Tagged: Pentax K-5

Memory Walk 2014

I happened to be walking down the sidewalk when a few of the memory walkers were approaching me so I grabbed a few pictures.  I liked their shirts this year.  They matched the Clematis growing on our mailbox.

And talking about memories, I am having happy memories of my days photographing with the Pentax K-5 and the 55 – 300 mm lens.  I loved that setup but ultimately decided that it was too heavy since I was having trouble with the arthritis in my back, knees, and hands.  I tried many different lighter, smaller mirror-less cameras and lenses to replace the Pentax gear.  I had some success with the mirror-less cameras and really enjoyed the lighter weight, but missed other things.  In the next few weeks I am going to try going back to a Pentax DSLR, the K-3, and try to solve my issues with the weight in other ways.  I’ll be letting you know how it goes; but, there may be no going back.  Memories may be all there are; but, that is OK with me since I have two alternative plans for new cameras as I move forward.

Camera for Arthritic Hands


In my opinion the Fujifilm X cameras have the best controls and the best image quality and the best lenses for the money.  My current X-E1 satisfies my needs better than any others I have owned; but I am now wondering about the future.

Lately I have had multiple problems that are putting a damper on my photography.  The arthritis in my hands has been particularly bad, I had a touch of the flu, and the weather has prevented me from walking, so I have used my time to concentrate on the arthritis issue since it is the only one affected by the camera and the others will resolve themselves in time.

At one time I owned a Pentax K-5 and multiple large lenses; but I sold it and went in search of a lighter camera due to the difficulties I was having holding it.  After a few trials of other cameras, I finally arrived at the Fujifilm X-E1 as being the best compromise in quality vs. ergonomics vs. cost … with the image quality and cost being the decisive factors.  It weighted a lot less than the K-5 and my hands quit getting any worse.

Now that my hands are bothering me a lot more, I am realizing that I’m on a one-way trip and that they may continue to get worse in a non-linear fashion.  I decided that I should look for something lighter with better ergonomics.  I have over the years tried lots of smaller, lighter micro 4/3 cameras.  They were easier to hold due to their size and the much reduced weight of their lenses, but I did not like their low light image qualities.

One obvious realization was that most of the weight and handling issues with current cameras are the lenses.  That is what makes micro 4/3 such a good camera if you are not photographing in low light.  When I started looking for a camera with better low light capabilities, I found that I needed to stay with APS size, or larger, sensors; but they all need larger, heavier weight lenses.  One solution is to adapt your photography to shorter focal lengths; i.e. give up the longer, heavier zoom lenses and switch to a few prime lenses.  I have tried that.  In addition, at one time I had a zoom lens with an effective 600 mm focal length capability.  I am now down to an effective 300 mm and am using it less and less.  My current most used lenses are prime lenses with effective focal lengths of 40.5 and 52.5 mm … my 27 mm pancake lens and my 35 mm lens for my X-E1.  I use them due to their smaller size and lower weight and partially compensate for their shorter focal length range by zoom-cropping a lot of my images.

My current problem is that I have already exploited the above solutions.  What is next?  I could also give up some low-light capability but I am reluctant to go very far in this direction since most of my photography is in low light situations.  I could also switch to using a tripod with longer shutter times but that is not very feasible because of my conditions and shooting style.

I decided to take another look at several camera systems.  Seeing that the lower cost DSLRs had nice hand-grips and cost a lot less, I have tried the Pentax K-50 and the Canon T3i.  I liked their hand grips, especially since the cameras also cost less than the X-E1, but I returned them since I wasn’t sure either of them was the one for me.  What I did decide was that I could handle a heavier camera with greater ease if it had a good hand-grip.

When Nikon announced the new lightweight D3300, I decided to order one and try it.  My objective in trying it is to be able to pair it with the very good lightweight 35 mm prime lens and then increase my ability to crop zoom with the 24 MP sensor.  If it works well enough for me, I could keep it along with the X-E1 and primarily use the X-E1 in the low-light indoor situations and during the times when I need to hang it from around my neck under a jacket … at least that is my current plan.  I probably won’t get the D3300 for another 3 or 4 weeks, but I at least have something to think about while I’m waiting for warmer weather.  Below is a table that shows the differences in the factors that can be quantified.  The weight and price include the camera and kit lens and the camera weights include batteries and cards.


I also need to point out that these cameras have different strengths and weaknesses, but the benefits are hard to quantify.  If you go to this web site, camerasize.com, you can pick various cameras and not only compare their weights and size but also different views.  You can see how the hand-grip and location of controls, etc. might affect your own needs.

