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05-02-2011, 11:32 AM   #1
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Leaping from K-x to K-5 rather than a K-7 – ramblings of a new owner…

If you are an amateur like me and contemplating the upgrade to a K-5 you might benefit from this – though probably not. Otherwise, especially if you don’t want to spend the money on a K-5 – STOP READING!

A little background: Used be really into film photography over 20 years ago, and had a Pentax Super Program, and a few years later added a used K2DMD and a Pentax LX after my Super Program got stolen. Did lots of B/W and loved it, though admittedly I am not sure I have ever had a great eye for taking pictures – still loved it though. However, interest slowly dwindled and I never got a AF SLR, nor did I jump on DSLRs when they first came out. I got a Canon S2IS a few years back – mostly to take pictures of the kids. This peaked my interest, though, so about a year ago I finally sold my old equipment that had been gathering dust: A Pentax LX w/Winder with my remaining manual lenses (Tokina 17 3/5, Pentax A 28/2.8, Pentax A 50/1.7 and Sigma 70-200/F4 APO). Had planned on getting a Canon or Nikon DSLR, but then the K-x came out and being an old Pentax person I just had to get this camera, together with the kit lenses (18-55 + 55-300).

I was really getting back into this “photo” thing, and ENJOYED it!!!! This K-x was obviously a much better camera than the S2IS. A summer trip to Tetons and Yellowstone resulted in 5000 pictures of which many were really great.
I had quickly upgraded the “L” plastics to the metal mounts, and added a AF-360 flash. I also bought a used A 50mm/1.7 on eBay, so I could check out the IQ compared to the kit lenses. This did not work too well, though. While the IQ was better I had a heck of time getting the focus right, and way too many shots were throw-away. I stopped using it almost immediately.

So I wasn’t wild about the manual focus ability on the K-x. Also it seemed frustratingly difficult to change many settings on the camera, and I felt I spent too much time navigating the menu screen. Obviously completely unfair to compare to the LX, but on that camera I could immediately see the status of everything, and change everything immediately – oh – those good old days where life was simple Also I did not like (and rarely used) any of the “Green” modes, and I not ONCE used to automatic Scene. Mostly I left in P, and overrode the T/A values as needed. In short, I wanted CONTROL.
The K-5 came out, but NO way was I going to spend $1500 on a body. However, I started seeing used K-7s for $650 or so – now that was tempting: Weather proof like my old beloved LX, and providing a lot of extra easily accessible controls. Less quantifiable, but maybe even more important: The QUALITY aspect. I loved the solid feel of the LX compared to the Super Program. Buttons, sounds, feel was just at a different level. Being an engineer, I just love things that are well built… Yes – definitely upgrade to the K-7, except…

…High ISO performance and increased dynamic range. I loved the high ISO performance of the KX. I read all the reviews; All the comparisons; All the posts on these forums; And I agonized. I KNEW I really wanted the K-5 and that I eventually would upgrade to that (or the K-3 when that came out!). But $1500???

So here is the issue: I am casual photographer. I currently have a couple of cheap lenses. I don’t even use Adobe Photoshop (though I bought it, and are good with computers etc). If I really want to spend money, I should spend money on glass - not on a K-7 or even less so a K-5. But even that seems hard to justify given what I need it for.

Three days ago I realized my problem: I was trying to justify spending the extra money in terms of the specific benefit I would get – like a business ROI (return on investment). This is an oxymoron, since I am not a professional photographer. I should buy a more expensive camera because I like it – not because I have to justify it.



