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6 Days Ago   #1
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On the topic of upgrades

Hi guys, I have recently been considering the dreaded body/lens kit upgrade thingy...

So, I have been in this DSLR hobby for a year or so now. Let's review my current gear and how I normally use it:

-Camera:
Pentax K-7. 23K shots or so (around 6-7K mine since I bought it used last year), first DSLR I own, plenty of life left in it, thing's built out of tank parts I'm sure.

-Lenses:

-18-55 WR. It came with the camera... and with a ding on the filter thread, which makes putting the damned CPL on a challenge every time. It's also slow and the K-7 and high ISO don't mesh well, so I got a...
-Tamron 17-50/2.8. Workhorse of a lens, probably shoots around half or more of all I do.
-Pentax-M 50/1.7. Love it in general, but it ends up playing second fiddle to the Tammy in most of the cases unless I *know* I'm going to shoot people... just much more pleasant than the zoom.
-Porst 35/2.8. I have zero clue why I got this, because a 50mm 2.8 on APS-C is less than stellar. I *do* like the colours on it and it feels great on the Pentax ME, plus it was like 20Ä so it's no big deal.
-Tamron 90/2.5 Macro AF. I somehow relieved the local second-hand store of this little marvel for 35Ä and couldn't be more pleased with it! Works incredibly well for portraits and it's razor sharp without, I feel, looking too "clinical".
-Pentax-M 135/3.5 Absolutely lovely rendering and handling; I guess it would be even better on full frame (given I am gushing all out the equivalent-on-crop 90/2.5 already).
-Tokina RMC-II 80-200/4.0. It's... it works. It's a lightweight long tele zoom. It's a tad too dreamy wide open but it works well enough at F/5.6-8 when I remember to turn SR off (or to change it to the OTHER SIDE of the zoom range). I got it because it was lighter than the anti-tank-cannon-sized Tokina 70-210/3.5 two-ring monstruosity I parted with. I swear I got like two entire sharp shots in 3 trips. 1.2 kg of front-facing dead weight.


So... the complaints. I genuinely think that my lenses got me mostly covered (I considered getting the 55-300 instead of the Tokina but the K-7 can't use the PLM and I'm not sure it's worth getting the previous versions...). I am more than satisfied by the K-7's handling and feeling. I have zero problems before 6 PM.

And then the lights dim. Or you go inside. And you're scared of pumping ISO beyond 400 because it's a technicolor festival with all of that noise. At 800, you are good for 1920x1080 wallpapers (or small prints) sometimes if it's a high-contrast scene and don't look too hard and if you absolutely don't have to crop too much. At 1600 there's not saving anything. Night photography is an exercise in frustration because even at ISO 100, for some reason, all my pictures come out grainy like sandpaper. I have to try some more settings once I get the chance for some more night photos, but we'll see. For interior, dim light shots I don't think there's any workaround beyond 1.4 primes and that's not really desirable anyway...

Then, on to the actual question. I am considering saving up for a new (used, finances can't be stretched that much in the near future...) body, but I am at a crossroads. Do I stay on the lookout for a K-5/5ii? I generally don't feel like I need a lot of MPs and the body of the K-7 is outstanding already. Should I save up for a KP? I like the look but I haven't been able to handle it in person yet. K70? It feels like an ergonomics downgrade. Or, dare I say, a K-1? There I would probably have to take a hit in lens expenses or use the Tammy in crop mode... but all the other lenses I have are full frame.

For clarification: I'd be willing to spend around 200/250Ä on a K5 in the near future. For an expense of about 400-500 I might convince myself of a Christmas self-gift. A KP/K-1 would most likely wait until spring next year or so, at least.

I would appreciate any words of advice! If there's anything that can help iron out my technique I'd appreciate staving off the GAS symptons for another year or two

I'll try to post pictures that show the issues once I get to my computer.

Thanks in advance!
Serk


Last edited by Serkevan; 6 Days Ago at 09:53 AM.
6 Days Ago - 2 Likes   #2
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It's hard to tell without an actual budget. You say your finances can't be stretched but you mention you are even considering a K-1... so a KP shouldn't really be a stretch, should it?

The truth is, from the user experience side of it, something like a K-5II or K-5IIs would make the most sense, as it's basically the same style body as your K-7 which you like. The earlier first version of the K-5 has issues focusing in artificial light, so I would skip that when the II versions can be had for not much more.

...or get a K-3 which also has a great feel and a user experience that might be considered an upgrade from the K-7/K-5 models...

