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07-24-2011, 06:20 PM   #1
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Shooting nature/sunsets, what body and lens?

I started my amateur photography about 5 years ago with a K100d and the kit lens. Its been great to me over the years and has taken some excellent photographs, and still works well! Problem is my wife has gotten into photography recently and has taken a liking to my camera (not a bad thing!). I like to keep a camera with me when I'm out in case I see a stunning sunset, I have a passion for sunsets. So I need help finding another Pentax.

I'm looking at the K7 or the KR, and both seem like formidable cameras. I'm wondering in your experience which one is better for sunsets/outdoor photography. I've heard from some the K7 lacks in high ISO ranges but others say it can be made up for with good glass. Should I forego the kit lens altogether and get a prime? While I like the WR of the K7 and seems like it would be a nice feature to have, I've never had any trouble with my non-wr K100. My main concern is which one would take the better photos.

07-24-2011, 06:30 PM   #2
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personally, i'd go with the k-r on the merit of its greater dyanamic range (dxomark places k7 at about 10 stop whereas the k-r is about 12 stops)

as for the kit lens, i've found it to be quite decent at landscapes. If you really want to get a prime, there are several to pick from. since it seems like you'll be shooting landscapes, you should generally be looking for wide angle lenses. Modern AF primes include the DA14, DA15 limited and DA21 limited. As for third party, the only one that comes to mind at the moment is my own Rokinon(samyang)14mm f/2.8.

since you're looking to shoot sunsets, you might want to consider a graduated neutral density filter. Basically, this makes half of your frame darker by a few stops, making it easier to get a much more balanced exposure between the sky and the ground.
07-24-2011, 06:44 PM   #3
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I own the K100D, the K-7 and the K-R. They're all great. The K-R has the advantage in the IQ department, handles low light very well and it's much lighter than the K-7. It could, however, be the loudest camera in the world. The K-7 is so quiet by comparison. When I go to my friend's wedding in September I'm bringing the K-7. I took the K-R to the museum this weekend and took pics in very dark rooms, something I couldn't have managed(as well) with the K-7 or K100D. The K-R has the highest IQ technically, but there is something magical about the K100D. I still take a lot of my favorite pictures with the K100D. I am going to sell it soon; it's going to be missed.

For lenses. I am saving up for the Pentax 12-24mm. The IQ is great on that lens. I am also considering the 15mm limited and the Rokinon 14. If you want to get the whole horizon Sigma has highly regarded 10-20 and 8-16mm lenses. Check out the clubs for the specific lenses and enjoy the shots.

adpo, how do you like that Rokinon 14? Not enough shots in the Samyang club.

Last edited by kenafein; 07-24-2011 at 06:49 PM.
07-24-2011, 06:57 PM   #4
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I too started with the K100 and go for sunsets. A couple of years ago I moved to the K20. So here are a few items I can comment on that may apply to both of your questions on bodies and lenses...

Bodies - The Kr and K7 are at opposite ends of Pentax's camera lineup. A few questions first.
  • Do you like the K100's top window - the Kr does not have it.
  • Do you use a wired shutter release - the Kr does not have it - only the IR.
  • Do you shoot ISO higher than 800? - if not not the Kr's higher ISO capability will not matter.
  • Would you use ISO 100? - if so the Kr does not have it.
  • Would you use the 2 second mirror up with bracketing - if so the Kr is limited like the K100 within the menu structure.
  • The K100 is reasonably small. Would you like to stay small or possibly go somewhat larger?
  • The K100 has a single thumb wheel. Would you like to stay with a single wheel or go to two wheels (one in the front and one in the back)?

Lenses - I am going to assume that you are currently using the kit lens.
  • Do you stitch images together at all?
  • What limitations are you having with your present set of lens(es)?
  • At what focal length do you usually shoot at?
  • Do you feel you need a faster lens?
  • Do you feel you want to go with a wider angle lens? If so - how much wider - a lot or a little?
  • Why do you feel you want a prime - better image quality or ?????
  • Does lens size/weight matter to you?

Overall it boils down to what you like and how you use the camera. For me - I really like the K20 with the 2 wheels, and the ability to use the wired shutter release and bracketing with the 2 second mirror up delay. I use the tripod a lot. There is nothing inherently wrong with the kit lens - its an actually very good lens. You have been using it for 5 years now. There is nothing magical about a prime either. Wide angle lenses in general - and I think that is where you are thinking of going, do cost some money. There is the 15mm and 14mm available that are wider than the kit. There is also the 12-24 which is very sharp and gives you a lot of versatility - and its like using a bag full of primes - however its a larger lens. Again, it goes back to the questions above.

I am going to be very partial here, but I do like the convenience and control of the K20, so I would tend to go with the K7 - which would also give you a bit slower ISO that would potentially increase your image quality. Both the K7 and Kr have CMOS sensors which is different than the CCD sensor in your K100D.

Lens wise, the 14mm is somewhat large - similar to the 12-24, while the 15 is small and very pocketable. There is also the 20mm and the 21 too, that are a tad narrower. That is why I asked the question of what focal lengths do you usually use currently, and do you want to go wider that what you currently have at your disposal?




