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11-11-2013, 11:37 AM - 4 Likes   #1
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My Experience Going From a K-5 to a K-3

Thought I'd share this with other Pentax users who might be pondering an upgrade from a K-5 to a K-3 like I did. I ended up taking the plunge, and I'm very happy I did. I pre-ordered a K-5 back when they were first announced over 3 years ago. I went through 2 bad ones with the sensor staining issue, then finally got a good one which I immediately sold to buy a silver K-5 when those became available. I've had that silver K-5 since March 2011, and I've gotten VERY used to the way it works. Before that I had a K-7 from around the time when they became available for sale. I skipped over the K-5ii(s).

Please keep in mind, these observations pertain to the way *I* shoot, they may not relate to you or your own habits.

First things first, the stuff I love about the new K-3:

- dual SD cards! I've been wanting dual SD cards since the K-7, and I was very disappointed when the K-5 didn't have that feature. It's finally here, and it's awesome. I can shoot 24 RAW+ shots at 8,3fps. I tried a few scenarios using a pair of older 45MB/s cards. Writing time seems to be the same whether I write to both cards simultaneously or just to one card. But the ability to split up the two is incredibly useful.

- faster processing! I spend a lot less time waiting. There's still some delay in getting the rear LCD to display anything after a long burst of photos, but otherwise the experience is way more pleasant.

- more AF points! One of my biggest issues with the old AF sensor was getting the right focus spot centered over the precise location I needed to focus on.

- faster FPS for longer bursts! Makes it easier to get that perfect shot of a moving subject, like a jogger or a dog running. It gives me more choices of limb position. This is especially useful for sports photography.

- actual AF tracking that seems to work for real! Again, a great help for sports photography.

- focus peaking in Live View! I've seen focus peaking on other cameras before, but this is the first time I get to use it as a tool in my own photography. It's not perfect for critical focusing, but it's great for quick work.

- enhanced AF modes! And accessing those modes is easier than ever. I look forward to taking advantage of these new modes for sports photography.

- MANUAL FLASH CONTROL!!!! This is a HUGE one for me! From full power to 1/128. I've been desperate for manual on-camera flash control for endless years, and finally having this option is like a dream come true. I do lots of flash work with manual optical slaves, and it's a great relief to finally be able to use the camera's flash as "just another flash" rather than trying to work around its P-TTL quirks (sometimes pre-flash, sometimes not, sometimes the flash contributes, sometimes not, blablabla). I don't know if this was available on the K-5ii, but it definitely was not on my K-5, and it's a wondrous thing.

- selectable low-pass filter. This is a neat feature and seems to work very well. I love being able to select between max detail vs less interference. For the most part, I've found that pictures with and without the simulated low-pass sharpen equally well in post-processing, but the ones without low-pass require less sharpening which means I get fewer noise artifacts in the final product. However the sound caused by the simulated low pass filter is disconcerting. It's like a bizarre beep with each shot, and surprisingly noticeable. It also significantly slows down the FPS capability.


Now for some of the things I don't like. Remember, I've had my way of doing things for many, many years using cameras that worked essentially the same way during all that time, so some slight changes can be an annoying inconvenience for me.

- my beloved ISO 80 is gone There's no more expanded sensitivity setting in the custom menu. ISO now goes from 100 to 51,200. I used to shoot at ISO 80 almost all the time. Its loss is more annoying than I thought it would be. I was actually hoping the minimum available ISO setting would be lower this time, like ISO 50 or something. But no such luck.

- image review functions have changed. This is one of the most annoying changes for me. On the K-5, there was a simple shortcut I used all the time when reviewing images: press the info button once to see the histogram, press the Ok button to get rid of it. Nice and simple, just 2 buttons that worked immediately. On the K-3, pressing the info button now brings up an entire list of the different info screens available, and I have to click more buttons to select the one I want (the basic histogram). The process has gone from pressing one button once, to pressing 3 different buttons a total of 4 times. It may not seem like much, but I'm a big-time chimper. I'm always confirming exposure for pictures I've taken, and the new way of bringing up the histogram annoys me greatly. I assume this change was made to make it easier on newbies who may not know what all the info screens do during review, but I find no benefit to it at all, just annoyance.

