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04-03-2014, 05:14 AM   #1
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K100D Onwards...

Hi to everyone


I am having a bit of a conundrum and since I spend more time crawling ebay and pentax forums than anything else, I decided to finally create an account here and ask the questions that bother me.


Short bio:
I've been a sort of enthusiast since I got my first digital P&S in 2000 (Mustek 0.8 MP). I went through several progressively better cameras until I got my first (and only so far) DSLR in 2007; K100D Super. I went through all the common phases; experimented with plethora of manual possibilities, switched to RAW, got the tripod, got the second zoom (50-200), got the flash (Metz 58 AF-2).... and then with time slowed down to shooting only family events with 18-55 and flash if needed.


So recently I was digging through cupboards and found a couple of ancient manual lenses my father gave me long time ago. One was a Pentacon 300mm I remember I found impossible to focus and steady shooting from hand. The other one was Carl Zeiss Jena Biometar 80mm 2.8 I never really tried to use. So I did. I shot a couple of indoor portraits without flash in medium to low ambient light.


As you can guess, I was thoroughly impressed by the results compared to kit lens bland (when there is ample sunlight) to unusable (when there is not) shots. So as a first step I promptly ordered Pentax M 50mm 1.7 as it was a) cheap b) presumably in better shape than my poor Biometar that won't focus further than 5-7m away (focus ring gets stuck).


Then the itch started to grow... but you know that story. In short, I've looked into every Pentax lens that can be got for less than 300-400 EUR (and I peeked above).


However, dreams about ~1000EUR Limiteds are one thing, and financial reality is something else. I am at a fairly common crossroad of having enough money for a body or a couple of reasonably good lenses.


The common sense says to get good glass as the bodies come and go. On the other side, sensors and electronics have progressed pretty much since 2006, so what was not really tempting (K10D, K20D) became really really so (K5, K5 II). Anyway.


After 7 years I believe I know pretty well what bothers me with what I have.


Camera:


1) Autofocus is slow and erratic except in ideal conditions. It is really hard to capture the moment if not in a good light and relatively close.
2) In low light, ISO200 won't do, ISO400 is bearable but recognizably lower quality, ISO800 is pretty much useless shot from hand.
3) Writing to card is really slow. Second shot is slower, third will not happen when needed.
4) Battery life not really great; if I don't pack extra I usually finish with photography sooner than expected.
5) No ISO button is not too much of a problem considering limited applicability (see 2) but would be nice to have.


Lenses (kit 18-55 & 50-200)
1) Both slow; I haven't made a single low light photo I like (not counting tripod use), quality wise
2) 50-200 struggles to focus, very soft on long end
3) 18-55 produces washed out photos in bright sunlight (polarizing filters change the atmosphere too much, the photos turn out ok, but it's not 'it')
4) 18-55 distorts faces too much when shooting indoors (birthdays and such)
5) consequently, can't get 5 people in frame using 50-200
6) have to use flash (bounced or not) for pretty much all indoor shooting; can't get that relaxed look from people waiting to be stroboshocked.


As I don't have firsthand experience with newer Pentax gear (or quality lenses for that matter), I would like to hear from people that have experience with K5 / K5 II and (if there are such) people shooting K100D Super with better lens. Do you recognize any of the issues I perceive I have, what changes or not when moving to better body/ better lens? I read somewhere that most of my issues with low light, ISO quality and slowness would be more cheaply remedied with a newer body than a number of expensive lenses.


I didn't mention K-30/K-50 as from what I gathered in my neck of the woods their prices are comparable or higher than K 5 and for some reason I believe I'd be better of with K 5 instead. But I 'm not sure that autofocus of K5 II is worth 350EUR difference. Or that I'll like being stuck with K5 II body, two kits and M 50mm 1.7. Or that DA 70 Limited won't do much for my gripes with K100D. Or...


Well, I wrote it. Thanks for reading.
Now shoot me.

