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07-01-2012, 03:50 PM   #1
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Looking towards the K-5

Hi, Recently I've been doing weekly photo shoots for a local restaurant/bar. The bar is dimly lit and has color changing LED lights by the stage/dance floor. I take photos of the band, dancers, and people at the bar for use on the website. I take 100-300 a week, but edit and post 20-40 shots. I do other shots with the camera as well, but 75% of all I do is in the same bar.

Here is my current setup for these shots:
Pentax K-X body
Sigma 28mm 1.8 prime lens
Pentax 360FGZ Flash

The setup works pretty well, but I feel like it is lacking in some ways.

Good:
Colors look great on the prime lens
set-up gives great performance for the price I paid in low light conditions with flash and large aperture

Bad:
High ISO shots on the k-x look very noisy and I'm looking for a sharper/more crisp image in general
No zoom capability. Backing up/moving forward to frame a shot with the prime lens is a bit bothersome for me and the patrons.
Focusing isn't too slow, but I'd prefer it faster. I'm looking for split second moments (smiles, band member poses, etc).

I do not mind how much audible noise the camera/lens/flash make, only their performance in these low light settings. I'm looking at getting a K-5 and a new lens. I was looking at the pentax SMC DA* 16-50mm 2.8 and the sigma 17-50mm 2.8 lens, but I'm still very much an amateur, so I haven't completely sold myself that these will provide what I'm looking to do. Any advice here would be great, even if the advice is to drop Pentax all together. I've been very happy with my setup so far, but if moving to Canon (the other guy who does shots at this place uses canon, so we'd be able to share lenses) or another brand would be best for me, I'm open to that as well. Any advice would be much appreciated.


Last edited by Marc Langille; 07-01-2012 at 04:09 PM.
07-03-2012, 04:36 AM   #2
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The IQ from the Pentax will definitely be a step up, and the Sigma combined with that will work wonders in low-light. Check out this review:
DA* 16-50mm vs. Sigma and Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 Comparison - Introduction - PentaxForums.com

As far as other brands go, the Canon 7D or Nikon D7000 would be comparable alternatives. The main thing you'd lose is the in-body stabilization, which greatly increases the number of viable lens choices for just about any purpose, as some Canikon lenses simply aren't available with stabilization.
07-03-2012, 06:30 AM   #3
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I do a lot of shooting in bars and clubs, as well as art galleries, and found the K-5 much, much better for this than my k-x. TAv mode is fantastic for this type of shooting; being able to change shutter and aperture whilst having floating ISO really ups the keeper rate and allows for much faster artistic changes. ISO is usable up to 5000 as well, so there's a lot less need to use flash.

As for a lens, I recently got the Sigma 24-70 2.8 DG macro, the screw-drive one, and I can't say enough good things about it. It focuses very fast and accurately under all lighting conditions, gives great colours and is built like a tank. 2.8 is more than sharp enough, but stopping down just a tiny bit makes it sharper still.

Here's one I took a few months ago - just before I bought the Sigma - with the kit lens on the K-5. The only lighting came from two strip lights up on the ceiling.
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07-03-2012, 06:43 AM   #4
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In your case I would also considder the new K-30 wich should do the job aswell.

07-07-2012, 01:17 AM   #5
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Thanks for the advice! I went ahead with the K-5. I saw the K30 was very comparable, but the K-5 was on sale for $799, no tax, free shipping, so I figured I'd bite. I was looking towards the sigma lens, but it seems like the tamron is comparable and much cheaper from looking at the comparison review, so I may go with that. For now I'll probably use the sigma prime lens, but not as wide open. Excited to see the better lower light performance of the K-5!
07-09-2012, 06:21 PM   #6
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Yikes! Where are you finding this K-5 for $799? I'd consider jumping on that!
07-09-2012, 10:20 PM   #7
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It was an ebay deal through Beach Camera. Was only a temporary thing, 70 people bought it before they sold out over the course of a day or two. It was posted in the price watch on these forums.
07-09-2012, 11:30 PM   #8
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I'd rather have f/1.8 on a K-x than f/2.8 on a K-5 in dark conditions though if you are worried about noise in your pictures. There's no way a K-5 is more than a stop better than the K-x.

Also I'd be shooting RAW and doing noise reduction in post.

Ideally you'd keep the K-x with your 28/1.8, and add to it your new K-5 with an equally fast prime, maybe a FA50/1.4?

07-10-2012, 02:57 PM   #9
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I have the sigma prime f/1.8 and the 360fgz still. I didn't buy a new lens yet, just the camera body. I will probably hold off on a new lens, but I should be able to increase my light sensitivity from 1600 to 3200 and it will still look better on the k-5

I still am looking toward a replacement lens for the bar though. Framing a shot by moving forward and backward in a bar with people drinking around me is bothersome.
07-10-2012, 03:34 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Salmoon Quote
I have the sigma prime f/1.8 and the 360fgz still. I didn't buy a new lens yet, just the camera body. I will probably hold off on a new lens, but I should be able to increase my light sensitivity from 1600 to 3200 and it will still look better on the k-5
Not sure why you think the K-5 is over a stop better than the K-x? Have you looked at DXO?
07-10-2012, 05:38 PM   #11
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I meant it as the K-x is set to 1600 normally when shooting in the pitch black bar with a flash, if the K-5 would be set to 3200 and I'm getting the same quality shot after editing. As far as just light, I saw this from snapsort
Significantly lower noise at high ISO1,162 ISOvs811 ISO The K-5 has a slight edge (0.5 f-stops) in low noise, high ISO performance
Maybe I'm too hopeful, haha
I only use the 28mm f/1.8 sigma for these conditions right now.
07-10-2012, 05:43 PM   #12
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Yeah the K-5 is half a stop better, I interpreted you as thinking it was well over a stop, just wanted to give you a more realistic expectation To get over a stop better you'd be looking at getting a D700.
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