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12-04-2019, 08:39 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Jumping back into Pentax - KP, K1, or switch to another brand?

Hi all,

It's been some time since i've hopped onto PentaxForums. The last time I was here, I was going into a similar debate between camera bodies and took the suggestions to try out different models. That instead led me down an interesting and fun road into taking a full break from my typical portrait photography (I used to do a lot of graduations, photos for blogs and small business) and into street photography by borrowing gear from a few friends.

It has been ~2-3 years since I actually looked into other camera gear since i've been dabbling around with Ricoh GR's, Fujifilm X-whatevers, and film cameras from friends. However, new opportunities have been coming up for me to get back into portrait photography. Jumping back into purchasing new gear has been a little overwhelming with all that's out there now (convenience of mirrorless, other DSLR models, etc) and i'm not sure if Pentax has what I might need to grow with me as I continue on. Pentax lineup has been a little confusing for me.

I will soon be moving into outdoor/studio portrait photography, product shots, and picking back up on travel photography again. In addition, i'll be heading back to school in the next year where this could serve as a side-gig to help make ends meet... and also for fun
If I can find Pentax gear that rivals the other brands right now, I don't see a huge reason to switch but i'm still making an investment and want to make the most of it. The temptation from other brands (and these darn Cyber Monday/week deals!!!) may be getting the best of me.

For these reasons, would investing in current Pentax offerings be a good fit for these needs in 2019? If so, KP or K1? Or other??

Why I'm considering another brand:
-Current offerings have comparable and competitive specs; in some cases, for a fraction of the cost.
-Brands like Canikon are more accessible; it's easier to do repairs and have options in case I need other lenses/accessories.
-I currently own a FA 50mm f/1.4, FA 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5, and a bunch of manual film lenses. I don't have a working camera body and haven't made a huge investment in terms of cost so making the switch wouldn't be particularly difficult barring my sentimental reasons for keeping all my Pentax gear.

KP vs K1? Budget is about ~$1,200
Going FF is tempting. I have the budget for a K1 however it is still a huge investment for me and at this time, I may only purchase the camera body (unless I find a good deal on other lenses to pair with). Whereas with the KP, I can use the additional moneys to purchase a lens or two on my list: DA 21mm, FA 77mm which i'm leaning towards.

All thoughts and suggestions are much appreciated!

Last edited by lea828; 12-04-2019 at 08:47 PM.
12-04-2019, 09:02 PM - 1 Like   #2
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For the K1, you can always check out the marketplace here on the forums, it does pop up there from time to time, at times with various accesories/lenses bundled with it that may fall within your budget.
12-04-2019, 09:03 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I think KP and FA 77mm would be an unbeatable combination at your budget point.

D610 used with Nikkor 85mm f1.8 would be an alternative as well. IMHO.
12-04-2019, 09:17 PM - 3 Likes   #4
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If portraits are your thing, you should definitely go with a full frame sensor camera.

The only "stills" shortcoming of the K-1 is a lack of blazing auto-focus speed, especially for tracking moving subjects. However, portrait subjects don't move much, so for the budget conscious photographer like you, I can think of no better full frame than the K-1. If you are patient, you can buy a minty used K-1 here for around $1,000 (I did - twice).

ChristianRock suggested the Nikon D610. I've got it. While indeed a nice camera, the Pentax K-1 has better features, ergonomics, and ruggedness. Also, the K-1 has a tilty LCD screen and IBIS, neither of which I could do without.

12-04-2019, 09:30 PM - 3 Likes   #5
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I love my Pentax gear (a pair of KPs and an assortment of lenses) but find I reach for Canon for portraits: a 6D and an 85/1.8. Add a 28 and you'e covered most possibilities. The autofocus is more responsive for capturing fleeting expressions, and Canon's wireless flash system is simple and reliable for shooting both indoors and out.

Current KEH prices: 6D $650; 85/1.8 $240; 28/2.8 $130.
12-04-2019, 10:03 PM - 1 Like   #6

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With a budget of only $1,200 and apparently no lenses, I think a top-notch APS-C setup is the way to go. In recent years, the imaging advantages of FF have been closed to a much narrower gap than before, and you'd get a lot more capability for your money. For instance, a 50mm lens with APS-C is much more useful for portraits than it would be with FF. There's even a current "plastic fantastic" 50mm f/1.8 for very little cost. However, I've had an old Pentax "F" 50mm f/1.7 since it was new, some 30 years, fully AF and compatible in every way with current bodies, and I still think very highly of it. FF glass, of course, and is exceptionally good even at wide open aperture. I'm sure it can be found in fine condition used at low cost. With FF you'd need the FA 77mm Limited to approximate or supersede that usefulness (which I also have). There's a huge price difference here.

You could currently nail a new KP, a very well-built, and fine-performing body, with a design especially good for travel also, and a few very fine lenses at very good prices right now, if you are here in the US. Just speculating, but it is possible that a slight further price drop might appear after the holiday season is over. I think some stores. like B&H for example, do guarantee a current price to be no lower for 30 days or so, that they would refund the difference, but best to check.

