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03-22-2015, 06:56 AM - 3 Likes   #1
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K5II: Impressions after a year

Hello,

I've had my K5II for a little over a year now and I'd like to share my impressions with you.
Depending on your definitions, I consider myself a semi-pro/enthusiast photographer. This means I run a small photography business from home but it is not my main source of income. Of course I'm also an enthusiast.
I have found that 90% of the time it has either the F50 f1.7 or the DA 35 f2.4 attached. Image quality with the primes is gorgeous. Of course lens selection is critical to image quality. Very rarely it has a zoom attached (either the 18-55WR or the 55-300).
Getting used to the K5II controls from K20D was not hard. The first thing I noticed was how quiet the shutter is. I still use my K100DS occasionally and it sounds like a shotgun. The next thing I noticed was how fast it is. The change in frames per second is huge. I thought that was not important but it has proven to be very useful, especially in group shots to make sure everybody has their eyes opened. It is also very useful when bracketing since the shots are very fast, minimizing movement.
The increase in resolution is nice for cropping freedom. But spending years with a 6MP K100DS, I still try to keep cropping to a minimum.
Files are easy to work with. They sharpen nicely and I have found they work beautifully with Topaz Denoise.
The main reason to upgrade was high ISO performance. With the K20D I would feel comfortable shooting up to 2500 or so. With the K-x I was able to push much higher but the K5II surprised me. I have sold prints of ballet recitals at ISO 8000. I'm not afraid to push ISO beyond "safe and reasonable".
Something I was not expecting and really surprised me was low light focusing. I mean, the darn thing focuses and locks in total darkness! I could not believe it and still find it very amusing.
But by far my favorite feature is the ridiculously huge Dynamic Range! I can pull details from shadows with impunity. It feels almost like cheating. Properly printed, 20x30 and 16x20 prints are absolutely stunning and look better than any monitor.
Overall, it is very easy to live with. As it turns out, it is used mostly for paid gigs while K20/18-55WR kit is used as everyday walkaround, K-x for low light walkaround and K100DS is still used for studio product shots. Gotta love that CCD but that's another story.
So in conclusion, my 3 words verdict on the K5II would be: WHAT A MACHINE!

Thanks,

03-22-2015, 07:59 AM - 1 Like   #2
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That's pretty much my view on my new K5IIs so far....simply amazing! It will focus in any light, even near total darkness, and focus accurately!

The DR is also amazing.....so is my K5 Original, but this one may be even better! These are fantastic cameras...the K5 line.....all of them!

Back in the day of my DS I wouldn't even have tried to save this one and hope to keep any detail, but with the K5IIs it was just a couple of clicks and all done!

Looks like the color is going to be all mushy and soft, with no detail.....why bother?


Think again! The K5 line will save you more often than not!


If you need more pixels, the K3 is for you.....but for me, this K5IIs is supreme!

Thanks for your post, it was informative and very true to life. K5 owners know the story...and love it!

Best Regards!
03-22-2015, 08:32 AM   #3
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The k5/ii/s is an excellent camera, it will stand the test of time. The lovely F 50/1.7 is a real gem as well. I like your setup, small and nimble.
03-22-2015, 01:26 PM   #4
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I'm mostly an old squirrel shooter.....but do shoot other things too. This new K5IIs amazes me with its detail/resolution, even with the Bigma at 500mm and a distance of 30 feet, then a 50% crop of the shot and ISO 800...it still looks fully acceptable for my use!

I am truly enjoying my first days with this camera!



Regards!

EDIT: Just shot her mate a few minutes ago...he was at the same spot looking for her! I think she went shopping?




Last edited by Rupert; 03-22-2015 at 03:20 PM.
04-07-2015, 06:36 AM   #5
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Is it still worth buying

I was looking for opinions on the K5II when I came across this thread so I decided to post a question. Just as background, I am hopping from camera to camera at the moment and can't seem to make up my mind. I am a very enthusiastic photographer, not a pro at all, but I have been taking pictures for 30 years, starting with full manual SLRs then eventually graduating to digital. I take pictures of everything except fast action sports. My first DSLR was a Nikon D40. I then bought a D7100, didn't really bond with it, sold it and tried the mirrorless route. Fuji X-E1, sold it as I missed the reactivity and handling of a DSLR. Then I bought a Nikon D600, loved the full frame file quality and flexibility but decided that it stayed at home too much due to size and weight. Then I jumped on the m43 bandwagon, twice, but couldn't get used to the feeling that I was shooting with something like a marriage between cellphone, point and shoot and proper camera and in addition, anything but the lowest ISO had noise.

So I sold everything but my Coolpix A and started fretting over which way to go, leaning towards a Nikon D610 or D750, but not being so keen on the high price.

Yesterday I walked into a shop and they have a brand new Pentax K5II for 499 euros, including the 18-55 lens and suddenly I started thinking. Why not? A good quality smallish DSLR for less than a m43 Olympus EM10 and with the possibility of adding some Pentax lenses later without breaking the bank.

