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08-31-2011, 06:49 PM   #1
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Hi/newbie posting with Qs about K5/K7 or 'what would you do with $1500'?

Hi all,

After a really long post that managed to get lost on submit and forcing me to log back in again ( :-/ ), trying again. I could definitely use some advice here, even better from those of you who have had other pentaxes and some solid experience shooting in the conditions i'll mention.
I used to take a fair amount of 35mm pics, but definitely novice-amateur, and jumped into the digital world with a Canon A10 some time back, then a series of P&S and superzooms. I've done a lot of adventure type travel, so the shockproof/waterproof pocket camera will always be around for me, but I've missed a lot of could have been/should have been great shots due to lower lighting, or not enough detail kept in the image on cropping and lightening.

I'm a bit ocd on my hobbies, and really prefer if spending some real $, to buy it once, then keep it a while, vs buyers remorse with a savings of only a few hundred. I looked at the 4/3 cameras and Sony Alphas/Nex*, ruled out the Canon T1-3s, and was leaning towards a D5100 when I came across the K7. Considering some of the places/locales I manage to find myself in, I *really* liked the weathersealing aspect, as well as always preferring metal over (most) plastics for durability, and that led me to looking at the K5. While I'm ok with buying a used lens from a reputable manufacturer, I'd prefer to buy the camera new or refurbished, and expect to be keeping it for 3 years, possibly more, before 'upgrade-itis' hits.

The range of intended shooting is a lot of outdoors in daylight as well as lower lighting/ambient lighting for nature and wildlife, and some portraits. Right or wrong, because of the pictures I have fouled up, I was paying a lot of attention to lower noise at higher ISOs, and didn't see much (significant) differences between the K20D vs D7, while the K5 was a very nice improvement over the D7 in that area. I don't care too much about FPS, anything > 3FPS I consider a bonus, at least right now. I'd prefer to have HD video, but that won't be the cameras primary role.

I thought i had found a steal on the K5 for $1100 with 18/55 from AJ Richards, but then of course, the whole grey market/upsell scam/'shipping insurance' stories came out, which has complicated things. Realistically, I had been planning on spending no more than $1200, but I have no desire to buy a non Pentax warrantied unit, and would spend the extra $20-$40 or so for a valid pentax USA extended warrantee in this case. (Hoping of course to never need it, but the mirror flop issue has me at least aware of the possibility, and for the $..worth it for peace of mind at the very least).

So, this brings me to a dilemma - I've seen lots of K5s around $1k-$1100 but all from questionable vendors. The best pricing I've found from what I believe are *not* grey-market are from BH, Adorama, and Beach, around $1200 for the body only...

I had planned on picking up the K5 and 18/55, then buying a used manual or low-end telephoto (say $100 for a used Sigma 70/300 or Tamron 80/200) to at least give me my nature zoom fix for the time being, and then adding in a 1.8f 50mm for portraits/natural light indoors, and upgrading to a DA 55-300 or similar in 6 months or so. I figure the pair of lenses (18/55 + telephoto) would meet my immediate needs, even if not perfectly, get me acquainted with the camera, and also help me 'feel out' if the DA 55-300 would be my next lens, or if I wanted to look at more primes, etc. This is no doubt going to be a learning experience, so I'm sure even a used lowed end lens will out-shoot me for a bit.

if instead, I'm paying $1200 for the base only...I'm going to be hitting some self and wife-imposed limits here. Realistically, I've got to set a max at $1500 - I can add on 'bag gear' shortly enough, and can likely pick up a lens for a few hundred within a few months, but the $1200 for the body alone basically takes away my 'core lens,' and leaves me wondering which way to go.
I did check out pricing on a refurbed K7 and K20d, which comes in around $850 and $650 respectively, with 18/55, but for the price of the K7, the 5100 is a more capable camera, higher ISO included, with the downside there being I really prefer the weather-sealing and metal chassis. The wife is also excited about getting into a new 'hobby' together, but I can guarantee she'll be more likely to remain in auto modes for some time, so reasonable AF response/focus times and results would be a high requirement.

So, what would you do here, if your intentions were including low light/ambient, portraits/ambient indoor lighting, and a lot of nature/wildlife shots?
$650 refurb k20d with 18-55 + $600 or so on lenses
$850 refurb K7 with 18-55 + 400 on lenses
$1200 K5 base only + $300 in used lenses or a single new lens

I'd *like* to swing the K5. I *think* I'd be quite happy for a while with a lens capable of taking decent portrait/reasonable light shots and a used manual telephoto for now, even if not the best quality, then adding in a prime 50mm and better telephoto within 4-6 months, but can't swing the K5 base plus the lenses I'd prefer to start with.

Thoughts? What would you do?

