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08-23-2014, 02:17 PM   #1
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Newbie can't decide K-3 or K-5iis

Im sure this is a common theme but the decision is difficult. Im on the fence due to the fact that Ive used plenty of DSLR's but have never owned one. The more technical aspects of photography are beyond my current abilities, however, Im a quick study and I don't want to find myself frustrated in a year after a k5iis purchase. My ultimate goals with this purchase vary a bit - Portrait photography, landscape, but the biggest influence is to photograph my paintings and drawings for website updates and to post to web market place environments. (My drawings range from very light tones that don't replicate well with casual photos.) I'm moving from California to Minnesota soon - that seems to be the biggest reason I'm convinced that Pentax will offer me the greatest versatility for interests. Just looking for that killer deal in the marketplace to ease my decision!
Paz!

PS - lenses suggestions for photographing art work would be such a great help!
Thanks

08-23-2014, 03:38 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Tough call. I've got the older k-5, which is a very good camera, but having tried a k-3 I do find myself with a constant itch to upgrade! In your case however, I'd possibly go for the k-5ii s, and invest the difference in a good macro prime (one of the dfa ones probably). Macro lenses tend to have very good resolution and distortion characteristics across the frame, so would be your best bet for photographing artwork (unless your name is banksy, and you tend to do mural sized pieces).

The 18-55 wr kit lens is ok, but not great. In your situation I would possibly ignore zooms completely, and just go for a good 3 prime set up (you already seem to know what you want, so you might as well just target that initially)

The 100mm dfa macro should double for your portrait and artwork needs. (The 50mm dfa is worth considering here. It's probably a bit more versatile in its focal length, but the 100mm will get more subject isolation in your portraits, and is weather sealed). Add a tripod, and a copy of Lightroom, and you'll be set.

The 21mm hd ltd is a damn fine landscape lens (stopped down a notch), and also doubles as a good walk around lens. (I kinda prefer the da15 for landscapes, but it's a little bit specialised if you don't have other lenses to utilise).

Add a cheap second hand da35 f2.4, or da40 ltd (which is a great portrait lens), and you should have most of your needs covered with the best possible quality. (Great glass and the k5iis is a better option than the k3 and good zoom IMHO).

My 2 cents...
08-23-2014, 04:02 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I am going to say tough call also, however after re-reading your post - I think that I would go with the K5IIs for similar reasons. I too have the K5 now going on 3 years and its a wonderful body.
  • If your photography is just for the web - go with the K5IIs. If you are going to do large size (printing) fine art photography then I might be inclined to go with the K3.
The key is that the K5IIs is a lot of camera and its going to be very difficult to try to out grow it. With its current pricing - which is excellent, go with it and put the rest of the funds into lens. Lens will make a larger difference, more impact - than going up to a K3.

08-23-2014, 04:41 PM - 1 Like   #4
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The K-3 will be better if you print very large (large posters or bigger), or if you crop more than 50% of your frame, otherwise, the resolution is really not very necessary. Beginners often think they need more MP, but trust me, you don't need more than 16MP. Really, you don't, don't worry about it at all! To have the benefit of the increased resolution, you will also need to invest in very high end lenses. For now, this is probably not where your money should go!

For a beginner, I'd actually recommend the K-30 and/or K-50, and put the rest of your money into lenses. You won't "out grow" it anytime soon. The K-30 and K-50 have the same sensor as the K-5 and K-5II. The advantages of the K-5 series are primarily the magnesium body, having a rear remote sensor, the top LCD, and more buttons and controls. The K-30/50 have a faster computer inside, and include focus peaking, which I would think would be important photographing art work to ensure perfect focus). The body of the K-30/50 is very rugged. The K-5/K-3 are EXTREME rugged. If you are taking your camera into combat, free climbing mountains, or fighting bulls in a rodeo, by all means, get the magnesium body models. If you are using it for adventures that don't involve certain death, then the housing of the K30/50 is more than rugged enough.

A great lens setup for you would be the 18-135 for walk around, WR zoom, and the DA35mm Limited Macro for your artwork. It has a very flat field and even rendering. You can also use it to get very close to the artwork to show fine details. It also works as a do-everything lens. One of the true gems of the Pentax line. The DFA 50mm and DFA100mm macros are also great, but your working distance from your art will probably get to be a bit long. If you have a large room to shoot in, they will work great, but my guess is you'll be happier with the 35 all around.

