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04-09-2018, 02:35 AM   #1
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Mind game: mission-critical camera

Let's suppose for a moment that you've been invited to document an expedition where you might be exposed to all sorts of weather conditions and environmental hazards (except being underwater).

You have to get the pictures, and the camera has to be dead reliable. You can choose any camera/lens combo or any fixed lens camera, so long as it is a digital Pentax, but it has to have some sort of viewfinder.

What would you choose, and why?

Cheers, Jock

04-09-2018, 02:47 AM   #2
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For size and weight reasons, I'd prefer to suggest an APS-C model - the K-3II, plus DA*16-50 and DA*60-250 to support low light shooting at a range of focal lengths. However, the potential SDM failures with those lenses rule them out so far as absolute reliability is concerned. On that basis, it has to be the K-1 or K-1II plus the D FA 24-70 and D FA 70-200. They're pretty heavy for an expedition, though...
04-09-2018, 03:12 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
For size and weight reasons, I'd prefer to suggest an APS-C model - the K-3II, plus DA*16-50 and DA*60-250 to support low light shooting at a range of focal lengths. However, the potential SDM failures with those lenses rule them out so far as absolute reliability is concerned. On that basis, it has to be the K-1 or K-1II plus the D FA 24-70 and D FA 70-200. They're pretty heavy for an expedition, though...
I will now flaunt my ignorance: What are "SDM failures"?

Also, I thought the DA star lenses were supposed to be "extra special weather sealed" . . . no? (Not questioning your expertise here; I'm in learning mode.

Cheers, Jock
04-09-2018, 03:17 AM - 1 Like   #4
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I would take two bodies with me, with higher number of batteries and sd-cards. If one fails, the second will still work. I think that's the normal game without having a look at the brand of camera. If you need extended range for the focal range I would take an apsc one. The range (12 to 675 FF äquivalent) starting with the Sigma 8-16 up to Pentax 150-450 is covered, i would prefer a KP (even if I haven't used one up to date). If you can stay in the range 15mm to 450 a K1 would be fine.

---------- Post added 2018-04-09 at 12:19 ----------

Some times ago the SDM-motors of some optics failed (16-50, 50-135, 60-250) sometimes. This is fixed with the newer ones for a longer time now, but it will be recalled every time - the same as "pentax is doomed".

DA star lenses were supposed to be "extra special weather sealed", thats right. They are better sealed than the competitors at the same time. But even with that sealing, you shouldn't put it the water jet of a fire hose.
With my cameras I hadn't any fail because of weather conditions - they are all still working fine.





Last edited by joergens.mi; 04-09-2018 at 03:23 AM.
04-09-2018, 03:24 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jock Elliott Quote
I will now flaunt my ignorance: What are "SDM failures"?

Also, I thought the DA star lenses were supposed to be "extra special weather sealed" . . . no? (Not questioning your expertise here; I'm in learning mode.

Cheers, Jock
I'm not sure I can claim any expertise, Jock Perhaps a little experience, though...

The DA* lenses are designated "AW" ("All Weather"), so - as you rightly say - they are better protected than regular "WR" ("Weather Resistant") models. Unfortunately, the SDM focusing motors have proven to be less reliable than we'd expect in such high-end lenses. There have been quite a significant number of motor failures, leading to warranty and out-of-warranty repairs. In some cases, owners have converted their lenses to screw-drive, as the mechanism exists in all the DA* models... however, no-one has successfully converted the DA*60-250 to screw drive, though this seems (anecdotally, at least) to be the least affected model.
04-09-2018, 03:29 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by joergens.mi Quote
Some times ago the SDM-motors of some optics failed (16-50, 50-135, 60-250) sometimes. This is fixed with the newer ones for a longer time now, but it will be recalled every time - the same as "pentax is doomed".
Are you aware of an official statement from Ricoh recognising the problem and claiming that the problem has been resolved? We certainly have members who've had their lenses repaired in the last few years, only to find that the problem has returned a little further down the road, and you'd think the repair would use the newer, more reliable components. I think the issue is, we don't know from what date of manufacture the problem was solved (if, indeed, it was). On that basis, buying anything other than the latest copies of these lenses poses some risk, however small. It didn't stop me buying the DA*60-250, a lens I absolutely adore, but it would make me think twice about relying on one copy of it for an expedition.
04-09-2018, 03:45 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
I'm not sure I can claim any expertise, Jock Perhaps a little experience, though...

The DA* lenses are designated "AW" ("All Weather"), so - as you rightly say - they are better protected than regular "WR" ("Weather Resistant") models. Unfortunately, the SDM focusing motors have proven to be less reliable than we'd expect in such high-end lenses. There have been quite a significant number of motor failures, leading to warranty and out-of-warranty repairs. In some cases, owners have converted their lenses to screw-drive, as the mechanism exists in all the DA* models... however, no-one has successfully converted the DA*60-250 to screw drive, though this seems (anecdotally, at least) to be the least affected model.
So, in the scenario posted above, would a photographer be better off -- from a reliability standpoint -- with WR lenses?

