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Author Topic: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]  (Read 13260 times)

tetsuo77

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The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« on: November 18, 2010, 07:59:18 am »

Hye dkoons and the rest of people interested in the Pentax system.

In full disclosure, some stuff to remark.
I do not have any kind of affiliation with Hoya, nor Pentax in any of its iterations.
Your mileage may vary depending on what do you expect of the SYSTEM, as opposed to lenses or bodies.
I chose Pentax for a professional standpoint but I do not sell images taken with them: it is for Design and Architecture research purposes, where some of the Pentax system characteristics are very well matched to that kind of photography. Hence, it is not my direct intention to sell or shoot professionally on a controlled environment. I still use the very old *istDS, which suits my shooting needs perfectly. Most importantly, I do not have to learn how to use it.

Bodies and system
The digital Pentax bodies have two sensor manufacturers:
Sony [*istD, *istDS, *ist DL, K100d, K110d and their iterations] 6mpx. Sony 10 mpx [K10d, K200d, Km-K2000]. Sony 12 mpx [Kx, Kr]. Sony 16 mpx [K5].
Samsung 14mpx [K20d, K7]

Overall, both of them have different characteristics: the Samsung sensors have better detail retention when postprocessing, and can easily match the detail of other sensor producers with the same pixel density, but pale in comparison if your ISO goes further than 1600 if compared to Sony or Canon sensors.

Weather sealing: Most of the pentax bodies can withstand weather problems better than other systems. My *istDS has withstood heavy rain with no problem, even when the lens was not sealed. But beware it is ocassional rain, not continuos downpouring. K10d, K20d, K200d, K7 and K5 are fully sealed, and do very well even when shot by a sea wave.

Autofocus system: below par in speed, but above par in accuracy. The Pentax SAFOX implementation is remarkably slow when compared to speed demons, but it is much more accurate, as it double checks the AF sensor infomraiton. Plus, K7 and K5 do take into account colour shift for the AF implementation.

White balance accuracy: in my experience, the Pentax white balance is by quite far the most accurate of them all. It does better reflect the light temperature of any given scene than the lightroom white balance. But, they are not driven to get the most photogenic light. Just the most accurate light for that scene.

A shame Pentax has lost the DOF preview switch on the lower cameras. It worked like a charm on the lower models.

Heft: Pentax bodies are hefty. Not heavy, but have a certain heft. They feel "dense".

Hyper modes: Quite difficult to explain, but remarkably easy to use. The hyper modes are constantly "on" on the bodies unless you specify not to have them. They are very useful on the Av, Tv, TAv and Iso preference modes. What they do [the best explanation I ever found]:

When Pentax brought out the Pentax Z-1 / PZ-1 in the early 90′s, they had re-thought the way a camera’s exposure modes should to be implemented, in a most inspired way.  They had the usual range of exposures modes we all know, such as Shutter Priority (Tv) and Aperture Priority (Av).   But Program mode became Hyper-Program; and Manual mode became Hyper-Manual.  Sure this sounded gimmicky, until you handled the camera and realised what they achieved.

Hyper-Program worked like Program mode, except that if you dialed the shutter button, it would immediately change to Shutter Priority (Tv), as you change to specific shutter speeds.  Similarly, if you dialled the Aperture dial, then the camera instantly changed to Aperture Priority mode (Av), as you set the aperture.  No need to switch mode dials on the top of the camera.  You just turned either the aperture dial or shutter speed dial to change between the modes at will. And if you wanted to return to the usual Program mode, you just hit the * (star) button.   Intuitive and simple.   (And no, this is completely different than Program Shift.)

Hyper-Manual worked a similar elegant magic in how you controlled the camera’s manual exposure mode.  Let’s say you rely on your built-in meter in this scenario.  If you use any other camera in manual exposure mode, you have to dial the shutter button and aperture button to get to the correct combination for proper exposure.  With Hyper-Manual, you just hit the * button, and the camera entered a combination of settings for you, depending on where you pointed your camera.  This combination of settings could be according to a Program-mode line, or according to the shutter speed your camera happened to be at; or the aperture your camera happened to be at.  (This was set deeper in the menu according to your preference.)

Let’s say you knew you’d be working at f2.8 .. then you’d just hit the * button and the appropriate shutter speed was entered for you.  Perfect for working with the camera’s spot-meter.  If you’ve ever tried to spot-meter with a long lens on your camera while hand-holding it, AND looking at your metering display .. then you know how tough it is.  But with Hyper-Manual mode, you just hit the * button while looking precisely where your spot-meter is aiming.  Much faster.  You just hit one button with your thumb, and you’re set.

