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10-21-2016, 06:10 PM - 9 Likes   #1
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K-1 or K-3 for birding

Having set up my K-3 with a DA*200 ƒ2.8 and a K-1 with a Tamron 300 ƒ2.8, shooting for the same DOF , shooting Blu Jays from my blind, the K-3 out performed the K-1 in every conceivable way. Subject detail, noise, colour rendition. And the weight penalty for using the K-1 and 300 2.8 is 4.5 pound. Not to mention the practical situations like the burst rate making image acquisition twice as fast on the K-3. That's very important with small birds where a "pose" may no last more than a second. The was virtually no difference in speed of AF.

My test

I did some testing today... tripods set up maybe 2 feet apart both in the blind, taken at approximately the same time.....

One taken with the K-3 and DA*200 ƒ2.8
One taken with the K-1 and Tamron SP AF 300 f2.8

To normalize DoF, the K-3 was shot at ƒ5.6 and 400 ISO
The K-1 was shot at ƒ8 and 800 ISO

The surprise from that was the K-3 had better noise and contrast.





But enough of the web sized comparisons what about the pixel peeper you all say.





The K-3 produced more subject magnification and a cleaner image and more vibrant colour. Not what I expected.

OK, so it's only one test... but, so far in my testing.... 1 for the K-3 as a birding camera, 0 for the K-1.

Meanwhile my K-3 combination wights 1745 grams, (3.84 pounds).my K-1 combination weighs 3675 (8.1 pounds. More than 4 pounds difference.


And the size difference is equally obvious.

So the question becomes, for birding, are you making a mistake thinking a K-1 will be an improvement.

The following images are split between K-1 and K3 images, can you even tell the difference. What is there in the bottom images that could be worth carrying an extra 4 pounds of weight, 8 pounds instead of less than 4, that will make it worth your while?

























The advantages of the K-3, faster burst, deeper buffer, and a much lighter lens to get the same FoV.

But if you get lucky, if you carry the heavy gear, if you can get shot off at an appropriate time, essentially if you get lucky, you can get a better image with a K-1.

K-1 and F 1.7x AF adapter on a Tamron SP AF 300 . 510mm ƒ4.5
ISO 3200, ƒ7.1, 1/400s

The one image I can point to where the K-1 images paid me back for the extra work. I'm sure printed to 50x60 this will be an awesome image. Anyone know someone who wants a 50 inch x 60 inch image of a Nuthatch.... I don't. And this is selected from the 250 images I've taken with both the K-3 and K-1 since I got the K-1. So once out of 250 keepers, which probably represent over 1000 images if not more, i felt the K-1 gave me something the K-3 couldn't.


If everything else is right, you have good light, focussed in the right place etc, you get the bird framed the way you want, your lens is long enough (the big) etc. etc, etc, the K-1 is better, but not in every circumstance as in whatever conditions produced the first two posted images. So far for an average shooter like myself with a reasonable amount of shooting under my belt, I take the K-3 out to get a new birds or to capture something specific. I take the K-1 out when I'm feeling lucky.

If worst comes to worst, if you're a birder, and you have your 500mm lens on your K-1 and you're too far away, just put your K-3 on the back of the big lens. It's not much different than having a 50% longer lens in your bag, and the whole system will weigh less. You might get your shot. Anything the K-3 does, the K-1 does smaller.


Last edited by normhead; 10-21-2016 at 07:15 PM.
10-21-2016, 06:26 PM   #2
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Thanks Norm - very interesting!
10-21-2016, 06:52 PM   #3
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An interesting test. Since the 300 you used is not a lens I have used I have only supposition as far as the quality (it has a good reputation) and I would ask if you happen to have an F* or FA * 300 you could try another time. I would be interested to see that as well since the weight penalty is lower. Again bravo I love seeing practical results vs simple pontification.

Last edited by UncleVanya; 10-21-2016 at 07:37 PM.
10-21-2016, 06:54 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by am1wayfarer Quote
Thanks Norm - very interesting!
No problem...

10-21-2016, 07:02 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
K-1 or K-3 for birding
Great experiment Norm. Thanks. I think you have answered a lot of the members unasked questions with this series.
10-21-2016, 07:13 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by pjv Quote
Great experiment Norm. Thanks. I think you have answered a lot of the members unasked questions with this series.
I hope so.

