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10-16-2010, 03:42 PM   #1
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Came home from the Photography Show with a K-r

I went to Henry's annual self-love-in, the Photographic, Video and Digital Imaging Show. (It looks and smells like a trade show, but it's organizer is one retailer, so it's not not like there is any retail competition on the floor. I'd love it if Henry's could share the love/cost with other Toronto retailers and make this show even bigger. But that's beside the point.)

Along with a big Nikon presence, some Canon and presence, and lots of specialty manufacturers, Pentax had a booth. Lots of people were in the booth checking out the K-x and the K-r, some folks very serious about the K-7 and a variety of lenses, and a few folks drooling over the 645D. Oddly, there was no interest in the K-5. The Pentax staff seemed surprised when I asked to see one. They had a single unit, (preproduction model) on the bottom of one display shelf. They were happy to let me play with it and a K-r.

First impressions of the K-5:
  • Great ergonomics, just like the K-7. Probably the #1 DSLR I've handled (which is all of them in the store!)
  • FAST. Can I say it any louder? FFAASSTT. AF is awesome. Quick, sure. Shutter speed ... great. Top level stuff here.
  • PLEASE NOTE: I WAS WRONG ON THIS POINT. I'M NOT REMOVING IT, SO THAT THE REST OF THIS THREAD STILL MAKES SENSE. No SR in movie mode. I was very disappointed. Tried digging through the menus to engage it; asked the Pentax reps; they confirmed, no SR for movies
  • Beautiful tactile quality (just like the K-7) -- this camera feels great, and carries the tradition of the MZ-S

First impressions of the K-r:
  • Solid. The polycarbonate skin is nice, tough... gives the same impression of quality as my K20D.
  • Looks great. More like a K-7 than you imagine.
  • Fast. AF is swift, top shutter speed good, nothing to complain here. (It would be more notable, except that the K-5 is just so darn FFFAAASSSTTT! )
  • I miss the dual control wheels and ISO button from the K-5. Ergonomics ... I give it a B. I'll get used to it, my *istDL and Nikon F75 only had one control wheel.
  • SR in video mode. GREAT. Makes footage look like it came from a much bigger/more stable camera.
  • No jello-effect in movie mode. This sensor seems to read out nice and quick.
  • AF fine tuning. This is GREAT! I never thought I'd see this on a body this cheap. All manufacturers need to acknowledge that even with tight tolerances, sometimes you need to tweak to ensure accurate focussing.

I also took a long hard look at Nikon's current video-capable bodies. (No D7000's were on hand.) I handled the D90 and the D300s, and shot video with them. The D300s has a pleasing look to it's video ... but the data rate is half that of the K-r. It shows, there is lots of compression artifacting. The D90 is even worse. Both suffer from rolling shutter jello. Both are very limited in the length of clip they shoot. Both have terrible movie ergonomics, especially with how they handle AE-L. I managed to grab some clips onto my own SD card, and my comparison is born out when I open clips from the D90, D300s and K-r in Final Cut Pro. The K-r clips are cleaner and are helped by both SR and no (visible) rolling shutter effects.

So... after lots of consideration... I opted to come home with a K-r. I have a K20D which is a superb still camera. The only thing it lacks is video. The video implementation seems so similar between the K-r and K-5, that it would be tough to justify the difference in cost. And I was mightily disappointed by the lack of SR on the K-5 video. This to me is one of the key features that differentiate Pentax as a video-DSLR maker.

Bottom line -- I think Pentax has a real winner on its hands with the K-r. It does so many things right. Very few things wrong. It's feature list is HUGE, and most are well executed. It continues the Pentax tradition of the camera below the flagship being a formidable tool, destined to become a classic.

There are two obvious things missing that I'd like to see. One could be added for little cost to Pentax, through firmware. The other would be a small cost, and need a new camera model.
  • Manual control of shutter speed in movie mode. It's so CLOSE! Please Pentax! Pretty please! Firmware upgrade!
  • De-cripple the mount, allowing seamless use of the aperture ring on lenses like the FA 77. This would improve the usability of a single-control-wheel body enormously, allowing you to shoot in the same manner as the Pentax MZ-S, i.e. aperture on the lens, shutter speed on the control wheel.

