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12-16-2015, 07:16 PM   #1
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K-3, K3-ii, KS-2, or similar?

I'm a longtime camera enthusiast (non-pro) looking to upgrade from my old DSLR (a Nikon D80). I am pretty adept with film, having shot and developed 35mm and medium- and large-format, but I'm relatively novice to digital. I am pretty much starting over with respect to a system.

My budget: <$1,000 for a camera body and one good all-purpose lens.

My needs: I'm primarily looking for a good camera for family/travel/hiking photos. I shoot mostly in manual mode and do very little post-processing. I don't need a camera with a lot of preset situational modes or great photo tutorials: I want a digital camera that's going to let me take great photos of my family and of when I travel/hike/play around. Image quality is probably my first priority. I've tried a series of well-reviewed point and shoot cameras over the past couple of years and keep coming back to my older Nikon D80.

In addition, the following are somewhat important to me:
  • WR
  • Low light shooting capabilities (this is the biggest thing I miss about my previous film cameras--the Nikon is just really noisy in lower light shooting)
  • Weight, maybe. I don't know how heavy most modern DSLRs are, but I'd prefer somethings that's comfortable to do 5-10 mile hikes with. My old Nikon fits the bill.
  • How easy it is to change shutter/ap/etc without too much thought mid-shoot. My sense is that most DSLRs are laid out well, so this might be a non-issue. But if there are models that are particularly intuitive or particularly challenging, this is a factor that matters to me.
  • Video, maybe. Are any of these cameras going to be much of an upgrade over a ~$300-$500 point and shoot (or my iPhone)? If not, I don't care about video.
  • Value. I'd obviously rather spend less, but I'm willing to spend more (up to or possibly even over my budget) on a camera and/or lens that really provides a noticeable step up over my next best option.

The following are not important to me:
  • How the camera performs on a tripod (I rarely use one)
  • How the camera performs with a flash (I rarely use one)
  • Pre-set shooting modes ("Night Portrait" and whatnot)
  • Wi-fi/bluetooth -- I'm pretty happy just taking out the SD card to upload pictures
  • Ultra-fast focusing / focus tracking / burst shooting -- I do not do much sport or bird photography and will gladly sacrifice my ability to catch fast action if it means getting a camera that's better in other ways or costs less.

I'm probably leaning towards the Pentax K3 or the Pentax KS-2 (which I can get for ~$600 and ~$450 respectively). I'm also considering the Pentax K3-ii (~$720), but it seems like I'd be paying more mostly for features that I'm definitely not going to use (astrotracer, pixel shift) and features I could live without (GPS). I'm considering some non-Pentax mirrorless cameras too, but not as seriously.

Lens-wise, I'm intrigued by the DA 16-80mm (I like the length and it seems to be well-reviewed), but am concerned about weight and price. I'm open to other ideas as well.

Thoughts?

12-16-2015, 08:33 PM   #2
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I'd go with the K-3 plus the 16-85mm. If that's outside of your budget, you could get the Sigma 17-70mm "C" and you're at an even $999

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12-16-2015, 08:40 PM   #3
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I have the Sigma 17-70 as a walkaround zoom, and it's pretty good, Abl.


But that DA 16-85, although slower, is weather resistant, sharp, will have the Pentax rendering, and one of the forum's landscape experts (Northcoastgreg) uses it extensively.


Good luck with your choice!
12-16-2015, 08:55 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
I'd go with the K-3 plus the 16-85mm.
This. If you can't swing this, a 2nd hand K-5II/K-5IIs plus the 16-85.

12-16-2015, 09:00 PM   #5
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Thanks to everyone who's replied so far. Seems like a fairly strong developing consensus. Can I ask why the K3 over the KS-2 and the K3-ii (/ the OM-D EM-5 or something similar)?
12-16-2015, 09:02 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jrpower10 Quote
This. If you can't swing this, a 2nd hand K-5II/K-5IIs plus the 16-85.

Good suggestion.
12-16-2015, 09:05 PM   #7
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I'd go K3 and DA 18-135. I find that is a great walk around combo while hiking. In fact, that is my light hiking kit!
12-16-2015, 09:55 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by abl Quote
Thanks to everyone who's replied so far. Seems like a fairly strong developing consensus. Can I ask why the K3 over the KS-2 and the K3-ii (/ the OM-D EM-5 or something similar)?
K-3 is cheaper than the K-3 II which gives you more money to spend on a decent lens (such as the 16-85WR). Plus the K-3 has a popup flash at the cost of the GPS/astrotracer in the K-3II.

K-3 series is the 'pro' option currently for Pentax APS-C bodies (14-bit RAW, double dials, double SD card slots, battery grip option, mag alloy body, LCD panel on top).. the KS-2 is more a mid tier body based on features (minus the flippy screen on the KS-2).

For your choices I'd go wtih Pentax.. and the K-3. You seem the ideal Pentax shooter (outdoorsy, landscapey, not too concerned about AF tracking/sports shooting)


But any of these Pentax bodies is a leap ahead of your aging D80!

