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06-03-2015, 01:43 AM   #1
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Upgrade from K-30 to K-3/K-S2 dilemma

Hello fellow Pentaxians,

Am facing a dilemma concerning upgrade choices and am seeking your kind advice/experience and suggestions. Not much of a poster on PF but I do read and consult here extremely often. I'm "stuck" with Pentax for family and historical reasons and have no intention of jumping ship to Canikon or any other brands. Currently own 5 Pentax cameras, of which 2 D-SLRS; the K200d and K-30.

My objective is to "turbo-charge" my photography and graduate to the next level in terms of photo sharpness and overall quality. Family digital magazine project requires eye-popping photos for magazine covers, spreads, landscapes and ambiance/atmosphere illustrations. I do understand that the person behind the camera, and his/her technique, is of primordial importance as well.

Current results with K-30 and "consumer lenses" are somewhat satisfactory, but the need again is to step up the game. So...the K-3 is dropping nicely in price and is quite affordable but I'm wondering if the sensor will out-resolve my current lens lineup and only generate frustration or additional unplanned costs for better glass. The K-S2 looks nice with a few bells and whistles but appears quite small in hand and is perhaps not a tremendous upgrade from the K-30.

My current thinking has only led me directly into the land of confusion and the various option scenarios, combined with budgetary constraints, have inspired me to reach out on PF.

To be more specific in terms of needs, the magazine is about high-end international sportfishing. A great deal of photos are taken while on a boat, but "zooming with your feet" therefore becomes a potential health hazard...The photos need to cover enough area to allow for cropping and re-framing (think magazine covers and so forth) while maintaining pixel-peeping sharpness, albeit for digital media (no prints or posters).

The Pentax DA 14mm, HD DA 15mm or the DA 12-24 come to mind, with the DA 15 being the most affordable here in Europe. However, the DA 15 doesn't appear to have the greatest reviews or user experience feedback.

Finally, to summarize, given the project needs I'm wondering whether to :

1. Upgrade to K-3, stay with current lens lineup and maybe add the DA 15?
2. Upgrade glass only for good WA or UWA lens and stay with the K-30* or do that AND go for the K-S2? In this case, which lenses?
3. Kill myself now** and donate the camera material to PF?


Any thoughts/advice/similar personal experience from you distinguished members of the Pentax underdog family?

Kind regards,

DavidParis

P.S. : I'm excluding personal technique from this endeavor, which can always be improved of course. I do PP in LR6. I think you can only go so far with the DA 18-135, DA 10-17 fisheye and DA 35 2,4. The f4 aperture of the DA15 has got me worried as well, even though generally these outdoor photo situations are bathed in sunlight...

P.S.S. : Did use the search function here, still unclear on decision making process!

* The K30 has been a good camera but a bit noisy after iso1600.
** Please don't select option 3.


Last edited by Davidparis; 06-03-2015 at 02:16 AM.
06-03-2015, 02:16 AM - 1 Like   #2
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Hi !
I started myself on a K200D (my father's one^^) and switched one year ago to K3. I can really recommand you this camera, it is amazing ! Better than D7100 for example. The price is really low now and it worth every buck you will pay for it ! So for me option 1

Regarding lenses, I am afraid that the 18-135mm may be not enough for the K3 24Mpx sensor...
For the wide angle need, what about a 16mm f/2 from Samyang ? Of course it is manual focus (is it a real issue for such a wide angle ?) but it is affordable (about 350 euros new from digitphoto) and the sharpness is amazing..
06-03-2015, 02:35 AM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Davidparis Quote
Current results with K-30 and "consumer lenses" are somewhat satisfactory, but the need again is to step up the game.
Upgrade your lenses first so you no longer can blame them.
DA*16-50 plus DA*60-250 come immediately to mind to cover the range (this assumes that you have no intent to go full frame). Replace the DA35/2.4 with a FA31Ltd to get a fast standard prime.
06-03-2015, 02:55 AM - 1 Like   #4
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Expect the K-S2 to feel much like the K-30, but with higher resolution and more sharpness (it has the same trick as the K-3 when it comes to no-antialias filter and using the SR-system to reduce moire) and some more features. Sure the K-3 will feel better balanced with bigger lenses, but in terms of image quality I say no big differencies... The key advantage of the K-3 is the AF system, but K-S2 is more developed here than your K-30 so you still get better AF with that one too. The new DA 16-85 has high sharpness, nice motor and is weather sealed - it covers a good range. Combine this with the DA Star 60-250 for more telephoto power or DA Star 200 f/2.8. DA Star 16-50 f/2.8 is a nice option, but 16-85 has longer reach and it's sharper than the 18-135.