After I have tried them all, I’ll let you know how, and hopefully why, my selection works for me … and maybe you.  I will be making my decision on how easily I can hold them, their image qualities, and their cost.  But, I have two strong conditions to overcome that probably don’t apply to your case.  I already have an X-E1 and thus the cheapest solution is to just continue to use it.  Second, I have a strong preference to use just one make of camera due to the advantages of not having to learn two different systems and then switching back and forth.  If I obtain and keep any of the others it has to overcome these issues.

Fujifilm X-E1 , My One Camera System?


I finally mailed off all of my remaining Pentax DSLR gear … K-5 and lenses.  I’m now going to try using a Fujifilm X-E1 and XF lenses for all of my photography.  That means that I am limited to 200 mm as my longest focal length and that will restrict my wildlife photography.  It also means that I no longer have a weather resistant system, but I doubt that I will need one in the future.

My reason for going with the Fujifilm X system is because of their X sensor and their lenses.  I have never used any zoom lenses as good as theirs.  If I later feel that I need two cameras, I might think about another X camera.  At least then I wouldn’t be changing lenses as often and I’d have a backup.

The unfortunate thing is that no camera is going to solve my biggest concern which is “Lack of things to photograph”.  Lately I have had allergy problems and it seems to have progressed into a cold so I haven’t felt much like getting out and looking for opportunities.  The above is a picture that I took one morning last month.


The above are a few more sample images of typical subjects that I have photographed in the past with the K-5.  I wanted to make some similar images with the X-E1 so that I could compare them.  These are better images and were easier to make with the X-E1.  I made these one day during three outings.

I have decided that I will sell my Pentax K-5 camera and lenses.  I am enjoying the Fujifilm X-E1 a lot more.  The image quality and the controls plus the lighter weight and smaller size of the X-E1 have won me over.  I am waiting on quotes to see how I sell my Pentax gear.

I have not made a decision whether to buy an additional camera for backup.  I think I will just use my X-E1 and see how it goes.  I may not need a second camera.  I may have finally found my “one and only” camera.

PS … If you would like to see some different and interesting pictures of the moon, including the backside, click here.

Unanswered Questions


This is just a break to let you know that I’m still wrestling with whether or not to keep my Pentax K-5 and lenses.  I took it back out of the drawer to make some pictures and had focusing problems.  Granted it wasn’t an easy picture to get the focus correct but the camera indicated that it had achieved focus; but upon examination, it hadn’t.

For all the comments on the web about the focus abilities of the Fujifilm X cameras, you would think I would have more focus problems with the X-E1 and I haven’t.  Even in the above picture it had no trouble quickly focusing on the geese.  I also tried manual focusing for the first time using focus peaking with the X-E1 and it worked like a charm.  You can’t do that with the K-5.

I am finding fewer reasons for keeping the K-5.  If I decide to sell the K-5 I will then need to decide if I really need two cameras.  Will I ever be photographing anywhere again that I need a backup camera?  Will I have a need to exploit having two cameras with different lenses on them?

Fujifilm 200 mm vs. Pentax 300 mm

My new XF 55 – 200 mm lens arrived.  To just do a quick test of focusing, I stepped out on the back porch and took a picture of the far shore line.  I didn’t have my glasses on and I just put the center focus point on the light brown speck (a rock) and took the following picture at 55 mm.  When I loaded the picture on my computer I noticed the heron.  Do you see it on the far shore line to the right of the light speck?


I also used the X-E1 in auto mode zoomed out to 200 mm, and then cropped it down to 2000 pixels wide to get what you see below.  The camera chose the settings of ISO 200, f/5.6, and 1/250 sec.


I was then curious how much of a difference an extra 100 mm in focal length would make so I took the following picture with the Pentax K-5 and the 55 – 300 mm lens zoomed all the way out.  I then also cropped it to the same 2000 pixels wide for the following view. Photographing in “P” mode, the camera chose ISO 640, f/8, 1/400 sec. with the center focus point on the heron.


I corrected the WB to be the same in both cameras and developed them the same.  Both cameras were hand-held.  Since these aren’t exactly the same it isn’t a fair comparison other than to the differences of an extra 100 mm, but I am pleased with the X-E1 and the new XF 55 – 200 mm lens so far … even though it isn’t as long a focal length.  Pixel for pixel the X system appears to be sharper and to have better micro contrast.

I was planning to take some comparison pictures but there are so many variables that it would be hard to do anything meaningful.  The only thing that counts is that I like what I’m getting with the X system.  I have used the X-E1 camera enough to know that I really like it and that it is lighter to carry than the K-5.  I now need to determine how well the system performs in lower light, how well I like carrying it around, how many shots I miss because of the focal length, and how much fun I have using the system.  I think I will put the K-5 system away and concentrate on just using the X-E1 system for a while.

Just for fun … look at a 100% crop of the XF 200 mm picture (below).  It isn’t sharp, but considering it is from a single hand-held picture with the heron so far away and without any thought to best aperture or shutter speed, I am encouraged to see what I can really do with this lens.


