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10-31-2011, 09:36 AM   #1
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K-5: a few questions

I have been considering a K-5 for nearly a year. It hasn't been because of analysis paralysis. I just haven't been in a rush, and I've been waiting for the price to drop, which it finally has. Also, I just had a few thousand USD fall in my lap from cashing in a 65 year old insurance policy that I did not know about until a couple of months ago. So, I'm ready to spend.

My goal is to choose an interchangeable lens system to move forward with, not just to choose a camera. I've been looking at Nikon, Pentax, and mFT. I've pretty much eliminated mFT from consideration, because of the lower-quality, smaller sensor. I need low-light capability, and outdoor shooting here in Oaxaca, Mexico would benefit from the greater DR of the Sony sensor in the D7000 and K-5. The lens selection for either Nikon or Pentax will meet my needs, at least as I see them now.

What attracts me to Pentax and the K-5 over Nikon and the D7000 are a few obvious benefits: weather sealing and affordable weather-sealed lenses, overall better build, smaller size, and IBIS. It rains nearly every day here from June to September, so the K-5 with the 18-135 mounted is appealing to me as a grab-and-go kit. Also, having owned the K100D and the K10D, I like Pentax ergonomics (although there are some aspects of the Nikon UI, especially the review functions, that are very good.)

With apologies for rehashing old subjects, I want to lay out my concerns about the K-5 and get your assessments. I realize that there are not hard answers to some of my questions, and that this type of thread can sometimes produce disagreements. I'm just trying to figure things out, and issues that a year ago I was convinced would be resolved by now, still keep popping up.
  • Has the sensor stain issue been resolved?
  • Does the K-5 still mis-focus in low/tungsten light?
  • Does the K-5 have trouble locking focus in low light? There was a recent thread about the suitability of the K-5 for weddings, in which some complained about this. Those posts surprised me, because of others vouching for the K-5's low-light AF.
  • Have the K-5's bounce flash exposure inconsistencies been addressed, or have users found good techniques/workarounds to avoid the problem?
  • Has the reliability of SDM lenses been improved?
I do understand that problems are exagerated in internet forums. I have an Fuji X100 which has had more complaints about it than any camera I can recall, and yet, I am very happy with mine.

Part of my reason for posting this is to consolidate my own thoughts and concerns. Also, I'm confident that I will get honest and thoughtful responses in this forum. I've asked some of these questions before, but the answers are still not clear to me.

Jeff

10-31-2011, 11:29 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jeff Charles Quote
Has the sensor stain issue been resolved?
I got stained K-5 more than one yar ago. And then I got a clean replacement body in less than 2 weeks. So for me as if there was no issue at all.

QuoteOriginally posted by Jeff Charles Quote
Does the K-5 still mis-focus in low/tungsten light?
Does the K-5 have trouble locking focus in low light? There was a recent thread about the suitability of the K-5 for weddings, in which some complained about this. Those posts surprised me, because of others vouching for the K-5's low-light AF.
Depends on needs and expectations of the photographer. Sometimes I could use better AF, but often K-5 impresses me by quicky focusing the FA*85 accurately enough for f1.4 in dimly lit room. There are focus errors, but it didn't ruin any job I've done with it. It's a vast improvement over the K10D I had before. I hold the K-5's AF as better than EOS 30D but worse than EOS 1D Mk2 (Canon bodies I have some experience with).

QuoteOriginally posted by Jeff Charles Quote
Have the K-5's bounce flash exposure inconsistencies been addressed, or have users found good techniques/workarounds to avoid the problem?
I shoot events mostly with external flash bounced or attached via P-TTL cable. I need to remember to dial higher ISO for shots of subjects that are far and lower ISO for near subjects. But that's pretty obvious given that AF360 flash has only limited selection of output power. I find the metering to be exposing quite a lot to the right, so I dial -1 EV on flash to get the exposure I want. But I see no deviation caused by bouncing.

QuoteOriginally posted by Jeff Charles Quote
Has the reliability of SDM lenses been improved?
According to statistics made by lensrentals and others, some dead motors are pretty much normal and Pentax lenses are not the worst and not the most expensive to repair. But I only have lenses relying on screw drive, I took no risk.
10-31-2011, 11:52 AM   #3
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Although I don't participate very much in this forum (mostly because I don't think I have much to add to the very good and more experienced photographers that already participate here), I do read quite a bit about people's impressions of products. In particular, I've been reading quite a bit about the k5 since I've been planning on getting one once it hit a price point that I'm comfortable with. Well the magic # showed up last week so I pulled the trigger and I should be receiving the camera on Tuesday.