Now, should you decide you have the correct exposure, but want to change your shutter speed or aperture, then you hit the Exposure Lock button, and change either the aperture or shutter speed .. and the other setting will follow in relation to the metering value that was entered.

With any other camera, let’s say you have 1/500th @ f2.8 but you want 1/200th @ f4.5 .. then you’d have to turn both dials by the same amount of clicks. But with Hyper-Manual mode, you lock the exposure combination, and just change the one dial. Either one.  Doesn’t matter.
[Nevil Niekerk]

Nowadays, it is the green button the one which does the magic, or the star in the older digital bodies such as the *ist series.

A problem with the system is modern lens avaliability. Cosina has dropped the K mount [not a good sing, in principle, for reasons stated below], and Sigma and Tamron implementations are very slow to appear but for consumer grade zooms.

Tethered shooting is achievable with difficulty.

Navigation through menus is easy and straightforward, with no fancy graphics.

Shutter is quite quiet.

Buffer is usually on the lower side of the competition.

They usually tend to underexpose in order to prevent highlights blowing [and stated as such on the user manual: the exposure is usually 0.5 EV below the right exposure, standard, not to have highlights problems].

And, you can´t show-off having a Pentax: they are not cameras, they are tools [except the flashy Kx and Kr colour combination, which actually is a smart decission: broader market and they look like toys].

The worst handicap is on-store avaliability. Not to worry on big cities, but very tricky for regular size cities. They are very difficult to see on consumer retailers, as opposed to Sony, Nikon and Canon bodies.

And body stabilization.

Some of the bodies can use AA batteries [a must for me].

Lenses and Flashes

The K mount was born as a Zeiss-Asahi collaboration. But Zeiss retracted, and as it was supposed to be a universal mount, it was free of royalties. That is the reason why you now can get that amount of exotic lenses with the K mount, including russian optics. They didn´t have to pay for the mount blueprints.

As said, there are not too many lenses to choose from. But everything is perfectly scaled within the Pentax branded lenses, with no real duplicates or versions to confuse. A broad selection of lenses does not indicate a good selection of lenses. Even the very long lenses can be obtained via personal order to Pentax [they still manufacture the A* 600 mm on order], or adapting 645 or 67 lenses with the propper adapter, sold by Pentax.

It is a very vertical system, not horizontal. Meaning that you can climb up the ladder in lenses with a 35mm mount into 67 mount lenses of the same brand, but very difficult to get good lenses with other brands [moreover, Tokina and Pentax have now the very same parent company, Hoya].

Flashes are very tricky [or Flash Units]. Pentax uses a propietary metering system from the *istDS on [the *ist DS had dual metering system for flashes]. P-TTL is the standard, and that very much reduces the choice to Pentax heads and some Sigma and Metz heads.

So,all in all, it is a good system with some caveats, mainly regarding marketing and brand knoweledge. It is very satisfactory if you are looking for a system as a tool, which renders very neutral images but for some lenses [the FA Limited are very "characterful"]. They are reliable, but slower than the competition. Being slower does not mean they are less responsive. They are perfectly addecuate, specially when using manual focus lenses, where the slowest part of the system is the photographer.

My best advice is not to buy them based on specs, but try them on shops with your own card, and compare the results at home. Handle them, see if you´re familiar with it, how you feel them and how ready they are when your brain goes "click!".

« Last Edit: November 18, 2010, 08:04:02 am by tetsuo77 »
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dkoons

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2010, 05:16:14 pm »

  I appreciate the input. The lack of availability of pentax is a bit like buying  left handed archery tackle off the shelf. Where I live UPS and the internet are my connection  to the rest of the photography world :) I have been saving for a  full frame DSLR, and have some time to go,but, want to make a smart purchase.   again thank you for your help. Dan
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tetsuo77

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2010, 05:44:16 pm »

To be honest, I do think that, apart from the Sony SLT 55 for video recording, there is no other better professional APSC level body out there better than the K5 right now, taking the whole system into consideration.

No, the Nikon D7000 is more of a Canon D60 competititor for the built it presents: the magnesium allow body is partial [as opposed to the fully high grade alloy of the 7d, d300s, K7-K5, Alpha 700 and E5], weather gasketing is partial as well, and apparently the PRIME engine is quite superior to the Nikon Imaging engine, as shown in the Kx, Kr and K5 over their equivalent Nikons with the same Sony sensor.

Sony, though, has got a very good product as well with the SLT 55, if you are well avare of the need to have a constant +.5 EV compensation due to the Pellix mirror light loss.

They aren´t flashy, they´re just there [which is a very good quality for camera equipment].

