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Old Nov 27, 2011, 2:43 PM   #1
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Default Pentax K-5 questions

I am very interested in getting a Pentax K-5 camera body. Price is very good right now up here in Canada.

Some questions though .

Sensor stain- I recall reading that some sensors were stained on the K-5. I have also heard that this was only a problem with earlier production units. Apparently after a certain K-5 serial number this problem is not an issue.

My question is this an issue with the K-5, should I be looking at making sure I purchase a K-5 body after a certain serial # and what would that serial number be ?

Also how would I determine if there is a sensor stain ? I was wondering if I took a picture of a blemish free white card, would reveal any sensor stain issues ?

Are there any other issues I should check out or be aware of , when purchasing a K-5 ?

Thanks,

Les
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Old Nov 27, 2011, 6:25 PM   #2
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I am very interested in getting a Pentax K-5 camera body. Price is very good right now up here in Canada.

Some questions though .

Sensor stain- I recall reading that some sensors were stained on the K-5. I have also heard that this was only a problem with earlier production units. Apparently after a certain K-5 serial number this problem is not an issue.

My question is this an issue with the K-5, should I be looking at making sure I purchase a K-5 body after a certain serial # and what would that serial number be ?

Also how would I determine if there is a sensor stain ? I was wondering if I took a picture of a blemish free white card, would reveal any sensor stain issues ?

Are there any other issues I should check out or be aware of , when purchasing a K-5 ?
Hi Les,

The K-5 has had some issues, the stain thing being probably the most infamous. I haven't really followed it closely, but I think this was only an issue with early samples, and I don't recall any new incidents for quite a few months. To check, take a pic of a clear sky, but it's important to use small apertures f16-22 to see it clearly. If you see dots with rings around them, especially a chain of dots like this, then that's a stain. Pentax has officially stated that they will replace any cameras showing this defect any time in the future, whether still under warranty or not. If you happen to get one (a very minuscule chance), return it to your dealer, and they should replace it no questions asked.

There's also the "mirror flop" problem -- I think it's officially called a mirror overrun. With a fully charged battery, the camera seems to go nuts, locks up, and every time you turn the power on, the mirror flips continuously without taking a picture. Removing the battery and replacing it can reset the camera, and it behaves normally. On occasion, these cameras will also double cycle the mirror, but it doesn't effect the operation of the camera, just makes more noise than usual. According to reported incidents on other fora, this seems to be limited to a relatively few samples, but it's an intermittent problem, so it's hard for Pentax Service to determine if it's truly an issue. I believe that the cure is replacing a main circuit board, and I believe that though there might have been parts availability problems in the past which delayed repairs, that this has subsequently been addressed, so even if it does happen, there should be a quick fix.

The last is the "low light level artificial light" focusing issue. I think that this one has been overblown somewhat in the fora. The problem seemed to be that in very low light (less than Ev 4 or so), under Tungsten light, there were AF accuracy issues with fast lenses shot wide open. In fact, my copy would lock focus inconsistently under these conditions with my FA 50/1.4, but not with my F 50/1.7 or any of my f2.8 max aperture lenses. My focus errors could be measured in mm, and though it was a bit bothersome, I found that by stopping down a bit, DOF covered the errors, and with the K-5's higher ISO capabilities, there really wasn't a problem in practice. In any case, one of the early FW updates corrected this in my copy, and I really haven't heard of many more reports of this lately.

I really question focus error reports though. I've discovered that many members of various fora, even though they may be good photographers, really don't understand the focusing system, and that makes user error much more prevalent a problem than faults in the camera. The Micro Focusing Adjustment feature, while a great feature, has caused more problems than it has cured. Many users, seeing a single AF error, will immediately start fiddling with the AF adjustment, and cause themselves a lot of grief. I've got a lot of lenses, and need to rely on AF almost completely, but have never had chronic consistent (either BF or FF always) focus errors with any of over 20 lenses. Every time I see a focus miss, the first thing I do is ask what did I do wrong here? -- and usually find a reason that the critical focus could have missed the mark.

All that being said -- I was a pretty early adopter, and bought mine in the first month after it's release, and have not had any of these issues, except for the minor focusing thing I mentioned.

This sounds like a lot of problems, but actually there's only a very small chance that any of these will show up in a new camera bought at this point. I wouldn't worry about it -- but if you do, first keep a backup camera, and buy the Pentax extended warranty -- It's commonly available for @ $20, and you can get it for up to 90 days from the purchase date (and possibly up to a year from some reports, but I'd be leary of this). There's a free inspection and cleaning included any time during the extra 2 years, and this alone is worth more than the price of the warranty, so it's pretty much a no-brainer even though I'm not a believer in extended warranties.

Of course, the negative side of keeping a backup is that the K-5 will spoil you so much that shooting the older model will be analogous to someone pulling a prank on you and replacing the V-6 in your car with a lawn mower engine. . .

This is just my take on these issues though, and if anything, my tendency is to disbelieve most of the problems that a lot of people complain about with their Pentax DSLRs -- so keep that in mind. . .

Good luck on your purchase -- I think you'll be very pleased. -- I know I am

Scott
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Old Nov 27, 2011, 6:56 PM   #3
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Hi Les,

The K-5 has had some issues, the stain thing being probably the most infamous. I haven't really followed it closely, but I think this was only an issue with early samples, and I don't recall any new incidents for quite a few months. To check, take a pic of a clear sky, but it's important to use small apertures f16-22 to see it clearly. If you see dots with rings around them, especially a chain of dots like this, then that's a stain. Pentax has officially stated that they will replace any cameras showing this defect any time in the future, whether still under warranty or not. If you happen to get one (a very minuscule chance), return it to your dealer, and they should replace it no questions asked.

