Friday, October 22, 2010

Ten Reasons for Thinking Twice before Decided on a K-5..

Well, after so many K-5 promotions that I have been put forward at my this site since right before it was announced, it's time for me to "sing blues" on the K-5! ;-D Actually, it always does no harm for some more critical thinkings before we are to be decided on anything, which surely will help to minimize the chance of wrong decision and remorse! :-))

Okay, here we go!

1. The 1/180th Maximum Flash X-sync Speed:

We all knew that this maximum sync speed is inadequate, which is even slower than the bottom of line EOS digital model, i.e., the EOS 1000D, which just has a higher X-sync speed of 1/200th second.

Practically, if we used to do daylight fill-in flash in the old film days, we would know that the 1/250th is very valuable so that a larger aperture can be chosen for a longer reach of the flash and that also if shallower DoF is desired. Of course, people would then start to argue that Pentax P-TTL system with dedicated flash is high-speed sync capable. But the question is: Should we be limited to use the few dedicated flash units of Pentax only? E.g., why we cannot use other good flashes like those latest Metzes with a higher stand flash speed sync that is supported? And, I also wish to remind those people about the limitations and shortcomings with all those high-speed sync flashes (brand regardless), e.g., the drastically decreased effective G.N. and flash output power (but with much increased power consumption on the other hand!).

Besides, there is one major important con for a camera that is equipped with a slow x-sync speed that is not so noticeable. In fact, the X-sync speed is not only an indication on the maximum shutter speed that it could be used with standard flash units, it is primitively just an indication on how fast the shutter blades and curtains are moving (and "line scanning" speed of the shutter for the Tvs above the X-sync value). As such, a lower figure just indicate that the shutter module by itself has lower performance. And with slower actual moving speed of the shutter curtains, it means that more undesirable artifacts than ideal are existent and could be seen.

Well, I always just wonder since the MZ-S and also with ALL Pentax DSLRs. How is it so *difficult* to break the 1/180s barrier?

2. The Inadequacy of the Pentax P-TTL Flash System:

First of all, there are currently 4 dedicated P-TTL flash units that we can choose. Besides the new macro flash AF-160FC and the just slightly better than the RTF AF-200FG that is practically not much meaningful, we have only the choices of the really old AF-360FGZ, which is actually the old flash that come with my old MZ-S back to 2001 and the also the now aging AF-540FGZ, which the flash re-cycling time is really slow for its old circuitry and design.

Whilst I won't comment further about the exposure accuracy and consistency of the Pentax P-TTL system (which you can still find many relevant information by browsing through my pages), I would draw your attention to yet one big deficiency of the Pentax P-TTL flash system and design which is not so well-known, that is, it has no Flash Exposure Lock of any. So, just imagine that if you have a camera that is without any AE Lock for Auto Exposure with Ambient Light and now that it is just the case for Flash Metering and Exposure..

3. The Outdated SAFOX AF and Layout Inadequacy:

While Pentax has now renamed the old SAFOX VIII(+) in the K-x and K-7 to SAFOX IX(+) with their latest K-r and K-5 respectively, which I believe there exists some yet unknown improvements by software maybe, the layout of the AF sensors and sizes remain totally unchanged. As such, obviously, the old problems exist.

With such a layout, how can one pinpoint more accurately if more precise AF is desired? The line sensor is just too wide afterall and guessworks are resulted.

Furthermore, the 11-point layout of such an AF system in a just more "advanced" DSLR AF system is just a joke. It is good enough for all those entry-level DSLRs by today's standard. But if such an old 9-year stuff is used in a "flagship", it is just too dated and inadequate.

4. The SDM Evil and that Unresponded/Untackled SDM Issue:

Well, this is really the most headache problem with the current Pentax system. Many people do avoid all those SDM lenses. But then I just wish to ask, how many more current Pentax lenses else that we can buy if SDM is really to be avoided? :-0

5. Limited Lens Lineup and Availability and Without any Clear Roadmap and Future:

Last time Pentax Canada "once" *officially* discontinued 10 DA and DFA lenses (which was shortly deleted for that piece of information anyway) and Pentax Japan has also discontinued some more other lenses including the older FA ones already. In real, we have not much choices at different countries and places in the world for buying some other just older Pentax lenses as well, e.g., the DA 14/2.8 - The DA15/4 seems to be the replacement, although this is not officially told. In fact, many of the Pentax lenses are rather difficult to find brand new and the availability is just very limited.