08-31-2011, 06:58 PM   #2
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I would go for the K-5 because of the IQ, and maybe a nice prime lens (DA40mm for example). Alternatively, you could wait until Pentax announces the next body, but that probably won't happen until 2012, and it definitely won't be cheaper than the K-5.

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08-31-2011, 07:21 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
I would go for the K-5 because of the IQ, and maybe a nice prime lens (DA40mm for example). Alternatively, you could wait until Pentax announces the next body, but that probably won't happen until 2012, and it definitely won't be cheaper than the K-5.
You're killing me - base + that lens = $1700, can't do it on the initial purchase, and it would leave me lacking any zoom at all for an upcoming trip into the wilderness.
If I go with the K5 non grey market, I'll have $ for a lens like that in a few months, but not at time of purchase, while I really 'need' to cover portraits and at least some amount of zoom for shots in the mountains and lakes, etc. Were it slightly cheaper, I'd consider a single DA 18-135 as the single lens I'll have for a few months (unless one of you guys had an alternate suggestion), but i can't quite swing that on the 'day 1 purchase.'

With the economy as it is and wifey approval and excited 'now,' I'm not inclined to wait for the next body release, looking to purchase within the next week basically..
08-31-2011, 07:58 PM   #4
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Go with the K5 and 18-55. It will get you started, then add the 55-300, which is a very nice lens at an affordable price. I have used a friends 55-300 on my K5 and found it very acceptable+.

Whatever......just get the K5 or be sorry you didn't. Is it really that much of an improvement? Yes, it really is. Amazingly fun to use, and for indoors without flash it would be hard to beat it with much of anything out there. Likewise, for wildlife, you can get some speed with the high ISO range and capture shots you would otherwise not even attempt.

On the dark cloudy day I shot this through my office window, I would not have even picked up my K20D...but the K5 got it with ISO 12,800.
[IMG] [/IMG]

I personally like B&H, Adorama too.....both reputable, but just get the K5! If you are not thrilled you let me know, I'm always around.....but I have not the least doubt you will love it as so many others do.
Best Regards!

08-31-2011, 08:02 PM   #5
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Good Evening and Welcome to the Forums,

I currently shoot with a K20 and am looking to upgrade to the K5 probably around the end of the year, hopefully when the price breaks the $1K threshold. The K20 is a nice camera, however it does have some noise when shooting low ambient light. The K7 essentially has the same sensor. With your interests the K5 would probably be the best bet. That said, then the lenses are a problem. What I would do, and did when I came to a dSLR is to go with the kit lens - the 18-55. For the price you really can not beat it. If you pick it up as a kit then I believe its weather sealed. However you can pick up the version II that is not weather sealed for under $100. That would keep your initial outlay down. There are several versions of the DA 18-55
  • Version I - Good lens, I picked it up with my K100d a 6mp camera and have used it on my k20. non wr Can be had for $30 to $50 on e bay
  • Version II - Optics reworked for the K20 for better resolution. non WR I think if you really look you may find them for $50 and up.
The DA 50-200 is a good lens, the 55-300 is better, however for low prices ($85 ~ $100) the 50-200 is very good to get started.

Those two lenses will easy keep you busy for at least a year, learning the body, and they will give good images and performance. Yes, they will be light limited to an extent, however this will be countered with the K5 excellent ISO and dynamic range.

You can check on Craigslist for older 50mm f1.7 (either M or A) - manual focusing, but can be had for under $100 (especially the M). or even better a M 50 f2.

Save your lunch money and brown bag it for a while, and save the pennies - they add up. Its taken me 7 years to acquire my set of glass, so don't feel that you are the only one having to scrimp here and there. Rico has well over 200 lenses that he has paid around $5 each for, and some of them are really fine glass. So, it can be done.

edit - There are also stitching techniques with free software (autostitch and microsoft ice) that will stitch your you that you can use, so as to do wide angle with out the glass.

Also, Pentax offers a 2 year extended warranty (total of 3 years) for $20. You have to buy it I think within 90 of buying the camera. B&H offers it on lineI picked it up with my K20 and it is really the way to go. It also offers a one time cleaning.

Some additional thoughts. I would pick up a ver 1 18-55 for in the $30 range to get started. Then probably save for the WR since that appears to be important to you. That way, you are limiting your purchases. You can always get $30 for the kit lens. Also, check the market place here - good gear with good pricing. Also, folks tend to take care of their gear here.

Last edited by interested_observer; 08-31-2011 at 08:18 PM.
08-31-2011, 08:37 PM   #6
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Indeed, if you're considering the K-7, then you could consider the K20D as a more cost-effective option. On the up side its sensor is just as good as that of the K-7 (without video) but on the down side if you invest in batteries and the grip, then they are not transferrable to your next upgrade to a K-5 (which is highly recommended ).

