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11-05-2016, 07:48 AM - 3 Likes   #1
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One year in with FF

A year ago, I bought my first FF digital which would use Pentax lenses--a Sony A7R with adapter. Six months later came the K1. Here are a few observations.

1. With AF lenses, the K1 is the superior platform in every way. The in-body stabilization, improved autofocus and ergonomics are a joy. The one place the A7R excels over the K1 is with K and M lenses.

2. If the subject and lens selection allow, the K1 shots are breathtakingly beautiful. The ability to shoot heavily back lit subjects with excellent dynamic range is unmatched. There is no way I could get the west facing shot of the dancers below with the strong sun behind on my K3 with acceptable tonality. Still, about 90% of my good shots with FF would not look noticeably different in a crop format.

3. Most shots can happen with either format. Given the current lens availability and the size factor, I actually miss more shots by using full frame over APS-C than I gain. I currently carry one of each format for any serious shooting. The difference in the reaction of a human subject when one points a 70-200/2.8 and that when pointing a 50-135/2.8 is significant. The reach of a DA*300 plus converter on 24mp 16x24 is difficult to duplicate for FF in any practical form. The DA*300 without converter (used below) is an excellent FF lens, though.

4. The practical low light performance advantage is somewhat overstated. I just did a shoot of Halloween decorations at night, using only my two FF bodies. I did not see a big advantage over the years past shooting the same area when I used the K3 or K5II. Perhaps there was more moonlight in years past, but I expected to be blown away. The issues with holding longer FL lenses in low light seem to outweigh other factors, and catching the kids by trick or treat was more challenging. There is no FF substitute for the K3 with FA77/1.8.

Anyone else have some observations after a bit of time with FF?


036 Golden Migration
by Gene Vance, on Flickr


012 Golden Migration
by Gene Vance, on Flickr


Last edited by GeneV; 11-05-2016 at 08:14 AM. Reason: Add photo
11-05-2016, 04:29 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
Anyone else have some observations after a bit of time with FF?
For me, the K3 was excellent, and the DA* lenses optically special. What's really changed with the Pentax K1 is the AF behavior with the new DFA lenses (also with K3 and new DFA lenses), faster and much more reliable. Optically, there is only one lens that has some of the characteristics of the DA* lenses, this is the DFA*70-200. The three other lenses 15-30, 24-70 and 150450 do not deliver the rendering of the DA*. Concerning the K1 sensor, it deliver a step up from the K3 but only with a lens of equal optical quality. Since I use the K1, I got used to shot at higher ISO than I used to use on the K3. If I was using the K1 at lower ISO, I'd get better images. No all full frame lenses are as fast as the ones I used on K3. Typically I much prefer the optical rendering of the DA*300 and I much prefer the AF unit of the DFA150450. With a sharp and fast lens on a K3, it's not sure that the image would be inferior to a K1 image. Ideally, lenses should have the AF unit of the DFA150450 and should optically render like the DA* lenses.
11-05-2016, 04:45 PM   #3
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On the full frame K1, some lenses have a 3D "pop" that they don't have on cropped frame cameras!

I like to shoot high quality, manual focus lenses. Many of them are quite old. All are full frame lenses.

I tend to especially like the ones that have field curvature and vignetting (see attached photo of Zeiss 28mm f/2 on my K1). I like how when shot at a large aperture (the photo was shot at F/2) on the full frame K1, the lens renders a 3D effect because of the blurry corners caused by the field curvature AND the darkened corners due to the vignetting.

Obviously, these same lenses when I used them on my K3 an K3ii would not have this 3D effect because the dark and blurry corners would be cropped out.

Also contributing to the K1 full frames' greater 3D pop is the fact that at the same aperture setting with the same lens, the depth of field would would be shallower on the full frame K1 than on the crop frame K3.

Last edited by Fenwoodian; 11-14-2016 at 08:48 PM.
11-05-2016, 05:27 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
Anyone else have some observations after a bit of time with FF?
Well, since you ask. . . I looked at the K-1 and rejected it for several reasons: too big and heavy, too costly, too awkward to use with manual focus lenses and adapted lenses. I ended up with a used Sony Alpha A7 instead.

The Sony's focus peaking and magnification make it the best digital camera I've yet found for manual focusing, and IMHO puts it on a similar level to my old 35mm SLR with its huge and bright viewfinder and split-prism and micro-prism focusing screen. Super Takumars are inexpensive and very pleasing to use with this camera.

11-05-2016, 05:36 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote

There is no FF substitute for the K3 with FA77/1.8.
Sure there is...