And I forgot about two quite important facts:
-it is very difficult to achieve the "digital liquid" look of some Canon RAW files straight from Pentax cameras. It does not mean, by any regard, that the detail is not there [quite contrary, the Samsung Sensor Pentax bodies have an amazing amount of detail retation capability].

-ALL PENTAX BODIES RETAIN THE SCREW DRIVE TO FOCUS THE LENSES. Nikon lost it for the lower class bodies [3100, 5100, some expected the 7000 to loose it as well]. That helps you use autofocus lenses from the early 80´s on [from the F series on].

Fredjean: so you did have the DA* 200 F 2.8, right? or is it the 60-250 F4 [which, in that case, you either are rich, or gave a kidney on lease].

Most importantly: Pentax bodies allow yourself to explore and try very many different things with just buying an M42-Pentax to K mount adapter [they are sold from 5 dollars on]. Explore not only how good a lens is, but how BAD a lens is, and you´ll find your creativity up there. Zenith´s Industar lenses are a blast, as the Chinon Fast-Fifties, and they are dirt cheap. Try Yashica, Rokkor, Contax, Hanimex, Samyang, Vivitar [but avoid the current Vivitar lenses, do not go further than the Komine, Kiron, Olympus, Tokina or Tamron made Vivitar lenses], Sears, Honeywell, Jupiter 9, Jupiter 11.

Broken, tinging lenses [Sigma has quite some brown tinging lenses out there], true pancakes [Tessar type pancakes].
You have fifty years of fully compatible Fast Fifties ranging from 1.2 to 4 aperture.
Try the now obsolete 135 lenses.
Or the "soft focus" lenses, which are a blast, and have a very eighties feeling to them. There are at least 3 soft focus lenses in the Pentax History lineup.

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fredjeang

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2010, 05:56:55 pm »

No, a modest A 200mm f4.

I'd like a FA 200mm F2.8 ED but...

By the way, how do you recognise the super takumar 50mm 1,4 serie 2? from the first serie?
« Last Edit: November 18, 2010, 06:03:12 pm by fredjeang »
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tetsuo77

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2010, 05:58:14 pm »

Yep, kidneys are not that well paid, are they?
 ;)

And, dkoons, that is a very good example of what the Pentax system allows you to buy: a good tele for quite cheap.
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fredjeang

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2010, 06:07:42 pm »

Yep, kidneys are not that well paid, are they?
 ;)

And, dkoons, that is a very good example of what the Pentax system allows you to buy: a good tele for quite cheap.
Well paid? are you kidding? all the profession is in flame. No I'm not badly neither very well paid but the thing is that I really don't invest that much in the Pentax for the moment.
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tetsuo77

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2010, 06:08:51 pm »

Focusing rings are different. Slightly wider on the series 2.
No cosmetic differences.
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dkoons

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2010, 08:32:38 pm »

  How do the m42 mount lenses compare with the K and others? I went through my stuff. I have the Super Takumar in 50mm 1.4 and 28mm 3.5
  Would they be a fair test on a K5?  the first two rental sites I looked up didn't have any Pentax cameras.

  Part of my problem is when I used large format, I bought Dagors and Kodaks instead of the newest Nikons and such. Maybe I go too much for the romantic
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tsjanik

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2010, 07:41:11 am »

 How do the m42 mount lenses compare with the K and others? I went through my stuff. I have the Super Takumar in 50mm 1.4 and 28mm 3.5
  Would they be a fair test on a K5?  .......
The M42 Takumars you mention are superb (although I favor the 55mm f1.8 ).  There is a thread on FM forums devoted to the use of Takumars, although mostly on Canon bodies
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/910305/0?keyword=takumar#8583985
« Last Edit: November 19, 2010, 08:12:36 am by tsjanik »
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dkoons

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2010, 08:59:24 pm »

  Thanks for the link. the discussion is over the 2 cameras I am considering. Dan
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tetsuo77

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2010, 07:22:33 am »

The M42 Takumars you mention are superb (although I favor the 55mm f1.8 ).  There is a thread on FM forums devoted to the use of Takumars, although mostly on Canon bodies
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/910305/0?keyword=takumar#8583985

I don't really understand the discussion that much, to be honest. They are very different cameras. Nevertheless, what it really shows is that very few people have actually used modern pentax lenses.

However, I do understand the o.p.: it OS very weird that such a compact system can deliver, and still dwarf in size comparison. Which is a very important factor for landscapes. Else, ask Bernard Languiller in this forum. He stitches (beautifully, I must say), and hikes with a 35 mm Nikon.