I wanted to get the K-5 so I bought it. Received it Saturday (I love Amazon Prime). Here are my impressions after 700 shots (mostly my son’s soccer game, and 5 am Sunday morning trip to a nearby nature reserve)
  • The body oozes quality compared to my K-x.
  • The controls, while still new to me, are a vast improvement over the K-x. Much faster to change settings. With familiarity it will be great…
  • Viewfinder is much better, and definitely clearer. It is much easier to focus my SMC-A 50mm
  • Camera feels more responsive and faster
  • The dynamic range is awesome. I bracket a lot of shots in the morning (my film inheritance), and it turned out to be mostly a waste. Suggested exposures were largely right, and there was plenty of dynamic range to make the needed adjustments in Photoshop (yes – I finally started using it)
  • I for the first time really started noticing the deficiencies of especially the DA 18-55 II lens I own. CA was pronounced, and detail was lacking. Probably partly the superior camera, and partly me taking more challenging pictures than usual. The 50mm definitely looked a lot better, and the 55-300mm held up well.
  • Have to work on that focus. Still not sure how to best take control. Also took a bunch of pictures without realizing I had lowered exposure 1.7 stops. Guess I am not an amateur for nothin’
So is the extra maybe $1000 over the K-x worth it, or the $600 over the K-7?
  • In terms of picture quality – considering my use? No.
  • In terms of becoming a better photographer? Maybe. I will become better - not because of the camera itself, but because I will be exploring and doing things I wouldn’t otherwise do.
  • In terms of not second guessing myself and thinking about when to upgrade again? Yes!
  • In terms of my enjoyment, increased enthusiasm, and now wanting to get up 5 am on a Sunday morning to take pictures? Absolutely!
Did I say I love my new K-5?! A used DA 16-45mm and a new F DA 50mm macro is on the way. The money drain has just started…

END OF RAMBLINGS

05-02-2011, 01:07 PM   #2
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Great post. I made the same way – from K-x to K5 and have no regrets. Absolutely love it.
Enjoy your camera.
Best regards,
Yuriy
05-02-2011, 01:40 PM   #3
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Oh groan - this is not helping me!
I would get a K-5 if I could get financial sign off from my financial controller. My purse strings have tightened post earthquake - which I have to admit is fair enough considering economic conditions, house repairs etc.
Also I feel the DA 70 F2.4 Ltd calling my name but that will have to wait.

Still.... it looks a lovely camera. Maybe late in the year.

Thanks for the post - not
05-02-2011, 04:47 PM   #4
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Enjoyed your post!

I have a similar history with photography - and also dropped out about 10 years ago.

When I recently got back in, I opted for a used K20D - so very happy with the feel and controls of this camera.

Being I am used to film, and I never shot anything faster than ISO400 film, using the K20D at lower ISO's isn't bothering me......for now......

Also, I think in the same reasoning as you buying the Kx first, is to not spend the big bucks right away to be sure you are going to move forward with your hobby. You have obviously jumped over that line, and sounds like it was a great decision for you.

I am sure that sometime in the future I will upgrade to Pentax's flagship body as you did.

I enjoyed reading your post - reminded me of myself!

05-02-2011, 05:31 PM   #5
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A wonderful post. Thanks. it reminded me of how I got into buying the K10D and slowly upgraded to the K7. I have not got the K5 as yet as I am short of funds so saving up and getting the next model after the K5.
05-02-2011, 06:02 PM   #6
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Some of the pictures I took with my NEW K5

First is DA 55-300 at 210mm and wide open, 1/250sec. ISO 400

Second us my daughter SMC-A 50mm at F2.8 1/100 seco - ISO 200

Third is flowers with the SMC-A 50mm F2.8 1/100 sec at ISO 400

Fourth is 55-300mm at 230mm and wide open - handheld at 1/250 at ISO 800. Cropped 50% and darkened in Photoshop.

Final is 55-300mm at 135mm F4.5 at 1/200sec - wide open. ISO 160. Underexposed 0.7 stop (not needed).

All handheld.
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05-02-2011, 06:13 PM   #7
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And the dynamic range of the K5 - I am amazed

I never really explored the K-x and tested it limitations. Mostly used it as I would have used my old film cameras. However, I am realizing I am COMPLETELY missing out on the capabilties of these new digital cameras (or maybe the K-5 is truly exceptional??? I honestly don't know.) But see the pictures below. Same single exposure, and no detail was lost is neither highlights nor shadows.