04-03-2014, 07:58 AM   #2
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Hi, and welcome to the forums!

My first and so far only DSLR is a K-5, and I really, really like it. I would have a hard time choosing between K-5 and kit lens and an older body and better lenses. I know lenses are more important than camera, but the cameras made a leap forward starting with K-5.

That said, if you look at the budget DA 35/2.5 and DA 50/1.8 they should less than €200 each. And they are both very good. Not quite Limited good, but they are fantastic for the price - and a lot better than the kit lenses. A lot.

So maybe the sensible way would be:
1. Get a 35/2.4 and a 50/1.8 (but I think the 35 is the more useful if you can't have both - and you do have a M50 already)
2. Upgrade the body. I would suggest a K-5II or a K30 as both have better autofocus than the K-5 in low light. Not that the K-5 is that bad IMO, but I see others claim the II is noticeably better.
3. Get more good glass as needs arise and budget allows.

Good luck!
04-03-2014, 08:06 AM   #3
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Well, it's simple just upgrade your body. I own a K100ds and have since 2009. I also have a K20d and K5. I picked up the K100ds originally with the intent to get it converted to an IR camera, which I did late in 2010. During the time before it was IR converted, I learned to appreciate the K100ds for it's relative simplicity and...frustrating menus. IMHO, just about any newer body that the K100ds would provide you with more than you have with the K100ds. While I'm partial to the K5 (which while now is 3+ years old, is light years ahead of the K100ds), any of the more recent offerings would provide you with the kind of enhancements I believe you are looking for. As I recall, I got the best results with the K100ds outdoors and never really did much indoors with it as my K20 or K5 would easily do better indoors.

So upgrade your body. I'd recommend a body based around the 16mpx sensor found in the K5, K-01, K30 and later though as it was really a game changer.

Lenses. Better (make that more expensive) lenses are generally going to give you better results. We are fortunate that Pentax made decent kit lenses but there is only so much you can get from a kit lens. I can tell you that when I went from my kit lens to my DA*16-50 f2.8 I could see the difference in image quality immediately. While I did like my DA 50-200 and occasionally consider picking one up again, I moved on when I replaced it with a Tamron 70-200 f2.8.

All of that said, the K100ds is still a capable camera but just not everywhere.

Hope all of that helps.
04-03-2014, 09:51 AM   #4
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Newer Is Better?

Hello cxdoo, welcome to the Forum!
Like you, I started digital SLR photography with a K110D (similar to K100D), after a long 'vacation' during the film-to-digital transition.
I still had a few older manual primes and a couple of auto-focus zooms (about equal to the kit zooms of today) left, that I had hung on to.
But I soon reached the point you're at now. The body was holding me back and the cheap zooms were, too. I knew it was possible to take better photos, in difficult conditions, but the gear wasn't up to it. Low-light, high-ISO, slow A/F, slow zoom glass, difficult focusing with the M/F lenses, etc.
Well, a used K10D and DA 16-45mm f/4.0 changed things fast! It seemed like a quantum leap into better quality, faster focusing and overall useability.
But, technology moves on and sure enough, the newer bodies offered more and the K10D seemed limited (again!) and those nice f/2.8 zooms were singing their siren song, Sound familiar?
I guess what I'm saying is that the improvements are pretty steady, an upward climb in I.Q., versatility, ISO performance, options, menu, WR, all of it.
We, the consumer, jump in at different times and it seems like a peak, we're so happy with the upgrade we don't realize that in a year or two, our new stuff will be old stuff again. The Mark II version is such an upgrade from Mk I, we forget the Mk III is just over the horizon.
Luckily for us, Pentax doesn't release several different bodies every year, like other brands. Any of the K-5's will seem like such an improvement over your camera, you'll swear it couldn't get any better. But, it already has! It's called the K-3.
My recommendation; A new K-5IIs, about $700 (USD). Or, a clean used K-5 (classic, the first one) about $500. Either will have superb high-ISO performance (not just compared to an older camera. Compared to anything!), faster read speed, better A/F (the 'IIs' would be even better than the K-5) along with video, LV and a bunch of other stuff you will soon appreciate.
And the new budget primes, as mentioned, are great lenses, just check the dedicated threads or 'Post Your Photos' or 'Lens Samples'.
For around $1,000 to $1,200, you could make a serious upgrade and maybe save for a couple better (f/2.8?) zooms.
Sorry for the long post, thought you might be interested in a similar tale!
Ron