---------- Post added 10-21-16 at 10:18 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
An interesting test. Since the 309 you used is not a lens I have used I have only supposition as far as the quality (it has a good reputation) and I would ask if you happen to have an F* or FA * 300 you could try another time. I would be interested to see that as well since the weight penalty is lower. Again bravo I love seeing practical results vs simple pontification.
I will accept any lenses people want to see used in these comparisons. I'm not proud....

PM for my mailing address,
10-21-2016, 07:25 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
My test
I did some testing today... tripods set up maybe 2 feet apart both in the blind, taken at approximately the same time.....
One taken with the K-3 and DA*200 ƒ2.8
One taken with the K-1 and Tamron SP AF 300 f2.8
To normalize DoF, the K-3 was shot at ƒ5.6 and 400 ISO
The K-1 was shot at ƒ8 and 800 ISO
Not surprised as the k3 received twice as much light over the K1
10-21-2016, 07:33 PM   #8
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What no credit to the K1 for getting you ready for the gun show? Lotsa great shots here tfs.

10-21-2016, 07:39 PM   #9
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If shipping wasn't so dang expensive I would gladly send my FA* to you for a test.
10-21-2016, 07:54 PM   #10
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all of those pictures look very good. some of the differences in contrast could be just a position of the bird, relative to the light source. With birds, animals and kids, You take what you get. maybe you should set both cameras up together and shoot them at the same time. this will give you the best comparison.

Lighting makes a big difference in contrast, The movement of the bird can create shadows, And blur the picture. As far as magnification goes, The K-3 uses a crop sensor, if you crop to the same resolution with the K-1, you should get a similar magnification. And with the K-1, you can always shoot in crop mode. so a better comparison would be to use the same lens, And switch the K-1 to shoot in crop mode. As far as the weight goes, the K-1 is a heavy camera, and there's no getting around it. And if you want to shoot full frame at the same Image size, you're going to have to use a longer lens. That means more weight to carry around. The question you should be asking, do you need the extra resolution and the shorter comparative focal length capabilities that K-1 gives you, or do you need extra reach and a lighter camera system. in my opinion, if you going to do birding in the field, You don't need to be lugging around heavy equipment on a long hike. If you want to be stationary in a blind, and not hiking several miles to get to that point, you can use a heavier camera with better resolution. the K-1 has its strong points, but it has its weaknesses as well.

Just my thoughts.

Joe.
10-21-2016, 11:24 PM   #11
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Thanks for the post. Sure, for long shots, considering a fixed 1.5x crop, the K3 is the best value for money because it grabs more details out of the optics (finer pixel pitch). To get to the same conditions with a K1, use a 1.5x TC and you get your 36Mpixels that once downsized to 24Mp deliver better IQ when going deep i.e sucking more light in by forcing a lower ISO. The point of using the K1 is to have a single camera that does all from wide landscape to portraits to birds. The K1 still has the advantage of offering a wide range of crop ability when the subject distance changes. From a blind, the distance is fixed, that's a different situation. The larger the sensor, the higher the maximum image quality. You can get very good images out of a GH4 when the light is very good, but then, in the same conditions, the K1 trounce it. Of course, you can always compare a GH4 in good light image with a K1 is lower light condition and conclude that the GH4 is better than the K1.
10-22-2016, 03:42 AM   #12
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Thanks for this detailed comparison and analysis.

My only question would be whether the K-1 contrast issue is due to the 300/2.8 lens. I have a simple test that I often do with lenses where I take a picture (or just examine the live view image at 16X) of a back-lit window screen (open window with bright sky as the background). It's a quickie test for resolution, distortion, field flatness, CA, PF, etc. But it also tests the lens' contrast because the screen wires should be close to black unless all that light coming from the screen holes is flared/fogged/scattered by stuff inside the lens. Your 200/2.8 might simply have less flare/fog/scattering than the 300/2.8

(P.S. I'm sure there's some nuthatch nutter who'd love a 50x60 image of their beloved)
10-22-2016, 05:34 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ian Stuart Forsyth Quote
Not surprised as the k3 received twice as much light over the K1
Really?
The K-1 is supposed to have a one stop advantage, so it should have been equal, according to just about everyone. Apparently this is somewhat dependant on software and processing.

