Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > What Camera Should I Buy?

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Mar 12, 2011, 6:17 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
MacBook's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 566
Default Panasonic GH2 or Pentax K-5

I have an Olympus E-PL1 and like it, especially the size and general IQ, but find the external viewfinder inconvenient, compromising the size advantage, and the menus somewhat bothersome.

I ordered and received a Panasonic GH2 with the 14-42 lens, and like the form and operation much better. This is about the perfect size, very comfortable to use idf not a little light. The IQ does not seem as much different as I expected, and I realize I would really like a wide-ranging zoom lens for most uses. So, I could return this and search for a GH2 with the 14-140 lens, but I was thinking that the Pentax K-5 (or even the K-r) with the 18-135 lens might be a better combination. I'm not sure the size difference between the GH2 and K-5 is that great, the biggest difference would be the weight. The Pentax has othe advantages, such as better IQ, high ISO, and weather sealing.

Any thoughts or advice?
MacBook is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Mar 13, 2011, 12:28 AM   #2
Senior Member
 
mtngal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Frazier Park, CA
Posts: 16,056
Default

There's some performance differences, such as a smaller sensor on the Panasonic, which would make the lens on the Panasonic seem longer, wider for the Pentax (different crop factor). Which do you like better - wide angle or long telephoto? The depth of field is going to be different also (smaller dof with the Pentax) which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on what you like. There's also a significant price difference, though the K5 is now starting to come down a bit in price. There's a lot of differences in features - the two cameras aren't in the same class at all.

While I wouldn't imagine that there would be much difference between learning the basics with either camera, there would be a bigger learning curve to figure out everything with the K5.
mtngal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Mar 13, 2011, 12:32 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
MacBook's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 566
Default

In terms of preferred range, I thought my answer would be mid-telephoto, but analyzing five years of shooting showed that the largest amount of shots were in the 35-50mm range, with a spike in the 300-500 range, and then 90-115mm.

I actually like both shallow and extended DOF. I am trying to accommodate a variety of photography (landscape, travel, portrait, architecture), and so the lenses make a difference. I generally want to use a walkaround zoom (such as the Pentax 18-135 or the Panasonic 14-140) and then use a couple of other lenses for specific occasions. By the time I add the 14-140 (since I bought the kit with the 14-42), or return it and get the K-5 plus 18-135, the cost is within $100 of each other.

The GH2 viewfinder seems quite good and handles the switch between the EVF and LCD gracefully. I expect that the pentaprism of the K-5 would be excellent, too.
MacBook is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Mar 13, 2011, 5:21 PM   #4
Senior Member
 
mtngal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Frazier Park, CA
Posts: 16,056
Default

If you like shallow dof, it would be easier to get using the Pentax over one of the micro 4/3 cameras. The Pentax also has little noise compared to the Panasonic, and ISO 80 has impressive dynamic range, you have lots of latitude to lighten shadows without adding extra noise, very useful for landscape, travel and architecture.

One of the nice things about the Pentax system is the small primes they make - like any high quality lens, they are expensive. But putting one of the Limited lenses on a K5 makes for a very high-quality, light-weight package.

I know what I would do (buy the Pentax) but I can see how the extra size and weight might be a disadvantage. Also, Pentaxians have a tendency to catch LBA, and that can be very expensive - there's lots of choices out there and there's always someone posting incredible pictures taken with a lens you don't have but suddenly want.
mtngal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Mar 13, 2011, 7:14 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
MacBook's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 566
Default

I can see several advantages to the K-5. I like the less noise (and more refined noise when it does appear, from what I have read), the greater dynamic range, and the selection of lenses. I have the 20/1.7 Panasonic for the GH2, which is quite a nice small package. Actually, when I chart out an initial lens roadmap (three or four lenses), the price difference between the two is minimal. Also, I had never really worried about weather before, but living in central Florida means that for several months a year it is often wet outside.

There are only two issues that concern me. One is the weight, which seem like abou 10 ounces give or take an ounce and depending on the lens. The size is close but would be bulkier on the K-5. The other is the quality control with the K-5, given the early stain issue and then the FF issue that people seem to like to argue about on other websites, but thankfully not on this one! I gather the stain issue was resolved and affected only early serial numbers, and the FF issue seems mostly if not completely addressed by the recent firmware update. Does that seem correct?

By the way, I grew up in L.A. but left there 40 years ago for the northeast and then the last 28 years in Florida. I have been through the grapevine many times, but never stopped (except by traffic or snow) in the area.
MacBook is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Mar 13, 2011, 8:30 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Tumbleweed, Arizona
Posts: 1,381
Default

I think mtngal has hit the main differences between the two cameras. When the GH1 came out, I did think about perhaps a smaller body, but overall I was satisfied with what I had so I stayed put. Overall, I think that the largest difference will be in terms of the physical sizes of the lenses. The K mount is a bit larger and the optics will be a bit larger to cover the larger sensor.

It is difficult to compare the lenses of the two cameras with out converting given the difference in crop factors (1.5 for Pentax and 2.0 for the Panasonic). The Pentax 18-135 is the equivalent of a 13.5 to 101mm in the Panasonic frame ( mm x 1.5 / 2.0). The physical size difference is:
  • Pentax 18-135 - 3" x 2.9" @ 14.3oz
  • Panasonic 14-42 - 2.4" x 2.5" @ 5.8 oz
  • Panasonic 14-140 - 3.3 x 2.7" @ 16.2 oz
The apples to apples comparison is the 18-135 against the 14-140. The Pentax lens is a 7x zoom with the Panasonic being a 10x zoom. I would have to think that to obtain the 10x some optical compromises were made, but you would need to compare to try to find them.

