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10-01-2012, 08:26 PM   #1
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K-5/II/IIs questions - noobie so please be gentle

I recently lost most of my (Canon) camera gear to an unfortunate accident involving the ocean and a miscreant wave. So I am in a somewhat unique position of contemplating what I replace my gear with, assuming the insurance company comes to the party and pays out for my lost gear. I still have some Canon lenses and accessories, but not so much that I now feel I can't afford to switch "teams", so to speak.

I have been reading info on these forums and other websites for the last few days and have become particularly interested in the K-5 (or potentially the II/IIs).

The things that appeal to me about the K-5:

- Image quality (especially compared to Canon 7D);
- Low noise at base ISO (Pentax seems to have a better solution for this than Nikon for this family of sensors);
- Ergonomics of the body;
- Weather sealing;
- Ruggedness of design;
- Cost;
- Ability to use GPS unit to take astro-photos;
- sensor-based image-stabilization;
- ability to utilise a lot of legacy lenses;
- and a whole host of other features.

It seems to me that the K-5 is one of the best reviewed cameras out there after reviewing many, reviews from North America, Europe and Asia. Which, frankly, was a little bit of a surprise to me as I hadn't given Pentax much thought before.

It's probably the geek in me, but I love the potential of the O-GPS1 for astro-photography. I think coupled with a really good limited lens, or older Pentax wide-angle lens, this could produce amazing results.

But I also have some concerns before I jump into the Pentax fold. I am not trying to flame or cause a controversy here, but I have read enough forum posts and comments on reviews from Pentax owners, that give me some pause before I leap onto the Pentax wagon.

Immediate Concerns:

- Shutter lock-up issue, for want of a better term;
- SDM lens issues.

These two issues give me pause, because they seem to represent a manufacturing issue that Pentax did not really acknowledge and never adequately explained publicly. I get the sense that these issues may now be resolved, but they give me some pause in buying into Pentax, if the manufacturer is so reluctant to acknowledge a problem and resolve it to their user base. I am more than willing to be corrected on my impression of these two issues.

Other concerns:

- Cost of lenses (The recent revelations that lenses are cheaper when phoning US based retailers for orders, rather than online purchases, bothers me considerably. What are Pentax USA thinking? I live in Canada, where does that leave me?);
- Availability of lens stock (it seems that few retailers here in Canada seem to carry much stock of Pentax lenses, especially the "limited" lenses, I know I can special order, but that never comes at a discount);
- Availability of camera stock (one of the largest Canadian camera retailers is listing the upcoming availability of the K-5II as "This exciting new product is being released in limited quantity. Orders will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis." This seems to be a very odd way to promote the release of a new camera.

I realise that this isn't a large list of concerns, but I can't get over the feeling that Pentax aren't quite committed to the DSLR product line, or playing fair with their users at the moment.

I am more than willing to be corrected in my views. But this is the view of someone coming back to Pentax after 35 years and having never really considered Pentax from a digital perspective since then.

10-01-2012, 08:50 PM - 1 Like   #2
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If the K-5II/s has beter AF I would not even hesitate on it. Otherwise go with the regular K-5 which I have. I compared side by side with the 7D and have a Pentax. I looked and shopped for cameras and read for almost a year before buying.

I have all third party lenses with a few Pentax ones... as opportunity arises I might buy some more of the modern primes 15mm, 31mm etc...but for now, the zooms I have are great. I have older and third party primes...but not many of the pentax ones.Tamron 17-50 and 70-200 are both fabulous. And they offer constant f2.8... and you can get both for cheap... as relative to lenses go.

I have a tamron 10-24mm as well...I am still working with that one figuring it out.

Personally I am way more confident now in Pentax under the new ownership. Others are freaking out. Truth is in my opinion Ricoh just took over barely 6 months ago and everyone is expecting a miracle out of them...over the next 2-3 years I think Pentax will be in a whole new league.
10-01-2012, 09:10 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by SointulArt Quote
I realise that this isn't a large list of concerns, but I can't get over the feeling that Pentax aren't quite committed to the DSLR product line, or playing fair with their users at the moment.
I would have to disagree with this. Pentax has stated rather firmly that they are committed to the dslr market. They have released a completely new camera, the k-30 and a refresh of the k-5 just in the last few months. They have published a new lens road map and actually released some of those already. In short, they have delivered on everything they actually said they would. How is that not fair?

