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01-05-2014, 06:22 PM - 3 Likes   #1
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Lifelong Nikon DX user here, oh-so-tempted by the K-3!! Help me!!

Hi there folks! I'm Matthew Saville. I suppose that is obvious by my username though.

I am new to Pentax, in fact I have yet to even purchase one. However I review DSLR cameras for SLR Lounge, so I've at least handled pretty much everything under the sun. I know both Nikon and Canon like the back of my hand, and usually I prefer Nikon for their controls and their overall philosophy and track record of delivering what photographers want most. (D700, D800, affordable pro-grade primes, continued backwards compatibility with the entire history of lenses, etc.)

However lately I have been falling out of love due to the fact that Nikon has clearly given up all hope of serving the pro DX crop-sensor market. My D300 was a killer camera in its time and the D300s was a good step in the right direction, but who knows if we'll see a D400 and even if we do, Nikon hasn't made a pro DX lens since their first three that they made like what, a decade ago?

But I digress. The Pentax K-3 has definitely caught my attention. Especially given my new found interest in astro landscape photography, and adventure photography in general.

So, with this introduction, I have a few questions that I hope some people who already have a lot of experience with Pentax, specifically the K-3, can answer. Here goes nothing!

1.) One thing I love about Nikon is that many of their cameras allow choices for RAW bitrate and compression. So for night timelapses for example I can chose 12-bit RAW with lossy compression, and save nearly 50% on card space. Does Pentax have anything similar to this? From what I can tell, the answer is NO, however I'm still wondering if anybody knows the average file size of the K-3 for example, and if the DNG format offers any options or if it is the same as the PEF (?) format.

I know it may sound like sacrilege to any die-hard RAW shooters out there, but honestly I have done test after test and cannot see a real difference in the RAW picture quality, and when all I'm doing is making timelapse frames it seems a shame to waste so much space recording 14-bit un-compressed RAW all the time.

2.) Another thing I really love about many of the newest cameras is the ability to quickly zoom to exactly 100% during image playback and review, usually with a single click. Digging through the Pentax K-3's manual online I can sorta tell that there is a feature / customization along these lines, however can anybody explain this in a less "user manual" sort of way? How exactly does it function? It seems like there are two different options but I can't figure out what they actually are. Maybe I should just go down to a local shop?

3.) Jeez, that 'ol Sigma 50-150 f/2.8 is SO DANG HARD TO FIND in the Pentax mount! I own the original mk1 in a Nikon mount, and it has been a bread-and-butter lens for many seasons as a wedding photographer. And IMO when Sigma introduced the stabilized version of this lens, it defeated the whole purpose because it was heavy and expensive. But, ta-da, Pentax has built-in stabilization!

This was one of the realizations that I had recently, with regard to my current situation and Nikon's own foot-shooting future. For example, the arrival of a Nikon D400 is still highly in question, while the K-3 is already here and offers features that Nikon and Canon simply will never bother competing with. Namely, in-body stabilization, and that GPS tracker thing that allows for (modest) star tracking. That, and those tiny little Pentax primes look amazing for walk-around shooting.

I think this realization is what is going to push me over the edge to Pentax. Even if Nikon delivers a stellar, ground-breaking D400, ...it will probably cost $1800 and I will never be able to enjoy stabilization on fantastic lenses like the Sigma 50-150 or their new 18-35.

Of course I was originally very dismissive of Pentax for my hobby of adventure and astro landscape photography because Tokina never seemed to get around to delivering a K-mount 11-16mm f/2.8, however the arrival of the Rokinon 10mm f/2.8 (non-fish) and other lenses like the Rokinon 16mm f/2 or the Sigma 18-35mm have me convinced that I could fill 100% of my needs with just a couple / few thousand dollars.

The crazy thing is, I actually own multiple full-frame Nikon bodies and flagship f/2.8 Nikon zooms, for my job in wedding photography, and yet I'm almost tempted to try using the Pentax K-3 for this as well, and not just for my hobby of adventure photography. Maybe, maybe not; but for the meantime I'm considering just selling off all my Nikon DX gear to fund a modest Pentax adventure kit.

