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03-03-2014, 02:50 AM   #1
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Not sure which to bite, New K30 or used K5II

I sometimes wish this forum would give me an answer. But as all great forums go, the members do not decide for another. They merely provide clear, objective information that assists the poster in deciding for him/herself. And keeping in line with that tradition, here goes...

2 years of shooting with a K100D Super and I have decided that to do bird photography, there is a need for higher ISO and shutter speed. I have managed to crank the maximum out of my K100DS with a Takumar 200mm f4 prime and the A 50mm f1.7. The best results I could get are of these tiny Sunbirds that belong to the Hummingbird family. All of 4 inches and extremely fast. Keeping the ISO at the maximum acceptable 800 and a shutter speed of 1/200 secs and 1/500 at 200mm and 100mm respectively, these were the best of my ability.

200mm f8 1/200s ISO 800 100% crop


50mm f3.2 1/500 ISO 800 100% crop



I understand that the K30 and K5 II are very similar in IQ. My major requirement is:

Great IQ
High ISO performance
User friendly with manual lenses since I shoot MF 90% of the time
Would love a top LCD. Have moved from the MZ-50 SLR to K100DS.

I have gone through this very informative post and find that the K5 II is decisively sharper at full crop although it is hard to make out straight out of the camera. Fortunately, Ricoh has released Pentax in India with a lovely 3 year warranty. The choices I have are

New K30 with 18-55 WR for $500
New K5II body $1145
Used K5 II body from unknown seller in UAE for $675 (No warranty)

Is there anything I will seriously miss from the K5II w.r.t taking high IQ shots? I will be using the AA battery adapter for extended power. Most of my photography is candid, portraits, macro and more recently, birds.

Thank you.

03-03-2014, 03:15 AM   #2
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Since both of those cameras are discontinued, I'd buy the least expensive, new with warranty one. The k-5ii was recently cleared out in the US for $599USD.
03-03-2014, 04:37 AM   #3
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I don't think the K30 is a good alternative for manual control/manual lenses. I mentor someone using it and I find it has too many limitation/inconveniences for the advanced user--e.g., does not allow exposure compensation in manual exposure mode.

I suggest a K20d (I use/about $250. here in US used) or the K5II (which I have not used but clearly is also pro/semi-pro.).
03-03-2014, 04:46 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by dansamy Quote
Since both of those cameras are discontinued, I'd buy the least expensive, new with warranty one. The k-5ii was recently cleared out in the US for $599USD.
Thank you for that information. I have written to Ricoh India asking if the K5 II will be available at the new discounted price. I doubt it will happen but no harm in trying. I would go for a new one with a warranty too.

---------- Post added 03-03-14 at 05:21 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
I don't think the K30 is a good alternative for manual control/manual lenses. I mentor someone using it and I find it has too many limitation/inconveniences for the advanced user--e.g., does not allow exposure compensation in manual exposure mode.
May I ask what your experience was? My experience on the K100DS and A lenses is to set it in the Av, Tv or Auto mode, try a photo, then change the EV to + or - and again shoot.

When I use the full manual Vivitar MC 50mm 1.7, I use the M mode, set the aperture on the lens, use the stop down metering and shoot. It should be the same on the K30 right?

For M42 lenses, I set the lens to the Auto mode, again use the Av on the camera and shoot, Normally M42 lenses need an EV of +2.0 which I set on the camera.

Please let me know if the K30 lacks any of these.

03-03-2014, 05:14 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
I don't think the K30 is a good alternative for manual control/manual lenses. I mentor someone using it and I find it has too many limitation/inconveniences for the advanced user--e.g., does not allow exposure compensation in manual exposure mode.
Maybe I'm missing something, but I can control the exposure compensation with my K-30 in manual mode. I use old manual lenses all the time and use the Green Button to get the metering, and then make adjustments from there, adjusting the exp comp as needed.

I use my k-30 all the time for hummingbirds using 100mm, 135mm & 200mm manual lenses and the images are so sharp you can see the details of the tinest feathers. For hummers I like to use a flash and tripod, but I have great results handheld too.

