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06-21-2011, 10:28 AM - 3 Likes   #1
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k-5 thoughts from a Canon user

Here is my first thread:
I would like to share my thoughts about the Pentax k-5.
Why that should interest you? Well... just because I'm a obstinate Canon user!

[DISCLAIMER: 1)This is not a scientific test! This is just a milkshake of personal opinions based on my everyday work as event and reportage photographer. You'll not find any picture to pixelpeep. 2) I'm italian and I learned English from hollywood movies, forums and instruction manuals, so please be good.]

I work every day with two 5D and two 5dmkII and I'm convinced they have both incredible value for money. Let's say from the beginning that the k-5 didn't change this opinion about Canon flagships. So, what the k-5 changed in my idea of the DSLR market?

Certainly the k-5 changed my consideration about the APS sensor format. I'm still unhappy Pentax doesen't have a full frame sensor, but since I tried the k-5 I think in some case we can live without: If the major advantage of FF sensors over APS is the sensitivity, we can safely say that the gap has almost been closed. Low light pictures from k-5 are clean enough to deal with a professional use. Not clean as the 5DmkII but comparable with the 5DmkI, which is already a big win!

High Iso performance:

5DkmII > [5D, k-5 on pair]

Yes, mkII files are cleaner in high ISO, what do you expected? And they are generally more detailed too but that is mathematics: more megapixel+excellent lenses = more detailed results. I forgot to say my lens is the 17-70 f/4 from Pentax. I compared it with the Canon 24-105 f/4 which has in FF the same angle and the same aperture. The Canon wins, no doubts, specially in the telephoto range. Unfortunately I don't have any recent prime to test with the k-5, but when I will win the 40mm of the giveaway I'll be able to test it against some Canon prime.

Resolution with the everyday use lens:

5DMKII+24-105 > 5D+24-105 > K-5+17-70

Yes, a better lens does a better job than 4 more mpx (16 for the k-5, 12 for the 5D). Now the good news: Low ISO noise: here the k-5 wins over the Canons being able to shoot at very clean 80 ISO vs 160 ISO which is the cleanest (not the lowest) ISO setting on Canon. Normally you will not find visible noise at 160 ISO on a Canon but think about that: where do you use low ISO? In bright daylight of course, and what usually happens in bright daylight? Two things can happen: you loose the shadows or you loose the highlights.
Shooting RAW you have a third option: expose for the highlights and recover a certain amount of shadows in post. You can do it very well on a k-5, fairly well on a 5D and... you pratically can't on a 5DmkII. Yes, you've read it well: you cant! If you try you will obtain a lot of ugly banding noise and no details on shadows. K-5 shadows comes up very clean and detailed, to the point that I prefer to underxpose a bit to have more highlights headroom. Moreover, if you're a strobist or working in studio you will find Pentax 80 ISO much cleaner in large prints than Canon's 160 ISO.

Low ISO performance

K-5 > 5D > 5D mkII

Sadly the bride have a white dress and the groom a black one, so with my mkII I have to choose which dress to sacrifice, specially in daylight where the contrasts are stronger. I purchased the k-5 for this very reason: the dream of having details in both dresses. So far I can say it works: I do have details in both dresses, even if I have to work more in post, and I have also better skin tones without ugly highlight holes in cheeks reflections. I can shoot streets at midday and people in strong backlight! I can manipulate the RAW as never before!

Dynamic range:

No need for my opinion here, the web is full of great reviews but its interesting to note how the 5D works better than the mkII in this regard. You can push 5D shadows obtaining a cartain amount of random noise, but not the ugly regular banding noise of the mkII. So 5D is much more usable.

k-5 > 5D > 5DMKII

Yes, I love my k-5 it but there are things I cant ignore:

No FF on the lineup: This means I will always need a Canon (or Nikon, or Sony) body with lenses to achieve the best quality in the more frequent shooting conditions (low light, for me), and that means I can't spend a lot for Pentax lenses.

Standard Zoom Lens quality : I've read a lot of reviews before buying the 17-70. On paper its the best choice in terms of versatility-resolution but it does not reach the levels of canon L series (maybe its just my copy but I don't think so). I know Pentax is strong with primes but come on! I can't always work with primes! I need some big, sharp as hell and fast Zoom to impress the bridesmaid and the groomsmen!

