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10-23-2012, 04:59 PM   #1
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Buying a new camera (already have some old lenses)

Dear Pentaxians,

I have never owned a Ďproperí camera and now intend to purchase my first one. I am going to lay out my situation and thought process and would love to hear your opinions. Please excuse that the post has become so long.

Here is my situation:
What I already own:
I have inherited some glass, namely
  • 3 Pentax 6x7 Medium Format primes (55mm f3.5, 105mm f2.4, 150mm f2.8)
  • A whole bunch of Leica primes
    3 feature a Leica R bayonet and should be adaptable to pretty much any modern DSLR-mount if I am not mistaken.
    Another 5 have either M or Visoflex (I havenít found much information about this mount type) mounts. From what I have learned so far there is NO WAY to adapt the M mount to SLRs because of the small film to lens distance of the M system.


What I want to do
Mostly travel and street plus the occasional landscape or portrait. I am rather nocturnal, so shooting in bad lighting conditions...
Portability is very important, I donít want to carry 10kg of equipment with me. The smaller and less conspicuous everything is, the better. I donít care about video.

So, what should I do? For Pentax, I have mostly looked at the K5:
Very well built, weather-sealed
Nice ergonomics (went to the store and tried it out)
Trap focus for situations where you need something AF-ish for your manual focus lenses.
Excellent sensor (for APS-C)

Pretty much any competing DSLR (Canon, Nikon) which I have looked at is bulkier and/or not as well-constructed and doesnít allow me to use more of the lenses I already own. Do you know of any other cameras that I should consider?
So the competitors are from a different category: Mirrorless cameras
Micro 4/3: I donít like the fact that I wouldnít have a viewfinder as well as the smaller sensor size.
Leica M9: Not weather sealed, no AF, veery expensive. But incredibly portable, well built, no AA filter, FF, etc.
All right, I am a lunatic for even considering this as my firstÖ But all the nice Leica M lensesÖ And itís so smallÖ

Back to the K5: The fact that Pentax is so small compared to Canikon worries me, because they might go out of business. Do you believe that Pentax is a stable system to invest in?
Should I get a 18-55mm kit + some prime(s) or a 18-135mm kit? (Just buying the body doesnít seem like a good option given the small price reduction compared to the 18-55)
From what I have seen so far most people recommend the 18-135, because it is more versatile, has better IQ and can be resold at a high price. However, most sample images I have seen didnít seem very impressive in terms of IQ and the zoom lenses are relatively slow.
Would anybody like to show off the perfect shots he made with the 18-135?

Thanks for bearing with me! I look forward to reading your advice and comments.

10-23-2012, 05:15 PM   #2
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Pentax isn't going anywhere for quite some time. That said, I'd recommend the 18-135, or just buy the body, and purchase a better zoom. Such as the 16-50 or 50-135.(Unless weather sealing isn't an issue, then go for a third party offering perhaps)

Few Examples of the Ole' 18-135:





Didn't really showcase it's wide open sharpness or anything in those, as if you wish to see tests, look at tests, not pics

Edit: Side Note: No HDR on those, but there was some light retouching for exposure on the church shot.(Also, notice how well it resists flaring from that moon? I love SMC...)

Last edited by Eulogy; 10-23-2012 at 05:22 PM.
10-23-2012, 05:16 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by lorenz Quote
Do you believe that Pentax is a stable system to invest in?
No, to be blunt. Pentax's future is at this point brighter than at any time in the last 5 years or so. IMHO.

QuoteOriginally posted by lorenz Quote
Should I get a 18-55mm kit + some prime(s) or a 18-135mm kit?
Based on your requirements, I would definitely get the 18-135mm, there were some early reviews that were less than complimentary but for a travel zoom I think the IQ is quite good. Also, I would get a few primes, the DA 20, 40 & 70 ltd series come to mind but there are other choices as well. You might look into something like the F 50mm f/1.7 or FA 50mm f/1.4 for low light conditions. But the 18-135 and a couple of primes make a good light travel kit.
10-23-2012, 05:39 PM   #4
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I use both Pentax and Leica (M&R), but 95% of my digital is on the Leica M9 - sometimes with a Visoflex III (which works fine on the M9). Both Leica M & R lenses are wonderful, but too expensive for most of us now. Selling the 5 M lenses (which are great on the M9 or the new M-E and M) would fund a few Pentax K-5II kits.
Since your set of Leica lenses is worth a bunch, another option would be to get the new Leica M body when it is available, as it will allow the use of both M & R lenses (with an R adapter).