...or the KP which will be a definite improvement over the K-5/K-3 models in terms of image quality, and the SR is better, but the user experience will not be quite the same - no top LCD, and the grip will be a bit smaller... still, people say they get used to it as the camera's quality is worth it.

...or the K-70 which will also have a similar image quality as the KP but a more prosumer style body...

Really, it depends on what is more important to you and how much you want to spend on a body, and how much you want to leave to upgrade your lenses, especially on the tele side. Speaking of tele side - Pentax has older 55-300mm versions which have faster aperture (f/4-5.8 compared to f/4.5.-6.3 in the PLM) and would still give you much better image quality compared to your Tokina. These older versions would be the SMC DA (the original 55-300) and SMC DA-L (cheaper and lighter with no metal mount and no quick shift focus), and there's also the HD DA WR version (added better HD coatings and WR sealing). All of those are screw drive focus and would work with all Pentax DSLRs, including the K-7.
6 Days Ago - 1 Like   #3
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I upgraded from a K10D to a K-5IIs several months ago. Bought it from a member here on the forum. I'm very happy with it. The image quality at ISO 800-1000 is every bit as good as the K10D at ISO 400. I've taken some really nice images at ISO 1600, and the adjustable in-camera noise reduction has given me some decent and usable shots at 3200. It has many more useful features (not gimmicks); I still haven't tried them all. It's only one generation newer than your K-7, but is a highly respected model. The layout of the K10D vs. K-5IIs was so similar that it took very little time to get used to it. I imagine the same would be true of a K-7 vs. K-5. Read the review here:
Pentax K-5 IIs - Pentax K-mount DSLRs - Pentax Camera Reviews and Specifications

Pay no attention to the average price mentioned in the review. They can be had for much less.

You can compare the features and read reviews of other models here:
Pentax K-mount DSLRs - Pentax Pentax Digital Cameras - Pentax Camera Reviews and Specifications

Models newer than the K-5 will have even better high ISO (and AF) performance.


If I were you, I'd sell the 18-55. I was never happy with the images it produced. I sold mine and got a Sigma 17-70mm Macro; much better lens. You already have the Tamron 17-50, so the 18-55 is redundant (except for the WR, if that is important to you). You won't get much for it, but you can add the $$ to your upgrade budget.
6 Days Ago   #4
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I updated the post. It's more "I don't want to put a sizeable amount of cash now recklessly (in a way) when I'm not really in *need* of gear" than "I cannot afford it". I'm generally frugal with my lifestyle so it's difficult for me to mentally justify large hobby expenses. I agree that the K5ii/s is most likely the better option. I wouldn't really consider a K3; it doesn't seem to have a much better sensor than the 5 aside from the extra MP and I'm not sure I need that.

6 Days Ago - 1 Like   #5
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be sure to check out the user reviews and in depth reviews under " cameras " and " lenses " above

and there is also the comparison tool:

Pentax K-5 II vs. Pentax K-5 IIs vs. Pentax K-3 vs. Pentax K-7 - Pentax Camera Comparison - PentaxForums.com

my first question is what you are trying to photograph

your choice of camera and lens might be dependent on that

and I have found that having the battery grip for my K 3 and K 3 II is very helpful
6 Days Ago   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Apet-Sure Quote
If I were you, I'd sell the 18-55. I was never happy with the images it produced. I sold mine and got a Sigma 17-70mm Macro; much better lens. You already have the Tamron 17-50, so the 18-55 is redundant (except for the WR, if that is important to you). You won't get much for it, but you can add the $$ to your upgrade budget.
Yep; it stays (for now) since it's the only WR I have, plus the fact I won't really get a lot out of it (with the damage to the filter ring, like 30Ä if I'm optimistic).



The more I think about it, the more in doubt I am; the K5ii would already fix most or all of my complaints, but getting a KP would leave me set for a very, very long time. The K-1 and going to FF is a whole another can of worms...
6 Days Ago   #7
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I think a K-5ii (s) is the best upgrade you could do for a limited budget.
6 Days Ago   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by aslyfox Quote
be sure to check out the user reviews and in depth reviews under " cameras " and " lenses " above
I did, I did. I probably read all the lens and camera reviews in here already XD.


I just wish I had done that when I went for the K-7 instead of the K-5... might have avoided all of this

QuoteOriginally posted by aslyfox Quote
my first question is what you are trying to photograph

your choice of camera and lens might be dependent on that
Since I'm a novice in this I feel like I'm trying to find my footing here. I started out with typical landscapes and city architecture (which I'm liking more and more), but I also tried a lot of portraits, mostly with family... I like night photography as well -whether city or astro- but I haven't really had the time to practice the latter. The two things I haven't really dabbled into are "street" photography (I'm *very* shy and the idea of pointing a camera at random strangers is a bit overwhelming. Rocks don't complain!) and sports/birding; out of lack of interest, which made it easy to buy a bunch of older MF lenses to cover all my bases in terms of focal lengths without splurging too much before I even knew if I wanted to pursue photography seriously...