Het legend, nog een keer.
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dkoons

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2010, 03:55:06 pm »

  I strayed off onto a forum covering the merits of the K5 vs the 5D mk 2
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Justinr

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2010, 06:57:05 pm »

I swapped out of Canon and into Pentax for my dslr kit and my only regret is that I bothered with the big C to start with. Why?

- Colours are so much more natural, especially skin tones

- Exposure is so much more consistent, if relying on Auto I tend to use Tv and dial in an extra 2/3rds of a stop. 90% of the time the job is right, this is on a K10 as opposed to the old 30D which never achieved anything like that. Perhaps the big Canons are soooo much better, but I'm not convinced after listening to some dissatisfied users.

- I seem to have to spend an awful lot less time sorting the images out in PS than I used to, often I can go straight to web if they are just event gallery shots.

_ Nice compact lenses and bodies that are sealed against the elements. The amount of dust and cr*p in the air at an oval race meeting makes this feature essential.

All the pictures on this site ( http://www.tipperarymotorspeedway.ie/index.htm ) were taken with the K10, I hope to be upgrading to the K5 in the near future if only for it's three extra stops of sensor sensitivity. Will I then need vast zoom lenses to get the low light level or action shots? Not at all and all those guys bedecked with several hundredweight of glass will start to look a little foolish.


« Last Edit: November 21, 2010, 07:05:36 pm by Justinr »
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dkoons

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2010, 07:24:00 pm »

  what lenses are you the happiest with?
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Justinr

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2010, 07:42:02 pm »

I only have two-

18 - 55 which I used here today- Clare Motor Club

50 - 200 Upon which most of the racing shots were taken.

I also have a Sigma 24 - 135 which as yet I haven't found a use for.

It would be nice to have a 300mm and perhaps something wider at the other end but to be honest I'd struggle to justify either at present.
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Justinr

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2010, 12:35:24 pm »

I ought to also mention that I do have a few M42 mount lenses including a Takumar f2 55mm on my first serious SLR, a Pentax ESII but as yet I haven't got round to mounting them on its digital successors.

Two further reasons for loving my current Pentax -

Bike Race

Tipp Show

Bearing in mind that Youtube clips the shadows dreadfully.

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dkoons

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2010, 06:13:09 pm »

thanks for the help and the links.  If I fool around and not buy until march, I will probably get real torn on what to buy if more new cameras come out!  One plus, reading and shopping around is cheaper. ;)
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Justinr

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #17 on: November 24, 2010, 08:21:33 am »

I'll certainly be sticking with Pentax and their lenses, not because of the gimmicks but because they produce the sort of images I want and that is the most important feature of all. Good to hear that I'm not the only fan of the make and it always amuses me (or used to) when somebody on the Pentax forum suddenly decides to upsticks and switch to Canon, and it usually is Canon, because of an extra knurl on a knob or a stop on some fancy lens. Nice work if you can get it I guess!
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dkoons

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2010, 04:52:28 pm »

  At this point it would be easy to go with pentax because I don't have  that much invested. About anything out there will be a step up from a Rebel D300 in terms of noise at higher ISO and such. The lack of MTF or much on the lenses is what gives me pause, plus I want the detail from a full frame sensor, and can't afford a medium format. If I wasn't so lazy I'd just stick with my 5x7.
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fredjeang

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Re: The Pentax System [dedicated to dkoons]
« Reply #19 on: November 27, 2010, 05:25:30 am »

Being a Pentax and Canon user, I'd like to point that the real reason one could swich to Canon is not because of fashion. If you are not pro, why would you need to swich to Canon or Nikon D3?
But what Pentax does not have today, is a full system of pro camera+optics+accesories.

Canon has features that really need pros, their gear distribution is examplary, accesories are made by a huge amount of manufacturers.
Full frame is not really an option for pros except some niches like journalism (1DMK4).
AF from Nikon seems to be 1000 years-light better, that is why a lot of sport photographers are using the D3,
Low light capabilities of the FF sensors has nothing to do with what the very good Pentaxes can offer. Take some pics in a dark church with your K5 and take the same pic with pushed isos with a full frame camera and the differtences are not subtle but real.
Canon is full of pro optics that are lacking in the Pentax line.
When and if Pentax goes Full Frame, wich current optics will be suitable? very little indeed.

There are some artifacts in video that are resolved with the 5D2. Video is also very basic. Accesories are expensives.

So Pentax, yes, great, I truly love it, but...it just depends on where your needs are. I use my Pentax for the fun with manual vintage optics, but I do not use it in lands of the 1D or 5D s. It simply does not compeat. IMO.

If there are no Pentaxes in the studios or stadiums it is for a reason.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2010, 05:33:10 am by fredjeang »
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