Last edited by interested_observer; 07-24-2011 at 07:07 PM.
07-24-2011, 06:58 PM   #5
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the rokinon is a beast, simply the sharpest lens i own, even wide open. the amount of detail it manages to get is simply mind boggling at times, especially if you like to pop in to 100% while editing. It handles flare very well and i've yet to see any CA or purple fringing from it. The distortion is pretty much its only downside honestly, and i can live with that since it makes my pictures look wider so if you can live with the distortion, its a fantastic wide angle.
07-24-2011, 07:02 PM   #6
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The K-r does do ISO100. You just have to enable it in the settings.
07-24-2011, 07:06 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by adpo Quote
the rokinon is a beast, simply the sharpest lens i own, even wide open. the amount of detail it manages to get is simply mind boggling at times, especially if you like to pop in to 100% while editing. It handles flare very well and i've yet to see any CA or purple fringing from it. The distortion is pretty much its only downside honestly, and i can live with that since it makes my pictures look wider so if you can live with the distortion, its a fantastic wide angle.
Yeah I read about the distortion on photozone. They loved the lens overall, but said it was unusable for architecture. Have you tried any architecture shots? Have you been able to correct them to your satisfaction during PP? I know I'm going to buy that 8mm fisheye of theirs, I've loved all the shots I've seen from it. Sadly I gave up on the 85mm since I bought my Tamron 90.
07-24-2011, 07:54 PM   #8
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What is it that you find limiting about the K100? It would seem that knowing that would determine which would be the more appropriate next camera.

Paul

07-24-2011, 08:30 PM   #9
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I would suspect that either the k-r or the k-7 would be fine for sunsets. As for lenses, if you're entirely satisfied with what you're getting with the kit lens, there's no compelling reason to go for a prime. To be sure, a prime would provide somewhat better IQ (which would largely mean, in terms of sunsets, greater microcontrast and better overall color rendition). The only caveat I would suggest, in terms of primes, is that I don't think it's absolutely necessary to choose an ultra-wide angle. You need a really spectacular sunset which lights up the whole sky to get the most out of the ultra-wide. A somewhat narrow lens will allow you to capture more of the actual sun. 35mm and 28mm are two of my favorite sunset focal lengths. The following sunset was taken with a 35mm lens:



The other advantage to 28 and 35mm primes is they tend to cost less than the ultra-wide primes. The DA 35/2.4 is the least expensive prime in the current Pentax line-up, and a used Pentax 28mm lenses, such as the M 28/3.5, often sell for under $100.
07-24-2011, 08:33 PM   #10
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havent tried it yet for architecture, i'll post up some in the lens club if i ever get to it
07-24-2011, 08:34 PM   #11
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I had the k100D before, it was a backup camera for my K10D; now I have the k-7. So, perhaps, I can share with you what I think the K-7 is worth it, although both K-7 and K-r are good choices.

After getting used to the two-dial system I don't think I will ever be able to get comfortable to a single dial system. The advanced features on the K-7 such as TAv mode (operates with two dials) makes taking photos in challenging situation more fun. In Canikon world that is called Auto ISO, but it is implemented slightly different than TAv mode which is far more flexible with EV compensation. The brighter viewfinder (penta-prism vs mirror), more advanced metering system and other feature controls are much easier to access with the dials and buttons. On the other hand, the K-r has a better and new sensor and likely more dynamic range than the k-7. And as you know, a k-7 with better sensor and AF system would be a k-5.
07-24-2011, 09:36 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by bigburb Quote
I I have a passion for sunsets. So I need help finding another Pentax.
I think a ND Grad filter & tripod would actually be more valuable tools for capturing great sunset photos than even a new body and lens. Sunsets/Sunrises have extreme DR that no camera is capable to capturing fully, but an grad ND and/or reverse ND can tame the scene.
07-25-2011, 06:45 PM   #13
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I use my k7 and usually the 16-50 and 50-135 lenses. I'm very happy with the results I get. I shoot more sunrises than sunsets, but they're about the same.

Here's one I shot with the 50-135. I boosted the exposure about a stop, and the saturation about 15-25 if I remember correctly. I always underexpose a little because it makes the effect more dramatic. I'm able to pull the shadows and exposure up with PSE8 or CS5. I'm sure all programs will do this equally well. Exposure was 1/200, f3.5, ISO 640 and -1 exposure.

I usually use these burnt sky photo's as backdrops for pictures of my family.

I will usually shoot sunrises at the beach and combine a sky with a more properly exposed photo of the water to get the DR I want.

Also, I almost always use a tripod for landscape photo's.
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Last edited by Snydly; 07-25-2011 at 06:58 PM.
07-25-2011, 07:44 PM   #14
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Wow these are all great replies, thanks so much! Two dials does seem like it would be nice, it is kind of annoying having to dig down into the menu system sometimes when trying to dial in a shot. I also like the top LCD of my K100. Probably my only gripe with the K100 is the AF is kind of slow and gets confuzzled sometimes.

Its not that I would prefer a prime, its just I heard a prime lens can make up for the k7's low light problems. That is a wonderful 35mm shot.
07-25-2011, 07:57 PM   #15
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Go for Pentax K7! The body's weather sealing feature combining it with any DA* or WR lenses is great and helpful for landscape/nature photography. =)

Here's my example using my K7 with a kit lens only:

Pentax K7 + Pentax DA 18-55mm @ 55mm; ISO 100, TV 1/6 sec, AV f/13
(Note: When I was shooting, there's a water sprinkler at my back-right side and me and my camera were all wet. No problem! hehe...)

Last edited by richard balonglong; 07-25-2011 at 08:14 PM.
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