I took the picture of the hummer with a m-200 and the finch was with an a-135

Last edited by Kendigitize; 05-29-2014 at 02:28 PM.
03-03-2014, 07:04 AM   #6
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If you do a lot of video, go with the K30 (better control). If not, go with K5 series. They have a wider dynamic range and 14 bit color. The mark2 versions of the K5 have better AF, and can focus in near darkness. If you have some premium lenses, you may want to get a K5iis to utilize the filterless sensor.
Good luck, and as long it says Pentax on the front, you'll love it.
03-03-2014, 07:10 AM   #7
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I have switched from K-30 to K-5iis. The K-5 is better in pretty much every aspect but it doesn't have Focus Peaking which is great for MF. If I did a lot of manual focus , I think I would go for the K-30. The ISO performance is very similar as far as I can tell.
03-03-2014, 07:35 AM   #8
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I would go with the cheapest body that does what you need. The K30 has two dial (front and back) so using it in P mode is awesome. It's missing the top LCD but most of the info can be seen in the viewfinder/rear LCD. On my Kr what I miss most is the extra shutter speed that the K5 offers (1/6000 vs 1/8000). Noise control is also a bit better on the K5. But the K30 is very close to a K5 and not too far behind a K5II. Kr does all I need and the K30 is a nice upgrade to it, new sensor, new focus engine, dual dials... I prefer the K5 but I don't mind using the Kr at all, a K30 would be luxury.

Get the K30, get a warranty and you get a 18-55 which isn't a great lens but you can still manage some beautiful shots with it. And then put some money toward a good lens.

Here are a few shots I took with my Kr, the K30 cheaper, older brother. The hummingbirds were shot with an A50mm f/1.7 and the other pictures with the kit 18-55.

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03-03-2014, 07:39 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by maxxxx Quote
I have switched from K-30 to K-5iis. The K-5 is better in pretty much every aspect but it doesn't have Focus Peaking which is great for MF. If I did a lot of manual focus , I think I would go for the K-30. The ISO performance is very similar as far as I can tell.
I had a K30 as back-up to my K5 (original) the K30's focus peaking is great, but I prefer the K5 for almost everything else, and it has a much larger buffer -useful if you shoot RAW. My son now hs the K-30 and I am back with my K5
03-03-2014, 08:44 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by manacho2005 Quote
If you do a lot of video, go with the K30 (better control). If not, go with K5 series. They have a wider dynamic range and 14 bit color. The mark2 versions of the K5 have better AF, and can focus in near darkness. If you have some premium lenses, you may want to get a K5iis to utilize the filterless sensor.
Good luck, and as long it says Pentax on the front, you'll love it.
I do no video at all. I love still photography. And I have no premium lenses. All old manual focus, "A" series M42 lenses. The only modern lens I have is the DAL 18-250mm. If the K5 series come down to an affordable price, I think I look at them but the focus peaking is still gnawing at me.

---------- Post added 03-03-14 at 09:29 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by maxxxx Quote
I have switched from K-30 to K-5iis. The K-5 is better in pretty much every aspect but it doesn't have Focus Peaking which is great for MF. If I did a lot of manual focus , I think I would go for the K-30. The ISO performance is very similar as far as I can tell.
Thank you, I do use mostly MF lenses as their images are really sharp for budget photography. It looks like the IQ is not substantially different unless one pixel peeps.

---------- Post added 03-03-14 at 10:14 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by fgaudet Quote
I would go with the cheapest body that does what you need. The K30 has two dial (front and back) so using it in P mode is awesome. It's missing the top LCD but most of the info can be seen in the viewfinder/rear LCD. On my Kr what I miss most is the extra shutter speed that the K5 offers (1/6000 vs 1/8000). Noise control is also a bit better on the K5. But the K30 is very close to a K5 and not too far behind a K5II. Kr does all I need and the K30 is a nice upgrade to it, new sensor, new focus engine, dual dials... I prefer the K5 but I don't mind using the Kr at all, a K30 would be luxury.