I remember shooting Kodachome, and using a spotmeter to make carefully choose either highlight or shadows - because you couldn't get both. And all the work to capture a big dynamic range on B/W - shooting for highlights and developing for shadows?

I am utterly amzaed I can take one (ONE!!!!) shot, and be able to keep the highlights and the shadows this way. Those of you who shot film can appreciate

SMC-A 50mm F5.0 1/200sec Iso 100 handheld. Not a great picture, but I am just flappergasted that details and hightlights all hold.
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Last edited by HenrikDK; 09-01-2014 at 05:07 PM.
05-02-2011, 07:07 PM   #8
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The K-5 is an amazing camera and I understand the point of your original post.

This is an excellent example of why people should spend more money on glass and less money on the latest body.

Do the images from the 55-200mm look remotely sharp? It is a slow, soft lens that will result in soft images. There is a reason the 60-250 is $1,300.00 more expensive than the 55-200mm for a comparable focal length. The 60-250mm f/4 is a very sharp lens with excellent contrast and color.

You spent $1,500.00 on a camera and you have every right to do what you want with your money and the most important thing to make yourself happy. I would argue that for the same money a 60-250 f/4 and a used K-7 would have given you much better results than you will ever get from a 55-200mm and a K-5. It does not matter how good the sensor is if it has bad glass in front of it. No sensor can overcome the lens. The flip side is that a 43mm Ltd will take excellent images on any Pentax body you put it on. From a *ist to a K-5 the IQ will be outstanding.

05-02-2011, 08:12 PM   #9
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Excellent OP and responses - thanks for sharing! This is very valuable to me as I'm planning my own upgrade path. Currently I have just the K100dS and "basic" glass and I'm agonizing over what needs to be upgraded first - camera (to K-5) or glass. Winder has me leaning the glass direction; 16-50 looks tempting, but the silly engineer in me is just asking "isn't the 16-50 overkill on the 6 MP cam?" I'll try to figure that out another time.

It is reassuring to hear the stories of someone similar to one's self. In this case, I have this in common with HenrikDK:

- engineer
- Pentax film user decades ago
- Canon SxIS-series (I had S1, then S3)
- Finally Pentax digital body
- Enjoying photography a lot again

Thanks again.

Glenn
05-02-2011, 08:24 PM   #10
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Winder - You completely missed my point, and I defintely do NOT want to be made an example of why you should buy glass and not bodies

Lets put aside the fact that a 60-250 is $1500 by itself, so a used K-7 plus this lens is $2200 vs the $2900 for a new K-5 plus the same lens. Even buying the 60-250 lens and keeping my K-x would cause me to be out $400 more than just getting the K-5 (I'm selling my K-x). Also put aside the fact the all these shots were done handheld (stupid me - forgot the tripod) and shot wide open (hardly ideal for any lens). Lets ignore the fact I could have gone with higher ISO and a better aperture. Lets ignore the fact that the K-5 probably buys me 1 or 2 stops compared to K-7 and would allow me to shoot stopped down or at higher speed - improving quality in many situations. Ignore the fact it is a 55-300mm lens - tyipcially considered a lot sharper than the 50-200mm. Ignore the fact that I can't figure out whether to spend money on a super-wide angle, a macro, a fast prime, or (last) a tele - because I enjoy using them all...

I would LOVE to have a lens like the 60-250mm. Before that I would want to get 3 or 4 limited lenses. Do I need any of these - no. Would I enjoy them? Yes. Would I be better off with ONE more limited lens and the K-7 vs the K-5? Maybe. Would I enjoy it more - probably not. Would I take better pictures? In some instances - yes. In others the lower DR and lack of high ISO would create worse results.

I am not arguing that I made the choice that is better for you. I am arguing that maybe it is more important to sometimes do what makes you happy and not trying to justify your choices based on the final picture IQ, or the incremental improvement in pictures you are going to get.