I do recognize that not all cameras are perfect and that there are things that could be better. But I know that my odds of getting a dud are pretty slim but if this does happen, I'm comfortable with getting it straightened out either by the seller or from the manufacturer. I have a few other pentax cameras already (k10, k20, and kx) and have been very happy with them. Of course there were some very vocal people who had problems with these cameras also, but that didn't stop me from buying them and I'm glad I didn't put too much weight on those who were having issues as I've enjoyed them a lot.

I guess all I'm saying is that there are still some people having some issues with the k5 and until we reach manufacturing perfection, there is likely to be some chance to have some issues in anything you may decide to buy. It seems to me the amount of people who are enjoying their k5 vastly outnumbers those who have issues so I was comfortable making the decision. Time is moving soooo slow right now - the k5 appears to be an amazing camera and I can't wait to get familiar with it!
10-31-2011, 12:14 PM   #4
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I have and like the K-5. Coming from a film background, I'm fully satisfied with the low light capability. However, compared to some other cameras, the autofocus does miss more shots in dim light. I prefer manual focus to autofocus in almost all situations, but with the K-5 especially in dim light. I got the K-5 mainly because of my older Pentax film lenses, which remain usable on the K-5.
If not for that I would have gone with Nikon D7000. Nikon is also made for real photographers, and has a much broader lens line available. I've used my daughter-in-law's D7000 enough to appreciate it. As nice as the K-5 is, it is hard to go wrong with Nikon.
(My Pentax experience goes back to the 1961 H1a and even the Asahiflex from the 50s, and my Nikon experience to the original Nikon F of 1959. I don't think I'm biased in either direction.)
There's also no doubt that Nikon will remain a major player in photography. Pentax keeps changing owners and directions.

10-31-2011, 03:06 PM   #5
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K-5 and D7000 are very close in many points, making the decision difficult. Both cameras are very versatile, but for particular fields of photography there are better choices. D7000 is better for strobist usage and with adequate lenses also for sports. K-5 is superior for landscapes, street photo, wtih GPS module also for astro photography. For macro and wildlife the choice is difficult, as it depends largely on lenses where each brand has different weak or strong offerings. Nikon doesn't have quite a match for DA* 200 and 300, and no WR macro, but they have zooms like 80-400VR.
10-31-2011, 04:36 PM   #6
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Thanks to all so far for your responses.

@TomB_tx and elho_cid: The Nikon D7000 is a good alternative to the K-5. I have a D90 now, and it is a very competent camera, a real workhorse. The D7000 is certainly even better. However, I do not particularly like the feel of the D7000, and it lacks the features that I listed above that draw me to the K-5. Also, and this may sound a little odd, I don't find that D90 to be fun shoot with.

What it comes down to is that I'll probably pick the K-5 over the D7000, unless there are AF or other shortcomings that I conclude will get in my way with the K-5. That's basically why I started this thread.

Something I find interesting: Over the past few years, I have printed more than 60 of my photos for display (about 10 at a time), in my house. When I checked a while ago, not one of them was from my D90. Most were from the K100D, the K-10D, my Oly cameras, and from my P&S cameras. I cannot explain this, since I use the D90 a lot, and it is a very good camera.

Jeff
10-31-2011, 04:49 PM   #7
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I see your point. I'm in photography for the fun and I just dont enjoy the Canon my girlfriend has as much as the Pentax. I can appreciate that is is a good camera, actually even better in some points, but not the one for me.
Unfortunately there is no univesal answer to how good is the AF in K-5. I do not have much experience with Nikon - I handed all from D40 to D3 for a while, but haven't used them for work.
I can only say that K-5 is not anymore like K10D or K100D in AF. It is already much better.
10-31-2011, 05:42 PM   #8
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Something that tips the balance in favor of Pentax over Nikon for me:
Virtually all Pentax lenses will work on Pentax bodies, with few if any restrictions on how they function. Complete with stabilization. Autofocus lenses work on all autofocus cameras, not just particular lenses with particular models. It's not like that with Nikon. I think the the D7000 is the least expensive of their current cameras that will even let me meter manually with my two very nice old AIS lenses. I have a D40, which is a very nice, inexpensive DSLR, but it's absurd that I have to do "sunny 16" on my Nikkor 20mm lens (my favorite lens) on that body -- but it works perfectly well on my Pentax K-7!

