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01-09-2019, 12:48 PM   #1
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A case for coming back to Pentax (KP)

First and foremost, I really enjoy this forum over the bickering and fanboy-ism that is found on other popular photography sites. I find the forum members here to be much more thoughtful and constructive in their feedback and observations.

I am considering coming back to Pentax and I hope the KP could be a camera worth considering. Below are two scenarios:

The Ricoh replacement (I don't mind losing the pocketability):
Has anyone ever compared the center and edge sharpness of the HD DA 21mm f/3.2 to the Ricoh's 18.3mm f/2.8?

I am tempted to pair this lens with the KP, which would result in a close to equiv. FOV, faster focusing, better DR, and better high-iso handling. If the lens is as sharp Ricoh's 18.3 f/2.8, I think it would be a nice gateway back into Pentax.

The PNW, Forest Hiking - D500 Alternative:
I sold my K-3II a few months back for the D500. I have no intentions of leaving my D500 as it is a great camera. I am however looking to get a 300mm F/4 and the KP/300 is CHEAPER than Nikon's 300mm F/4 PF.

My rationale:
- the KP buffer doesn't concern me as Pentax's JPEG output is solid and the buffer is more than enough for quick bursts
- I primarily shoot in RAW with my D500 because high ISO (3200) is grainy and it's easier to clean up in LR
- a 300mm F/4 kit is for hiking in forests in the PNW, and the KP's output in lowlight is likely better than the D500

I am mostly interested in the first scenario, although the second scenario is a really nice parlay with great odds.

01-09-2019, 01:07 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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I can't comment on the GR's 18.3mm f/2.8, but I've read about it and looked at tests / reviews online.

I can, however, say that the HD DA21 f/3.2 Limited is a delightful lens; actually, my favourite DA Limited. It's sharp in the centre from wide open, with peak centre sharpness at f/5.6. The extreme borders aren't outstanding wide open... you need to stop down to f/5.6+ for really good results, and peak resolution for the borders is around f/8 (from what I've read, the GR lens performs in a similar manner). Yet I wouldn't hesitate to shoot the DA21 wide open... The rendering is lovely, and CA is well controlled at all apertures.

It would make a perfect partner for the KP, IMHO
01-09-2019, 01:25 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I can't comment on the DA 21, don't have one, yet.

But your second point; I've yet to find a camera that produced high ISO Jpg out-put as well as the KP does. Especially at 3200, I was blown away (I'm not a high ISO shooter not a Jpg shooter) but this opened up a new area of shooting for me.

Check out a few of the images here for examples.
01-09-2019, 01:36 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by sutherland Quote
First and foremost, I really enjoy this forum over the bickering and fanboy-ism that is found on other popular photography sites. I find the forum members here to be much more thoughtful and constructive in their feedback and observations.

I am considering coming back to Pentax and I hope the KP could be a camera worth considering. Below are two scenarios:

The Ricoh replacement (I don't mind losing the pocketability):
Has anyone ever compared the center and edge sharpness of the HD DA 21mm f/3.2 to the Ricoh's 18.3mm f/2.8?

I am tempted to pair this lens with the KP, which would result in a close to equiv. FOV, faster focusing, better DR, and better high-iso handling. If the lens is as sharp Ricoh's 18.3 f/2.8, I think it would be a nice gateway back into Pentax.

The PNW, Forest Hiking - D500 Alternative:
I sold my K-3II a few months back for the D500. I have no intentions of leaving my D500 as it is a great camera. I am however looking to get a 300mm F/4 and the KP/300 is CHEAPER than Nikon's 300mm F/4 PF.

My rationale:
- the KP buffer doesn't concern me as Pentax's JPEG output is solid and the buffer is more than enough for quick bursts
- I primarily shoot in RAW with my D500 because high ISO (3200) is grainy and it's easier to clean up in LR
- a 300mm F/4 kit is for hiking in forests in the PNW, and the KP's output in lowlight is likely better than the D500

I am mostly interested in the first scenario, although the second scenario is a really nice parlay with great odds.
The KP is a good walk-around choice. The 300mm f4 is an excellent telephoto. My preference for the Forest hiking + KP would be the 20-40mm Ltd. it is an excellent lens with more options than the DA21, but a little bigger. Just my opinion based on my K3ii + DA* 300mm + 20-40mm Ltd.

