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08-08-2009, 02:49 PM   #1
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My New K7

My backordered K7 arrived Wednesday.

First off, my sensor is defect free. I had faith. For those who werent so lucky and are greatly bother by this, call nikon's repair department and ask them about the D5000, or call canon about the 50D and G10. I dont expect more from Pentax than i do from Canon who still seems to be running the show the imaging market. Have a little faith that the problem will be fixed and that you'll end up loving this fantastic camera and all the amazing glass that goes with it.
Secondly, my flash sync seems fine. Wireless has missed a few times, but it seems to depend on the ambient lighting. I'm not bothered by that because i saw a brand new Einchrome powerpack w/600ws strobe do the same thing in bright sun just last week. Keep in mind i use a Metz 48 AF-1 (which i love), so the results with the Pentax 360 and 540 may vary slightly.
I *DID* have a LARGE number of washed-out test shots in my room, but later discovered that the 6400iso i was using to save the batteries in my flash is not supported with external dedicated strobes. Same with 3200. This doesnt bother me since i'd only ever use 400iso at the most. The flash *does* miss more often than i remember with my K10D. This doest bother me either, because the dynamic range of the raw files is more than enought to correct it 9 times out of 10 using even just Silkypix.
This brings me to the high ISO performance. Honestly, i don't particularly care. Who in thier right mind has to shoot at 6400 iso all the time? Why not buy faster glass? In my experience the FA 50 f1.4 almost *makes* light for under $300. If you cant get a handheld shot with that at 400 or lower, that's your hint to find a flash, tripod, or even just a monopod.
The one time i might actually venture into 3200 or 6400iso, it'll be when i'm shooting with my IR filter. As IR shots are usually rife with grain anyway, why should this truly bother me?
Film can still outperform digital in high iso. Pick up an MZ-6 for $50 on ebay and get a couple of rolls of Kodak's 3200 iso films. Any lab worth thier salt can push that another two or maybe 3 stops to 25,600 iso without utterly destroying your images. With the B&W TMax 3200 this can actually be a PLEASING effect in numerous situations. I use iso 100-400 when im occasionally shooting professionally, and iso 100 almost exclusively otherwise. Why isnt anyone bitching about *lower* iso options??
The AF impressed me from the start. The FA 50 f1.4 seems to focus almost twice as fast as my K10D, surpassing even my trusty PZ-1 in performance. Even the old DA 18-55 is snappier. Contrast Detect and Face Detect are too slow, but it is on most brands at any level. Mirror-Flip AF is a very fast and happy solution during live view.
Build quality is superb. Feels very confidant in even my large hands despite the clearly smaller size. It makes my K10 look like it needs a diet. The magnesium body shell was one of the things on my wish list, but it doesnt quite have the feel im used to on the Canon and Nikon pro bodies. It could be something as simple as the texture. Either way, im glad its there.
I like the tighter feel of the switches on the body, they're much less likely to move during shooting and transport. Love the lock button on the Mode Select. I remember being angry on many occasions during 100iso night shots when the K10 would slip into the Tav mode and i'd suddenly be faced with moise mess when the camera changed to 1600 automatically.
the buttons are hit and miss. Some of the rear buttons are a little too hard to press. Others like the AF, ISO and Ex. Compensation buttons seem to regularly get accidentally pressed. It's only a minor irritation as the index and thumbwheels need to turn to actually adjust the latter settings by accident. The wheels themselves are actually under less tension than the K10 (a good thing) but also seem to be recessed far enough for not to be any accidental changes.
The dynamic and tonal ranges of the sensor have truly impressed me. Coming from the K10, it took only about 30 minutes of shooting to find out how much better the processing has become since 2007.
The white balance seems to have develloped a 6th sense. I swear it hasn't missed yet. Vastly improved.
I'll definately be making use of the IR remote i ordered. Will be nice to be able to be wireless even during bulb exposures.
The mechanical sound is really really nice. It's whisper quiet, even at 5.2fps. This camera could easily go undetected in places where a slapping mirror and noisy shutter are rude, such as weddings.
The button and menu layout took about 15 minutes to figure out. Very similar to the K10 in the menus, only with many more and better implimented options. the buttons are actually quite different. The playback button is actually the one that's caught me the most. My thumb tends to fall more easily onto the lower left on my k10. The ISO button is a nice change too. I like the raw button, but i think it would be much better used as a shortcut button like canon did with thier direct print buttons. I only ever shoot RAW+, so the need for a dedicated button isnt there for me.
The 900,000+ pixel LCD is tasty and the size is great. Very useful for live view and playback. Info screen is also a breese to use because of this.
Unfortunately the batteries arent living up to the hype just yet, and live view seems to slay them but i dont use it anyway. The huge LCD probably has a big effect on this, so turning your info screen off and cut back on the chimping. Neither of those two are really necessary most of the time anyway. I assume my incoming grip and extra battery will make a marked improvement.