10-23-2012, 05:50 PM   #5
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Ricoh GXR M-mount.
10-23-2012, 06:36 PM   #6
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Interesting situation. Given your desire for portability the 67 lenses should be sold or passed along to some deserving young photography student. Weather sealing is nice, indeed a key Pentax feature, but both lens and body need to be sealed so your lovely collection of Leica glass doesn't help there. LFLee's suggestion for the Ricoh GXR would be a great way to use the M-mount glass, but of course there's no optical viewfinder. For the R-mount, one option is Leica & Pentax & Nikon | Leitax. Not cheap, but then we're talking Leica glass here.

The 18-55 is quite decent and if bought as a kit with camera makes for an inexpensive way to get a fully weather sealed system. But it isn't a fast lens. Going to be hard to come up with a system that meets all the criteria you have laid out: weather sealed, compact, well built, fast, versatile (zoom range), so I suggest putting these factors in order of priority.

Enjoy the process -- you have a good starting point and a fun dilemma for how to work it out.
10-23-2012, 06:44 PM   #7
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Good Evening,

You have a lot of options.
  • Pentax 67 lenses - these are large, wonderful lenses, can be used on the K5 (with an adapter), but based on size and weight you would probably shy away from doing this. Probably better off being sold. It might take a while since the 67 system is legacy.
  • Leica R - These lenses can be used directly on the K5 with a mount change. Leitax.com provides K mount kits and they will also perform the change in mounts if you desire. I am guessing you are in Europe. Leitax is located in Spain. The mount kits run about $100US. I have swapped mounts on two older Contax Carl Zeiss lenses, and they turned out absolutely perfect, using Leitax. There are several folks here that use Leica R lenses with the new mounts. These lenses will be manual with out any weather seals.
  • Leica M - Others will need to comment on this, as I know very little...
I do think that Pentax will be around for quite a while. They have survived for 100 years so far. I too shoot at night, and the combination of ISO80, and the K5 sensors dynamic range really does a wonderful job. I have been impressed.

hope that helps....

10-23-2012, 08:12 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by lorenz Quote
So the competitors are from a different category: Mirrorless cameras
Micro 4/3: I donít like the fact that I wouldnít have a viewfinder as well as the smaller sensor size.
If you have a bunch of Leica lenses, why not use them? MFT cameras do have viewfinders - either as accessories or built in - the E-M5 one is excellent. You should also consider Fuji X-Pro1 and X-E1, NEX-6/7, NX and don't forget about the GXR with the M mount module. These would all allow you to use your Leica lenses.

QuoteOriginally posted by lorenz Quote
Back to the K5: The fact that Pentax is so small compared to Canikon worries me, because they might go out of business.
You don't have to worry on this front. Pentax is now a Ricoh brand and Ricoh is a larger company than Nikon and is on par with Canon. But while I have no doubts that the Pentax brand will survive, it is not at all clear in what form that will happen and whether the Pentax K mount used in the current DSLR line has any significant future. Better to wait for Ricoh to outline their future strategy by announcing the product(s) that everyone is assuming/speculating/hoping they are developing in secrecy. Then you'll know for sure (or at least for the near future) what they plan to develop and support.

10-23-2012, 08:26 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eulogy Quote
Few Examples of the Ole' 18-135:
Why is the right hand side of your last shot looking so blurred?

QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
I do think that Pentax will be around for quite a while. They have survived for 100 years so far.
Let's keep the facts straight.

The Asahi company was founded in 1919, was renamed to Pentax in 2002, and was acquired by Hoya in 2007. So Pentax the corporation only existed for 5 years. Even if you add the time it spent under the Asahi name, it didn't last a century - it lasted 88 years. And it didn't survive, it was acquired 5 years ago.

As for Pentax the brand, it was first used by Asahi in 1957. That makes it 55 years old now - it still has a while to go before it becomes a century-old brand.
10-25-2012, 08:31 PM   #10
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Thank you all very much for your feedback!

QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
Going to be hard to come up with a system that meets all the criteria you have laid out: weather sealed, compact, well built, fast, versatile (zoom range), so I suggest putting these factors in order of priority.
probably weather sealed, fast, well built, compact, versatile (zoom range)

To clarify the weather sealing issue : I understand that no camera will provide weather sealing in combination with my old Leica lenses. Nevertheless it's nice to have weather sealing available in combination with at least one lens, so that one can also shoot in bad weather situations.
Ditto for AF.

