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07-19-2016, 05:13 PM   #1
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Help Deciding New Camera (K-3ii, K-1 or Sony!)

Hello, im looking to upgrade my camera and hoping some of you can provide some insight on what would be the best choice.

Ive been using a K-5ii for 2 years now. I absolutely love this camera if im outside and have plenty of sunshine. However, i can not seem to get enough light into the camera when indoors or even out side in the shade or on a cloudy day. It drives me bananas! If inside i have to use the built in flash which may or may not help, or i have to increase ISO past 3200 which destroys the image itself. I also have a big problem with this cameras auto-focus. Its horrendous and even my pentax point and shoot does better at times. The focus is also mostly related to not having enough light. If i can get my pentax on a tripod and lower the shutter i can get light, but obviously this requires a still subject, which is seldom the case..

I typically only shoot portrait type images, some landscape (mountains and waterfalls), time lapse, astro and street images. I like very crisp focused images and also like to play around with depth of field..

That said, im trying to decide between a simple upgrade to the K-3ii or going full frame with the k-1 or even the sony A7S ii.. Price is not an issue. Unfortunately, the closest camera shop is almost 3 hours away so putting my hands on any of these before buying is not an option either.. Is the K-3ii really a significant upgrade from the k-5ii? Is it just my kit lens (DA 18-135) causing my issues?

Based on the info provided, does anyone has any insight on which of these would be the best for my simple needs? What will give me the best focusing and allow me to take decent images on a cloudy day without a flash and without having to crank up the ISO? All suggestions are appreciated! thanks

07-19-2016, 05:33 PM   #2
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you need to upgrade your lens. if money is not an issue then get the sigma 18-35 f1.8. and sigma 50-150 f 2.8. or sigma 70-200 f2.8 HSM. that's all you need.
07-19-2016, 05:38 PM   #3
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DA 18-135 is an excellent lens, when there is plenty of light. As noted above the issue is your lens. Try a fast 50mm or a 16-50 or 17-50 f/2.8 zoom.

The K-3II is definitely a step up, particularly in auto-focus, but if much of your work is indoor the k-3 with it's on board flash might be better.

QuoteOriginally posted by nrgcreator Quote
What will give me the best focusing and allow me to take decent images on a cloudy day without a flash and without having to crank up the ISO?
Best? And money no object? The K-1 with the DFA 24-70 f/2.8. And you can crank the ISO much higher than on your k-5II as well.
07-19-2016, 05:44 PM   #4
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I have the K-5IIS and it has done an excellent job for me. I also have a K-3II, which provides very detailed images from distance shooting (cropped and not cropped) and the AF is excellent in both tracking (ex. birds in flight, collegiate soccer) and stills/slow moving. Any camera is going to be looking for normal light to not have a higher ISO or focus at an efficient rate, that is what flash was created to handle and that is why I have 3 Pentax AF360FGZ's. On the other hand, in reference to the K-1, I have read that it does not create images that suffer from noise due to low light at higher ISO levels. I do not own a K-1 so I could not personally say, but with its' more megapixels and being effective at the higher ISO levels in low light, it may be something you find interest in. Good luck and happy shooting.


Last edited by C_Jones; 07-19-2016 at 05:50 PM.
07-19-2016, 05:48 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by nrgcreator Quote
Hello, im looking to upgrade my camera and hoping some of you can provide some insight on what would be the best choice.

Ive been using a K-5ii for 2 years now. I absolutely love this camera if im outside and have plenty of sunshine. However, i can not seem to get enough light into the camera when indoors or even out side in the shade or on a cloudy day. It drives me bananas! If inside i have to use the built in flash which may or may not help, or i have to increase ISO past 3200 which destroys the image itself. I also have a big problem with this cameras auto-focus. Its horrendous and even my pentax point and shoot does better at times. The focus is also mostly related to not having enough light. If i can get my pentax on a tripod and lower the shutter i can get light, but obviously this requires a still subject, which is seldom the case..

I typically only shoot portrait type images, some landscape (mountains and waterfalls), time lapse, astro and street images. I like very crisp focused images and also like to play around with depth of field..

That said, im trying to decide between a simple upgrade to the K-3ii or going full frame with the k-1 or even the sony A7S ii.. Price is not an issue. Unfortunately, the closest camera shop is almost 3 hours away so putting my hands on any of these before buying is not an option either.. Is the K-3ii really a significant upgrade from the k-5ii? Is it just my kit lens (DA 18-135) causing my issues?

Based on the info provided, does anyone has any insight on which of these would be the best for my simple needs? What will give me the best focusing and allow me to take decent images on a cloudy day without a flash and without having to crank up the ISO? All suggestions are appreciated! thanks
I'd go for the K-1 / a full frame sensor if you're not happy with the K-5's ISO performance at ISO 3200.

Your AF issue may be related to your lens or, in part, bad settings, since the K-5's viewfinder AF is rated for very low light. Its live view autofocus isn't very good, though; this has been considerably improved on later bodies.

