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02-24-2011, 09:43 PM   #1
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Is Pentax a viable alternative to micro four thirds cameras?

I hope this is the right place for this and that I am not inviting arguments. I have been actively following the development of MFT cameras for some time, but they just can't quite seem to put the parts together. By happenstance, I came across Pentax, and I like what I am seeing. I hope that some of you have experience with both Pentax DSLRs and MFT cameras.

What matters to me me is a small system camera that takes good pictures and allows me to play with the options of a DSLR even if on a more limited scale. Size is extremely important to me. I have the good fortune that price is not an issue between available cameras.

Something that the MFT camera crowd seems not to understand is that the K-r is actually smaller than a GH2, and the K-5 is only 10% larger. That is size, not weight. I personally prefer the E-PL2, which is substantially smaller, but it lacks a built-in viewfinder, which I find essential. So today, the GH2 would be my only real option.

I have been able to handle a K-r, but not a K-5. I like the ergonomics of the K-r even if it seems a bit on the big side for me. It is my impression that the Pentax lenses are bigger and heavier than the MFT equivalents, and I am not sure how much of an issue that would be in the real world.

It also seemed to me that the K-r was loud. I am looking for something unobtrusive for pictures of the kids and family, and I don't know if it really is that loud.

If anyone has experience with both Pentax and micro four thirds, I would appreciate hearing their thoughts. A full size DSLR like the Canon 7D simply won't work for me. Are Pentax cameras really that much smaller in the real world?

02-24-2011, 09:56 PM   #2
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I don't have any experience with m4/3, but check out this GH2 thread from a Pentax/Panasonic user. Good photos with bodies side by side.
02-24-2011, 10:03 PM   #3
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The GH2 is lighter and smaller and quieter than the K-x/K-r:



But at the end of the day the difference in size isn't all that great:



But the difference in weight is fairly significant, particularly when using AA NiMH rechargeable.

The GH2 has significantly better video than any Pentax, but is not as good at taking photos of kids running around.

My observations of the GH2, including specific comparisons to the Pentax K-x and K20d can be found here:

What Blog is this?: GH2
02-24-2011, 10:33 PM   #4
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Three generalities about m4/3 (like a Lumix) vs APS-C (like a Pentax):

1) On m4/3 at higher ISO speeds, pictures will show more noise.
2) More varieties of vintage lenses can be mounted on m4/3; but:
3) On m4/3, lenses all seem longer; their angle-of-view is reduced.

Another generality: m4/3 is lighter weight; APS-C has better performance.

As John suggests, you should carefully read evaluations and comparisons of your candidate cameras. In the extensive research and analysis that led me to buying a K20D, I paid close attention to user reviews and ratings at DPREVIEW.COM -- especially the bitches, whines, moans and groans. I drew a price vs satisfaction graph. And Pentax won.

02-24-2011, 11:11 PM   #5
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If you want compactness, you have to consider the lenses too. m4/3 is smaller than 4/3, which again is smaller than aps-c. When you check their lenses, m4/3 has an obvious advantage. Another interesting aspect of m4/3 is that you can use Pentax CCTV lenses which are rather affordable. Time has changed. Give LCD a chance.
02-25-2011, 02:07 AM - 1 Like   #6
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Pentax DSLRs and micro 4/3 cameras are different animals with different strengths and weaknesses. I'd make the comparison of sports cars and SUVs. For nimble on road driving a little sports coupe is wonderful. If you want to haul anything or go through bad roads the SUV shines and will be useful in more conditions.

Think of micro 4/3 cameras as sports coupes. For compactness and weight the 4/3 cameras win. My only experience is with the Olympus EPL-2, which I quite like. It's a great travel and street photography camera. It takes excellent photos in good light. The kit lenses are good quality and the camera doesn't draw the kind of attention that a DSLR would. Looking more like a pro with a K-5 or K20d will elicit different responses from people than the small Olympus Pen.

On the other hand, the larger sensor on Pentax cameras have more dynamic range and are noticeably better at high ISO. The Olympus has visible dark area noise even at 400 ISO. It isn't bad but noticeable. The K-5 has virtually none up to 3200, the Kr is clean up to 1600 ISO. The K-5 has remarkable dynamic range and ability to resolve incredible detail. My knowledge of the Kr is limited so I can't say much about it. But in general both cameras will produce good photos in more situations than a micro 4/3 camera will. The tradeoff is competence for compactness. However, if you shoot in most normal conditions the smaller camera can be more than good enough. My personal take is the the systems compliment each other very well. I'd shoot a K-5 for low light, bad weather or subtle lighting situations where its dynamic range shines. I'd carry the EPL-2 as a walk around camera for shooting outside in daylight or with good lighting indoors.
02-25-2011, 07:38 AM   #7
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I had only for a short time an Oly in my hands and that gave me a good feeling. That was the E-PL2, not looking at image quality since I didn't looked at the results.

I had for one evening a play with Sony Nex-5 and used the 16mm pancake on it.
[YT]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSU91YjHRmM[/YT]

Great little camera with very nice results. I mainly used the 16mm pancake with the flash. Deadly slow on handling and scrolling true the menu's to change anything. Only not so many lenses and the current lenses aren't great.