06-03-2015, 03:04 AM - 1 Like   #5
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honestly I don't think you will notice a big difference as the K-30 is already a good camera, but for sure you will notice differences with better lenses. Change the lenses first, you will need it anyway, then if you think you are limited by your camera you can always upgrade it later.
06-03-2015, 03:32 AM - 1 Like   #6
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If you're looking to get the best image quality, definitely opt for the K-3 over the K-S2 (though both are upgrades over the K-30). I'd probably start by adding a few quality primes to your kit, and then upgrade to the K-3. I wouldn't worry about replacing the 18-135mm for now.

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06-03-2015, 03:33 AM - 1 Like   #7
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The key diffrence between K-3 and K-30 will be AF, which is in my opinion very good in K-30, but it is pure awesome on K-3. I myself would go with the lenses first-some limited's will do the job, even some third party lenses will make huge diffrence than 18-135(I like it anyway as my all around lens).
06-03-2015, 03:37 AM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by iss2012 Quote
honestly I don't think you will notice a big difference as the K-30 is already a good camera, but for sure you will notice differences with better lenses. Change the lenses first, you will need it anyway, then if you think you are limited by your camera you can always upgrade it later.
Agreed after looking at photos posted here and on Flickr the k-30 is great camera. I would go with the suggestion for the new 16-85: it's weather sealed, it looks to be a great sharp lens, and its wide for shots on the boat and has a little extra reach when you need to photograph something off boat such as a fish on the line.

David, Your list of lenses lists a lot of super wides either primes or zooms. Do you shoot alot of that now and is that what you want to continue with? If so, the 12-24 is a fantastic lens and it takes filters. It's one of my favorites.

06-03-2015, 04:04 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Davidparis Quote
The Pentax DA 14mm, HD DA 15mm or the DA 12-24 come to mind, with the DA 15 being the most affordable here in Europe. However, the DA 15 doesn't appear to have the greatest reviews or user experience feedback.
[ ... snip ... ]
The f4 aperture of the DA15 has got me worried as well, even though generally these outdoor photo situations are bathed in sunlight...
The DA 15 is one of the most unique and revered pentax lenses in the lineup. It was runner up in the "greatest Pentax lens of all time" steeplechase a while ago, only beaten by the FA77. I know that some people can't live with its weaknesses (border sharpness). The majority of its proponents love it for its strengths, which are colour (esp. blue skies), contrast, flare resistance, sunstars and compactness. That lens eats backlighting for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's a real sunshine lens, perfect for your stated purpose.



So if you're looking for "pop", the DA15 is for you.


Don't upgrade the camera for the sake of IQ, unless you need to print large posters.
Only upgrade the camera if you need the metal chassis or the operational speed of the top tier bodies.


Regards,
--Anders.
06-03-2015, 04:43 AM - 1 Like   #10
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Lenses first! It will make the biggest difference. Buy them used here on PF and you can sell the ones that don't work with your style.

