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09-15-2014, 12:55 PM   #1
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Is it worth investing in Pentax and K-Mount?

Hey guys,

so I'm about to buy my first serious camera. I shot with a Canon G15 over 1 year long, but now sold it because I want better Imagequality, especially in lower light conditions and play around with depth of field. Small Sensors just doesn't cut it.
APS-C is the way to go for me.

Since I'm not rich, I have to chose one type of mount and stick to it some time. Canon, Nikon or Pentax is the question. My original idea was to buy the K50 + 18-135mm to start with and get some decent limited prime lenses over time (good lenses over a expensive body like the k3). I really like the features of the midrange Pentaxes that no other manufacturer delivers (100% viewfinder!) and I like the compact size of the limited lenses. My dream would be to get 2-3 high quality, small prime lenses and stick to it for a long time and only update the body from time to time. Pentax seems to deliver what I'm searching for, however:

1. The prime lenses are quite slow (f 3.2, f2.8, f2.4)
2. The autofocus is not fast and has no silent motor (Not that much of a dealbreaker for my purposese I think)
and the most important point
3. Pentax seems to be economically weak. It could be that in a few years I sit on my expensive lenses and no new K-mount body will be ever released again. It's not about the selling value after a few years of usage, I don't care about that. I'm just scared that my lens collection could be completely useless, even if I'm still happy with them.

In all honesty, can you recommend a newbuyer wanting to build a good system over some time with Pentax and their K-Mount? With no gear at all, starting from the scratch? I ask in this forum, because most of the Pentaxians have experience with other systems, but not the other way round. And the quality of responses is very good in this forum.

I will go to Photokina at saturday, I think alot of my questions will be answered there. However I would like to read some of your opionions.

09-15-2014, 01:19 PM - 1 Like   #2
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1. Primes slow(ish). These sensors make up for that. Noise is well-handled into the 6400 range, and shake reduction makes slower shutter speeds viable - though subject blur does become an issue. I'd look at the K5IIs paired with the nice little primes and have some fun.

2. Autofocus - point taken. The screw drive is pretty quiet in most lenses, though your macros will spin that lens a bit! The 18-135 is motorized, silent and fast. Most of the primes have pretty short focus throws, so they do focus quickly.

3. Ricoh is releasing new cameras- the K3 is arguably the most advanced APS-C available, and the KS-1 seeks to gain a new audience. The only area they don't do well in is professional services - which is really expensive to do. If they continue to release outstanding enthusiast and mid-level bodies they'll do OK. They don't throw around Canikon advertising dollars, but they aren't still selling Kr-technology in new wrappers, either.

I started building a Pentax system back in '08 after a lot of research. It was a used K10D and did well. I updated with a new K5 but all my lenses except one are used. Know what you want to do, and build a system based on that. Also, don't fall for comparisons with $10,000 camera systems - that type of false comparison is rampant online. If you want to build a pro-level sports kit, yeah, don't do Pentax. Everything else is all in the lenses, sensors and ergonomics - and the brain behind the viewfinder.
09-15-2014, 01:23 PM   #3
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1) I assume you mean the DA Limiteds? Pentax also has 50mm f/1.8 and 35mm f/2.4 that are faster, though do not have the build quality. Image quality is reputed to be very good. The Limiteds are special and are designed to deliver exceptional image quality in the smallest package possible, which means speed was sacrificed for size. If you want a fast lens look at Sigma, they have nice glass but it is huge and heavy, price you pay for 'fast'.

2) Ok

3) Pentax is no longer a 'company' but a brand name of Ricoh. One of the largest companies in the world. I have a number of reservations about where Pentax is going, 'economically weak' is definitely not one of them.

For a simple setup like you describe the Pentax 'value proposition' is hard to beat. Pentax offers features in their bodies that others only have in higher end ones. In addition the best feature of Pentax is the ergonomics, how it feels in your hand. They used to say "pick up a Pentax and you will buy a Pentax" (or something like that) Unfortunately ergonomics are not easy to 'review' or 'rate' on review sites so what I think is the best feature mostly does not get mentioned.