01-09-2019, 01:48 PM   #5
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KP + 21 is a great choice for compactness and street photography.
It's not, however, what I'd take for hiking, particularly in a wet forest.
And the DA*300 is bigger and heavier than what I'd generally hike with as well.
For that, my current kit is 16-85 and 55-300PLM. Both are water resistant, and have good IQ. The 55-300PLM isn't as good as the DA*300, but it's pretty close, a zoom, faster focusing, and half the size and weight. And with the KP being so good at higher ISO, it's not as much a worry that the 55-300 PLM is a little slower.
The 20-40 is a good option too.
01-09-2019, 02:25 PM   #6
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Thanks for the responses!

Just a note, I do not intend on using the DA 21 with the KP for hiking. If I went the KP route, I would only take the 300mm F/4 as it would be used for birds/wildlife.

The DA 21 is for everything else, of which I prefer that 28mm focal length (DA 21 is in the ball park).
01-09-2019, 02:27 PM   #7
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The first time I saw the KP at the Birmingham UK photo show in spring 2017, it had the 20-40 mounted on it. It looked like they were designed to be together. My wife picked it up and (despite being an Olympus M1 user) was very complimentary about it. Last year she bought a KP with the DA70 ltd as a portrait option for a wedding. Then she found a DA21 ltd and DA 20-40 ltd.. majority of her photos are now shot on the KP. (Helps that I have a drawer full of K mount glass..)

I would echo the comments above that for hiking, the 20-40 is better suited for inclement weather. However, the DA21 has an edge for landscape. And the small DA ltd primes on the KP are not much bigger than the M1 with its small primes. Plus the battery last all day on the KP - not something the M1 shines at...

It's also pretty good for birding with the DFA 150-450, but I suspect the D500 has an edge there.

:-)
01-09-2019, 02:49 PM   #8
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I'm in a similar struggle, KP or lumix G85. Sizes are similar, weather seals, 4k vs. Pentax marvels like AstroTracer. Prefer tip screen to flip, always loved Pentax fit & feel. Still working in it.. keeping my DA Limiteds either way

01-09-2019, 03:35 PM - 1 Like   #9
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The DA* 300 is larger than the phase Fresnel Nikon and likely slower to focus though good technique can help there. The older F* or FA* f4.5 will be smaller and lighter and perhaps a tad faster focusing (not withstanding quickshift) but will fringe more.

The DA 60-250 is another option to consider albeit slow focusing also. The other consideration is that at closer than 10m the 60-250 suffers from strong focus breathing: @250mm mfd it performs about like 135mm.
01-09-2019, 03:38 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by sutherland Quote
Thanks for the responses!

Just a note, I do not intend on using the DA 21 with the KP for hiking. If I went the KP route, I would only take the 300mm F/4 as it would be used for birds/wildlife.
Pairing it up with the 1.4x HD TC as necessary will make a great combo, Sutherland!
01-09-2019, 03:52 PM - 3 Likes   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
The DA* 300 is larger than the phase Fresnel Nikon and likely slower to focus though good technique can help there. The older F* or FA* f4.5 will be smaller and lighter and perhaps a tad faster focusing (not withstanding quickshift) but will fringe more.

The DA 60-250 is another option to consider albeit slow focusing also. The other consideration is that at closer than 10m the 60-250 suffers from strong focus breathing: @250mm mfd it performs about like 135mm.
QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Pairing it up with the 1.4x HD TC as necessary will make a great combo, Sutherland!
And I'll add one more option based on both of the above posts... The DA60-250 f/4 paired with the 1.4x HD TC. It's a lovely, if rather costly, combination. The lens is fantastic - though not the fastest focusing, as @UncleVanya points out (manual pre-focusing to the general area helps). The real issue is the focus breathing at close range, but that's where the TC steps in. Of course, you lose a stop of light by using it, but since you can shoot wide open with this lens and get phenomenal results, I've not yet found that to be a significant problem.

