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04-09-2016, 07:45 AM   #1
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Greetings from southeastern Pennsylvania!

Greetings!

I'm not a landscape shooter, and I am in the U.S., in from southeastern Pennsylvania! Am I an outlier among Pentax users? Perhaps.

I became interested in family photography when I became a father. The first camera I bought for the purpose was not suitable, I ran into its limitations and poor ergonomics, so I took my lessons from that experience and everything that I learned reading discussions on-line, and decided I needed a DSLR. I needed to shoot on oceanside beaches, in rain and in wintertime snow, inside and out, so I wanted a sensitive chip, durability and weather sealing. I bought a new-from-old-stock K-30 with DA 18-135 WR. I found immediately that the K-30 allowed me to capture pictures that were simply beyond my prior camera, a Sony NEX-5. I have run into limits of the K-30, but found that it suits me well as I have so much to learn, and I found it a forgiving tool.

Circumstances (and my preference) steered me toward snapshooting rather than taking formal shots. My results led me to the limits of my slow lens inside dark rooms; they led me to the need to add light inside, and for fill light outside. Working within a budget, I added the most powerful HSS-capable flash I could afford, a Metz Metcablitz 52 AF-1.

I shoot RAW+ rather than JPEG-only, using TAv mode, whenever possible limiting ISO to a range of 100 to 1600 in order to squeeze the best images from the camera, and seeking to take advantage of the delightfully sensitive sensor in the K-30. I use the flash extensively, bouncing it off the ceiling for interior shots.

I have the camera configured to do minimal processing: no geometric correction, no correction of red-green fringing. I have it configured for back-button focus, and to shoot without autofocusing. Pre-focusing with the DA 18-135 WR works for my purposes; when I canít anticipate a shot, I pre-select F/8 aperture.

I am experimenting with catch-in-focus using manual-focus lenses with aperture control. My first was a Pentax-A 50 mm F/2.0. My second is a recent find, a Tokina SMZ 835 80-200 F/3.5-4.5 - a rarity in K-mount, I can find no mention of anyone else even seeing one.

PEF-format raw files strike me as a rarity, so I have the camera generate DNG files for the raws; I have been processing the DNGs using a copy of Photoshop CS6, and am experimenting with RawTherapee.

I shoot for memories, adjusting for composition when circumstances allow. When I find that a shot works in ways that surprise me, I try to learn what I've done that allows me to find art in the result - what makes it a photograph rather than a mere snap. My conclusion after a couple of years of this is that the difference between photographs and snaps is a matter of composition and depicting the point of view of the subject rather than mine as photographer.

Iím on my own, especially now, since the local camera shop that sold me the K-30 and the DA 18-135 WR no longer represents Pentax. New York is a day trip away, so I can visit Adorama and B&H Photo when I must.

Iím an hour west of Philadelphia. Are any other PF members close by?

---------- Post added 04-09-16 at 08:08 AM ----------

I mentioned that Adorama and B&H Photo are a day trip. After a disaster, I'm headed to New York.

With the Mecablitz 52 AF-1 and the DA 18-135 WR attached, I . . . dropped the camera onto blacktop. The camera housing broke near the hot shoe. I don't know about the condition of the flash or the lens. I've figured out that the cost of a old-stock new K50 is $100 more than Precision Camera's starting charge for repair, and I am not sure whether repairing the camera make sense, given the poor reports of Precision Camera's work and the time required for service.

I plan to take pictures as an unofficial photographer at a wedding later this year, and I am headed to another wedding in a couple of weeks that I mean to use as practice. So, I need a camera body, I might need a lens, I might need a flash. I'm willing to buy used gear, though I am not sure that a used K-30 or K-50 makes financial sense when the remaindered K-50 is $330 new.

For the body, I am tempted to buy a K-S2; its Wi-Fi might not work well, but the advantages that it offers are of interest: the K5-class focus module and the lack of AA filter, with AA simulation; the articulated LCD.

For the flash, the Mecablitz 52 AF-1 is almost everything I want for single-flash use; weather sealing would be really nice, and a thyristor so I could experiment with that rather than the through-the-camera adjustment of flash - the K-30's metering isn't perfect!

For the lens: I have to have a DA 18-135, it makes sense for most of my uses. I know of two type of pictures I'd wish to take at the wedding later in the year. One would be be at the wedding itself, which should be outside if weather permits. The other would be a series of outside shots, on the mile-long walk to the wedding site, which is to on the Cape Cod shore. I'm open to suggestions for lenses for the wedding and the walk to the wedding site. Please consider that I have a parent's budget, I need to carry my kit, and that I'm not a professional, so the full-frame lenses Pentax is releasing for the K-1 don't fit my use case, nice though they are!

