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A nice quandary to be in

PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:00 pm
by ralphhardwick
So, as I mentioned in my picture thread I am retiring. We are selling the house and as the studio is attached then it is going also. We are downsizing, buying a motorhome and heading off to revisit some of the places we've been before and find some new ones.

Because of this all (and I mean all) of my studio equipment will be sold including my beloved 645z, K1 and K3.....or maybe not all.

Here's the quandary; after several years of shooting professionally, I will now revert back taking pictures for pleasure rather than profit.

We will be travelling and so I will want a camera capable of good landscapes, good portraits, good low light, good-ish video, decent lens selection, rugged, weatherproof and reasonably small and lightweight.

Because of the total value of kit I will have to sell I can virtually afford anything (mainstream) that's currently on the market.

One camera/system that keeps 'floating to the surface' is the Olympus OMD EM 1 Mk2. The other is the Sony A7iii.

My problem is that after years of shooting with the staggering detail possible with the 645z, dropping to a micro 4/3 with a minimum ISO of 200 just seems, sort of 'wrong'. I know that the images will be good enough for my needs, but it still seems 'wrong'.

In its favour I can go from 14mm - 300mm (35mm eq.) with two lenses and these with the body come in at less than £4k. It has incredible IBIS, full weather sealing, stunning video, amazing AF, etc. etc. etc. just seems wrong.

The other contender is the Sony A7iii. Full frame, blinding AF, good video, OK-ish weather sealing, but the lenses are staggeringly expensive and heavy which negates the weight saving in the body. A body and 3 lenses ranging from 12mm - 200mm will set me back £6.8k

I am still considering keeping the K1 (which I love) and just buying the new D-FA lenses to suit. However, those 3 lenses covering 15mm - 200mm will cost a princely £4.7k! And I would still have a 2 year old camera (3 year old tech)! The K1 feels nice and is reasonably compact, but the lenses are humungous and heavy.

I haven't bothered looking at any other DSLRs because I already ruled them out when I chose the K1.

Dear oh dear, what should I do...............

A nice quandary to be in

PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:52 pm
by petrochemist
I went for a Sony A7ii recently, & had it full spectrum converted. A nice camera but there are bits of the user interface that seem to be designed to be awkward. Perhaps it's just because I'm not using it with native lenses.
Fitted with the Techart Pro it can autofocus practically any lens (anything under 700g when adapted via Leica M) So far I have to go via M42, but it still auto focuses with a few 1930s lenses. It does have it's down sides - it's not weather sealed & AF is certainly no faster than a Pentax...
Some of the lenses I will be using it with are wonderfully compact like my Industar 50 (a 50mm/3.5 weighing around 100g) :thumb:

I would recommend hiring a body & lens for a few days before taking the plunge to check the user interface is something you can work with.

A nice quandary to be in

PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:19 am
by Algi
Personally I would stick with Pentax and see what new cameras they bring out in the next 18 months and then decide.


A nice quandary to be in

PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:28 am
by ralphhardwick
I shall be going into Wex over the weekend to try a couple of options.

I need to be realistic and think about compromise. In the motorhome size and weight are key factors. So something like the Olympus wins out, but I have become obsessed with image quality over the last few years and so a large sensor feels 'right'.

The FF systems are bulky, heavy and expensive but give the (perceived) quality. The image quality of the Oly is getting some very good reviews and, after all, it just needs to be good enough for me rather than clients.

Looking at the specs/performance of the Sony and Oly, Pentax is way behind with many aspects and seem slow to catch up. Saying that I'm not obsessed with lots of wizzy features but some f them do seem to add value.

oh, decisions, decisions........

A nice quandary to be in

PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 3:12 pm
by geordie01
We have had a motorhome for 14 years and i take two bodies k30 and 50 and a bag of lenses.