The even worse thing is that the future of Pentax for their DSLR development is totally unclear and the image circle of their lenses is in a big mess. Some DA lenses are covering 135 full frame but some does not. Amongst those that can cover full frame, some original lens hoods are compatible and some are not. Yes, people would then argue that all DA lenses of Pentax is "designed for APS-C only" and this is also the official information, as we all know. But then nobody knows why with the "same" DA lens *lineup*, this kind of ambiguity and confusion could exist! :-(

Whilst many old Pentaxians believed and have urged that Pentax should officially let we Pentaxians know that which DA lens would be Full Frame compatible and which could not, but unfortunately we never knew that and not even about what Pentax have been thinking and planning and if they would go Full Frame eventually or not.

Indeed, I think this is just a big obstacle for many Pentaxians to invest further on newer Pentax glass. How one can feel safer for their purchases without more hesitations when the future is just so unclear?

6. No Video Compression *Option* for Video Recording:

The K-5 has no video compression option of any. Just say it has no H.264, MPEG-4 (which just the old Pentax Optio MX which I purchased back to 2004 had!), not even to say the Sony-Panasonic proprietary AVCHD format (which uses H.264 compression algorithms anyway). The "ground breaking" thing is that the Pentax K-5 is the only Full HD video recording camera ever made on Earth that has no facility of any for any in-camera video compression *option*!

So, with such tremendous bandwidth requirement of that Full HD video stream which actually the SD cards are just unable to handle with the lack of an effective video compression, I am almost sure that the Pentax engineers had to resort to make more JPEG compression per frame which is the only way to decrease the bandwidth requirement. But then, the image quality suffers.

7. Same Sony Sensor, the Highest Price:

Compared to the Nikon D7000, which has better specifications in almost every aspect but with the same Sony 16M HD CMOS sensor, the K-5 is just overpriced. If it is further compared to the extreme, i.e. the Sony A55, which is yet again with the same sensor, the K-5 has just so little and minimal price-to-performance ratio and just has poor value after all.

8. The IQ of K-5 is Not Better at the Base ISO, but Could be Worse:

I have no doubt about the high ISO IQ of the images from the K-5, but how about the IQ at base ISO? Could it be better than the old CCD Pentax cameras like the K200D and K-m etc.? I am afraid Not! :-( In fact, I still like some of the favourable colour and tone response characteristics of my K-m better than both my K-x and NEX. So, if you just don't need highest APS-C pixel count and those higher ISO speeds, why "upgrade"?

9. There is Always the "Low End"!

When we still have the choice of the K-r with some omissions of features like the weather-sealing or the support of using a cable switch and socket, why pay the double to get a K-5? Well, not even to mention the high ISO performance of the K-r could be *even better*! (But it has less pixel count as we all knew.) IMHO, other feature differences between the K-r and K-5 is almost negligible, e.g., for the 6 fps Vs 7 fps continuous frame rate and etc.

In retrospect, the K-r can be even stronger! Just say the K-r can shoot 14 RAW shots in a chain against what K-5 can do for 7, only. One ridiculous thing is for this "high performance" DSLR that has a continuous frame rate of 7 fps, which just means that the user can only shoot for ONE second if he shoots RAW! :-o How come the buffer of the K-5 is just so shallow? >:-| Since they put a new higher-resolution sensor into the old K-7 body, they needed to increase the frame buffer size too, did they? (But they didn't!)

10. The QC of Current Pentax Bodies and Lenses MIP and MIV are Sub-par but Yet Unfortunately the After-sales Support and Services of Pentax are Just So-So:

I think I won't elaborate more, we have just too many complaints and stories for those quality issues and unsatisfactory or even ridiculous service "support" cases daily everywhere reported in the Web. As for a few amongst all those uncountable number of cases that have been reported here, search this Blog. To see the others, search the Web.

Indeed, my yet recent experience with the MIV FA31 had been totally disappointed and I was not impressed with the QC standard on AF accuracy of the K-x as well - I only managed to get my current K-x unit without any major and obvious BF/FF issue with my fast Pentax primes with 1 body out of 3 different units! So, it's your take to count the "lucky" rate! :-o And, if you are to buy a new Pentax DSLR, what do you think what is your chance of getting a "good sample"?

Update (10-27): To admire about the QC level and standard of the current Pentax factory, just view these late reports from new K-5 and K-r users:-

Some Reported K-5 Faults (Defects and/or Bugs)

K-r Defect Reports


P-TTL Vs TTL: Is Newer Better? (How Auto Flashes Work?)

Compatibility of DA Lenses on Full Frame

FA 31 Limited: Assembled in Vietnam Vs Made in Japan - Case Studies

Poll Results and Summary on the Choice of Recent Current Pentax DSLRs

My Ten Reasons to Buy the NEX-3 Over the NEX-5!

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