04-09-2016, 08:32 AM   #2
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I live in Lancaster, which is about an hour due West of Philly, so presumably I'm pretty closeby. I know of a few board members who are in the Southeast PA/Northern Maryland area, so you are definitely not alone!
04-09-2016, 03:02 PM   #3
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Welcome aboard. Sorry to hear about your disaster.

I have a cousin in Kennett Square.
04-09-2016, 04:37 PM   #4
pjv
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Hi SnapperDaddy. Welcome to the Pentax forums. It is good that Pentax is now your equipment of choice. If you need any help or advice, just ask and it will come flooding in. The members here are very good like that. Good luck.

04-09-2016, 07:56 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
I live in Lancaster, which is about an hour due West of Philly, so presumably I'm pretty closeby. I know of a few board members who are in the Southeast PA/Northern Maryland area, so you are definitely not alone!
I'm outside Downingtown, so we are in fact not so far apart. That's good to know!
04-09-2016, 07:59 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by gaweidert Quote
Welcome aboard. Sorry to hear about your disaster.

I have a cousin in Kennett Square.
Thanks for the welcome. Kennett Square s not far from me.
04-09-2016, 08:09 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Join Date: Apr 2016
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QuoteOriginally posted by pjv Quote
Hi SnapperDaddy. Welcome to the Pentax forums. It is good that Pentax is now your equipment of choice. If you need any help or advice, just ask and it will come flooding in. The members here are very good like that. Good luck.
Thanks for the warm welcome. The K-30 has been far, far more pleasant to use than the NEX-5 it replaced - the K-30's design Just Makes Sense, and the camera is more capable.
04-10-2016, 01:28 PM   #8
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Welcome to the forum, sounds to me like the ideal excuse to upgrade you kit now.

04-10-2016, 07:01 PM   #9
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The trip to New York was a success: first, I checked the DA 18-135 WR and the Mecablitz 52 AF-1, which tested as working properly on a couple of camera bodies. Then, I compared the K-50 and the KS-2. I could not really evaluate the imaging-related advantages of the K-S2, so I performed basic tests to make sure that it would drive my flash. I took a reasonably careful look at the fit of the K-S2 to my hand and the grip. Yes, the grip of the K-S2 is smaller than that of the K-30 or that of the K-50, but I did not think it a real issue. I ended up buying a K-S2 in black; I decided after a look that a small silver prime lens on a white K-S2 was not much less intimidating than the black-on-black. Mounting a large black flash on the camera would rather blow any attempt to have the camera masquerade as a point-and-shoot, anyway.

Since this was likely to be my only visit to a brick-and-mortar Pentax dealer for calendar 2016, I asked the salesperson to indulge me and let me explore the physical fit of a couple of lenses on the K-S2 and their behavior. I used the DA21 to explore the heft and size of a Pentax prime lens on a typical smallish Pentax body, then I used the DA 50-200 WR to see how a screw drive lens would focus and sound. The K-S2 made for focusing that seemed rapid enough, and the screw drive's noise was not as loud as I'd feared.

I compared the noise of the K-S2 shutter with that of a K-3 II, and decided that the K-S2's shutter wasn't louder by as much as I'd feared. I would not have dared buy a K-3 or a K-3 II at this point, since my technique hasn't been tested, and given my happiness with the results from the K-30, the K-S2 would be an upgrade enough, as well as leaving more money for glass, if I can justify spending Yet More Money on this hobby.

I did not dare play too much with the K-3, lest I fall in love with it. By the time I wear out the K-S2, Pentax should have an even better high-end camera out there, and there ought to be an even better successor to the K-S2.

I bought a hand strap; as long as my hand stays attached to my arm, I expect to avoid dropping this camera!

What comes next: I have to decide whether to put a Square Trade extended warranty on the camera. I also need to think about lenses for the wedding and for the walk to the site of the wedding on Cape Cod.

---------- Post added 04-10-16 at 07:12 PM ----------

Oh, I should mention for those of you who are waiting for your year's present to ship to you in May: I took a few minutes' look at the K-1 that B&H has out as a demo unit.

It doesn't seem as large or as massive as I expected.

I did not think it fair to ask the store to let me play with any of the DFA lenses; those would represent the larger portion of the increase in mass compared to an APS-C body and lenses built for an APS-C chip. I don't think I would dare use the rear display as a handle, but the hardware that attaches that display to the body did not seem fragile in the slightest.
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