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09-17-2018, 06:18 AM   #1
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K-3ii to D500... Is this the right move?

I'm having trouble sleeping...
This decision is looming over my soul! The thought of leaving Pentax sends a twisting, stabbing, burning, gut wretching sensation...

I'm an enthusiast.
I love wildlife photography, it's the root of my hobby.

I'll occasionally shoot landscapes, portraits, macro, astro etc. But again, wildlife is my primary subject.


I first learned how to shoot with a Pentax K-30 with a 60 year old 50mm manual lens.
I set the camera on full manual and cranked out 25,000 images that year. Let's say 0.01% keeper rate... But I learned so much!
Upgrading to the K-3ii was incredible... However I still felt like the AF was lacking, but perhaps if was user error.

A few years go by and I'm still troubled by the keeper rates of my wildlife shots, particularly BIF.
The K-3ii is an incredible camera. I love pixelshift, astrotracer, GPS. I don't care for an onboard flash so that's a welcomed "feature".
The weather sealing, the ergonomics (though it feels smalls, even with the D-BG5 - I have big hands)...
But the AF is holding me back...


I jotted down some rough figures. I could likely sell ALL my Pentax gear (listed below) and be able to fund a D500 and the 200-500 F5.6. But I wouldn't be able to replace the other lenses I currently own!

K-3ii
AF201 flash
D-BG5 grip
SMC DA15 ltd
HD DA35 ltd
HD DA70 ltd
DFA 100 WR
HD DA 1.4xTC
DA*300


Is that worth it?
Part of me says yes - switching systems is going to hurt regardless, but if I'm shooting wildlife primarily and switch now I'll see the benefits I'm looking for and can build my other gear back up over time.
Also, for a couple hundred bucks I could get a few fast primes to hold me over...

Part of me says no - WAIT FOR THE K-3II SUCCESSOR! ... When the D500 came out I was thinking about switching but decided to wait... It's been a while now and I'm still waiting.
I'm worried that the K-3ii successor, whenever it does finally come out, will not meet my needs in terms of AF performance and tracking. But if it does, I would gladly stay with Pentax.



It's sad to even have to consider this, but when I'm shooting BIF and my keeper rate is 1/10 - 3/10... something needs to change.
I'm confident it's not my shooting style either. I've learned how to work with my gear over the last few years.



I would love some opinions in the comments below. What's your take?
Obviously on a Pentax forum I will get the wrath of switching! But I'm doing that to myself already

When it's solely a hobby it's difficult to justify such a drastic financial hit, switching systems (assuming a full replacement of everything I have, or comparable.)
But at the same time, if it's a hobby (for sole enjoyment) and I'm getting frustrated by the limitations of my gear, isn't that time for a re-evaluation?



I'm sure the D500 is a very capable camera aside from shorts/action photography.
I'd like to see how it compares for Macro (likely my second most favorite shooting style aside from wildlife).
Does the Nikon equivalent compete with the K-3ii + DFA 100mm Macro?


So many questions.
So many feels.


Where's my support group?!

09-17-2018, 06:28 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by UserAccessDenied Quote
A few years go by and I'm still troubled by the keeper rates of my wildlife shots, particularly BIF.
Question you have to ask honestly to yourself is: how much are your BiF photographs worth? Do you think "Wow" when you see them? Or just like "crop that photo that gets something that can be posted at 800 pixels wide on the forum"? If the answer is "no" to the first question and "yes" to the second question, then I'm afraid that you would switch to Nikon for nothing.

Last edited by biz-engineer; 09-17-2018 at 06:38 AM.
09-17-2018, 06:32 AM   #3
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I also have a k3ii and like shooting action, though it's primarily concert or sports, with some birds every now and then. I used to have the 60-250 when I was collaborating with a college newspaper, now I replaced it with the much lighter 55-300 plm since I only shoot for myself.

A few thoughts:
- first, af is very lens dependent, not just the camera. You could rent and try the 150-450, my understanding is that it's much faster to focus than the *300. On af alone, with the same k3ii, the difference between my old 60-250 and the plm is night and day
- second, the d500 is more than twice the price, so yes, you're getting something for the price increase. Whether it's worth it only you can tell. But again, renting is a simple way to try out before major changes.
09-17-2018, 06:41 AM   #4
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The D500 is a very capable body. There are good lenses available.

As for birds in flight, the K1 Mark 2 autofocus is much better and I get birds in flight shots regularly. I didn't bother taking them with the K1. And got the odd one with the K3. The low light capability of the D500 is very good, the K1 a bit better.

I have friends with the D500 and they get good results. I get good results with what I have. I get shots they miss or can't, and visa versa. I should mention that they get 3x the bad shots and good shots both.

The K1 mark 2 capability bodes well for the next apsc body from Pentax.

09-17-2018, 06:42 AM   #5
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Linking a series of consecutive shots of a bird in flight I posted on the 55-300plm thread HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE - Show us what it can do, what it CAN'T! - Page 13 - PentaxForums.com
09-17-2018, 06:46 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by derekkite Quote
The D500 is a very capable body. There are good lenses available.

As for birds in flight, the K1 Mark 2 autofocus is much better and I get birds in flight shots regularly. I didn't bother taking them with the K1. And got the odd one with the K3. The low light capability of the D500 is very good, the K1 a bit better.

I have friends with the D500 and they get good results. I get good results with what I have. I get shots they miss or can't, and visa versa. I should mention that they get 3x the bad shots and good shots both.

The K1 mark 2 capability bodes well for the next apsc body from Pentax.
This is particularly why I want to wait... But no one knows how long that will be!
Unfortunately FF deters me and I have no intention of buying a K-1 or K-1ii.
Same goes for the D850, etc.

