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Old Sep 30, 2011, 11:51 PM   #1
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Default Is the lens the thing...or is it the camera body ?

The case for the camera body- is old still good or...?

I have two digital SLR bodies...a K10D and a KM (K2000). Both of them would be considered ...obsolete by many. But they do the job for me very well.

I have seriously considered getting a new Pentax K5. I've tried a couple out and the K5 is a fine photographic instrument...of which there is no doubt.

But given the type of pictures I take....vintage vehicles, landscapes and wildlife I find both the K10D and KM perform admirably.

I know the ISO performance, the AF, the sensor are all significantly better with the K5, than my old Pentax pair. I forgot to mention the live view.

For my purposes I usually set ISO at 100, sometimes 200, occasionally 400 and rarely 800.

With my two aging cameras, I could do with an improvement on the AF...but I've found that over the years I've learned to adjust to the particularities (euphemism for deficiencies ) of my camera bodies.

But then I've always done this. Going back to the late '60's when I bought my new Pentax S1a which didn't have a light meter. I bought a cheap Sekonic meter and carried around a gray card and metered off that...it was slow metering, but worked fine.

I know the new bodies have video...but I'm primarily a still photographer, never been much interested in video, although I've had video cameras.

Right now the K5 is available for a great price up here in Canada and I do admit I've thought some more about picking one up.

Since I've heard about the new Sony...24. something sensor (in the Sony 77) I've thought maybe I would wait for a K6...it might have the new Sony sensor...also may have a flexible live view monitor (which I love using) like my Canon G 12 uses.

But then I think, would the K5 be that much better than what I use now...camera body wise ?

I'm not sure, but I don't think so.

I'm also held back by the fact that (touch wood) both my K10D and KM bodies are still functioning well and as a result I have great difficulty in buying a new camera body...when these are functioning so well. But that's me.

Lenses:

What I do find that makes a significant difference are the lenses. I went from a Pentax 16-45..a very good lens to the Pentax 12-24mm..an expensive...but a wonderful lens.

I do have the kit 18-55...came with the KM..but I've only used it a couple of times. Never been satisfied with it, compared especially to the 12-24.

Another favourite is the Pentax 10-17mm which I usually use the 17 mm setting. The 17mm perspective (not really fisheye at this setting) is really something else and not a novelty look. I use the 10-17 mm on a regular basis.

I have thought about getting a DA 300mm...but I think the thing that has held me back, aside from the formidable price up here...is what I would really want would be a similar quality , new Pentax 400 mm....F .6 would be fine...just like Canon's 400mm L f 5.6.

I want the extra reach over the 300.

I would also like to eventually replace my 50mm F 2.8 Macro with the new Pentax 100 mm F 2.8 aluminum bodied Macro lens.

So now what....concentrate on getting better lenses...or new, improved camera bodies ?

So after this long winded dissertation.....it all boils down to this, what is more important in photography......the body or the lens ?

What's your view ?

Last edited by lesmore49; Sep 30, 2011 at 11:56 PM.
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Old Oct 1, 2011, 12:05 AM   #2
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Although there is no denying the added competencies of newer camera bodies My vote goes for lenses. I have an ancient (2002) Fujifilm Finepix S2 Pro and an even older Nikkor AF 80-200mm f2.8 ED lens. The quality of that lens makes for fantastic pictures in spite of the old 6MP camera body. Except for high ISO performance and speed the older bodies still perform well if you have good glass.

Here is an example of what that old Fuji can do with the 80-200mm f2.8 lens: http://www.flickr.com/photos/monza76...in/photostream
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Old Oct 1, 2011, 1:07 AM   #3
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I'm not convinced the new Sony 24 mp sensor is going to have the same dynamic range and well controlled noise that the 16 mp sensor in the K5 has. At least, that's what the initial test results seem to indicate. I was actually shocked that the K5's sensor did so well - it had always seemed to me that the more mp there are, the less dynamic range and more noise a camera had. So I wouldn't wait for the next camera just because the sensor is bigger (the file size from the 16 mp sensor are huge, don't think I want to know what the 24 mp sensor has).

