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07-15-2011, 12:50 PM   #1
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Clunks, rattles, grinds and bumps in the night

Hi all,

Firstly, I'd like to introduce myself, as this is my first posting. I have been photographing professionally for over 30 years. I built my first darkroom when I was about 10, and have also worked in the industry (ran a pro lab and a one-hour lab). I've gone through a lot of camera equipment of many brands over the years, (Rollei, Hasselblad, Konica, Canon, Nikon, and now Pentax). I am only stating this so you know I'm not a complete neophyte.

I recently decided to buy a K-r, my first Pentax, as a lightweight DSLR travel camera. I went for this camera because it is jam-packed with features, got very good reviews, especially for high ISO, and is very economically priced, and I took a long time to select it among the models and brands out there. I don't plan to expand the system much beyond the kit lens and a AF telephoto zoom lens or so, and I plan to keep costs down by buying a couple of used middle of the road lens (any suggestions appreciated). This is my step up from my superzoom point and shoot. (I also use a larger Nikon DSLR, which is well equipped with accessories and lenses).

Anyway, this post is about the K-r body. Before writing this I did scour the web and Pentax Forums and noticed several discussions about the clunky noises and internal movements of the magnetic sensor platform, and also read the replies, which all indicate it is "normal".

Here's the problem for me. How much noise and clunk and rattle is "normal"? The first camera I received (via a poorly packaged mail order parcel) made me very nervous, as the internal movement and scratchy noise, was considerable. Just moving the camera orientation caused a clunk and this scratchy sound. I called Pentax tech support and they said that "some" amount of rattling and movement was normal, but when I put the camera up to the phone and gently moved it around so the tech guy could hear, he said it sounded "a bit loud".

I decided to go visit a local store that carries the K-r and test their demo model. While I could perceive some movement when shifting the camera position, it was considerably less, and it was quieter, and took much more "G-force" to move the internals around than the one I had. I would say it had about 60-80% less rattle and sensitivity to camera position change compaed to the one I had.

I requested a replacement from the retailer, which was sent in a much better protected package this time, but the camera is identical in the characteristics I've mentioned.

After further reading about other noises in live view, I testd that out, and it is very noisy during focus and settling in, with lots of grinding and growling and then it continues grinding more quietly afterwards. Quite honestly, I can't see using that feature in pleasant company or any type of setting where a modicum of silence is demanded (or anywhere near any wildlife).

The two cameras I have were both manufactured in the Philippines. I don't know where the one in the store was made, but I do know it is an older vintage one, because that demo model has been around since the K-r was introduced last year.

So, not to instill the wrath of anyone tired of this subject, but how can I determine how much noise and movement is "normal" and when it is a matter of bad build, or an out of spec group of cameras having been made?

I admit this is my first in-camera non-optical SR system camera, and one of the reasons I bought it was for that feature, but why the drastic difference between the demo model and the two I currently have in my possession?

I plan to visit a few other stores to "test" their demo units before trying to decide what to do, but this is frustrating.

I also wonder, since this is unique to Pentax's design, and the tech guy mentioned this issue creates many calls to them and camera exchanges, why they wouldn't put a little piece of paper stating this was 'normal' and package that with the camera body. I didn't want to crack the manual on a camera I expected to return because I thought it was damaged in shipping. When the second one came the same way, I decided to charge up the battery, install it and the kit lens and try it out, in case the conditions might change when the camera was powered up, or if there was a shipping mode that allowed for freer movement to protect the shutter system but that locked down tighter once the camera was in use, but no such luck, it seems the same regardless.

From my reading on this and other Pentax informational sites, there seems to be a wide variety of "different" sounds these cameras make, and the reports seem to vary a fair amount in terms of intensity (I realize hard to tell from a written post). Personally, I'd like to have the most quiet version of the K-r as they have released, rather than one of the potentially noisiest ones, but I'm not sure how one can know, and what one can do about it, anyway. I don't think any retailer will allow me to go through half a dozen boxes to find one. I am also concerned that a 'looser' one may be more prone to damage or wear.

Has anyone noticed if certain vintages of the K-r (and maybe other models also) are more or less noisy, or have more or less sensor platform movement? Has Hoya used more than one location to manufacture these cameras? At one point I was shopping around for a Sony DSLR and I noticed that Sony had the same exact camera model made in Japan and Thailand, and the build quality was quite different between them. The non-Japanese built models were also considerably less expensive in the stores that carried them.

Anyway, sorry for the very long posting (especially as my first one), but I would appreciate any feedback, wisdom, suggestions, etc.