Get the K30, get a warranty and you get a 18-55 which isn't a great lens but you can still manage some beautiful shots with it. And then put some money toward a good lens.

Here are a few shots I took with my Kr, the K30 cheaper, older brother. The hummingbirds were shot with an A50mm f/1.7 and the other pictures with the kit 18-55.
Thank you. I think I would go with what I can afford now. The K30 with the 18-135 WR kit lens is retailing for $790. This is a bit of a stretch but it would be nice to have a WR kit as the monsoons in India can get really wet and offer great photo opportunities. But I did find some beautfiful shots with the 18-55 WR lens here. So it has its capabilities too. I would go with the warranty for sure now after reading everyone's inputs.

The hummingbird shots are great. How did you manage to get so close to them with a 50mm prime? were you hiding behind a camouflage or is this through a one-sided mirror?
03-03-2014, 10:38 AM   #11
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I'm not sure what method fgaudet uses to attract hummingbirds, but I just set up a feeder and stand next to it. If it's a feeder they normally eat from, you can stand right next to the feeder with a 50mm and the hummers will eventually show up and buzz around your head. This is on my patio with lots of other flowers that the hummers freqent, so out in the wild they may not be as friendly or willing to stay put for long.

The hummer with the green background was a 135mm and the blue was a 50mm.
The last one was with an 18-135wr and flash. All shots taken at about 3-8 feet.

Last edited by Kendigitize; 05-29-2014 at 02:28 PM.
03-03-2014, 11:33 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kendigitize Quote
I'm not sure what method fgaudet uses to attract hummingbirds, but I just set up a feeder and stand next to it.
Exactly that. Got a feeder next to my window, which I leave open to take photographs. By the end of summer the hummingbird will eat sugary water right out of my hand.

Also, I would set up next to the window on a tripod, with my 50 and sometimes wait for hours until I get a worthy shot. Where my feeder is, I only get a couple of hours of proper light for 1/1000 shutter speed. Any slower and there is too much motion blur on the wings for my taste.
03-03-2014, 11:35 AM   #13
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My experience? I assume you mean w/ K-30. As I said I mentor someone w/ the K-30 and the biggest problem is you cannot set exposure adjustment (+/- e.v.) in manual (M) mode--which is what you need for K and M lenses. Of course you can manually adjust the f-stop or shutter sped after taking the exposure but that takes time which depending on the scenario can mean a lost shot--anyway my K-x has the same problem and for my theater photography it has not worked well.

I also found there are extra steps to turn off the rear screen which is annoying (especially in the theater w/ live audience)--it always seems to stay on after I half push push the shutter. Also the lack of the top dial and the body design (the latter is user specific), and lack of e.v. adjust (in M mode) make it harder to use longer glass--especially under faster pace, uneven low light scenarios.

The modes I normally use are AV w/ older screw mount lenses and zone focusing for street photography, and M w/ bayonet lenses--I also use/have PKA lenses, but I generally prefer M mode, use aperture ring, and spot metering. I think the camera ergonomics are key to a higher success/keeper rate--and for me the K-30 (and the K-x which I have and find similar) are problematic in M mode, as I said above, but they work really great in AV mode w/ takumar lens zone focused.

---------- Post added 03-03-14 at 11:54 AM ----------

As I think I made clear above: yes, you can use e.v. adjust in AV mode--but not in M mode--which is my major difficulty w/ the camera. If you have any M or K lenses, and are used to using e.v. adjustment, then you may find it very inconvenient to not have it.

Think about the moderately older film cameras--not having e.v. adjust in auto exposure is similar to a dslr and not having e.v. adjust when pushing the green button in M mode.

Of course it all comes down to what works for you/and this is my experience.