I have had a look at the Ricoh GXR, and while it does seem like a very interesting concept, the idea of having to buy lens-sensor combinations and the lack of weather sealing don't appeal to me very much.

The E-M5, Fuji X-Pro1 and X-E1, NEX-6/7, NX are also very interesting suggestions.

The Fujis strike me as rather expensive, so I have ruled them out for the moment. Which leaves the E-M5, NEX 7 and NX.
I have looked at the E-M5 and most reviews were very enthusiastic. It is also weather-sealed, provides IBIS and has a very good CDAF. But I am a bit skeptical about the 4/3 sensor and its image quality (especially in low light). Of course it's tiny compared to the K5.
However, the biggest issue is that the crop factor of the 4/3 would limit the usefulness of my Leica lenses, since the widest one I have (summicron f=5cm) would be a 100mm FF-equivalent on the OM-D E-M5.
All the other Leica lenses would be in the super telephoto range.

Argh, this is turning out to be quite difficult...

Any more tips or suggestions?
10-26-2012, 05:28 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by lorenz Quote
Argh, this is turning out to be quite difficult...
Yes, it's tough enough to choose systems as is, and then having that interesting collection of lenses to start with makes it more complicated. Perhaps it would help to also prioritize your goals with your existing lenses. Unless there are particular lenses in that set that you want to keep and use, consider selling them (or selling enough of them to fund the new system). Using old and/or exotic glass is fun, but it isn't necessarily the best way to meet your criteria for a travel/street kit. If you don't need to sell, hang on to the most interesting (to you) lenses for a while, and maybe later you'll want to add a second system to make use of them.

A K-5 with a couple of small fast primes is certainly one way to get a reasonably compact kit with very high image quality and excellent low-light performance. If you go this route, wait at least until next week when we should have a review of the K-5 II and its improved low-light AF performance.
10-26-2012, 06:41 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by lorenz Quote
  • 3 Pentax 6x7 Medium Format primes (55mm f3.5, 105mm f2.4, 150mm f2.8)
  • A whole bunch of Leica primes
    3 feature a Leica R bayonet and should be adaptable to pretty much any modern DSLR-mount if I am not mistaken.
    Another 5 have either M or Visoflex (I havenít found much information about this mount type) mounts. From what I have learned so far there is NO WAY to adapt the M mount to SLRs because of the small film to lens distance of the M system.
What I want to do
Mostly travel and street plus the occasional landscape or portrait. I am rather nocturnal, so shooting in bad lighting conditions...
Portability is very important, I donít want to carry 10kg of equipment with me. The smaller and less conspicuous everything is, the better. I donít care about video.
It sounds like you need an approach. So here are some ideas to discover what you may want to do. And I will say, that just for somewhere to start off - I use a Pentax K5 something as a base (size, WR, build, etc.). The other theme to this is to:
  • Sell the 67 lenses - since they do not meet your size and weight criteria, unless they hold some sentimental value to you. Using evilbay completed sales I figure that they may provide about $150, $100 and $120 totaling $370.
  • Retain and convert the Leica R lenses - These lenses are readily useable on the K5. The funds from the sold 67 lenses will help off set the mount and conversion costs. This will provide you with a good base of fine glass. It would help to know the focal lengths of the glass?
  • Determine what focal lengths you want to end up with - So shooting "travel and street plus the occasional landscape or portrait", you want to end up with what lengths of glass? From what you have already indicated you have a 50mm, with the balance of the Leica glass being longer. So of your M glass, that appears to be long focal lengths, it may be possible to essentially swap your long M lenses for shorter R lenses, in order to fill in the focal lengths you desire. In this respect you can wind up with a mainly Leica kit. How heavy and large the kit will be will be the question?
  • Is there an M lens that you would like to sell to fund the K5 body and other needs? - If you essentially swap Ms for Rs, there are still mount conversion costs (~$150 per lens, $100 for the mount and ~$50 for the conversion if you do not do it yourself).
  • For a Weather Resistant lens capability - That too will be an acquisition cost that needs funding.
To use another body, it's determining which of the Leica lenses would work and then using the ones that don't to augment the kit. The down side to using the K5 as a foundation is that you will incur mount conversion costs. Going to a 4:3 foundation, is you essentially loose the bulk of your Leica glass, and you would essentially wind up swapping the longer glass for shorter glass - either Leica or something other.

Its a nice problem to have, however it is not a very easy one to solve, nor is there a real obvious solution. It all revolves around you and what appeals to you in terms of what approach you want to take.

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