Also, get a decent tripod. Your artwork reproduction shouldn't be done hand held. You'll want very low ISO and probably f8, and you want moderate levels of soft, even light (prevents glare). This will drive very long shutter times, which you can't hand hold. Focus using live view and the rear LCD, don't trust the viewfinder AF system for artwork reproduction unless you calibrate your lens focus.

The K-50 kit with the 18-135 is $850, budget $450 for the 35mm used, and another 300-500 for a nice carbon fiber tripod. Do get a carbon fiber one to carry around with you, night photography is a lot of fun.

08-23-2014, 04:42 PM - 2 Likes   #5
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Rlftbol,

Welcome!

I own and have used extensively both the K-5 IIs and the K-3. For you, I would very highly recommend the IIs. Especially considering the current deal on the homepage that essentially gives you essentially a $500 K-5 Iis. If you don't want the free grip, then sell it for $165 and boom...instant savings.

With the money saved (K-5 IIs vs K-3), use that money to go towards good lenses. Take it from me that if you don't really have a good grasp "on the technicals" as you say, you won't notice the difference between the K-3 and the K-5 IIs in IQ. In fact, you'll be pretty amazed by the K-5 IIs. It is a phenomenal photographic machine and will be more than capable for you for at least the next few years.

I would recommend the following:
The K-5 IIs + DA 18-135 + Sirui T-025x will set you back about the same cost as just the K-3 body. The 100mm macro would be the perfect lens for digitally reproducing your artwork, and without distortion (could be problematic with wider angle lenses, especially if you have very specific art that absolutely must be reproduced as close to its original state as possible). Also, the 100mm doubles as an outstanding portrait lens assuming you have the space to use it (i.e. not a small room because of the long focal length).

That would be an excellent (phenomenal, really) starting kit that will keep you more than capable to capture everything you plan to capture while learning about photography. Since you mentioned you were very new to photography, this post may be of benefit to you: True Beginners - READ THIS / START HERE!

Hopefully this helps, and everything thing I recommended above I personally own and thus can speak from experience about.

Again, welcome!

-Heie

Last edited by Heie; 08-23-2014 at 04:52 PM. Reason: Typo
08-23-2014, 05:05 PM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rlftbol Quote
Im sure this is a common theme but the decision is difficult. Im on the fence due to the fact that Ive used plenty of DSLR's but have never owned one. The more technical aspects of photography are beyond my current abilities, however, Im a quick study and I don't want to find myself frustrated in a year after a k5iis purchase. My ultimate goals with this purchase vary a bit - Portrait photography, landscape, but the biggest influence is to photograph my paintings and drawings for website updates and to post to web market place environments. (My drawings range from very light tones that don't replicate well with casual photos.) I'm moving from California to Minnesota soon - that seems to be the biggest reason I'm convinced that Pentax will offer me the greatest versatility for interests. Just looking for that killer deal in the marketplace to ease my decision!
Paz!

PS - lenses suggestions for photographing art work would be such a great help!
Thanks
Whatever you decide to buy, wait a few weeks until after Photokina. There might be some new models and prices will drop on existing stuff. I'm waiting for Full Frame but will probably be disappointed.
I have a K-5 but plan on upgrading to either a K-5 IIS or a K-3 depending on prices. The K-5 IIs is an excellent proven piece of hardware and prices have dropped on it. Personally I think it's a deal right now.
You can pick up a brand new K-5 IIs body on Amazon for $666.
As far as lenses, go for the primes...small and light. F & FA lenses are full frame lenses but can also can be used with APS-C cameras. The DA lenses are designed for APS-C only.
08-23-2014, 05:21 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kozlok Quote
For a beginner, I'd actually recommend the K-30 and/or K-50, and put the rest of your money into lenses. You won't "out grow" it anytime soon. The K-30 and K-50 have the same sensor as the K-5 and K-5II. The advantages of the K-5 series are primarily the magnesium body, having a rear remote sensor, the top LCD, and more buttons and controls.
You might be forgetting the 4x more colour information you get when jumping from 12bit to 14bit. If you want accurate colour reproduction of tricky to photograph artwork, then 14bits is the way forward. Ordinarily is agree with you, but not in this case.

