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12-11-2011, 11:12 PM   #1
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Pentax K-5 or Sony A580 for baby pictures

Sorry for the long read and hope to receive some valuable input.

Long time lurker in the Pentax forum after I fell in love with the image quality and handling of a Pentax K-X, however never could justify buying a DSLR as my current camera, a Panasonic FZ20 (6 years old), is still good enough 80% of the time.

However it is time to upgrade as my wife is pregnant and I expect to take a lot of indoor (low light) shots which the Panasonic does not do well. My first thought was to go with the Pentax K-R, however after reading about FF problems with indoor shots and the comparatively loud shutter I looked at the K-5. The K-5 is more expensive but as I normally use my equipment for a long time I think it might be worth the extra investment.

Therefore I would like to have your opinion on which camera/lens combo to buy for my budget USD1350,-/EUR1000,-.

My choices are (prices shown are prices in the Netherlands):
- Pentax K-5 with 18-55WR (USD1012/EUR750)
- Pentax SMC DA 35mm f/2.4 (USD236/EUR175)
- Tamron AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II LD Asph Pentax (USD405/EUR300)
I would like to know which lens you recommend in order for a beginner of DSLR to be able to take nice pictures of his baby in low/available light.

Or should I just leave the Pentax K5 and go with a sony A580 and with the same budget buy:
- Sony DSLR A580 body (USD715/EUR529)
- Sony 50mm f/1.8 (USD201/EUR149)
- Tamron AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II LD Asph Sony/Minolta (USD405/EUR300)

12-11-2011, 11:33 PM   #2
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The sony is nice as is the K-5, honestly I would goto the store and see which one feels right for you...

As to the lens, if you are just getting one lens for now I would go with a zoom unless you are used to using a prime. That Tamron with work nicely....

If you do love primes... I live and die by my 31mm as it works for me... the 50mm is tight in doors but nice for head and shoulder shots...

also you might want to consider a 'good' flash with a kit lens... when my son was young, 400 iso film with a 50 1.2 at 1/30 was fine... now that he walks that would just give me a blur...

I have used my kit lens from time to time as it is my widest lens with my flash and it helps stop the action and adds a twinkly to his eye...

I think this series was taken with a k-x/18-55/flash


made for my computer desktop at work... so kinda edited (ok heavy edits)


kx, flash, 31mm no edits (just to kinda show you want you can expect 'raw' images to look like)

Last edited by icywarm; 12-12-2011 at 09:34 PM.
12-12-2011, 12:23 AM   #3
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Congrats in advance!


I'd still suggest a Kr.
Very often you don't need to shoot in 'funny' lighting so you don't have to worry too much about AF in tungsten lighting issue (if its clearly an issue, cause its not a clear cut issue AFAIK). I've never heard anyone in my local Pentax user group that use Kr complain about this issue (its not a small group; every monthly outing sees 15-20+ users gather)
Often enough, you will use window light. You can also use LV AF or MF if necessary.
Save the money for better lenses or lighting equipment (eg. flash
Better yet, save the money for diapers and milk powder


If you are to go ahead with the K5; then the 18-50/2.8 is the one with larger aperture and numerous focal lengths to play with.
A Tamron 28-75/2.8 will do well too, since most baby portraits won't use 18mm much.
Either of these 2 lenses allow some close focus, which is an advantage to get some detail shots.


Most importantly, do research on taking baby photos. There is only one chance and a limited window where they are easily posed (a bit older and they stir easily).
Also research on lighting.


Here are some I took with various lenses and lighting setups

FA35/2 (close to the DA35/2.4) ; Window light with a large white pillow as reflector on the right.






FA43ltd; Flash with shoot thru umbrella




FA43ltd; Flash bounced from the ceiling
12-12-2011, 04:55 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by pinholecam Quote
Here are some I took with various lenses and lighting setups
These are great shots, well done!

To the OP, note that the shots are great because
  • someone knows how to take a great shot (lighting!), and
  • the lenses are really good.
The Tamron 17-50/2.8 is a great zoom and you'll get very far with it, but if I were you, I'd ditch the kit lens (18-55) and may even defer buying the 17-50/2.8, but make sure to get at least one or two really good primes.

The 35/2.4 wouldn't be my first choice, but it will give you really good results. If you have the funds, look at a Pentax 31/1.8. The Sigma 30/1.4 is also worth a big recommendation. I have the Sigma 28/1.8 and it is one of my most loved lenses.

Regarding the body, make sure you get the ergonomics you desire. Two wheels, a top LCD display, weather-sealing, can make a big difference in how quickly you can operate the camera and how versatile it will continue to be for you in the future. The K-5 is quite a bit more expensive than the Sony A580 but it also is in another league. You'd have to look at the A77 for a better comparison.

The choice in camera body isn't that critical (apart from getting the ergonomics you desire and perhaps getting your priorities right w.r.t. all time AF (A77) vs ultimate low-light performance (K-5)). Your choice should largely be determined by the lenses you intend to mount on the camera in the future. Pentax is strong in small, high-quality primes. Sony has some very good glass too, but it tends to be expensive at the upper end of quality.

12-12-2011, 05:03 AM   #5
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I guess the question is how important is video to you? If it's not that important, then I would definitely take the K5 over the A580. Body is a notch above and it has a much nicer viewfinder than the pentamirror one in the 580.