On the other side, I have to say that Nikon's AF never made me scratch my head, wondering what was going on. Pentax's seems... a challenge...

11-01-2011, 03:29 AM   #9
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D40 AF was fine by your standarts? That camera really struggles to focus correctly. Few days ago I looked over the shoulder of D40 user browsing through portraits he made with his AF-s 50/1,8. Not a single one was satisfactory for focus accuracy. I aksed him what's wrong and he said the D40 AF really sucks. I suggested to him to stop down to f4 which was fine already. But even K10D would handle the f2 focus correctly in that light.
11-01-2011, 04:28 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by elho_cid Quote
D40 AF was fine by your standarts?
It seemed to be accurate enough for me at the time; anyway I was referring more to NIkon AF in general, not specifically to their cheapest dslr.
11-01-2011, 06:38 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jeff Charles Quote
Thanks to all so far for your responses.

@TomB_tx and elho_cid: The Nikon D7000 is a good alternative to the K-5. I have a D90 now, and it is a very competent camera, a real workhorse. The D7000 is certainly even better. However, I do not particularly like the feel of the D7000, and it lacks the features that I listed above that draw me to the K-5. Also, and this may sound a little odd, I don't find that D90 to be fun shoot with.

What it comes down to is that I'll probably pick the K-5 over the D7000, unless there are AF or other shortcomings that I conclude will get in my way with the K-5. That's basically why I started this thread.

Something I find interesting: Over the past few years, I have printed more than 60 of my photos for display (about 10 at a time), in my house. When I checked a while ago, not one of them was from my D90. Most were from the K100D, the K-10D, my Oly cameras, and from my P&S cameras. I cannot explain this, since I use the D90 a lot, and it is a very good camera.

Jeff
Very valid points Jeff. I would rank "enjoyment of using" at least as important as "quality of results" and both of those more important than "features." Back in the late 1960s I switched from Pentax to the new Canon FT and built a full kit around a couple of bodies. Loved the results I got, the control layout worked naturally, but every shutter click ended with a long musical "ping." Just made it seem cheap. When I graduated I traded in all my canon bodies and lenses for a single Leicaflex SL & 50 lens, mainly because of the ping. The Leica had a similar "large spot" or central area meter, but everything about it felt smooth, quiet, and precise. I don't think my results were any better, but I enjoyed using it more. (and still do).
Although I really don't like today's dSLRs much, the K-5 does have a very good "feel" to it and is nice to use. I miss the big, bright, easy-to-focus finder of the old film Pentax SLRs, because I prefer to work manual focus, and have a lot of manual Pentax lenses. I still prefer to use the simple, old film cameras, where my habits of setting exposure, focus, and composition all feel more natural; but I'm finding more K-5 shots showing up on my "favorites" list. I haven't invested in modern lenses for the K-5, because when I want "stunning" results I turn to my Leicas - again becuase I enjoy using them more. But the K-5 is growing on me.
I'm sure if you get a K-5 you will like it.
11-01-2011, 06:51 AM - 1 Like   #12
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As for low-light, I was at the zoo last week taking photos indoors at ISO 12,800 (using TAv, not specified 12800). Focus was reliable and quick. I'm trying to find time to edit/crop the photos. The only time I've had trouble was outdoors at pretty much dark trying to photograph moths, and I recently bought an LED ring light to help with that.

I'd say if you're waiting to pull the trigger, do it and start taking photos.
11-01-2011, 10:47 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
I'd say if you're waiting to pull the trigger, do it and start taking photos.
I am taking photos, mostly with my X100 these days. The D90 comes out when I need more versatility.

I live in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the K-5 is not available here. Also, most electronics are much more expensive here than in the USA (Unlimited Shopping Always), so I purchase my gear when I am in the States. I will be there in December for family visits, so that's when I'll buy, if I do.

Since I've only been able to handle the K-5 briefly (at the FNAC in Paris last spring), I'm going to try to get to B&H in NYC before I make a final decision. B&H is the best place I know to play with cameras. They are very patient.

One other consequence of living where I do is that warranty repairs take longer. I usually need to get the camera to the US and back, which involves shipping costs and time.

Jeff
11-01-2011, 05:23 PM   #14
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For landscape the K5 is almost perfect. I now have a camera system where the only real limitation is me! I suppose it would be even better if it was FF. A FF version of the K5 would be very hard to beat.
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