Have you tried the K1 with the Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro lens?
11-06-2016, 10:14 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
For me, the K3 was excellent, and the DA* lenses optically special. What's really changed with the Pentax K1 is the AF behavior with the new DFA lenses (also with K3 and new DFA lenses), faster and much more reliable. Optically, there is only one lens that has some of the characteristics of the DA* lenses, this is the DFA*70-200. The three other lenses 15-30, 24-70 and 150450 do not deliver the rendering of the DA*. Concerning the K1 sensor, it deliver a step up from the K3 but only with a lens of equal optical quality. Since I use the K1, I got used to shot at higher ISO than I used to use on the K3. If I was using the K1 at lower ISO, I'd get better images. No all full frame lenses are as fast as the ones I used on K3. Typically I much prefer the optical rendering of the DA*300 and I much prefer the AF unit of the DFA150450. With a sharp and fast lens on a K3, it's not sure that the image would be inferior to a K1 image. Ideally, lenses should have the AF unit of the DFA150450 and should optically render like the DA* lenses.
That is pretty consistent with my experience, though I do not own very many of the new FF zooms.

---------- Post added 11-06-16 at 10:18 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Tony Belding Quote
Well, since you ask. . . I looked at the K-1 and rejected it for several reasons: too big and heavy, too costly, too awkward to use with manual focus lenses and adapted lenses. I ended up with a used Sony Alpha A7 instead.

The Sony's focus peaking and magnification make it the best digital camera I've yet found for manual focusing, and IMHO puts it on a similar level to my old 35mm SLR with its huge and bright viewfinder and split-prism and micro-prism focusing screen. Super Takumars are inexpensive and very pleasing to use with this camera.
That is what I meant by saying that the place where the A7R excels is with K and M lenses. The EVF is bright enough that one can focus using peaking without automatic aperture. Still, I like the AF of the K1 much better than the CD only AF of the A7R.

BTW, it looks like you live near my alma mater over in Waco.

---------- Post added 11-06-16 at 10:26 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Fenwoodian Quote
Sure there is...

Have you tried the K1 with the Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro lens?
Nice lens, but huge and no AF. It would end up on the Sony, which is where most of my old favorite manual lenses end up. I agree about how manual lenses can "pop" in FF, but to be a real replacement for the FA77, I would want a fast compact DFA in the 100-135 range. My DFA 100 macro would be great if the focus did not hunt.

Last edited by GeneV; 11-06-2016 at 10:49 AM.
11-06-2016, 10:58 AM   #7
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Switched from M4/3 body late August, got myself a shiny new K-1 and a 50 1.8 prime. Difference in dof is significant and I spend the first month just shooting random objects upclose, soaking in the bokeh goodness) Dynamic range is immense, at base ISO I've pulled shadows +100 and saw no noise, that was probably the most impressive thing I've seen so far after the switch. That, and the incredible amount of detail when I nail focus and use lenses sweetspot. That being said, I've had much easier time focusing my old EM1, faster, silent and nailed it 90% of the time. FF focusing will take some time to get used to. IQ wise FF has been an eye opener. While I still like what I could achieve with my old EM1, I can see much more potential and space for growing with my K-1. Weight can be an issue, I've purchased a Tamron 70-200 2.8, and paired with K-1 it's a monster of a combo weight-wise. I think I'll buy a 28-105 next time I'll go travelling, no way I'm bringing the tamron with me, it'll be a nightmare carrying that thing around all day. I miss my old kit that I had to sell mainly because I had all the lenses I ever wanted, covering all focal lengths. It'll take some time and loads of cash to build it up for K-1. I'm glad I've switched overall, af isn't a huge factor since i've moved to a more rural setting and found myself loving landscape and nature photography more than street stuff I liked when I lived in a big city. For city I'd say a smaller mirrorless body was a better choice.
11-06-2016, 12:52 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by awscreo Quote
Switched from M4/3 body late August, got myself a shiny new K-1 and a 50 1.8 prime. Difference in dof is significant and I spend the first month just shooting random objects upclose, soaking in the bokeh goodness) Dynamic range is immense, at base ISO I've pulled shadows +100 and saw no noise, that was probably the most impressive thing I've seen so far after the switch. That, and the incredible amount of detail when I nail focus and use lenses sweetspot. That being said, I've had much easier time focusing my old EM1, faster, silent and nailed it 90% of the time. FF focusing will take some time to get used to. IQ wise FF has been an eye opener. While I still like what I could achieve with my old EM1, I can see much more potential and space for growing with my K-1. Weight can be an issue, I've purchased a Tamron 70-200 2.8, and paired with K-1 it's a monster of a combo weight-wise. I think I'll buy a 28-105 next time I'll go travelling, no way I'm bringing the tamron with me, it'll be a nightmare carrying that thing around all day. I miss my old kit that I had to sell mainly because I had all the lenses I ever wanted, covering all focal lengths. It'll take some time and loads of cash to build it up for K-1. I'm glad I've switched overall, af isn't a huge factor since i've moved to a more rural setting and found myself loving landscape and nature photography more than street stuff I liked when I lived in a big city. For city I'd say a smaller mirrorless body was a better choice.
The 70-200 /2.8 really is heavy and impressive, but if you are where you can use it, the results on the K1 are worth it. It was not as useful in extreme low light as I had hoped. A monopod is needed where I could still hand hold my 50-135.

