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06-28-2012, 10:45 AM   #1
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Help! Old Film guy-new K-5-headed to Alaska

Recently received a new K-5 w/ kit lens 18-55 and 55-300 ED and 43mm 1.9. I am familar with basic photography. My background is in older 35mm and medium format film. mainly black and white work, darkroom etc.

I don't beieve I am going to be able to encompass all of the features of the K-5 prior to a trip to Alaska I have planned. I am currently playing with the camera in manual mode and changing ap,shuuter and film speed as I need to with pretty good success.

I need suggestions. My thought were to buy several small capacity memory cards and shoot everything in RAW + JPEG. In that way once I return I can manipulate the photos once I become more familar with these new toys.

Are there any default settings I should change? In reading through this forum it looks as though I should remove any PP stuff and simply use this later since I'll shoot in Raw?

Will also be purchasing a new PC when I return. From a photographers viewpoint suggetions would be appreciated on MAC vs PC and software to be used to process the RAW photos.

06-28-2012, 11:24 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by SMC Quote
I need suggestions. My thought were to buy several small capacity memory cards and shoot everything in RAW + JPEG. In that way once I return I can manipulate the photos once I become more familar with these new toys.
I have always advocated multiple small(ish) capacity cards instead of higher capacity. Should Murphy's Law be invoked, you'll loose fewer pictures. Unless you plan on transferring the photos for viewing on some other device while you're away, I don't see much purpose for the jpegs, but if storage space isn't an issue there's no harm.
QuoteOriginally posted by SMC Quote
From a photographers viewpoint suggetions would be appreciated on MAC vs PC and software to be used to process the RAW photos.
I'd sooner poke a wild gorilla with a stick than wade into the Mac/PC debate, but as far as software goes, you can't go wrong with Lightroom. Augment it with Photoshop or PS Elements, and you can do just about anything you'll care to do.

Last edited by Parallax; 06-29-2012 at 08:45 AM.
06-28-2012, 12:24 PM   #3
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Hey, congrats on your trip to Alaska. I live in Homer (south of Anchorage). Just remember the bug spray.

The K-5 is an excellent camera to bring to AK due to the weather sealing and durability (though it hasn't been a terribly wet summer--unless you go to Southeast AK).

You will appreciate the 18mm range with landscapes and 300mm so you don't have to get too close to the wildlife.

I am mostly into landscape/walkaround photography. I mostly shoot in aperture priority or manual with most or all of the settings turned off to speed the camera up. I figure I can pretty much fix everything later in RAW (I don't shoot JPG). AE-L is useful.

The idea of having multiple memory cards is a good one.

As far as Mac/PC goes, you will have good results with either. Really, it boils down to what you're most comfortable with at this point. Most of the Photo software functions about the same. Macintosh used to be a pretty clear choice for desktop publishing but it seems like they are pretty close now, especially as the Macs now use Intel processors. Lots of folks dig lightroom. I use Adobe Camera RAW from an older version of Photoshop.

You might check into whether your camera is insured before taking it and some expensive lenses (sometimes homeowner's insurance covers a drop in the ocean while halibut fishing, theft, etc.) Nice to protect the investment.

Have a great trip, and you can always send me a PM if you need some recommendations on things to do/see up here.
06-28-2012, 02:15 PM   #4
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There are a couple thoughts on memory cards. If you take one large one and it craps out, you're doomed. If you take a bunch of smaller ones, you increase the odds one of them will crap out on you, which doesn't mean your doomed, but it's not good either. I opt for two large cards and a portable back up drive to back up to. Worked great for our recent trip abroad. A laptop will work too, if you're taking one.

If you are shooting RAW+Jpg, the files are huge. I used two 32GB cards and nearly filled them both with a combined total of over 1400 shots of RAW+Jpg.

If you are going to be hiking in the wild, consider taking a small caliber pistol with you in case of bear. It won't do any good to use on the bear, but you can shoot whoever's with you in the knee cap and thus out run them. (J/K, of course.)

06-28-2012, 02:38 PM   #5
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Memory cards are cheap - buy a few :-)

There is not much reason to shoot RAW+jpg. You can easily and quickly "extract a jpg" from RAW files using the software that came with your camera - probably in less that 5 minutes. You can even convert them all in one batch (though it will take longer - a few seconds per image). No need to waste space on the cards.
06-28-2012, 02:50 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tom S. Quote
There are a couple thoughts on memory cards. If you take one large one and it craps out, you're doomed. If you take a bunch of smaller ones, you increase the odds one of them will crap out on you, which doesn't mean your doomed, but it's not good either. I opt for two large cards and a portable back up drive to back up to. Worked great for our recent trip abroad. A laptop will work too, if you're taking one.

If you are shooting RAW+Jpg, the files are huge. I used two 32GB cards and nearly filled them both with a combined total of over 1400 shots of RAW+Jpg.

If you are going to be hiking in the wild, consider taking a small caliber pistol with you in case of bear. It won't do any good to use on the bear, but you can shoot whoever's with you in the knee cap and thus out run them. (J/K, of course.)
I adopted a similar but unarmed approach on a recent trip to Europe, as bears were in short supply there, and I didn't take anything longer than my 18-135. On this last point, the weather sealing was tested well (and proven) in Amsterdam, where we were subject to a sudden downpour of almost tropical intensity.

