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06-20-2013, 08:52 PM - 4 Likes   #1
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Rainy day wedding with D800 makes me love my K5

I bought a Nikon D600 back around Christmas. I just upgraded last week to a Nikon D800. I shoot Pentax and have a stupidly large collection of film and digital Pentax equipment... which I love.

Today I decided to take my D800 out for it's first professional, and for all intents and purposes, very first shoot.... and it made me love my Pentax K5.

Both cameras are incredible tools which produce amazing results. There are people out there composing photographic symphonies of brilliance with both cameras. In fact, i'm sure if one was to take a collection of the best 10 photos from both cameras, print them on a 14" sheet of paper and hang them on the wall, no one could sit down and pick out which camera created which image.

but... how hard do you need to work at it to get said image? How did your camera help you create that image? Would the other camera have made it any easier to do the same job?

We are talking about two cameras and systems that have many similarities, yet are very far apart in how they create a photograph. Sure, you could use the DX crop mode of the D800 to get pretty close to the K5. But it's not always about the guts.

I shot a casual wedding today. Just a get together of the closest friends and family of the brides to be (yes, brides) and this photographer wielding a brand new camera he's known for a week. I've shot weddings before with my K5. The D800 has many ergonomic similarities to the K5. This should be easy. Wait a sec.. because of the casualness, and the impatience of the group to get to the celebratory drinks at another venue.. I had about 130 minutes on site. I should have brought the K5.


Last night I did a final check on my gear. Calibrated the autofocus on all my Nikon lenses, made sure the D800 battery was charged, packed some SD cards, made sure they were formatted. Made sure my wireless flash triggers were charged up, and threw everything in the bag.

D800
24 f2.8 D
50mm Zeiss Planar T f1.4
85mm f1.8 G
80-200 f2.8
SB700
K5
DA*16-50
DA*50-135
LX
31 Limited
43 Limited
77 Limited
2x Elinchrom Universal Receivers
Elinchrom transmitter
Tripod
Lighting stands
Umbrella

Yes... it all fit into two bags, a Think Tank shoulder pack, and a stand bag for the tripod/umbrella/lighting stands. Think I overpacked? Yea... I did

I even went to the store before hand to grab a CF card (105mb/sec CF card) and another SB700.

Well, I get to the venue 30 minutes early to setup, its outdoors. It starts drizzling a bit. Okay, the D800 is weather sealed, the 85 G is weather sealed, the SB700's are weather sealed. But lets prep the K5 and 50-135 anyways... drat, batteries are both in the yellow for the K5. I grabbed the wrong pair off the shelf. Ok then.

Setup the flashes on the light stands. Go to grab the triggers. Drat, where I did I put them? (I find out later when I get home they were in a different pocket) D800 has the 80-200 zoom on it sitting on my tripod. The rains let up. Lets do some lighting tests with CLS.

Nope, CLS not working. Then again...I've never tried it before. Then... the rain returns, this time heavier than before. The rain is just drenching me and the equipment. I can't see more than 100 meters in front of me clearly... it's bad. I quickly draw my flash umbrella closed as the light stand with my Sb700 is starting to become airborne.

I throw the D800 in my bag, then run the gear back to the trunk of my car (not realizing there is a shelter 25 meters to my right.) I keep my bag with me in the front, and start digging for spare K5 batteries hoping there is at least one in my bag that may be charged. I find a third, pop it in, it is yellow. I got some time on my K5.

So why am I grabbing for the K5? Well, the DA* lenses with me are both weather sealed, and I know them very well and know how well the weather seals are. I could shoot in a monsoon and be okay. I don't know the D800. But what I do know is...the D800 and 80-200 are just drenched.

The rain clears up and the guests start arriving. I head to the shelter with my gear, still dripping wet, and start getting my shutter finger warmed up. I use the D800 first, not knowing how long the battery will last on my K5. I check focus on the LCD screen on the back. Just quickly zooming in at max magnification... things are looking really soft. I mean really soft! I can't find an infocus section anywhere! It looks fine at 50% or less magnification, but any closer and it looks like muddy poo. I check it with three different lenses, same results. Has to be an issue with the screen, it just has too. The AF has been fine in all my tests. So I decide to trust the AF and hope that the final images are good.