QuoteOriginally posted by Truxtar Quote
In all honesty, can you recommend a new buyer wanting to build a good system over some time with Pentax and their K-Mount? With no gear at all, starting from the scratch?
Yes, as long as you will not need in the future some exotic things like 600mm f/4. Pentax is a smaller brand in market share and will not have the width of lens offerings than others have. But if you do not need those why worry about it? For general everyday photography they do an excellent job with great features and best in class ergonomics.
09-15-2014, 01:25 PM   #4
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For sure! I got all the equipment I need/want that I can afford, my wallet is the limit not the line-up.

09-15-2014, 01:27 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
1) I assume you mean the DA Limiteds? Pentax also has 50mm f/1.8 and 35mm f/2.4 that are faster, though do not have the build quality. Image quality is reputed to be very good. The Limiteds are special and are designed to deliver exceptional image quality in the smallest package possible, which means speed was sacrificed for size. If you want a fast lens look at Sigma, they have nice glass but it is huge and heavy, price you pay for 'fast'.
I have a Sigma 28mm f1.8 macro which I really like. BUT it has a 77mm filter ring, and is bigger than most mid-range zooms. I have found the 1.8 aperture more useful than I would have expected, though. That's a lot of light gathering. I recently got a DA21mm ltd. at a good bargain and just guess which of the two I'll put on the camera if I'm walking around on a nice day? Both are tack-sharp, btw.
09-15-2014, 01:31 PM   #6
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If you are willing to put your effort into getting better photos.. and not falling in the hype of big expensive "must have" camera gear, then you will find Pentax gear offers more quality and features for the same amount of money you pay for. Besides, there are lots seasoned/established photographers on this forum who can help you out as well.
09-15-2014, 01:54 PM   #7
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Lots of bargains in used equipment, too.
09-15-2014, 02:23 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Truxtar Quote
Hey guys,

so I'm about to buy my first serious camera. I shot with a Canon G15 over 1 year long, but now sold it because I want better Imagequality, especially in lower light conditions and play around with depth of field. Small Sensors just doesn't cut it.
APS-C is the way to go for me.

Since I'm not rich, I have to chose one type of mount and stick to it some time. Canon, Nikon or Pentax is the question. My original idea was to buy the K50 + 18-135mm to start with and get some decent limited prime lenses over time (good lenses over a expensive body like the k3). I really like the features of the midrange Pentaxes that no other manufacturer delivers (100% viewfinder!) and I like the compact size of the limited lenses. My dream would be to get 2-3 high quality, small prime lenses and stick to it for a long time and only update the body from time to time. Pentax seems to deliver what I'm searching for, however:

1. The prime lenses are quite slow (f 3.2, f2.8, f2.4)
2. The autofocus is not fast and has no silent motor (Not that much of a dealbreaker for my purposese I think)
and the most important point
3. Pentax seems to be economically weak. It could be that in a few years I sit on my expensive lenses and no new K-mount body will be ever released again. It's not about the selling value after a few years of usage, I don't care about that. I'm just scared that my lens collection could be completely useless, even if I'm still happy with them.

In all honesty, can you recommend a newbuyer wanting to build a good system over some time with Pentax and their K-Mount? With no gear at all, starting from the scratch? I ask in this forum, because most of the Pentaxians have experience with other systems, but not the other way round. And the quality of responses is very good in this forum.

I will go to Photokina at saturday, I think alot of my questions will be answered there. However I would like to read some of your opionions.
I started with K5IIs when it was $1,200. Now it is less than $700. The image quality is superior to the Canon 7D I used to own. If you are building a system for stills, Pentax offers the best value. If video is in your future, I would do more research as Pentax is not there yet with video. I do not own the 18-135 but I would say it is a good place to start.

09-15-2014, 02:55 PM - 1 Like   #9
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Look at what you want to do with your camera, and consider what lenses you will need for those things.

