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08-05-2016, 07:25 AM   #1
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Advice: Which Older (Cheaper) Pentax Body? (to pair with 50mm 1.2)

Hey guys, before I start I want to say I apologize in advance for creating another advice thread (which you are probably inundated with), but I need some semi-specific advice. Last time I was here (two years ago, yikes) I mentioned I wanted to upgrade to a DSLR body for ease of use and slap my SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.2 on it. I still haven't gone ahead with it, but I've gotten the bug again and want to make it happen. The only thing significantly holding me back is the low Canadian dollar, even Canadian sellers are asking USD (I don't blame them). Last time, a Pentaxian was nice enough to offer me a deal on a K-5/7, and in hindsight maybe I should have taken it! Because if anything, since then it seems the secondhand market has gotten more slow, and prices have stayed stagnant (or have maybe even gone up).

I guess this is an update to this "how old is too old" thread, which I read quite a while ago and was the only thing I could find similar to the topic.

Originally, my plan was to pick up a super cheap K10D/K100D/ist and their successors but I feel like they are too old by now (even though I'm still very temped by a 20D). I have a terrible case of purchasing products that are above my level because I unnecessarily think about preventing future upgrades, but I've learned that the camera market moves pretty quickly over the years. The K-7 has been the frontrunner (with the ideal K-5 is still out of my price range), but recently the K-r has intrigued me as it has some good stats but goes for much cheaper, am I missing something? Of course it doesn't have WR which was a long necessity for me until I read the thread I linked where someone said even the non-WR Pentax bodies are rugged. It's not like my old 50mm is WR, but a fully WR upgrade in the future would be a consideration. Nevertheless, the K-r is smaller and lighter (because of the lack of WR) which makes it appealing.

Essentially, I'm not looking for fancy features, just plain good old performance (resolution, ISO, FPS, etc.). Something to learn on and put my 50mm to good use with that I won't feel bad leaving around if I get busy. The Pentax equivalent to the Nikon D90 I once had would make me quite happy (or even something less than that). I'm just bummed I can't handle them in real life, compare the button placement and feel of each camera in my hands. That's important to me and would make a decision much easier. So if anyone can give some input, it would be great. It's too soon, but those vintage looking mirrorless cameras are super appealing, maybe I should keep waiting!

Anyway, potentially dumb question but is there anything that would specifically pair well with my 50mm? Or is it a question of opportunity, i.e. what I can find secondhand for the best price as soon as possible?

08-05-2016, 07:37 AM   #2
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Features that could be important for manual focus with a shallow dof lens:

Split prism screen - only available via aftermarket screens.

LiveView focus peaking.

The first of these can be added later.

Personally the K-30, or k-50 seem like just the ticket. A KS-1 would also work. Older units may also work but I can't give much insight. I own a k100D super but that isn't on your radar anymore. The viewfinder in the k100d series is darker and it isn't my first choice for manual focus.
08-05-2016, 07:48 AM   #3
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is there a budget or a minimum set of specs you're working with?
08-05-2016, 08:14 AM   #4
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This thread might get very interesting as you have an interesting lens there.


I would point you to the K-5 11S...not that I've ever used one but the K-1 is too new to be able to get as cheap.


Seriously though, as pepperberry farm asked, is there a budget or a minimum set of specs you're working with?
Handling some DSLRs would help, the weight difference and top LCD feature between say a K20D and a K-R may influence your choice. Is there no way you can do this? Does Ottowa not have any photography shops with Pentax that you can pop in to and play with them?

08-05-2016, 08:14 AM - 1 Like   #5
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If I had a 50mm 1.2A, I think it would be almost permanently welded to my K-01. Love that peaking.
08-05-2016, 08:20 AM   #6
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I recommend the K-7. It's the current "Best Buy" in used Pentax bodies. It has live view (important with a fast manual focus lens.) It has excellent image quality and decent performance in low light. It also set the mold for one of the best ergonomic designs for a modern camera, carried through to the current APS-C cameras. It also manages to be tough, and dense, but not heavy. It inspires confidence. The control layout is no-compromise, with two control wheels and all the controls readily accessible. I would not choose the K-r over a K-7.

The K-5 will be even better. It's the same camera but a bit quicker and better in low light. But it's not the bargain that the K-7 is right now.

The K-7 will also compare well to your old Nikon D90. If anything, the K-7 is a bit better. Nice Pentax image quality and sturdier camera.

I also agree heartily with Ontarian50. If you can live without the traditional SLR layout, the K-01 is a dream with manual focus lenses, and gives image quality even better than the K-5.
08-05-2016, 08:25 AM   #7
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I have the A50m f1.3 and it works well with both my K-7 and K-3. Both K-3 and K-7 were the semi-pro Pentax body in their time, and have many useful functionalities, incl. dual dials, top LCD, quieter shutter, metallic (sturdy) body.... Both are WR. The K-3 is a major improvement over the K-7 in terms of IQ and I would recommend it if you have the budget.

