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12-14-2015, 03:03 PM   #1
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Pro Lens or Pro Body

It seems to me that a pro lens with a consumer body will produce better images than a consumer lens on a pro body. Glass seems to win. With this in mind and considering autofocus, what has more influence over autofocus... pro lens or pro body? Is it even possible to answer this?

My current circumstances... I enjoy all kinds of photography. At the moment, most of what I do involves shooting high school sports. As many know, autofocus speed and accuracy as well as low light performance are extremely valuable in this field. I have a k-5 and a FA* 80-200 that I use for most of my shooting. The k-5's low light performance seems acceptable and I hope to purchase the new D FA* 70-200 to replace my older FA lens (since this FA lens lacks a little because of screw drive AF). Once I purchase the D FA* 70-200, should I keep my K-5 and save for the full-frame (because of increased focus accuracy and speed) or spend my limited remaining resources on a K-3 (ii) with the understanding that the new lens will be enough of an improvement causing the full frame upgrade to be unnecessary.

I hope this makes sense!


Last edited by mattieyp3; 12-14-2015 at 03:05 PM. Reason: needed for better wording
12-14-2015, 03:06 PM   #2
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Another option if you want to keep APS-C could be a K-3 and DA* 60-250 F4.
12-14-2015, 03:12 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by bertwert Quote
Another option if you want to keep APS-C could be a K-3 and DA* 60-250 F4.
Thanks so much bertwert! I've considered that option but high school sports indoors (and at night) have extremely poor lighting. Currently I shoot basketball at f2.8, ISO 8000, 1/800 sec and this is still slightly underexposed. This is the "slowest" shutter speed that I can escape with. Losing a whole stop of light on the DA 60-250 isn't worth it right now.

I'd love to own the lens for other purposes though. At the moment, my finances need to go toward this particular range... 70-200.

Last edited by mattieyp3; 12-14-2015 at 03:14 PM. Reason: better wording
12-14-2015, 03:14 PM - 1 Like   #4
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I guess also the DA* 50-135 F2.8 and K-3 would have the same FoV as a 70-200 on FF.

12-14-2015, 04:02 PM - 1 Like   #5
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To answer your first question: With Pentax, the focus motor is in the body, so I would say a pro body is going to AF faster than a pro lens.

As for your second question: This is more difficult to answer, because everything about the K-1 is fairly speculative. But in general, FF sensors outperform APS-C sensors in low light and AF, and should be a step up from the K3ii.
But keep in mind that depth-of-field and the reach of the lens is better for sports with an APS-C sensor.

If it's a hobby, then I'd go with the K3 or K3ii. If it's a profession for you, then FF will get you on a better playing field against the competition, and the higher costs can be a tax deduction.
12-14-2015, 04:07 PM   #6
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I would say get the k-3 II, but wait until the FF comes out to make your decision. My main reason for this advice is, as bertwert said, the 70-200 on FF would have the same reach as the 50-135 on aps-c... which is enough for HS Sports, but if you're getting the 70-200 I would think you'd want to keep that zoom range. So i'd suggest K-3 ii and 70-200 - the k-3 ii is a great camera, better than some full frames. It doesn't seem that the type of photography you do really requires a Full Frame, which will cost more and be heavier, larger, and if you ever need better image quality from your k-3 ii... pixel shift!! although not for sports

I guess the main advantage of the FF for you would be better AF, which I think is almost assured... and better low light performance. But considering I can shoot ISO 1600 on a k-30 with really good results, i'm sure the k-3 ii can handle low light just fine... I don't think the cost is worth the upgrade to the FF.

---------- Post added 12-14-15 at 06:09 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by mattieyp3 Quote
Currently I shoot basketball at f2.8, ISO 8000, 1/800
Wow, your lighting must be really poor!! My basketball shots are done at f/4, ISO 1600, 1/500th. Isn't 1/500th fast enough?
12-14-2015, 04:36 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Imp Quote
I would say get the k-3 II, but wait until the FF comes out to make your decision. My main reason for this advice is, as bertwert said, the 70-200 on FF would have the same reach as the 50-135 on aps-c... which is enough for HS Sports, but if you're getting the 70-200 I would think you'd want to keep that zoom range. So i'd suggest K-3 ii and 70-200 - the k-3 ii is a great camera, better than some full frames. It doesn't seem that the type of photography you do really requires a Full Frame, which will cost more and be heavier, larger, and if you ever need better image quality from your k-3 ii... pixel shift!! although not for sports

I guess the main advantage of the FF for you would be better AF, which I think is almost assured... and better low light performance. But considering I can shoot ISO 1600 on a k-30 with really good results, i'm sure the k-3 ii can handle low light just fine... I don't think the cost is worth the upgrade to the FF.

