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07-26-2019, 10:08 AM - 13 Likes   #1
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Update from K-3 to K-1ii, observations

You may recall that I was recently considering moving from the K-3 to a K-1 ii. I feel I owe you an update, if you’re up forit.

I am a long time Pentax user, but in recent years I have added Panasonic mirrorless 4/3 to my kit. What has evolved is that I use the Pana gear for general purpose, especially while traveling, but my Pentax system is my go-to for wildlife. Over the years I have made quite the investment in long lenses. Currently in use are the DA*300, FDA150-450, and DA 560. I understand the irony here, considering the widely-held belief (which I don’t doubt) that Canikon is better for action. However, I absolutely love the IQ of the pictures I get with these lenses, and the ruggedness of thePentax gear is a major plus for me.

Last year I had the good fortune of visiting the Galapagos. Wandering the islands with my Pana 4/3 (GX8)and a 14-140 lens (better than you might think) in a belt pack and the K-3 and DFA 150-450 attached to a shoulder strap worked very well. Each camera contributed almost equally to the above-water pics in my final album (212 and 281). My weakness on the trip was birds in flight. Over the years I have collected many excellent BOF pics, but there have also been too many disappointments. I needed to up my game, especially since next year I will have the opportunity to visit Africa and I hear there’s wildlife, including birds,where we’re going. Time to reevaluate my own techniques and also my equipment. In the distant past I had poor results with AF.C – trouble acquiring focus, which was then too easily lost. I usually went back to AF.S with Spot focus, and seemed to have better luck just refocusing between shots. But like I said, time to reevaluate. Short of giving up on Pentax (gads, that would be painful) the obvious hardware to consider was the K-1 ii, especially since the lens I want to use most is the already FF DFA 150-450. I knew I would be happy with IQ, I wasn’t too concerned about the extra half pound, I was looking forward to better DR and especially less noise with higher ISO. I wasn’t thrilled about lower resolution for small or distant subjects but I was curious about the APS-C Crop mode. So… I pulled the trigger, prepared to unpull it if necessary.

After researching what others do for BOF, customizing things to my taste, and running some tests at home, I went to the beach to see what I could do on hapless birds. The late afternoon light was good, which helped a lot. I created a “BOF” user mode with the following settings: TAv, shake reduction off, AF.C focus with Expanded Area25 (“SEL M”, clear as mud), 1st Frame Action in AF.C and subsequent Action in AF.C both set to Focus Priority. Initially I left Hold AF Status off because I had read that it slowed down tracking, but after noticing how easily focus was lost to the slightest foreground distraction I turned it on, set to Medium.The most important thing I noticed was that it did not slow down tracking that I could tell. I’ll tinker with this more. I kept shutter speed to1/1200 but had better results at 1/1600 or higher. My lens did fine at F5.6 but F6.3 to 8.0 were more forgiving. Nothing new there. What was a pleasant surprise was how much I could push ISO without worrying about it. On my K-3 I started getting annoyed at the noise in ISO above 400 (fussy, I know). But now it seems to me like ISO 1600 is the new 400.

More observations: despite low expectations I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I could lock focus on my subject. I was surprised to discover that with a featureless background (like the sky) it would easily lock focus if I could get ANY of the 25 points on the subject (this is not Auto Select after all), although with a cluttered background I did have to get the center point right where I wanted it. Once focus was locked I was very impressed with how well it tracked the subject, even with a cluttered background. Sure, the pelicans were easy, but before long I was getting pretty good results with fast terns, cormorants, and pigeons. I grew to really like the APS-C Crop mode. If the subject was small enough that I knew I would be heavily cropping anyway I just quickly switched to Crop mode and enjoyed the 6fps instead of just 4. Sad that the resolution goes down to 4800 x3200 (15mp) compared to the 6016 x 4000 (24mp) of my K-3, but oh well. Still good enough for screen viewing and even for decent printing (which I don’t do much anymore). The dynamic range improvement helped (the “drama” pelican shot below required shoving the Shadows slider in LR way up). And as I said, I absolutely love the reduced noise at higher ISO. So… Well done, Pentax! I am a happy camper, and off to Africa will go the K-1, with the K-3 as a backup.

Thank you for listening, and for your help.