An aside: I've tried to do some research on the whole weather sealing/weather resistance issue. I've seen the video of the soldier dumping sand on his Pentaxes and then rinsing them in the shower. I've read anecdotes of Olympuses (Olympi?) dropped in a stream or a lake or even inadvertently lost and left in a snowbank for months. I've read Lens Rentals tear-down of a SONY exposed to salt water (bad news). Hard data seems tough to obtain. Read about some guy lying in the snow to shoot arctic wildlife, and he's got a Canon. Counteracting that, I read of folks on an antarctic tourist trip relying on their "rugged" cameras because they were afraid to expose the expensive gear to salt water in the zodiac. It's a somewhat confusing landscape. I, too, have a tough camera, but when the sun is at the right angle, you can't see the screen, and there is no other way to compose a shot.

Sorry for ranting.

Cheers, Jock
04-09-2018, 04:25 AM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jock Elliott Quote
So, in the scenario posted above, would a photographer be better off -- from a reliability standpoint -- with WR lenses?

An aside: I've tried to do some research on the whole weather sealing/weather resistance issue. I've seen the video of the soldier dumping sand on his Pentaxes and then rinsing them in the shower. I've read anecdotes of Olympuses (Olympi?) dropped in a stream or a lake or even inadvertently lost and left in a snowbank for months. I've read Lens Rentals tear-down of a SONY exposed to salt water (bad news). Hard data seems tough to obtain. Read about some guy lying in the snow to shoot arctic wildlife, and he's got a Canon. Counteracting that, I read of folks on an antarctic tourist trip relying on their "rugged" cameras because they were afraid to expose the expensive gear to salt water in the zodiac. It's a somewhat confusing landscape. I, too, have a tough camera, but when the sun is at the right angle, you can't see the screen, and there is no other way to compose a shot.

Sorry for ranting.

Cheers, Jock
Well, the SDM issue isn't as prevalent as a lot of people make out. And if you were to buy brand new, recently-manufactured DA* lenses, you could have every confidence in them for quite some time - there's just no guarantee that the SDM issue won't raise its head at some point down the track. Personally, I would choose the DA* lenses because of the AW protection.

"Heie" is the military chap who made the videos you refer to. He put his Pentax cameras through a lot, partially as a result of his circumstances and environment, and partially to demonstrate their weather-resistant capabilities. But whilst it's encouraging to see how well they stood up, I'd never recommend treating them that way in normal use - nor is it wise to expect every copy of these cameras and lenses to be quite so weather-resistant. AW and WR can help immensely in adverse weather, but there's no guarantee it will be 100% effective in every situation. The same is true for every DSLR, mirrorless and lens from any company. However, Pentax cameras offer some of the best weather-resistance design measures currently available.

04-09-2018, 04:27 AM - 1 Like   #9
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No electronic is perfectly sealed, especially ones where the lens comes off exposing the innards of the device to the elements, but Pentax does a really good job of it.

2 KP’s or 2 K-1m2’s, DA*, DFA*, or DFA lenses (with spares, lenses break too) to suit the mission, and spare batteries and cards.

Where are you headed?
04-09-2018, 04:32 AM - 1 Like   #10
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Jock, if you haven't done so already, it's worth reading the following excellent post by @stevebrot about WR and getting the most from it:

About those WR body weather seals...User responsibility and best practice - PentaxForums.com
04-09-2018, 04:50 AM - 1 Like   #11
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A K3 and 16-85. It has basically the same IQ as the DA*16-50, but a newer, more reliable focusing motor and a more useful range. Also covers a better range. I’d throw in an FA43 for low light work since it’s so super tiny. If you can tolerate more weight, the DA*55 and maybe an FA31 could be a nice pair.
04-09-2018, 05:44 AM - 1 Like   #12
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Expedition to me means light and reliable, thus I'd want a K3/3ii for ruggedness, reliability, two card slots and long battery life. On the lens side, a DA 20-40 Lmited, DA 55-300 PLM and, perhaps, a DA 1.4x teleconverter, keeping in mind weight, iq and fl range.
04-09-2018, 05:45 AM - 2 Likes   #13
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K-1 (original, since little is known about the reliability of the newer model yet) DFA 15-30, DFA 28-105, DFA 150-450, FA 50 1.4, DFA 100 WR.

IF only one lens, then either the 28-105.

---------- Post added 04-09-18 at 08:55 AM ----------

But if I'm allowed only gear I own... Then K-3, DA* 16-50 (Converted to screw drive), DA* 50-135 (converted to screw drive), DA* 200 (Converted to screw drive), HD DA 1.4X, DFA 100 WR.

Last edited by UncleVanya; 04-09-2018 at 05:55 AM.
04-09-2018, 06:10 AM - 6 Likes   #14
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I don't know how extreme weather proof/resistant Pentax cameras are, but my involuntary experiment proves the K50 with 18-55mm kit lens is Beer proof.....
04-09-2018, 06:18 AM - 4 Likes   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Roadboat24 Quote
I don't know how extreme weather proof/resistant Pentax cameras are, but my involuntary experiment proves the K50 with 18-55mm kit lens is Beer proof.....
This is important. I wouldn't want to join an expedition that didn't involve beer at some point, so a beer-proof combo is highly advantageous
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