I decided at this point not to try and use the flashguns, things are moving too quickly with family taking photos while I'm trying to figure myself out. I probably look like a tool at this point. I need to gain control, and I need to gain control of the photographic situation fast, or I could lose valuable images. So the flashguns go back in the bags and I start shooting.

Crud, no vibration reduction on these lenses or body. also need to stop down for depth of field. So I crank the iso upto 800. Usually my threshold for my K5 in the dark...and if the K5 can take it, the D800 should be able to deliver in strides. I trust that I'll be noise free when I get home.

We are now 15 minutes after the first group of this wedding arrive, and now the final late straggler shows up, one of the uncles. He's a bit of techno guy you can tell, or at least he wants to be. Hopefully I can use him later to assist. With that said, a quick pose with him and the ceremony starts.

Stupid lady with her ipad is trying to take photos... and she's going everywhere and getting right in my shots. Can't you see the photographer with the huge D800 and 80-200 zoom lens, whos' drenched wearing a white polo shirt trying to do his job? Guess not as your buried in your ipad. Luckily I'm resourceful and find ways to hide her.

The kiss happens. What, we are at the rings already? It's been less than 5 minutes. Thank god I'm in constant focus mode and high speed drive mode. I get the first exchange of the rings. Now the shutter wont fire and the second ring is about to get put on. Buffers full. 2 seconds...still full....3 seconds....still full...4 seconds, excellent, 2 shots, lets make them count. Frak... ipad lady just stepped right in front of me. I missed the shot.

Kiss happens, and I just push myself right into position, because I've been hired to do a job, and everyones got to have their cell phones out. I hate the modern world sometimes. I make sure my buffers clear and let it rip. I get my shot.

Now lets decide where to actually take photos, I'm now in control and leading the pack. but these brides got a mind of their own, and their already planning drinks. I need to get my shots though, so I send them down a path to walk towards me. Still using my 80-200 I get my walking through the woods shot. Lovely. Now the family goes nuts and wants to recreate what I did. So I swap out to my 24mm f2.8. I get the shot. We move on.

over by the bridge now. Trying to get some isolated depth of field shots. But things are moving really quickly, and the brides are losing interest in the photos and focusing more on the impending drinking. I quickly use this to my advantage and ask one of them how many they had before the wedding. Now the attentions back, and I got control again. I get my shots, we move on. I figure I got about one more scene left with these girls, and I saw a perfect place in the shelter where we started. Lets get back there.

On the way back, one family member looks fantastic, keeping herself looking young, and you can tell shes a fantastic lady. She's also got this awesome polka-dot umbrella. I ask if I can get just a solo portrait. Shot of the day.. yes I think so.

We get back to the shelter, and I get the girls to stand infront of this fading pair of hearts someone painted on the wall. I get going with the Zeiss 50mm f1.4 and the zoom lens, but the buffer is really starting to piss me off at this point so I take the K5 from my bag and put it on my hip right beside my LX. I fill the buffer on the D800, I quickly swap to my K5 and continue shooting. Then I go to my ultimate backup...the LX.

By this point I'm in a trance with the LX. Wind, snap, wind, snap, wind snap. Lock... out of film. D800. Finish the shoot. Pack the gear into the car. Star the engine, check the clock...130 minutes ago I popped the trunk to setup my gear...yikes Head to the bar with the group. Have a scotch. Come home, time to start processing.

No CF card reader... drat. USB 3, check. Lightroom check. LR4 seems like it locks up while I wait for it to figure out what to do with the D800 and 300 images I just shot. 3 minutes later it comes to life. Import button clicked. 10-15 minutes later (I'm not entirely sure, I went and changed my clothing, got a drink) and the images are on disk. I quickly scan through to find the shot I want to edit to throw up on the brides facebook page for her to see. Found it. Damnit, I missed the focus (Zeiss, manual focus lens) but it's still a great shot. I post it anyways. I win praise.

I then go through the rest of the photos....

1: Trusting the AF was the right move. The AF never screwed up on me. Almost every image is razor sharp where I wanted it to be. The ones that were not were either manual focus, or me screwing up.

