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Old Mar 17, 2018, 5:49 PM   #1
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Default What to buy?

Such a loaded question!

This summer Iím going to caravan/convoy the Alaskan Highway with 3 couples. Iím the only solo so Iíll be driving the whole way and wonít be able to take quick grabs out the side window. But we will be stopping along the way and camping, so I expect Iíll see wildlife as well as awesome scenery. The more I think about it, the more Iíd like to have 2 cameras, one with some telephoto lens on it and one with something like the 28 - 105 lens that Iíve been using mostly.

Now Iím in rather a quandary - my KS1 has the aperature problem, and I just donít think itís worth getting fixed, even though I really love it.

Iím also getting older and more set in my ways. That means that I had trouble remembering the different controls the last time I shot with it and the K1 at the same time. I tried this summer with the K1 and K100, and had the same issue, though worse as I forgot that mine wouldnít AF with the DA300, and there was no live view to figure out shooting with a solar filter on.

Iím torn between getting a small camera like the KP or sticking with something that is now familiar to me and order a K1 II. Having cameras the same weight is easier with my 2 camera harness, but the K1 is almost twice the weight of the KP.

To add another wrinkle into the mix, my longest lens is the DA 300. I have the 1.7 AFA but that introduces some problems of its own, and I need to go out and really get used to the combination, Iím not sure they play together with the K1 right. At least the few times Iíve used it I was disappointed (cou,d easily have been user error, too).

So now Iíve been looking at the DFA 150-450. The more I think about it, the more I think this falls into the must purchase category. But itís so big that Iím sure I would regret not having a second camera along.

Iím also having a tough time getting my head around the expenses Iím getting into in preparation for this trip, which includes a Honda 2200 generator, perhaps some type of solar on the trailerís roof, a second battery and a Ford F-150 to carry/tow it all. But this is a bucket-list trip, a once in a lifetime opportunity and I really donít want to have any regrets.

Getting the KP would be cheaper and lighter, but Iím afraid I wouldnít use one or the other camera because I did that this summer, I gave up on the K100. Maybe I should forget the 150-450 lens and stick with the DA300.

I know that it is ultimately my decision, and that thereís no real right answer (other than to win the lottery and buy all 3) but I would love someone elseís point of view, to bring up something I might not have considered, some advantage one way or the other.
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Old Mar 18, 2018, 6:44 AM   #2
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Mtngal,

Good to hear from you.

I just looked up the Alaska Highway and it does look like an amazing trip!

How long is the trip going to take?

Just curious . . . are any of the others into photography? If not, I am guessing that it might be difficult to allocate a lot of time to shooting during the trip?

As for shooting from the car, maybe do video snippets?

Maybe try to put together a short video of the trip at the end as a memento of the trip?

Ricoh has that interesting Ricoh Theta. It takes pictures and video in 360 degrees, so you could take video of you driving every now and then where the viewer can see what you see, and then spin the view around (themselves) and watch your reactions as well. Or if you take a picture, the viewer can spin the capture around and see all 360 degrees around the camera. I thought that was pretty interesting. Even "wider" view than a wide angle lens.

The other camera I keep looking at is the Ricoh GR (II). Fixed 28mm focal length. Only 16MP. I've contemplated something like it for vacation. But . . . I thought maybe . . . if I only want to take one camera, and I have a big lens on my camera . . . if there is a wide angle picture I want to grab quickly and I don't want to switch lenses, I could just pull that camera out and grab the shot. Like a quick group shot or selfie or something like that.

What type of pictures were you thinking of going for? Is there anything along the trek that you already know you want to explore?
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Old Mar 18, 2018, 12:19 PM   #3
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We're leaving toward the end of June and will be back toward the end of September. We have reservations for the first part of the trip up to Prince George and Canada Day weekend, then we're leaving it pretty open until July 31st when we have reservations in Denali National Park for a couple of days. We also have reservations on the Haines to Skagway ferry on August 27th.

I'm expecting to take a bunch of photos of wildlife, hence the desire for the DFA 150-450, something longer than what I have. Though yesterday I did play around a bit with the DA300 and 1.7AFA and didn't notice as much degrading with them on the K1 as I had in the past. I think there's a bit of back focusing with that combination, and perhaps that's what I've seen in the past, the couple of times I've used it.

The bulk of the photos I expect will be landscape, tourist sort of stuff and some group shots as we go along (want to take one of us at the Arctic Circle, we're still trying to figure that one out).