If I was starting from scratch again at this point I would have to really take another serious look at the options. I love my camera, I really do, but the trends I see with 3rd parties starting to shy away from us makes me uneasy. Combine lowering 3rd party support with the fact that Pentax does have some holes in the lens lineup, especially when looking at a longer lens or fast AF. Don't count on someday picking up that Sigma lens that you might want, for example, I bought the LAST NEW Sigma 70-200 2.8 that I could find in the US after Sigma stated they were discontinuing it. It isnt even the latest version, but the only other new one I could find was on E-Bay and located in Hong Kong. This is a lens I knew I was going to want when I got my frist Pentax camera about a year ago to shoot some kids sports, the discontinuation forced me to move a little quicker than I had planned but I have not regretted getting that lens for one minute. There is currently no equivalent other than the Tamron version (which is slightly slower at AF according to reports) and finding one now is very difficult.

There are other areas that we suffer compared to the competition, flash systems would be another example. After sale support has also been pretty bad according to some threads here (months for repairs?)

I don't want to be all negative, There are many advantages to our system (in body SR, nice viewfinders, ergonomics of the bodies, dual control dials, legacy glass, etc.), but just make sure you know what you are buying into.
09-15-2014, 03:04 PM   #10
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1) FA31 is f/1.8, FA43 is f/1.9, DA*55 is f/1.4, FA77 is f/1.8. Fast enough for me

2) Quite a few Pentax lenses have silent focussing motors, and the screw drive isn't particularly irritating unless the lens hunts. Remember it is much louder in the photographer's ear than the subject's.

3) Despite all the naysayers, Pentax isn't going anywhere.
09-15-2014, 03:13 PM   #11
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The one silent focus motor lens I own (Sigma 150-500) is also the slowest focusing lens I own. It's even slower than the DA 55-300, though not quite as slow as the 55-300 on a 1.4x tele-converter.
09-15-2014, 04:22 PM - 2 Likes   #12
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I'd say no brand has any more or less chance of going under. Volume and profitability have little to do with each other. General Motors was the largest volume car maker in the world for many many decades. They still went bankrupt. Porsche is much much smaller, and they make boat loads of money.

I would buy the camera that feels the best in your hand and don't worry past that. After you shoot for a couple of years, you will figure out what lenses and features matter to you, and you can choose your next system from a point of greater knowledge.

One comment about slow lenses: with in body SR, the Pentax camera is good about 2 stops slower in shutter speed. If you are looking for low-light photography, a slower lens with in body SR will give you a better photo than a 2 stop faster aperture. The DOF will be deeper, and the rendering will be sharper. Here's one I hand held down to 0.4" with the DA21. No way I'd do that without SR. Note that the faster primes from the other brands usually do not have SR.


Last edited by Kozlok; 09-15-2014 at 04:27 PM.
09-15-2014, 06:33 PM - 2 Likes   #13
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If you are going to be a shooter, Pentax may be the best deal for you, and give the best results for the least expense. If you are going to be an investor, Nikon might be a better camera system at retaining value.

You are going to find that there are trade offs with any brand, so it is important to understand what your primary goal is going to be. If it is decent value and great photos, Pentax might just be the one for you. I'm not saying this as a fanboy, I actually lean toward Fuji, but it certainly is not a better better system than Pentax....just different.

Regards & Good luck
09-15-2014, 07:00 PM   #14
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Are you buying the equipment as an investment vehicle or as a means of taking photographs?
09-15-2014, 07:22 PM   #15
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Welcome to the forum Truxtar. You have raised a lot of good questions.

I had a similar choice in 2007 when I got my first DSLR. The reasons I went with Pentax, as a hobbyist-enthusiast, still hold good. Good quality gear, intelligent design, robust, wonderful range of legacy lenses and outstanding value for money. As now, Pentax was not a big player, but going along in its own way. It is likely to be much the same in 10 years' time. (Over the long term, the issue for enthusiasts might be more about mirrorless v DSLR rather than between brands of DSLR. But that is another story.)

If I may say so, the strategy of getting the K-50 and 18-135 WR and a few primes is really good. A great kit for the money.

Re Q1 (primes), speed isn't everything. At wide angles most often you want greater depth of field, so the maximum apeture is not so important. The DA 15 Ltd is only f4 and the DA 21 Ltd is only f3.2, but each is highly regarded. On the other hand, as others have said, there are plenty of fast primes in the normal-telephoto range. The DA 50mm f1.8, or earlier nifty 50s like the A-50 f1.7, are cheap, compact and very good. Other faster examples listed above.
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