store, prior to buying it, I quite liked the d7000's shutter sound. Pretty nice and quiet, and mechanical sounding, which I enjoyed. Now it just sounds loud and clacky. And don't even get me started on my k-x's shutter sound in comparison.

Honestly, if it had no penalty on shutter life, I would remove the SD card and just spam my K-5 all day long, just to hear its sexy, sexy shutter. I'm seriously considering making it my ringtone. Can't wait to try some street candids with this....though now it's got me looking at SDM lenses just so I can pair silent shutter with silent autofocus. Again, glad they're all relatively expensive

The top LCD screen is nice to have, but I don't find much use for it at the moment, though it's probable I just a) haven't had enough use with the k-5 in the field yet b) just aren't used to it yet.

Anyways, this was more for me to document what I liked about the k-5 over the k-x as it was to let everyone else know.....

The K-x was very well-regarded and, for sheer image quality, arguably the better camera of the previous generation of pentax dslrs. And I upgraded to the k-5. And the upgrades and improvement are vast and plentiful. So, if you're eyeing the k-5....


Go. For. It.

I've probably missed and forgotten somethings I forgot to mention that I wanted to mention but it's late and I'm happy with what I've got down here. I'll add more later, perhaps.

Epilogue: This wasn't at all a bash at the k-x. It still is quite a good camera, and especially at the prices you can get it for, a phenomenal deal. If only we carried it (or pentax cameras at all!) in our store, I'd push it quite heavily. It's just that for me, personally, the issues were just too much of a downer in usage for me to feel 100% with it, and felt like it was starting to become the limiting factor, and not me. With the K-5.....I think I'll be enjoying it for years to come.

Things I forgot the first time around:
Depth of field. I might get misunderstood here so I'll try to be clear off the bat: I know DoF is only different with different sensor sizes (and some would argue not that, either), and the K-x and K-5 have the same sensor size, but...I've been noticing a lot shallower depth of field with my k-5 even at smaller apertures. What I think I can conclude from that is that it's dead-on accurate a lot more of the time than the K-x, so the DoF is a lot more accurately represented than with the k-x.



When I was looking to buy the K-5, I figured, if I'm going to drop all this money on something, might as well look at the other two camps and see what they could do for me instead. After some serious debating and close calls, I still ended up with the K-5 and my lovely primes, resolute as ever that this is the system for me.

Canon first...Off the bat, I don't really like their bodies up to the 60D - just playing around with it in my store, it simply doesn't click with me. And I despise Canon's button layout, particularly for rudimentary stuff like the on/off switch. That, and I'm not too big of a fan of their recycled 18mp sensor....They did have some nice lenses I'd love to have though, like a 35/1.4 or 17 tilt/shift.

Nikon...since their ergonomics are a lot more similar to Nikon, and I'd already liked them a bit since before my Pentax purchase, this was quite close. The D7000 was basically a K-5 in nikon's clothing (or vice versa) as far as I was concerned, with sheer image quality. But, while it had a nice advertised build quality, it just didn't feel as solid as even the 60D (which gives off an air of ruggedness despite the weathersealing), and felt unnecessarily large. Also, the demo we had could possibly be defective, but the autofocus (speed) didn't even seem like much improvement over my K-x. But the image quality and the other parts of the system were nice...just too expensive. What I really wanted was a fast 24mm (which, I'll admit, we don't have in our lineup besides the 21/3.2 which isn't hugely speedy), or some sort of fast wide. While they were nice, they were just wayyyy too expensive. It felt like either the premium or the cheapos. That and stuff like flare control...everytime I saw a flare I'd probably miss my DA15/4

And, in both cases, body/lens size and weight were pretty huge, literally and figuratively. Holding the prospective cameras, and guessing the lens sizes relative to my own, it felt like I wouldn't be able to carry them around casually when I'm out and about like I could with my Pentax. That, and long hikes would be a lot more tiring, quicker.

Looking back now, I've no regrets. The K-5 has the feel of the 60D, improves upon it, and in a smaller and denser package, with smarter button layout than both the 60D and D7000 (though if the metering and ISO buttons on this were swapped, maybe that could come closer). Other feature comparisons, I've already mentioned above. And my lenses.....nothing on either camp will truly replace them


Last edited by jaieger; 05-26-2011 at 08:06 AM.
05-24-2011, 02:40 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by jaieger Quote
Though the more I learned about photography, the more I hit the limits set in place by my camera.
Nice comparative review though I wonder what limit does k-x posed to you apart from setting focus correction for individual lenses.