So, what do you think? Have I scared everybody off? Is this the worst introduction thread, ever? Okay fine, I'll share some of my misc. recent work to make up for it, even though it's all Nikon stuff.

Hopefully soon I will test out a K-3 for SLR Lounge review purposes, with a focus on adventure and landscape / astro photography. Any tips or suggestions before I do? Thanks!

Take care,
=Matt=


From a recent trip to the American Southwest:








From another recent trip to the Eastern Sierras:






Andromeda and the winter Milky Way, over Rhyolite:




Just one reason why I really prefer to have weather-sealed bodies, lol:




...Of course, my day job is portraits and weddings:





01-05-2014, 06:42 PM   #2
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Matt,
Welcome! I can't help with the K-3 but the original Sigma 50-150 is out here in the marketplace listings occasionally. Sigma Outlet ran some refurbished Pentax mount 50-150s last spring at $499 and they disappeared quickly. I've used mine on K-5, K-7, and amazingly on the K-01 where the speed, focus, and silence are legendary (you knew that.) The weather resistance of the body/lens would certainly be a benefit to your outdoor work. I'm sure the K-3 folks will chime in quickly with their observations. Great images.
01-05-2014, 06:58 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I too have waited endlessly for Nikon to deliver the D400 and have come to the conclusion that they never will. And even if they do, all the pro lenses they offer are big, heavy, and expensive FX lenses. Compare that with Pentax: they offer a long list of pro-level DX lenses that are small, lighter, and less expensive than their Canikon counterparts. I too haven't yet bought into Pentax (But I have rented and found that I really like the K-3) but I envision that the K-3 + 60-250mm would be a good companion to my D800 + 24-70mm. With such a system I would never have to change lenses. The fact that my 2nd camera would not be a Nikon no longer concerns me.

M
01-05-2014, 07:27 PM   #4
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Welcome.

For the 100% view there is an option in the menus that you can enable. It means when you review any image on the LCD screen turning the rear wheel a single click to the right immediately zooms to 100% (8.3x) rather than having to click through 2x, 4x, 6x, 8x etc.The front wheel cycles through the different images. So you can use them together to check which shot(s) in a burst are sharp.

I would get a Pentax DA 50-135mm rather than bother getting a Sigma 50-150. It's a superb lens, one of the best Pentax makes and seems to beat the Sigma in sharpness and color in the comparisons I've seen.

I can confirm there is no way to get a K-3 to produce a reduced sized/bit level RAW file, either PEF or DNG. It's full cream 14-bit RAW or JPEG (available in various sizes and compression).


Last edited by twitch; 01-05-2014 at 07:34 PM.
01-05-2014, 08:31 PM - 2 Likes   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by MJSfoto1956 Quote
....The fact that my 2nd camera would not be a Nikon no longer concerns me.

M
My thoughts exactly. I guess I've reached the point where brand loyalty and that "fanboy" feeling are completely non-existent, if they ever were.

If anything, I'd love to own every system I possibly can. Maybe if I have a mid-life crisis I'll buy all the best cameras from each and every system, instead of a Harley or a Ferrari. We'll see!

=Matt=
01-05-2014, 08:33 PM - 3 Likes   #6
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It's funny, Nikon users just want Nikon to release a pro DX body, while Pentax users are still pining for their Full Frame.
01-05-2014, 08:39 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
Welcome.

For the 100% view there is an option in the menus that you can enable. It means when you review any image on the LCD screen turning the rear wheel a single click to the right immediately zooms to 100% (8.3x) rather than having to click through 2x, 4x, 6x, 8x etc.The front wheel cycles through the different images. So you can use them together to check which shot(s) in a burst are sharp.

I would get a Pentax DA 50-135mm rather than bother getting a Sigma 50-150. It's a superb lens, one of the best Pentax makes and seems to beat the Sigma in sharpness and color in the comparisons I've seen.

I can confirm there is no way to get a K-3 to produce a reduced sized/bit level RAW file, either PEF or DNG. It's full cream 14-bit RAW or JPEG (available in various sizes and compression).
Thanks for the info!