The K-5 + kit lens is not a bad start, but lenses exploit the camera's full abilities, so if you cannot get a better lens for a while after the K-5 + kit lens, you may as well go for a K-7 or K20D + something like a DA 35/2.4 or Tamron 28-75 or 17-50 (depending on your focal length preferences).
08-31-2011, 08:48 PM   #7
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Get the K5 as I think that should last you several years where you can slowly built up your LBA, from there, nothing can stop you. : )

Else, get the K-r and buy a good lens to go with it. The K-r with 18-55 and 50-300 is abt $680, then you can add a prime like the DAL 35mm ($180). You are pretty much set for 1-2 yrs of learning and enjoying your hobby. After that, you will know if dSLR suit you or not, if you like it, upgrade and if you dont like it, sell it and lose at most $200-$250 I would guess.

08-31-2011, 09:42 PM   #8
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if you get a k20d or even a k7, you'll most likely upgrade again in a year. if you get a k5, it might be as long as 2-4 years. so investing in the long term, the k5 looks like a better choice. 18-55 is still a very capable lens, and once you have more funding, the 55-300mm or a 16-45mm upgrade would be ideal. down the line, you could pony up for a DA* weather resistance lens, so there is definitely growth with pentax.

08-31-2011, 10:07 PM   #9
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If u can even consider a refurbished k7 you should consider a second hand k-5. getting a body off a impulse buyer can be liberating for both parties who knows u can get some of the lenses together from people who are dumping the whole system altogether.
08-31-2011, 10:08 PM   #10
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I agree with Lee... You shouldn't count out the K-R... They can be had pretty cheap.. I think i saw a used one in the Marketplace for around 450... then you can use the rest on the lenses... Since all the Pentax dslrs are crop, you can always use them on your next body whatever Pentax puts out in a few years... I have added 3 lens since I got my KX over a year ago... and hardly ever use my kit lens... There are some places on the web that you can rent a K-5 or K-7 for a few days and also you can rent some lenses so you can test them out.. I believe it is

Good luck and welcome to the Pentax World!
09-01-2011, 12:19 AM   #11
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I agree, get the K-r and two lenses, upgrade to the Tamron or Sigma 17-50 and you're still within your budget. The K-5 is just going to be such a waste with bad lenses (the 18-55 and Sigma 70-300). Weather sealing is nice to have but it's really not that vital as you won't have much photo opportunities out in the rain anyway. I've had the K-x on an sub-antarctic island in the worst weather conditions imaginable and got great shots, as long as you cover it when you're not taking the shot and wipe it after you'll be fine.
In a year or 2 you can sell the K-r and the 18-55 and upgrade to the K-5 or it's replacement, but until then you'll have much better quality shots IQ-wise in the meantime.
09-01-2011, 02:00 AM   #12
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hi there,
have you ever considered the 35mm f2.8 limited or the 43mm f1.9 limited for your portrait work?
I recently just acquired myself a K5 and a 43f1.9 limited and i think they will satisfy me for a long long time... yet again, i do street and portraits mainly.
You could always go second hand... although i'm not sure what the prices are like in the USA? I imagine it'll be much cheaper than Australia?
I paid 1480 for the K5 body only and 750 on the lens. But they were brand new... so i'm sure if you hang around in the second hand market, you'll be able to get good deals?
Otherwise, i wouldn't rule out the Kr and a limited edition lens for now...
And then upgrade your body next year....
-shrugs- just rambling.....
09-01-2011, 03:07 AM   #13
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Do you have a decent IPS screen for your PC? Plenty of HDD space to store images? A decent backup onto an external HDD or a NAS device? Decent photo editing software? A decent tripod? Plenty of RAM in your PC? Hardware monitor calibration?

These are all things worth spending money on, especially the HDD space and IPS screen. You can always reedit later so long as you haven't lost the image.

My own choice would be the K7 + 18-55mm + 55-300mm. If the 18-55mm is the WR (it should be) it will come with a lens hood, if the 55-300mm doesn't then get one, they are only a few $$.

That would leave you with some money for some of the other items mentioned above, the long lens can be used when you upgrade the K7. I would also consider talking to the K5 and K7 forums on Flickr - I got my pre-loved K7 that way which was immaculate, and in as new condition.
09-01-2011, 03:51 AM   #14
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Buy used. People (me included) sell things, not because they have "used them up," but because they decided they wanted something different and need a little cash to swing the deal. I personally do like the K5 idea, even if you shoot with a kit lens for awhile. It's a tough camera and truthfully, I don't see myself moving up from it any time soon -- I'd be more likely to trade my K7 for another K5 down the road, but as you say, cash doesn't grow on trees (and if it did, think about the inflation problem).

Good luck!
09-01-2011, 04:08 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
as you say, cash doesn't grow on trees (and if it did, think about the inflation problem).
The people with the Leylandii of the cash tree world would be happy...

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