Tablets aren't an effective substitute for a laptop yet, so a lightweight laptop is essential. I took my two year old 13" MacBook Pro, and tagged photos each night, along with some basic editing in CS5. I also backed up onto a small portable hard drive. SD cards from a reputable maker are a must: cheap is not cheerful here.

Harking back to the PC-Mac comments, Apple has an edge in light laptops and in keeping your desktop clear (with the iMac), but PC manufacturers are copying their products now, so that has more influence on the convergence of effectiveness than the use of Intel processors, which was adopted by Apple only because Motorola had no development plan for the G-5 processor.
06-28-2012, 03:23 PM   #7
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As far as bears, I'd just educate yourself on proper etiquette in bear country, pick up a can of pepper spray and know how to use it, and always make noise while hiking (a good conversation is best). Don't sleep with a salmon in the tent. Most folks probably aren't too accurate with a gun under pressure and the last thing you want is a injured and extremely angry bear on your hands. Best just to avoid those situations using proper bear country etiquette.
06-28-2012, 03:53 PM - 2 Likes   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by sb in ak Quote
As far as bears, I'd just educate yourself on proper etiquette in bear country, pick up a can of pepper spray and know how to use it, and always make noise while hiking (a good conversation is best). Don't sleep with a salmon in the tent. Most folks probably aren't too accurate with a gun under pressure and the last thing you want is a injured and extremely angry bear on your hands. Best just to avoid those situations using proper bear country etiquette.
Here's what one of our guides told us about bears:

Wear bright clothing and carry a can of pepper spray. Also look for signs of bear activity. Looking at scat (bear poop) can help to identify bears. Black bear scat will be small and contain bits of twigs as their diet consists of berries. Grizzly scat on the other hand will contain bits of bright clothing and smell like pepper spray.

06-28-2012, 05:11 PM   #9
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06-28-2012, 06:36 PM   #10
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I really appreciate all the info. I think I'll be much better prepared, especially about the bears.
Truthfully it's a cruise to Alaska wiTh stops in Ketchikan (halibut fishing) Juneau ( float plane fly fishing) and Skagway for a train ride. Sounds kinda touristy but hopefully I'll be able to get some landscapes and maybe a bear with the 50- 300. hopefully no closer.
06-28-2012, 06:59 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by SMC Quote
I really appreciate all the info. I think I'll be much better prepared, especially about the bears.
Truthfully it's a cruise to Alaska wiTh stops in Ketchikan (halibut fishing) Juneau ( float plane fly fishing) and Skagway for a train ride. Sounds kinda touristy but hopefully I'll be able to get some landscapes and maybe a bear with the 50- 300. hopefully no closer.
Sweet. The White Pass trainride out of Skagway is supposed to be phenomenal. Southeast Alaska is stunningly beautiful even if its rainy. Have a great time.
06-28-2012, 07:13 PM   #12
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Have a great trip! If you haven't tried it, try the Tav mode on the K5. It makes getting the right speed and/or aperture easy, with little worry about ISO.

Regards!
06-28-2012, 07:57 PM   #13
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A few quick things come to mind,

1) Take the time to update the firmware to the current version if you have not done so already. Be sure to have a fully charged battery while doing this.
Downloads & Literature - PENTAX Imaging USA

2) Be sure the auto horizon correction feature is set to off. For some reason on most of the K5's it is off by 2 or 3 degrees and will give you slanted pictures.
I learned this the hard way. The info is on page 140 of the users manual on how to turn it on or off.

3) Read up on your lenses to learn their strong and weak points.
18-55mm
Pentax SMC DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL WR - Lab Test / Review
55-300mm
Pentax SMC DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED - Review / Test Report
43mm
http://www.photozone.de/pentax/736-pentax43f19k5

And last but not least....If you see a bear cub stay far far away or mama bear may want to come by and tear your head off.
With a 300mm lens no need to get too close.

Have a great trip!
06-29-2012, 04:59 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by SMC Quote
I really appreciate all the info. I think I'll be much better prepared, especially about the bears.
Truthfully it's a cruise to Alaska wiTh stops in Ketchikan (halibut fishing) Juneau ( float plane fly fishing) and Skagway for a train ride. Sounds kinda touristy but hopefully I'll be able to get some landscapes and maybe a bear with the 50- 300. hopefully no closer.
We took that same cruise 2 years ago. It was fantastic.
06-29-2012, 05:23 AM   #15
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Just one point on shooting raw+jpeg. I shoot this way and I've found it quite usefull in sorting out which shots to keep. It's a lot quicker than pulling up the jpeg from the raw file. My work flow is this: put the card in a reader and transfer files to a desktop folder. Sort thru the shots using the windows media viewer. Delete the rejects from the folder and then work with the raw files if needed (some files are OK right out of camera, maybe needing only a bit of a crop). Working this way saves me quite a bit of time. SD cards are cheap, I use 3 32GB cards, each card holds about (depending on make) 650 raw+jpeg shots.
If you are planning on taking A LOT of shots, you might want to consider a photo safe. These are small portable hard drives (usually up to 500GB) that have an attached card reader, just plug your card into the "safe" and upload the contents to the small portable HD.

NaCl(enjoy your trip)H2O
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