A nice quandary to be in

PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:46 pm
by pentaxpete
At Brentwood Photographic Club we had Clare Harvey-May of Olympus Cameras UK come and she showed all the latest and we could play with it -- she showed HUGE PRINTS done with that 'Micro 4/3rds System' and said 'Full Frame is not always the answer' I was very impressed. But I like my Olympus FILM Cameras as they were FREE !!
ImageOLYMPUS Cameras evening by Peter Elgar, on Flickr
ImageOLYMPUS Cameras evening by Peter Elgar, on Flickr

A nice quandary to be in

PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2019 7:43 pm
by ralphhardwick
Thanks for the comments. Today I visited the Wex Showroom, as it's only 45 mins from home, and had a play with the Olympus OMD EM Mkii, Sony A7iii and Fujifil X-H1.

I spent around an hour in the store trying various combinations. The Sony had a nice feel and (despite my wanting to hate it!) an excellent viewfinder. Size-wise it was only marginally bigger than the Oly. On that basis, I was starting to lean that way. Then we fitted the f2.8 24-70 Pro lens!!! Bloody hell it felt like a lead brick :eek: With the camera being so light, it was incredible nose heavy and just didn't feel comfortable at all.
Although I could see myself using it professionally, in the studio or in the field, on a tripod, the thought of lugging that around whilst playing the tourist was a total no no.

The Fuji felt okay-ish, but didn't really float my boat. However, the Olympus is a complete triumph of weight, balance and ergonomics. The grip felt good, the EVF was good, the autofocus was amazing. There was no doubt that this was the right one........except! That bloody dinky sensor :( :doh:

Can I really go from a 50Mp Medium format beast to a micro four thirds postage stamp?

They let me fit a card and I spent some time mooching about taking images so that I could bring them home and see for myself.

Concern number one was DoF. Basically it has half the DoF of a full frame, so f2.8 is equivalent to f4 etc. etc. I like playing with DoF. The 645z is razor thin and I love it. TBH I tried a few shots to specifically test this and was reasonably happy with the results. There are a few f1.7 and ven f1.2 primes availabl for a reasonable price so, if I really wanted a shallow DoF I could achieve it.

Concern number 2 was image quality. Here's the quandary; the images are stunning, razor sharp and easy to achieve because of the brilliant IBIS and AF. But, and it's a big BUT. I am used to working on images at 500%+ zoom, in photoshop, and still seeing crisp details. These (obviously) cannot match that.

The question is; can I live with that?

Mmmmm, decisions, decisions.

A nice quandary to be in

PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:52 am
by Suffolk biker
One thing to remember is you are taken pictures for yourself, not paying customers.

A nice quandary to be in

PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2019 9:30 am
by ronniemac
The answer to your quandary surely lies in compromise between full frame and micro 4/3, i.e. aps-c.

If you stick with Pentax, you might well already have the lenses, and there are plenty of small primes to choose from.

I currently use K-1, K-3ii, K-5ii, K-01 and K-70, GRii and for a few years the 645N. On a recent trip to the NW Highlands I took the K-1 with D-FA 15-30, 28-105, 50, and 80-200 in a Kata 3n1 20 and that lot weighed in at over 6 Kg plus compact tripod totalling 7.7Kg or way over a stone. Of course if out on a trek, I would most often leave a couple of lenses behind, but it was arduous and required careful pre planning and decision making. Much as I love the image quality, it's all getting too much to lug around so looking ahead I am going to see if I can manage with an aps-c set-up.

On a recent outing I took my K-70 with 16-85 and 55-300 plm - total weight 1.6 Kg and it was all I really needed. The consequence was that I was not hampered by gear and all the happier for it. The resulting photographs were technically just fine.

On other occasions I just set off with the GRii tucked into my shirt pocket and get some nice shots along with a nice feeling of freedom from gear.

So maybe look at what you have with the K-3 and try working with that. If it works for you, you might later swap the K-3 with the K-3ii replacement (which I think will be my final Pentax camera). You might even consider the KP or K-70 if size and weight are dominant factors. I know all this sounds like brand loyalty, but for me it's about finding a system of body and lenses that I am happy with, and learning how to work it really well. Call me old fashioned, but I am a sucker for the pentaprism optical as opposed to digital electronic viewfinder although it might not matter to you.