Thanks,

FreezeFrame

07-15-2011, 02:07 PM   #2
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I'll just throw in my impressions of my own copy of the K-r.

There is a noticeable clunk when rapidly tilting the camera. Normal, doesn't bother me.

There is a noticeable hum during exposure, only really noticeable on long exposures (and I may have forgotten to turn off SR that night). It doesn't take much ambient noise to drown it out, so it doesn't bother me.

AF is noisy, but it's an old (10 years, give or take) and relatively inexpensive lens I'm using. I figure under those conditions it's normal, and related more to the lens than the body.

It's not a silent camera, by any means. The mirror slap is quite loud, but people seem to blow this out of proportion. It's not the rifle-shot sound that some make it out to be. While shooting side by side with someone with a T2i, my K-r was definitely louder, but his Canon was far from silent as well. Both of our cameras seem to be noticeable to birds at short to medium range, so it's not just a Pentax or K-r issue.

Bottom line, I figure that if you're sensitized to it, worried about it, it will seem a lot louder. For me it's very tolerable.
07-15-2011, 06:25 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Philoslothical Quote
I'll just throw in my impressions of my own copy of the K-r.

There is a noticeable clunk when rapidly tilting the camera. Normal, doesn't bother me.

There is a noticeable hum during exposure, only really noticeable on long exposures (and I may have forgotten to turn off SR that night). It doesn't take much ambient noise to drown it out, so it doesn't bother me.

AF is noisy, but it's an old (10 years, give or take) and relatively inexpensive lens I'm using. I figure under those conditions it's normal, and related more to the lens than the body.

It's not a silent camera, by any means. The mirror slap is quite loud, but people seem to blow this out of proportion. It's not the rifle-shot sound that some make it out to be. While shooting side by side with someone with a T2i, my K-r was definitely louder, but his Canon was far from silent as well. Both of our cameras seem to be noticeable to birds at short to medium range, so it's not just a Pentax or K-r issue.

Bottom line, I figure that if you're sensitized to it, worried about it, it will seem a lot louder. For me it's very tolerable.
Thanks for your rundown of assorted sounds I can anticipate the K-r to make. I'm not sure saying "I'll look forward to hearing more" is exactly what I want to say :ugh: The lens I have on the camera now is the new kit lens.

I fully understand that the camera design lends itself to some unique noises, and as much as I'd rather hear less of them, if can surmise the volume mine is exhibiting is "normal" I can live with it. The issue of substantial variation, however, might have some meaning in terms of build, and that's something I'd like to get a better understanding about, if possible.

I will visit a couple more retailers tomorrow and see how their demo units compare to the two I have tested, to get some more data. If they are all vastly "tighter" and quieter, then I may have to rethink the purchase. If some or most sound the same, I'll put it up with variations in manufacturing standards.

Thanks again, and thanks for the comparison to your Canon model.

FreezeFrame
07-15-2011, 09:50 PM   #4
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One word of advice, for your own peace of mind: Be sure to take your K-r with you to the stores, so that you can test side by side in the same level of ambient noise. You may have already done this, but I was just thinking, it wouldn't be a stretch for them to seem quieter in a store than they do at home.

07-15-2011, 10:06 PM   #5
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I would say just like there are variations in lens sharpness/IQ of the same brand and type......so might there be variables in the body movements/levels of noise.

Two things you mentioned struck me:

1 - That you did research about the noises after you purchased the K-r and not before.

2 - That you used an assessment over a phone of how loud your noise was in relation to other cameras. Even if that tech had heard countless numbers of clunking K-r's over phones before.....there is no way to judge levels of noise via such a medium. Talk about variability!.....from distances away from the speaker to the sensitivities of the receivers from each brand or type of phone.

Even your own personal test in the store with the demo model. 60-80% difference? Even with a range of 20% you allowed, one would think there would be variability in sounds in a store vs sounds in a home or outside. Not having your original K-r with you to compare would seemingly make it hard to ascertain those kind of differences (though you did mention the feel of the movement as being less as well so perhaps that is a better barometer?). I know it was a guess based on a perception.....so it's hard for me to be too critical, but it just seems like there is more substantial margin for error than 20%.

One other thing to consider might be the demo itself. Perhaps there is something about one that has been picked up numerous times and utilized. Or maybe there are variables within the framework of battery power. Not trying to make excuses for the K-r.....and it's your view of it that matters. Just wondering if there are some things beyond a normal degree of variability that causes those differences. I would also wonder if other manufacturers have similar differences.