Overall, this is a fantastic camera that will be in my collection for as long as possible. Everyone who'se seen it have remarked that its a very well built camera and seems very much worth its price tag. There *are* a few things that i think are sadly missing, like an aprture coupler for the metered use of an aperture ring set to anything other than the widest aperture so the M and K lenses will be more compatible. My FA 50 f1.4 is tasty, but i'd prefer to be able to use my M 50 f1.7 as well as other M classics like the 28mm f3.5. A 1/250th flash sync would have been nice, but with dedication and HSS it's rather moot. I could also use an internal eyepiece blocker for my IR and night shots (Yeah, it came with a plastic slip-on, but those are easy to lose on a dark night). And pentax...? Can we have Full Frame soon?

Despite the issues this is still a workhorse. it's bred for speed and performance and fills the gap in pentax's pro bodies nicely with sold feel, features to sink a ship, and ease of use. Thank you Pentax for reminding me why i chose you.

08-08-2009, 03:02 PM   #2
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wait, it didn't burst into flames and cause a rip in the space-time continuum when you used it?!?

Congrats - it is a great camera. The hi-iso whining is just pixel peeping bs imho.
08-08-2009, 03:17 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by nostatic Quote
wait, it didn't burst into flames and cause a rip in the space-time continuum when you used it?!?

Congrats - it is a great camera. The hi-iso whining is just pixel peeping bs imho.
you're are watching too much STAR TREK !
08-08-2009, 05:42 PM   #4
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Thanks for your impressions of the camera.

There is only one thing wrong with your post - it is making me even *more* impatient for my K7 to arrive!

08-08-2009, 06:18 PM   #5
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"Film can still outperform digital in high iso. Pick up an MZ-6 for $50 on ebay and get a couple of rolls of Kodak's 3200 iso films. Any lab worth thier salt can push that another two or maybe 3 stops to 25,600 iso without utterly destroying your images. With the B&W TMax 3200 this can actually be a PLEASING effect in numerous situations"

- have you ever seen a ISO 3200 B&W 35mm film image printed at 11X14? and forget about image quality as soon as you start pushing High Iso film. A D700 with a decent lens can easily outperform anything else on the market at high ISO settings.
08-09-2009, 08:26 AM   #6
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Yeah the WB is the surprising feature for me and my K-7 as well

thanks for sharing your experiences
08-09-2009, 06:57 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
have you ever seen a ISO 3200 B&W 35mm film image printed at 11X14?
Actually i used to hand-print my TMax 3200 shots as 8x10's and was surprised that it was still able to maintain some good tonal range, especially with a Hoya Yellow filter.

And yes, the D700 can outperform the K7, but it's an entirely different sensor in an entirely different camera. I don't compare my K7 to any full frames except the pentax film slrs (for shutter speed, flash sync, and other indicators of quality and usefullness). In that regard, the K7 is the new MZ-S.
When pentax eventually does go full-frame (Even Pentax refered to the K7 as a 'Mid-Level" camera), then you can start comparing with other full frames.