As for your recommendation of the 35 macro, again ordinarily I'd agree with you, but not in this case. I think the 35 macro is amazing, but it's a little bit too wide for photographing artwork (that of course depends, if you are doing murals, and have only limited space available, then maybe). The 50 and 100 will give you a flatter perspective on the paper, which is useful if it's being displayed at a slight incline. It's much the same as trying to shoot portraits with a wide angle - you don't really want any distortion due to the focal length. Flatter is better!
08-23-2014, 05:42 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by robthebloke Quote
You might be forgetting the 4x more colour information you get when jumping from 12bit to 14bit. If you want accurate colour reproduction of tricky to photograph artwork, then 14bits is the way forward. Ordinarily is agree with you, but not in this case.

As for your recommendation of the 35 macro, again ordinarily I'd agree with you, but not in this case. I think the 35 macro is amazing, but it's a little bit too wide for photographing artwork (that of course depends, if you are doing murals, and have only limited space available, then maybe). The 50 and 100 will give you a flatter perspective on the paper, which is useful if it's being displayed at a slight incline. It's much the same as trying to shoot portraits with a wide angle - you don't really want any distortion due to the focal length. Flatter is better!
I've seen a scientific paper suggesting there is no advantage 14 bit over 12 bit on APS-c sensors. It's just there to mimic the 14 bit on FF. But, if you choose to show us a few examples, I'll ignore the science and go with the practical. I've personally shot 12 bit and 14 bit side by side and could't tell the difference, and I don't know anyone who has been in a situation where they have.

For photographing artwork I would think the Tamron 90 macro would be the way to go. Those longer focal lengths usually have less distortion. I wouldn't go narrower than 50mm, the Tamron 90 just happens to be a great deal. I'd use my Sigma 70 macro myself, but it's a bit more money, and has been discontinued.

08-23-2014, 09:10 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
I've seen a scientific paper suggesting there is no advantage 14 bit over 12 bit on APS-c sensors. It's just there to mimic the 14 bit on FF. But, if you choose to show us a few examples, I'll ignore the science and go with the practical. I've personally shot 12 bit and 14 bit side by side and could't tell the difference, and I don't know anyone who has been in a situation where they have.

For photographing artwork I would think the Tamron 90 macro would be the way to go. Those longer focal lengths usually have less distortion. I wouldn't go narrower than 50mm, the Tamron 90 just happens to be a great deal. I'd use my Sigma 70 macro myself, but it's a bit more money, and has been discontinued.
I should probably mention that I'm an r&d engineer in the film visual fx industry, so I too have read one or two scientific papers in this field

There is a reason why many films are still shot on film: colour accuracy and speed. (Yes digital cameras are used, but not as much as you might imagine)

Can you take a good shot with 12bits? Absolutely. Can you edit it in Lightroom to get a great image? Absolutely!

However, this is not an issue of taking a great image, it's a problem of colour perception and representation; and colour perception is *not* scientific. If it was, you'd have no need for white balance (yes those whites are actually blue in daylight, and yellow under artificial light!), and film users would have no need for tungsten/skylight filters.

Your brain plays funny tricks on your colour perception, and so by it's very nature it is entirely subjective. When I take a photo, I edit it to make the colours better than they are in reality. If however you are an artist who has already decided upon the colour palette, then all you really want to do is reproduce that as closely as possible.

Here in lies the problem. If you have trained your brain over a number of weeks to a certain colour palette (as an artist would do when painting an image composed of 'faint colours'), then any digital version will need editing to match your perception of the original. The question is simply how much editing do you want to do?

If the OP had mentioned artwork which used bold & vivid colour palettes, then 12bits would probably be fine. But for subtle shades, you will be best served by 14 bits. (Incidentally, if you watch a film that is highly saturated, or quite dark, it's usually because the vfx company is under pressure to deliver the results quickly)

The phrase 'you can do anything in post' is only half true. You can, with effort, but having high quality source material makes the job much easier. Now maybe because I've been staring at images coming from multiple sources (different film stocks, different sensors, cg elements, etc), and have been staring at the composited and graded results on monitors capable of displaying 10bits per channel, maybe I'm just overly sensitive to this; but I still maintain that it's easier and quicker to get pastel shades and skin tones from a 14bit source than a 12bit one.