All that being said, my K-r rattles and hums quite a bit.......but I never get the sense that it is because of inferior build quality. Rather I attribute it to the speed and responsiveness of the inner workings of the camera. It was like night and day to my DL, and as long as it performs accordingly (which it has) I can live with some of the gesticulations.
07-15-2011, 10:08 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Philoslothical Quote
One word of advice, for your own peace of mind: Be sure to take your K-r with you to the stores, so that you can test side by side in the same level of ambient noise. You may have already done this, but I was just thinking, it wouldn't be a stretch for them to seem quieter in a store than they do at home.
Wow, I just made this point and you posted it just before me. Something about minds and thinking alike?
07-17-2011, 06:32 AM   #7
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QuoteQuote:
IQ of the same brand and type......so might there be variables in the body movements/levels of noise.

Two things you mentioned struck me:

1 - That you did research about the noises after you purchased the K-r and not before.
I'm not sure quite what this statement means. I researched the noise issue after I became aware of it in the unit I received. I had handled a demo model in a retailer and didn't notice it at that time prior to my purchase, and I never saw any mention of it in any of the reviews I read, but when I received the one I ordered (which, as I stated, was shipped in a poorly padded parcel) and I unpacked and handled the camera, the noise and movement were very obvious. It is then that I questioned the issue, because it certainly appeared abnormal. Why would I have researched the issue before I had experienced it? Perhaps I am misunderstanding your gist, however, and there is another point you are making?

QuoteQuote:
2 - That you used an assessment over a phone of how loud your noise was in relation to other cameras. Even if that tech had heard countless numbers of clunking K-r's over phones before.....there is no way to judge levels of noise via such a medium. Talk about variability!.....from distances away from the speaker to the sensitivities of the receivers from each brand or type of phone.
I agree that this is not the best method to make such a determination, and neither is reading descriptions on forums. How does one quantify this without dB meters and g-force readings?

Which is why I spend several hours today going to several retailers in my area, in stores of various sizes and with differing ambient noise levels. I should probably also explain that it isn't just the noise that I am using as a perceptual measurement, but also the differences of the sensation of the amount of movement, velocity and ease of the internal movement relative to the forces I place on the camera body. Having now handled the two cameras I have been sent, and four others in camera stores, (three K-r and one K-5), I am quite convinced that the two in my possession have considerable "looser" interiors. While I realize trying to quantify the difference (and ignoring the sound of the clunks since there are acoustic differences in the test settings) I would estimate the variation between the two units I have in my possession versus the 4 other models I have tested in the retailers is that of 50-75% more motion (with the approximate same forces placed upon the body) in the two in my possession.

I conclude a few things, which are already fairly obvious from reading other replies I have found in other threads in this forum, and other locations.

1) In spite of some people claiming all Pentax DSLRs have the same 'clunk' factor, they very definitely do not. Some I tried, under fairly normal camera movements (such as changing from vertical to horizontal body position and vice versa, as one might typically do when shooting, manifest no clunk or feedback of anything moving within the camera. Others, very clearly make both noise and provide sensual feedback in ones hand of a shifting of interior parts which then hit a limit and stop moving. The occurs not only in x and y vectors, but also 'z' front to back The differential between the different units is very obvious.

2) Why the two units I received both are at the extreme end of the spectrum of those I tested is currently an unknown. Perhaps, in spite of the extra packaging and padding, both could have experienced poor shipping conditions (impact, etc). They both were shipped across Canada via the same shipping service. Other possibilities (all complete conjecture) range from possible variations in a batch of the sensor support units (different production runs, maybe even different factory locales) to, if I were to get a bit paranoid, sloppier QC perhaps due to Hoya knowing they were selling off the division, and not being as diligent, to even a possibility Hoya had a group of known sub-par sensor platform units that were warehoused and they decided to use them up because the K-r is being discontinued, or they knew it wouldn't be their warranty liability since they had a sale in the works. All of this is pure speculation.

It's even possible this variation makes no difference in functionality at all and is just an annoying esthetic variation. What is clear to me (and my wife who also attended this testing process) is that the variation is there and quite noticeable.

What I haven't yet decided is what I am going to do about it. I like the K-r. On paper it is a great little camera with good value and lots of features, and it fits perfectly into my budget, my needs and my hand. If you bought a car and you noticed the steering was pretty noisy and loose, you might not be happy, even if the dealer told you it was normal, but you'd probably be a lot less content if you then drove another of the same model and found the steering quiet and tight. You'd probably begin to question the safety of the car and the honesty of the dealer.