QuoteOriginally posted by SointulArt Quote
Immediate Concerns: - Shutter lock-up issue, for want of a better term; - SDM lens issues.
I do not think the "shutter lockup" or whatever has been very wide spread. All cameras have some issues, which generally decrease over the lifespan of a model. Since they just refreshed the k-5, I would think anything reported as an issue would be dealt with. As to SDM there is no denying that has been a real issue. From statements at Photokina they seem to have a fix for this going forward. However, the simple solution is to not buy SDM lenses. I prefer screw drive anyway, for several reasons having nothing to do with SDM failure. Also, keep in mind that the SDM issues came under Hoya's stewardship and seem to have been resolved under Ricoh management. Ricoh seems to have more emphasis on delivering a quality product and fixing design and manufacturing issues than Hoya did. That's just my opinion based on my experience with RIcoh as a copier company.
QuoteOriginally posted by SointulArt Quote
Availability of lens stock (it seems that few retailers here in Canada seem to carry much stock of Pentax lenses, especially the "limited" lenses,
Not sure why that is an issue, how many lenses are you planning to buy? And it appears from what I've read that Canada is in much better shape than the states as far as local availability. I currently have over 20 k mount lenses and a full set of Takumars, never had to wait to get any of them. Admitted most of those were bought used but the new ones were all in stock and delivered quickly.
QuoteOriginally posted by SointulArt Quote
Availability of camera stock (one of the largest Canadian camera retailers is listing the upcoming availability of the K-5II as "This exciting new product is being released in limited quantity. Orders will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis." This seems to be a very odd way to promote the release of a new camera.
Not really, at least not for Pentax, which is a tiny company compared to the big two. Pentax does not seem to have the production capacity to make a big "iphone" style launch with millions of units in stock. But that would not worry me, the k-5II was just announced and stock will be arriving. I think they just want to be cautious not to over-promise on delivery.
10-01-2012, 10:26 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
I currently have over 20 k mount lenses
For a brief moment there, I read this as over 20,000 lenses. I've heard of LBA taking hold bad!

10-02-2012, 12:47 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by SointulArt Quote
I realise that this isn't a large list of concerns, but I can't get over the feeling that Pentax aren't quite committed to the DSLR product line, or playing fair with their users at the moment.
Ricoh is unquestionably committed to the DSLR product line - so much so that I'm concerned that other cameras like the WG-2 or Q might get neglected. It's almost certain they have 2 higher-end DSLRs coming out next year (3 if you count the likely 645D update). But one, if not two, are likely to be in the second half of the year. We'll just have to wait a while. It appears Canon has a similar "waiting" situation right now, where users will have to wait until next year for more new products. In particular, they're trying to catch up to Pentax and Nikon in high-ISO performance on APS-C. But at least for now, Nikon is a bit in limbo since the D7000 is effectively discontinued, but it's replacement isn't certain. On the other hand, Pentax' K-5 II(s) should be a solid entry for the next year or so.

QuoteOriginally posted by SointulArt Quote
Immediate Concerns:
As has already been stated, I think these are not big issues now.

QuoteOriginally posted by SointulArt Quote
Other concerns:
The most legitimate concern is the lens availability and cost, I think. I'm sure you'll be able to get them - no problem. It's just not clear what Pentax is doing with the pricing. Keep in mind that all the manufacturers will have to (and have) increase prices due to the dollar to yen ratios. I think most Pentaxians hope and believe they'll settle down to a moderate 10-20% price increase, rather than bouncing up and down so dramatically as they have this year. But if you go with Pentax, I think the lenses will make you want to stay.

QuoteOriginally posted by SointulArt Quote
It's probably the geek in me, but I love the potential of the O-GPS1 for astro-photography. I think coupled with a really good limited lens, or older Pentax wide-angle lens, this could produce amazing results.
In general, this is true - you often get amazing results with legacy glass. But when going really wide, remember that Pentax legacy lenses are full-frame, so you'll have to go with something newer. The DA15/4 is fantastic for most wide-angle use, and the DA10-17 is really nice for a user controllable minimal-to-prominent fisheye effect. But a popular solution for astrophotography is the faster but MF Samyang 14/2.8, and many Pentaxians are interested in the Samyang 10mm due out around the end of the year.

Any * or FA Ltd lens is a top choice; DA and DA Ltd lenses range from good to downright excellent, depending on the model.

Since you are new here, perhaps you haven't seen this. It will allow you to choose lenses, cameras, or a combination of the two and see what kinds of photos they produce. Choose Cameras and Lenses at the upper right:

http://www.pentaxphotogallery.com

Last edited by DSims; 10-02-2012 at 01:17 AM.
10-02-2012, 02:37 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
I would have to disagree with this. Pentax has stated rather firmly that they are committed to the dslr market. They have released a completely new camera, the k-30 and a refresh of the k-5 just in the last few months. They have published a new lens road map and actually released some of those already. In short, they have delivered on everything they actually said they would. How is that not fair?
Delivering a camera with issues (K5) and then making customers pay for another one if they want those issues fixed (K5-II) doesn't seem very fair though. It's something even used car salesmen are afraid of doing.
10-02-2012, 08:59 AM   #7
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If you are an outdoorsy type, the Pentax line is a good choice. I feel that Pentax/Ricoh are dedicated to the platform, and especially filling the outdoor camera "niche" (if you want to call it that). The K5/KII/K30 offer great weather sealing in a high quality compact body. Also, great support for legacy glass, good ergonomics, and they are a joy to use. Nice limited glass.

