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Old Aug 9, 2011, 8:10 PM   #1
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Default K-7 for a K200D Owner?

I'll try to make this a short as possible. I've been wanting a K-5 ever since it was announced because, fundamentally, it's a home run. But I must grudgingly admit this appears to be a particularly buggy camera with little (and sometimes not so little) problems that just keeping popping up as its production life rolls along. Sensor strains (not Pentax's fault), focus issues in artificial light, shutter/mirror flopping and even camera freeze-ups. Some, Pentax has been able to address satisfactorily... others, not so much.

This doesn't mean there aren't a lot of happy K-5 owners out there who have experienced no problems at all. And I am not trying to dump on Pentax here. But the K-5 issues clearly outnumber those of any other digital camera from the company to date. It's been enough to make me think that maybe I should just skip this one - as desirable as it is in theory - hoping that the Ricoh-Pentax combination will boost assembly quality and component quality in the next model.

So. I noted today that B&H has new leftover K-7 bodies for $799 - and extended warrantees on that body from Pentax itself (for a total of 3 years) for $9.99. This is the same camera body and interface as the K-5. And the K-7 seems to have been a pretty reliable camera - the way I had hoped the K-5 would be.

Yes, there is that high ISO issue. Clearly, the K-7 isn't in the same league as the K-5 in this regard. But I've never been able to really get a handle on whether the K-7 is better, worse or the about the same as the K200D when it comes to high ISO noise. And how about autofocus? Is the K-7 enough of an improvement in both of these areas to warrant an upgrade from a K200D - especially when the K-7 can be had for this price these days?

I'm specifically looking for Pentaxians who've been able to work with both the K-7 and the K200D - but input is welcome from anyone who'd like to chime in. Maybe people who've worked with both the K-7 and K-5.

BTW, I've been on a minor buying binge lately - bodies and lenses. I'm trying to get my photo gear where I'd like it for the long haul before my wife retires in two years and our discretionary income drops.
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Old Aug 9, 2011, 11:58 PM   #2
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While I've never used the K200, I did have a K10 (same sensor) and currently own both a K5 and a K7. Here's my two cents on the matter, based solely on my own experience with these three cameras.

The K7's noise is different than the K10 - there's much less color noise (chromatic noise). The noise is at different tones also - the K10 was pretty good until you got to the shadows and then it was horrible. It was also only barely useable at ISO 1600, and then only if you had no shadows (expose to the right). My K10 had quite a bit of banding at high ISO, I think that was corrected on the K200.

The K7 is cleaner in the shadows but noisier in the mid-tones, mostly luminance noise. I would use ISO 1600 without problem. So from that standpoint it was an improvement over the K10, but in other ways you were getting rid of one type of noise for a different one. You can't "push" the K7 pictures very much because you quickly get significant noise very quickly. By the time the K5 came out I was frustrated with the K7's limitations that way.

I don't do much for sports and I only shoot birds occasionally. At the time I had the K10 I was using a manual focus long lens and most of the other stuff I shoot is pretty stationary so the difference in AF doesn't mean all that much to me. I definitely don't have an opinion on the accuracy since my K10 was one of those that had faulty AF to begin with and the K200 cameras never had that issue at all.

One of the biggest benefits I find is the increased dynamic range of the K5. You can underexpose a shot and you'll be able to pull details out of the shadows without introducing much noise - to me that's huge. It's big enough that I'll often not bother with HDR software for shots that are only somewhat too contrasty - expose for the brights and lighten the shadows works very well with the K5. I can't stress enough how wonderful it is to have that ability.

I agree that the K5 seems to have been plagued with more reported problems than usual, however I still don't know about how wide-spread some of these things are. For instance, I returned my first K7 for the green line issue (though they did correct that with firmware later on). My K10 drove me nuts with the AF issue, mainly because at the time I was using manual focus lenses a lot and it took me forever to figure out what was wrong. I was never so glad to get rid of a camera as I was that one. My first K5 (an early model) had the stains and a separate AF issue I never figured out (replaced because of stains). I haven't had any problems with the second one at all - the indoors AF seems fine, no intermittent AF problem outdoors, I've never had mirror flopping and the only time the camera froze up was my own fault - I was trying to stretch a battery too far and it ran out of juice just as I took a picture, leaving the shutter open or the mirror up (the fix to that was to charge the battery). I now have a couple of batteries that I rotate, when one gets low I charge it and put it in the camera bag until the time when the one that's in the camera gets low, so the batteries are never particularly fresh (maybe the reason I haven't had any flopping?).