- the new grip isn't as comfortable. While everyone else has mentioned that the grip on the K-3 is a positive redesign from the one on the K-5, my experience has been the other way. I have a first-generation silver K-5, which was unique in that it had a chunkier grip than the regular K-5. it was the only model to ever have it, and this chunky grip is superior in my opinion. It fits better in my hand and allows my fingers to sink in a bit more because it's more padded.
(K-3 on left, chunky grip K-5 on right)


- K-3 requires a new battery grip. This isn't such a big deal in my case since I got a silver K-3 which included a battery grip. But comparing my old D-BG4 to my new D-BG5, it seems to me like Ricoh purposely forced a minor change to the battery grip just to sell more of them. It's a rip-off.


That's about it! Notice I made no mention of the new imaging sensor. I haven't found any great benefit in image quality with this new sensor. The sensor in my K-5 is outstanding, and the one in this K-3 is equally outstanding. I have a full complement of DA and FA Limited lenses, some of which have been rebuilt by C.R.I.S. to ensure perfect element alignment. Neither sensor seems to do any better or worse with those lenses. Sure, the new 24mp pictures are BIGGER (in every sense of the way), but when they get printed in 24x16 or 8x10 or whatever, there's no noticeable difference between 24mp and 16mp. Both look excellent. This surprised me a bit since my K-5 has a low-pass filter and this K-3 does not. Maybe I just need to find the right kind of picture to really take advantage of the lack of a low-pass filter. I'll be experimenting with it some more in the near future to see what the differences really are and how they might benefit my photography.

Hope this helps someone!


Last edited by GoremanX; 11-11-2013 at 02:16 PM.
11-11-2013, 11:50 AM   #2
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Thanks for the post, the flash changes are something I had not heard of.

I use K-5 classics myself and am looking forward to the AF improvements and snappier performance overall.
Appreciate the heads up about the review changes, I use the image review mainly to check for AF accuracy.
Hopefully I will need to do less of that now.

One thing I have noted in viewing some of the samples are that there appears to be more grain in the K-3 images vs the K-5 images at moderately higher ISO - 1600, 3200.
Have you noticed this?
11-11-2013, 12:01 PM   #3
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Thanks for your review.

Have you noticed any difference in AF speed?
11-11-2013, 12:10 PM   #4
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Goremanx,
thanks very much for the review.

The manual flash improvements sound terrific. I use manual flashes with a radio transmitter, Cactus 5's, and a single soft box to take headshots for actors at a theater. Very repeatable and reliable. And the advantages of using low power flash, like 1/16th full power, and down to 1/128th in some cases are not to be dismissed. I've always had to rule out the onboard flash because it doesn't go low enough. Now it looks like i can take advantage of it - terrific.

11-11-2013, 12:35 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
Thanks for the post, the flash changes are something I had not heard of.

I use K-5 classics myself and am looking forward to the AF improvements and snappier performance overall.
Appreciate the heads up about the review changes, I use the image review mainly to check for AF accuracy.
Hopefully I will need to do less of that now.

One thing I have noted in viewing some of the samples are that there appears to be more grain in the K-3 images vs the K-5 images at moderately higher ISO - 1600, 3200.
Have you noticed this?
larry i am always hesitant to post comments about a camera after i first get it because i am still trying to figure out all the features...i have noticed the noise and have intermittently thought there was an issue with the K3...the camera has worked well with the low distance lens (15, 31, 77) but i feel at times i have struggled with the 300 and i have yet to figure out what is going on with the sigma 500...i can't seem to find the proper adjustment for it...the 15,31 and 77 have no adjustment...the 300 at times seems to require none and other times it seems to need +4,5...i cannot figure out for the 500 and have been very frustrated... the potentially bigger issue is with the short days i only have the weekends to try to use it and if there are no birds around which was the issue this past weekend then i can't properly test it...i do feel the pictures are definitely noiser and i cannot figure out why...when i first got the k5iis i didn't think there was a big difference with the k5...in the end after playing with it i do feel it is sharper but not sure any difference than the k5 and sharpening tool...so the k3 may just be a i need time issue, it may be defective or it isn't any better...at this point i'm not hopping up an down over the k3...i do think it focuses faster but don't feel the picture quality is any different than the k5, k5iis...with time i hope to change my opinion so more to come...at this point my comments are based on insufficient time to use the K3