Thank you all for the help!

---------- Post added 08-12-19 at 11:26 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by RonHendriks1966 Quote
I think a K-5ii (s) is the best upgrade you could do for a limited budget.
I'm leaning the most towards this one, yes... for a comparatively small expense it will already improve a lot on what I have, I feel.

6 Days Ago   #9
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I upgraded from a K-7 to a K-5 IIs, both bought new but late in the cycle. I really like the new camera and that step is an upgrade, chiefly for high ISO. The K-5 II or IIs still commands a little bit of price premium used, but probably worth it. I like the size too, and it's nice to have a K-7 for spare parts.

But if you think you want something a little different or better, the upgrade is not clear. I'd like to have a top tier camera but there isn't a totally new one yet. The KP is almost enough. The K-70 is not bad.
6 Days Ago   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Serkevan Quote
I did, I did. I probably read all the lens and camera reviews in here already XD.


I just wish I had done that when I went for the K-7 instead of the K-5... might have avoided all of this



Since I'm a novice in this I feel like I'm trying to find my footing here. I started out with typical landscapes and city architecture (which I'm liking more and more), but I also tried a lot of portraits, mostly with family... I like night photography as well -whether city or astro- but I haven't really had the time to practice the latter. The two things I haven't really dabbled into are "street" photography (I'm *very* shy and the idea of pointing a camera at random strangers is a bit overwhelming. Rocks don't complain!) and sports/birding; out of lack of interest, which made it easy to buy a bunch of older MF lenses to cover all my bases in terms of focal lengths without splurging too much before I even knew if I wanted to pursue photography seriously...


Thank you all for the help!

---------- Post added 08-12-19 at 11:26 AM ----------



I'm leaning the most towards this one, yes... for a comparatively small expense it will already improve a lot on what I have, I feel.
I note your lack of interest for sports and birding, along with doing a fair amount of low light photography, yet express a need for a tele zoom lens. As to the last matter, you might well consider the previous DA HD 55-300mm WR lens instead of the PLM version, which has a claim to fame mainly from faster AF. IQ in reality is quite similar between the two. I have this lens and am quite happy with results from it. AF is slower, but my impression is this is mainly from a lengthy turning range of the focus collar, yet this also is better for fine-tuning when manually focusing. When your subject is perpetually at a similar distance, the focus does not vacillate from near to far, so the AF still performs speedily.

When the K-7 was new, I skipped that model and instead bought a new left-over K20D at a great price, as testing revealed IQ performance to be about the same between the two. That served me well for a number of years, until the K-3 was announced, where I again did the same as before. I skipped it and got great deals on new left-over K-5 and K-5 IIs, which I still have and use. They proved to deliver significant advancement in performance over my K20D, including low light performance. Even more so with the K-5 IIs, having no AA filter and a further updated AF.

These last two years I have also acquired the KP. It is a great camera in many ways, especially in low light performance. There is a trade-off of a few dedicated on-body controls and the top LCD screen to get the adjustment advancements of the new top-mounted controls system. I still use both, and still love my K-5 IIs, but the KP has become my most often-used body. I bought the silver version, which is like a little jewel.

A KP with the DA 20-40mm f/2.8-4 WR Limited should be a great combo for street shooting, since it is so compact but powerful, but that is going into some expense.

If you shoot JPEG images right out of the camera, just be sure to engage "Fine Sharpening" in the Custom Image menus, especially in the "Bright" category, which is default for most shooting needs. This is true for any of the above models.
6 Days Ago   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikesbike Quote
I note your lack of interest for sports and birding, along with doing a fair amount of low light photography, yet express a need for a tele zoom lens. As to the last matter, you might well consider the previous DA HD 55-300mm WR lens instead of the PLM version, which has a claim to fame mainly from faster AF. IQ in reality is quite similar between the two. I have this lens and am quite happy with results from it. AF is slower, but my impression is this is mainly from a lengthy turning range of the focus collar, yet this also is better for fine-tuning when manually focusing. When your subject is perpetually at a similar distance, the focus does not vacillate from near to far, so the AF still performs speedily.
This is actually a very good point... I use the tele normally for tighter landscape shots, or for some longer-distance portraits (since I like the result of the compression and subject separation effects). From what I've seen, all the 55-300s would suit me so I will take a long, hard look at the WR. I was thinking of the PLM mainly because my family keeps complaining that they have to pose longer than in the 80s! I'm not sure if the 50-60Ä premium of the PLM is a huge concern here.