The 35:2.4 is a pretty sweet lens, though. If you're not getting the pop you need out of that, you need to really focus on technique.
06-03-2015, 04:56 AM - 2 Likes   #11
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I usually recommend people stick to the gear they have until they can point out exactly how it is holding them back. Burst rate? ISO noise? Sharpness? Bracketing options? AF.C? And then you get the gear that is better at the thing that you need.
Regarding noise performance at high ISO, the K-5IIs will be slightly better than the K-30. The K-3, as well, but the K-30 is good to begin with. The K-5IIs and K-3 have many other features, though. What I'm saying is, you will be hard pressed to find significantly better noise performance than the K-30. Dynamic range, sharpness, AF speed are other issues, though. If you shoot raw, LR6 has pretty good Noise Reduction features, but you have to play around with them a little bit to get the best settings. If you shoot jpeg, you can change the in-camera NR settings as well. But NR always risks losing some detail.
The DA 35mm f2.4 is a pretty sharp lens, so you should get some good photos from it already.
QuoteOriginally posted by Davidparis Quote
However, the DA 15 doesn't appear to have the greatest reviews or user experience feedback.
I don't think that is true. This lens has a cult following. Its not super sharp across the frame at all apertures, but it has a lot of character and it is a very compact lens. Here is a thread with 500 pages of great photos: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/122-lens-clubs/86234-15mm-limited-controls-my-mind-club.html
If you want affordable UWA with blazing sharpness and fast aperture, look at the Samyang 16mm f2. It is manual focus only, but with the wide DoF that shouldn't be a big problem.
06-03-2015, 05:40 AM   #12
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Original Poster
Thanks for your responses so far...

Thanks to all for input. Am starting to see some direction.
Brgds,
DavidParis

---------- Post added 06-03-2015 at 05:41 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by gorme Quote
Hi !
I started myself on a K200D (my father's one^^) and switched one year ago to K3. I can really recommand you this camera, it is amazing ! Better than D7100 for example. The price is really low now and it worth every buck you will pay for it ! So for me option 1

Regarding lenses, I am afraid that the 18-135mm may be not enough for the K3 24Mpx sensor...
For the wide angle need, what about a 16mm f/2 from Samyang ? Of course it is manual focus (is it a real issue for such a wide angle ?) but it is affordable (about 350 euros new from digitphoto) and the sharpness is amazing..
Hello,
Got it, thanks!

---------- Post added 06-03-2015 at 05:43 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
I usually recommend people stick to the gear they have until they can point out exactly how it is holding them back. Burst rate? ISO noise? Sharpness? Bracketing options? AF.C? And then you get the gear that is better at the thing that you need.
Regarding noise performance at high ISO, the K-5IIs will be slightly better than the K-30. The K-3, as well, but the K-30 is good to begin with. The K-5IIs and K-3 have many other features, though. What I'm saying is, you will be hard pressed to find significantly better noise performance than the K-30. Dynamic range, sharpness, AF speed are other issues, though. If you shoot raw, LR6 has pretty good Noise Reduction features, but you have to play around with them a little bit to get the best settings. If you shoot jpeg, you can change the in-camera NR settings as well. But NR always risks losing some detail.
The DA 35mm f2.4 is a pretty sharp lens, so you should get some good photos from it already.
I don't think that is true. This lens has a cult following. Its not super sharp across the frame at all apertures, but it has a lot of character and it is a very compact lens. Here is a thread with 500 pages of great photos: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/122-lens-clubs/86234-15mm-limited-controls-my-mind-club.html
If you want affordable UWA with blazing sharpness and fast aperture, look at the Samyang 16mm f2. It is manual focus only, but with the wide DoF that shouldn't be a big problem.
Hi,
Thanks for reply and tips. Do shoot raw when not goofing around indeed. Agree with the plastic fantastic 35 2,4 but it doesn't really allow much headroom while on a boat or otherwise confined close to the subject. Need real estate around the subject for proper re-framing and cropping.
Brgds,
DavidParis

---------- Post added 06-03-2015 at 05:45 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by sterretje Quote
Upgrade your lenses first so you no longer can blame them.
DA*16-50 plus DA*60-250 come immediately to mind to cover the range (this assumes that you have no intent to go full frame). Replace the DA35/2.4 with a FA31Ltd to get a fast standard prime.
Hi,
Thanks for the tips on glass. I neglected to mention option 4 "win the lottery and buy all the glass you want" so I'm condemned to be budget-conscious being the mere mortal that I am...
Brgds,
DavidParis