I never particularly liked the 10 mp sensor the K10 had - far preferred the 6 mp sensor in the K100 and earlier cameras. My K10 had a lot of banding at higher ISO or when I tried to push the exposure much.

So for those two reasons (the initial results from the Sony sensor haven't been as good as the K5's sensor and my experiences with an early K10) I'd be tempted more than usual by the K5 over the lenses. The quality I get with the K5 really is that much better, in my opinion, more so than from any of the upgraded cameras I've bought in the past (though the K20 over my K10 came close).

On the other hand, cameras come and go, while the lenses last forever. But the only lens that seems to be really calling your name is the Pentax 100 macro WR. You say you've thought about the DA*300 but want to see if they'll come out with a 400. The DA*300 is a brilliant lens, I love mine and would buy it again in a heart-beat, but it doesn't seem to be calling out to you very much. Both lenses are very popular and aren't going to go out of production anytime soon, so there's not any urgency to buy them right now, unless one of them is driving you nuts.

Perhaps the best thing to do is to wait a bit and see what happens with the K5 (is it going to be replaced in the near future or not?).

After having thought this through, I know what I would do/did. I had already started to hear the FA 31 call my name, but I bought the K5 first. Don't regret doing it that way at all. But its not for everyone.
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Old Oct 1, 2011, 5:03 AM   #4
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As you put it in your post, Les, the answer is easy. Go for the lenses! Good lenses do make a difference, and they will outlast any body. Bodies nowadays can be considered as disposable, since there is a new model out every 15-18 months and little of the original expense is retrieved when you sell second hand.
I started with an *istDS, also bought a K20D which I eventually sold and then a K5. The K5 is a fantastic camera, but it doesn't hold me back from using my wonderful little *istDS which I'll keep forever.
Pentax lenses over 300mm are not plenty on the market, but don't hesitate to buy second hand. HQ lenses are usually well kept and guarded by previous owners. And there is of course the amazing little AF adapter X1.7, which will make a 300mm lens with or without AF a 510mm lens with AF.

Kjell

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Old Oct 1, 2011, 4:22 PM   #5
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Short version answer : The Photographer.

Longer version : Only you can decide which is more important to you.

Camera : The K5 has a large DR increase over the two cameras you own now, 14.1 EV to 11.6 EV over the K10D. High ISO is 1,162 vs 522 and the K5 extends to 51,200 vs 1,600. Enough reasons right there but there are plenty more as the K10D has no advantage over the K5 in any area ! Would help your landscape & wildlife photography.

Lenses : The DA*300 is so sharp that cropping to a 400mm angle of view is not going to cost you much (if anything noticeable at all) in IQ.

Finally if you wait for a K3 (or whatever) then the price is likely to be closer to US$2,000 than US$1,500 and the K5 is now nearly US$1,000 9a bargain!). I can't see lens prices coming down any time soon ... if ever.
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Pentax : 15 Ltd, 77 Ltd, 43/1.9 Ltd, Cosina 55/1.2, DA*300/4, Contax Zeiss Distagon 28/2.8, Raynox 150/250, AFA x1.7, Metz 50 af1.

Nikon : D800, D600, Sigma 500/4.5, Sigma 120-300/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 21/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 35/2.0, Nikkor 85/1.8G, Sigma 50/1.4. Nikon x1.4 TC, Sigma x2.0 TC
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Old Oct 1, 2011, 4:50 PM   #6
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Depending on your needs a good body can make a significant difference in the area of low noise, AF speed and dynamic range. Having said that, with a hi performance body, an average lens will not do much if it does not have the zoom range, speed and sharpness. For my usage, I need both...unfortunately that means big $$$$'s! Also the reason why sports phtographers pay big $'s for premium glass and premium bodies to get that one shot that will make it into Sports Illustrated or the front page of the newspaper.

For travel and leisure photography,I often find myself going back to my P&S (Canon S90 in this case):great IQ due to an extra large 1/1.7 sensor, full manual controsl as needed, RAW shooting, f2.0 lens and slips conveniently into my pocket.

One thing about premium lenses...they are forever. Can't say the same for bodies.

Jehan
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Old Oct 2, 2011, 6:20 AM   #7
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Really I can't give you a straight answer here, so I wrote down what I thought going over your post.