Handling: I've big hands! I never needed optional grips with canon but i may need it with the k-5. Bad thing! I have always considered exhibitionists the photographers who use the vertical grip and don't want to become one!

Value for money:

5D > k-5 > 5DMKII

She is still my winning horse: she has no weaknesses, she's cheap on the used market, you can always easily resell her and you can put on her a lot of amazing lenses.
The k-5 represents for me the way to go, the right evolution for the dslr technology but the lack of FF makes me doubtful in spending money in lenses and accessories.

Thank you for your patience, looking forward to read your opinion!

06-21-2011, 10:38 AM   #2
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Thank you for sharing..!!! Most of us Pentaxians cant wait for a Pentax FF, so that we have a fair comparison..until then K5 is our only weapon....
06-21-2011, 11:01 AM   #3
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thanks for the great comparison, it's about what i would expect actually, the only thing i would say is a DA* 16-50 might have been the better lens choice (for DOF for example it will be more on par with the canon wide open), it's also a better lens than the 17-70 despite the SDM issues, which by now should be a lot less prevalent than when the lens was released. I also think Optically DA* lenses are more on L series territory than the base lenses (they also of course cost close to the L glass at least on the wide zooms,)

good luck on the worls pentax competition

(BTW I shoot a lot of low light with a K7, and have considered the jump to FF, but Nikon not Canon as I like the way they handle better, but the 5d / 5DII are pretty impressive performers when i've tried them out - I am hoping we will see a FF from Pentax in the next Generation using the upcoming Sony 24MP sensor the Nikon 800 will use)
06-21-2011, 11:21 AM   #4
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This is wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

06-21-2011, 11:36 AM   #5

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Very cool comparison. Thanks for the balanced report!
06-21-2011, 11:38 AM   #6

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QuoteOriginally posted by la_nonna Quote
Low ISO performance

K-5 > 5D > 5D mkII

I can manipulate the RAW as never before!

This is what I find most amazing about the k-5. As long as the data is present, lightroom can give me the image I want.
06-21-2011, 11:54 AM   #7
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Nice to see what seems to be a very fair and balanced comparison. Good job and thanks!

06-21-2011, 11:56 AM   #8
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It's really not entirely fair to the K5 if you never use a DA* to unleash it's full potential. 50-135 looks to be the best, it's on my wish list. I'm very skeptical that Pentax will ever FF, the new lenses seem to suggest a commitment to APS-C format. I speculate that as sensor technology improves, the idea of FF will be irrelevant and perhaps obsolete, unless this distinction separates pro gear from consumer gear. They won't want big heavy cameras they can't stuff in a backpack. I'd love to see that line less blurry than it's getting. If it looked very apparent that they will release a FF, I'd buy sigma glass, so I can make the switch.

06-21-2011, 01:05 PM   #9
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Thanks, OP, I too appreciate the fair assessment in this report; good job. I look forward to upgrade to k-5 once my k-7 warranty runs its course. Of course, a FF beyond k-5 in the future would be interesting as well.
06-21-2011, 01:59 PM   #10
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Very nice. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It is rare to see an unbiased professional opinion...
06-21-2011, 02:02 PM   #11
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The most amazing part is that you picked up English on your own, I commend you for that (and you "speak" English very well)!
06-21-2011, 04:09 PM   #12
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Have to consider not everybody shoots weddings. I don't think the K-5, or Pentax as a whole, is going after that consumer base. Weather resistance, quality primes and compact size are things that will make more sense for someone traveling around with a camera. For weddings you'll want more FF, fast zooms and a good flash system. It's more like apples and oranges I guess.

Last edited by hcarvalhoalves; 06-21-2011 at 04:17 PM.
06-21-2011, 06:21 PM   #13
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My shooting buddy uses a Canon 5D MKI, and it can't touch the K-5 at higher ISOs. He admits that. Neither of us can speak for the 5D MKII, but we would both disagree that the K-5 and 5D MKI are on a par regarding high ISO performance.
06-21-2011, 06:26 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by sagiboy Quote
Thank you for sharing..!!! Most of us Pentaxians cant wait for a Pentax FF, so that we have a fair comparison..until then K5 is our only weapon....

based upon what I have read on various forums 'most' Pentaxians are NOT drooling at the thought of a FF Pentax. There is a vocal minority that are and that's fine.
06-21-2011, 06:43 PM   #15
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I like very much your review, it's fair and it's from somebody who own the 2 systems.

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