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01-24-2014, 11:20 PM   #1
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Which camera to buy?

Hi
I am new to the forum and this is my first post, so I will quickly introduce myself as well. I live in South Africa and have always admired beautiful photographs. I bought a K100D Pentax many years ago and have only played with it here and there. I have a business and would love to take my own product photos and maybe in the far future specialize in product photography. I started doing a lot of courses last year and have come to realise that the K100D with its 6M is probably not going to be good enough to produce photos for posters.

I have been drooling over the K-3 and have just about enough money to buy it. However, I can get a K-5 for half the price. What would you recommend I do: go for the latest and greatest and know it will be good for many years, or buy a K-5. From the specs it doesn't look as if I need more than the K-5, but I am hankering after the K-3. Any advice?

01-25-2014, 01:02 AM - 1 Like   #2
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The K-5 II / IIs are great cameras and will be fine for many years to come. A good buy right now and will leave money over for a decent lens. But if you hanker after the K-3, then get it - otherwise you'll only have regrets later

Last edited by percy; 01-25-2014 at 01:15 AM.
01-25-2014, 01:25 AM - 1 Like   #3
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Hi, welcome to the forums. I guess it'll depend on what lenses you currently have...if your current lenses can do the job, I'll go for the K-3, if not, I'll go for the K-5II's and a good lens..
01-25-2014, 02:13 AM   #4
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Thanks for the replies. Apart from the standard kit lenses, I have a D FA Macro 50 2.8 specifically for the product photography. I am very happy with it.

I think the K-3 is calling my name.

01-25-2014, 02:21 AM - 1 Like   #5
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Ditto. Welcome to the forum, which is a wealth of info on all things Pentax and photography in general.

I have to agree with Christo's recommendation, that you need to consider your lens requirements first, and then consider the best camera you can afford. I generally advise people considering DSLR kit to budget 2-3X the camera cost on lenses, or otherwise not really to bother. This is a bit simplistic, as some may only need 1 or 2 lens for a particular style of shooting, but it serves to emphasize that it is not so much about the camera as the glass that couples to it. For info, the K-5 is a brilliant camera, and the AF system of the K-5ii is even better.

Also remember that Pentax is a bit of a fringe product in SA and sometimes new and good second hand kit is a bit hard to find. But import is fairly easy if a bit pricy compared to raw cost in USA.

BTW: what part of SA do you hail from?

Last edited by KevinR; 01-25-2014 at 02:29 AM.
01-25-2014, 02:37 AM - 1 Like   #6
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I'd just like to point out you should buy a flash first and try that out with your K-100D for product photography. A new camera can follow if you need resolution.
01-25-2014, 02:38 AM   #7
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Thanks Kevin. I live in JHB. How do you import a camera? I tried to order from Amazon just to see what the shipping would be and was told that Pentax does not ship to South Africa. I concluded that maybe only Pentax SA is allowed to bring it in? I would love to order from the USA as it seems cheaper than what I can find here. I have read that the warranty is only valid for local purchases, which makes sense as the shipping back and forth if something goes wrong will be a nightmare.

It is good to see so many South Africans with a Pentax (or two or three )
01-25-2014, 03:48 AM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Giklab Quote
I'd just like to point out you should buy a flash first and try that out with your K-100D for product photography. A new camera can follow if you need resolution.
I agree that you want to look at the lighting setup first, then the lens(es), and then the camera.

For product photography you may need to get background(s), product photo 'tents,' or similar items, as well as light(s). It depends a lot on the type of product.


In some cases you don't want super-high resolution for product photos; in other cases you may. For example, you seldom want to use a macro lens, because it exaggerates flaws or dust beyond what we notice in real life. It's entirely possible a kit lens and the K100D will do fine here (and I normally recommend and use better lenses, but I kept my DA L 18-55 lens for purposes just as this). I had a K100D Super, and it took very nice images. Product photography isn't necessarily very demanding on the camera, in terms of needing the latest features. But I realize there are other cases where it's even appropriate to get (or rent) a 40MP or 80MP medium format camera for product photography (which, BTW, have high quality but also may lack some newer, unneeded "features").

In any case, for larger posters you should be prepared to uprez your photos if necessary. You either want to use the current version of Photoshop, or OnOne's Perfect Resize. If possible you should try Perfect Resize with the K100D using the appropriate lens and lighting first, before investing in a new camera.

01-25-2014, 04:49 AM   #9
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Thanks DSims. I have various backgrounds and props and also a light tent. I want to take photos similar to food photography, as opposed to a white background. The products are handmade so I want a more artistic look. I do have two continuous lights, but like the natural light photos the most. I have considered buying lights, but am not sure what to get. I guess one or two off-camera flashes with diffusers may be best?

I hear what you say about the macro lens and have experienced exactly that: it shows up every little flaw. I have a 18-55 kit lens, but the photos are not sharp enough. The sharpness with the macro lens is much better. I also like a shallow DOF which is so easy to create with the macro lens. My 3rd lens is a 75-300 kit lens, but it seems to flatten the photo too much.

Thank you for the tips on the larger posters. I just googled Perfect Resize. I didn't even know such a product existed.
01-25-2014, 05:08 AM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by sunshine2 Quote
have come to realise that the K100D with its 6M is probably not going to be good enough to produce photos for posters.
Ah, yes. For websites 6MP is great, but for large prints (bigger than A4) , it might not be. There is a big difference between 6MP and 16MP. But you should still do a test. It won't cost much to print just one photograph and see how good it is. Don't forget to add some extra sharpness.
If you are on a budget and don't need fast AF, think about the K-01. It has stellar image performance and 16MP, with a very low AA-filter (arguably, photos are sharper than with the K-5 classic). Only problem with the K-01 is that it is.. well, not a DSLR. It has no viewfinder and its AF is not as snappy. But pure image performance? Great, especially considering the price. And you might get an awesome DA 40mm XS lens with it.
Also, for posters, two other things are critical. One is post processing (you will need to shoot raw and sharpen the photographs in post) and printing (find a good print store, a good printer will be able to help you out with the settings and adjustments. A bad printer can even introduce IQ-loss during. And by printer, I mean the person, not only machine.)