QuoteQuote:
One other thing to consider might be the demo itself. Perhaps there is something about one that has been picked up numerous times and utilized. Or maybe there are variables within the framework of battery power. Not trying to make excuses for the K-r.....and it's your view of it that matters. Just wondering if there are some things beyond a normal degree of variability that causes those differences. I would also wonder if other manufacturers have similar differences.
Yes, you are correct, I cannot know exactly why all the demo models were so much "tighter". However, if I were to take a stab at it, I'd suspect tighter and quieter are better, tighter tolerances, better manufacturing, or less abuse somewhere along the line (manufacturing/shipping etc). Anyway one looks at it, the variability points to something different between the units. If it is "wear" or use on the demo models, then I'm concerned, because most demo models (which are under the watchful supervision of a sales clerk) are not exactly abused, and don't get that much use overall. (As an aside, I went to stores which varied from a couple of big box style stores to some rather small camera specialty stores, but in each case the demo models were kept behind the counter in glass cases when not being show). Secondly, generally speaking, having something rattling around with the application of minimal g-forces in a portable and often jarred product isn't typically great for wear and tear.

As I stated, I like the concept of the K-r, and one store I went to today has about a dozen used lenses fitting it at very reasonable prices, making me like the camera even more. For me, the question isn't do I like the K-r, it's do I like the K-r I've been shipped, and what to do about that. Now that I know, yes, there is some slight movement normally in the sensor shift mechanism in all models, and yes, there is considerable variation between the two I have received and others I have tested, the question for me is more about what my next step is in my purchasing process.

My tests also explain why some people claim they cannot hear/feel much of anything, while others speak of a very obvious clunk and sensation of movement... variations exists between the products, for whatever reasons. As I stated in a previous posting, given the choice, I'd prefer one on the opposite end, with less clunking, rattling and internal movement, at least when just making simple positional changes in the camera body.


QuoteQuote:
All that being said, my K-r rattles and hums quite a bit.......but I never get the sense that it is because of inferior build quality. Rather I attribute it to the speed and responsiveness of the inner workings of the camera. It was like night and day to my DL, and as long as it performs accordingly (which it has) I can live with some of the gesticulations.
Since we cannot compare yours and 'mine' in any definitive manner, it is hard for me to know where on the continuum your camera fits. Of those I tested, the ones I have here both are on one end of that continuum, which doesn't provide me with comfort at the moment. I may have further discussions with Pentax tech support or service and see if I can get some straight answers as to why the variation exists and what it can mean. If I find out anything enlightening, I will report back to the forum.

Thanks all who responded to my posts, its proven interesting on many levels to get the feedback I have.

Best wishes to you and to your cameras

FreezeFrame


Read more at: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-k-r-forum/152071-clunks-rattles-gr...#ixzz1SMbXRdCV
07-17-2011, 09:04 AM   #8
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Quite the detailed response. And there is a lot of merit to the points you illustrated. I guess my reply would be that yes....a DSLR is a pretty big purchase for most people. That after an investment like that you would expect it to be functioning to a reasonable standard. And that with a DSLR it's more than just an economic investment....it's an investment of time and putting all the right pieces together to make a good system.

All that being said, in the grand scheme of things it's still a relatively cheap camera (and, thankfully in spite of your car analogy it is not THAT big of a financial obligation). The nice thing with Pentax is that so many of the items you buy for the "system" will work with other bodies.....so in spite of the uncertainty of future incarnations of Pentax products, there are still a host of very good camera bodies to be had....new and used. I guess you have to decide whether the problem you're having with your K-r is annoying enough to try a different body.....or whether you are questioning based on your specific experience the decision to stay with Pentax and try another manufacturer. It would be perfectly understandable. There are a lot of specific camera manufacturer apologists, but while I typically find myself defending (or supporting) the Pentax line.....I am not so much of a fanboy to offer gratuitous praise for the sake of that. If it's a problem for you, then it is a real one. And I don't think you need any more corroboration of that fact from anyone else here.

At the end of the day, you might just ask yourself that as long as you're getting good end results from the K-r....then overlooking its faults is a little easier? In lieu of asking for another replacement that might be more to your liking....or jumping ship to either another Pentax model or a completely different system by another manufacturer.......I wonder what your other options would be at this point?

