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Old Mar 21, 2014, 12:06 PM   #1
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Default A Vote of Confidence for an Old Friend

Hello all... I haven't posted in a while. I just haven't had much to say. But I've been lurking.


Like many other Pentaxians, I've been impressed by the K-3 reviews and tempted to spring for a body-only kit. But I'm not so sure I want or need 24mp. Friends report the raw files take considerably more time to open even on the latest computers with a lot of RAM. They also talk about higher noise levels at high ISOs compared with the 16mp Pentaxes. Perhaps I'm falling behind the times, but I still think 16mp is the sweet spot for APS-C, even if that may change in the future. About the only real reason the K-3 holds interest for me - as fantastic a camera as it is - is the promise of its advanced autofocus ability.


Meanwhile, I'm seeing the K-5IIs body-only on closeout for under $700. Another tempting deal that offers higher perceived resolution while maintaining 16mp files. And, again, the promise of improved autofocus over the standard K-5.


But here's the thing: I don't know if my case is unusual, but I really can't say I've noticed any particular problem with the autofocus on my K-5. Yes, I've read about the front- and back-focus issues (particularly in tungsten light), and other stories about the camera struggling to achieve focus in very low light. But I was purposely trying to trigger such a response in my darkened bedroom a few nights ago. I had no lights on, the door was open only a crack with indirect tungsten lighting seeping in a bit from a location two rooms away. I had my iPad on but I could barely see anything through my viewfinder. And the K-5 kept on locking focus just fine. Full disclosure: I was using my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 prime.


Because Pentaxians on this site seem to be much more concerned about taking pictures than shopping for gear (a good thing IMHO), I'd like to ask if your experiences with the K-5 generally mirror mine. Could it be that those having focus issues are a loud minority? Or am I the exception? Maybe, coming out of the manual-focus film era, my expectations are simply different. Perhaps I'm just getting old, but I really see no reason to trade in a reliable old friend that still works fine.

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Old Mar 21, 2014, 12:15 PM   #2
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P.S. Can the administrators please move this string to the Pentax DSLR forum? My mistake for posting under Pentax lenses.
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Old Mar 21, 2014, 1:10 PM   #3
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I never had the issues either. However, I will say this after receiving my K-3 TODAY and running preliminary testing -- it is FAST... VERY fast. Both in focusing and FPS. Not just a little. I liked my K-5 a LOT. But, I can see from just playing with the K-3, I'm going to like it a WHOLE lot better. Just my 2 cents.
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Old Mar 22, 2014, 8:31 AM   #4
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Thanks for the response. I'll be interested in reading about your continued impressions of the K-3. I know Harriet likes hers. The best of luck with your new camera!
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Old Mar 23, 2014, 7:17 PM   #5
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The larger file size did make a difference. My hard drive was also full enough with other things that it was starting to run slower. I finally got annoyed with the fact I wasn't able to upgrade to LR 5 without also upgrading my computer's operating system, it was running Snow Leopard. LR did run slower with the K3 files, so I ended up buying a new, faster, more RAM computer.

I then upgraded LR, couldn't exactly figure out how to transfer my Office license, so upgraded that, too (it was several generations old and really needed upgrading). Then I found out that the software for Spyder3 wouldn't really run right on Maverick, so when they offered a discount on the Spyder4, I bought it, too. I figured that I should also buy new Garmin maps, mine were almost 10 years old. It ended up costing me a lot more than just the cost of the computer, completely blew my budget. Not only that, most of the software I ended up purchasing was either a download or else required updates, enough that I ended up downloading the software all over again. My internet connection is faster than dial up, but not by a huge amount. So I spent an entire weekend plus some time during the week sitting in my office and using the high speed wireless there. If I hadn't had that option, I would still be downloading stuff.

It was painful enough that I will think twice before getting a new computer again.

On the other hand I love the camera. Just wish I hadn't blown the budget so badly, I really would like to get the FLUcard. If you have a computer that's not several years old and maxed out on ram at 8gb, then you might be fine.
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Old Mar 25, 2014, 1:57 PM   #6
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Hi Biro,

My K-5 also has no problem with AF. The only "fault" I had was that AF had a minor inconsistency when using my FA 50/1.4 wide open in low light. The variance was under an inch at MFD where the DOF is the thinnest. This was cured by the latest FW update before the most recent to match the body with the new 1.4x AW TC. This was just being nitpicky on my part and the "fault" caused no problems in practical use. . . All of my other AF lenses focused accurately enough for me -- and I have quite a few (15 at last count, I think)

The K-5 IIs AF is more decisive and sensitive at lower light levels, and the K-3 improves on the K-5 IIs. I had assumed that more than doubling the number of sensor areas would make them smaller, but the central AF "point" is only slightly smaller than with the 11 point AF sensors. With the older system, the center point was slightly larger than the central ( ) engraving on the focus screen, with the 27 point sensor, it's slightly smaller. I haven't really mapped the other points, as I rarely use them.

The high ISO noise levels are higher, but the differences are pretty nitpicky, IMO. The noise is mostly on the luminance side, so relatively easy to tone down with a good NR program in PP. I found that I can easily use the same upper limit (10,000 - 12,800) for my uses, but I shoot jpeg primarily, and have my cameras set up differently than most -- high ISO NR off at all ISO, in-camera Sharpening at -4, "Natural" mode -- I like a starting point that is very neutral, then I tweak the images in PP where I have the choice of how it's done.

I use PSPP X6 with Topaz DeNoise and InFocus for NR and sharpening respectively. DeNoise is pretty easy to use intuitively, but InFocus is a bit more challenging to use. I usually only use deconvolution sharpening and adjust microcontrast, leaving local contrast enhancement off.