04-03-2014, 10:33 AM   #5
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Thanks all for suggestions!

And Ron please don't apologize; I have a voice in my head repeating K5II K5II K5II, and I much prefer hearing (reading) it from someone not in my head.

Not completely off topic, this reminds me of the time I bungee jumped. If I stood there alone on the platform, I'd have spent a veery long time considering the distance to the shore, depth of the sea, proximity of boats, reliability of the cord, .... however the guy there knew all that. He grabbed me by the shoulders and shouted to my face like a movie sergeant; I'm gonna count to three, and you gonna jump! Needless to say, I obeyed first, and started thinking mid air...

So in a way I am asking for you to say what you do: that I need a new body

Funny reason not to buy a new body #1: What am I going to do with K100DS? (and then I saw 'How many cameras you have' topic... )

---------- Post added 04-03-14 at 08:38 PM ----------

By the way, please don't quote prices in States to us poor Europeans, it's depressing. It was sort-of bearable to consider 1 EUR= 1 USD for practical purposes, but now it's worse than that....
04-03-2014, 11:00 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by cxdoo Quote
Funny reason not to buy a new body #1: What am I going to do with K100DS?
I kept mine, still use it, still love it. The K-5 is a huge leap forward in every way, but there is still something about that old 6MP CCD that produces such pleasing images. Sure it is slow, ISO above 1600 is useless, the viewfinder is tiny and dim and the controls are nowhere near as nice as the K-5, but it is still a very good camera.
04-03-2014, 11:16 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by elliott Quote
I kept mine, still use it, still love it. The K-5 is a huge leap forward in every way, but there is still something about that old 6MP CCD that produces such pleasing images. Sure it is slow, ISO above 1600 is useless, the viewfinder is tiny and dim and the controls are nowhere near as nice as the K-5, but it is still a very good camera.
Agree with elliot. I still use & enjoy my K100D a lot, mostly for outdoors shooting. There is something magical about the old 6mp sensor, especially with the older manual lenses. The Pentax O-ME53 viewfinder magnifier really helps with those, btw. So I would hang on to it, esp since you won't get much for it on the used market anyway. Always good to have backup!
04-03-2014, 11:21 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by cxdoo Quote
Funny reason not to buy a new body #1: What am I going to do with K100DS?
Hi cxdoo,
Lots of choices there! Many users hang on to the older bodies, for a couple of reasons. Maybe use it for the M/F lenses, daylight/scenic/landscapes, in other words, avoid the high-ISO situations and make it a dedicated 'ISO 200' camera. I've done that with my K10D, the addition of a KatzEye focusing screen and OME-53 mag eyepiece makes M/F much easier.
Convert it to Infared photography.
Use it as a backup for large events, 2-camera outings or just a spare just-in-case. Cheap insurance.
Give it to a child or family member, get them started!
Donate it to charity.
Sell it for a few bucks, this would be my last choice!
Ron

04-03-2014, 11:27 AM   #9
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Oh I am absolutely keeping it, this way or another. I see them on eBay being offered for around 100-150 EUR, that's not really worth parting with it. And as you said, IQ outdoors in good light is perfectly ok.