Quote:
But given the type of pictures I take....vintage vehicles, landscapes and wildlife I find both the K10D and KM perform admirably.
I would say that a k-5 with its higher sensitivity, and faster focus would mean a great improvement for wildlife.
For landscapes there is a large dynamic range what would help with landscapes but ... not so much, unless you would use this DR to get the posibility to get a one image HDR

Quote:
For my purposes I usually set ISO at 100, sometimes 200, occasionally 400 and rarely 800.
Strange before the K-5 i never thought about going above 800, with the k20d iso400 was where I felt best.
Now -- I go to iso 12800 and get pictures I want to keep, so the camera has changed my way of looking at what iso I use.

Quote:
I know the new bodies have video...but I'm primarily a still photographer, never been much interested in video, although I've had video cameras.
Video is imho still a gimic, although its fun playing around with it.

Quote:
Right now the K5 is available for a great price up here in Canada and I do admit I've thought some more about picking one up.
Thats a great reason to buy it.

Quote:
Since I've heard about the new Sony...24. something sensor (in the Sony 77) I've thought maybe I would wait for a K6...it might have the new Sony sensor...also may have a flexible live view monitor (which I love using) like my Canon G 12 uses.
For what I've seen on dpreview where you can measurbate about the different iso values, I'm quite sure that the k-5 beats the 24mp. I do love the live view and hibrid viewfinders from sony. Almost changed to it, but the way the menus worked felt wrong, and ... I'm glad I waited for the K5

Quote:
I have thought about getting a DA 300mm...but I think the thing that has held me back, aside from the formidable price up here...is what I would really want would be a similar quality , new Pentax 400 mm....F .6 would be fine...just like Canon's 400mm L f 5.6.
For wildlife shots a longer lens is needed. I have a lowly Sigma 100-300 ex f4... and the 300mm is for some shots to short. Lately I've been adding a 2x tc and I really like the lens a lot better. But then I tried that TC with the K20d and never got the result I wanted because the iso had to be to high to get the shutterspeed needed.

Quote:
I would also like to eventually replace my 50mm F 2.8 Macro with the new Pentax 100 mm F 2.8 aluminum bodied Macro lens.
I stopped wanting that lens when I saw it didn't have a aperture ring.


Putting myself in your place I would check out the longer sigma versions for tele, and the K5. The price might be close to the pentax 300FA

But as Kevin said: Only you can decide which is more important to you.
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Old Oct 2, 2011, 5:41 PM   #8
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I'm chiming in late, and others have already made every point I would have. So, for me, as a general rule, I'd say go for better lenses before upgrading the body. BUT if the biggest limitation you're facing is image noise, lack of dynamic range, or slow autofocus, then it makes sense to upgrade the body first.
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Old Oct 3, 2011, 2:44 PM   #9
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Thank you all. Lot's of food for thought.

Les
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Old Oct 4, 2011, 8:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monza76 View Post
Although there is no denying the added competencies of newer camera bodies My vote goes for lenses. I have an ancient (2002) Fujifilm Finepix S2 Pro and an even older Nikkor AF 80-200mm f2.8 ED lens. The quality of that lens makes for fantastic pictures in spite of the old 6MP camera body. Except for high ISO performance and speed the older bodies still perform well if you have good glass.

Here is an example of what that old Fuji can do with the 80-200mm f2.8 lens: http://www.flickr.com/photos/monza76...in/photostream

Ira,

I agree with you. Fine glass like your Nikkor F 2.8, 80-200mm I think will always show it's mettle. I have a 60 + year old Leitz Elmar F 3.5 50mm on my 1952 Leica 11f Rangefinder and the picture quality on this ancient combo is outstanding.

Of course I have to meter each picture, with my 30 year old Sekonic Hand held light meter and manually focus my Leitz lens, manually set my shutter speed and F stops....taking photos are not fast and there is no burst speed...LOL....but the lens (and for that matter) the body are top notch.

To me my older K10D is still a marvel of technology compared to what I used in the film days.

But i do admit I wouldn't mind a K5....just can't rationalize it when the K10D and KM are still working fine.

Also as others have said...it's the lens you keep, not the bodies. I think this is correct. So, I suppose get the best lenses one can afford.

Les
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