I have been enjoying my K-5, and can't wait to try out the 16-45 lens I received today. Getting a 50mm F DA macro tomorrow. May get the cheap 35mm F2.4 as well. As I work with these I am sure I will figure out what lenses I prefer, and I can then upgrade as needed. The used price market on lenses certainly makes that possible.

Adding up the money I could have kept the K-x and gotten the 60-250mm lens - except that lens is not on my wishlist...

Of course I could also have followed the herd and been a Canikon We are all different - I made choices I am happy with. If you would do it differently by all means chip in. Just don't try to dismiss my choices as "bad".

Last edited by HenrikDK; 05-02-2011 at 08:31 PM.
05-02-2011, 08:50 PM   #11
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G

GlenG -

The curse of being an engineer and trying to quantify the benefit of all our choices. I can relate

I have actually been thinking about the 16-50mm as well - WR and IQ seems perfect. Have now marked it as NO - just seems to be to much chance of problems. Went with the 16-45mm instead, but I also want the 12-24mm, though the 15mm LTD would be lot smaller, and maybe I would use the 21mm LTD more, but now I am loosing the WR, though many say it is less important for the prime lenses, and the 40mm would be cool and the 43mm even more so but I could get three lenses for the prices of that, and.. oh well

Not helping here, but I am relating In the mean time I am perfectly at peace with my K-5 choice...
05-02-2011, 09:15 PM   #12
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The K-5 is a great camera, and I thought about buying one but I have a K-x and a K-7, with a number of fine lenses - an investment of several thousands of dollars – yet I’ll be buying more lenses instead of a K-5. The fact is glass is an investment whereas a body is not. But even more importantly, every time I mount a lens on any camera, I quickly see the difference. This isn’t the case with a new body. No matter how high the dynamic range or ISO, a sensor is not a substitute for glass.
05-02-2011, 09:28 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by HenrikDK Quote
Winder - You completely missed my point, and I defintely do NOT want to be made an example of why you should buy glass and not bodies

Lets put aside the fact that a 60-250 is $1500 by itself, so a used K-7 plus this lens is $2200 vs the $2900 for a new K-5 plus the same lens. Even buying the 60-250 lens and keeping my K-x would cause me to be out $400 more than just getting the K-5 (I'm selling my K-x). Also put aside the fact the all these shots were done handheld (stupid me - forgot the tripod) and shot wide open (hardly ideal for any lens). Lets ignore the fact I could have gone with higher ISO and a better aperture. Lets ignore the fact that the K-5 probably buys me 1 or 2 stops compared to K-7 and would allow me to shoot stopped down or at higher speed - improving quality in many situations. Ignore the fact it is a 55-300mm lens - tyipcially considered a lot sharper than the 50-200mm. Ignore the fact that I can't figure out whether to spend money on a super-wide angle, a macro, a fast prime, or (last) a tele - because I enjoy using them all...

I would LOVE to have a lens like the 60-250mm. Before that I would want to get 3 or 4 limited lenses. Do I need any of these - no. Would I enjoy them? Yes. Would I be better off with ONE more limited lens and the K-7 vs the K-5? Maybe. Would I enjoy it more - probably not. Would I take better pictures? In some instances - yes. In others the lower DR and lack of high ISO would create worse results.

I am not arguing that I made the choice that is better for you. I am arguing that maybe it is more important to sometimes do what makes you happy and not trying to justify your choices based on the final picture IQ, or the incremental improvement in pictures you are going to get.
Here is where we have a disconnect. What makes me happy is the final picture. All of my buying decisions are based on the quality of results I expect to receive. Why would you buy a K-5 if IQ was not a major criteria?

QuoteOriginally posted by HenrikDK Quote
I have been enjoying my K-5, and can't wait to try out the 16-45 lens I received today. Getting a 50mm F DA macro tomorrow. May get the cheap 35mm F2.4 as well. As I work with these I am sure I will figure out what lenses I prefer, and I can then upgrade as needed. The used price market on lenses certainly makes that possible.

