Tagged: Pentax

Will Try a Sony A7R ii

I did it.  I sold all of my Pentax cameras and lenses.  I’m now waiting on the delivery of a Sony A7R ii and a few lenses to try.  I’m now going to check to see if it could be my one and only camera to get me through the coming second lean year of less photography.  If the Sony works out to my satisfaction, I might sell my Fujifilm X100V that I used to make these images.  I love the X100V, as I did the Pentax K-1 II and KP cameras, but they are not general purpose type cameras.

Long ago (the A7R ii camera is five+ years old), I thought about getting the 42MP camera along with a prime lens and then doing a lot of crop-zooming.  The reason I didn’t get it then was my computer could not handle the large files.  Now that I have a new MacBook Pro with twice the memory and speed I should be able to handle the large Sony files.  I also didn’t like the available lenses at that time and now Tamron has some nice smaller, less expensive lenses for the Sony E mount.  The final push to get me to try the Sony A7R ii camera was the drop in the cost of it.  It is now affordable.

But, the Sony could be a machine that I won’t love to use.  It might be OK technically, but leave me lacking something, so I don’t know if I will keep it.  I’ll use it for a few days or weeks, after I get it, and see how well I like it.

Pentax Uncertainties

I have been close to shutting down this blog, until I manage to come up with something different.  If I do that, my intention has been to keep my Fuji X100V camera and keep experimenting with B&W styles while making pictures for myself, and selling the Pentax gear due to lack of a use for it.  But I really like the Pentax system.  Can I find a use for it?

If I keep the Pentax gear, there might be possible uses for the longer Pentax lenses, and I might also use them for some of my B&W styles.  The above are a few trials that I made this morning through the window.

My hope is that I can also use the effective 150mm F2.8 macro lens on the Pentax KP outdoors to make other detail B&W images when the days are dreary, dark, and maybe wet.  I’ll try that this fall even though it is brighter now.  In the past, I would be making colorful images of fall foliage, but it doesn’t look like I will have that opportunity this year.  The last time I made good fall images was in Oct. 2015 in WVa.

The advantages of the Pentax system are the longer focal lengths, image stabilization, weather resistance, and cost.  These are all features that I would need for outdoor images, provided that I can get out and around enough, and that I can find suitable subjects.  I could keep and use the Pentax K-1 Mark II with the 28-105mm FF system for indoors event activities within Homewood, provided we ever have them again, and use the Pentax KP outdoors when I need the longer focal lengths under more questionable conditions.

I would really regret selling my Pentax gear just because I don’t have a use for it.  The solution is to find a use for it.

All jpegs with Pentax KP

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I think I solved my problem with slow processing of images on my older computer.  I switched from processing raw files to using jpegs out of the camera.  Processing the jpegs a little on the computer is much faster than processing raw files.  The jpegs also take up less memory for storage on my computer.

To get jpeg files that I like with my Pentax KP took a little bit of effort.  I did something I have not done before.  I made adjustments to the in-camera processing of jpegs.  I started with the Pentax natural setting and then did some custom adjustments to the camera in terms of sharpness and contrast.  I also turned off all noise reduction and dynamic range adjustments.

Using the Pentax KP is now simpler.  It creates better image quality.  The price beats needing to buy a new computer or camera immediately, but I’ll likely buy a new computer eventually.  The only issue remaining is that the auto WB on the camera isn’t as good as some other cameras.  I’ll still have to tweak that for mixed indoor lighting situations, but as long as I’m not using the Pentax for indoor Homewood images it isn’t a problem.  But B&W images work even better.

Trying a Canon Rebel T3i

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Maybe I am trying a cheap Canon because I like being a rebel, or maybe I got it to show that it is good enough for most pictures, or maybe I got it since I am fed-up with all the web hype about the best camera of the year, or maybe it was because I’m becoming a “Luddite”, or maybe it was because of all of these reasons.

I took the above picture using the Canon 18 – 55 mm f/3.5 – 5.6 IS II kit lens.  The lens is also outdated and has been upgraded & replaced by Canon in kits with newer cameras.  I took this image as a raw file early one morning before sunrise using the “P” mode while zoomed out to 53 mm … and then cropped it to get in closer.  I then used LR5.3 to convert it and make a few adjustments before converting it to a jpeg as shown above.  For those who wish to know, the ISO was 2500, f/5.6, 1/80 sec handheld, and auto WB.  The colors were accurate but the image has less dynamic range than newer cameras.  When I tried to lighten the shadows, they were noisier and didn’t have as much detail as my X-E1, but it cost 3x as much.