There's also the "mirror flop" problem -- I think it's officially called a mirror overrun. With a fully charged battery, the camera seems to go nuts, locks up, and every time you turn the power on, the mirror flips continuously without taking a picture. Removing the battery and replacing it can reset the camera, and it behaves normally. On occasion, these cameras will also double cycle the mirror, but it doesn't effect the operation of the camera, just makes more noise than usual. According to reported incidents on other fora, this seems to be limited to a relatively few samples, but it's an intermittent problem, so it's hard for Pentax Service to determine if it's truly an issue. I believe that the cure is replacing a main circuit board, and I believe that though there might have been parts availability problems in the past which delayed repairs, that this has subsequently been addressed, so even if it does happen, there should be a quick fix.

The last is the "low light level artificial light" focusing issue. I think that this one has been overblown somewhat in the fora. The problem seemed to be that in very low light (less than Ev 4 or so), under Tungsten light, there were AF accuracy issues with fast lenses shot wide open. In fact, my copy would lock focus inconsistently under these conditions with my FA 50/1.4, but not with my F 50/1.7 or any of my f2.8 max aperture lenses. My focus errors could be measured in mm, and though it was a bit bothersome, I found that by stopping down a bit, DOF covered the errors, and with the K-5's higher ISO capabilities, there really wasn't a problem in practice. In any case, one of the early FW updates corrected this in my copy, and I really haven't heard of many more reports of this lately.

I really question focus error reports though. I've discovered that many members of various fora, even though they may be good photographers, really don't understand the focusing system, and that makes user error much more prevalent a problem than faults in the camera. The Micro Focusing Adjustment feature, while a great feature, has caused more problems than it has cured. Many users, seeing a single AF error, will immediately start fiddling with the AF adjustment, and cause themselves a lot of grief. I've got a lot of lenses, and need to rely on AF almost completely, but have never had chronic consistent (either BF or FF always) focus errors with any of over 20 lenses. Every time I see a focus miss, the first thing I do is ask what did I do wrong here? -- and usually find a reason that the critical focus could have missed the mark.

All that being said -- I was a pretty early adopter, and bought mine in the first month after it's release, and have not had any of these issues, except for the minor focusing thing I mentioned.

This sounds like a lot of problems, but actually there's only a very small chance that any of these will show up in a new camera bought at this point. I wouldn't worry about it -- but if you do, first keep a backup camera, and buy the Pentax extended warranty -- It's commonly available for @ $20, and you can get it for up to 90 days from the purchase date (and possibly up to a year from some reports, but I'd be leary of this). There's a free inspection and cleaning included any time during the extra 2 years, and this alone is worth more than the price of the warranty, so it's pretty much a no-brainer even though I'm not a believer in extended warranties.
Thanks for the very detailed information. I'm very seriously thinking of the K5. I handled one last week and really liked it. I figure my 4 year old+ K10D has about 95,000 shutter actuation's on it and although it continues to work without fail, or issue, eventually it will bite the proverbial biscuit. I would like to have another camera body around when that happens.
Of course, the negative side of keeping a backup is that the K-5 will spoil you so much that shooting the older model will be analogous to someone pulling a prank on you and replacing the V-6 in your car with a lawn mower engine. . . I have a KM in addition to the K10D and often take both these bodies with me on photographic forays. I think if I get the K5, I will alternate the second camera status between the K10D and KM. As you say a K5 might make the older DSLR's seem 'underpowered' compared to the K5...but I think I can cope with limited power...after all, I did drive a 64 hp Chevette 4 cylinder many decades ago.

This is just my take on these issues though, and if anything, my tendency is to disbelieve most of the problems that a lot of people complain about with their Pentax DSLRs -- so keep that in mind. . .

Good luck on your purchase -- I think you'll be very pleased. -- I know I am

Scott
Thanks Scott. I'll let people here, know if I do buy the K5.

Les
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Old Nov 27, 2011, 9:26 PM   #4
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My first camera had the sensor stain issue. The funny thing is that the replacement camera I received had a lower serial number than the one replaced. Pentax announced that the sensor stain could be an issue with cameras produced before the end of Dec. 2010 (my first one was made about 2 weeks too early). If you buy from one of the main Pentax retailers you should be fine. I've had the second camera since March and have had no trouble with it - including no flapping mirror. My first one seemed to have an AF issue but I never really nailed it down. This one is fine.

While I agree with Scott about the focus adjustment often causing more issues than it solves, I'm one who has a couple of lenses that have needed focus adjustment. My 12-24 has front focused with every camera I've had, for a long time I thought my lens was faulty until I figured it out with the K20. The adjustment has been slightly different with each of my cameras, but all of them have required adjustment with this lens. But that's not the same thing that some claim about AF and low light. Personally I haven't had any trouble with the camera, including shooting this picture with only a small LED flashlight for light (.8 sec at f4, working on black objects and low key photos). It focused exactly where I wanted.



I also haven't updated to the latest firmware, since I figure I'd have a tough time saying "no" to the GPS accessory if I continually saw it in the menus. I think I have 1.03 (it's now up to 1.11).
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