I've thought about getting the Pentax 50-135, especially with its weather sealing, for adventure photography. However I was afraid it would fall short for action and things like extremely low-light photojournalism, where I am used to flagship Nikon autofocus with SWM... (USM, HSM, SDM etc.) However I am only basing that thought on whispers here and there about how the Sigma is slightly more reliable of a focuser. That, and you can't beat the $499 price unless the Pentax is just WAY sharper. Which I would be willing to believe is possible, considering the K-3 is one of the first AA filter-less bodies to cram 24 MP into a 1.5x sensor....


Oh, I have ONE MORE QUESTION for anyone out there who has used Rokinon / Samyang / Bower lenses on Pentax!

Does your EXIF data lose all lens recognition, or do you have the ability to recognize which lens is attached and what the aperture is set to? Is Pentax' current mount still compatible with their older film SLR mount lenses? How compatible is it? On Nikon, there is a menu option to enter in a lens' focal length and the max aperture, then the mechanical coupling takes it from there and allows you to see your aperture in the viewfinder and in the EXIF during post-production.

I was always quite annoyed how Canon DSLRs would say "F---" when you attached a Rokinon lens, and so you were basically forced to just guess what your apertures were during post-production.

Thanks again everybody for your help!
=Matt=
01-05-2014, 09:00 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by maxfield_photo Quote
It's funny, Nikon users just want Nikon to release a pro DX body, while Pentax users are still pining for their Full Frame.
Honestly, after using full-frame for three years, I'm over it. Yeah, it has a slight advantage at high ISOs, or for those who are obsessed with shallow DOF. (Which is something I can totally get into if you let me, but it's not the end of the world for me to shoot at f/1.4 or f/2.8 on 1.5x either!)

However at the end of the day, the sensor quality now coming from the latest generation of 1.5x sensors is good enough to get my job done, even up to ISO 3200 or 6400 in a pinch. Heck I've used ISO 12800 for astro photography on the Nikon D5300, which probably has a very similar sensor to the K-3!


Andromeda, Nikon D5300, ISO 12800, 85mm f/1.8


That, and as many people have touted, the lens options are ever-increasing for crop-sensors. The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC that was announced and released last year was such a breath of fresh air, and you just KNOW that a full-frame equivalent would cost a freaking fortune and weigh twice as much!

So, will I keep around my Nikon full-frame? Ehh, probably. Actually I'd rather toss all my heavy f/2.8 full-frame zooms, toss my brick-like Nikon flagship FX DSLRs, and just get a Df plus maybe one or two small affordable primes. Because honestly, like I said, I'm over it. If the Pentax K-3 can do the same thing at ISO 3200 that my Nikon D700 can do, then I'm definitely going to have a hard time finding reasons to use full-frame most of the time.

Having said that, I'd be happy for Pentax users if they were to be given the gift of full-frame goodness. I probably just wouldn't buy into it. I'm still a Nikon historian at heart, and a Df plus some of the Galen Rowell classic Ai-S lenses would still make my heart sing... ;-) (The two first images in my original post were single exposures from the Df. Like I said, incredible camera! Just not so much more incredible that I would let it be my main travel / hiking / backpacking etc. camera...)

01-05-2014, 09:56 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Matthew Saville Quote
Honestly, after using full-frame for three years, I'm over it. Yeah, it has a slight advantage at high ISOs, or for those who are obsessed with shallow DOF. (Which is something I can totally get into if you let me, but it's not the end of the world for me to shoot at f/1.4 or f/2.8 on 1.5x either!)

However at the end of the day, the sensor quality now coming from the latest generation of 1.5x sensors is good enough to get my job done, even up to ISO 3200 or 6400 in a pinch. Heck I've used ISO 12800 for astro photography on the Nikon D5300, which probably has a very similar sensor to the K-3!


Andromeda, Nikon D5300, ISO 12800, 85mm f/1.8


That, and as many people have touted, the lens options are ever-increasing for crop-sensors. The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC that was announced and released last year was such a breath of fresh air, and you just KNOW that a full-frame equivalent would cost a freaking fortune and weigh twice as much!