As I mentioned in the previous article, I decided to try a cheaper DSLR after seeing what I could do with a P&S camera.  I first tried a Pentax K-50 since I was familiar with Pentax DSLRs.  I had owned the Pentax K2000, K-7, and a couple of K-5s over the years.  The K-50 was OK but few people use Pentax DSLRs and I could get a more common, lighter Canon DSLR at a lower cost, so I returned the K-50 and bought the T3i.  Canon first announced the Rebel T3i and this kit lens in Feb. 2011 so many newer cameras have come out since then … especially in other brands.  I have tried it now for a few days, but you will have to wait a bit longer to see if I keep it since I will return it if I don’t think it is worth the cost.

Lenses all in a Row

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A few posts back I mentioned that all pictures should mean something.  I’m sure that the above picture doesn’t mean much to you without an explanation … but it means something to me.  It rained all day yesterday off and on and is forecast to rain until Thursday, so I have been using my time to continue my thoughts about cameras and lenses.  Yesterday I probably took two dozen pictures of those and other rain drops and bubbles using many different lenses on my K-5.  The above was taken with the Pentax 18 – 55mm WR kit lens at the 18mm focal length.  I don’t use that lens much since I haven’t been pleased with it; but since it is my only weather resistant lens (WR), I thought I would check it out under different conditions.  What I figured out is that it is a fair lens at the 18mm focal length up close, is OK for intermediate distances at 35mm, and is worse at 55mm at all distances.  But that’s not what I was really thinking about.  I have been thinking about using my prime lenses a lot more and I was comparing them to each other as well as the kit lens.

I’m seriously thinking about just using Pentax DSLR cameras.  I started out thinking that I would replace my Sony NEX-6 with the Fuji X100s and that led me back to wondering why, since I have the K-5 and quite a few lenses for it.  The X100s is smaller, lighter, more discreet, and a lot more expensive … but maybe I don’t really need it as long as I use my prime lenses on the K-5.  In addition, since I like to leave the 55 – 300mm lens on the K-5 so that it is ready to go quickly, I’m also thinking about getting a Pentax K-30 primarily for use with primes and to back-up my K-5 rather than the Fuji X100s.  The K-30, even though it is less expensive, has a better live view function and better video capability than my K-5 and I’m thinking I might need those capabilities more in the future.

If you have read my blog for a long time you will remember that I have had problems with the weight of the K-5.  At this time I’m not having as much of a problem with the weight especially when I use prime lenses.  I contribute this situation to the excellent ergonomics of the grip.  The X100s doesn’t have a grip, weighs less, is a lot smaller, and has a fixed equivalent 35mm lens.  With a Pentax DSLR I have different focal length options with different prime lenses but a much larger system.  I have decided to try using the prime lenses for a while, especially around people and inside buildings, and then come back and revisit my situation.  In the past I had used an X100 or various micro 4/3 cameras when photographing inside buildings around people and haven’t really used the K-5 that much inside other that at home.  The few times I have used it up close to people they have reacted badly … but maybe they will get accustomed to it.

I have serious doubts as to whether I will make this work unless I give up always having a camera with me (other than the LX7).  I don’t mind using a DSLR camera when I’m deliberately out to take pictures but I haven’t wanted to carry it just in case I see something.  A while back when I had the X100 I would carry it under my jacket.  Will I carry a DSLR instead?  Just to frame the image for you as to how unusual it is to see a DSLR around here … I have never seen anyone else using a DSLR to photograph anything, at any time or place since I moved to Hanover a year and a half ago.  Hmmm, maybe I should just buy an iPhone or iPad mini if I want to blend in.

Leave Micro 4/3 and Go Back to APS Cameras ?

And the saga continues.  The new K-5 that I ordered arrived.  As I have discussed earlier, I have had problems with accidentally pushing the buttons on the rear of the micro 4/3 Panasonic G3 camera.  The reasons for this are two-fold.  First, as you can see in the photo below, there is no room on the right side of the rear of the G3.  Second, I have arthritis in my right hand, especially the thumb joint, and I no longer have as much gripping power with my extended thumb.  To compensate for that loss, I have used the base of my thumb, or the palm, to hold the camera while only resting the tip of the thumb lightly against the camera in conjunction with the hand grip on the front of the camera.  Unfortunately, this results in my occasionally “mashing” the controls on the lower, right – rear of the G3.

While seeking another camera with better ergonomics, I found that the above control situation is prevalent on all smaller micro 4/3 cameras.  The only cameras with sufficient “real estate” for my situation are the larger DSLRs.  I tried both Canon and Nikon DSLRs but found that the Pentax K-5 fit my hand better, so I decided to give it another try.  As you can see below, it has just enough space for me to use my palm to support the camera, but it weights quite a bit more.  So much more, that I thought that the G3 would serve me better … until I found the ergonomics to be frustrating.