Other possibility would be Samsung.
02-25-2011, 08:03 AM   #8
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Thanks mysticcowboy. That is what I am looking for. I am not going to use ISO 1600 much and anything above that probably not at all. And avoiding the DSLR response is a huge factor for me. On paper, the K-r looks in the same size range as the GH2, but I am not sure if it would be that way in the real world. Sounds like wishful thinking on my part. Maybe Pentax will get the mirrorless thing right.

02-25-2011, 08:35 AM   #9
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thing is the GH2 will elicit the same sort of response as a kr because it still looks like a bigger slr
one thing not mentioned is also the difference in DOF. if you want nice OOF areas and good portrait performance you will be better served by the larger sensor Pentax
to get the same effect as a cheap fast 50 f1.7 on apsc a m4/3 camera would need a 35 f1.0 not a lens that even exists and if it did would negate any size benefit to m4/3 as it would be huge (have a look at the noctilux lenses)
02-25-2011, 11:06 AM   #10
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im a pentaxian at the beginning, i love to use pentax , but this is something to considered.... carrying arround WR body and heavy lens somtimes is also not quiet "comfortable" , even though a bunch of collection from limited lens make the choice little bit lighter...

so find a small and compact body will be adorable for today use, with M4/3 most of them had benefits with small, light and compact body, in combine with M leica adapter , they can use though an leica lens ..

something to considered ..
02-25-2011, 11:53 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by eddie1960 Quote
thing is the GH2 will elicit the same sort of response as a kr because it still looks like a bigger slr
one thing not mentioned is also the difference in DOF. if you want nice OOF areas and good portrait performance you will be better served by the larger sensor Pentax
to get the same effect as a cheap fast 50 f1.7 on apsc a m4/3 camera would need a 35 f1.0 not a lens that even exists and if it did would negate any size benefit to m4/3 as it would be huge (have a look at the noctilux lenses)
In my experience, a photographer's intent appears to be inferred by two things - the size of the camera/lens and whether or not the camera/lens is brought up to the photographer's eye. Someone with a Pentax K10d with the DA*60-250 is going to draw a lot more attention than the GH2 with the 20mm F1.7. Likewise, the K-r with the DA40 pancake will probably draw less attention than the GH2 with the 14-140 zoom, particularly at the long end.

But the GH2 with the 20mm F1.7 held at arm's length, and composed and shot with the flip/twist LCD draws less attention than if the same camera/lens is brought up to eye level, and less attention than the K-r with DA40 brought up to eye level

So even if you assume that the GH2 and K-r are more or less the same size, the rear LCD of the GH2 makes it even more stealth. Yes, the K-r has Live View, but if is as noisy as the Live View of the K-x, then it's not very stealth. We also can't forget that we are comparing the extreme ends of the two formats - the largest M43 vs. the smallest (or close to the smallest) APS-C Pentax. If you can live without a viewfinder, the GF2 has no peer in the Pentax world.

Finally, regarding DOF - the 20 F1.7 has pleasing DOF wide open and is still sharp. And while there isn't a 35 F1.0, there is a 25 F0.95 Nokton which is a bokeh monster.
02-25-2011, 12:16 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnmflores Quote
Yes, the K-r has Live View, but if is as noisy as the Live View of the K-x, then it's not very stealth.
I used the K-x Live View to take a picture of a horse. It was loud enough that it actually upset the horse.


02-25-2011, 12:38 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Regular guy Quote
Something that the MFT camera crowd seems not to understand is that the K-r is actually smaller than a GH2
Кх is not smaller than GH2, close but not smaller...

QuoteOriginally posted by Regular guy Quote
If anyone has experience with both Pentax and micro four thirds, I would appreciate hearing their thoughts. Are Pentax cameras really that much smaller in the real world?
no
02-25-2011, 12:41 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by eddie1960 Quote
to get the same effect as a cheap fast 50 f1.7
why do you assume that I need the same effect ? I, actually, don't...
02-25-2011, 01:11 PM   #15
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i don't assume you need it i'm pointing out the limitation, if you want to shoot portraits the m4/3 is not the better choice it's the physics of it. I like the other Panasonic (GF2)as a street machine myself and an evf can always be added. really it depends on your usage which is better but i think any m4/3 camera gives up on high iso performance versus apsc and on the DOF. just as apsc gives up on those to FF cameras. Build quality also varies if you put the k7 or k5 into the mix.
apsc loses out on weight, size somewhat and stealth factor versus the oly's and GF2 particularly.
OP did mention family pictures so the assumption would be occasional portraits as well. apsc will do that better no question. Also cheaper a basic manual focus 55 f2.0 kit lens will outperform any portrait length lens the m4/3 camp has for DOF and an f or fa 50 1.4 will blow the m4/3 portrait choices out of the water at a lower cost as well (the 25 .95 mention is 820 and not available and manual focus BTW so compare it to say an A 50 1.4 for about $80-100 and take some portraits on a kr
If you are only going to own the one system and don't want to be limited then you should look at an apsc slr for best value, if small is you main concern , and the limitations don't affect you then m4/3 is a good system
if you are buying the m4/3 to use pretty much exclusively with the 17 or 20 then wait and get an x100. the preliminary beta test shots from dpreview look like it will pretty much blow m4/3 out of the water at high iso, and it is an even better design for stealth/street shooting
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