While I was waiting for the K5 to be replaced I went back to shooting with the K7. It worked quite well, I took a lot of nice pictures, but I was still very grateful when I could go back to shooting the K5 again. There's an extra indescribable something with the K5 pictures that I can see but not describe (and don't see all the time). I still don't regret getting the K5 at all. I also don't think I would let the reported problems stop me from buying it either (well, I didn't let them stop me, since I own one). Even now I'd buy one.

On the other hand, as long as you are aware of the K7's limitations and can work within them, it's very nice to use. The ergonomics are quite a bit different than the K200 though - it took some getting used to for me, but now I'm very comfortable with it. You do have to admit that the $799 price tag looks pretty nice, too. You'd gain a lot of features you don't currently have, a better viewfinder etc. Not sure what would be the best answer in your shoes.
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Old Aug 10, 2011, 11:16 AM   #3
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Thanks Harriet, I appreciate this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtngal View Post
One of the biggest benefits I find is the increased dynamic range of the K5. You can underexpose a shot and you'll be able to pull details out of the shadows without introducing much noise - to me that's huge. It's big enough that I'll often not bother with HDR software for shots that are only somewhat too contrasty - expose for the brights and lighten the shadows works very well with the K5. I can't stress enough how wonderful it is to have that ability.
The interest thing is... I can do quite a bit of this with the K200D. I took a handheld shot of the moon that I accidentally had at ISO 100 when it should have been ISO 800... and I was amazed at how much I could pull up from the shadows in PP and still get great quality. That's three full stops. So maybe the K-7 doesn't give me any advantage here at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtngal View Post
While I was waiting for the K5 to be replaced I went back to shooting with the K7. It worked quite well, I took a lot of nice pictures, but I was still very grateful when I could go back to shooting the K5 again. There's an extra indescribable something with the K5 pictures that I can see but not describe (and don't see all the time). I still don't regret getting the K5 at all. I also don't think I would let the reported problems stop me from buying it either (well, I didn't let them stop me, since I own one). Even now I'd buy one.
This says a lot and is consistent with remarks from the many K-5 owners who have experienced few or no problems with their cameras. Maybe the K-7 isn't such a good idea.

BTW... I haven't forgotten your desire to see some shots from my new D FA macro 100mm WR lens. It's been so busy at work lately that I haven't had a chance to get out there and take pictures. I'll get to it before too long, I promise.
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Old Aug 11, 2011, 5:25 PM   #4
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This is a very interesting question.

I've had my K10D since 2007 and my KM (K2000) body since 2009. They're both great cameras and I can see where the intervening couple of years between each camera model's release has definitely resulted in more technology and in some cases capability.

Mtngal has definitely had more experience with the different camera models than I have, as my experience in the Pentax digital line is limited to the K10D and KM.

Awhile ago one of the big Cdn. camera store chains had K7's (new in box) selling for $ 799 CAD.

I had to think that one out for a bit. Do I get a K7 or do I stick with my tried and true K10D and KM ?

In the end I didn't purchase the K 7 because:

  • the reputation of the K7 didn't seem stellar
  • I found it hard to rationalize dumping my K10D/ KM bodies, when they work (touch wood ) so well.
  • The K5 's reputation except for the stained sensor seemed to be quite a step above the K7.
I think I would still prefer a K5 over a K7 as a replacement for (probably) my K10D, but I haven't had the experience of others in this forum, with both the K7 and K5.

I will watch and read this thread with interest.
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Old Aug 11, 2011, 10:38 PM   #5
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Forgot to add to the topic of dynamic range - I break dynamic range into two parts - first, what the camera actually shows in the picture - i.e., when does the shadows become clipped; second, what can you retrieve from the very darks in post processing.

As far as the first - I took a couple of comparison shots with both the K20 and K10 before I shipped the K10 to its new owner. The K10 showed detail in one scene that was very contrasty, where the K20 (very similar to the K7 in this regard) showed black. So for pictures straight out of the camera the K10 had a bit better dynamic range than the K20/K7. As far as retrieving details through post processing - I think that they are similar. You can recover a certain amount but both will quickly get noisy.
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