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06-21-2016, 12:06 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Thoughts after going Pentax > Fuji > Nikon

Will try to be brief but will not be easy.

I had a full pentax system and was an active member here many moons ago when i had lots of time on my hands. Had a baby son and time got the better of me, i was not using my gear other than the K7 with the 43 Limited for portraits of my boy. I was also tired of carting a DSLR around so bought a Fuji X10 for "life documentation". I loved it (still do), Pentax like colours, great sensor for it's size and soooooooooo brilliant to use as a tool. Meanwhile, after years of being agitated by Pentax's shoddy auto focus i finally grew tired of the 43mm missing it's mark, soooo much back or front focus, drove me crazy.

So, sold it all up and stripped it down to the X10 for weekends and the Fuji A-1 with 16-50mm kit lens and 60mm macro for portraits of the lad. Immediately hit a snag, without a big flash it was a nightmare and the 60mm AF was DEAD slow. A shame as the fuji, again, had utterly brilliant image quality and the photos looked like Pentax photos but you know, in bloody focus.

Sold the 60mm and kept the A-1 and kit lens as my weekend camera, deciding Fuji was a no-go for indoor portraits with uber expensive lenses and flashes. Second baby landed a few months back so decided to go DSLR again but keep it REAL simple, as in one camera and one lens. Settled on the Nikon D7100 with flash for an utterly ridiculous price, along with a Tamron 28-75 /2.8. Last month the first bioy started soccer so picked up the 70-300 VRII used for again, an utterly ridiculous price ($300 CDN).

So my impressions?

Fuji is so nice to use, very intuitive, wonderfully built and such great lenses. I MUCH prefer mirrorless than mirrored cameras but the system is hideously expensive and AF speed for moving subjects is not much better than pentax. Colour is so fantastic as well, those cyan biased blues and rich greens ala my Pentax limiteds. Alas, for indoor use with a fast lens and big flash, small cameras are awkward at best.

What about the Nikon? First the bad news, everything is arse backwards, feels totally alien and it is a very, very steep learning curve. Menu's are needlessly complicated and i still do not feel at home using the thing. A very capable device but dear me the combination of "everything is backwards' and the clumsy shooting modes still loses me.

My big issue though, is colour, it's better with the Nikkor than the Tamron but still, nothing looks right, ever. AUTO WB is utterly dreadful, i need to use custom settings in almost all lighting, the default is far too warm and far too green, very "muddy" for want of a better word. Also, to my shock, AUTO WB when using the flash is miles and miles off, i need to custom set it, with Pentax, AUTO was bang on. Super annoying.

However, in saying all that, sorry to report but the AF is so good it brings one to tears. In general it is spot on (I prefer to choose my AF point) but this last week was an eye opener. My boy playing soccer so i set the thing to AF-C, AUTO select, turned off the VR and went at it. Dear oh deary me, it tracked him like a god-damned missile. The keep rate was absurd, especially for those moments when the boy was running AT ME, it still tracked correctly. As a mechanical device, it is phenomenal, as is the 70-300 TBH.

So as usual, no one-size-fits-all but that's my 2c. Happy to answer any questions.

06-21-2016, 01:13 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alfisti Quote
However, in saying all that, sorry to report but the AF is so good it brings one to tears. In general it is spot on (I prefer to choose my AF point) but this last week was an eye opener. My boy playing soccer so i set the thing to AF-C, AUTO select, turned off the VR and went at it. Dear oh deary me, it tracked him like a god-damned missile. The keep rate was absurd, especially for those moments when the boy was running AT ME, it still tracked correctly. As a mechanical device, it is phenomenal, as is the 70-300 TBH.
Yep, it is hard to beat Nikon's tracking. That being said, much has changed in Pentaxland since the K-7 and while I generally shoot AF-S, center-point, I have have no issues with shooting the AF full-spread in AF-C on my K-3. Depending on shooting style, getting consistent good results may require some tuning, but the performance of current-model Pentax is far from poor. Active children or rampaging dogs in the backyard? Nikon will still do you better.

BTW...pity your performance tuning required turning off the VR.


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06-21-2016, 01:31 PM   #3
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Thanks for report!
06-21-2016, 03:35 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alfisti Quote
i was not using my gear other than the K7 with the 43 Limited.
a k7 that was released in 2009, vs. a nikon that came out in 2013?

06-21-2016, 04:44 PM   #5
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Interesting to hear your experiences.