My 5 cents.
08-05-2016, 08:37 AM   #8
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even a good used K-3 (KEH has one for $528) would be a huge step up and should provide several years of service before needing to be upgraded...

08-05-2016, 09:00 AM   #9
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If you want really cheap and maybe even new and cheap at the same time, consider K-S1. I went for K-3 II recently but not selling my K-S1 exactly for the same reason I bought it. Very light, makes way much better images than anyone would expect from the cheapest entry level DSLR and combined with a nifty 50mm prime is a perfect walkaround gem. Currently available for 335 USD on ebay.com (body only) and 396 USD on Amazon for black and 349 USD for blue...
08-05-2016, 09:10 AM   #10
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I'm not too certain why you believe the K10D is too old. Is the ISO insufficient now or is there some other feature that you want that the K10D does not have. Knowing that will help you narrow things down for you.

When I am not using it with a film camera I have the A50 1.2 on my K10D and am very happy with it there. The camera/lens balance makes it feel as if it actually belongs with that camera.

Personally I think it would be a perfect fit for the K-1. Prices have been dropping on that camera so I wouldn't sell it short. The only problem is that there is no aftermarket split screen available to assist with focus. But it would certainly tick all the other boxes. A very fast 50 on a new Pentax full frame.
08-05-2016, 09:16 AM   #11
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If you decide you can live with a K10D, http://vintagevisuals.com/pentax.htm is advertising this:

"PENTAX K10D Digital SLR Camera Body w/ Pentax Battery Grip D-BG2, Batteries, Charger, Cords, Instructions, Case ex++ $295.00 Cdn"

I've never dealt with vintagevisuals.com myself, so I can't vouch for their reputation. But I've never had a problem dealing with these small businesses. I myself have a K200D I purchased around February for $129 CAD, body only (plus the original box and manual and even the cords). It's a great camera. The K10D probably is too.

Last edited by DougieD; 08-05-2016 at 09:17 AM. Reason: Hyperlink problem.
08-05-2016, 10:52 AM   #12
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If you want cheap, great image quality, easier focusing on a manual lens, light, etc. the KS1 is what you want. It is not WR, adn isn't a pro body, but it is 20mp, has no AA filter (but does have AA filter simulation) and should have no problem lasting for a long time. I bought a couple of the last Christmas for people and they are absolutely pleased. I also played around with one and I couldn't find fault in the image quality. Other than that for cheap I'd look at the K50.
08-05-2016, 11:00 AM   #13
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K-S1 all the way

Nice big bright optical viewfinder (same as K-3 series) and focus peaking for when you want exact focus. What else would you want?

You could also add the Pentax O-ME53 if you feel like you need an even bigger viewfinder image, and there's still aftermarket split screens out there.
08-05-2016, 11:06 AM   #14
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I was going to suggest a KS-1, K-01, or a K30 if you can find one on super sale.

I'm in Ottawa as well, hi!
08-05-2016, 11:17 AM   #15
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
Features that could be important for manual focus with a shallow dof lens:

Split prism screen - only available via aftermarket screens.

LiveView focus peaking.

The first of these can be added later.

Personally the K-30, or k-50 seem like just the ticket. A KS-1 would also work. Older units may also work but I can't give much insight. I own a k100D super but that isn't on your radar anymore. The viewfinder in the k100d series is darker and it isn't my first choice for manual focus.
Sounds expensive (the split prism screen). What is it exactly? I've done some looking at the K-30/50 and less so on the KS-1/2 but they are well out of my range. Maybe I ought to consider the K200d?

QuoteOriginally posted by pepperberry farm Quote
is there a budget or a minimum set of specs you're working with?
QuoteOriginally posted by Skodadriver Quote
This thread might get very interesting as you have an interesting lens there.

I would point you to the K-5 11S...not that I've ever used one but the K-1 is too new to be able to get as cheap.

Seriously though, as pepperberry farm asked, is there a budget or a minimum set of specs you're working with?
Handling some DSLRs would help, the weight difference and top LCD feature between say a K20D and a K-R may influence your choice. Is there no way you can do this? Does Ottowa not have any photography shops with Pentax that you can pop in to and play with them?
Sorry for not clarifying a budget (or even the kinds of photos I want to take which is usually helpful). I thought it might be inferred by the models I was considering. I think the maximum I want to go at this moment would be $200 (dare I say in CAD?). As for set of specs I don't have anything specific (not a pun). I did want to make a thread for my own situation just because of the lens. Unfortunately, I don't think there are any places around here that are guaranteed to have a couple older Pentax bodies I could compare. I could definitely go try out new bodies, but that would just make me envious!