If they made a 24MP APS-C version of the K-1ii, I would get it today and be done with this.
09-17-2018, 06:49 AM   #7
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I suggest that you wait a bit. We might find out some more info about the K-3II replacement around Photokina or maybe not. The next major photo event is CP+ in Japan in late February 2019. If nothing happens in Photokina, it could be there.

I highly doubt that the K-3II successor will have AF performance on the level of the D500 or 7D Mark II, but more than likely it might be one of the first bodies that has much improved AF. I'm going to guess that it will be much better than the K-1II.
09-17-2018, 07:02 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by aaacb Quote
I also have a k3ii and like shooting action, though it's primarily concert or sports, with some birds every now and then. I used to have the 60-250 when I was collaborating with a college newspaper, now I replaced it with the much lighter 55-300 plm since I only shoot for myself.

A few thoughts:
- first, af is very lens dependent, not just the camera. You could rent and try the 150-450, my understanding is that it's much faster to focus than the *300. On af alone, with the same k3ii, the difference between my old 60-250 and the plm is night and day
- second, the d500 is more than twice the price, so yes, you're getting something for the price increase. Whether it's worth it only you can tell. But again, renting is a simple way to try out before major changes.

True, the DA*300 is slow, even more so with the HD 1.4xTC attached...

So my thoughts on the following:

I could sell the DA*300, the DA35, the DA15 and the DA70 and likely buy a used 150-450.
That would leave me in a similar situation as selling everything and swapping to the Nikon D500 + 200-500.

Which one is better? That's a loaded questions obviously...

I would love to get my hands on the 150-450 and test it on the K-3ii.
I'd also love to get my hands on the D500 and test a 200-500 on it.

09-17-2018, 07:16 AM - 1 Like   #9
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Just out of curiosity, how about renting a KP and see what it does along with renting a 150-450?
09-17-2018, 07:19 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by aaacb Quote
Linking a series of consecutive shots of a bird in flight I posted on the 55-300plm thread HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE - Show us what it can do, what it CAN'T! - Page 13 - PentaxForums.com
Thanks for sharing the link!
These shots are great, but also are very high contrast between the subject and the background. I've also found Osprey are notoriously 'easy' BIF subjects due to their natural flight habits (they tend to hover in search of prey).

Still, a testament to the capabilities of that setup!
09-17-2018, 07:21 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by derekkite Quote
The D500 is a very capable body. There are good lenses available.

As for birds in flight, the K1 Mark 2 autofocus is much better and I get birds in flight shots regularly. I didn't bother taking them with the K1. And got the odd one with the K3. The low light capability of the D500 is very good, the K1 a bit better.

I have friends with the D500 and they get good results. I get good results with what I have. I get shots they miss or can't, and visa versa. I should mention that they get 3x the bad shots and good shots both.

The K1 mark 2 capability bodes well for the next apsc body from Pentax.
Are you saying the K-1ii is better autofocus than the D500 or the K-3ii?
Is this from experience? The AF in the D500 is the same as the D5, so if the K-1ii is better than the D500 in terms of AF, wouldn't that assume it's better than the D5 also?
That's a bold statement.
09-17-2018, 07:21 AM   #12
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For birding, the lens is essential. The 200-500 f5.6 is a safari lens: the kind of lens you use for photography elephant and lions from a Jeep in an African park. For bird, you need 500 f4 or 600 f4 with TC option, camera doesn't help.
09-17-2018, 07:26 AM - 1 Like   #13
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Why not rent a D500 a see for yourself if it provides enough improvements for the money ?
09-17-2018, 07:39 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
For birding, the lens is essential. The 200-500 f5.6 is a safari lens: the kind of lens you use for photography elephant and lions from a Jeep in an African park. For bird, you need 500 f4 or 600 f4 with TC option, camera doesn't help.
Talking to this guy, an accomplished birder who will go anywhere for shots with his Nikon D4 and 600 ƒ4, looked at my 400 5.6 and sneered "I don't shoot 5.6". Realizing what he'd done he then lightened up and tried to be a little nicer.

Just saying, you can buy a 5.6 combo, but this guy will still be sneering at you.

Bottom line if you can't spring for a a 150-450 to improve your odds, what are the odds you're going to splurge for a BiF lens? Having recently purchased my k-1 on a whim and a tax return, I can fully relate to the issue of having a great body, but not being able to afford the glass to take full advantage of it.
09-17-2018, 07:41 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by VoiceOfReason Quote
Just out of curiosity, how about renting a KP and see what it does along with renting a 150-450?
The things that concerned me with the KP vs the K-3ii:
- 7FPS and only 8 shot RAW buffer... That's a bummer... Even compared to the K-3ii at 23 shots RAW.
- Single card slot... When you've had a memory card fail after 4 hours of shooting, you'll never buy a single card slot camera ever again!
- Low battery life

I do think the KP would have an advantage in terms of AF over the K-3ii, but the single card slot alone has me bypassing the camera altogether. Along with battery life and the RAW buffer.
I mean 8 shot RAW buffer is a killer, and I often feel limited by the K-3ii 23 shot buffer.


I wouldn't mind the KP as a backup camera though. But don't think it would fit as a primary K-3ii replacement for me at least.
Now the 150-450 is a serious consideration. But I don't want to invest heavily into new glass if the K-3ii successor is still another year or two out from production.

I really wish RICOH would just announce something.
The fact that I'm tempted to completely switch systems because of the uncertainty of the new APS-C flagship is signal alone that they need to do something. I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling this way!

It doesn't even have to be a D500 killer to keep me where I'm at!
Just something moving in that direction - ideally trumping the K-1ii and KP in terms of low light performance and AF capabilities, particularly with tracking and continuous shooting.
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