I guess I'm just not that big a fan of Sony cameras. They seem to be really focusing on SLTs and mirrorless cameras, neither of which particularly clicks with me.
12-12-2011, 05:39 AM   #6
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Quite frankly I'm not sure I can recommed the K-r (based on what I have read here) or the K-5 (based on what I have read here and my own experience) unless you are willing not to depend on the PDAF. The current situation AFAIK is some people still having problems with the PDAF while othes (most?) seem quite happy. Whether this means that some people have bad copies of cameras or whether the problems in fact affect all bodies under some specific circumstances is unclear as those who are happy with their units have - naturally enough - not been posting test photos taken under controlled conditions (whereas there have been such posts to demonstrate the problems); currently both having PDAF problems and not having them can be explained away as an anomaly. (Also, since PDAF apparently depends on some ill-understood / explained properties of the particular copy of a lens being used, we might be not be much wiser even with more controlled tests.)

One option worth mentioning IMO would be looking into (u43) EVILs which use CDAF exclusively and hence do not suffer from PDAF problems, with the latest models CDAF has gotten pretty fast too. Another idea would be assuming MF from the get-go, which should suit baby photos pretty well (but as the little guy/gal gets moving being able to rely on the AF would seem important though ). The point, I guess, is knowing what you are getting into.
12-12-2011, 05:45 AM   #7
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Hi Pinholecam,

Thank you for your reply/congrats and although i have seen your pictures before by searching this forum i am still amazed/impressed. I hope to be able to take such pictures, but fear i will not have enough time to learn this before the first one arrives.

Regarding your suggestion for a Pentax K-R i will take it under advisement, however fear that if i cannot find a real model to play with i might have to let it pass. I have handled both the K5 and A580 and like their feeling, although the K5 wins it.

Unfortunately my lens choices are limited due to my budget and even if i go for KR i would not be able to purchase a DA limited from the start. Therefore i guess i would probably go for the Tamron and arrange for sufficient lighting.

I have already started my research into poses and know i have plenty to learn, however this would of course be easier with camera in hand.

Once again thanks for your reply.
12-12-2011, 05:53 AM   #8
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Hi Class A,

Regarding ergonomics i understand that the A580 and K5 are in different classes, however the A77 is not within my budget and i still prefer the K5.

The Sigma 30/1.4 might be an option, but would put me approx USD80 over my budget. Will research this lens further, thank you.

In the past i was mostly focused on the long zoom (outdoor) pictures, however know that in the near future will be doing a lot of indoor shooting. This is also why Pentax is interesting for me based on lens selection.

12-12-2011, 05:54 AM   #9
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Hi Rondec,

I am coming from a P&S which used a EVF so for me a SLT would not be a problem and therefore the A580 remains luring (mostly due to the 16MP sensor). Although i fear that Sony might eventually ditch EVF for mirrorless only and that would not be my choice.

Video is not important for me as i have a separate camcorder for this. The reason A580 might be a better choice as i would be able to afford a 50/1.8 lens together with 17-50/2.8 from the start.

Last edited by daffy2003; 12-12-2011 at 05:58 AM. Reason: Added info
12-12-2011, 06:03 AM   #10
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Hi Icywarm,

Sounds like you would suggest me getting a K5 with a good Prime and adding a 17-50/2.8 with flash once they start walking.
Guess that means my budget should be expanded now, somehow i have a feeling this will become an expensive hobby.

I believe you refer to a series (pictures), however i am not able to find them. Can you shoot me the link again so i can get some ideas.

Thank you

12-12-2011, 02:27 PM   #11
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Did you check the Sony A65?

Daffy- congrats on the baby!

I understand the A77 is not in your budget. Did you have a look at the A65? Significantly cheaper with pretty much same performance, small, lighter (but not magnesium).
12-12-2011, 09:36 PM   #12
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ok reposted above...

PS one rule of the forum... we will all tell you want we think you should do... but once you are a parent you need to post at least one baby photo...
12-12-2011, 10:48 PM   #13
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Hi WestOfPecos,

Thank you!

The A65 is also not in my budget unless i want a body only

Regards,
Daffy
12-12-2011, 10:53 PM   #14
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Hi Icywarm,

Nice pictures to have on your desktop and you make a good argument for a flash with kit lens. The only reason i believe going with a 28-75/2.8 over a flash is that in the beginning i will be making a lot of pictures while my baby is sleeping and do not want to wake her with a flash (bounced or otherwise).

Posting a picture will not be a problem, however it will be at least 2 months before this can happen....if everything goes according to schedule.

Thank you for your advise so far.

Regards,
Daffy
12-13-2011, 04:00 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by daffy2003 Quote
The Sigma 30/1.4 might be an option, but would put me approx USD80 over my budget. Will research this lens further, thank you.
No worries.

Some criticise the Sigma 30/1.4 for not having sharp corners unless stopped down and for featuring "onion bokeh" in some extreme situations. While these flaws are real, I suggest to let images do the talking. Have a look at this Sigma 30/1.4 thread and judge for yourself whether you like the images or not. If they appeal to you, I wouldn't let myself be detracted by trade offs that are part and parcel of obtaining the positive aspects of the lens.
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