Last edited by dms; 03-03-2014 at 11:43 AM.
03-03-2014, 02:12 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
I also found there are extra steps to turn off the rear screen which is annoying (especially in the theater w/ live audience)--it always seems to stay on after I half push push the shutter. Also the lack of the top dial and the body design (the latter is user specific), and lack of e.v. adjust (in M mode) make it harder to use longer glass--especially under faster pace, uneven low light scenarios.

---------- Post added 03-03-14 at 11:54 AM ----------

As I think I made clear above: yes, you can use e.v. adjust in AV mode--but not in M mode--which is my major difficulty w/ the camera. If you have any M or K lenses, and are used to using e.v. adjustment, then you may find it very inconvenient to not have it.

Think about the moderately older film cameras--not having e.v. adjust in auto exposure is similar to a dslr and not having e.v. adjust when pushing the green button in M mode.

Of course it all comes down to what works for you/and this is my experience.
I have an SMC-m pentax 100mm on my K-30 with the dial set to M, and I am able to adjust the ev comp without any problem.

To turn off the screen: press info button twice, the timer button twice and press ok. It is a few steps, but once you get used to it, it's pretty quick to do.
03-04-2014, 01:21 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kendigitize Quote
I'm not sure what method fgaudet uses to attract hummingbirds, but I just set up a feeder and stand next to it. If it's a feeder they normally eat from, you can stand right next to the feeder with a 50mm and the hummers will eventually show up and buzz around your head. This is on my patio with lots of other flowers that the hummers freqent, so out in the wild they may not be as friendly or willing to stay put for long.

The hummer with the green background was a 135mm and the blue was a 50mm.
The last one was with an 18-135wr and flash. All shots taken at about 3-8 feet.
I was searching for clear bird photos and your post certainly proves it. I have definitely decided on the K30 now and just need to decide between the 18-55 WR or the 18-135 WR. What I find surprising is that the birds here in India almost never come within even 10 feet of humans. I have kept a bird house in my balcony about 10 feet high and even after 4 months, there's not even a casual visit. If you have birds coming so close, it must be wonderful to capture their photos. Perhaps I need to study more on bird keeping. The first photo is just superb. If that is the clarity the K30 can give, its certainly worth it.

---------- Post added 03-04-14 at 01:57 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by fgaudet Quote
Exactly that. Got a feeder next to my window, which I leave open to take photographs. By the end of summer the hummingbird will eat sugary water right out of my hand.

Also, I would set up next to the window on a tripod, with my 50 and sometimes wait for hours until I get a worthy shot. Where my feeder is, I only get a couple of hours of proper light for 1/1000 shutter speed. Any slower and there is too much motion blur on the wings for my taste.
It must be fascinating to have the bird literally eating out of your hand. The second photo that I posted was with the 50mm at about 8 feet away. The bird was building a nest but wouldn't come anywhere close as long as I was there. I propped a chair down, put a brownish blanket over myself with just the lens peeping out and waited without moving for several minutes till it came back. Maybe its the demophobia the birds develop seeing a billion people falling over themselves. Whatever the reason, I would love to have birds eating out of my hand.

---------- Post added 03-04-14 at 02:06 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
My experience? I assume you mean w/ K-30. As I said I mentor someone w/ the K-30 and the biggest problem is you cannot set exposure adjustment (+/- e.v.) in manual (M) mode--which is what you need for K and M lenses. Of course you can manually adjust the f-stop or shutter sped after taking the exposure but that takes time which depending on the scenario can mean a lost shot--anyway my K-x has the same problem and for my theater photography it has not worked well.

I also found there are extra steps to turn off the rear screen which is annoying (especially in the theater w/ live audience)--it always seems to stay on after I half push push the shutter. Also the lack of the top dial and the body design (the latter is user specific), and lack of e.v. adjust (in M mode) make it harder to use longer glass--especially under faster pace, uneven low light scenarios.

Of course it all comes down to what works for you/and this is my experience.
Thank you for all the information. As I have only A-series lenses, this issue could be avoided hopefully by using the Av mode. However, as there are so many features packed into the K30, there should be other ways to achieving the end result.
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