i forgot to add i did use the 60-250 this weekend and it worked well with no adjustments
11-11-2013, 12:57 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
One thing I have noted in viewing some of the samples are that there appears to be more grain in the K-3 images vs the K-5 images at moderately higher ISO - 1600, 3200.
Have you noticed this?
Just for you, I've setup my tripod and took 2 identical pictures using the K-5 and K-3. The setup is as close to identical as I can make it between the two cameras:

- manual focus on the exact same spot using magnified Live View
- manual exposure
- 1/60
- F5.6
- smc DA 70mm Limited (same lens moved to each camera)
- no SR (using 2 second delay shutter)
- no highlight correction
- no shadow correction
- no noise reduction
- manual white balance (5000K)
- no lens corrections
- ISO 3200
- mostly artificial light, taken within 3 minutes of each other
- custom image set to "Natural" with all sliders at their default, except EXtra fine detail enabled
- max quality full size JPG format from the camera

ONE difference: low-pass filter is disabled on the K-3.

I'd like to compare DNG files, but I'm having a hard time getting colours to match between the cameras because the K-3 isn't directly supported by any of my usual RAW processing software yet. So these JPGs will have to do.

K-5

(full size 16mp version)

K-3

(full size 24mp version)
(resized to 16mp in Photoshop)

Note that the view shifts very slightly between each picture. This is because of the slightly different location of the lens mount on each camera relative to the tripod mount on the battery grip. Regardless, this is about as close a comparison as I can make between these 2 sensors.

My own observation: comparing 24mp to 16mp, the two pictures look remarkably similar. If I resize the 24mp to 16mp and then compare the K-3 to the K-5, then I see slightly larger grain on the K-3 photo, especially in the out-of-focus transitions from light to black. This might be an artifact of resizing in Photoshop, or it might be that the K-3 really does generate slightly larger grain. In any case, the difference is so minor as to not bother me at all. And this comparison really shows what I meant in my OP: in print, these 2 pictures would appear identical. The minute differences would not be evident.

Edit: OOPS! The pictures look so similar, I got them mixed up when examining them! The grain on the resized K-3 picture is SMALLER than the grain from the K-5. The resized K-3 picture actually looks noticeably better to my eye than the one from the K-5 when they're compared in identical sizes. But I still don't think these differences would be evident in print.

Last edited by GoremanX; 11-11-2013 at 02:48 PM.
11-11-2013, 01:03 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by nono Quote
Have you noticed any difference in AF speed?
My slowest-focusing lens is the FA 77mm Limited. Comparing this lens on my K-3 and K-5:

- using Phase Detect, the AF is a *smidge* faster on the K-3, but not enough to matter to me. Maybe less hesitating on the camera's part most of the time. On the other hand, the AF motor is noticeably louder too, and has a higher pitch.

- using Contrast Detect (Live View), it's a night and day difference. The K-3 trounces the K-5. However my K-3 no longer does that neat momentary zoom thing that the K-5 did to show me a closeup of what I'm focusing on. Maybe it's a setting that needs to be turned on but that I haven't found yet. I hope so, because that feature was neat and I'll miss it if it's gone.

Edit: can't find that setting anywhere. I have to assume it's gone. This is a shame.

Last edited by GoremanX; 11-11-2013 at 02:53 PM.
11-11-2013, 01:24 PM   #8
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Thanks for doing the comparison. I am on my phone so look forward to seeing the full res at home.
From this quick view I don't see any difference.
This is great confirmation, thanks.