---------- Post added 06-03-2015 at 05:46 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by asp1880 Quote
The DA 15 is one of the most unique and revered pentax lenses in the lineup. It was runner up in the "greatest Pentax lens of all time" steeplechase a while ago, only beaten by the FA77. I know that some people can't live with its weaknesses (border sharpness). The majority of its proponents love it for its strengths, which are colour (esp. blue skies), contrast, flare resistance, sunstars and compactness. That lens eats backlighting for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's a real sunshine lens, perfect for your stated purpose.



So if you're looking for "pop", the DA15 is for you.


Don't upgrade the camera for the sake of IQ, unless you need to print large posters.
Only upgrade the camera if you need the metal chassis or the operational speed of the top tier bodies.


Regards,
--Anders.
Thanks Anders. Am indeed intrigued with that silly little DA15. Just may swing that way...
Brgds,
DavidParis

---------- Post added 06-03-2015 at 05:48 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by wstruth Quote
Agreed after looking at photos posted here and on Flickr the k-30 is great camera. I would go with the suggestion for the new 16-85: it's weather sealed, it looks to be a great sharp lens, and its wide for shots on the boat and has a little extra reach when you need to photograph something off boat such as a fish on the line.

David, Your list of lenses lists a lot of super wides either primes or zooms. Do you shoot alot of that now and is that what you want to continue with? If so, the 12-24 is a fantastic lens and it takes filters. It's one of my favorites.
Thanks Wstruth. The DA12-24 does sound nice but it's a pretty penny for another zoom. Will have a closer look at it.
Brgds,
DavidParis

Last edited by Davidparis; 06-03-2015 at 05:49 AM.
06-03-2015, 06:33 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Davidparis Quote
Thanks for the tips on glass. I neglected to mention option 4 "win the lottery and buy all the glass you want" so I'm condemned to be budget-conscious being the mere mortal that I am...
As most of us Either (1) you rob a bank or sell a kidney or (2) take it step by step; if you opt for (2), determine what you think needs the most improvement, the wide/normal side or the tele side. And take it from there.

Adding a DA15Ltd will not really help in my opinion if you're not happy with e.g. DA55-300.
06-03-2015, 08:55 AM - 1 Like   #14
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Hate to be a contrarian, but I disagree with most of the responses. As a former owner of the K-30, I can say without hesitation that the K-3 is a huge step up overall because it is in the flagship class for the build quality, AF, performance, better WR and expected durability. In the long run, getting a high-quality body will save you money because it will satisfy your needs longer and ownership costs over time will be very low. I especially notice the battery capacity and shutter quietness differences.

The concern over the sensor "out-resolving" your existing optics is pretty much myth. All lenses improve resolving power as you increase pixel density (assuming that added noise doesn't nullify the resolution increase). Better lenses benefit more markedly than lower resolution lenses, so improving your lens arsenal is a valid long-term goal. Issues related to CA tend to be emphasized on the K-3, so those lenses will show those faults as you pixel peep. If and when you make a body change decision soon, then assess your lens arsenal on the new body. Lenses are very long term when you have a plan (roadmap), and you need to select with care because of the investment and larger overall impact on IQ. Think of your lens system independent of the body.

As for UWA, the 14mm Pentax is a dog - no other way to describe it. If you don't mind manual focus or some heft, the best value is going with the 14mm Samyang (Rokinon, Bower, Vivitar, Polar, etc.). I think the 15mm Pentax is fine, especially if you want a compact lens; but its corner sharpness is not in the same league as the Samyang.
06-03-2015, 09:07 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Davidparis Quote
* The K30 has been a good camera but a bit noisy after iso1600.
look at those two tests (ISO perfomance test) :

Pentax K-3 : Test complet

Pentax K-30 : Test complet

For me, the high ISO performance of the K-30 is better than that of the K-3.
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