So I'm home, and the battery is on charge. I've introduced my new baby to my FA 77, and I have the picture to prove it. I'm looking forward to exploring the K-r!

Last edited by filmamigo; 10-23-2015 at 07:21 AM.
10-16-2010, 04:02 PM   #2
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Edited first post to add a couple more details.
10-16-2010, 04:05 PM   #3
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Nice, I am jealous...can't really justify getting it over the K-x...maybe get the K-5 instead when it gets below $1000 (if?).
10-16-2010, 04:10 PM   #4
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hawk1500, if I didn't already have a weather sealed body with dual control wheels, it would be a tougher call. I think the K-x and K-r are very close, and I also seriously considered getting a K-x for the video. But the sweet K-r sensor with much-improved rolling shutter really pushed me to splurge on the K-r.

Definitely go for a K-5 when you can, or even one of the older bodies with dual control wheels (*ist D, K10D, K20D, K-7).

10-16-2010, 04:10 PM   #5
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Congrats on the new camera... and ooh... mated with the FA 77mm Limited at that!
10-16-2010, 04:18 PM   #6
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Thank`s for your post, made for good reading. Nice picture also!
10-16-2010, 04:26 PM   #7
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Great post! I'm not surprised about the ergonomics, as it uses the same grip as the K-7. Sounds like the K-r is a K-x on steroids!

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10-16-2010, 04:43 PM   #8
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Does K-r have global fine tuning or lens-specific fine-tuning?

Last edited by Eruditass; 10-16-2010 at 05:04 PM.
10-16-2010, 04:57 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by filmamigo Quote
But the sweet K-r sensor with much-improved rolling shutter really pushed me to splurge on the K-r.
can you explain what you mean by that?
10-16-2010, 06:12 PM   #10
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Eruditass, it looks like Global AF fine tune only. But I can work with that, especially as the K-r is not my only camera. If fine tune is needed for any lenses, I can note what each lens requires and dial it in when I mount it. Not having AF fine tune at all is a much bigger drawback. FWIW, the FA 77 focusses perfectly

Pablom, "rolling shutter" describes how the sensor is read out, i.e. not instantaneously for the whole picture; but one line at a time, sweeping across the sensor. If the time to read out the whole sensor is too slow, you can notice odd things happening in video footage ... moving cars leaning over ... panning quickly past vertical lines makes them lean over ... because the top and bottom of the sensor are being read at different times. This is sometimes called "jello" footage because vertical lines seems to lean and wobble if the camera or the subject is moving.

The K-r sensor seems to be read out quicker than the K-x sensor. Combined with the SR function, the output is looks great and doesn't have "jello". ***PLEASE NOTE: I am not torturing the camera, or looking with a fine tooth comb for this. If the deleterious effect of a rolling shutter isn't visible to the naked eye under regular shooting conditions, then it's good for me. Others may be able to make the rolling shutter effect more obvious, or have a higher standard than I do. But for me, the K-r sensor is *good*.
10-16-2010, 06:19 PM   #11
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I'm curious to hear from a K-5 owner. I hope I'm wrong and you can enable SR in movie mode for a K-5. In the K-r, there are two different menus where you have to enable SR, one of which is in the Movie menu, under Setup. So it could be that I and the Pentax rep were simply clueless about turning on Movie SR for the K-5.
10-16-2010, 06:41 PM   #12
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It seems odd that the Kr would have stabilized video and not the K5?

10-16-2010, 06:46 PM   #13
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No SR in movie mode? O_o

The K-7 has it, why did they disable it? it's really rather useful as well I'd have to say.
10-16-2010, 06:50 PM   #14
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It seems very odd to me. When I asked the Pentax rep for help engaging SR in Movie mode on the K-5, I was very confused. He looked at me very seriously and embarassedly said it didn't have it. I'm really hoping we are both wrong.

On another note, there was no DA L 35/2.4 at the show. Pentax Canada didn't get either samples or stock in time. They estimate one to two weeks for availability in Toronto.
10-16-2010, 07:39 PM   #15
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The latest K-7 firmware has disabled SR as default , but you can still turn it on through the menu. Its buried inside the Video menu.
Worth checking if its the same in the K-5.

The mechanical SR makes "some" noise during video, if you use the on-board mike., that's why the default is now OFF.
Hmm...that's one advantage of lens-base IS...

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