Decisions based on Preference


Decisions of what I like are always interesting and are rarely a case of black or white, or B&W or color.  In the above, for example, it also involves different amounts of contrast, color temperature, etc.

At the moment I am working hard on another decision.  Should I keep the XF 55 – 200 mm lens for the X-E1 and if I keep it, can I finally move away from DSLR cameras, sell my Pentax K-5 and lenses, and only use the X-E1 system?

The XF 55 – 200 mm lens should be excellent optically and be better than any of my zoom lenses for the K-5, but isn’t as long as my 55 – 300 mm Pentax lens.  Can I give up the longer focal lengths?  I have always wanted something longer than 300 mm when I’m using it to photograph wildlife.  Can I give up photographing wildlife at a distance?

Instead of the XF 55 – 200 mm, I have considered replacing my current DSLR with something else that has longer lenses available but is lighter and smaller.  Maybe I could go back to micro 4/3 just for the long focal lengths; but the micro 4/3 cameras don’t do as well in low light and the IQ isn’t as good and it would be a costly change.  I have even considered getting a bridge camera for long focal lengths, but then the IQ would really be worse.  Would that matter?  In the end it will be decided by what I prefer, and that will be a compromise based on image quality, ergonomics, cost, and what feels good.

Scenes from Codorus State Park

A group of us from Homewood at Plum Creek took a trip to Codorus PA State Park on 29 Aug 2013 to ride on pontoon boats and to have a picnic afterwards.  I took many pictures of the event but I thought that, for now, in my blog I would only show you a few pictures of some of the scenes within the park.

Labor Day Morning

The above pictures were taken Labor Day morning between 6:03 and 6:42 EST with two different cameras and two different zoom lenses.  The pictures are in time order but taken in different directions.  I took them from no more than 50 – 70 feet from the front of my Villa during two different trips out with the different cameras.

I am still trying to decide on what focal length lenses I prefer to use at different times.  These pictures vary from 18 mm to 120 mm but one of them has been severely cropped.  It’s nice to be able to change your mind about the composition after the picture has been taken.

I am also still trying to decide about using two different cameras.  They both take excellent pictures and each has particular strengths over the other, but I almost always forget some aspect of how to shoot differently with each camera.  I tend to use one camera for a while and get quite use to it and then pick up the other and forget that I need to use it differently.  Maybe it is old age, but I find it easier to use just one camera.

I am approaching the crunch point in my camera and lens decision.  I have ordered the Fujifilm XF 55 – 200 mm lens for the X-E1 so that I can try it.  If I decide that I can live with a maximum of 200 mm I could sell the K-5 and lenses.  If I decide that I want focal lengths longer than 200 mm I need to either keep the K-5 or replace it with another system which has long lenses available.  Either way I go, I will definitely keep the Fujifilm system.

I am not being inconsistent with my earlier post.  This is just another aspect of my options … looking at the focal length aspects vs. the single camera aspect.  In all likelihood, I will take the least costly solution and keep the K-5 for the 300 mm focal length (and maybe something longer) but mostly use the X-E1 with various lenses.  I’m also creating an alternative to the K-5 (at least for focal lengths between 18 and 200 mm) in case the focus problem I have had is with the K-5 and not the lens.

Longer Focal Length Reach

The above pictures have little to do with what I’m going to say, at least not directly.  It’s just that I love clouds and when I have no other picture to use I go out and photograph some clouds.  Indirectly they have a lot to say about my photography in that I used my Pentax 55 – 300mm lens on my K-5 to take them.

I was shooting a few days ago and I had a problem.  My K-5 would stop focusing.  I turned it on and off and then it would work for a while.  At first I thought that the problem was with the camera but now I’m thinking it was the lens.  I was using the 18 – 135mm lens in good bright light.  I’m not positive it was the lens but I stopped using it and went back to my old standby lens, the 55 – 300mm.  So far I have had no problem with it focusing … even on these clouds, which is something the Fujifilm X-E1 has problems with.

I also thought that I would tell you that I am looking for a longer focal length lens.  I have looked at lenses for the K-5 as well as looked at switching to a Canon or Nikon DSLR if that were necessary.  So far I haven’t come up with an affordable solution.  If anyone has some recommendations let me know.  The least costly approach appears to be acquiring the Sigma 150 – 500mm lens but that isn’t cheap, especially when I add in a better tripod and a gimbals head.

My intentions are to use my Fuji X-E1 for indoors or when I need a more discreet system and I’m around people and when I want a small camera to carry around my neck under my jacket.  That also applies when traveling.  I plan to use the K-5 outdoors for landscape details and wildlife when I need a long lens and/or the ability to focus fast.  My quest now is to decide whether 300mm is long enough and if not, how to extend it.  I have decided that lens extenders won’t work due to low light conditions.