2: Details are fantastic. This sensor really shows so much incredible detail. Going 1:1 crop one of the images showed incredible detail.

3: Colors and contrast are impressive. I love Pentax color and contrast. It is the best part of the Pentax system. These images though... are getting close. With the detail rendering though... the D800 wins

4: The images are massive. Just incredibly massive. It's stupid how big they are really... but I love them. Every last pixel of them

How was the camera?

1: Weather sealed! I knew the K5 and DA* lenses would have shrugged off this incredible rain with ease. But to see the D800 do it with a non-sealed lens was impressive

2: Ergonomically sound. Using the D800 felt like second nature, especially after learning the D600. There are a few things, like the AF-ON button that I have fallen in love with. So when I swapped to the K5, my hand placement was all off. Luckily muscle memory kicked in and everything was fine.

3: Big files mean smarter card choices! I got home and did a few tests. I had the camera setup to RAW CF and JPG FINE SD. This means the camera was doing double duty on processing, and the SD card is only a 60mb/sec card. When swapping the camera over to RAW only and the SD card to overflow mode, the buffer cleared a lot faster, and delivered a solid 20 frames in CH mode before freezing up on me, vs the 16 frames out in the field. In CL (2 frames per second) mode, I shot 25 frames before the buffer stalled out. It took 30 seconds to restore the buffer completely.

4: It's heavy. There is no way, no how, I would go on a long walk or urban exploration with my D800 and 80-200 f2.8 (quickly becoming a favorite lens). Not only is it heavy, I swear I'm going to have massive arms in a year, but it draws attention from everyone not buried behind an ipad.


But why did it make me love my K5 even more?

Simple.

a) I never have to worry about the weather. I live in an area of Canada where the weather is constantly changing. In the month of June we have gone from 6 degrees Celsius to 30. In one day from 6-25. That's a huge jump. In the spring or fall it's not uncommon for it to go from -20 to + 15 and back in one week. We had 3 torrential down pours today, with periods of no clouds and warm sun. The K5 can take this without missing a beat. While the D800 proved today it can... I still don't trust it as much as my K5

b) its compact. Compared to the D800 anyways. I remember when I thought the K5 was heavy. Then again, that was after a 4 hour hike in the mountains with 3 DA* lenses over my shoulder. I don't think I'll do that with the D800 and the 80-200 let alone letting 2 more lenses come for the ride.

c) it does not grab attention. You walk down a busy downtown street with a D800 and 85 1.8G your gonna get noticed. You walk down that same street 10 minutes later with a K5 and a 43mm f1.8 FA Limited...no one will see you

d) It's faster. Well not really. The AF on the K5 is slow compared to the D800. But the buffer clears a lot faster. Even with a slower memory card.

e) Every lens is stabilized. I've ignored Nikon's stabilized lenses for two reasons...Cost, and I like primes. The 80-200 f2.8 was chosen because it's $1000 cheaper than the 70-200 f2.8 VCII, and $300 cheaper than the 70-200 f4 VC, not to mention faster. So I decided to give it a whirl, and I'm not disappointed. But I can hand hold a K5 with DA*50-135 at an incredibly slower shutter speed to capture the same image without shake.

f) Finding used Pentax gear is easy...and usually inexpensive.

It is really hard to beat the Pentax system. I shot a couple of weddings last summer/fall, and I used my K5's and DA*, and FA Limiteds. But mostly my DA*50-135. I never missed a shot due to equipment. I'm sure once I get 10,000+ shots out of the D800 I'll be on the same wave.

It comes down to the right tool for the right job. But I think next shoot will see a bag packed like so:

D800
80-200 f2.8
85mm f1.8 G
20mm f2.8 D
K5
FA 31
FA 43
FA 77
DA*50-135
LX

why is the LX there?

Because... the LX is the greatest camera ever made.

