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12-02-2013, 03:21 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Just moved from EOS to Pentax K3

Hi, I'm Bret.

I'm new to Pentax. I have always shot Canon gear since I was lucky enough to be given a fully manual Canon F1--and some nice canon glass--in high school, decades ago. More recently I have been shooting EOS gear since I bought in at the 1N stage.

I have just decided to abandon Canon, and bought a K3 instead of upgrading to a full format Canon body. It was not an easy choice, but with it now in hand, I'm confident it was the right one. I will say more about why in a later post. It may be a useful window into the mind of a Pentax convert on the way in the door...

12-02-2013, 03:23 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums and to Pentax! I hope you will enjoy your Pentax K-3!
12-02-2013, 03:25 PM   #3
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Wow, welcome aboard !
I am confident that K3 will allow to achieve in photography whatever you want.. .myself still using and enjoying trusty K10D since 2007 and my K-01 since last year (+ bunch of film Pentaxes) - too tight on budget to justify the upgrade just yet

looking forward to hearing more about your impressions !--manntax
12-02-2013, 03:37 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forum...

12-02-2013, 03:43 PM   #5
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Well whatever your reasoning, welcome to both Pentax and this forum.

Last edited by Kerrowdown; 12-02-2013 at 04:47 PM.
12-02-2013, 04:46 PM   #6
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Inerested in hearing about the K3. I also have an eye on it. Welcome.
12-02-2013, 09:12 PM   #7
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Welcome from Iowa! You have a very well built camera there! Now for me comes the best part, all K-mount lenses can be used!! This means endless options and experimentation. And you can go top of the line or cheap! Cool huh? Anyway enjoy that new camera!!
Joel
12-02-2013, 09:50 PM   #8
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Welcome to Pentax and Pentaxforums.

It will be interesting to be hearing from you about the ergonomics. We Pentaxians believe that Pentax is leading the game but of course we are used to the Pentax approach to controls and menus.

Much of your future experience will depend on which lenses you'll be using so don't hesitate to ask for recommendations for certain applications. You'll likely to get a ton of good advice.

12-02-2013, 10:47 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I had a similar story. Started out shooting film on a Rebel in high school and slowly worked my way up to the Canon T3i July of last year. Took a chance on the K-01 and fell in love with Pentax and those wonderful limited primes. Gave my brother the T3i. Haven't looked back since.

Welcome to the forums...
12-02-2013, 11:56 PM   #10
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I'd certainly be interested to hear "why".
12-03-2013, 04:07 AM   #11
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Welcome to the forum! Look forward to your feelings on the K3.
12-03-2013, 04:08 PM   #12
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Takumars

Wait until you discover the Takumars!!! YOu will never leave Pentax, even if you try, as I did.
12-03-2013, 04:47 PM   #13
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Interesting to see what you think about all the detail you can pull out of the shadows It's really quite amazing sometimes if you need to protect the highlights from blowing!
12-03-2013, 11:30 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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Thanks for the warm welcome. This site seems like a great resource.

Before I get to the reason I moved from EOS to Pentax, I need to explain a little about me and how I use my cameras.

I'm a biologist. For dissertation work I studied bats in Central American rain forests. At the same time, my wife studied frogs in the rain forests of Madagascar, and I was lucky enough to tag along with her. So for a number of years I got to spend some nice long periods in some pretty interesting places. That was back in the AF / Film era, and I had an EOS 100mm 2.8 macro, TTL flashgun and a couple L series lenses that together took me from (35mm) 28-200 at f2.8. At that time Canon was alone in providing rapid/silent focusing and good image stabilization (if I'm remembering right) both of which were essential for shooting skittish creatures in low light (the macro auto-focussed noisily, but one tends to focus that one manually anyway). I had an EOS 1N body, and a lesser EOS body so I could have two ISO/lens combinations in ready-to-go-mode. In any case, It was a system I could carry into the field. I kept it all in drybags in my backpack. The system was both durable and versatile.