---------- Post added 12-14-15 at 06:09 PM ----------


Wow, your lighting must be really poor!! My basketball shots are done at f/4, ISO 1600, 1/500th. Isn't 1/500th fast enough?
QuoteOriginally posted by Imp Quote
Wow, your lighting must be really poor!! My basketball shots are done at f/4, ISO 1600, 1/500th. Isn't 1/500th fast enough?
Thanks for the suggestion. I do agree that the FF isn't necessarily worth it since photography is not my profession. But I am up against some pretty heavy competition in the sports world. SO it might be nice to have the extra technology and specs. Re. settings as you quoted, I'm part of a network of guys shooting High School sports and most of them suggest 1/1000 sec. as the slowest for sports. I'm pushing it with 1/800 sec. and have gone as low as 1/640 sec however this is REALLY risking it. Even "slower" high school athletes require a fast SS. And I suppose that the high schools in my area do have poor lighting. Bigger schools have more money but smaller schools still use older and poorer lighting technologies. So I'm constantly pushing the limits on exposure settings.

---------- Post added 12-14-15 at 07:40 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
To answer your first question: With Pentax, the focus motor is in the body, so I would say a pro body is going to AF faster than a pro lens.

As for your second question: This is more difficult to answer, because everything about the K-1 is fairly speculative. But in general, FF sensors outperform APS-C sensors in low light and AF, and should be a step up from the K3ii.
But keep in mind that depth-of-field and the reach of the lens is better for sports with an APS-C sensor.

If it's a hobby, then I'd go with the K3 or K3ii. If it's a profession for you, then FF will get you on a better playing field against the competition, and the higher costs can be a tax deduction.
Isn't SDM in the lens? If this is the case as I am certain it is, it means that the camera has AF sensors while the lens has the AF motor. So which determines AF performance more... a pro lens like the D FA* 70-200 or the sensors in the K-3 (ii)?
12-14-2015, 04:54 PM   #8
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Good glass is far more important than a higher end camera body. Rather than using the misleading terms "pro", research your needs and buy accordingly. Generally, going with a "pro" body means weather sealing. Pentax has offered weather sealing on their mid range bodies as well as the flagships. Some downright dirt cheap lenses, such as the DA 50/1.8 and DA 35/2.4, will produce shots that will hold their own against lenses that cost far more. Currently, FF bodies are considered "pro" whereas APS-C aren't. It wasn't long ago when all the "pros" were raving about the Nikon D300 and many are still using them. All of the features and the sensors of last years "pro" models will be next years mid range body.

Buy what works for you and what you need and ignore the snobs.

12-14-2015, 05:41 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattieyp3 Quote
Bigger schools have more money but smaller schools still use older and poorer lighting technologies.
My school has windows! Compared to night, it adds about 2 more stops of light.

If you've got any samples of your work, I would love to take a look. Thanks!
12-14-2015, 05:41 PM - 1 Like   #10
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There is no such thing as Pro gear.

There are Pro Photographers however

Your K5 and FA is proper good enough.
12-14-2015, 05:48 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattieyp3 Quote
Thanks for the suggestion. I do agree that the FF isn't necessarily worth it since photography is not my profession. But I am up against some pretty heavy competition in the sports world. SO it might be nice to have the extra technology and specs. Re. settings as you quoted, I'm part of a network of guys shooting High School sports and most of them suggest 1/1000 sec. as the slowest for sports. I'm pushing it with 1/800 sec. and have gone as low as 1/640 sec however this is REALLY risking it. Even "slower" high school athletes require a fast SS. And I suppose that the high schools in my area do have poor lighting. Bigger schools have more money but smaller schools still use older and poorer lighting technologies. So I'm constantly pushing the limits on exposure settings.

---------- Post added 12-14-15 at 07:40 PM ----------



Isn't SDM in the lens? If this is the case as I am certain it is, it means that the camera has AF sensors while the lens has the AF motor. So which determines AF performance more... a pro lens like the D FA* 70-200 or the sensors in the K-3 (ii)?
Yes, SDM lenses have built-in motors and are generally faster than screw drive. And for the OP, ideally they'd get both a high end body and high end lens, but I read the post as having to choose one over the other. I would think a K3 with a non-SDM will AF faster than a K-50 with SDM lenses. But perhaps that comparison would give equal results.