The difference in size and weight between the two bodies are:
  • Pentax - 131 x 97 x 73mm (5.2 x 3.8 x 2.9 in) @ 740g
  • Panasonic - 124 x 90 x 76mm (4.9 x 3.5 x 3 in) @609g
The weight difference is 130g or about 4.5oz

From what I understand the main difference between the two cameras is video. Panasonic does a great job with video, and Pentax lags in that capability.

You indicated that you have a lens roadmap. Have you listed them out with their respective sizes and weights, along with the corresponding Pentax lenses. I would think that is where the greatest difference will be found.

... hope that helps...
interested_observer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Mar 13, 2011, 9:06 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
mtngal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Frazier Park, CA
Posts: 16,056
Default

I can understand your hesitation about the K5, though as far as I'm concerned the low-light front focusing issue has been corrected. Pentax has been excellent about replacing/repairing any cameras showing the stains and those buying now (from reputable sources) are not reporting problems. Pentax stated that it affected cameras produced before a certain week in late December, and it seems like people who have bought cameras produced after that date aren't reporting issues (though those who bought cameras produced in the timeframe have reported that cameras initially without stains developed them later). And some who have the issue keep their cameras anyway since it's noticeable only at small apertures (f14-f22) and they don't use them.

Just my opinion but I think that the low-light problems were blown out of proportion by some people. Was there a problem? Yes, but I can only think of one situation where I noticed it. It didn't cause me to miss-focus any shots when shooting at Birch Aquarium (the K5 did better than a different camera did at Monterey's aquarium). In some ways I think the stain situation was also, and Pentax has been brilliant about dealing with it. You can shoot an affected camera all day long at f8 - f11 without noticing the marks unless you know exactly where it is on your camera, and you can't see them at all at apertures larger than f8. There are those who could have affected cameras and haven't noticed the marks. And there are those who have confused dust with the stains (though the stains are distinctive in my opinion).

I probably should add that I own a K5, manufactured in early December, purchased right after Christmas, and I dropped it off with FedEx yesterday because of stains. Before I sent it in I upgraded the firmware and confirmed it was no longer front focusing under the one situation where I had ever noticed it. I can't wait to get it back even though I have 2 other cameras I can use (K7 and K100) - the image quality is that much better.

If you do decide to buy a K5, make sure you buy from a reputable company, that it's not a grey market import and that the store has a good return policy (though the stain problem doesn't necessarily show up at first). All manufacturers produce the occasional lemon so there's no guarantee you won't get a defective one. So far it looks like Pentax has been excellent about sorting out the early production problems that the K5 has suffered from and I don't think that you'd be any more likely to have problems than you would buying any other camera.
mtngal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Mar 13, 2011, 9:08 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
MacBook's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 566
Default

Thanks. I had looked at the weights (and prices) of the lenses. The one different figure I had found is that the Panasonic GH2 body is only 15.6 ounces; the 609g includes the body, battery, and 14-42mm lens, so that the difference in bodies is about 10.5 ounces. As you can see from the table, the difference seems to be 8-12 ounce total differences for similar lenses.
Attached Images
 
MacBook is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Mar 14, 2011, 1:49 AM   #9
Senior Member
 
shoturtle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Frankfurt AM
Posts: 11,348
Default

If you like the GH2, go with the K-r over the k-5, it is closer to the same size as the gh2 actually. The GH2 is a much better video camera then the pentax. But the pentax's has allot of advantages over the GH2. OVF vs EVF, you get real time view when shooting in burst. Also you get a much faster burst rate when shooting large jpeg or raw. The AF is faster also.

Love M4/3 camera's for their size personally. But with the GH2 you really need to stay with panasonic lenses, if you uses longer fl lenses. As the olympus uses ibis, so their m4/3n 4/3 lenses will not give you IS. And on longer FL lenses, IS does help out. So you are more limited with lenses options currently.
__________________
Super Frequent Flyer, no joke. Ex Patriot and loving it.
Canon Eos 60D, T1i/500D, Eos1, Eos 630, Olympus EPL-1, and a part time Pentax K-X shooter.

Last edited by shoturtle; Mar 14, 2011 at 9:31 AM.
shoturtle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Mar 14, 2011, 6:16 AM   #10
Senior Member
 
MacBook's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 566
Default

I have decided to stay with the Panasonic GH2. For one thing, I have it in hand and would have to return it today to get credit for it. If I change my mind in the near future, the camera is in such short supply that I probably would be able to sell it without a problem.

I also really like the smaller and lighter aspects of the m4/3 format. I already have the Panasonic 20/1.7 lens. I have adapters for OM, M42, and M39 lenses, too, in case any show up at my doorstep. I just ordered a second battery ($60), even though it would be nice to be able to buy $10 third party batteries as with other cameras. The GH2 allows me to continue sharing lenses with the Olympus E-PL1 for as long as I keep that camera.

I think the Pentax would be a great camera, better in many ways, but there are always trade-offs. Had I bought the Pentax instead, I probably would be thinking of whether I should have bought the Panasonic. My "assignment" now is to get some free time and do some photographing!

Thanks mtngal, interested observer, and shoturtle for your help. Fortunately, there are a lot of good options today in photography. My favorite pictures in the last decade, in many ways, came from a 3MP Kodak DX3900 and a 4MP Panasonic FZ15, so its the photographer more than the equipment anyway.
MacBook is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:18 PM.