Granted the platform does have some problems that hopefully will be fixed in time. Pentax was recently purchased by Ricoh and things are still getting sorted out IMO--but the general consensus on the forums is that Ricoh will be better for Pentax than Hoya was.

SDM-valid concern. Unsure if this has been fixed, though cases seem to be on the decline, and there are often decent Tamron/Sigma alternatives.
High lens prices--definitely a concern...though there are workarounds (used, calling B&H for a nearly 50% discount).
AF-Pentax is perhaps a generation or two behind Canikon in AF tech...though it will be interesting to see how the K5II performs. If AF in difficult lighting conditions is a dealbreaker, wait for the K5II or go Canikon.
No FF-Need a FF upgrade path? Still hazy with Pentax, with the others you have several options.

If I were a pro sports shooter or something, I would likely go with Nikon/Canon as they seem more dedicated to professionals (ie, faster camera repair times). Hopefully Pentax will step it up here.

If none of the above are dealbreakers, the Pentax system is quite nice and the K5 is just a joy to use.
10-02-2012, 06:33 PM   #8
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Original Poster
Thank you all for your replies and helping me alleviate some of my concerns.

One issue that I just discovered is something that may be a deal breaker for me, and it is unrelated to any of my other concerns listed previously.

I didn't realise that Pentax do not provide the software for tethered shooting with the K5 and from the specs listed on the Pentax website for the K5-II either.

I have looked at PKTether - which seems to be progressing rather slowly. I also haven't been able to find any mention of an SDK (Software Development Kit) on the Pentax website - does this mean that Pentax doesn't provide any way to writ software for their DSLRs?

The reason this could be a deal breaker, is that I do a lot of macro work and use focus stacking to shoot my subjects. It seems that this won't really be possible in any automated way with a Pentax body?

I have also been getting into timelapse work and have used DSLR Remote Pro by Breeze Systems to set up the runs and download direct to my netbook. I do understand that the K5 has an intervalometer, so this can be done "in camera." But I do like to be able to focus on the PC and ensure everything is right before committing to 6 hours of shooting.

Please tell me that there are other alternatives I haven't found yet...

10-02-2012, 07:00 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by SointulArt Quote
Thank you all for your replies and helping me alleviate some of my concerns.

One issue that I just discovered is something that may be a deal breaker for me, and it is unrelated to any of my other concerns listed previously.

I didn't realise that Pentax do not provide the software for tethered shooting with the K5 and from the specs listed on the Pentax website for the K5-II either.

I have looked at PKTether - which seems to be progressing rather slowly. I also haven't been able to find any mention of an SDK (Software Development Kit) on the Pentax website - does this mean that Pentax doesn't provide any way to writ software for their DSLRs?
I really am not sure why Pentax has dropped tethering. I have not tried PK Tether but I understand it does not allow for live view tethering which could be a dealbreaker. (I also have a Canon DSLR with live view and this function is very nice with EOS utility--very useful for macro photography).

If you really need tethering support, I'd probably check out another brand.

Don't know about the timelapse.
10-02-2012, 07:44 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by SointulArt Quote
I have looked at PKTether - which seems to be progressing rather slowly. I also haven't been able to find any mention of an SDK (Software Development Kit) on the Pentax website - does this mean that Pentax doesn't provide any way to writ software for their DSLRs?
.
That is correct, the only tethering support offered by Pentax OS for the 645D. PKTether is a hack, but it is still better than the official software. Ricoh has been typically non-committal about supporting any other cameras. If you need tethering get a Canon or Nikon.
10-02-2012, 09:38 PM - 1 Like   #11
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Time-lapse can be done with pktether.

And why do people keep failing to mention pkTriggerCord as a Pentax tethering app?
It is under active development, has a GUI version, is available for multiple hardware and software (inc Linux) platforms, and is open-source. The developer has even put together a short tutorial for using pkTriggercord to do time-lapse:
pkTriggerCord timelapse
11-08-2012, 08:48 PM   #12
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Going Pentax

First of all I want to thank everyone for their helpful replies to my original post. I have thought long and hard about this, and have spent a month or so looking at my options. I also now have a cheque from the insurance company for my damaged Canon gear (about 50% of the original cost).

