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02-26-2015, 04:56 AM - 17 Likes   #1
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Report from a Pentax photojournalist

Hi, I'm a photojournalist from Portugal and I've always used Pentax cameras in my work. Previously I've owned a K-5 and currently I'm using a K-5II, which I find it quite capable camera.

In my work I travel all over the country and in a small country like Portugal you quickly end up knowing all other photojournalists. In four years I've never came across any other photojournalist shooting Pentax. As you might guess they all use Canon or Nikon. More recently a friend of mine started to use two Fujifilm cameras and I also came across two guys using a Fuji and an Olympus as a second camera.

I can’t compare my camera with cameras from other brands because I've never used any other brand. But comparing the K5II with the K5 I would have to say that the K5II has a much better autofocus system. With the K5 I had a lot of problems with autofocus especially in low light, bright backgrounds and with certain types of artificial light sources. I was spending more time checking for accurate focus then in composing. All this ended with the K5II, a few days after starting using it all my worries were gone. I was finally shooting paying attention to the composition trusting that the camera was focusing accurately! Nowadays I simply assume that the out of focus photos have been my error not the camera.

I also have a K10 but I can’t actually compare it with the K5 or the K5II because I’ve never used it in my work, in other words, I've never used it the same extreme conditions.

Photojournalism is quite demanding when it comes to focusing, you need the camera to focus fast, accurately and in the most extreme lighting and physical conditions - most of the time you are being pushed, squeezed and bumped by other photographers, cameramen, reporters and the public and it’s hard to keep the camera still. Other times you are walking backwards and shooting at the same time or you are holding your camera up high with one hand using live view to shoot over the crowd.

Things I like about the K5II
(From the point of view of my work)
  • The autofocus, is accurate and fast enough for me. I must add that I don't do sports, many photojournalist that I know also do sports, mainly soccer, but I don't.
  • The size - I've small hands and the K5II body size is perfect for me - much better than the K10. This also allows me to use a relatively small shoulder bag with the camera, 3 lenses and one speedlight.
  • The weight, for obvious reasons. I should mention that main arguments the Fuji/Olympus users talk about is size and weight and the electronic viewfinder and its ability to see the exposure compensation in real-time. That’s really handy.
  • It’s only 16MP - for me this seems to be a good compromise between image quality, cropping capability, file size and computer processing times.
  • It’s silent.
Things that could be better
  • I desperately need cross type focusing points outside the central area. If the K3 had this I would have bought it. Probably 50% of my photos have the main subject outside the central area. What is going on around him, where he is or with whom he is its always extremely important. To be able to show it I have to move my main subject to the sides of the frame and I need focusing points there.
  • Writing speed to the SD card. I'm constantly reviewing what I shoot. I usually don't burst shoot more than 3 or 4 frames, but when I do I end up waiting for the camera to write it to the SD card before being able to review and shoot again. Not a frequent issue for me but sometimes under pressure it feels like an eternity. Browsing between photos it’s actually fast enough but using the directional keys is not always very practical when you go back and forward. The Canon wheel seems more practical but it also needs more space, more space means a bigger camera and I’m not interested in a bigger camera.
  • I like to choose the AF Point so I always shoot in the Focus Select mode. Once again the directional keys are not very practical or fast enough. With more than 11 AF Points something like a small joystick might make more sense.
  • One thing I miss from the K5 is the ability to compare photos side by side. If I remember correctly I didn't use it very often in my professional work but in my personal work or while traveling without a computer I used it a lot.
  • A brighter and bigger viewfinder is always welcome.
  • Another luxury feature I would like is a screen brightness automatic adjustment system like smartphones have. I frequently change from full bright daylight to indoor darkness. I've my screen adjusted for bright daylight but this setup makes underexposed indoor photos look correctly exposed.
  • And of course even better high ISO. Usable high ISO is never enough. I would no doubt frequently use 6400 or even 12800 ISO if it had enough quality.
Why I haven’t upgrade to the K3
Cameras are like viruses. If they find the proper environment to spread they will. For cameras the right environment is something I don’t have – money! So I’m immune to that virus. I obviously would like to upgrade to the K3 and the main reason I didn’t was money.

Another reason that made me stop was file size and what that implies in terms of storage capacity and computer processing times. Future experience might prove otherwise but right now I don’t really need more resolution. More resolution would (probably) only increase the cropping capability but I’m really close to the physical limit there. To crop even more I would also need lenses with more resolution. Right now my laptop is able to deal with the K5 files comfortably I’m not sure if that is still true with bigger files.

But the main reason for not upgrading were the AF Points. If the K-3 had cross type AF Points beyond the central area I would have bought it. Actually I would like to have AF Points in the extreme corners of the frame!

Future Pentax FF
It was with enormous joy that I received the announcement of the Pentax FF. We are still far from knowing the specification but this will be a camera that I will most certainly buy - but probably only after the first price drop.

And now some photos.



Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, with Pedro Passos Coelho, Portuguese Prime-Minister, during her visit to Portugal.


Pedro Passos Coelho, Portuguese Prime-Minister. I would like an AF Point where his eyes are.


Portuguese Prime-Minister arriving at a Conference in Tivoli Hotel in Lisbon. I enjoy these top views a lot. Here I wanted to frame the big circle on the pavement.