11-11-2013, 01:26 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by pearsaab Quote
larry i am always hesitant to post comments about a camera after i first get it because i am still trying to figure out all the features...i have noticed the noise and have intermittently thought there was an issue with the K3...the camera has worked well with the low distance lens (15, 31, 77) but i feel at times i have struggled with the 300 and i have yet to figure out what is going on with the sigma 500...i can't seem to find the proper adjustment for it...the 15,31 and 77 have no adjustment...the 300 at times seems to require none and other times it seems to need +4,5...i cannot figure out for the 500 and have been very frustrated... the potentially bigger issue is with the short days i only have the weekends to try to use it and if there are no birds around which was the issue this past weekend then i can't properly test it...i do feel the pictures are definitely noiser and i cannot figure out why...when i first got the k5iis i didn't think there was a big difference with the k5...in the end after playing with it i do feel it is sharper but not sure any difference than the k5 and sharpening tool...so the k3 may just be a i need time issue, it may be defective or it isn't any better...at this point i'm not hopping up an down over the k3...i do think it focuses faster but don't feel the picture quality is any different than the k5, k5iis...with time i hope to change my opinion so more to come...at this point my comments are based on insufficient time to use the K3

i forgot to add i did use the 60-250 this weekend and it worked well with no adjustments
That is interesting Amy because in the 300 plus thread I have heard some folks post that the K-3 works wonders with the DA 300.
My two K-5 bodies require different adjustment on the same lenses.
Hopefully you can get it figured out with time.
11-11-2013, 01:41 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
That is interesting Amy because in the 300 plus thread I have heard some folks post that the K-3 works wonders with the DA 300.
My two K-5 bodies require different adjustment on the same lenses.
Hopefully you can get it figured out with time.
I don't know about the DA 300mm, but my Sigma 100-300mm F4 has been remarkably consistent in AF performance on the K-3 so far, no adjustment needed. But then the same was true on my K-5.
11-11-2013, 02:01 PM   #11
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i have had adjustments on my k5 and k5 iis so was expecting it to happen on the k3...the 15, 31, 77 and 60-250 require no adjustments but the 300 and 500 are being wierd
11-11-2013, 02:14 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by pearsaab Quote
i have had adjustments on my k5 and k5 iis so was expecting it to happen on the k3...the 15, 31, 77 and 60-250 require no adjustments but the 300 and 500 are being wierd
If everything needed adjustments on the k-5 and k-5IIs, but 3 lens do not need adjustments on the k-3 and the remaining 2 lenses are being weird with the k-3 - then perhaps it's those two lenses that are the issue.
11-11-2013, 02:19 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by JinDesu Quote
If everything needed adjustments on the k-5 and k-5IIs, but 3 lens do not need adjustments on the k-3 and the remaining 2 lenses are being weird with the k-3 - then perhaps it's those two lenses that are the issue.
i would rather have it be the k3 ...they work fine on my k5 iis
11-11-2013, 02:37 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by GoremanX Quote
- the new grip isn't as comfortable. While everyone else has mentioned that the grip on the K-3 is a positive redesign from the one on the K-5, my experience has been the other way. I have a first-generation silver K-5, which was unique in that it had a chunkier grip than the regular K-5. it was the only model to ever have it, and this chunky grip is superior in my opinion. It fits better in my hand and allows my fingers to sink in a bit more because it's more padded.
Ack! If the grip were any bigger I'd have had to return it since I wouldn't be able to hold it. I'm not sure Pentax can make everyone happy in this department.
11-11-2013, 02:43 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by NicoleC Quote
Ack! If the grip were any bigger I'd have had to return it since I wouldn't be able to hold it. I'm not sure Pentax can make everyone happy in this department.
hence my initial caveat:

QuoteOriginally posted by GoremanX Quote
Please keep in mind, these observations pertain to the way *I* shoot, they may not relate to you or your own habits.
I have large hands.
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