The only reason i'd want full frame is so i can get the ultra-wide shots i do in my spare time. Crop factor's a bitch if you don't shoot telephoto.
08-16-2009, 06:31 PM   #8
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Minor Update

So i shot my first wedding with the K7. Went the whole day (750ish shots, no LV, very minor chimping) on just one of the two batteries.
Holy sensors batman! I took as many as a dozen shots that my borrowed Metz 60 CT-1 missed by up to as much as *3 stops* and turned them into shots i had no problem at all giving to a customer. 100-400iso is magical. In comparisson, my backup photographer was using my K10D and in ACR CS4 i had almost twice the exposure latitude with the K7 at any iso.
A note about the AF; it still hunts in low light, even when using just not nearly as bad as the K10D. My backup was so pissed she just shot MF while the K7 eventually found focus for a shot as dark as 1s @ f1.4 w/iso 400, howerver many EV that might be.
Picked up a 4gb extreme 3 card before the shoot. Honestly didnt seem much faster than my other class 6 cards. Maybe i have a bad copy. 'Flash memory toolkit found *a lot* of bad sectors. Burned through an 8gb and a 4gb on top of that.

Overall i think i've come to one conclusion. It doesnt really make much sense, but i'm pretty sure that the K7 is twice the camera that the K10D is.

08-16-2009, 10:39 PM   #9
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I will join you in complaining about not having lower ISO's! 50 would really be terrific and help for longer exposures and lower apertures in daylight. Though, I suppose that the 1/8000 shutter speed gets us half of that though :P.
08-17-2009, 06:03 PM   #10
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I got dizzy about the write-up.
I thought I was reading the morning paper.
08-17-2009, 06:27 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by GerryL Quote
I got dizzy about the write-up.
I thought I was reading the morning paper.
Yes, the use of paragraphs would help. Thanks for the write-up though.
08-18-2009, 07:18 PM   #12
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My bad. I didnt feel like doing a complete review, otherwise i would have posted it as such. Just wanted to put another positive voice behind the camera after the issues with bad units and high iso complaints.

Its not perfect, but it'll do until the sensor design changes.
08-20-2009, 09:28 AM   #13
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If you don't mind my asking, gremlindesign, from where did you order your K-7?
08-20-2009, 11:20 AM   #14
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I second most of the above.

The rest I haven't tried yet.

I spent the few minutes I had last night with my very new K-7 testing white balance and autofocus indoors. My bride does not like a lot of light so the rather generously-sized family room was lit with a 42" TV and two CF (~ 60W tungsten each).

Shot around the room: dark bookcases, an ugly speckled brown brick fireplace, the dog's cream-colored crate, and the white-framed the patio door.

Tried 18-50 2.8. Fast enough and flawless.

Tried 17-70 at 17mm/2.8 and 70mm/4.5. Took a bit at first at 4.5 but somehow seemed to learn. I'm sure that's a mis-perception, but the camera struggled at first and then worked well after that, regardless of much or little I was changing focus distance between shots.

Tried Tamron 18-250, 3.5-6.3, whose poor low-light focus performance with my K10 drove me to 2.8. Still hunts but does focus well enough for casual photography, even at 5.6!

I was always (always!) able to focus, even if it took a second or third try in the very worst situations. And after one success, the subsequent attempts the same or similar distance were successful on the first attempt.

This was a real achievement and justified the purchase right there.

The white balance and exposure on my tan/brown/black speckled fireplace was always just off, regardless of settings, as they appeared on the LCD. I don't know how the images will look on the monitor.

"muted" was actually a bit closer than "natural", so I'm not sure what's considered natural. But I'm not certain that all other options were identical so I'm holding off on any pronouncement - just mentioning an impression.

Other than pronouncing the K-7 a very big step ahead of the K10!
08-20-2009, 04:37 PM   #15
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samuelk: I ordered it through a local repair shop.

glanglois: You actually saw the white balance miss? I'm amazed ;-)
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