And the K-1 received the same light as the K-3, it just spread it over twice as wide a surface. I assume you understand these things, but choose to go the easy route just to make a point.


You do realize that to shoot the same DoF, I need to cut the light in half on the K-1? A 200mm lens has a lot more DoF at the same distance as a 300mm lens at the same ƒ-stop. You need to stop the 300 down to get similar results.

---------- Post added 10-22-16 at 08:42 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by photoptimist Quote
Thanks for this detailed comparison and analysis.

My only question would be whether the K-1 contrast issue is due to the 300/2.8 lens. I have a simple test that I often do with lenses where I take a picture (or just examine the live view image at 16X) of a back-lit window screen (open window with bright sky as the background). It's a quickie test for resolution, distortion, field flatness, CA, PF, etc. But it also tests the lens' contrast because the screen wires should be close to black unless all that light coming from the screen holes is flared/fogged/scattered by stuff inside the lens. Your 200/2.8 might simply have less flare/fog/scattering than the 300/2.8

(P.S. I'm sure there's some nuthatch nutter who'd love a 50x60 image of their beloved)
And actually that's the limitation of this kind of test. It's not all about the sensor. It might turn out that I prefer the look of the DA^200 on the K-3, to the look of the Tamron 300 on the K-1. I suspect a lot of times it's more about other things than FF vs. APS_c that influences these decisions. I find myself automatically reaching for the K-1 in low light. 3200 as a workable ISO is an advantage when shooting stationary objects and landscapes. Yesterday going for a walk near sunset, I didn't even bring the K-3. But for birding on forest walks, the K-3 has a pretty clear advantage.

Last edited by normhead; 10-22-2016 at 06:27 AM.
10-22-2016, 06:29 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Really?
The K-1 is supposed to have a one stop advantage, so it should have been equal, according to just about everyone. Apparently this is somewhat dependant on software and processing.


You do realize that to shoot the same DoF, I need to cut the light in half on the K-1? A 200mm lens has a lot more DoF at the same distance as a 300mm lens at the same -stop. You need to stop the 300 down to get similar results.

---------- Post added 10-22-16 at 08:42 AM ----------



And actually that's the limitation of this kind of test. It's not all about the sensor. It might turn out that I prefer the look of the DA^200 on the K-3, to the look of the Tamron 300 on the K-1. I suspect a lot of times it's more about other things than FF vs. APS_c that influences these decisions. I find myself automatically reaching for the K-1 in low light. 3200 as a workable ISO is an advantage when shooting stationary objects and landscapes. Yesterday going for a walk near sunset, I didn't even bring the K-3. But for birding on forest walks, the K-3 has a pretty clear advantage.
Exactly! It's all about picking the right tool (body+lens) for the job. For most of my photography (which rarely involves telephoto or high frame rates), I'll use the K-1. But for photos of my wife's swim meets, I'll probably bring the K-5.

The other area where there's a FF vs. APS-C reach difference is macro. Most macro lenses go to 1:1 but that's optical magnification. For subject sizes down to 36mm x 24mm (e.g., most plants, flowers, butterflies, larger insects, mushrooms, product pictures, etc.), a standard macro lens operates similarly on FF or APS-C (there's only some modest DoF & working distance differences in creating the "same" picture). But capturing smaller objects and scenes (small insects, tiny lichen patches, etc.) on an FF camera means either cropping or mucking about with extension tubes, teleconvertors, or bellows. I'm not sure how I'll handle that one although I like the fact that the K-1 cropped to APS-C is essentially my K-5 (with better DR and AF).
10-22-2016, 06:30 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
If shipping wasn't so dang expensive I would gladly send my FA* to you for a test.
There was guy who lives maybe 100 miles from me, who was going to bring his lenses up for an afternoon, as soon as his health got better. He had every Pentax telephoto anyone has ever dreamed about.Then I never heard from him again. The emails are deleted, so I can't check up on him. I hope his health got better and he just lost my address as opposed to his health never got better, you just never know with this darn internet.

Last edited by normhead; 10-22-2016 at 07:06 AM.
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