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07-22-2009, 09:03 PM   #1
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Do photojournalists use Pentax?

One of my main interests in photography is photojournalism, and I was wondering whether anyone knew whether there are many photojournalists who use Pentax equipment?

I think since the release of the K10D there would have been a big increase in interest from photojournalists or prospective photojournalists in Pentax. Robust, well-priced and weather-sealed (body and lenses) are factors in that. The new K7 will have only done Pentax good in the photojournalism area because of the video option and increase in continuous frame rate performance.

However, for photojournalists who are employed as staff photographers, I am thinking that most employers are heavily invested in Canon or Nikon equipment. Also, for those interested in the very high end equipment, or full frame bodies, Pentax is not an option. However, for photojournalists operating outside of major employers or without a heavy investment in Canon or Nikon equipment, I think Pentax could be an attractive option.

Interested to see if anyone knows much about Pentax use in the photojournalism area.

07-22-2009, 09:07 PM   #2
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On a related note, Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist Jim MacMillan recently said there will always be a market for still photography in news (with high competition).

For those in New Zealand, check out the August issue of The Photographer's Mail for an interesting article on him.
07-22-2009, 09:10 PM   #3
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I think one issue for why more do not, is probably based on Pro level repair facilities / turn around... If you are on assignment, how long to get busted gear fixed and back in the field.

Canon and Nikon have Pro Repair...
07-22-2009, 09:12 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Igilligan Quote
I think one issue for why more do not, is probably based on Pro level repair facilities / turn around... If you are on assignment, how long to get busted gear fixed and back in the field.

Canon and Nikon have Pro Repair...
True, and the ability to quickly buy or rent Pentax gear compared to Canon/Nikon would be a factor.

07-22-2009, 09:37 PM   #5
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It kinda depends on the style of photojournalism, doesn't it?
I see the K-7 and a set of limiteds as being suited to many journalistic endeavors.
07-22-2009, 10:48 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
It kinda depends on the style of photojournalism, doesn't it?
I see the K-7 and a set of limiteds as being suited to many journalistic endeavors.
+1
Small and light is always useful. I don't know one person that will willingly pick up a 3 pound body (no body in particular) plus a 24-70mm (2+lb) or 70-200mm zoom (5lb), I would much rather be picking up a 2.5lb body (with grip) with 50-135mm (2lb) and THE set of pancakes (about 100-200 grams each)
07-22-2009, 10:49 PM   #7
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What others have said about the ability to rent/repair equipment is absolutely the case.

I don't think many people would argue that the flagship Pentax bodies are incapable of producing professional results, but the size and reach of the Canikon professional networks help ensure that a photographer who encounters problems can get them resolved quickly. Unfortunately, Pentax simply doesn't have that reach.

That being said, for those of us not shooting mission-critical, high-stakes coverage, Pentax does just fine.
07-22-2009, 10:54 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by GLXLR Quote
+1
Small and light is always useful. I don't know one person that will willingly pick up a 3 pound body (no body in particular) plus a 24-70mm (2+lb) or 70-200mm zoom (5lb), I would much rather be picking up a 2.5lb body (with grip) with 50-135mm (2lb) and THE set of pancakes (about 100-200 grams each)
True, but when you've been persuaded that said 5lbs of equipment will make you a better photographer... I dunno. The cult of full frame has infiltrated everything. If I had a dime for every time I've read "If you really want to get serious about photography, you've GOT to buy a full frame camera" - well, I'd have *all* of the LTDs.

07-22-2009, 10:58 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by dantekgeek Quote
What others have said about the ability to rent/repair equipment is absolutely the case.

I don't think many people would argue that the flagship Pentax bodies are incapable of producing professional results, but the size and reach of the Canikon professional networks help ensure that a photographer who encounters problems can get them resolved quickly. Unfortunately, Pentax simply doesn't have that reach.

That being said, for those of us not shooting mission-critical, high-stakes coverage, Pentax does just fine.
To be fair, though, you could put a spare K-7 in your luggage in case of in-field failure. Most of the working photojournalists I've ever met or read about or seen in photo-geek interviews have at least two bodies with them. For the price of a couple of "pro full frame cameras", you could have TWO spares.