I keep going back and forth about getting a KP for it's small size, but then I think I'd be more likely to keep the 150-450 on it because of the crop sensor rather than something that's wide-normal and small (DA21, FA31, DA15 etc.) for quick grab shots. That would leave me with the 28-105 on the K1, which is a very nice combination and what I use mostly now, but that would give me two heavy camera combinations. If there's not going to be a size/weight loss then perhaps I should just get the K1 II so the controls will be the same and the KP, while cheaper, isn't THAT much cheaper. I'm not likely to be able to shoot the 150-450 hand-held regardless of which camera I have it on, so going the KP route loses some of it's attraction.

The weight issue is only an ergonomic thing - I'm going to be driving a pickup with a travel trailer rig and so have no particular weight/size limitations for carrying the equipment around like you would on a cruise, flying, bus trip or something like that.

At least one of the people I'll be traveling with likes to fish, so I'll have opportunities to do my own landscape or macro photography thing. None of us are interested in piling on miles and hours of driving, I expect we'll be off the road fairly early most days, with days off from driving along the way. RVing can be quite relaxed and slow going, and we should have enough time to putter around.
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Old Mar 19, 2018, 9:19 AM   #4
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+1

A trip of that length . . . there would be a lot of opportunity to really concentrate on shooting!

If ranging from landscape to wildlife . . . I guess the question is . . . what is your idea set-up for a day trek.

You can keep everything in your truck / trailer . . . but what would be your automatic set-up in your camera bag?

And . . . for a trip like that, it would not be nice if something happened to your K1 and either you didn't have a camera to shoot with, or . . . you had to spend time looking for a dealer that had a K1 (II) in stock.

I have a full frame / cropped sensor set-up with my Nikon gear. I can't afford to get a 2nd full frame yet, but I really need to for paid shoots. So I am surviving off of the set-up. I thought I was going to like having access to both full frame and cropped more. But I personally don't really shoot distant subjects like wild life. I shoot sports and portraits, so my subjects are usually within 6-30 feet or so. So I have been finding it a juggling act to figure out which lens to put on the full frame and which to put on the cropped. And I'm thinking, with the lenses I have . . . both full frame would make sense for what I'm shooting. But I would probably be at 24MP on each full frame.

The K1 has 36MP. How do you find shooting a long lens with the K1 versus what you would expect out of the K-S1? Is there a big benefit of taking your long lenses and using them on the K-S1, or do you get similar IQ from cropping from the K1?

Do you have a blog or Youtube channel or something to post to?

But also, post here your trek along the way!
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Old Mar 19, 2018, 10:31 AM   #5
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I put the DA300 plus 1.7 AFA on the K1 on a tripod to see what issue I was having with the combination. It looks like it back focuses, at least on closer objects. So that would explain why I've been unhappy with it.

I also posted this question on PentaxForums since it's more active and got a suggestion of getting a KP and the DA 1.4 TC - that would eliminate the problem with the limited focus range of the AFA and would also give me a larger full frame image than the 450 would on a K1 - definitely tempting. Probably is my first choice if I don't find the controls too different, like I did when trying to shoot the K100 and K1 at the same time.

The more I think about it, the more I have decided a working second camera is a necessity. My poor K1 works great and has been a real workhorse even though it's gotten scraped on slick rock in Moab and occasionally knocked against other rocks elsewhere. It's been out in wind and rain and while it doesn't exactly look pristine, it works that way. For how much longer? Who knows and I don't want to have to depend on it.

I need to go out and do some experimenting with what I have.

You bring up a good point about a walk-about camera bag. My first thought was to have 2 bags, one for each camera and grab whichever one seems to fit where I'm at. But what I've been using most often when hiking is a regular hydration day pack with a hip strap and lens cases on it. Then everything is convenient and I found it more comfortable than a sling bag. I've used an Optek sling strap for the camera, but have an Optek double camera harness that I've never tried using with the hydration pack - not sure how that would work. If it does, then I would be carrying fewer lenses, probably just a macro and a wide(er) angle of some sort.

I've been using zenfolio as a photo hosting site, but they've made some changes I don't like and I can't figure out how to go back to the way it was before (for one thing they now strip out the exif info, which they didn't originally and one of the reasons why I liked them to begin with). I've thought vaguely of changing over to Smugmug but the idea of trying to move everything stops me. If there's interest here, I'll post some of the photos here like I used to way back when.
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Old Mar 19, 2018, 7:50 PM   #6
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I found that Samy's Camera in Pasadena had a KP in stock, so I drove over, checked it out, and bought it. Now to get used to shooting with a REALLY long combination, and to order the 1.4 TC.
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Old Mar 20, 2018, 10:29 AM   #7
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+1

With wildlife that would be a nice set-up!