I am aware this is entirely subjective, but to my eyes shooting a portrait using 12bits feels like I've shot it on ektar; using 14bits feels much more like portra. I can edit both to make them look good, but one requires less editing than the other.
08-24-2014, 12:08 AM   #10
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Wow this community is wonderful. Ive been trying to do as much research as possible for the past couple of weeks in regards to cam bodies and lenses. I should have come here directly. Thank you all for the tremendous feed back!
08-24-2014, 12:09 AM   #11
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Solid... Thanks for this breakdown!
08-24-2014, 02:10 AM   #12
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If it's not a question of money go for the later K3, but either way by all accounts they're both great cameras.
08-24-2014, 04:40 AM   #13
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I have the K5ii and K3.
I enjoy using the K5ii, but I love the K3.
08-24-2014, 06:33 AM   #14
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I too am a newbie and recently purchased a k-3, however it's going back to B&H. I asked about the "mirror-flap" issue when I called them and was told "send it back if there's a problem. So I will, had to remove the battery to get it to stop 3 times yesterday.
Buyer beware! Otherwise great camera.
08-24-2014, 06:55 AM - 1 Like   #15
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I want too comment on a couple of additional points that have come up to varying degrees.
  • 12 and 14 bit resolution - With the camera bodies the OP is interested in, they both support 14 bit, so it's really a moot point. Also, for particular types of work, 14 bit does come in handy - Astrophotography comes to mind, and there are others. With astro, you are out collecting hours of exposure and stacking. The stacking utilities (in particular the astro related ones), makes use of the two additional bits.
  • Mechanical Stability - Even at lower resolution imaging for the web, it's going to be very helpful to maintain the target (the original art work) absolutely parallel to the sensor in the camera. Otherwise, you are going to start to acquire various types of distortion. Yes, a tripod (or some type of mechanical support is necessary), however it does not end there. The tripod that Heie suggested comes with a head - a ballhead. I like ballheads very much - they work and solve most problems great. Having said that, I think that you will find with use - when it comes to making very small fine adjustments, ballheads operate in 3D space (all three axis at once). This will not be conducive to your tasks. You will want to adjust 1 axis at a time, with very small fine adjustments. A geared head is the solution - and they can be somewhat expensive. The entry level is the Manfrotto 410 (about $250 new - and after looking periodically for about 6 months, I found one for myself for $100 on craigslist) - which woks the same as the $1200 Arca Swiss Cube. Just remember craigslist is your friend (at times). The ballhead is a good place to start with and to see if you are going to experience problems.
  • Fine Focusing - With a macro lens, it provides you with the fine focusing control that you are going to need. It also provides you with a flat image rendering, with out the curvature that wider lenses introduce. You are imaging a flat art work (target), so you want your lens to image that as flat as possible, on to your flat sensor. Both the K5IIs and the K3 offers LiveView on the rear monitor with a 10x zoom factor. This will greatly assist you in achieving focus. Potentially there will be occasions when just focusing by the lens will just present difficulties. This is where you move the camera - in a fine controlled fashion. Mechanical focusing rails are used here. Not needed until you find you may be having problems.
  • Lighting - You are going to need to light your artwork so that the camera can see and image it. There are a lot of ways to perform this, but it depends on how you are going to shoot and where.
Photography can be capital intensive. Work with what you have, until you start experiencing - or rather recognizing problems. As your skill increases, this is the point where you start to recognize problems that you did not see before. Some are ok, others will bother you, and still fewer will be things that are actually seen by potential customers. This last category is the one that you will want to address - with forethought. You want to solve the problem with out incurring bankruptcy.

There is a gentleman here on the forum that has just published a book on the history of firearms. He shot in his back yard - the images of the guns and rifles, using a white kitchen counter top material from Home Depot. He also laid everything out for the front cover and then shot from his roof, in order to get the distance he needed. You are going to need to think out of the box here. Not all of your solutions are going to be found at B&H photo.

In the area that you are interested in - mechanical stabilizing support along with working in and with 3 dimensional geometry comes with the territory. There are reasonable cost solutions usually available.

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