11-06-2016, 01:41 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
The 70-200 /2.8 really is heavy and impressive, but if you are where you can use it, the results on the K1 are worth it. It was not as useful in extreme low light as I had hoped. A monopod is needed where I could still hand hold my 50-135.
I wouldn't use it in low light, got my 50 1.8 for that. I bought it for portraits and some landscape work, and it works great for that. Ironically, I don't really need good low light capability anymore since I've moved out of the city where I shot a lot of street low light stuff. Oh well, not complaining, it'll be useful for stars that I want to get into as soon as I get an Uwa lens
11-06-2016, 08:37 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by awscreo Quote
I wouldn't use it in low light, got my 50 1.8 for that. I bought it for portraits and some landscape work, and it works great for that. Ironically, I don't really need good low light capability anymore since I've moved out of the city where I shot a lot of street low light stuff. Oh well, not complaining, it'll be useful for stars that I want to get into as soon as I get an Uwa lens
Sometimes i need a little more reach. I can duplicate the crop format FOV of my beloved FA77 by using the 70-200 at 115mm on FF, but the zoom is more unwieldy and would need to be wide open to shoot near my usual night aperture, f/2.5.
11-06-2016, 08:53 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
That is what I meant by saying that the place where the A7R excels is with K and M lenses. The EVF is bright enough that one can focus using peaking without automatic aperture. Still, I like the AF of the K1 much better than the CD only AF of the A7R.
Autofocus has let me down a few too many times. I'm waiting for somebody to invent a psychic autofocus that can read my mind and know what I want it to lock onto. I don't even have a native lens for the Sony. The only camera with autofocus that I mostly trust is my Pentax Q7.
11-06-2016, 10:22 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
Sometimes i need a little more reach. I can duplicate the crop format FOV of my beloved FA77 by using the 70-200 at 115mm on FF, but the zoom is more unwieldy and would need to be wide open to shoot near my usual night aperture, f/2.5.
I haven't done much low light portraiture, plus I got the lens only recently. I can see myself buying a 85 1.8 or 1.4 whenever Pentax drops it on us, hopefully next year, if price is not crazy. Or, Mitakon 85 1.2, never had a 1.2 prime, bokeh should be sublime)
11-07-2016, 08:25 AM   #13
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For me the K1 just has "IT!" in the images. Just a quality in them that I have not been able to describe. Something like the K1 and KS2 but even better. I own a K5, K5-IIs, K3 and a K1. The K1 is the first DLSR that I have owned that does not leave me pining for the good old days with my Spormatic II and Kodachrome 25 film. To me Pentax hit a grand slam home run with this camera.
11-07-2016, 10:45 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tony Belding Quote
Well, since you ask. . . I looked at the K-1 and rejected it for several reasons: too big and heavy, too costly, too awkward to use with manual focus lenses and adapted lenses. I ended up with a used Sony Alpha A7 instead.

The Sony's focus peaking and magnification make it the best digital camera I've yet found for manual focusing, and IMHO puts it on a similar level to my old 35mm SLR with its huge and bright viewfinder and split-prism and micro-prism focusing screen. Super Takumars are inexpensive and very pleasing to use with this camera.
Agree, A7 is hard to beat for adapting vintage lenses
11-07-2016, 11:07 AM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tony Belding Quote
too awkward to use with manual focus lenses and adapted lenses..
I'm really surprised to hear that opinion. One of the things I like about my K1 is how great it works with manual lenses. With the use of the green button it functions in aperture priority, which is my preferred method anyway. Set the f stop manually, press the green button and the correct shutter speed is set. Combined with focus peaking I can't imagine how it could be easier to use manual lens. What do other cameras do to make the use of manual lens less "awkward'?
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