Now, I've been reading about an accelerator in the KP that is supposed to make high ISO cleaner?

What is up with that?

Also, have you thought about upgrading your K-1 to a K-1 II spec?
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Old Mar 20, 2018, 5:25 PM   #8
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There's a whole lot less noise with the KP. I played around with some high ISO shots last night, and it has less noise at 12,800 than the K1 does. When it gets over 100,000 (insane, definitely) the photo doesn't clean up all that well, or at least I didn't manage it without quite a bit of smearing (I tried with both DeNoise and DxO). But if I weren't going to crop and was desperate for the shot, then you could get something half-way reasonable.

I'm not sure how much above 20,000 I would be willing to go. That's saying a lot since I don't go over 12,800 with the K1. All of these numbers are just crazy - how well I remember the K10 where anything over 1600 wasn't useable.

I'm not going to be able to send in my K1 for upgrade - the window is from the middle of May to the middle of September. I'm leaving the 1st of June, if possible, and not coming back until the end of September, which is why my first thought was to buy a K1ii and the DFA 150-450 lens, even though I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to shoot the lens without a tripod.

So how does the KP do with the DA300/1.7 combo? Very nicely, though there's some degradation from the TC. Not a huge amount, but a little.

Here's one I took with the combination, not cropped (full frame of the photo):



Then without the TC. While these were taken at approximately the same place, they were taken at different times so it isn't an exact comparison.



A 100% crop of the photo taken with the TC. The only processing was whatever LR does on their default settings, the only thing I did was crop it in Photoshop.



I didn't do any comparisons with high ISO, but here's something that I think is pretty insane - ISO 160,000. (I sure wish zenfolio wouldn't strip out the EXIF data now). I turned off the camera's noise reduction for both long shutter speeds and high ISO, and took this as a RAW file. Here's the full frame shot (do you suppose I should clean up?).



I used DxO to make lens corrections - I'm not all that happy with Lightroom's perspective adjustments when a lens has much barreling, I prefer DxO. However, it's noise reduction did something weird at the bottom of the scene (yes, I could crop it out).



Finally, a 100% crop of the original, without any adjustments. As you can see, the noise isn't the kind that can be easily corrected, it's pretty destructive.



Not a particularly useful setting, but I'm still having trouble grasping the extra zeros!

If you are going to resize down to a wallet sized print or perhaps screen size, it's not too bad. Look closely though, crop much or whatever and forget it.

So now I have even more reasons why the KP was a great choice for me - love the size, it comes with different grips and I find the middle one just perfect for me, it's a crop sensor so I have longer reach and the high ISO is even better than the K1. The K1ii could be absolutely awesome, time will tell.
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Old Mar 20, 2018, 5:33 PM   #9
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Forgot to include these 2 - here's the full scene from the KP with the DA300 and 1.7 AFA (ISO 320):



Then a 100% crop:



Not bad for a long lens with a 1.7 teleconverter. It isn't perfect, but pretty good.

I also took some photos today using the DA200 and the KP. The anti-shake is about the same as the K1 - definitely improved over anything else I've owned. I was shooting clear shots at shutter speeds slower than I could handle when I was much younger and got clear pictures. Nothing very interesting, but I was happy with them and it was nice to see that it's as good as the K1.
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Old Mar 21, 2018, 11:26 AM   #10
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RE: K-P high ISO . . . reading a bit about the K-P . . . that is one thing about it that is intriguing me. It looks like it is delivering.

The more I read about noise in images . . . the more I come to realize that there is noise always present in what we see. It's just that when we can have more light . . . so more signal . . . then we see the noise less.

But when there is not enough light, then we see the noise. And the noise can be 2 different things. The noise that is introduced by the capturing gear. And the noise that is part of how light photons work.

When we get past the point where we can discern the noise introduced by the camera . . . then . . . in low light shots, there's still going to be noise. My question is . . . what will the end image look like then? But also . . . I guess at that point we will have to accept that is "real" as . . . to remove that noise would be to not record what is actually happening. LOL. Kinda weird I know.

RE: K-1
I guess the question is . . . do you even want to upgrade it? If so . . . if you contact Pentax and say you want to upgrade, but you'll be using it then, can they reserve a spot for you?

RE: K-P + TC and Lenses
I looks pretty darn good to me.

I guess the question becomes . . . what is your daily walkabout set-up?

Are you going to run the cameras with a strap system?

Maybe have a much smaller pouch with any additional lenses, batteries, lens cleaner, memory cards.

Do you have a monopod? There is that monopod that has the little foot that flips out that you step on for more stability.
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