---------- Post added 12-14-15 at 05:54 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by reeftool Quote
Good glass is far more important than a higher end camera body. Rather than using the misleading terms "pro", research your needs and buy accordingly. Generally, going with a "pro" body means weather sealing. Pentax has offered weather sealing on their mid range bodies as well as the flagships. Some downright dirt cheap lenses, such as the DA 50/1.8 and DA 35/2.4, will produce shots that will hold their own against lenses that cost far more. Currently, FF bodies are considered "pro" whereas APS-C aren't. It wasn't long ago when all the "pros" were raving about the Nikon D300 and many are still using them. All of the features and the sensors of last years "pro" models will be next years mid range body.

Buy what works for you and what you need and ignore the snobs.
Yes I agree that good glass is generally much more critical in creating the image than the camera and it's sensor. But there is a significant AF speed difference and ISO performance between a K-50, K-5 and K-3.
12-14-2015, 07:05 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by tromboads Quote
There is no such thing as Pro gear.

There are Pro Photographers however

Your K5 and FA is proper good enough.
Thanks for the encouraging words re. pro gear. I tend to get caught up in gear a little too much. Unfortunately though my k-5 does not focus the FA lens well. It's usually off, especially in low light. I have adjusted it some in camera but the screw drive coupled with the k-5 isn't that accurate. I read in a previous string (https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/58-troubleshooting-beginner-help/271699-f...djustment.html) that this was a problem with the k-5 and D FA* 70-200 combo and could possibly be fixed with a different camera (anything newer).

QuoteOriginally posted by Imp Quote
My school has windows! Compared to night, it adds about 2 more stops of light.

If you've got any samples of your work, I would love to take a look. Thanks!
We don't have any windows in our gym, unfortunately. I've attached a sample. This was shot at f2.8, ISO 8000, 1/800 sec. and I increased exposure by .55 in Camera RAW. I'm happy to show you and would love to see any sports shots you have!

QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
Yes, SDM lenses have built-in motors and are generally faster than screw drive. And for the OP, ideally they'd get both a high end body and high end lens, but I read the post as having to choose one over the other. I would think a K3 with a non-SDM will AF faster than a K-50 with SDM lenses. But perhaps that comparison would give equal results.

---------- Post added 12-14-15 at 05:54 PM ----------


Yes I agree that good glass is generally much more critical in creating the image than the camera and it's sensor. But there is a significant AF speed difference and ISO performance between a K-50, K-5 and K-3.
I think I agree with you here. I'm simply trying to find the best upgrade path, since I do need improved autofocus. Maybe the answer is simple... a k-3 will suffice. Or maybe the answer is even simpler, a new lease will work better on my k-5 and be perfect! Thanks.
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12-14-2015, 07:22 PM - 1 Like   #13
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K-5 auto-focus sucks in low light, coloured light, when shooting with fast lenses, and in AF-C mode. A K-3, K-3 II and no doubt K-1 will murder a K-5 in all the preceding conditions.

Last edited by audiobomber; 12-14-2015 at 08:09 PM.
12-14-2015, 07:26 PM - 1 Like   #14
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The autofocus on the K3 is superior to the K5. Your screw drive lenses will focus faster on the K3. The K3 motor is just stronger. However many people complain about the focus tracking ability of the K3. The new D FA 70-200 would certainly be a great lens. The key for focusing in low light is to have a fast lens that will let in more light to the sensor. The 60-250 is only f4 and the SDM focus is not particularly fast. The Tamaron 70-200 f2.8 would be a better choice. I have the 50-135 and I can tell you no one buys it for the focus speed. The Sigma 50-150 is certainly faster. Full frame will give you better focusing ability in low light and allow you push higher ISO's. Without the crop factor though you have a bigger field of view so technically you lose length. To me the best upgrade would be a K3 and your 80-200 or a Tamaron 70-200. The K3's screw drive will have no problem driving those lenses.
12-14-2015, 08:45 PM - 2 Likes   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Scorpio71GR Quote
However many people complain about the focus tracking ability of the K3.
Many people use inappropriate settings for Custom Menu items 16,17 and 18: 1st-Frame Action in AF-C, Action in AF-C Continuous, and Hold AF Status, then blame the camera for poor results.

I've seen lots of instances where people lock AF on the center point, then complain the camera doesn't track. Of course it won't track, tracking is basically sabotaged. Or they let the camera choose the AF point with Auto AF mode and it focusses on the wrong thing. If you're going to use Auto AF, you had better make damn sure the camera has successfully read your mind and focussed on your intended subject. I only use Expanded Area AF 9 or 25-point for tracking, depending on how hard it is to keep the subject in the center of the frame.

Last edited by audiobomber; 12-14-2015 at 08:58 PM.
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