The K-3 II is a big upgrade in most other areas, but you'll have to go to a larger format if you want less noise.

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07-19-2016, 05:58 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by nrgcreator Quote
Hello, im looking to upgrade my camera and hoping some of you can provide some insight on what would be the best choice.

Ive been using a K-5ii for 2 years now. I absolutely love this camera if im outside and have plenty of sunshine. However, i can not seem to get enough light into the camera when indoors or even out side in the shade or on a cloudy day.

I typically only shoot portrait type images, some landscape (mountains and waterfalls), time lapse, astro and street images. I like very crisp focused images and also like to play around with depth of field..

Price is not an issue. Unfortunately, the closest camera shop is almost 3 hours away so putting my hands on any of these before buying is not an option either.. Is the K-3ii really a significant upgrade from the k-5ii? Is it just my kit lens (DA 18-135) causing my issues?

Based on the info provided, does anyone has any insight on which of these would be the best for my simple needs? What will give me the best focusing and allow me to take decent images on a cloudy day without a flash and without having to crank up the ISO? All suggestions are appreciated! thanks
If budget is not an issue, the best upgrade based on your statements is the K-1. FF is going to give you top tier resolution and the range of even less depth of field for your portraits.
The K3 is an improvement over the K5II but if you go that route, you need to invest in faster glass or embrace primes. Just upgrading bodies in APS-C will not have a significant difference.
07-19-2016, 06:17 PM   #7
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Drop the USD100 for a DA 50 1.8, and see if that improves things at all. Or the FA 50 1.4

At 1.4, that is 1.4 - 2 - 2.8 - 4 about 3 stops more light. That'll bring your ISO of 3200 down to 800.
07-19-2016, 06:59 PM   #8
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I can only confirm what's said above. If you want to change the whole system you have to make that session now and go for Sony a7 R II or a7S. However the safest bet would be to go in little steps. I used to have Pentax K5IIs and K3II but recently purchased K1.
Each one of these are more then capable of taking very nice shots in a dim lighting. Obviously full frame K1 and Sony a7 series will handle low light better then crop. The biggest factor is lens. I woul get a cheap but very good FA 50, f1.4. If you're happy with the results you can either keep you current camera or update to K3II. It doesn't have a built in flash but in my opinion flash should by only an emergency option or to be used as a fill in. If you have a fast lens in most of the situations you don't need a flash.
If you want some more improvements, then get yourself a K1. You can still use FA50mm, f1.4 and you can add to it an D-FA 24-70, f2.8 and D-FA 70-200, f2.8.
That will definitely give you results you're after.
Happy snapping

07-19-2016, 07:36 PM   #9
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Let me restate your problem description a bit. I'm going to take a liberty here and say that when you are indoors, trying to take a picture, as you zoom - you ability to get a good picture gets worse, and you have to increase the ISO even more.

The 18-135 lens is a variable aperture lens - which means that at 18 you can shoot at f3.5, but as you zoom towards 135, your available f stop increases to f5.6. That is probably some part of your problem.

Another large part of the problem is that f3.5 lets in a fair amount of light, but f2.8 or f2 or f1.8 or f1.4 lets in tremendously more light. So, a faster lens will help significantly.

Another factor is a constant aperture lens vs your variable aperture lens. As above the 18-135/f3.5-f5.6 the aperture varies with the zoom. A constant aperture like the 16-50/f2.8 lets in a lot more light, and the f2.8 aperture is available across the entire zoom range of 16 to 50mm.

There are two parts to your solution - upgrade your lens, or upgrade your body, or both. You will get more mileage out of upgrading your lens
  • Lens Upgrade - as others have posted you have a lot of options here. A couple of things to watch out for. The Sigma 18-35/f1.8 is a tremendous lens, however folks have reported focusing issues through the viewfinder. Canon and Nikon users have the same issue. There are several threads on this here on the Forum. Another item to watch out for is getting a cropped sensor lens, and then possibly moving to a full frame camera body - you might not be able to take full advantage of the full size sensor with a cropped lens. The new full size DFA lenses are heavy and large.
  • Body Upgrade - A full frame body will give you a 1 f stop advantage at an equivalent ISO as compared to a cropped sensor body. A bigger sensor just gathers more light - physics at work. That said, the K1 is going to be larger and heavier and to take full advantage of the larger sensor, you need full frame lenses - which are heavier and larger. The Sony A7s is a wonderful low light camera. It's 12MP vs the 16MP on your K5 against 36MP on a K1. It's a significantly smaller body with smaller controls, but the lenses are going to be larger and heavier - compared to your 18-135.
In terms of doing a upgrade - you could let your fingers do the walking - i.e., mail order through B&H, Adorama or Amazon where they have liberal return policies (30 days I think, but you need to check). Start with a lens first perhaps - say a 16-50/2.8 and see how that works out. If it solves your problem you are done. If not, maybe try the 50/f1.8 or f1.4 or go the camera body route. With the camera body route, you will probably need to pair a lens with the body.

