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04-25-2012, 10:40 PM   #1
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Considering returning K5 - some questions

1. My electronic level is off by about 3-5 degrees. From what I gather, there's no way to calibrate this on my camera, I'd have to send it in. Does Pentax consider this a valid reason for warranty service (ie you get free service)? Do they actually fix it when you send it in, or does it often come back still miscalibrated? How long does service like this last? Any chance they break something else on the camera?

2. Not really a big deal, but my viewfinder has a grimey or frosted glass look. It gets more noticible if you're looking at something bright, and if the camera is out of focus. It's hard to take a good picture of another camera's viewfinder, but I'll attach some iphone pics of it to try to show what I mean. The pics do have some noise, but most of the stuff that looks like noise in the viewfinder is actually the grimey/glazed effect I'm talking about.

It's not on the surface of the viewfinder (I cleaned it) and it also shows up if you look through the viewfinder without the lens on. Is it possible that the mirror is grimey? It doesn't obviously show up on pictures - but I once got a big, obvious thumbprint on a point and shoot lens once and yet when you looked at the pictures you couldn't tell - the camera somehow worked around it. Is it possible that this grimey layer is degrading the quality of my pictures without being quite obvious about it? Or is it just the focusing screen or something else in the viewfinder optical path?

3. I see a couple of lenses priced under the MSRP on some of the smaller online retailers who aren't official Pentax retailers. For instance, you can still get a DA-L 55-300 for $279. But I'm wondering... does this just mean those dealers are deciding they don't care if Pentax won't sell to them anymore and just getting rid of their current stock at the old prices?

4. In general, is there any news about whether the lens prices are expected to go down again? The value for the money of Pentax lenses was one of the big reasons I went with Pentax, but that instantly took a big hit, with most of the lenses I'm interested in (55-300, limited primes) instantly shooting up 20-50%.

5. I haven't been terribly impressed with the amount of detail in my pictures. I only have the 18-55WR so far, but I've read it's good for a kit lens, and I feel like the pictures I get often seem to have less detail than my Canon SX230, which isn't an especially sharp camera, being a compact superzoom.

I attached 100% crops of 3 infinity focus, small aperture shots. I don't think I can upload the originals (too big) so I'll link them. All pictures are from the camera's default jpeg engine, except the quality is 4 stars instead of 3. I specifically didn't use RAW or any post processing because I want you to see the untreated image. The crops may have suffered some sort of jpeg recompression, I'm not sure if photoshop does that. SR is engaged for all pictures, but they were handheld.

Is there any indicaton from those pics that the camera or lens has some sort of problem?

First 3 shots, grimey viewfinder.

Shot 4: 55mm, 100 iso, 1/200, F11 original here

Shot 5: 50mm, 320 iso, 1/400 f8 original here

Shot 6: 42mm, 100 iso, 1/100, F11 original here

Someone told me I might have a front focus issue. Can you have front focus at infinity? I don't really understand it on a technical level or how to evaluate it. Am I just expecting too much out of the kit lens? Do those pictures look normal? There's nothing specifically wrong, it just seems like the level of detail and sharpness is less than I expected.

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04-25-2012, 11:17 PM   #2
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Independent reviews have given the K-5 top reviews, and DXO rated its sensor as the best they had tested for a cropped sensor camera, including equalling some full frame sensors in some aspects.

I have never used my electronic level and cant see any occasion when I would. How have you discovered that it is "off", how do you measure something like that?

The viewfinder...depends what you are used to I suppose, but it is still only a ground glass screen like other cameras. Take your K-5 to a camera shop and do a direct comparison with other brands. The 18-55mm "kit lens" has a variable aperture of f3.5 to f5.6 which is relatively 'dim' for viewing through. The more expensive zooms have f2.8 lenses which let in more light giving brighter viewing, and fixed focal length lenses of f2 and even wider give even brighter viewing. If you DO go to a camera shop try a f1.4 lens!

Lenses still being discounted.. I suspect that would still be old stock, the price announcement was very recent.

Your images from the 18-55 kit lens are about right..you are "pixel peeping" and viewing at 100% image size, even the very best lenses will show their faults at that level. If you print those pics out on a decent printer at A4 or even A3 they will make good looking prints, BUT there are better lenses that give sharper results.

I can buy a Pentax 18-55mm Weather Resistant lens here in the UK, new, for 90. The Pentax 16-50mm which is a sharper much better lens is at least SEVEN TIMES THAT PRICE, so you have to spend a LOT more money for what is essentially a moderate improvement in image quality.