12-16-2015, 10:41 PM   #9
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You could start with the K-3 & 18-135 & then add better lenses for lower light as needed.
12-16-2015, 11:14 PM   #10
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With your budget and description, my recommendation would be the K-S2 with the DA 16-85mm WR zoom. You'd still have enough to get some large memory cards and a spare battery. The K-S2 is the lightest of the three and you can put more money into the glass. If you don't need the wide end at 16mm the DA 18-135mm or DA 18-270 SDM will be less expensive, albeit a bit of trade off in IQ for a one lens does it all convenience.

If you still have Nikon glass from your D80, I'd also have to mention that I also have a D7100 that is WR and they retail for around $700 presently $500 off at B&H. The D7100 advantages include 24 MP, no AA filter, 14 bit depth, 51 AF points, 3.2" rear LCD screen, and 1/8000" top shutter. The KS-2 advantages include an articulating rear LCD screen, Shake Reduction in camera; built-in Wifi, lighter at 618 grams vs. 675 grams.

In my opinion having shot and used both, I think the Nikon has the edge when shooting RAW files, but I have more work to do in PP. If you don't want to mess with too much PP, then I think Pentax jpegs are better out of the camera. And if you don't have Nikon glass, a comparable WR Nikkor lens with the D7100 is going to cost double the Pentax option.
12-17-2015, 02:19 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by abl Quote
I'm a longtime camera enthusiast (non-pro) looking to upgrade from my old DSLR (a Nikon D80). I am pretty adept with film, having shot and developed 35mm and medium- and large-format, but I'm relatively novice to digital. I am pretty much starting over with respect to a system.

My budget: <$1,000 for a camera body and one good all-purpose lens.

My needs: I'm primarily looking for a good camera for family/travel/hiking photos. I shoot mostly in manual mode and do very little post-processing. I don't need a camera with a lot of preset situational modes or great photo tutorials: I want a digital camera that's going to let me take great photos of my family and of when I travel/hike/play around. Image quality is probably my first priority. I've tried a series of well-reviewed point and shoot cameras over the past couple of years and keep coming back to my older Nikon D80.

In addition, the following are somewhat important to me:
  • WR
  • Low light shooting capabilities (this is the biggest thing I miss about my previous film cameras--the Nikon is just really noisy in lower light shooting)
  • Weight, maybe. I don't know how heavy most modern DSLRs are, but I'd prefer somethings that's comfortable to do 5-10 mile hikes with. My old Nikon fits the bill.
  • How easy it is to change shutter/ap/etc without too much thought mid-shoot. My sense is that most DSLRs are laid out well, so this might be a non-issue. But if there are models that are particularly intuitive or particularly challenging, this is a factor that matters to me.
  • Video, maybe. Are any of these cameras going to be much of an upgrade over a ~$300-$500 point and shoot (or my iPhone)? If not, I don't care about video.
  • Value. I'd obviously rather spend less, but I'm willing to spend more (up to or possibly even over my budget) on a camera and/or lens that really provides a noticeable step up over my next best option.

The following are not important to me:
  • How the camera performs on a tripod (I rarely use one)
  • How the camera performs with a flash (I rarely use one)
  • Pre-set shooting modes ("Night Portrait" and whatnot)
  • Wi-fi/bluetooth -- I'm pretty happy just taking out the SD card to upload pictures
  • Ultra-fast focusing / focus tracking / burst shooting -- I do not do much sport or bird photography and will gladly sacrifice my ability to catch fast action if it means getting a camera that's better in other ways or costs less.

I'm probably leaning towards the Pentax K3 or the Pentax KS-2 (which I can get for ~$600 and ~$450 respectively). I'm also considering the Pentax K3-ii (~$720), but it seems like I'd be paying more mostly for features that I'm definitely not going to use (astrotracer, pixel shift) and features I could live without (GPS). I'm considering some non-Pentax mirrorless cameras too, but not as seriously.

Lens-wise, I'm intrigued by the DA 16-80mm (I like the length and it seems to be well-reviewed), but am concerned about weight and price. I'm open to other ideas as well.

Thoughts?
Adam's suggestion would put you immediatley in hog heaven...
12-17-2015, 05:25 AM   #12
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If a grand is your limit and you want WR, then make sure that the lens is weather-resistant also, which I don't think the Sigma 17-70C is. I don't believe that it does quick-shift focus either. No point in getting a WR camera if the lens is not also WR.
12-17-2015, 06:04 AM   #13
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I'd go for the K-3 and 16-85, or, if that's too expensive, a K-3 and the 18-135. The K-3 is going to give you better low-light capabilities and the ergonomics are generally better, and I like the extra nicities of the two SD card slots.
12-17-2015, 08:29 AM   #14
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You have put a lot of time and thought into your decisions here. If I were to sway you, I would steer you towards K-3 or K-3II.

As for Lenses....
No WR: 17-50 f2.8 sigma <<< BEST >>>
WR: 16-85wr, or 18-135wr

If you get a sigma 17-50 and you get a bag full of primes in One Lens. Not weather sealed, but certainly worth it. Especially because I see them all the time for $300ish Used. It is a True Gem for the pentax system.
12-17-2015, 09:00 AM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by abl Quote
Can I ask why the K3 over the KS-2 and the K3-ii
KS2 is mid-level K-3 is high level K-3ii is more expensive so you can't get as good of lens in your budget.
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