My question to K5II users is, is this camera still up there with the modern offerings or is it getting really long in the tooth? Is the IQ on the very good side of good? Knowing that a Lumix GM1 with 12-32mm camera or a 2nd hand EM10 is the same price, I am thinking that the K5II would still be a lot better than these m43 offerings IQ wise and it is just a more decent and proper enthusiast camera. Any thoughts?
04-07-2015, 11:27 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by CobusBasson Quote
I was looking for opinions on the K5II when I came across this thread so I decided to post a question. Just as background, I am hopping from camera to camera at the moment and can't seem to make up my mind. I am a very enthusiastic photographer, not a pro at all, but I have been taking pictures for 30 years, starting with full manual SLRs then eventually graduating to digital. I take pictures of everything except fast action sports. My first DSLR was a Nikon D40. I then bought a D7100, didn't really bond with it, sold it and tried the mirrorless route. Fuji X-E1, sold it as I missed the reactivity and handling of a DSLR. Then I bought a Nikon D600, loved the full frame file quality and flexibility but decided that it stayed at home too much due to size and weight. Then I jumped on the m43 bandwagon, twice, but couldn't get used to the feeling that I was shooting with something like a marriage between cellphone, point and shoot and proper camera and in addition, anything but the lowest ISO had noise.

So I sold everything but my Coolpix A and started fretting over which way to go, leaning towards a Nikon D610 or D750, but not being so keen on the high price.

Yesterday I walked into a shop and they have a brand new Pentax K5II for 499 euros, including the 18-55 lens and suddenly I started thinking. Why not? A good quality smallish DSLR for less than a m43 Olympus EM10 and with the possibility of adding some Pentax lenses later without breaking the bank.

My question to K5II users is, is this camera still up there with the modern offerings or is it getting really long in the tooth? Is the IQ on the very good side of good? Knowing that a Lumix GM1 with 12-32mm camera or a 2nd hand EM10 is the same price, I am thinking that the K5II would still be a lot better than these m43 offerings IQ wise and it is just a more decent and proper enthusiast camera. Any thoughts?
Definitely the K5ii is a great camera I have not felt the need for upgrades since owning one. Paired with some of those Limited primes or some legacy glass and there is nothing quite like it. Ease of use is one of the reasons for buying it. Have you considered KS-1 or the new KS-02 they are apparently pretty good too
04-08-2015, 01:15 PM   #7
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What do you need? Great low light performance? Fast and accurate focus even in dim light? Fast snapping? Great color and superb WB?

My K5IIs is the best Pentax camera I have ever owned, it is just pure excellence. If you need more pixels, then maybe you would be justified to look elsewhere, but if not...this is the right camera at a very affordable price.

Coupled with my 50-500 Bigma, I am finding new joy in shooting again!

ISO 4000


ISO 6400


ISO 6400


With the fast AF I can shoot in dim light, still keep some speed and not lose the shot. I can't see needing anything else for a good while! This is a very fine camera.

Regards!
04-17-2015, 04:37 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by CobusBasson Quote
So I sold everything but my Coolpix A and started fretting over which way to go, leaning towards a Nikon D610 or D750, but not being so keen on the high price.

Yesterday I walked into a shop and they have a brand new Pentax K5II for 499 euros, including the 18-55 lens.... Any thoughts?
That's a good price.

I can maybe comment a little, as I have both the D600 and the K5ii. The K5ii can't touch the 24MP FX sensor in the D600. The D600 is a good working camera, but it's not all that much fun to use (re. you not bonding with a D7100 --- I can relate, D600 is a little better but the control layout is still a mess.). K5ii is smaller, nicer, and, dare I say, better thought out. Like you I don't take the D600 with me as much as I'd like. I didn't think there was room for another camera between my Nikon 1 V1 and D600, except as a specialty unit for using my Pentax glass on occasion. K5ii is proving me wrong, it's a very enjoyable companion ... especially as, for the first time for me using a Pentax, the autofocus is actually something I find I can rely on.

Verdict: Buy.

04-17-2015, 04:58 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by rjm Quote
That's a good price.

I can maybe comment a little, as I have both the D600 and the K5ii. The K5ii can't touch the 24MP FX sensor in the D600. The D600 is a good working camera, but it's not all that much fun to use (re. you not bonding with a D7100 --- I can relate, D600 is a little better but the control layout is still a mess.). K5ii is smaller, nicer, and, dare I say, better thought out. Like you I don't take the D600 with me as much as I'd like. I didn't think there was room for another camera between my Nikon 1 V1 and D600, except as a specialty unit for using my Pentax glass on occasion. K5ii is proving me wrong, it's a very enjoyable companion ... especially as, for the first time for me using a Pentax, the autofocus is actually something I find I can rely on.

Verdict: Buy.
Thanks for that. In fact, I did actually buy it seeing that I posted my question a week ago, but now I am having some doubts. The main issue I have is that I bought it with the 18-55 kit lens and I am actually very disappointed with the image quality of the combination. Now I have doubts as to how much is down to the lens and how much to the camera. Having seen so many rave reviews about the camera, I suspect that it is the lens. I have many years of experience with many different cameras and I think that I know reasonably well how to get maximum sharpness out of my equipment, but in this case my best efforts remain unsatisfactory.