Also, treat yourself to a GRiii with clip on GV-2 optical viewfinder for those idle moments. After all it also uses the new 24 MP aps-c sensor.

A nice quandary to be in

PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2019 7:27 pm
by ralphhardwick
You make a very sound argument for the K3 and, of course, I travelled extensively with a K5ii(s) and K3 for many years and was very happy. I still love the Pentax ergonomics (despite their habit or randomly moving buttons about for no reason e.g Liveview).

The K3 has 4Mp more, better low light capability, slightly better dynamic range and a 35% larger sensor.

The OMD has built in wifi, articulating screen, 90+ more focus points, 4k video, class leading IS (still and video), remote control, tethering, in-built focus stacking, composite live view, blindingly fast bust rate, etc. etc. etc. Technologically it leaves the K3 standing. and it is less than 2/3 the weight (without considering the lenses). It also has a 50Mp and even 80Mp pixel shift facility.

Many of these whizzy bells and whistles are just that, but some I can see myself using during my travels.

At the moment I am thinking of swapping the 645z, K3 and associated lenses for the OMD1 Mkii, 7-14 f2.8, 12-40 f2.8 and 40-150 f2.8. That gives me an equivalent focal range of 14mm-300mm.

This will still leave me with the K1 and 28-105 as my FF backup. Over time I can then evaluate if I need to keep the FF option or replace it with another OMD body.

Like you I prefer the optical viewfinder and when I went to Wex the other day I tried the Fuji, The Sony A7iii and the OMD and, despite the fact I wanted to hate them, I actually found the EVFs to be pretty damn good. Certainly good enough for what I want.

A nice quandary to be in

PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2019 4:37 am
by richandfleur
A few points in there resonate with me.

I'm not so worried about wifi, but an articulated screen would be handy. I'd love to see Eye AF too, as personally I'd really use that.
I too prefer an optical viewfinder, but newer EVF's are much better than the older handicam type EVFs many associate with the concept.

Tracking AF is something Pentax is just miles behind with, and I don't see it getting any better. Don't want to continue the doom and gloom conversation but Pentax haven't done much in a while now and each release seems a small mkii type evolution of an existing concept. Processing wise I just don't think they have enough grunt to run the tracking calcs etc.

Things that used to be Pentax stables are now offered the same better by others and ibis is one of those. It's not present on most major brands, albeit without the somewhat gimmicky uses such as simulated AA filter and astrotracing.

I like the idea of the real time composite live view for light trails etc, very cool.

I don't think MF is necessary most of the time and is heading in a different direction for travel portability. FF in mirrorless isn't very big anymore though, if that's what you're after.

Great times and only getting better for these types of devices.

A nice quandary to be in

PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2019 6:45 am
by ralphhardwick
When it comes to AF (especially in video), comparing the OMD to the (any) Pentax almost feels like comparing an iPad to a stone tablet.

It doesn't have eye tracking but, with the latest firmware, the continuous face detection is (apparently) amazing.

I have the opportunity to set myself up for the future with a camera setup that meets and exceeds my needs. I'm trying to be completely open-minded about the brand choice.

The thing that is 'hurting' the FF cameras is the weight and size of the fast zoom lenses. If I then consider the APSC options, none of the current Pentax options come close in any aspect except resolution and other brands I've tried don't have ergonomics that I like.

I've never been too bothered about the latest upgrades and releases as my Pentax collection 645z, K1 & K3 have always delivered what I needed. If I intended to stay in business I wouldn't be looking to change for the foreseeable future. However, that isn't the case and I can now see how the other brands have leapfrogged Pentax.

The EVF was my biggest stumbling block. When I swapped my Olympus E520 for my K5ii(s) at SRS many moons ago, they persuaded me to try one of the first OMD Micro 4/3 models. The EVF was just plain awful! Laggy, over saturated and grainy. The latest ones are way, way better and are almost on a par with optical ones. I wouldn't say I'm a convert. but I am persuaded to see the additional benefits of the EVF compensate for the disadvantages.

A nice quandary to be in

PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 12:26 am
by richandfleur
Yep, Pentax haven't done much of anything lately, and each new release to date has been a relatively small incremental improvement on a base concept.

I don't want to say DSLR's feel old fashioned, as it's not really the mirror that does that - it's more the lack of features that Mirrorless seems to be incorporating.
However, DSLR's do feel very old fashioned.

I have zero confidence in Pentax being able to track anything, especially coming towards me. Where originally focusing ability was a serious DSLR plus point, today the tables have almost completely flipped and on sensor PD AF, which can track right across a whole sensor (rather than just some points in the middle) and detect faces and eyes and keep them in focus etc, is really amazing.

For static tripod shots, especially where there is a large dynamic range, I back a DSLR to deliver all the details I want, and protect and recover highlights etc.
Reality today though is a lot of cameras can do this now. You simply do not need a DSLR to achieve this, as the mirrorless cameras have shown.
After all the sensors are the same, or the same but with PD AF points on them. The addition of a mirror is solely to allow an optical viewfinder to function, and it doesn't allow for other magical improvements or capabilities beyond that.

DSLR's and Pentax also no longer have the exclusive rights to IBIS or weather sealing or ergonomics or IQ etc either.

I like the point about shopping with an open mind. If you're just doing incremental changes to your kit gear you don't tend to seriously check out the competition. Keen to hear your thoughts as you investigate further.

A nice quandary to be in

PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 5:47 pm
by ralphhardwick
It's update time, although it will be a brief (more to follow later).

K3 and a few lenses have now gone and I have a shiny new Olympus OMD EM1 Mkii and 12-40 f2.8 Pro lens in their place. I still have my K1 + FA 28-105 as well as my 645z and all 645 lenses. The Wex px offer was okay, but with that amount of kit to sell I would be loosing too much. In addition, I wasn't sure about the OMD and I still wanted to retain my 'high res' options until I had the chance to try it out.

If I were to sum up my first impressions with one word it would be: WOW!

Light, compact, ergonomic, solid, totally customisable (almost too much so), fast, etc. etc.

It's a steep-ish learning curve, but the feature set is outstanding. Although the menu system is a labyrinth, that would put war and peace to shame, it works reasonably and I have been able to find most things.

As for image quality? TBH, coming from a K1 and, even worse, a 645z it was always going to be lacking. But, and it's a big BUT, it's the resolution that restricts the IQ, not the lens or sensor. What I mean by that is at 100% the images are tack sharp, but the OMD 100% is like looking at a K1 image at 25-30%. It just can't have the same level of detail. The real question with regard to IQ is; is it good enough? The answer is an uncategorical yes and then some. I am blown away by how good it is.

So far I have managed a pin sharp handheld shot at 3.2 seconds :eek: and virtual macro level shots with a standard lens. The pixel shift produces a genuine 50Mp image and looks pretty darn good. I do hope to do a comparison shot with the K1 and 645z before I sell them

I am currently using it to photograph all my Pentax kit as the decision has been made; I will be going over completely to Olympus for all my future needs.

Is it better than Pentax? No, it's different, and whereas the Pentax cameras suited my needs up until now, my needs have changed and the olympus kit better suits my needs. I will always have a 'soft spot' for Pentax and I still love the feel of my K1 and 645z.

A nice quandary to be in

PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:06 pm
by ronniemac
Thanks for the update Ralph, it's good that you have found a system in the Olympus which you are happy with and enjoy using - really that's all that matters. It also sounds like the system has re-ignited your photo-mojo - not that it was needing a boost.

Do let us have an update at some point after you have taken it on your travels - a long term review would be appreciated.

Best wishes and good luck with the OMD EM1 Mkii, R.