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05-22-2015, 11:55 AM   #1
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Using the K-500 and looking at the K-3II - Is it worth the upgrade price?

I've been using the K-500 (K-50 without WR), my first DSLR, for over a year now, and in that time I've learned it inside out and I've grown to both love it and hate it. I love the layout, the controls and the rugged feel, but I hate the lack of focus points in VF and the sometimes unpredictable (external) flash results. I've been looking at the K-3 (and lately the K-3II) since it came out, but it's an expensive upgrade (for me, at least), and the more I learn about photography, the more unsure I am about upgrading.

From what I can gather, I'd be gaining more MP, but also more noise at higher ISO, so that's a wash... I'd also be getting theoretically sharper images (no AA filter), but the higher MP sensor is more sensitive to camera shake and exposes weaknesses in all but the best lenses. The weather sealing, although class leading, is irrelevant for my workflow and needs, and one I'd use rarely. Not to mention needing to upgrade to expensive Pentax WR lenses such as the 16-50mm and 50-135mm.

I guess what I'm trying to decide: Is the K-3 worth the high price just for an upgrade in IQ and ISO performance? Because I've found workarounds for most of the K-500's shortcomings, but ultimately it all comes down to IQ. And I feel as though I've reached the limit of the K-500 sensor's capabilities in some landscape shots.. so will the K-3 (or the K-5IIs, for that matter) give me any tangible IQ or ISO performance improvements? Or should I stick to the entry level K-500 for now?

P.S. I shoot mostly club events, portrait and landscape photography, FWIW.

05-22-2015, 12:05 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rayn Quote
From what I can gather, I'd be gaining more MP, but also more noise at higher ISO, so that's a wash... I'd also be getting theoretically sharper images (no AA filter), but the higher MP sensor is more sensitive to camera shake and exposes weaknesses in all but the best lenses.
The image quality is better hands-down. Look under the low light section here to see the difference between the K-50 (good), K-S1 (better), and K-3 (best) in low light:
Pentax K-S1 Review - Image Quality | PentaxForums.com Reviews

The K-3 also has notable improvements in terms of metering and white balance, which results in more accurate exposures and much better out-of-camera colors at night.

Also remember that the K-3 has 14-bit RAW, and thus a little more dynamic range.

QuoteOriginally posted by Rayn Quote
I guess what I'm trying to decide: Is the K-3 worth the high price just for an upgrade in IQ and ISO performance?
I would say that it's well worth it, also for the improvements in overall speed and handling- the grip is a lot more comfortable. Not sure if it's worth going for the K-3 II over the K-3 though, unless you plan to do a lot of tripod shooting and don't use the flash.

Adam
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05-22-2015, 12:07 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rayn Quote
From what I can gather, I'd be gaining more MP, but also more noise at higher ISO, so that's a wash... I'd also be getting theoretically sharper images (no AA filter), but the higher MP sensor is more sensitive to camera shake and exposes weaknesses in all but the best lenses.
I don't think this is a big problem if you only show/sell downsized photos, like for websites. The resizing should hide any problem that would be noticeable due to the difference between 16MP+AA vs. 24MP without AA. But that 16MP is really good in terms of noise, some say the K-5IIs is a smidge better in terms of noise performance than the K-3.

Anyway, I would suggest you wait for the K-3II to be officially released, so you know its specifications, see some real reviews. Or think about the K-5IIs, those can be found for really really good price these days, and it brings a lot of great features, with slightly better sensor performance (due to lack of AA filter, and extra bit depth, ISO 80) than the K-500. It might make more sense, particularly if you shoot with high ISO
05-22-2015, 12:49 PM   #4
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The K-3 may generate more noise than the K-30/50/500 but the noise is smaller in relation to the image itself due to the higher MP count. What I mean is if I take the same picture with the same lens on both bodies I will have more pixel data describing an area in the field of view. The pixels are smaller in size and so is the noise - much smaller than the details you may be trying to capture like eyelashes, leaf texture, etc. Therefore it's actually easier to clean up the noise in a K-3 than in a K-30/50/500 while retaining lots of fine detail. I've experienced a huge jump in IQ with the K-3 compared to my K-30. Now I can push/pull the exposure to +4 in many cases to recover shadows and still have an image that's clean enough for small prints. Blown out highlights are still lost but that's just the nature of digital.

If you can upgrade to a K-3 then go for it. The price may dropping again soon with the upcoming release of the K-3 II and the unnamed FF body. Personally, I'd pass on the K-3 II unless you think you need pixel shifting text and built in GPS. I'm fine without it for now.

05-22-2015, 01:12 PM   #5
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+1 with Adam and the others.

For me, the K-3 is definitely a major upgrade, worthwhile and at a moderate price. The price of K-3 is dropping and will continue to drop with the incoming K-3ii.

Why is the K-3 a major upgrade IMO?

-the upper display - very useful in my opinion, I cannot get without it
-dual cards - give you a solid number of shots, eg when you go bushwalking or camping for a few days
-low shutter noise - less intrusive
-very solid metallic body - this is an extra insurance IMHO against shocks and potential damage
-WR - over the K500 - Pentax is the only manufacturer offering affordable WR dSLR IMHO

Hope that the comment will help.
05-22-2015, 01:28 PM   #6
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Thanks for the tips everyone. I guess I'll be upgrading then... eventually
Pretty sure I'll wait for the K-3II though, as the astrotracer is a feature I'd love to have, and I almost never use the built-in flash anyway. There's also the matter of the Pentax FF to consider, but unless it's a 36MP+, I doubt I'd take the plunge, as anything below that would make all my lenses obsolete (assuming crop lenses will work in the same way as the D810; the 36MP FF translates into 16MP APS-C, making them still usable).
I'd then keep the K-500 as a secondary body, and could finally do some wedding photography with confidence. A secondary body is the only thing keeping me from trying it as, from what I understand, redundancy is key when it comes to shooting weddings.

QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
The K-3 also has notable improvements in terms of metering and white balance, which results in more accurate exposures and much better out-of-camera colors at night.
That reminds me: I've been having issues with lightroom and the K-500 DNG raw files (I shoot raw only), specifically the colors are way off after import, and usually need adjustment in post. I've traced this problem to the LR's lack of camera calibration profile for the K-500. Does anyone know if the K-3's raw files show up accurately in LR?
05-22-2015, 01:44 PM   #7
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I use a K-5 IIs, and it is an excellent camera. I sell photos as part of creating ads, websites, the -newsletters, etc... and since almost all of the pictures I take are used for screen display -- never for large prints -- the 16 MP image size is more than enough... plenty of room to crop. And for what it's worth, i occasionally use a K-01 for shots of things that don't move. Both cameras take good sharp pictures -- I use the Pentax 16-45mm lens for most work -- and, shooting RAW, can always get a picture 'just right' in Lightroom.

Both cameras also use the same large battery -- and to me, this is a VERY important difference between the K-5 / K3 type and the K-50 / K-S2. So for your upgrading, I'd go with a K-5 IIs... about $600 on Amazon now for the body... probably will go down to $500 before long. The K-5 IIs ergonomics are superb... you rarely miss a shot... and I'll bet the K-3 handles every bit as well.

This isn't to disparage your K-500 though... it is a very good camera... but you'll find that the 'high-end' K-5s and K-3s are better, and more enjoyable to use.

EDIT -- re colors and Lightroom... I use version 5.7 on the .DNGs from the K-5 IIs. So far so good. But -- I do not, repeat not, take on any jobs from highly color-critical clients, like food or fashion or makeup. Sometimes, before delivering a job, I'll post the images on a scratch website and then go to the public library to see how they look on a couple of the shared computers there... just to double-check that what I'm seeing on my PC is sort of the same. Going for perfection will drive you crazy -- so many different screens, so many different lighting conditions, and Mac vs PC gamma-brightness differences.

And now, we're seeing so many people getting their info on those dinky little smartphone screens -- so your focus has to be to make a good strong image rather than one with lots of detail. For those club pictures? Your 16-50mm lens is perfect, just get them laughing, and crop tight to the head. Fun!

Last edited by jon404; 05-22-2015 at 01:57 PM.
05-22-2015, 01:54 PM   #8
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The K3 is roughly $650 & the 5ii/s will be around $350-ish, but will go down in price in no time.

05-22-2015, 02:05 PM   #9
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@disconnekt -- shocking price reductions is such short periods of time. Scary, worse than cars. Tough business to be in. But so good for any consumer who can wait 24 months... it is AMAZING to me how much camera you get then for the money. Just amazing. So much highly evolved high-tech techology for so little... and you can use the camera easily for five years to earn income, or have all sorts of fun for any kind of amateur interests. Amazing! Golden age of photography?
05-22-2015, 02:06 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rayn Quote
That reminds me: I've been having issues with lightroom and the K-500 DNG raw files (I shoot raw only), specifically the colors are way off after import, and usually need adjustment in post.
Which version of LR?
I use v5 for my K-50 DNG and have no issue at all. I did once have all my RAWs come in with a purple cast, but that was because I'd somehow managed to set LF to apply a default preset on import, so maybe check that?
05-22-2015, 04:00 PM   #11
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I would think if you can afford the K-3 it's worth the upgrade, myself I would prefer the K-3II for the GPS and pixel shift. Don't forget the K-S2 either, I've been reading about a lot of new love affairs with the K-S2 on these forums.
05-22-2015, 04:45 PM   #12
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I'm not sure why, if you went to either K-3, you would feel a need for wr lenses. Sure, they're nice, but not necessary. I shot landscapes with a Pentax 67 for several years and if it was rainy, there's always the Manfrotto arm with an umbrella (assuming a tripod). Seriously.
05-23-2015, 06:36 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Steve.Ledger Quote
Which version of LR?
I use v5 for my K-50 DNG and have no issue at all. I did once have all my RAWs come in with a purple cast, but that was because I'd somehow managed to set LF to apply a default preset on import, so maybe check that?
Nevermind, I actually found the solution in this thread: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/151-pentax-k-30-k-50/263979-k-30-lightroom-5-a.html
Basically a customized calibration profile for the k-500, with better skin tones.

QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
I would think if you can afford the K-3 it's worth the upgrade.
Well for me it's either a summer vacation or a K-3(II) this year, so I want to make sure it's worth it

Anyway, thanks for all your input everyone.
05-23-2015, 08:39 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by jon404 Quote
@disconnekt -- shocking price reductions is such short periods of time. Scary, worse than cars. Tough business to be in. But so good for any consumer who can wait 24 months... it is AMAZING to me how much camera you get then for the money. Just amazing. So much highly evolved high-tech techology for so little... and you can use the camera easily for five years to earn income, or have all sorts of fun for any kind of amateur interests. Amazing! Golden age of photography?
Yeah. 10 years ago a K5 would cost you 2k, probably more. Amazing how fast the tech in DSLR's have advanced in such a short amount of time.
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