The bridge on the background is a Golden Gate Bridge look alike and is one of the architectonic symbols of Lisbon. I wanted to catch the bridge but I knew I would
be in trouble with the strong bright background. I took my chances and then photoshoped a lot. The photo has an HDR look which gives it a surreal look.


Mariano Rajoy, Spanish Prime-Minister, with the Portuguese PM during the XXV Portuguese-Spanish Summit.
I like these photos, like the one above with Angela Merkel, where you have the feeling that you’re intruding on a private conversation.


Them again, two years later, during the next Summit.


Boris Tadic, President of Servia, visit to Portugal. Not a very interesting photo but very fun to do. This is a handheld panorama of 4 or 5 frames.
Before the car with President Boris Tadic arrived I shoot the 5 frames of the panorama mentally taking note where the corner of each frame was.
When the car finally arrived and he stepped out I re-shoot the frames that I needed.


Portuguese PM visiting the “Champalimaud Foundation” in Lisbon. I like the simplicity of the composition. Once again the main subject it’s
on the extreme right because I wanted to show the logo on the wall and tell the viewer where he was.


Same visit. Good architectonic buildings are always an inspiration. This particular place has a glass roof (skylight) creating a huge light contrast between
the corridor and the surrounding ares. When editing the photo I noticed the geometric shape of the corridor and intensified this difference.


PM talking during the "KPMG Gala". Simple composition taking advantage of the geometry created by the light.


Fredrik Reinfeldt, Swedish Prime-Minister with the Portuguese PM.


Fredrik Reinfeldt, once again. Just to show you the city of Porto on the background. The city that gives its name to the famous “Vinho do Porto” (Port Wine).


Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia, during his visit to Portugal.


Nicolas Maduro, President of Venezuela, during his visit to Portugal.


Portuguese (ex) Minister of Economy talking to the press. Once again a top view and a very simple background. My colleagues on the left look really busy


Portuguese PM giving an interview for a TV channel. The web environment gives you the freedom to play with such compositions.


Portuguese Prime-Minister in his Office during an interview for Brunswick Group. Some photos simply ask for B&W.


PM visit to the “Machado de Castro National Museum.” The focus is on the statue in the extreme right upper corner.


Same Museum. It was very dark, I think its ISO 5000.


Another panorama during the visit to the same Museum.


Another panorama – It seems that I need to buy an extreme wide-angle. PM on the right bottom corner.


I particularly like this photo. It was taken during the PM’s visit to the “Ancient Art Museum” in Lisbon. The Museum is full of Oil-paintings and the photo looks like one!


That's it.

P. S. - I've been reading this forum since 2007 so I would like to thank all those who make it possible. Thx


Last edited by Zelig; 02-26-2015 at 02:03 PM.
02-26-2015, 05:15 AM   #2
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Excellent work, thanks for the opinions and showing the photos.
02-26-2015, 05:18 AM   #3
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Excellent work. It's too bad you don't get paid more for what you do, it seems that you are doing some great work with your Pentax equipment.
02-26-2015, 05:19 AM   #4
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Thank you, Zelig, for the insights into your profession and the great pics you managed to get under pressure! :-)

02-26-2015, 05:40 AM   #5
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Zelig, that's delighting to see how you get great photos out ouf your equipment in your profession. This shows that Pentax cameras can not only be used in rainforests or deserts. Thanks a lot!
02-26-2015, 05:45 AM   #6
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Wow, those are some neat captures! Not just blah take the photo for the press. Good job!
02-26-2015, 05:47 AM   #7
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Thanks a lot for the photos and the story. We don't get often such insight in life of photojournalists.
Hope to see more of your work here... maybe less conventional takes from your assignments.
02-26-2015, 06:23 AM   #8
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Thank you for this great summary, coming from you it is worth a lot. I find it very useful to hear what you have to say about the AF - never thought about it that way as I use the AF button and recompose as required. I really enjoyed looking at your images - very nice work, thanks again.
...and you are right about the last image, the one at the museum, very nicely done, the kind I look for myself...


Last edited by Rnovo; 02-26-2015 at 06:39 AM.
02-26-2015, 06:35 AM   #9
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Superb shots ! The one with the bridge is my favorite !
02-26-2015, 06:57 AM   #10
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Thanks for sharing those. The car taken from above and the backlit PM were my favorites.
02-26-2015, 07:08 AM   #11
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Thank you for your input and comments, and thank you for those excellent pictures you produced! Wow.
02-26-2015, 07:23 AM   #12
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Much obliged for your story. Keep up the good work.
02-26-2015, 07:48 AM   #13
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Do you have a picture of yourself holding a Pentax camera ?
02-26-2015, 07:52 AM   #14
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Thank you for sharing those pictures! Wonderful. What are the 3 lenses you typically carry for your work?
02-26-2015, 07:54 AM   #15
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Thanks for posting, I really enjoyed some of the images.
I also quite like Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia, during his visit to Portugal. The spiral staircase etc, makes it quite interesting image, in part because people engaging circular staircases are busy, and tend to have their "busy" faces on. I find "busy" faces are often quite engaging.
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