07-19-2016, 07:40 PM - 1 Like   #10
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I would strongly recommend AGAINST the Sony. I made the mistake of purchasing a Sony A7Rii. The interface on the A7Rii is not user friendly and the battery life very shot. The new G Master lens are as big as any DSLR lens, so there is no weight savings and they make the camera bigger than many DSLRs. The there is the atrocious view finder. When shooting fast moving subjects the live view just can't keep up. I sold it and two Zeiss lens after 891 shutter actuations and purchase the K-1.
07-19-2016, 08:20 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
Let me restate your problem description a bit. I'm going to take a liberty here and say that when you are indoors, trying to take a picture, as you zoom - you ability to get a good picture gets worse, and you have to increase the ISO even more.

The 18-135 lens is a variable aperture lens - which means that at 18 you can shoot at f3.5, but as you zoom towards 135, your available f stop increases to f5.6. That is probably some part of your problem.

Another large part of the problem is that f3.5 lets in a fair amount of light, but f2.8 or f2 or f1.8 or f1.4 lets in tremendously more light. So, a faster lens will help significantly.

Another factor is a constant aperture lens vs your variable aperture lens. As above the 18-135/f3.5-f5.6 the aperture varies with the zoom. A constant aperture like the 16-50/f2.8 lets in a lot more light, and the f2.8 aperture is available across the entire zoom range of 16 to 50mm.

There are two parts to your solution - upgrade your lens, or upgrade your body, or both. You will get more mileage out of upgrading your lens
  • Lens Upgrade - as others have posted you have a lot of options here. A couple of things to watch out for. The Sigma 18-35/f1.8 is a tremendous lens, however folks have reported focusing issues through the viewfinder. Canon and Nikon users have the same issue. There are several threads on this here on the Forum. Another item to watch out for is getting a cropped sensor lens, and then possibly moving to a full frame camera body - you might not be able to take full advantage of the full size sensor with a cropped lens. The new full size DFA lenses are heavy and large.
  • Body Upgrade - A full frame body will give you a 1 f stop advantage at an equivalent ISO as compared to a cropped sensor body. A bigger sensor just gathers more light - physics at work. That said, the K1 is going to be larger and heavier and to take full advantage of the larger sensor, you need full frame lenses - which are heavier and larger. The Sony A7s is a wonderful low light camera. It's 12MP vs the 16MP on your K5 against 36MP on a K1. It's a significantly smaller body with smaller controls, but the lenses are going to be larger and heavier - compared to your 18-135.
In terms of doing a upgrade - you could let your fingers do the walking - i.e., mail order through B&H, Adorama or Amazon where they have liberal return policies (30 days I think, but you need to check). Start with a lens first perhaps - say a 16-50/2.8 and see how that works out. If it solves your problem you are done. If not, maybe try the 50/f1.8 or f1.4 or go the camera body route. With the camera body route, you will probably need to pair a lens with the body.

Another point... besides upgrading the lens, lens and body, why not try to upgrade your skill in using flash effectively....there is a lot more joy to getting photos using flash to enhance the lighting condition, whether it is indoor or outdoor.
07-19-2016, 08:22 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by fwbigd Quote
I would strongly recommend AGAINST the Sony. I made the mistake of purchasing a Sony A7Rii. The interface on the A7Rii is not user friendly and the battery life very shot. The new G Master lens are as big as any DSLR lens, so there is no weight savings and they make the camera bigger than many DSLRs. The there is the atrocious view finder. When shooting fast moving subjects the live view just can't keep up. I sold it and two Zeiss lens after 891 shutter actuations and purchase the K-1.
Totally agree here. All my videographer friends love the Sony because they prefer to always shoot with live view and they use the camera mostly for video. But unless the OP has experience with an EVF, video is a priority over stills, I highly recommend against it. Some folks love mirrorless, but to me it is too different an interface with how I prefer and enjoy shooting with an SLR.
07-19-2016, 08:37 PM   #13
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If money is no object, then consider renting each from a store like lensrentals.com or borrowlenses.com and see which one works best for you ( K-1 vs A7Rii).

I'd definitely go FF with a fast (f/2.8 or better) lens. Though you will be dealing with a bit of added weight.. that's one of the trade offs.
07-19-2016, 09:31 PM   #14
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If money is not an issue, take a Photography 101 lesson. Then you will know where are your limits. The camera, the glass, or something else.
07-19-2016, 09:47 PM - 1 Like   #15
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The K3 brings more resolution and more noise. The cheapest upgrade against low light for still photography is a good tripod, and due to the life time of a tripod, it's a cheap solution, however, good tripods are not very light weight and you have to carry it.

Other than that, a Pentax K1 bring you to the next level of low light image quality + ability to crop or higher image quality anyway.
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