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Andrew L (gryphon1911)

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Andrew L (gryphon1911) last won the day on 27 September

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About Andrew L (gryphon1911)

  • Birthday 19/05/1974

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  • My Real Name
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  • Photographic Interests
    street, portraiture, events, sports
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    Ask Me
  • My Favourite Camera
    Nikon Z8
  • My Favourite Lens
    Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4
  • My Favourite Image Editor
  • My Location
    Columbus, OH
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  1. Background I’ve dabbled into the Pentax / Ricoh world before, although in a limited capacity. I first tried the Ricoh GR II, then messed around with the Pentax Q and finally landing on and currently still have a Ricoh GR III. My interest into a proper Pentax DSLR was always there, but never really looked into it in earnest until recently, checking out the local camera store and seeing that they have a K-5, K-3 and K-30. With an interchangeable lens camera, you need a lens. The options for lenses were not huge, but I did see a Pentax 18-135mm, so decided to start there. Disclosure – images were post processed to my liking and in various styles. Some were processed from RAW and others may be out of camera JPG. Handling/Size/Weight/Build This is a small lens for the 7x superzoom range you get. It starts at f/3.5 and goes to f/5.6. It is relatively light weight as well. My used copy had a lens hood to go with it. It is easy to find the zoom ring, rubberized and feels good in the hand. In the fall and winter rubberized lenses are great here in Ohio! The manual focus ring is closes to the mount, also rubberized. It reminds me a lot of the other “do-it-all” zooms from the same era from Nikon. The lens barrel does extend when zoomed. Weather Sealed Kudos for Pentax making this lens weather resistant! Pentax is legendary in the weather sealing game of photography so we can expect some great things out of this lens in that department to go along with the sealing on the camera bodies. Image Quality So here is what most want to know. This is not one of my favorite lenses in the sharpness department. In the center, it is decent, but as you start going out from the center, the sharpness starts falling off for me quickly, and is noticeable even at f/8. The edges also seem to be distorted more than I would have hoped for. It could be the copy of the lens that I have is not indicative of the whole of the lenses out there. I will also be the first to admit that I am spoiled by the current batch of Nikon, Fuji and Olympus lenses. From kit to “Pro” lenses those companies have put out some really impressive glass. Moving away from sharpness, the color and contrast of the lens is perfectly fine. No complaints there from me. I do have a Pentax 40mm f/2.8 Limited and 70mm f/2.4 Limited lens coming and will compare those against this zoom. I just had positive memories of the Pentax Q and those lenses and the Ricoh GR III and was hoping for more of that same magic. Images speak louder than any of my words, so please judge the results I’ve been able to get from this lens. Let’s get realistic though – this is an 18-135mm lens, which gives us a field of view of 27mm through 202mm. That is quite the range and compromises need to be made to make a lens like this work. Focusing Focusing is just as much the lens as it is the camera and its auto focus system. There appears to be the slightest of hesitation when initially acquiring focus. Could be the camera, could be the lens…will see if the other k-mount lenses react in the same way. On a few occasions, the focus in AF-S did miss the target. Early on, I think this was more about me than the lens/camera combo…you know – trying to get used to a new system. For static shots and street photography, the lens works decently well. VR (Vibration Reduction Stabilization) / IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization) Pentax K-3 has IBIS, so no VR is in this lens. Given that, I found the K-3 IBIS to be capable of working well with the full range of focal lengths on this lens. