Thursday, February 02, 2012

K-01 and Lens Map - My Take

By now you have probably heard about the new Pentax K-01 and the Lens Roadmap. Here is what I think both mean to Pentax and Pentax shooters.

K-01 - First lets just say that not everyone thinks it is a work of art. Personally, I dont care that much about the looks of a camera. To me, it is a tool but I understand that looks count too and I dont think it looks that bad. It reminds me of the A3000 I shot with for years. I am NOT a fan of the yellow but I like the white a lot. As for the specs, there is a lot to like:

16.3 MP CMOS APS-C (23.7 x 15.7mm)
Still 3:2: 16M (4928x3264), 12M (4224x2816), 8M (3456x2304), 5M (2688x1792)
Still 4:3: 14M (4352x3264), 11M (3840x2880), 7M (3072x2304), 4M (2304x1728)
Still 16:9: 13M (4928x2776), 10M (4224x2376), 6M (3456x1944), 4M (2688x1512)
Still 1:1: 10M (3264x3264), 8M (2880x2880), 5M (2304x2304), 3M (1728x1728)

Movie (resolution/FPS): 1920x1080p30/25/24, 1280x720p60/50/30/25/24, 640x480p30/25/24
TTL Contrast Detection AF
Focus modes: AF Single (w focus lock, focus/release priority selectable), Face Detection AF, Tracking AF, Manual
Focus point adjustment: Auto 81 Point, User-Selectable, Center
AF assist: LED dedicated AF assist lamp, AF Autozoom (2X, 4X, 6X), Focus Peaking

Removable memory: SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS Speed Class 1 supported)

Body dimensions (W x H x D): 122mm x 79mm x 58mm
Body weight - Without battery or removable memory: 480g
Loaded and ready: 581g

ISO 100-25600

Shutter speed: 1/4000 to 30 sec (1/3 or 1/2 steps), Bulb

Mode selection: Single, Continuous (Hi, Lo), Self Timer (12s, 2s), Infrared Remote (0s, 3s), Auto Bracketing (3 frames, up to +/- 3 EV in 1/2 steps)
Continuous FPS: Approx 6 FPS (JPG, Continuous Hi), Approx 3 FPS (JPG, Continuous Lo)
Multi-exposure: Yes (2-9 shots, auto exposure adjustment selectable)
Interval: Yes (1s to 24h, up to 999 shots, delayed start available)
HDR: Auto, HDR1, HDR2, HDR3, (HDR blended images saved as JPG only)

Still: RAW (DNG), JPG (EXIF 2.3), DCF 2.0 compliant, DPOF, PIM III
Movie (compression): MP4 (AVC h.264), AVI/MJPG for Interval Movie

I highlighted some of the specs that I think are important. First, the sensor appears to be the same as in the K-5 - defiantly a good thing! In addition to the normal 3:2 ratio, you will have the option of shooting in 4:3, 16:9 and 1:1. Personally I prefer shooting 3:2 and then cropping as needed but I can understand how some people prefer to shoot other ratios. 60fps 720p HD lets you shoot slow motion - 60fps played back at 30 fps. The UHS Class 1 (theoretical max 5x faster than Class 10 SDHC) is a first for a Pentax Camera and bodes well for future bodies. Finally it appears Pentax is going all DNG, no PEF, for RAW. To me this is also a good thing. I shoot DNG exclusively because I am adverse to any format that is not open.

OK, other specs. I like the size but not the weight. If it were weather proofed, I could understand the weight but without weather seals I don't understand why. ISO is great at 25600. I am guessing that the reason it cant go to 51200 like the K-5 is processing power. Im a little surprised at the limit of 6 FPS. I would be interested to see how long it can sustain that. If its 6fps for 10 seconds, that would be VERY cool.

Enough about the geek stuff. I think the K-01 is a watershed camera for Pentax. The K-01 address the two biggest arguements against the current crop of mirrorless systems - small sensors and limited lenses. It is the first mirrorless camera with a "traditional" lens mount and a full range of lenses. Not a couple of lenses and a bunch of adapters. The APS-C sensor is 30% bigger than 4/3 sensor and there are more current production K Mount lenses than all other mirrorless systems combined (including the Q). And while P-TTL flashes are not up to Nikon or Canon standards, they are better than any other mirrorless has. Bottom line - the K-01 is the first mirrorless than dosent make you compromise the most important part of photography - the image.

Now for the lens lineup/roadmap. Just the fact that they published a roadmap is huge. For the first time in a long time, we have a way forward for lenses. First, a DA 560mm!!!!! Finally a LONG telephoto lens!! Second, a 1.4 teleconverter! Put the two together and you have a 770mm lens - a whopping 1155mm 35mm equivalent. Together they close a HUGE hole in the Pentax universe. The DA 20-200mm....blah.....unless its a fast lens. The DA 50mm - Im guessing it will be f/2.4 and $250 along the lines of the DA 35mm. The DA 22-38mm (est) and DA 12-28mm (est) zooms seem to overlap the current zooms. Same with the DA* 18-85mm (est). I hope some of new DA lenses are weather sealed. More important than the lenses themselves, I think the roadmap shows Ricoh's commitment to Pentax and to DSLRs. I also think it puts into question any thoughts about a full frame system any time soon. Unless Pentax is intentionally hiding FA/DFA lenses, they seem to be committing to APS-C. And I think that is also a good thing. The K-5 is hands down the best APS-C camera on the market. There is no reason to believe its replacement wont be the new king. I hope Pentax concentrates on making the best APS-C camera with the best weather seals on the market.

I have often compared Pentax now to Apple in the 90s. When Steve Jobs came back to Apple he simplified Apple's product line, added colors to computers, and brought in revolutionary products. The K-01 is no iPod but then neither was the iPod when it was first introduced. It was...ugly and kinda fat and heavy. What is often ignored is the emphasis he put on laptop computers. He correctly identified laptops as an area where Apple be the best and build a market. Laptop buyers became iPod buyers. I hope Pentax can have 1/10th of the success with the K-01 as Apple has had with the iPod. More importantly, I hope Pentax continues to make great cameras and lenses.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lets get Going!!

Let the the grand experiment in Public Blogging about Pentax begin!

First, thanks to RiceHigh for taking this on as a project. Just one more service to the Pentax community.

First posts are always tough so I thought I would start with some easy stuff. My own Blog has been on Hiatus due to work but the last thing I posted was Pentax centric so I am reposting it here. And despite being over two years old, it is more topical than you might thing.

NeoCamera just posted about getting what matters in a DSLR and two of the four cameras mentioned were Pentax - the K20 and K200. Personally I think the K200 is one of the most underrated cameras of its "generation" and it was nice to see someone else recognize it. Along with that, I think the comparisons are pretty much the same. You can substitute k-r or K5 for K200D and current Canikon counterparts and most of the arguments are still the same. So with that, I will repost "Why I shoot Pentax"

Why I shoot Pentax

I was taking a picture of a group recently and after I finished one of the people walked over and asked "Is that a Cannon or Nikon?" After mentally choking him while shoving a 300mm lens down his throat, responded nicely "No, a Pentax" to which he said "Oh, I didn't know they made Digital SLRs." I mentally choked him again.

Mr. Choking victim is not the only one who thinks only Canon and Nikon make DSLRs. Some people know Sony makes them too :) Pentax, Olympus and Panasonic all make "mainstream" DSLRs and there are lots of specialty companies but Canon and Nikon seem to suck the oxygen out of the discussion. That is a shame. If the personal computer experience has taught us anything, it is that competition is good. iPhoto and iMovie drove Microsoft and other developers to make better visual media apps. Google banished unrealistic inbox sizes with Gmail. And look at what the iPhone has done for cell phones! A photography world with only Cannon and Nikon would quickly become boring and expensive. Panasonic is driving the "toss away the past" movement with the GH series that has no mirror and does incredible video. Olympus is trying to see how small you can make a DSLR and Sony has reignited the megapixel race. Canon and Nikon seem to be intent on mirroring each other more than innovating IMHO.

What camera?
Let me start by saying DLSRs have reached a point where there are no bad choices, just different ones. The differences between sensors have become slight and if the rumors are true, Sony makes Nikons sensors. Choosing a camera has come down to the 3 Fs/P - Features, Family and Feel over Price- feature of the body, the family of products associated with it and the subjective "feel" at the price you can afford. Instead of trying to list all the possible "F3/P," Ill tell you what brought me to Pentax.

Imaging resource has a great, but slightly dated, article on why a DSLR. For me, I wanted a better sensor, better lens and better flash. Before deciding what features matter to you, decide what your current camera is NOT doing for you. Todays super zoom cameras are more like SLRs with only one lens than the point and shoot digitals of a few years ago. I almost waited out another generation of DSLR with an FZ28.

The lineup
This site is about getting the most from your budget and that is exactly what I was looking for in my first DSLR. My initial candidates were the Pentax K200D, Pentax K2000/k-m, Nikon D60, Nikon D40, Canon EOS 450, Panasonic DMC-G1. Right at decision time the Nikon D5000 and Canon EOS 500 were announced and gave me serious headaches! I never really considered any Sony or Olympus models.

Cut Day
I eliminated the D40 because it was too limited. The combination of the 6MP sensor and limited autofocus lens selection was just too much of too little. I plan to use this body for 5+ years so I decided 10MP was my target. Yes, I know there is more than MP count but I wanted the ability to make large prints.
Next to go was the EOS 450. Other than price I cant think of a good reason to eliminate it. I just didnt connect with the Cannon. The feel was just wrong for me. Something about the Canon way of thinking doesn't match me because I have issues with my wife's Canon S5 P&S.

I thought REALLY hard about the Pansonic DMC-G1. My last P&S/Supersoom was an FZ8 and I really loved it. Actually, I still have it and use it when I dont want to carry as much or if there is a serious hazard to my camera. I loved the size and true live view of the G1 plus the video capability but the price and sensor sent it packing. The G1, like the Olympus E520, uses a 4/3 sensor with a 2x FOV crop. One of the things I wanted was a bigger, softer sensor and the 4/3 was not what I was looking for. I have also learned, the hard way, not to buy version 1.0.

The D5000/EOS500 threw me for a loop but at the end of the day, the major advantage of them was video with a HUGE increase in price. I have a video camera (a Canon - see I dont discriminate!) and I dont use it much compared to my still camera. I would have to sacrifice a lot of still capability in the form of lenses and accessories to get video and that was not my purpose in going to a DSLR.

The Contenders
My final choices were the K200, K2000 and the D60.
I really liked the price and size of the K2000. The standard kit included a dedicated flash which would save me money initially. It also had slightly better ISO performance than the K200. On the bad side it came with an older kit lens despite being a new camera and it had some other major shortcomings. There is no ability to select the focus point which seriously limits creativity. It also has no weather seals and the included flash is fixed at 90 degrees. Much like the D40, I was concerned that I would outgrow the K2000 far too fast.

Championship bout
So I was down to the D60 and the K200. I will admit that the K200 came in with a "reach" advantage - my first real SLR was a Pentax K1000 - but I had also always dreamed of a Nikon. The initial price was a push since they were only $10 different on the day I got mine. But initial price was only half the story. Nikon decided a long time ago to put image stabilization on the lens instead of on the body. That was probably because the technology for lens stabilization predated affordable digital bodies and Nikon could sell a lot of new lenses to film guys long before they could convince them that digital could replace film. Pentax decided to make every lens better by putting the stabilization in body. But that meant that any improvement in stabilization means getting a new body. Those decisions mean that with Nikon, you pay for stabilization every time you buy a lens but newer lenses might have better stabilization. With Pentax you pay for it once but you are stuck with that level. Nikon also decided that the D60 was for "new" Nikon shooters and did not make it Autofocus compatible with older lenses. So along with paying for IS each time, you are limited to newer lenses and a more limited range. If you wanted the compatibility, you had to jump up to the D80 or better - at a significant cost. There were some other features left to D80 or better buyers - the D60 has no vertical grip or battery grip. There is no built in wireless flash capability. There is no option for uncompressed RAW and no ability to control Noise Reduction. And like the K2000, it has no weather seals. In fact, dust is such an issue, it has a very complex dust removal system. Finally there was the feel. It felt cramped in my hand and with anything except the 18-50mm kit lens, it felt unbalanced because the body seemed too light.

The K200D had a lot of the features the D60 lacked. The in body stabilization meant I could get some seriously budget lenses right off the bat. My first non-kit lens was a 28-80mm Tamron that cost $44. Sure its not pro glass but for $44 if I get 2 or 3 pics a year that I love, it was worth it. The same lens for Nikon cost $90 and on the D60 it would have been manual focus. I got a battery grip with a vertical shutter button for $30 and because the K200 takes AA batteries, I got great Eneloop recharables for less than half what an extra Nikon (or anyone else including the one used on the Pentax K20D) battery cost. And I can use the same batteries in my flash. Im really glad Im not stuck buying Panasonic batteries now that they have disabled 3rd party batteries. The feel of the camera with the battery pack attached is perfect to me and the weather seals give me confidence to shoot in pretty rough conditions. Wireless flash is built in meaning my $250 AF-360 purchase added off camera flash at no additional cost. But I did give up some things with the K200D. The burst rate and continuous speed on the Pentax is no match for the Nikon. Right now I mostly shoot flowers and landscapes so its not as big a deal. But it is limiting. ISO performance past 800 is really not good. I would only use 1600 in a pinch. And there is no denying that Nikon glass is special. My 5MP Nikon CP5400 took incredible pictures that I attributed to the lens. Try finding a Pentax dealer in anything except a LARGE town let alone overseas and renting equipment is right out. The Pentax "ecosystem" is just no match for the Big 2. Final downside - I have suffered from Pentax "focus hunting." I have not used other systems enough to know how they do but I have missed some shots because of it.

Final verdict
In the end it came down to total cost of ownership. The Pentax was going to give me more bang for the buck initially and allow me to add capability much cheaper than the Nikon. Even things like lens filters were cheaper on the Pentax because the lenses are smaller around. That meant I could get more creative sooner rather than later. And the "feel" of the camera cannot be underrated. If you dont like holding your camera, you wont. The D60 and the D40 didn't feel right in my hand, the K200 did. I plan to hold it for a long time. And I wont pretend there was not a bit of contrarian "be different" going on. I owned a Beta VCR (I waited until BluRay won), listen to strange music and was a Mac guy long before it was cool. Maybe when this blog makes me super wealthy and I can but anything I want I will get my dream Nikon but I will probably always be a Pentax guy.

None of this is meant to say "Buy Pentax." The K200D is right for me. But I am saying look at what capability you are trying to add and decide what camera best fits that need at the price you want to pay. And look at the entire price. AA batteries and a battery grip were not factors when I started my search but became ones when I realized that I was going to have to spend a lot of extra money to ensure I had power for a week of hiking and I was going to be changing those batteries more often in dusty conditions. And now I would not even consider a camera that didnt have the option for a vertical shutter. And make sure you pick up an hold before you buy. I would end with a comparison but I want to keep this rated PG!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Recruitment of New Members

Being a Pentax lover and die-hard Pentaxian, you are cordially invited to join the Club and to be one of the first authors who contributes and writes new articles and posting news and rumours about the latest Pentax.

I do believe that sometimes collaborative efforts could work better and would have some magical effects than the works of an one-man-band!~

Act now and just drop me an email (remove the header of "antispam." when reply) with your Google ID/Account to enrol!

Ready to accept this new Challenge?! Dare to do so? ;-D

I do hope that my new idea will work, as it seems that no one has done this before (or at least have been more successfully). Btw, most blogs now on the Net are solely individual, I just don't know if a Public Blog will work after all. Let's try anyway! :-)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pentax. Practising the art of being different

It would be a boring world without brands such as Pentax.

Everybody using proprietary batteries? Why not use AA batteries instead?

Weathersealing is a pro-spec feature? Let’s weather seal a mid-range body then. And some lenses.

They’re all churning out massive plastic lenses? What about some good old-school metal? And let’s make a bunch of them slim ‘pancake’ design while we’re at it.

Others put image stabilisation in lenses and charge a premium for it. Let’s build SR into the body so even old lenses can benefit.

Bored with a choice of black, noir or schwarz? Maybe ‘Stormtrooper’ white or, oh’s a whole bunch of take your pick and we’ll build it.

I could go on like this, but I guess my point is, Pentax is defiantly a brand that, whether consciously or intuitively, lives by the principles of Disruption. When others zig, they zag.

Apple is one such brand, Absolut another, as are Leica, Nintendo with their Wii and Mazda with their rotary engined models. Disruption generally works best in a cluttered category littered with conventions. But whatever the sales results of Disrupted brands, the very idea of being different can, and will, polarise people. You just can't be neutral about these things.

One might argue that Pentax suffers in the marketplace by being different, but if they were just safe clones of the other big brands, how could they even be noticed in the clutter? It's not like they can outspend the big boys. Different gets noticed. If enough people ‘get it’ to lay down their money for it, then different survives. Otherwise it joins the Edsels of the world on the scrap heap of ‘what ifs?’

I for one am glad that Pentax still exists, against the odds, still marching to the beat of its own drum. Not everyone will appreciate what Pentax offers in a world of stultifying sameness; where every major brand is pretty good at what it does and our brand choices become no-brainers.

Yes, I’m not embarrassed to stand up and be counted as a Pentax Fanboy. I appreciate what the brand is doing and hope they can keep doing things differently and well.


Pentax Fans Club on the News!

First, see what 1001 Noisy Cameras reports:-

And, a Pentax Forums member has just posted about it:-

However, the post and thread at the Pentax Forums was deleted very quickly by the Authority. But, the Google cache is still there (so anyone can still view and learn about it)!

Btw, it would be very interesting to see who will be the first to post! And what will be written in the first post! Well, you're cordially INVITED! :-) See you~

Friday, September 18, 2009

You're Invited!

If you want to join this Club and write here in order to "make the balance", act now! Dare to drop me an email and apply for an authorship? There is a quota of 100 and I shall offer the authorship on a first-come-first-serve basis!

See you and hope you will start to write and praise the brand and tell the world all the strong points of the Pentax system and gear at here very soon!! ;-D

p.s. You must have a Google Account to join!

First Post - Disclaimer and Club Rules

If you want to be one of the Club Members and Blog Authors who "contribute" and write here, drop me an email to enrol!

There is a quota of 100 and I shall grant the authoring right on a first-come-first-serve basis! (My email address is shown in my public profile.)

But before you apply and write, you have to agree beforehand the following rules and principles and you are acknowledged that you will be bound by all the latest rules as set by me and published in this Blog for the Club:-

Club Rules:-

1. You have to write on-topicly according to the themes as laid down in the headlines of this Blog (which might be updated from time to time);

2. You will bear ALL the responsibilities and liabilities personally yourself for what you write here!

3. I, as the site master and owner of this Blog, reserve all the rights to delete any materials which I consider to be inappropriate to appear in this Blog!

4. Be civilised. Don't write in offensive language and in particular no foul language or personal attack is allowed!

5. In case of any dispute that may arise, I reserve the final judgement and all the rights in settling all these in any means as deemed to be necessary and appropriate;

6. Rules of this Club are subject to change and update from time to time when it is considered to be necessary.