What about day to day? Just take out the Nikon gear.

check my flickr page (signature) for a few preview shots

06-20-2013, 09:46 PM   #2
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What a great, descriptive post. I have never handled a D800 but am thinking of one and after reading this I actually feel as though I "know" the D800.....sounds stupid I know, but that is how well you written this piece...well done.
Have you aided my decision making process....no ! In fact you have probably muddied the waters a little more than they already were !!!!
My 'dilemna' is simply about getting the right tool for the job, but I must admit the pendulum keeps swinging back to Pentax.
06-20-2013, 09:46 PM   #3
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D800 is a bad choice for a wedding camera. The slow buffer and fps will catch you out sooner or later at a wedding.
But glad it all worked out in the end
06-20-2013, 11:20 PM   #4
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Thanks for the wonderful post! Reading it was almost like watching an action movie

I just wonder, how do you switch lenses and how do you choose them when you don't have enough time (like in case you had)? For example, if I had 50-135 mounted I would hardly switch it to 77 in such event. While I'm not nearly a pro photographer I had a few events where I had to act quicky to take a shot. I was very helpful to have K-7 with 77mm and K-5 with 16-50. Later I sold K-7 and 16-50 but still would want two bodies with, e.g 31mm on one and 77 on another. Or better three bodies, maybe K-01 with 15mm attached

What I mean is that I can't see switching lenses in fast changing situations practical. But you had the bottom line where you wrote that K-5 should be packed with four lenses, two of which interlap in focal length and close in quality of pictures produced. Could you describe your experience?

Another question: do you feel that D800 + 80-200 is the same as K-5 + 50-135? I mean, I used to FOV of lenses I have and just 'feel' what FL required for a shot. While 80-200 and 50-135 have the same FOV they should 'feel' the same. Is it true?

06-21-2013, 05:24 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by disya2 Quote
Thanks for the wonderful post! Reading it was almost like watching an action movie

I just wonder, how do you switch lenses and how do you choose them when you don't have enough time (like in case you had)? For example, if I had 50-135 mounted I would hardly switch it to 77 in such event. While I'm not nearly a pro photographer I had a few events where I had to act quicky to take a shot. I was very helpful to have K-7 with 77mm and K-5 with 16-50. Later I sold K-7 and 16-50 but still would want two bodies with, e.g 31mm on one and 77 on another. Or better three bodies, maybe K-01 with 15mm attached

What I mean is that I can't see switching lenses in fast changing situations practical. But you had the bottom line where you wrote that K-5 should be packed with four lenses, two of which interlap in focal length and close in quality of pictures produced. Could you describe your experience?

Another question: do you feel that D800 + 80-200 is the same as K-5 + 50-135? I mean, I used to FOV of lenses I have and just 'feel' what FL required for a shot. While 80-200 and 50-135 have the same FOV they should 'feel' the same. Is it true?
The 77 is actually mounted on my LX primarily which I usually have in a hip bag. It's a focal length I'm very comfortable using on 35mm or APSC format. It also feels different than the 50-135. But yes. When I shoot events with two K5 in the past, it's usually a fast prime like the 55 1.4 on one and the 50-135 on the other. The 55 sometimes switching for the 16-50.

The 80-200 feels very similar to the 50-135. I could swap seamlessly between the two and hardly change a thing. More flare resistance with thr Pentax lens. The biggest change is depth of field control. While the Pentax I will shoot wide open, Nikon I stop down to 4-5.6 to get the same shot.

My think tank shoulder bag...and I'm sorry I don't remember the model...is my secret weapon. It has three dividers in it. Yesterday it had the rear most pocket with my K5 50-135, middle had my Nikon primes, last one has my 80-200 or empty. I can "feel" which lens is which pretty easily and just grab it. I also keep a fast 50 in my jacket pocket.

The one thing I do too is put my 80-200 hanging on my belt with the tripod foot. Never do this unless your comfortable dropping it.
06-21-2013, 05:39 AM   #6
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I enjoyed reading your post - I felt the urgency of the situation with you!

I like how you are objective about both cameras, but to be fair, you didn't give yourself a chance to get used to the D800 before going to an event like this. Myself, I would have had to spent at least a week with the D800 to get used to the controls and how it reacted to different situations. I think you are quite brave to shoot a wedding with an unfamiliar camera.
06-21-2013, 06:00 AM   #7
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The hard part in this situation is that you are a lot more familiar with the K5 than with the D800 and that's worth an awful lot. Being able to control cameras without thinking about it on the fly is key in this sort of situation and it will come to you over time.