As an aside, much of the difference between my original purchase price and my final payout is due to the significant price drop in things like memory cards from when I originally purchased them. It's now hard to believe I paid over $200 for CF cards that you can now pick up for $30. Of course the replacement needed to deal with a new camera isn't necessarily the same, but the insurance company didn't see it that way.

Anyway, back to the crux of the issue. In an ideal world I would love to own a FF DSLR. The options for that are a Canon 5D MkII (now around $1799 in Canada, plus tax of course), the as-yet-unreleased Canon 6D, or the rather more expensive 5D Mk III. In the Nikon camp there is the D800/e and the D600, which retails around $2000 body only. The Sony a99 is also way out of my price point. I struggled a bit with this, trying to juggle finances and what I could sell to add to the pot to buy in to full frame in a serious way. I believe, that if you are going to go FF, you have to have the budget for the glass to match the camera. I could buy a body and one lens, but then it's going to take me a long time to buy more good glass.

So I have accepted that an APS-C sensor body is a realistic choice given my budget. I looked at the Nikon D7000 and the Canon 60D and 7D. The build and auto-focus abilities of the 7D are impressive, but it still suffers from the inherent problems of the Canon sensors for low-light work and lack of play in raw files.

The thing I kept coming back to was the IQ of the K5 images I have been looking at here and on many other sites. I like the low base ISO noise in the K5 raw files. I hated the high read-noise in the Canon sensors that really screw with you when you try and pull up details from shadows and gives banding like you wouldn't believe. Or I guess you might...

So I have come back to thinking that a K5/II/IIs is the way to go. I have been following the new K5II/s release info and have read through the review here thoroughly several times.

I have to say that I don't see a compelling argument to go for the latest and greatest K5II/s models. I understand there are low-light focusing issues with the original K5 and accept that. I don't do any studio work under tungsten lighting, so that isn't an issue. The K5IIs is somewhat appealing due to it's ability to provide a little more detail and contrast at low f stops on good lenses. But I haven't seen any real examples in the comparisons that have become available, where a little post-sharpening would give a similar result with a K5/II. Then there is the threat of moire intruding in images without a AA filter. Although I have only seen a couple of images with obvious moire, and one of them was a wedding party and it was only obvious in two guys ties. So that's not a major concern.

Unless I have missed something, there really doesn't seem to be a huge difference between the K5 and K5II/s. The sensor is the same, almost the entire functionality of the camera is the same, it produces the same IQ (excepting the K5IIs potential for greater detail) as the original K5. Oh, and it fixes a focusing issue in tungsten low light. Am I missing something something else?

So think that it makes more sense to go for a new K5 or a 2nd hand K5 with low shutter actuation's. The price difference between these cameras and a new K5II/s will enable me to buy better glass and preferably one or two limited primes.

I do have a couple of questions, if anyone is still reading this endless post. I have read a few comments from Pentax users saying that modern digital Pentax bodies, and their viewfinders, are not well-suited for precise focusing of manual lenses. Would anyone who uses the K5 with legacy manual lenses like to comment and provide some sage advice? I would really appreciate it.

Also, if buying a used K5, are there any specific details I should ask the owner before buying. I know there were several issues with earlier serial number bodies, but have no idea what the cutoff of the serial numbers for the suspect bodies was. Any advice most welcome.

cheers
Darryl

Last edited by SointulArt; 11-08-2012 at 11:11 PM.
11-08-2012, 09:26 PM   #13
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Hi I am also looking to buy into Pentax now,and the K5II($935 without our 25% sales tax) is only $100 more than the K5 where I live in Denmark,so its an easy choice.as the latest model has fixed all the bugs ans a bit faster AF in low light.And also hopefully no chance of sensor stain,as on early K5 models.
For FF I would get the D800, a friend who is a pro has one and nothing can compare to it for now.
11-09-2012, 02:20 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by SointulArt Quote
So think that it makes more sense to go for a new K5 or a 2nd hand K5 with low shutter actuation's. The price difference between these cameras and a new K5II/s will enable me to buy better glass and preferably one or two limited primes.
The K-5 IIs is an improvement over the K-5 that I think you'd appreciate. But you have to go with putting the money toward better lenses first - in fact, that's what I did. You may even consider the K-30 if it has the features you need (I can't remember now if there was a reason you couldn't). There's pretty good availability of fine lenses right now here on the Marketplace, so once you figure out which ones you need, go for it!

BTW, I see Adobe just released support (in the RC) for the K-5 II & IIs, so you and others will be able to make good RAW file comparisons now.
11-09-2012, 01:46 PM - 1 Like   #15
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I have had some issues with focusing screen on K10D and K5 I own. I have always wondered why they don't offer a split screen like the old LX did and other brands so I bought the Katz eyes screen and I have been very satisfied ever since...but with a price!
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