The 18-55 is a really great value lens, and according to testers at least as good if not better than the Canon and Nikon equivalents but WITH Weather Sealing but if you are ever likely to want to view your images at much larger sizes than A4 you will need to get your wallet out for the top class glass!
04-25-2012, 11:24 PM   #3
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Oh I know the K5 is a great camera, I'm mostly just wondering if there's something wrong with my particular copy, since the level of detail in my pictures doesn't blow me away like I sometimes see from others. But that could just be a post processing and lens quality difference. But before I made a decision to keep it or not, I was hoping with people with much more knowledge than me would give them a look over and tell me if they could see anything wrong with the full sized pictures that might indicate a problem with my particular unit. Thanks.
04-25-2012, 11:47 PM   #4
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if you shoot JPEG try a different camera setting like MTF and/or a different setting then bright. You also can adjust in camera noise reduction and sharpening. I shoot raw so everything is set off by me.

04-25-2012, 11:51 PM   #5
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I don't see anything wrong with the images that indicate a body or lens problem.

The viewfinder does have a texture or frosted glass look, it is sometimes visible sometimes not. This is not specific to Pentax, it's not a fault, it's how these types of viewfinders work. No texture, no workie as I understand it.
04-26-2012, 12:40 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by riff Quote
I don't see anything wrong with the images that indicate a body or lens problem.

The viewfinder does have a texture or frosted glass look, it is sometimes visible sometimes not. This is not specific to Pentax, it's not a fault, it's how these types of viewfinders work. No texture, no workie as I understand it.
It's all normal, to me it sounds like you never had a DSLR before and are just trying to nitpick. If the glass didn't have the matt/frosted look, you wouldn't be able to see what's out of focus, aka DOF.

The level out is I think pretty normal for all cameras, mine has it, I don't care about it since I've never used it and I'm never planning to use it. If you are, just send it in.

And I think it's pretty much the 2nd time around you are posting the exact same questions about sharpness, you got loads of replies to the issue at dpreview. There's 4 threads started there by you on there on the 1st page. I guess you are not happy with the replies there and think you are going to get something more that aligns with what you want to hear on this forum?
04-26-2012, 12:46 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nuff Quote
It's all normal, to me it sounds like you never had a DSLR before and are just trying to nitpick. If the glass didn't have the matt/frosted look, you wouldn't be able to see what's out of focus, aka DOF.
Okay, that's fine. When I tried out other DSLRs in stores I didn't recall there being the same effect, so I was wondering if something was wrong.

QuoteQuote:
The level out is I think pretty normal for all cameras, mine has it, I don't care about it since I've never used it and I'm never planning to use it. If you are, just send it in.
Just wondering if they actually get it right when you send it in. I hate the hassle of packing/shipping/hoping it's not damaged or lost, waiting a few weeks, etc. over a problem they could've fixed by allowing people to reset their level. Sounds like a whole lot of K5s are out of calibration unfortunately. But a built in level is one of the major features I wanted over getting a lower tier of camera like a D5100, I do mostly landscape shooting and like level pictures.

QuoteQuote:
And I think it's pretty much the 2nd time around you are posting the exact same questions about sharpness, you got loads of replies to the issue at dpreview. There's 4 threads started there by you on there on the 1st page. I guess you are not happy with the replies there and think you are going to get something more that aligns with what you want to hear on this forum?
There's nothing specific I want to hear. I'm making a decision about which camera system to go with, which will eventually be a $4000+ decision, so it's a pretty big deal to me and I wanted to gather a lot of opinions before I made a final one. I'm not hurting anyone by posting this, if you knew what it was going to be about you didn't have to open the thread.
04-26-2012, 01:25 AM   #8
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As far as the level is concerned I think a hotshoe mounted 2 or 3 axis level is easier to use and they are inexpensive. I never use the in camera level.

04-26-2012, 02:30 AM   #9
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"Focus at infinity" I hope you haven't turned the lens manually to infinity, but used auto focus at some distant subject?
As for the level being out of calibration, I would send it in to get it fixed.
04-26-2012, 03:05 AM   #10
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About pictures nrs. 4 & 5 (and perhaps nr. 6), I am not going to talk about the lens used nor the way it's been used, I don't have that one.
But one might consider the atmospheric situation when these pictures were made. There is always a lot of haze on these kind of sunny days, particularly above places with a lot of human activity or above very dry and dusty land with a rather gentle wind blowing.
No 'normal' optical system can penetrate this kind of (pollution-) haze.
The best moment to shoot these kind of pictures is on a sunny moment right after a serious shower, then all the 'dirt' will be washed out the air.

About the ground glass, the 'intensity' of the grounded pattern might change with the angle of viewing. When one is not looking straight along the optical axis of the viewfinder, the view could be darkened.
I have varifocal spectecals, and when looking through a certain zone of them, the finder is less bright because my axis of viewing is slightly diverted.
Also, when the subject has a rather strong backlight pointing about into the finder, then the same issue might occur.