So, will I keep around my Nikon full-frame? Ehh, probably. Actually I'd rather toss all my heavy f/2.8 full-frame zooms, toss my brick-like Nikon flagship FX DSLRs, and just get a Df plus maybe one or two small affordable primes. Because honestly, like I said, I'm over it. If the Pentax K-3 can do the same thing at ISO 3200 that my Nikon D700 can do, then I'm definitely going to have a hard time finding reasons to use full-frame most of the time.

Having said that, I'd be happy for Pentax users if they were to be given the gift of full-frame goodness. I probably just wouldn't buy into it. I'm still a Nikon historian at heart, and a Df plus some of the Galen Rowell classic Ai-S lenses would still make my heart sing... ;-) (The two first images in my original post were single exposures from the Df. Like I said, incredible camera! Just not so much more incredible that I would let it be my main travel / hiking / backpacking etc. camera...)
I would say, just get the K3 now and try it out for a couple of months.

I believe you already have the funds in your pocket-for-toys at this very moment.
Maybe for you, choose between da12-24/da15/da21, to go with the fa31 and 50-135/2.8.

Nothing beats a real review than a hands-on and ultimately, i'm looking forward to a highly interesting review of the K3 from someone who has been a pro-DX Nikonian for many years.. What say you?

PS: The only thing that I find you might have an issue is Pentax flash eco-system but i'm not sure of the K3.. Otherwise, the rest is up to your own judgement in usage.
01-05-2014, 10:09 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by SyncGuy Quote
I would say, just get the K3 now and try it out for a couple of months.

I believe you already have the funds in your pocket-for-toys at this very moment.
Maybe for you, choose between da12-24/da15/da21, to go with the fa31 and 50-135/2.8.

Nothing beats a real review than a hands-on and ultimately, i'm looking forward to a highly interesting review of the K3 from someone who has been a pro-DX Nikonian for many years.. What say you?

PS: The only thing that I find you might have an issue is Pentax flash eco-system but i'm not sure of the K3.. Otherwise, the rest is up to your own judgement in usage.
As far as cash-in-pocket is concerned, I'll have to wait WRT getting a K-3 on a whim, but if I sell enough DX Nikon gear (and maybe even FX Nikon gear) then yeah I could probably fund a complete setup. I'm more inclined to get the Sigma 18-35 though first, and the primes / wide zooms later when I really need them.

I use a completely separate flash system, (RadioPopper JRX) ...so as long as their on-camera flashes are simple enough to use, I'll be fine.

But again, I don't even know if I would switch fully to Pentax for professional wedding photography, only adventure photography. If I get a K-3, it would still be a long and slow road to fully, completely switching. Or like I said, I might just sell my FX Nikon stuff to fund a Df instead...

=Matt=
01-05-2014, 10:18 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Matthew Saville Quote
1.) One thing I love about Nikon is that many of their cameras allow choices for RAW bitrate and compression. So for night timelapses for example I can chose 12-bit RAW with lossy compression, and save nearly 50% on card space. Does Pentax have anything similar to this? From what I can tell, the answer is NO, however I'm still wondering if anybody knows the average file size of the K-3 for example, and if the DNG format offers any options or if it is the same as the PEF (?) format.
About 30Mb for either format.

QuoteOriginally posted by Matthew Saville Quote
2.) Another thing I really love about many of the newest cameras is the ability to quickly zoom to exactly 100% during image playback and review, usually with a single click. Digging through the Pentax K-3's manual online I can sorta tell that there is a feature / customization along these lines, however can anybody explain this in a less "user manual" sort of way? How exactly does it function? It seems like there are two different options but I can't figure out what they actually are. Maybe I should just go down to a local shop?
There's a "quick zoom" menu setting that will zoom you to 100%, which happens to be 8.3x. With this enabled, as soon as you turn the e-dial in playback mode the image will be blown up to full size.