Panasonic G3 …. Pentax K-5

Since my primary use for the G3 has been for shooting wildlife with the Panasonic 100 – 300 mm lens, I also ordered the Pentax 55 – 300 mm lens for my comparison studies.  As you can see below, these are of comparable size mounted on their respective cameras … but not equal in their range.  With the G3, the end of the zoom at 300 mm is effectively equal to 600 mm while 300 mm on the K-5 is only effectively 450 mm.  You can see the differences below.  (You can also see that the K-5 has a better grip on the front.)

Panasonic G3 …. Pentax K-5

G-3 and 300 mm

K-5 and 300 mm

While gaining better ergonomics with the K-5, I would be giving up focal range and gaining weight.  The G-3 with the 100 – 300 mm lens weighs a total of 925 gm.  The K-5 with the 55 – 300 mm lens weights 1210 gm.  Both of those weights include the batteries and memory cards.

I’m now faced with trying to decide whether the change is worth it.  With the K-5 I gain a rugged weather resistant camera along with faster focusing, faster shooting, better sensor, and better ergonomics at the expense of added weight to lug around and a shorter focal range.

I need to comment that having this added weight would not be practical for me if I didn’t also have a lighter weight better camera … the Fujifilm X100.  It has a fixed effective 35 mm lens.  I sold my Olympus E-P3 and replaced it with the Fujifilm X100 … thus I have already made a partial move from micro 4/3 to APS size sensor.  The X100 is, and will be, my preferred choice for a walk-about, travel, etc. camera when the primary use is not shooting wildlife and the ruggedness, weather resistance, zoom ability, etc. features of the K-5 are not needed.  The weight of the X100 is only 470 gm and the size is more suitable for taking pictures in crowds of people.  You can see the differences in physical size below.

Fuji X100 … K-5 with 55 – 300 mm lens

470 gm vs. 1210 gm

My problem now is to decide whether the added weight of the K-5 warrants replacing the G3 and lenses with the K-5.  I do have another option which is weighing on my decision … give up heavy cameras and heavy long zooms and give up shooting wildlife; i.e. become a one camera — one lens photographer.

Bought a Pentax K-5 DSLR

In an earlier post I told how I sold my Pentax K-7 DSLR and replaced it with a micro 4/3 camera … and now I have decided to expand my camera systems by getting another Pentax DSLR.  Before I tell you why, I think I had better first explain why I sold my K-7 in the first place.

A year ago I was having a lot of pain in my right knee, leg, and lower back and was only able to walk for short distances.  It got progressively worse and got to the point where I couldn’t carry my K-7 and often had to use a cane.  In fact it got to the point where I was wobbling and had trouble walking even a little.  After seeing various doctors and having an MRI of my back, etc.,  I learned that my second and third lumbar vertebrae were making bone on bone contact and crushing a nerve.  This resulted in my having a lumbar fusion … which was quite successful.  Immediately after the surgery all of my knee & leg pains and problems walking disappeared.  Then just as I was starting to think about getting back to adventure travel, I learned that I had prostate cancer.  This resulted in my having my prostate removed … and I’m happy to report that it appears that this was also quite successful and that the cancer was confined to the prostate.  Finally, I can now think about adventure travel again, even though I still have a torn meniscus and some arthritis in my right knee.

Over the years I have developed a photography philosophy that there is no such thing as the perfect camera, but I must admit that searching for it is still a lot of fun.  As a result, I have managed to acquire a number of cameras over the years and now have three basic systems.  I have a Canon S95 as my pocket camera to use when I don’t have one of the other cameras with me.  In addition, I have the micro 4/3 Olympus E-P1 & E-PL2 cameras with numerous lenses ( I used the E-P1 to take the above picture).  I use them when I don’t wish to carry a bigger camera, when I need a discreet, but capable system, and when I travel by airplane and need to travel light with only a carry-on bag.  For example I used micro 4/3 cameras in Tunisia and Ireland.  I also always take more than one camera with me when I travel and the above give me various options for a backup camera (I haven’t been on a trip yet where someone didn’t have a camera problem).  And now I have expanded my systems by adding a bigger DSLR.  I wanted a camera that was more rugged, more weather resistant, with longer zoom lenses that I could use for taking pictures of wildlife, that I could use for car trips, and that I could use while traveling in more adventurous areas like in the Amazon rain forest, etc.

I’ll be sharing some of my reasons for why I got this particular camera, how/when I will be using it, etc. in future postings after I have a chance to use it some … so stay tuned.