QuoteOriginally posted by Ontarian50 Quote
If I had a 50mm 1.2A, I think it would be almost permanently welded to my K-01. Love that peaking.
I actually took a long break and returned to the forums just to research the K-01 a while ago. My lack of quick reply to this thread was because I saw your comment then went and looked through the whole https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/138-pentax-k-01/205155-lets-see-your-new-k01.html. The 50mm would look great on the K-01 and it would be such an ergonomic set-up compared to the other bodies I've been looking at. The main thing that uninterested me in the K-01 was the lack of built-in optical viewfinder. I know you can get an aftermarket one but it just isn't the same. Seriously considering it now.

QuoteOriginally posted by filmamigo Quote
I recommend the K-7. It's the current "Best Buy" in used Pentax bodies. It has live view (important with a fast manual focus lens.) It has excellent image quality and decent performance in low light. It also set the mold for one of the best ergonomic designs for a modern camera, carried through to the current APS-C cameras. It also manages to be tough, and dense, but not heavy. It inspires confidence. The control layout is no-compromise, with two control wheels and all the controls readily accessible. I would not choose the K-r over a K-7.

The K-5 will be even better. It's the same camera but a bit quicker and better in low light. But it's not the bargain that the K-7 is right now.

The K-7 will also compare well to your old Nikon D90. If anything, the K-7 is a bit better. Nice Pentax image quality and sturdier camera.

I also agree heartily with Ontarian50. If you can live without the traditional SLR layout, the K-01 is a dream with manual focus lenses, and gives image quality even better than the K-5.
Yeah I've always known the K-7 was my frontrunner. Your image quality comment really tempts me on the K-01, but I do really like the traditional SLR layout.

QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
I have the A50m f1.3 and it works well with both my K-7 and K-3. Both K-3 and K-7 were the semi-pro Pentax body in their time, and have many useful functionalities, incl. dual dials, top LCD, quieter shutter, metallic (sturdy) body.... Both are WR. The K-3 is a major improvement over the K-7 in terms of IQ and I would recommend it if you have the budget.

My 5 cents.
I don't have the budget for the K-3 but thanks for your input on the K-7!

QuoteOriginally posted by stein Quote
If you want really cheap and maybe even new and cheap at the same time, consider K-S1. I went for K-3 II recently but not selling my K-S1 exactly for the same reason I bought it. Very light, makes way much better images than anyone would expect from the cheapest entry level DSLR and combined with a nifty 50mm prime is a perfect walkaround gem. Currently available for 335 USD on ebay.com (body only) and 396 USD on Amazon for black and 349 USD for blue...
I was intrigued by the K-S1 but it's still out of my budget! I spent enough time away from Pentax news that I was surprised by the existence of the K-S1/2.

QuoteOriginally posted by Pioneer Quote
I'm not too certain why you believe the K10D is too old. Is the ISO insufficient now or is there some other feature that you want that the K10D does not have. Knowing that will help you narrow things down for you.

When I am not using it with a film camera I have the A50 1.2 on my K10D and am very happy with it there. The camera/lens balance makes it feel as if it actually belongs with that camera.

Personally I think it would be a perfect fit for the K-1. Prices have been dropping on that camera so I wouldn't sell it short. The only problem is that there is no aftermarket split screen available to assist with focus. But it would certainly tick all the other boxes. A very fast 50 on a new Pentax full frame.
The previous thread I linked had me under the impression that the K10D falls under the category of "too old". Obviously there are people that hold the opinion that nothing is too old, and the K10D club is still going strong for good reason. For me the upgrades on the K20D (sensor, ISO, resolution) make it a more viable candidate. I do think the K10/20D would be great to learn on and would make me appreciate a more "feature rich" camera in the future. I almost want to purposely buy a much older body for that reason.

Ah the K-1, but a dream for a guy like me...

QuoteOriginally posted by DougieD Quote
If you decide you can live with a K10D, PENTAX is advertising this:

"PENTAX K10D Digital SLR Camera Body w/ Pentax Battery Grip D-BG2, Batteries, Charger, Cords, Instructions, Case ex++ $295.00 Cdn"

I've never dealt with vintagevisuals.com myself, so I can't vouch for their reputation. But I've never had a problem dealing with these small businesses. I myself have a K200D I purchased around February for $129 CAD, body only (plus the original box and manual and even the cords). It's a great camera. The K10D probably is too.
Thanks I had no clue about that source, the price seems a bit steep compared to eBay right now though!
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