Even if later you are in a better position to also acquire a FF body, the KP is still good as a 2nd alternate body. You'd also then be in a better position to know if that need is necessary.

As to other brands, no doubt they too offer very satisfactory equipment, but it is hard to beat Pentax for high quality and excellent features for the price.

Last edited by mikesbike; 12-04-2019 at 10:25 PM.
12-04-2019, 10:18 PM - 3 Likes   #7
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I do almost all portraits and I am very happy with the K-1. FF is definitely the way to go and the bang for buck can't be beat with the amazing image quality and megapixels which is very useful for crops.

Regarding lenses, you are lacking in a few AF options but you can get a 35/1.4, 50/1.4, 85/1.4 and and 70-200/2.8 to cover almost all situations. Modern lenses are pushing the envelope as far as even faster glass but the prices are crazy and its really for those razor thin DOF shots that are all over Instagram.

Without getting into a debate on auto focus advances (Eye AF), of course that would be a nice feature to have especially with portraits. But at this point I think it is not enough to get me to jump to another brand.

TL;DR - K-1 for FF, image quality and bang for buck. Lenses might be lacking but barely. AF is also behind but for portraits this is less of an issue.

---------- Post added 12-04-2019 at 11:21 PM ----------

Completely missed the part about the budget so that might negate everything I said . That being said, for portraits I still consider image quality the most important factor and that is why I am happy with my K-1. All other photography needs I use an Olympus m43 body.
12-04-2019, 10:27 PM - 1 Like   #8
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Your case actually sounds like a great case for micro 4/3rds. Studio portrait does, travel, and product photography does not need a large sensor, and with a budget of 1200, I'd rather put my money towards some nice glass rather than an FF body.

You could buy some nice lightweight primes that would make a great travel rig.

12-04-2019, 11:30 PM - 1 Like   #9

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Addendum: your Pentax FA 50mm f/1.4 lens would do nicely for portraits with the KP. The F 35-70mm is a nice little lens, but would offer no wide angle on an APS-C body. Instead, I would recommend a Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM for its aperture speed and very fine imaging quality. Or for a huge zoom range with very good quality, the amazingly compact Pentax DA 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 DC WR lens. Very well built, very fast, quiet, accurate AF, and from 18-70mm it is f/3.5-4.5 with very good quality. Its WR means it has weather resistant construction to go with that of the KP's body. A fine lens for travel also, and a very good value for such a useful wide zoom range lens.

Your older film era manual lenses can still be used. What modern features would be available on a modern camera depends on which lenses these are.

You'd have a very capable system, excellent quality, and not spend an arm and a leg.

Last edited by mikesbike; 12-04-2019 at 11:36 PM.
12-05-2019, 12:48 AM - 1 Like   #10

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I rarely do portraits myself (on this rare occasions I don't mind setting up my flash manually) but you probably get more/better flash support with canikon. That said both cameras {KP, K-1) are capable tools, suitable for all your mentioned interests.
12-05-2019, 01:44 AM - 1 Like   #11
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if I had two options:

1) KP + 21ltd + 70ltd and 2) K-1 + FA 35/2 ... I would be really tempting to take the option 2) and use it for portraits as well ...
12-05-2019, 02:18 AM - 3 Likes   #12
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If you still have a FujiFilm body, consider buying the XF 56/1.2 R. I have seen some absolutely stunning portraiture results from it.

But I'm a Pentax fanboy. The K-1 with the FA 77/1.8 Limited or FA* 85/1.4 is a great option, but the KP with the DA* 55/1.4 (or even your FA 50/1.4) would be much much cheaper with little compromise. The DA 70/2.4 Limited is also a superb portrait lens.
12-05-2019, 02:35 AM - 1 Like   #13
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Don't waste your money. If you really want to get in a Pentax system and stay, get a proper starter kit.
Your problem is the limited budget (only $1200) so forget FF (even second hand). So APS-C.

For portraiture and travelling:
Get a K-70 instead of KP (only $550 with holidays savings) - image quality is the same and it has better ergonomics.
Buy the best all-around zoom from Pentax which is 16-85mm ($500 these days) and the two plastic fantastic - DA 35/2.4 and DA 50/1.8. (around $100 each).

For portraiture only:
a KP ($750 with savings) and DA 70/2.4 ltd. ($400 best deal). Add DA 35/2.4 for general purposes.

Buy full-frame lenses only if you want, sometimes in the future, to switch to FF body.
But that means much more money: FA 77 ltd. instead DA 70 ltd. (+$300) or FA 35/2 instead DA 35/2.4 ($250).
Your lenses on FF body are not suitable for portraiture and don't fit the 36mpx sensor resolution.

Last edited by DCalciu; 12-05-2019 at 03:45 AM.
12-05-2019, 02:38 AM - 1 Like   #14

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If you choose Pentax and are on a budget, the best alternative is the KP considering the discounts given now. I can't say much about other brands.
12-05-2019, 03:36 AM - 2 Likes   #15
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And don't forget the flash. You need one capable of HSS for fill-in in daylight.
The Pentax alternatives are expensive ($400 - $500)
I recommend Godox TT350P - Pentax TTL, HSS, bounce and swivel head, radio trigger and triggered - $85.

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