06-15-2012, 12:45 AM   #9
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I've had exactly the same experience as FreezeFrame, and I have to say the clunk is disconcerting and certainly seems reflective of poor design, assembly, damage in shipping- or all three. I ordered a K-r from an online retailer- it was my first DSLR- and I admittedly know virtually nothing about cameras. I ordered a Pentax purely for sentimental reasons, as a kid in 1974 I remember my brother saving his allowance and money from odd jobs to purchase an ES II.The first K-r I received developed a problem with the red autofocus indicator, but took pictures well and had no audible clunk or rattle whatsoever. I traveled in Europe for 2 weeks, and never noticed so much as a peep out of the camera...other than the loud shutter noise. I returned it because of the broken autofocus indicator and was shipped a unit that has a very audible gritty sliding noise and clunk when the camera is rotated in any plane, whether it is powered on or off. I didn't spend $600 to purchase a camera that has the auditory and tactile characteristics of a broken piece of plastic somewhere loose in its innards. I'm angry about this and would be embarrassed to own this camera. I take absolutely no solace in reading that this is may be "normal" as it wasn't detectable on the first unit I received. What on earth was Pentax thinking? This one's going back in the morning.
06-15-2012, 05:15 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ossa Quote
What on earth was Pentax thinking? This one's going back in the morning.
They were thinking that the functionality of the sensor shift stabilization was more important than a little sound it makes when idle. Geez, what a silly reason to return a camera.
06-16-2012, 03:01 AM   #11
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what a silly reason to return a camera

I'm sure that Pentax has lost many thousands of dollars over the years on a poorly designed shake reduction system that provides the new camera purchaser with the auditory and tactile experience of a broken or defective camera. I'm sure countless cameras have been returned for this very reason alone. I don't know much about cameras, but from reading this forum for the last two days it seems this has been a problem since the shake reduction system was introduced 6 or so years ago. Who is the silly one here? I hope the engineer who designed this has been fired and the managers who haven't implemented a solution over the last 6 years are also gone. It seems utterly absurd to me that Pentax would continue market these cameras that create a cacophony of mechanical noises that belie any semblance of a quality device. If there were a Swiss company that manufactured a watch that ground and clunked when it was rotated or inverted, how many do you think they would sell? How many would be returned? How many people would simply buy a similar Swiss watch- for the same or less money- that didn't make any anomalous sounds. That analogy is sheer fantasy because there isn't a Swiss company that would even attempt to market a watch that seemed broken when taken out of the box. Really....how difficult would it have been to cushion the ends of whatever sensor that's jiggling around in there so it didn't make broken noises. Maybe Pentax would have been more competitive in the camera market if they had fixed this problem years ago....and this is coming from someone who feels a sense of loyalty and sentimentality for Pentax- I own several vintage Pentax binoculars and a recently purchased 1971 ES (all of which have a precision feel and build quality sorely lacking in the K-r). I'm not the silly one here and neither was it silly to return a new camera that sounds and feels broken.
06-16-2012, 05:59 AM   #12
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I have a fairly new (several months) K-r and it does not manifest these odd noises at all. Yes, the shutter is louder than the ones on my older Pentax film cameras, but it's no louder, generally, than that on the Nikon D80 I sometimes use at work. The AF noise is about the same as the D80 as well. No internal grinding noises, I don't hear anything moving when I hold the camera and tilt or move it around.
06-16-2012, 06:40 AM   #13
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I'm not knocking the OP's complaint at all. It sounds legit. My K-r doesn't seem to exhibit sound effects to this level. But it certainly sounds on par with many 35mm SLR film cameras made over the last 50 years.

With all the noise complaints, what truly blows me away are all the artificial noises coming from digital cameras - both dSLRs and P&S gear. And people LIKE hearing these beeps and obviously recorded simulacrums of a SLR's mirror slap, shutter, and film winder!

How many readers do like I do - turn off artificial photo confirmation sounds as soon as I touch a new camera?
06-16-2012, 06:53 AM   #14
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Not being a fan of gratuitous noise anywhere, I turn off "sounds" in most situations. Not for tunes, obviously, but I certainly don't need the beeps and whatnot.

If my K-r made grinding noises I would certainly be concerned, and the camera might well go in for evaluation. OP may have a defective body... the one I have doesn't make those noises.
06-16-2012, 07:14 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by OrchidJulie Quote
I don't hear anything moving when I hold the camera and tilt or move it around.
If you turn the camera on its side, while it's off, and then roll it over so it's on its other side, you should hear a little clunk as the sensor moves from one side of its range to the other. It's perfectly normal though. Some people just love to find something to whine about.

The SR system in the K-r works well enough, and I haven't read a report yet of one wearing out, that's what's important to me. It would be sensible for Pentax to prepare new users for this idiosyncrasy, maybe with a couple lines near the front of the manual, with all the other cautions.
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