But it had a built in problem. The raininess (and sweatiness) of the environment meant either 1) risking the equipment by keeping it out and accessible, or 2) missing shots by protecting it. That choice is a no-brainer if you are a sponsored pro. It's tougher if you are a freelancer, but still pretty clear I would think. But I was neither. I was a guy who understood the technical aspects of photography well (I learned on fully the manual Canon F1) and had a reasonable eye, but what I had that was most photographically special was a relationship with the forest (and other researchers who knew the forest) and that put me face to face with extraordinary creatures on a regular basis. I wasn't making money from photography, so I protected my equipment out of necessity, since I had no money to replace it. I got a lot of shots, but missed a large number as well, sometimes because there was no time to un-bag my gear, and sometimes because it was too wet to shoot at all.

In the end, I was able to keep my equipment alive well in central america, where I was able to get my gear into a dry environment on a regular basis. But my wife's remote site in Madagascar was just too damp--several months without a dry room and all my lovely lenses were crippled by fungus. Painful to even think about it.

Since grad school, I have not spent much time working in the field. I've been teaching and raising kids instead, so my wife and I bought an EOS 20D and a nice-ish 17-85 lens, but have not otherwise invested in camera gear. This past summer, however, my family went on a trip to Ecuador in preparation for my wife and I to take students there in future classes. We borrowed my father in-law's new EOS Rebel (since it had video capacity and took SD cards), and shooting with it I began to see just how digital photography has changed over the last decade. It became instantly obvious, for example, that ISO is now on a par with shutter speed and aperture as a setting since 1) it can be reset for every shot, and 2) sensors are now fine-grained enough that higher ISO shots can look pretty good.

At the point we got home I knew that my wife and I wanted a new body (to replace that very dated 20D) and some good lenses. And after adapting to high ISO shooting in rain forest this summer, it became clear that we probably wanted a full frame body--a bigger sensor is like a bigger lens, right? It collects more photons over a bigger area, allowing faster shutter speeds in conditions where that counts a lot (moving animals, in low light). And so I was looking at the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. I was pretty well settled on it, in fact. Then my wife asked if there wasn't a credible waterproof option. 'No' I thought. But it was certainly worth a quick look. That brought the Pentax K5 II/IIs to my attention. I wouldn't have thought to look at Pentax absent that feature, but it forced a complete rethink. I liked the camera, but I was sure I wanted a full frame sensor...

So there I was, on the fence. No simple choice. The Canon has full frame sensor, and tons of options for lenses. But frankly, the murmuring around Canon (and also Nikon) is that the build quality isn't what it once was. And the L level glass is so expensive that I wasn't likely to be getting Canon's best build quality except in the body. At the same time, the word on the current top-end Pentax stuff is that it is absolutely solid, and well thought out, with only a few flaws. Pentax certainly has cheaper high end glass. And by far, the most important argument in favor of Pentax for me was true downpour tolerance. That feature can reduce the number of missed shots dramatically-- If I stick to certain lenses and flashes, I can keep it out in the rain and not worry. How many great shots would I have caught before if I could have kept my camera out in all weather conditions?

That put me in two binds.

1) Rain forests are incredibly dark, so I would love (and would pay for) a bigger sensor, which Pentax doesn't offer, and wouldn't work with many Pentax lenses. But rain forests are also very wet, and so waterproofing is a huge plus.

2) Pentax is already a bit sparse on the variety of good glass, and that problem gets even worse when one is limited to WR lenses.

I was debating this conundrum when the K3 came out with its AA simulator. I was really impressed with the idea. Every review I saw of the K3 was strongly favorable. Pentax looks committed to WR, and though my choices are more limited, I can build up a complete system faster than I could with high end EOS gear. And the fact that there is a lot of legacy glass that I can buy cheaply (for use in dry conditions) appeals to my tinkering side... Optics are fun, and the fact that Pentax is committed to backwards compatibility makes them my kind of underdog.

With the camera in hand, I do already feel some twinge of regret over the small sensor (using the 18-135 kit lens, which is all I have so far). Actually, I was really impressed with the solid feel of the kit lens. It is so much more sturdy than my Canon kit / walk-around lens I can hardly believe it. But I do want more light sensitivity!

The bottom line is this, though: I shot in the rain the other day and felt so liberated to have my camera out, without worry. I smiled the whole time. It's a huge deal and though full frame vs. rain-proofness is a real trade-off, I made the right choice. The K3 is a great camera, and I'm looking forward to some very sharp glass to go with it, as our budget allows.

My hope is that sensor sensitivity continues to improve, and that investing in good Pentax WR glass now pays off with future bodies that are better in low light. But even at the K3 level, I have a lot of the functionality that I wanted, cheaper than I expected. And I have one major thing I didn't think to want--I can shoot in the rain forest on the forest's own terms.