QuoteOriginally posted by Matthew Saville Quote
The crazy thing is, I actually own multiple full-frame Nikon bodies and flagship f/2.8 Nikon zooms, for my job in wedding photography, and yet I'm almost tempted to try using the Pentax K-3 for this as well, and not just for my hobby of adventure photography. Maybe, maybe not; but for the meantime I'm considering just selling off all my Nikon DX gear to fund a modest Pentax adventure kit. So, what do you think? Have I scared everybody off? Is this the worst introduction thread, ever? Okay fine, I'll share some of my misc. recent work to make up for it, even though it's all Nikon stuff.
Great pics, first of all! I have no clue if Nikon will ever release a D400, but I've seen lost of users asking for it and I can't blame you for doing so either. The K-3 is probably very similar to what the D400 would be if it were to come out. The K-3 is still a bit lacking in terms of AF, and the RAW processing speed could still be improved, but all around it's a fantastic DX body is just about every other way (don't miss our review). I think that the Nikon lens lineup is a bit more mature and homogeneous than the current Pentax line. But, if you find that the Pentax system offers lenses you'd be happy with, then you won't regret the switch IMO. The Limited lenses are not to be overlooked!

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01-05-2014, 10:46 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Matthew Saville Quote
Oh, I have ONE MORE QUESTION for anyone out there who has used Rokinon / Samyang / Bower lenses on Pentax!

Does your EXIF data lose all lens recognition, or do you have the ability to recognize which lens is attached and what the aperture is set to? Is Pentax' current mount still compatible with their older film SLR mount lenses? How compatible is it? On Nikon, there is a menu option to enter in a lens' focal length and the max aperture, then the mechanical coupling takes it from there and allows you to see your aperture in the viewfinder and in the EXIF during post-production.
Welcome, Matt, and great pictures to introduce yourself to us! Regarding those Korean lenses, the K-mount versions are the only ones where Samyang includes an 'A' mode on the aperture ring. Auto-aperture works fine on those lenses, and any other lens with an A on the aperture ring. But, that's all the camera knows about it. You still have to tell it the focal length. It will ask you as soon as you turn the camera on with a lens like this attached. It needs to know for the shake-reduction to work properly. In the EXIF, it will just say "A-series lens."

For older lenses, though (pre-A-series), you need to use M mode and stop-down metering. This is a complaint that a lot of Pentax users have, as the modern K-mount is "crippled:" it's missing the stop-down coupler, so the camera doesn't know what you're doing with the aperture ring. Hence, the annoying "F--" message.

Even older M42 lenses (pre-1975) work via an adapter.
01-05-2014, 10:48 PM   #13
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Agree, amazing pictures!
01-06-2014, 12:33 AM   #14
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Thanks again guys for all the responses! I keep thinking of more questions, though... Here's another!

How is the battery life in near-freezing temperatures for timelapse photography? most of my current Nikon "prosumer" DX gear gets about ~200 images into a timelapse and the battery dies, which isn't long if you're trying to run back-to-back 30-sec. exposures for a few hours straight.

Bonus points if you know how the V-grip lasts in near/sub-freezing temps when using AA batteries, since I have about a zillion Eneloops... :-)

=Matt=
01-06-2014, 12:35 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by scratchpaddy Quote
Welcome, Matt, and great pictures to introduce yourself to us! Regarding those Korean lenses, the K-mount versions are the only ones where Samyang includes an 'A' mode on the aperture ring. Auto-aperture works fine on those lenses, and any other lens with an A on the aperture ring. But, that's all the camera knows about it. You still have to tell it the focal length. It will ask you as soon as you turn the camera on with a lens like this attached. It needs to know for the shake-reduction to work properly. In the EXIF, it will just say "A-series lens."

For older lenses, though (pre-A-series), you need to use M mode and stop-down metering. This is a complaint that a lot of Pentax users have, as the modern K-mount is "crippled:" it's missing the stop-down coupler, so the camera doesn't know what you're doing with the aperture ring. Hence, the annoying "F--" message.

Even older M42 lenses (pre-1975) work via an adapter.
Thanks! So, when you say "Auto Aperture" works fine, you mean that I can shoot in manual exposure or aperture priority, and set the aperture either on the camera or on the lens, and get the full EXIF info if I tell the camera what lens / aperture it is?

Is there any sort of memory bank so I don't have to enter the lens each time?

=Matt=
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