Last but not least, if you are that unhappy with the Pentax K5, it's pointless to stay frustrated, you might consider an other brand then...
04-26-2012, 03:54 AM   #11
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If you have the opportunity to return it, why not do so? If you want to give it another try, just buy another one, and this time from another retailer. I dont know if the prices have increased or gone down, but I guess it has decreased for the body and/or kit. If you have the same issues with the second one then it is unlikely a defect and maybe a characteristic of the camera model?
1. My electronic level appears to be level on both axes. I am guessing the calibration could be less than perfect, but any flaw is not apparent in practical application.
2. My K5 has a clear viewfinder. The focusing screen has the appearance of ground glass which I beleive is standard in all SLRs. If you doubt the mirror maybe blemished, you can visually inspect it to determine. There should not be any perception of a grimy viewfinder in a new camera.
3. The DA-L is a kit lens and I don't think Pentax sells it separately. I guess the DA-L lenses that are available from some retailers are from unpaired kits, where they may have sold the body separatly and are disposing the lens separately. Therefore the kit (DA-L) lenses maynot have a published price. I maybe wrong.
5. Do you have a UV filter on the lens?
04-26-2012, 04:20 AM   #12
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SenorBeef---Can't tell from your pics of your VF what's up but I can tell you that my new K5 came with a a couple of dust spots on the top side of my focus screen. When I sent in for service for that and 4 other problems CRIS cleaned the screen. It was much brighter/clear after the cleaning. It was like it came new with a protective coating of something that never got cleaned off in manufacturing. That's my guess---I don't really know.

Your pics look very blurry on my monitor. To many variables for me to say anything. You can see what the DA 18-55 WR is capable of on the forum here (lens club). I got my $139/WR worth and am happy with my copy.

My electronic level has been spot on so Pentax can get it right but way more then a few have not been very lucky. Yours needs calibration but some say it does not hold. K5 replacement and a little luck is your only hope. Bad ckt board.

If you are not happy with your copy of the K5---returning it for a replacement is much faster then going through a service cycle so you should do that. Others have and are happy they did. Good luck.

Last edited by jcp5; 04-26-2012 at 04:38 AM.
04-26-2012, 07:40 AM   #13
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I'm now confident that the viewfinder issue is just the ground glass of the focusing screen - I didn't know how they worked but now I have a better idea, so no problem there, thanks.

It sounds like a whole lot of people have the miscalibrated level, so I was thinking that even if I go through the hassle of getting a new one from the retailer, I may be in the same position anyway. I figured if Pentax fixes the problem reliably, sending it in for warranty service would be the safer route.
04-26-2012, 07:56 AM   #14
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In keeping with previous comments, JPGs straight out of the camera do not look at their best when viewed directly on the screen. By resizing down to the screen resolution using bi -cubic sharper with a bit of post processing to add some 'bite' to the IQ, they look considerably better as shown below, albeit at a smaller size.

I've taken the liberty to do a quick post process in Lightroom & re sized using bi -cubic sharper to fit into the limitations of this forum.
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04-26-2012, 08:26 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gimbal Quote
"Focus at infinity" I hope you haven't turned the lens manually to infinity, but used auto focus at some distant subject?
As for the level being out of calibration, I would send it in to get it fixed.
That's right, it was automatic, but because all of the objects I was photographing were far away, it went to the infinity edge of the focus range. Or rather about a centimeter short of it, which is the longest focus the camera seems to use (hyperfocal? I don't know - I undestand how hyperfocus is set with old lenses with aperture/DOF marks, but not otherwise).

I just meant that it couldn't be a focusing error or user error since photographing distant stuff at infinity is essentially idiot proof.

QuoteOriginally posted by philippe Quote
About pictures nrs. 4 & 5 (and perhaps nr. 6), I am not going to talk about the lens used nor the way it's been used, I don't have that one.
But one might consider the atmospheric situation when these pictures were made. There is always a lot of haze on these kind of sunny days, particularly above places with a lot of human activity or above very dry and dusty land with a rather gentle wind blowing.
No 'normal' optical system can penetrate this kind of (pollution-) haze.
That's a fair point and I was mostly considering the stuff that wasn't too far away. I did include a pic of that rock that was about 150 feet away IIRC so haze shouldn't be a factor there, but that is probably the sharpest-appearing pic because of it.

QuoteOriginally posted by debmalya Quote
3. The DA-L is a kit lens and I don't think Pentax sells it separately. I guess the DA-L lenses that are available from some retailers are from unpaired kits, where they may have sold the body separatly and are disposing the lens separately. Therefore the kit (DA-L) lenses maynot have a published price. I maybe wrong.
5. Do you have a UV filter on the lens?
I just used the DA-L as an example. I saw a couple of the limited on amazon for the old price, but always from non-amazon retailers, and they always said "order now, only X left in stock!" which made me think those guys were just going to sell their last pentax lenses and drop the brand.

I wish I had more money, or I'd scoop up all of those remaining lenses for the old price. Not looking forward to paying $500-600 more for a full set of limited primes.
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