The large files and Topaz plugins do challenge my 5 YO Athlon 64 X2 with 6GB, Win7 64, but so do the 16MP files of the K-5. I'm currently looking into a new build to get more speed, especially for the upgrades in throughput from the faster SATA and USB, an SSD, and faster (and larger) HDs. The advantage to the larger files is that each step larger seems to take to PP with more versatility -- the adjustments from each of the tools seems finer, with more range and potential effect -- at least to me. Also, as a tele shooter, the finer resolution allows increased ability to crop without losing much resolution compared to the smaller files.

I think that a lot of the differences are overstated by many in the various fora. There's really not much that either the K-5IIs or K-3 can do that I can't do with my K-5, but I haven't had to shoot the K-3 much in the field yet, so I haven't been able to explore some significant new options in the AF-C for action shots -- but I'm not really much of an action shooter -- or at least haven't been.

I'm not discounting the improvements of each of the K-5 successors, just trying to imagine how most shooters use their gear, and unless you're pushing the K-5 to it's performance limits on a regular basis, there realistically isn't that much to gain, but YMMV according to your use.

For me, I choose the K-3 as my #1 body, with the K-5IIs as the second, and K-5 as a backup if I want or need it. AF speed is a priority for me, and any edge is useful, but any of the bodies are more than adequate for my use.

Scott
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Old Mar 25, 2014, 7:58 PM   #7
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Thanks to Biro for starting this thread, and to Gary, Harriet & Scott for all the fascinating information provided. Am still sticking with my K20D (it's paid for, and it still works), but good to know in case I can ever afford an upgrade...
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Old Mar 26, 2014, 11:44 AM   #8
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Glad to be of service, Mole. You continue to do fabulous work with that K-20.

Scott... as a current owner of the K-3, K-5IIs and K-5, would you say the autofocus advantage of the K-5II and K-5IIs is worth upgrading from the K-5? Or would I be better off waiting until the K-3 goes on closeout in another year?
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Old Mar 27, 2014, 5:25 PM   #9
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Hi Biro,

I think that if you're not experiencing any AF frustration with your K-5, then it might be reasonable to wait. The differences between that and the II series that I see are slight, and only when the AF system is stressed either by very low light or the slow ultra tele lenses + TCs that I regularly use when the light gets dim. For me, any improvement in AF, even slight, is enough reason (along with the gear geek thrill of something new to play with, of course) for me to upgrade bodies. I had not thought that the 24MP sensor would be as good as it is at high ISO, so picked up a K-5 IIs assuming that any future model upgrade would just be a slightly less capable sensor. I was wrong, and the new AF sensor and a whole lot of other features plus high ISO performance that was quite a bit better than I expected from a 50% increase in MP) + the free lens deal (though I really don't need another fast 50 -- but that is the way of LBA. . .) convinced me to also get the K-3.

The resolution increase from the removal of the AA filter, while real, is not a slap-me-in-the-face difference, especially if you print. If you use only premium lenses, at their sweet spot, print pretty big, and demand only the best, even if the differences are not very apparent, then upgrading from a K-5 to one of the II series might be justifiable for improved AF and IQ. While I'm not disappointed with the K-5IIs as some could be as not enough of an upgrade.

I should confess to be very fortunate to be able to allow myself a pretty substantial budget for this hobby, and I pretty much have all the lenses that I need at this point, so buying a new body for slight improvements is a luxury that I can pretty easily afford. I realize that all are not as fortunate, so my decisions are not usually representative of the norm. . .

Scott
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Old Mar 31, 2014, 3:26 PM   #10
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Spent an interesting weekend, taking pictures at my niece's rehearsal dinner and attending her wedding. Recently I've been using the Q for what little photography I've been doing, choosing small and light for the walk-around stuff I've been doing. I haven't used the K5 much since I got the K3 (what little time I have for photography I spent getting used to the new camera).

I used both the (original) K5 and the K3. My expectation was that I would use the K5 more than the K3 once it got darker (less noise), but that didn't turn out to be the case. My K5 does still have minor focusing issues in artificial light, though not half as much as it did when I first got it (firmware update at some point did make a difference).

I also had forgotten just how much faster the K3 is than the K5 for just about everything - saving files to the card, bringing up the preview on the KCD screen etc. There are differences in buttons/controls between the two cameras and I found myself struggling a bit when going back to the K5.

In addition, I've gotten used to the K3 giving me what I expect when using a flash so I take it for granted that photos with bounced flash will give me what I expect. I always had issues with the K5, and didn't think about it until I took a quick look (yuck!) - left the flash on the K3 and used it mostly.

Yes, there is more noise with the K3, but it is easily corrected with software. The files can't be underexposed as much as with the K5 as the noise in the "pushed" shadows will become an issue much sooner. But I see so much more detail when properly exposed and I like having the extra room for cropping. After my experience this past weekend, I am a very happy camper - the K3's performance was enough of an improvement to make all that extra money/aggrevation spent on the new computer, software and accessories worth it for me.

I would not go so far as to say that it's an upgrade everyone would need/like. I felt that upgrading to the K5 from anything else was something that everyone would benefit from, but I can see why someone would want to skip this one and wait for the next new one (there's always something in the pipeline). This time there are advantages and disadvantages, reasons for staying pat and reasons for upgrading. No clear winner here.

I'm not going to sell the K5 as I always want a back-up camera. But I'm not as tempted to shoot with both cameras at the same time, and I definitely don't regret getting the K3.
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