And when you haunt the Canon and Nikon forums, it turns out there are lots of pros who don't seem to get the service you're talking about, even though they're 'pro service members'. If you're someone they see as an advertising source, a revenue generator, the local sales rep will front you a body and a new lens when you drop yours down the mountainside. If you're a stringer for Newsweek, good luck getting any better service than I get...
07-22-2009, 11:04 PM   #10
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A couple of my photojournalist friends used to carry MZ-S's with the FA* 24-70, 80-200 and 300 f2.8s. This was when digital was not yet good enough.
07-22-2009, 11:19 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by GLXLR Quote
+1
Small and light is always useful. I don't know one person that will willingly pick up a 3 pound body (no body in particular) plus a 24-70mm (2+lb) or 70-200mm zoom (5lb), I would much rather be picking up a 2.5lb body (with grip) with 50-135mm (2lb) and THE set of pancakes (about 100-200 grams each)
Although some established documentary photographers (Magnum?) might use primes, I have never heard of a top photojournalist today thats uses them, bar carrying a 30 or 50 f/1.4 or something for the odd shot when they have time. In a business where getting the shot matters more than the image quality I think primes are just not useful enough. Maybe there are some who use them? But I'm sure they'd be out-numbered at least 10 to 1 by photojournalists using zoom lenses. I don't think the prime lens range is a big draw for Pentax in the photojourno market.

QuoteOriginally posted by jstevewhite:
The cult of full frame has infiltrated everything. If I had a dime for every time I've read "If you really want to get serious about photography, you've GOT to buy a full frame camera"
I agree that people worry too much about the body, but if you're a photographer who might sometimes need, or might often need to shoot in bad light to get the shot that gets published, a full frame would be an advantage.
07-23-2009, 06:10 AM   #12
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Also: Pentax isn't as strong on high ISO. Pentax has no high-ISO bodies to match the Canon 5D, 5D2 or the Nikon D3/D700, for example. Useful especially for sports, indoor events, when all you've got is a big slow zoom and you need to get the shot or freeze the action.
07-23-2009, 06:23 AM   #13
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Yeah that's what I mean about full frame. Cropped frame DSLR's can't match full frame at higher ISOs, which might be a drawcard for photojournalists (who can afford them).
07-23-2009, 06:31 AM   #14
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BrendanPK on this forum is a working photojournalist and he shoots Pentax.
07-23-2009, 07:38 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by CWyatt Quote
...<snip> In a business where getting the shot matters more than the image quality I think primes are just not useful enough. Maybe there are some who use them? But I'm sure they'd be out-numbered at least 10 to 1 by photojournalists using zoom lenses. I don't think the prime lens range is a big draw for Pentax in the photojourno market.

I agree that people worry too much about the body, but if you're a photographer who might sometimes need, or might often need to shoot in bad light to get the shot that gets published, a full frame would be an advantage.
The way I see it, your statements are at odds here. If "The Shot" matters more than "The Image Quality", then what's left to recommend full frame (to a photojournalist, that is)? APS-C bodies are lighter and less bulky.

QuoteOriginally posted by rawr Quote
Also: Pentax isn't as strong on high ISO. Pentax has no high-ISO bodies to match the Canon 5D, 5D2 or the Nikon D3/D700, for example. Useful especially for sports, indoor events, when all you've got is a big slow zoom and you need to get the shot or freeze the action.
That depends on the target media, doesn't it? The K20D's "unusable" ISO3200 is still far better than a 5x5 inch halftone image in a newspaper - or even a glossy sports rag, for that matter.

Of course, the VAST majority of photojournalists don't shoot sports for a living; I can see giving the baton to Nikon or Canon based on AF performance alone, for sports. But here's the problem - everyone talks about full frame vs. APS-C, but the fact is that more than a few working photojournalists use crop-sensor cameras from Nikon and Canon. I'd say I've seen *far more* photojournalists using crop sensor DSLRs from Canon and Nikon than using Pentax. Watch the press corps at a news conference. Sure, there are the requisite 5d/1d and D3, but lots and lots of higher end crop sensor. Look at the number of folks with kit zooms and on-camera flashes. How much does high-ISO performance matter when you have your camera set to ISO400 with a big-ass-flashgun on top?

The fact is, the K20D or K-7, paired with appropriate lenses, would comfortably fulfill the real-world requirements of most photojournalists - there are crop sensor cameras doing it already. The reason more photojournalists don't use Pentax is marketing, IMO. The *perception* that Pentax is not a pro line is what stops more pros from using it, not the realities of image quality, availability, repair depots, or system depth.

Last edited by jstevewhite; 07-23-2009 at 07:39 AM. Reason: clarifying a thought
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