Two final thoughts:

1) I miss the big dial on the back of EOS pro bodies. My thumb hunts for it...

2) I have always wanted lenses with fully uncoated glass for tropical forest work, so that fungus would be a non-issue. Just as a thought experiment, how would uncoated versions of high end lenses perform? How much benefit is really in those organic coatings?
12-04-2013, 02:00 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by BretW Quote
At the same time, my wife studied frogs in the rain forests of Madagascar, and I was lucky enough to tag along with her.
You'll have to have a look at this frog shot done with the Pentax FA 43/1.9 Limited then...

This lens is not a macro and it isn't weather sealed either. But it belongs to a number of special lenses Pentax have in their arsenal.

When there is a deal (such as Cyber Monday), it is rather affordable as well ($566), considering that it is a full metal lens.

QuoteOriginally posted by BretW Quote
And after adapting to high ISO shooting in rain forest this summer, it became clear that we probably wanted a full frame body--a bigger sensor is like a bigger lens, right?
Actually it isn't.

A larger sensor has more dynamic range, but does not provide better low-light capabilities.
Full frame shines in low-light when you use bigger (brighter) lenses that are not available for APS-C cameras.

For instance, the equivalent of a 50/1.4 lens on FF for APS-C would be a 33/0.9 lens. This lens does not exist. Even when it is physically possible to make a lens for APS-C it would normally be a lot more expensive then the FF equivalent. You can read more about this subject in the "Low noise benefit of FF vs APS-C equals ... zero" thread.

A very remarkable exception is the Sigma 18-35/1.8. It is equivalent to a 27-53/2.7 lens on FF but does not cost an arm and a leg. It is exceptionally good as well, so if you can get lenses like this, you do not need to regret not having an FF sensor for a second. Unless, of course, you'd like the same zoom range (27-53) with an even wider aperture than f/2.7.

QuoteOriginally posted by BretW Quote
Pentax certainly has cheaper high end glass.
Yes, however, it is worth waiting for these Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. You'll then get the Pentax lenses at the old prices before an executive decision was made to force all dealers to ask the same price (-> MAP policy).

QuoteOriginally posted by BretW Quote
2) Pentax is already a bit sparse on the variety of good glass, and that problem gets even worse when one is limited to WR lenses.
Don't forget excellent third-party offerings from Sigma, Tamron, Samyang, etc. though.
In particular Sigma complements the Pentax offering very well and they have some excellent lenses. Some of the most modern ones are weather-sealed as well.

QuoteOriginally posted by BretW Quote
With the camera in hand, I do already feel some twinge of regret over the small sensor (using the 18-135 kit lens, which is all I have so far).
There are advantages to an FF sensor and I'm a fan myself, but in many shooting scenarios your APS-C sensor will do just as fine. The Sony sensors Pentax is using have such low noise that you can push them quite a bit and hence rival the dynamic range of some older FF cameras. You could check that out at the DxOMark sensor ranking, but I'd just enjoy my K-3, if I were you.

QuoteOriginally posted by BretW Quote
My hope is that sensor sensitivity continues to improve, and that investing in good Pentax WR glass now pays off with future bodies that are better in low light.
The Sony sensors are already pretty spectacular. Unless there is some drastic technology change (such as micro prisms that allow ditching colour filters), you won't see a dramatic decrease of noise levels. Backlit sensors are a bit more sensitive, but apparently it is very expensive to manufacture them at larger sizes.

The Pentax community is quite optimistic about an FF model appearing in late 2014, but remember that will only help you if you are prepared to invest into the big, bright glass that is necessary to create a low-light advantage.

QuoteOriginally posted by BretW Quote
2) I have always wanted lenses with fully uncoated glass for tropical forest work, so that fungus would be a non-issue. Just as a thought experiment, how would uncoated versions of high end lenses perform? How much benefit is really in those organic coatings?
Coatings are very important in order to increase the t-stop (how transmissive the lens is for light) and for dealing with flare/glare.

You can get some old manual focus lenses with single layer coatings (or perhaps even with no coating at all) and check for yourself. Rather than using an uncoated lens, I'd rather get a couple of cheap SMC lenses and then either clean or discard them, should they develop fungus.
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