What I take from this is that although you were happy with the quality of the images you got from the Pentax, you wanted something more compact and with better AF. I infer that neither the Fuji nor the Nikon gave you both of those things. While you got your Nikon DSLR and lenses cheaply, and are happy with the AF performance, you are finding the system hard to adjust to, and are not satisfied with the IQ. The Fuji's AF wasn't any better than Pentax and their lenses are expensive. Their 18-135, for example, costs about double its Pentax counterpart.

Maybe this is a reminder of the virtues of the Pentax system, including good ergonomic design, user-friendly controls, value for money in both cameras and new lenses, a great range of legacy lenses, rich colours and generally excellent image quality (not to mention WR and IBIS). The shortcoming which has taken you to a Nikon DSLR (and you are not alone in this) is AF performance. And as Steve points out, Pentax is catching up in this area, and should not be judged on a 2009 model camera.
06-22-2016, 04:12 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
Interesting to hear your experiences.

What I take from this is that although you were happy with the quality of the images you got from the Pentax, you wanted something more compact and with better AF. I infer that neither the Fuji nor the Nikon gave you both of those things. While you got your Nikon DSLR and lenses cheaply, and are happy with the AF performance, you are finding the system hard to adjust to, and are not satisfied with the IQ. The Fuji's AF wasn't any better than Pentax and their lenses are expensive. Their 18-135, for example, costs about double its Pentax counterpart.

Maybe this is a reminder of the virtues of the Pentax system, including good ergonomic design, user-friendly controls, value for money in both cameras and new lenses, a great range of legacy lenses, rich colours and generally excellent image quality (not to mention WR and IBIS). The shortcoming which has taken you to a Nikon DSLR (and you are not alone in this) is AF performance. And as Steve points out, Pentax is catching up in this area, and should not be judged on a 2009 model camera.
Pretty much yes, but i will clarify that the Fuji AF was at least accurate which is more than I can say for Pentax where i had constant FF and BF issues from the K200 to the K10 to the K7. Actually with the K7 if was not FF and BF it was the camera/lens combo selecting targets well outside the AF point I had selected. It was like a three year old attracted to shiny things. Biggest issue with the Fuji is the only affordable lens for portraits was the 60mm but it's a macro.

The Pentax ergonomics are great, agreed 100%. I don't really know what it is but it may be the shoddy WB on the Nikon that means I am always faffing about whereas with Pentax auto WB worked so well that i'd not need to switch shooting modes too often. My default mode is to shoot in A and adjust ISO until I hit the shutter speed I can tolerate, not easy on the Nikon.

To address the messages re. modern Pentax cameras, whilst cost effective the screw drive Pentax lenses and SDM are a long way off of Nikon's mechanical refinement. Not build quality but refinement.

One last thing, FUJI absolutely nails caucasian skin tones, just nails it. Fuji's rendering in general is very, very pleasing, quite similar to Pentax with the previously mentioned wonderful greens and blues but Fuji has the slightly better skin tones. Nikon has NFI what they are doing with colour, miles behind.
06-22-2016, 04:48 AM - 1 Like   #7
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The Fuji JPEGs by default are a Fujifilm Provia simulation, aren't they?

Shooting in RAW you can always choose to develop that way, if that's what you want. Nik's Color Efex Pro even has it as a preset.
06-22-2016, 06:04 AM   #8
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Yeah I defaulted to Provia, they were about perfect but still shot RAW just in case.

I prefer Lightroom to Nikon's software but regardless, colour is pretty shabby.

06-22-2016, 12:31 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
The Fuji JPEGs by default are a Fujifilm Provia simulation, aren't they?

Shooting in RAW you can always choose to develop that way, if that's what you want. Nik's Color Efex Pro even has it as a preset.
So does DxO Optics Pro's FilmPack, which is available as a plugin for various processing programs.
06-22-2016, 01:29 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
So does DxO Optics Pro's FilmPack, which is available as a plugin for various processing programs.
Yes, well, there we go.

It's a nice look, but it is like a filter on Instagram - easy to apply to a RAW file.

06-22-2016, 04:12 PM   #11
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Your comments are very accurate. I'm a Pentaxian who's tried other brands including the 1D Mk II N, 1D Mk III, D7100 and D700. I'd love a K-3 or K-1 with the 51 point Nikon AF and that system came out in 2007! I shot raw files in the Nikons and it wasn't any problem correcting colors and such but it was a pain to have to do it. Speaking of pain, after about a half hour of holding the D7100 my hand cramped so badly I had to put it down. Pluses and minuses. I'll stay with Pentax.
07-14-2016, 06:48 PM   #12
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Congratulations!

If you want, I will lend you my Pany GM1, the kit, and Oly 45mm. It works. Fast.
RAW works, and the standard JPGs, while not in the same class as those of Fuji, are pretty decent.
It's also tiny.
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