Last edited by Na Horuk; 01-25-2014 at 05:15 AM.
01-25-2014, 06:44 AM - 1 Like   #11
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Welcome to the forums!!!

When you say poster size, just how large are you considering? I still have my K100 and also a K5 (the original or "classic"). I have printed with my K5 a 20" x 30" and the detail is absolutely stunning (landscapes and architecture). For product photography, I would agree that the K-01 is certainly worth considering. You are going to use the rear screen anyway, so lack of a viewfinder should not be a problem.

What focal length are you using that appeals to your product best - especially when you see the 18-55 is not cutting it? If the 50 macro shows way too much detail (and the right focal length), and the 18-55 not enough, something like an older A 50mm f1.7 should probably do very well.

The more resolution you have (thinking K3), the better the lens you are going to need to actually realize - make use of the resolution. Even to really be able to see the difference between the K5/K5II and the K5IIs (which has the Anti-Aliasing filter removed resulting in an 8% increase in resolution) you need the best glass to be able to see the difference.

B&H Camera ships to South Africa - for $107USThe differences between the K5/K5II/K5IIs/K-01/K30/K50 (all using the 16MP sensor) and the K3 is primary resolution, in your product photography scenario. Better AF, AF tracking moving objects, light metering, white balance are all pretty much a moot point since you are using lighting in a studio setting, and using manual focusing. The larger difference is going to be acquiring the glass you are going to want.

I would use your 18-55 to determine the focal length that works best for your situation, then start looking / asking about the best lenses for that focal length. There are a ton of videos on Youtube that show various lighting techniques for various situations. Also, the size of the resulting product - how large a print - how large a poster, etc. With that, there is a lot of talent here (professional photographers too), that can help and make suggestions.

Last edited by interested_observer; 01-25-2014 at 07:00 AM.
01-25-2014, 08:27 AM - 1 Like   #12
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I would highly recommend the K-50 instead. You will save money, have outstanding photographs and it is a more beginner friendly camera. The magnesium bodies of the K-5 and K-3 are useful for someone who is going outdoors on adventures, but for studio work the K-50 is more than durable enough. The K-50 has focus peaking, the K-5 does not. I think an old Takumar 28mm or 50mm might give your creations a more vintage look, and the focus peaking is useful for that. (one of the K-mount manual focus lenses may do the trick, too). The old lenses have a certain look to them that is very sharp, but not "clinical" like a modern lens.

I think you are better saving money on the body and putting it towards flashes and a nice vintage lens.
01-25-2014, 08:46 AM   #13
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Thank you for the info that B&H ships to SA. That is just fantastic news. I did the calculations and even with transport and our taxes it will be reasonable.

Even though the macro lens is showing all the warts in the products, I really like the crispness that it produces. The products are handmade so a bit of imperfections showing is not a bad thing. I bought the 50mm 2.8 D FA Macro after chatting to someone in my local camera shop specifically for the product photography, so I would like to stick with it for now.

I use natural light at the moment. I have a set-up in front of a window that is very light but doesn't get direct sunlight. It works quite well. I have a continuous table and a light tent (which I don't use at the moment. I have a couple of small mirrors to enhance the light where I need it. I am worried that if I go and get lights now, I may end up buying the wrong stuff. I don't use the flash on my K100D as I don't like what it does to the pictures. I just adjust the exposure to get what I want. I use a good tripod so can use fairly long shutter speeds etc.

The posters will in general be A2 size, but for the shop wall I want one that is 41.7 X 28 inches. What I have done up to now is to buy stock images for promotional posters, but would really like to have the actual products in them.

I really feel like a beginner. I have done some online courses through creativeLIVE: Free Live Video Tutorials & Online Training Courses. Five day photography fundamentals and a 3-day table top photography course as well as watching a great many youtube videos. I have seen the type of lights they use, but don't even know where to start looking for them in South Africa.

Maybe what I really need to do is stick with what I have and practice lots and lots and "reward" myself with a better camera when I have made enough progress. I may post some of my photos in the critique section. As I say, I am a beginner but what better way to learn than to let people with experience tell me what I need to improve on?
01-25-2014, 09:52 AM   #14
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I have ordered twice from B&H of NY with courier via UPS. But Adorama is also an option. Shipping was very efficient about 4-5days from order. The duties and tax position is you paid 7% duties on cameras and no duties on pure seperate lens purchase, but you will pay on the full price is camera bundled with lenses. Then you also pay 14% VAT on the full converted value of the deal (including courier).

So it can be a saving if you import, but warrantee ..??? Touch wood I have been ok. But you should also check the local sources as sometimes the price difference is quite low. Also they sometimes have older stock that was imported at a lower exchange rate value. About 7-9mths ago, I could have bought a DA*300 locally for R14k but that price jumped quickly to R18k locally as the rand devalued from 7.5-10 and is still advertised at this price. If you import and pay full price of $1400 you will pay about R17k at R10/$. But we all know it is R11/$ at the moment. So check your numbers.
01-25-2014, 10:09 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by sunshine2 Quote
I think the K-3 is calling my name.
Sometimes I try and save a few bucks by compromising on something in between buying nothing, and buying what I really want. Most of the time I buy what I really want. The only buys I ever regret later are the compromises.
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