Adding up the money I could have kept the K-x and gotten the 60-250mm lens - except that lens is not on my wishlist...

Of course I could also have followed the herd and been a Canikon We are all different - I made choices I am happy with. If you would do it differently by all means chip in. Just don't try to dismiss my choices as "bad".
I did not say it was a bad choice. You bought an excellent camera. And as I said. "you have every right to do what you want with your money and the most important thing to make yourself happy."

You can put it on a tripod. You can stop down with that extra DR and high-ISO and none of it will matter. Sharp is a relative term and everyone has their own idea what is acceptable. The 50-200 is not a sharp lens and not tripod is going to fix that. The lens needs to be stopped down to F/8 to be acceptable at most focal lengths. For snap shots and small prints the 50-200 is fine, but I assume people are not buying the $1,500.00 K-5 for snap shots.

I just shot concert where a "friend of the band" was there with his new 7D (just upgraded for a Rebel) with a Tamron 18-200 on it. The lens is slow, so any ISO advantage he had with the 7D is lost with the slow glass. The Tamron 18-200 is also very soft, so any advantage he might have from 18MP is wasted. Had the kid spent his money on fast/sharp glass and kept is Rebel he would have been getting much better results. The Kid machine gunned the entire event. I walked around with a lowly K-7 with a Sigma 50mm f/1.4 and a borrowed DA* 200 f/2.8 (really wishing Pentax would make a DA* 135mm f/1.8). The K-7 with good glass pretty much smoked the 7D with bad glass. I'm sure that kid is over on the Canon DPR forum complaining about his soft 7D and threatening to send it back to Canon.

A camera is only as good as the lens in front of it. The 60-250 f/4 may not have been on your wishlist, but that lens on a K-x will out preform a K-5 with a 50-200mm when it come to image quality. There is a reason the 60-250mm is so expensive compared to the 50-200.
05-02-2011, 09:34 PM   #14
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While I would generally agree that good glass is a better way to spend money than the 'latest and greatest' body, the K-5 is not just an upgrade, it is in a whole different league. All the advantages of the wonderful K-7 body (which I have as well) plus the best APSC sensor ever built. So, the best body and the best sensor available. The DR 'makes' better pictures and adds a dimension that even better glass cannot give. (I'm awaiting the FA43 to complete the holy trinity, and have quite a few DA ltd and * and other vintage lenses, so I know what good glass can do.) In my opinion the K-5 is the exception to the 'glass first' rule.

And besides, Henrik, sometimes you just have to take off your engineers hat and go with the gut instinct. : ) Congrats on the new camera, I'm sure it will give you much joy for many years.
05-02-2011, 09:35 PM   #15
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And one more thing on buying bodies..

Being the engineer I am I actually evalauted the cost of the K-5 bought new over time vs buying the "almost used" K-7 at Amazon ($710 today). A new k-7 is still around $900. A used K-7 seems to sell for around $650.

The K20D now fetches about $400, and started at about the same price as the K-7. So my guess is that the K-7 will sell for around the same in two years. That is a $500 drop from current new prices, and a $250 drop from used.

I am also guessing a used K-5 will sell for around $800 in two years. That is a $600 drop from what I just paid. That is a $100 higher drop than a new K-7, and a $350 higher drop than a used one. But for the $350 I get a brand new camera, and I added a two year pentax warranty for $20. Feel free to add the cost of capital!

So I am getting the better performance of the K-5, piece of mind of a 3 year warranty from Pentax, all for the ridiculous low price of $370

Isn't it amazing how we can justify our choices! You can alter these numbers as you see fit, and arrive at the conclusions you want.

And in terms of lenses as investments: While generally a lot better than bodies, the list price of the Pentax DA* 16-50mm was $1,499 and you can now buy it new for $799. Sure glad I didn't buy it when it first came out! Wish I had bought a lot more lenses before Hoya raised pentax prices, though. Maybe they will do it again...
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