My main issue is with detail in foliage etc. I have a great torture test that I do with all my cameras, it is the view from my balcony which includes some pine trees and other types of trees and bushes as well as some very well defined items such as buildings and cars at different distances. So far the K5II+18-55 combo is the worst of all my cameras.

I really love the camera and the handling and if I am sure that the issues are all due to the lens, I am willing to invest a bit in better lenses, but I am scared of putting more money into the system and still being disappointed. Decisions, I can still take the camera back for a refund, but Monday is the limit.
04-17-2015, 05:36 AM   #10
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CobusBasson,

You should really try other lenses on the camera. When I finally went digital in 2011, All i had was old manual focus lenses. Then I got a Pentax DA12-24mm to fill a void in my range. In 2012 I got a K5-IIS. I have lenses going back to my first SLR in 1971 0r so. Those use the Pentax screw mount. My ancient Pentax55mm f1.8 screw mount is pure gold on the camera. In fact, until I put that lens on the cameras the K5 just never felt right. What these cameras need is good glass. The best thing about Pentax is that you can get good glass pretty cheap as they camera maintains it's backward compatibility.

You may have better luck with you current lens if you keep the f-stop in the f8 to f11 range. Set the camera to TAV mode, pick the shutter speed and f-stop you want and let the camera choose the ISO. See if this helps. The 18-55mm kit lens is not known as a great lens. It is pretty good for what it is, but in the end it is still a kit lens.
04-17-2015, 05:39 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by ismaelg Quote
Hello,

I've had my K5II for a little over a year now and I'd like to share my impressions with you. [...]

So in conclusion, my 3 words verdict on the K5II would be: WHAT A MACHINE!
Very happy to hear your story.
04-17-2015, 05:43 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by CobusBasson Quote
I really love the camera and the handling and if I am sure that the issues are all due to the lens, I am willing to invest a bit in better lenses, but I am scared of putting more money into the system and still being disappointed. Decisions, I can still take the camera back for a refund, but Monday is the limit.
I have one of the original 18-55mm kit lenses, and I'd call it 'decent' but still somewhat disappointing if I compare it to ... well anything else I have. Is there anyway the shop would let you test drive a different lens? Get something absurdly sharp to try, like the DFA100mm macro. If this combined with the k5ii can't meet your standards then it's either user error (technique or standards that are unreasonably high) or you need to start looking into much costlier gear.
04-17-2015, 05:58 AM   #13
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As fate would have it, I got my K5II in April last year too and had K100DS before. I'm still very impressed by the camera and have no reason to wish for a newer one (i.e. K3, KS-2). On the contrary, I find 16 mpix on the upper limit of what I could comfortably work with my computer.
If I lost my camera now, and given the prices for various options in Europe at least, I'd go with K5II (or K5IIs) again.
04-17-2015, 06:07 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by CobusBasson Quote
The main issue I have is that I bought it with the 18-55 kit lens ..
Eh? The 18-55 keeps dust off the sensor, that's the sum of its usefulness... okay maybe that's too harsh, but I think we can all agree its not "reference quality".

There are a few negatives about the K5ii, but image quality is not one of them. Mostly my complaints would center on the slow response: to engage live view, to review images, or to call up the menus. With lens corrections on, the time to call up the review image is ridiculous. The only other tiny annoyance is the top LCD light: its either off or on: there's no way to turn it on if you have it disabled, like Nikon where you flip the power switch past "on" to turn on the light manually.

I will say that the images take a little bit of work tweaking the settings away from the defaults to look their best, but that's as much personal taste as anything: defaults have too little contrast and way too much saturation for my liking, and have a purple tint I don't care for. But that's all easily fixed within the customization options available.

Last edited by rjm; 04-17-2015 at 06:18 AM.
04-17-2015, 06:40 AM   #15
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Well it seems that I can confidently attribute the poor image quality to the kit lens based on the responses so far. It is usable and at normal viewing on my computer screen the images are not bad, however I do confess to being a bit of a pixel peeper as I believe that something which looks great at 100% will look great at screen size as well, and I pixel peep to compare the quality of my different lenses/cameras. I tried shooting at f9 and above and then I post process the RAWs in Capture One Pro, which gave me stunning results with my D600, so I know it fairly well. This works well enough for shots of most things, but the lens simply does not seem able to get detail in foliage, and I am not talking about shots with trees and bushes in the distance, I am talking about short distances.

I paid 499 euros for the K5II+18-55, seeing that I don't like the 18-55 at all and I can't see myself using it much, I am considering two alternatives:
- Give the K5II back and get a new K5IIs body only for 589€ and then get some primes (I can get the 50/1.7 and 35 limited or some other combos and still stay close to 1000 euros for the body and two to three lenses based on the secondhand prices I see here)
- Get the K3 + 35mm/f2.4 at 855 euros and build it up from there

Decisions.
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