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01-08-2016, 09:25 AM   #1
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A Pentax K-50 for a film K-mount SLR shooter, or better a mirrorless?

Hi all,


I don't know if this is the right forum. Alternatives would be "other brands" or "film", but here I go.


I have been picking up again my photography hobby for the last years by using my old film SLR, a Chinon CM-5 with a range of legacy K-mount manual lenses. I do love to shoot film because I like the process, and the easy, full manual control without hassles. I also love the look of film. The things bothering me is that it's getting increasingly difficult to have film developed and then digitalise it. It's also not practical to take film with you when you travel by plane. Lastly: I very often take pictures in low-light, without tripod. With film, that is nearly impossible. For travel and low-light I also use a digital superzoom, but still the IQ is not super in low-light and the experience is null.


Hence I was wondering if I could replicate my manual, film experience with a digital camera also good in low-light. Preferably I would keep using my K-mount lenses so I can take them with me and mount them on whatever camera I want, film or digital.


My use cases are landscape, nature and animals, travel, city scapes, low light, astrophotography (=below-zero temperatures which is no issue for mechanical film cameras)


Any advice?


I walked into a store and tried Pentax cameras as they are compatible with my lenses. But, I also fell in love with Fujifilm cameras because of their looks and manual control, but then I also found the Sony A6000 easier to use. These mirrorless cameras have EVFs which is great with manual lenses.
My budget allows for a Pentax K-50 (maybe a K-S2), a Fujifilm X-E1 or Sony A-6000 with adapter. There are probably a lot of legacy Pentax lens shooters here on this forum so it seems like a good place to ask.


Some considerations:
Pentax K-50 (or K-S2)
  • very easy to use menus, most intuitive menu ever used
  • feels extremely sturdy
  • allows me to fit my K-lenses without any adapter
  • IBIS for legacy lens stabilisation
  • weather sealing and low-temperature proof
  • K-50 saves me some cash to invest in e.g. lenses
  • according to the dpreview studio scene comparison and some real-life examples, the high-iso performance is quite a bit lower than competitors. That really bummed me out.
  • noisy focusing and shutter
  • bulky and heavy
  • hard to focus manually through the viewfinder
  • exposure with legacy lenses needs the "green button"
  • I don't get the autofocus with the focus indicator, may need some training on that
Fujifilm X-E1 and SonyA6000
  • better high-iso performance, but no IBIS
  • light and small, but feels flimsy and plasticky
  • quiet shutter
  • EVF allows easy manual focus (peeking) and exposure preview, no need to look at the screen afterwards
  • (Fujifilm) I can use my wire shutter, which is very handy for long-exposure astrophotography
  • (Sony) can be recharged through micro-usb, which is very handy when travelling
  • needs adapter, which is a pain when changing lenses, adds to the price, and may impact IQ
  • less and more expensive lenses
Sorry for the long post, but I cannot figure it out. It's especially important because now I will be buying in a digital lens ecosystem as well.


Cheers and thanks,
Nilss

01-08-2016, 10:08 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum!
I'd get the K-50 as you can stop-down meter as well if you're interested in using Av instead of Manual.
QuoteOriginally posted by Nilss Quote
weather sealing
Not without a WR lens, you could also get the kit lens with the K-50, 18-55 for not much and then you have a cheap WR kit.
QuoteOriginally posted by Nilss Quote
the high-iso performance is quite a bit lower than competitors
I can shoot fine up to ISO 800. Even 1600 is good enough for my needs.
QuoteOriginally posted by Nilss Quote
noisy focusing and shutter
Your lenses are MF so you won't hear any focus sounds...
Personally I like the loud shutter.
QuoteOriginally posted by Nilss Quote
bulky and heavy
I like the feel of this to me.
QuoteOriginally posted by Nilss Quote
hard to focus manually through the viewfinder
You could use live view with magnification.
Or add a split-prism focusing screen.
QuoteOriginally posted by Nilss Quote
don't get the autofocus with the focus indicator
The focus indicator will light when the AF point you selected is in focus, even when using MF lenses.
01-08-2016, 10:11 AM   #3
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With the K-50 or K-S2 you could install a split-prism focusing screen. This would make manual focusing with your legacy lenses much easier, and the whole experience would be more like the film camera that you're used to.
01-08-2016, 10:36 AM   #4
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You might be a candidate for the K-3II with it's built in GPS/astrotracer function. You can't really go wrong with any of the cameras you listed. They're all great cameras. However, the Pentax cameras do beat out the other cameras in extreme weathers & they are designed to take legacy glass. The K-50, K-S2, & K-3 can shoot from 14 to 104f (-10 to 40c).

01-08-2016, 10:54 AM   #5
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I use mostly manual lens on my K3. I don't find it hard to focus through the viewfinder, but you do get a green hexagon to let you know when it is in focus. ISO is fine, I have shot pretty high with it, and no noise when using focusing with a manual lens :-) I can't compare with the other camera, but I am pretty content with using my old lenses. And I did shoot some astrophotography last year, it was pretty cold then, I think 0 F and below, and I didn't have any issue with the camera. I see above specs that was probably too low, but it worked the few nights I did it. I have also take my camera into an indoor ice sculpture show for the past 2 years and it did fine. I think they keep it at 9 F.
01-08-2016, 11:23 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nilss Quote
  • (Fujifilm) I can use my wire shutter, which is very handy for long-exposure astrophotography
You can also get a wired remote shutter release for the K-50 fairly easily (I have one for the K-30, which is basically the same camera, and it's quite useful to have). Sadly, the newer K-S2 does not have a wired remote port.
01-08-2016, 12:41 PM   #7
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You might also consider picking up a used K-01 mirrorless which goes for about $200 on eBay. This would give you a nice large display with focus peaking which might be easier for manual focusing than the viewfinder on a K-50. Same sensor as the K-50 and still compatible with all your K-mount glass. It's also closer to the size of old film SLR's than a full on DSLR.