As I said, it's not an inexpensive combo, but I've been overjoyed with the DA60-250 + HD 1.4x TC. It's a very versatile pairing that, with optional use of the TC as needed, covers a lot of different use cases...

Last edited by BigMackCam; 01-09-2019 at 04:04 PM.
01-09-2019, 04:00 PM - 1 Like   #12
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I have the KP and have had the DA 21mm for a number of years. It is a fine lens. Like BigMack, I've found the central area to be very sharp right from wide open, with edges being just good until f/5.6 where they sharpen up nicely. It is great in being so compact for easy carrying, and a good versatile FL. However, since getting the DA 20-40mm DC WR Limited I don't use the 21mm as much. I find the edge performance at 20mm wide open is better than the DA 21mm LTD. It is remarkably compact and also, as has been said, it seems to have been designed with the KP in mind, they go so well together for light carrying, and style-wise. Balance is great. I got silver in both- a great look! I've gotten such fine results from it on my KP I highly recommend it without hesitation.

Right now Adorama has an incredible sale price going for it- $449.95! By far the lowest price I have seen. Nearly 1/2 price! It is shown as backordered, however, but you place your order at that price and get notification as soon as it comes in.

You can google each lens under its name, and find a review by Imaging Resource with a test shot of actual real world objects in their still life scene. They offer shots at wide open aperture and again at f/8, so when you select one of these and it opens to that shot, you then click on the center, which is the right edge of the basket. Then a huge blowup occurs. You can then move around to different areas of the image. Check for sharpness and detail in the two images on the Hellas and Fiddler's Elbow bottles, and the writing on the Samuel Smith bottle, as well as other objects. For edge performance, (of course never being as good as in central area) move over to the farthest brush and circular numerical scale, as well as the top edge of the basket.

Unfortunately, this test was somewhat compromised for shots wth the DA 21mm, since there was quite a bit of reflected glare coming in from a window, affecting contrast and obscuring some details.

The KP's JPEG output is great, and can be time saving. Just be sure to remember to implement "Fine Sharpening" in the Custom Image menus.

Last edited by mikesbike; 01-09-2019 at 04:09 PM.
01-09-2019, 04:17 PM - 2 Likes   #13
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Yea, I don't expect the Pentax 300mm f/4 to match the newer Nikon 300mm f/4 in terms of focus speed (very few telephoto lenses can match that new PF in terms of focus speed). BUT weight wise, only a slight difference (I am used to lugging around a 500mm f/4):
2.35 for the Pentax 300mm f/4
1.66 for the Nikon 300mm f/4 PF

and like the Nikon 300mm f/4 PF, identical in Minimum Focal Distance...which means really nice macro'esque, butterfly, mushroom photography with great background compression / subject isolation.

For now, I'll start with DA 21 and KP. The 300mm is definitely a consideration and as the weather warms up, I'll see what is available (new offering from Pentax or 3rd party K-Mount) and used.
01-09-2019, 04:23 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by sutherland Quote
For now, I'll start with DA 21 and KP.
I can't imagine you'd be anything other than delighted with that combo. I don't own the KP, though I've tried one and liked it. I do have the DA21 which I use on my slightly bigger and heavier K-3 and K-3II. I suspect the DA21 + KP would seem to be made for each other
01-09-2019, 04:32 PM   #15
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The KP and a 21 should be a delightful combo. I liked my copy by sold it (along with my da40 limited) with no regrets except maybe for size for my 20-40 limited.

I shoot raw+jpeg on the KP because the jpegs are often more than good enough up to 3200iso, and I then have raw files to work with if I really need it. The KPs raw files are staggeringly good coming from the already pretty good K-30.
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