---------- Post added 04-03-14 at 09:30 PM ----------

To clarify my point. I feel funny wondering what to do with two bodies and then see people here having 20, 30 bodies...
04-03-2014, 11:35 AM   #10
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My first body was the K100D Super. I began to get images from it that really pleased me after I got an upgraded lens - in my case, the FA24-90/3.5-4.5. It did have problems locking AF at times, but otherwise it was great for IQ and range of zoom. The FA28-105/3.2-4.5 (not the other FA28-105) is a cheaper alternative that sometimes produces almost magical colors. It sometimes has trouble locking AF too - but I can put up with that since it produces many nice images. However, it's better to have 24mm at the wide end than 105mm at the long end, most of the time - so if you can pay the difference, it could be worth it. In both cases you want to see that you get a good copy - apparently there are a few bad ones out there (but I got a good one of each the first time).


Get at least one upgraded lens first - then get a body if need be. Other lens candidates are the DA16-45, DA17-70, F24-50, F70-210/4-5.6 (Takumar version included), DA55-300 (which is better than your DA50-200).


Also, you're fortunate you have the K100D Super (rather than the non-Super), because that means you can get any of the lenses now (including the ones with the focus motor in the lens) without getting a new body. When the time comes to get a body, if you're not shooting action or sports very often, then the K-5 is fine. If you are, get a K-30, K-50, K-5 II/IIs, or a K-3.


Keeping the K100D Super is a good idea. You don't need 4 or more bodies, but you need 2 (with one as a backup), or for some people 3 makes sense (I can't part with my K200D - I still prefer its CCD sensor and IQ for some types of shots). For events I put a long lens on one body and a shorter lens on the other, so I can quickly switch between the two. These are on my K-5 and K-5 IIs. The K200D remains as my emergency backup.

Last edited by DSims; 04-03-2014 at 11:44 AM.
04-03-2014, 12:33 PM   #11
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Hi DSims

My first impulse was to buy DA16-45 but then I thought that won't solve my low light IQ, erratic AF problem. I still might get it though (~200-250 EUR used) if for tactical reasons (yep, married) I don't go for K5II.

Regarding FA28-90 you mentioned above, I see it can be bought relatively cheaply (50-70 EUR) but to my eyes it looks really shabby. Is it really noticeably better than DA18-55?
04-03-2014, 01:52 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by cxdoo Quote
Regarding FA28-90 you mentioned above, I see it can be bought relatively cheaply (50-70 EUR) but to my eyes it looks really shabby. Is it really noticeably better than DA18-55?
No, I said the FA24-90, not 28-90. However, I did have the FA28-90 for a short time (it came with a film camera I got, IIRC). It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be - it actually had some of the magic colors from the FA28-105/3.2-4.5. It's not worth a special effort to get one, but you might still like it, and it gives you a fairly nice range of focal lengths.
04-03-2014, 02:37 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by cxdoo Quote
2) In low light, ISO200 won't do, ISO400 is bearable but recognizably lower quality, ISO800 is pretty much useless shot from hand.
I am curious about this particular gripe, I used 1600 quite often when my K100D was my only body. I consider 3200 to be useless on it, but that is expanded ISO anyway. Of course now I use the K-5 when the low light performance is required, so I thought I might be remembering wrong.

I went and tried a couple quick JPG snapshots with mine at 1600. Is this really that bad? Sure it is noisy, but that is 1600 on a body that is approaching a decade old.

Unedited straight from the camera:

Full Resolution

A 100% crop:

Full Resolution

The lens was the humble Industar 50-2 at around f4.
04-03-2014, 03:45 PM   #14
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Everyone's idea of acceptable noise is different, but those shots aren't bad imo, elliot. I never use iso 1600 on my K100D, but I don't hesitate to use iso 800. Shot with the M50/1.7. Some PP applied here, but no noise reduction.

edit: I checked, and this was shot with an *istD, not a K100D. Same 6mp sensor though.

04-03-2014, 04:25 PM   #15
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Stop mulling over it, just get the new K-5 something body. The difference is massive.
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