Certainly the K5 is no slouch, but the D800 is a better camera by far...
06-21-2013, 10:18 AM   #8
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That's the thing. I'm actually quite happy with the basic functions of the camera.

There are three things to balance.. iso, time,apreture. that does not change from system to system.

The experience with the D600 taught me to stop down for more depth of field.

The big hurdles for me yesterday was the buffer speed and my mini freak out about flash. I normally use wireless triggers and manual modes, but I misplaced them. And at that point in time...messing with CLS wasn't going to be a good idea

06-21-2013, 10:41 AM   #9
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How does a weather resistant body in the rain keep the rain drops off the lens's front element thereby making for blurry pictures? You still can't aim into the direction of the blowing rain WR or not.
06-21-2013, 11:10 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
How does a weather resistant body in the rain keep the rain drops off the lens's front element thereby making for blurry pictures? You still can't aim into the direction of the blowing rain WR or not.
No you can't. But if you got a hood it helps
06-21-2013, 11:17 AM   #11
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The petal lens hoods these days make it even harder than the solid round ones too. My experience with WR and rain is that it has to be a certain kind of rain - just right - to utilize a WR camera and lens without using something else to protect the lens. So, IMHO, even thought WR may sound like a decisive feature, in actual use it still has constraints and only effective under certain conditions.

Last edited by tuco; 06-21-2013 at 11:25 AM.
06-21-2013, 11:21 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
The petal lens hoods these days make it even harder than the solid round ones too. My experience with WR and rain is that it has to be a certain kind of rain - just right - to utilize a WR camera and lens without using something else to protect the camera. So, IMHO, even thought WR may sound like a decisive feature, in actual use it still has constraints and only effective under certain conditions.
I have old rubber round ones I use. But yes your right. The environment has to be right to overcome rain. I think the main WR objective is to keep the equipment from failing. It's upto the shooter to take the precautions to not have the rain affect the shoot.
06-21-2013, 03:53 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
The petal lens hoods these days make it even harder than the solid round ones too. My experience with WR and rain is that it has to be a certain kind of rain - just right - to utilize a WR camera and lens without using something else to protect the lens. So, IMHO, even thought WR may sound like a decisive feature, in actual use it still has constraints and only effective under certain conditions.
Ive had great success in the rain with the DA18-55WR with its OEM hood. Very few drops on the front element and they are surpisingly easy to clean if you have a proper cloth. If you dont point the lens directly into the rain pooring direction the hood makes it very difficult for drops to reach the front element. Also, the DA18-55 has a small front element.. "SP" coating helps too because it doesnt let the drop "expand" on the lens surface. This could be way different with bigger lenses such as the DA16-50s 77mm front element...

back to the thread, I enjoyed your writing very much and felt in your shoes as others pointed out. Glad it went fine and interesting to read about the expierience of a pro with different systems
06-21-2013, 04:29 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by carrrlangas Quote
Ive had great success in the rain with the DA18-55WR with its OEM hood.
Likewise, I've had great success shooting a non-WR camera out in the rain. The trick was it had a leather, ever-ready case. Whip the camera out to take the shot and stow it right away to avoid excessive water.
06-21-2013, 05:26 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
Likewise, I've had great success shooting a non-WR camera out in the rain. The trick was it had a leather, ever-ready case. Whip the camera out to take the shot and stow it right away to avoid excessive water.
Here's a question about WR.

I just realized, every time I'm doing shooting in extreme temperatures or rainy conditions I haven't used a WR lens...and I've never had an issue.

First event... shooting surfing lessons with K20D and 55-200 DA zoom, the first generation non-sealed version. Pouring rain. no shelter. but kept shooting.

Second event.... extreme cold, -40 Celcius, using K5 with FA77mm limited outside in the snow

Third event..... shooting Indy Car race in a downpour, lighter than the surf. K5 with Sigma 70-300 DG OS

Fourth event.... Wedding yesterday with D800 and 80-200 f2.8 and 24mm f2.8

Each time, no issues, camera and lenses are still going strong.

hummmmm
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