QuoteOriginally posted by mikesbike Quote
These last two years I have also acquired the KP. It is a great camera in many ways, especially in low light performance. There is a trade-off of a few dedicated on-body controls and the top LCD screen to get the adjustment advancements of the new top-mounted controls system. I still use both, and still love my K-5 IIs, but the KP has become my most often-used body. I bought the silver version, which is like a little jewel.

A KP with the DA 20-40mm f/2.8-4 WR Limited should be a great combo for street shooting, since it is so compact but powerful, but that is going into some expense.
The KP looks incredibly nice as well; I don't need the top LCD as much since I get most of the info on the OVF, while having the extra wheel sure is cool. The only concern I have is the grip itself but I've heard so much reassurance from fellow forumites here that I'd even be willing to give it a shot without trying it on-hand first. It cannot feel THAT different from the good old ME, huh.


QuoteOriginally posted by mikesbike Quote
If you shoot JPEG images right out of the camera, just be sure to engage "Fine Sharpening" in the Custom Image menus, especially in the "Bright" category, which is default for most shooting needs. This is true for any of the above models.
I shoot RAW 99% of the time, even if I end up just lightly retouching in Lightroom afterwards. JPEG is only when I'm feeling super lazy
5 Days Ago   #12
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I had a K-20D (K-7 sensor) and now have a K-5IIs. I also have a GRIII now. Iím seriously thinking about a KP in the future.

I really like the K-5IIs. The image quality is a definite step up from the K20D. However, the KP seems to be a significant step up again.

There are also some other upgrades aside from image quality that are not to be ignored.
- The AF is more sophisticated.
- It can use KAF4 mount lenses like the 55-300 PLM and the DFA 50/1.4. The K-5IIs has never been updated to support KAF4, so it is less future proof.
- Live view is awful on the K-5IIs but very usable on the KP because it can do the whole process without dropping the mirror. There is also a tilt screen. I often have to shoot over crowds but it would also be useful for low angle shots. Live view would also make focusing your manual focus lenses easier.
- It can transfer images to a smartphone. Iíve been using this way more than anticipated with my GRIII.

The only concerns would be:
- If you often shoot more than 400 shots in an outing and object to switching between two batteries.
- If you canít adjust to a small grip

My opinion is that since you donít change your cameras often, you should get one which is as future-ready as you can. I guess there will be some nice deals on the KP closer to Christmas.
5 Days Ago   #13
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I'm a little confused that the 55-300 PLM is being mentioned in the same breath as a K5 since that combination won't work.

In any case the newest camera I have is a K5. Of course it would be nice to have a newer body with more features. But there is no one Pentax body that has all the features I'd like. Interestingly, when I bought the K5 I hadn't thought of all the features it didn't have that I'd eventually want, so it was an easy decision - basically a body that had everything I wanted at the time.
5 Days Ago   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
I'm a little confused that the 55-300 PLM is being mentioned in the same breath as a K5 since that combination won't work.. . .

" As a Pentax lens designed for digital, the 55-300mm PLM supports in-camera image corrections and alternate program lines (such as MTF).

*This lens uses an electric focus-by-wire system and will not focus (even manually) on cameras older than the Pentax K100D super (2006).

**Because the aperture is controlled electronically, this lens can only stop down when used with compatible cameras. The Pentax K-50, K-S1, K-S2, K-3, K-3 II, and K-1 are supported via a camera firmware update; the Pentax K-70, Pentax KP and all 2017 or newer bodies will work out of the box. The aperture diaphragm will always remain wide-open on unsupported bodies.

In an nutshell, this lens fully compatible with recent DSLRs but shouldn't be used on older bodies or film cameras "

Read more at: HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 PLM WR RE Review - Specifications | PentaxForums.com Reviews
5 Days Ago   #15
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Here's a possible path; sell the Porst and the Tokina and possibly that M 135 and get a used DA-L 55-300. This will work with any APS-C camera you might consider including your K-7. Next, either a K-5 II (or IIs) or a K-70 or KP. K-5 II's aren't going to get much cheaper, K-70's seem to be about 400 euro in your country based on a fast glance on ebay.es, or you could hold for a while and get on of the others. I really like my K-5 II and don't feel the need to change but you're in a different position. It really sounds like the K-70 would work for you.
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