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PENTAX K-1 Mark II  Photo 
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Last edited by Jacobus2; 07-26-2019 at 10:15 AM. Reason: text errors
07-26-2019, 08:01 PM   #2
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Excellent observations and excellent pictures as well! Thanks for sharing.
Proper technique is just as important as the right gear. Maybe even more. And it seems you have the upper hand on both. Best of luck in your trip!

08-02-2019, 03:52 AM   #3
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1. Isn't the 300mm redundant? I don't have one, myself, though I have the other two, and I'm wondering why you'd want the third (i.e., is there a reason why I should have one?).

2. What settings do you use in the camera regarding automatic noise reduction?

3. As to " Sad that the resolution goes down to 4800 x3200 (15mp) compared to the 6016 x 4000 (24mp) of my K-3", I'd observe that the resolution of the K-3 is half-again that of the K-1, because the latter has larger individual pixels ("resolution" defined in terms of dots per square inch rather than overall total number of pixels). The K-1's sensor has more than double the surface area, though, which, to my mind, makes them roughly equal if you don't use "crop mode". You may find that you'll get a finer level of detail using the K-3 because of the smaller photoreceptors in the sensor. Using "crop mode" in the K-1 gets you a smaller image with less resolution. I wouldn't bother, myself, since I can crop things later. Of course, if the image of the bird you're trying to shoot takes up so much less space on the sensor, it certainly doesn't hurt to use "crop mode", but I'm thinking, why bother? Here's some technical comparison stuff:
Pentax K-3 vs. Pentax K-1 - Sensor Comparison

The biggest advantage I can see for a BOF guy is that the K-3 will do double the frame rate of the K-1.

I do very much appreciate the information you provided in your update. Thanks for that. I hope you'll have a safe and successful trip, and look forward to seeing the results.

Last edited by dlh; 08-02-2019 at 04:04 AM.
08-02-2019, 12:14 PM - 1 Like   #4
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>> 1. Isn't the 300mm redundant? <<

It was an evolution. I've had the 300 for a long time. Love it. I added the 150-450 shortly after it came out to extend my reach, mostly for birding. Then I added the K-1 for enhanced IQ. For birding, shooting mostly small birds, the K-3 with 150-450 is still a great combo. The K-3 with 300 is still useful as a much more compact kit, when that matters.

>> 2. What settings do you use in the camera regarding automatic noise reduction? <<

I shoot RAW, so I don't think there are settings that affect the NR in the RAW data. I left them at default settings. I noticed immediately that noise at the ISO settings I typically use (almost always 1600 or less), is much better controlled than with APS-C K-3 (and K-5, etc.) I attribute that to the larger pixel size of the sensor.

>> 3. As to " Sad that the resolution goes down to 4800 x3200 (15mp) compared to the 6016 x 4000 (24mp) of my K-3", I'd observe that the resolution of the K-3 is half-again that of the K-1... <<

I think you're overthinking this. Yes, the physical pixel size on the sensor is larger, and that's why (I think) there is less noise and better dynamic range. However, once the picture is taken the pixel size on the sensor is no longer relevant. A pixel is then just a pixel, and that determines how much cropping you can do, how it will display, how large a print you can make, etc.

>> ... it certainly doesn't hurt to use "crop mode", but I'm thinking, why bother?...<<

Two reasons: 1. With crop mode, the resulting file size of the RAW file is much smaller, so copying, processing, etc. is much faster and less space is taken on your cards and hard drives. 2. Frame rate is higher in crop mode- about 6fps vs 4. So... If I know my subject fits easily in the APS-C crop space, really the question becomes "why NOT bother?"

>> The biggest advantage I can see to the K-1 over the K-3 is that it will do double the frame rate <<

Backwards. The K-3 shoots twice as fast (8fps) as the K-1 in FF mode (4fps). The K-1 is a step backward in burst mode shooting, if that matters to you. As I said, that's one advantage of crop mode - it reduces that fps hit and gets me back to 6fps anyway, when it can be used.

08-25-2019, 08:26 AM   #5
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Im saving up for the K1, but will still hang on to my K3 mainly for use with my 150-450 lens(longer reach in APSC and more MPs) I can work around the shortcomings you mentioned in your post. However I too am looking forward to seeing how this lens performs on the K1

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