Look up a couple reviews and it might be a good way to get your feet wet. There are pros and cons of mirrorless vs DLSR, so see which features work more for you.

Here's a review on the K-01 that might help. —Link—

Last edited by TheOneAndOnlyJH; 01-08-2016 at 12:49 PM. Reason: Added link to review
01-08-2016, 12:49 PM   #8
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Low light without a tripod? IBIS is a biggie. Get away with 1/30, 1/15s with your legacy glass.

Focusing is best with a split image screen, but if you like magnification and focus peaking, the K-50's got it.

Otherwise, the A6000 is a lot of camera for the price.

01-08-2016, 01:12 PM   #9
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When Sony releases the A6000 successor with IBIS, then I think Sony will have an edge. As it stands, I'd get the K-50 for sure - especially since it's half the cost, and that's not including the adaptor for the Sony.

To me the most appealing aspect of the A6000 would be using lenses like the Sigma 19/30/60. That would be a killer setup, I think. Small good camera, small killer primes. For adapted lenses, not so much, unless you get that lens turbo thing, that's quite appealing if you're not an OCD pixel peeper.
01-08-2016, 01:43 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nilss Quote
Hence I was wondering if I could replicate my manual, film experience with a digital camera also good in low-light. Preferably I would keep using my K-mount lenses so I can take them with me and mount them on whatever camera I want, film or digital.


My use cases are landscape, nature and animals, travel, city scapes, low light, astrophotography (=below-zero temperatures which is no issue for mechanical film cameras)


Any advice?
in my experience going digital - after 30 years shooting mainly reversal film with 35mm and medium format cameras - has not been a painless experience, so whatever your choice I wish you good luck.
In my opinion there isn't a clear cut choice, Fujifilm has the huge advantage of being a system born to be a digital tool, but if you already own good Pentax lenses then stay with Pentax.
01-08-2016, 01:44 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChristianRock Quote
would be using lenses like the Sigma 19/30/60. That would be a killer setup, I think.
I have all of them on the NEX-7.

They're pretty good, albeit f2.8, and focus by wire.
01-08-2016, 01:44 PM   #12
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I've used my K-50 for astrophotography when the local weather station was reporting -22C. It was so cold the LCD display on my telescope mount stopped responding. So did my finger-tips, for that matter, lol! The K-50 worked perfect, although the battery was dying quicker than normal, as you might expect. I'm not saying you should do this, but it worked for me.
01-08-2016, 01:50 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
I have all of them on the NEX-7.

They're pretty good, albeit f2.8, and focus by wire.
I think f2.8 is fine for what they are. And I don't have experience with focus by wire but if one doesn't mind AF only, they should be fine, right?

I hear the NEX-7 has issues in the sensor corners with these lenses, that were solved in the A6000, is that something you noticed?

And how do you think these Sigmas compare to the Pentax primes you have? Sorry to derail jut a bit, but inquiring minds need to know
01-08-2016, 02:31 PM - 1 Like   #14
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Since you mentioned you like to take shots in low light without a tripod, I thought I'd say a word or two on high ISO capability.

I took a very quick photo just now using my old K5, here in my kitchen. I set the camera at ISO 12800, 1/125 sec and the zoom lens at 80mm, f/8.0.

The first attachment shows a partial crop - just a small part - of the photo, unedited, viewed at 1:2 (ie. 50%) size (I took a screenshot of this while in Lightroom, viewing at 1:2, and dumped it into Paint). You can see there's lots of both colour and luminance noise (particularly in the mottled granite work-surface, the lower part of the bowl, the steel behind the apples - and the apples themselves, in fact). That said, considering the ISO sensitivity, it's not bad - and actually quite good when viewed from 3 - 4 feet away.

The second attachment is the same crop with some *gentle* colour and luminance noise reduction and a little sharpening, all done using Lightroom software. If you get close up to the screen, you can still see noise - I intentionally didn't get rid of it all, in order to preserve some detail. But even at normal screen viewing distance, this is a useable image. I could improve upon it further if I spent a bit of time on it, I'm certain. And when printed out, the level of noise visible in the second image will be negligible if even noticeable.

Yes, I took it on my K5, and I don't have experience of the K-50, but it won't be all that different, that's for sure.

What I'm getting at is, you can shoot at much higher ISO settings than most people think, because (a) software can remove most of the noise very effectively, and (b) no-one viewing your photos will have their face six inches from the screen, looking for noise and other artefacts (well, me and the other folks here might, LOL ).
Attached Images
   

Last edited by BigMackCam; 01-09-2016 at 11:15 AM.
01-08-2016, 03:22 PM   #15
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I would go with the K-S2

The sensor is better than the K-50's
The swivel screen and focus peaking make manual focus with old lenses pretty easy.
You'll get the hang of using the AF confirmation beep when focussing through the viewfinder
It is really very compact, certainly smaller than the K-50
You'll get used to the green button.

As mentioned above, neither camera will give you a weather sealed system if you use it with legacy glass - you need a weather sealed lens as well.
Yes, the shutter is noisy, relatively speaking. If you want quiet, the K-3 is much better.
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