QuoteOriginally posted by jaieger Quote
high ISO has been spectacular. ISO 3200 was my "only when I'm desperate" ISO on the K-x
Would love to see comparison pics. Would you please post some?
05-24-2011, 02:49 AM   #3
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Thanks to you, every doubts I have about K-5 are all gone, now.
05-24-2011, 03:31 AM   #4
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Well written. You're teachers should be proud. The composition, narrative timeline and choice of vocabulary trumps 90% of the forum members and your only in high school.

05-24-2011, 04:08 AM   #5
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Congratulations on your new K5! It looks to me like you have a great kit already. Rather than focusing on new lenses, I would use what you have already and decide if there are focal lengths you are missing.

QuoteOriginally posted by yusuf Quote
Nice comparative review though I wonder what limit does k-x posed to you apart from setting focus correction for individual lenses.

I think ergonomics/availability of grip/two dials/more buttons really does make a difference for a serious shooter. Can you get by with less? Of course, but having shot with a K7/K5, I would definitely find myself frustrated with the slowness of menu diving to change settings that I am used to changing on the camera body.

There is improvement in autofocus (particularly continuous autofocus). This is a big improvement over all other Pentax bodies (not sure about the kr, I haven't shot that). Dynamic range and high iso are both better as well. Dxo mark indicates about a stop and a half better dynamic range at base iso and half stop of high iso shooting.
05-24-2011, 04:56 AM   #6
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Good write up Helon, i came from the k200d so I can understand alot of what you wrote

As for the top lcd, i love it, loved it on the k200d, and even more so on the K-5 being backlit and displaying more info.
Turn off the rear LCD status screen and just use the top lcd.

My old man has a K-X and when ever i help him with night photography stuff the rear LCD status screen used to annoy the hell out of me when setting up for a shot when it lights up in your face (if you know what i mean )

Last edited by TOUGEFC; 05-24-2011 at 05:51 AM.
05-24-2011, 05:42 AM   #7
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Good to hear you're happe with your choise. I too have the k-x at the moment and I am contemplaiting an upgrade. However I've read so much negative about the k-5, which makes me hesitate. The focus adjust would be a welcome addition for sure.
05-24-2011, 06:13 AM   #8
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I've finally tried a K5 and the shutter sound astouned me. It sounded like a soft muffled tap (as compared to my kx a thunderous clap and the whole camera shakes)

Is it meant to be like that or some muffling device is switched on?

05-24-2011, 06:57 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hide Quote
I've finally tried a K5 and the shutter sound astouned me. It sounded like a soft muffled tap (as compared to my kx a thunderous clap and the whole camera shakes)

Is it meant to be like that or some muffling device is switched on?
That's the way that it is. The shutter is nicely damped, which minimizes the shutter sound. It really is quite similar to the K7 (just a tiny bit quieter than the K7's shutter sound).

It's funny, because I have already taken photos of people and had them not realize that I was done taking the photo since they couldn't hear the shutter -- just blended into background noise.
05-24-2011, 07:37 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
That's the way that it is. The shutter is nicely damped, which minimizes the shutter sound. It really is quite similar to the K7 (just a tiny bit quieter than the K7's shutter sound).
My K-7 is a bit quieter than my K-5. The K-5 slap is a bit sharper, whereas the K-7 is smoother.
05-24-2011, 07:57 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by yusuf Quote
Nice comparative review though I wonder what limit does k-x posed to you apart from setting focus correction for individual lenses.



Would love to see comparison pics. Would you please post some?
It wasn't so much a hard, definite limit as in "you will not be able to take this picture" but more like "you can take this picture but first you must do this, this, and this."

I've school and then work all day today, but if I have some spare time I'd love to post some up.

QuoteOriginally posted by Deiberson Quote
Well written. You're teachers should be proud. The composition, narrative timeline and choice of vocabulary trumps 90% of the forum members and your only in high school.
Of all the things.... age is only a number, right?

QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
Congratulations on your new K5! It looks to me like you have a great kit already. Rather than focusing on new lenses, I would use what you have already and decide if there are focal lengths you are missing.



I think ergonomics/availability of grip/two dials/more buttons really does make a difference for a serious shooter. Can you get by with less? Of course, but having shot with a K7/K5, I would definitely find myself frustrated with the slowness of menu diving to change settings that I am used to changing on the camera body.
Indeed, I'm very fortunate about the kit I have, and I think I'll be sticking with this for quite a while before I fill in more gaps. Maybe 15/31/100 or something like that in the distant future, but not for a while (:

QuoteOriginally posted by TOUGEFC Quote
Good write up Helon, i came from the k200d so I can understand alot of what you wrote

As for the top lcd, i love it, loved it on the k200d, and even more so on the K-5 being backlit and displaying more info.
Turn off the rear LCD status screen and just use the top lcd.

My old man has a K-X and when ever i help him with night photography stuff the rear LCD status screen used to annoy the hell out of me when setting up for a shot when it lights up in your face (if you know what i mean )
Thanks TOUGEFC! I know exactly what you mean...you could turn off the k-x back LCD screen but then you wouldn't have the info at a glance... but then if it's on you can barely see through the VF with that thing blasting in your face ):

QuoteOriginally posted by Skog Quote
Good to hear you're happe with your choise. I too have the k-x at the moment and I am contemplaiting an upgrade. However I've read so much negative about the k-5, which makes me hesitate. The focus adjust would be a welcome addition for sure.
Nice to see this'll help some people out in their decisions! (; As long as you make sure it's stain-free and everything (though, aside from the exception in the other thread here, seems pretty well-resolved), you should be fine, really. One thing worth mentioning is that if you're doing any lens corrections on your K-x, the k-5 actually does the same amount or even more as the K-x, even though it's +/- by a smaller number (ie, my D-FA 100 WR was -100 and accurate on the K-x, but -10 on the K-5 and accurate)
05-24-2011, 07:58 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by walang23 Quote
Thanks to you, every doubts I have about K-5 are all gone, now.
Glad I could help with some gear acquisition syndrome

Also, added another point I've noticed since the K-5 change..
05-24-2011, 08:07 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hide Quote
I've finally tried a K5 and the shutter sound astouned me. It sounded like a soft muffled tap (as compared to my kx a thunderous clap and the whole camera shakes)

Is it meant to be like that or some muffling device is switched on?
Hi
I visited Angkor Wat (Cambodia) two weeks ago and I hired a private guide who was constantly by my side. (He was Cambodian but his English was amazingly good.) I guess he was used to having people standing next to him taking pictures. The very first thing he said to me when I started to fire away with my K5, and I quote:

"My god this is a very quite camera, what is it?"
"PENTAX? I have never seen one".

He said everybody is using Canon or Nikon and they are very loud.

He obviously was not a photo man but he was certainly very impressed by the quietness of the K5's shutter. At the end of the day he started to call it my stealth camera. (As I said his English was very good).

The quite K5 is allowing me to take photos by shooting "from the hip" where picture taking is prohibited. They are often not perfectly framed, but usually I come home with something usable.

Greetings
05-24-2011, 10:23 AM   #14
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Don't do that in Russia. Depending on their mood, they will take your camera and return it to you erased, on your way out.
05-24-2011, 08:58 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Francis Quote
Don't do that in Russia. Depending on their mood, they will take your camera and return it to you erased, on your way out.
Sure, don't get me wrong I am fully aware of the consequences in political and/or religious locations. Prohibited was probably the wrong choice of words.

I was talking more about certain tourist locations where photo taking is not allowed or frowned upon. (often I can't figure out why) Like the newly renovated Peace Hotel in Shanghai or inside some of the magnificent buildings along the Bund. I have taken pictures of the entrance hall in one of the architecturally opulent bank building there. My friend who was with me tried to do the same with his CANON 550D but the very loud bang of the shutter gave him away and he was duly intercepted by one of the guards. No big deal, he just made him erase the shot. I have mine though.

I think I know when I can or cannot risk it.

Greetings

Last edited by Schraubstock; 05-25-2011 at 06:13 AM.
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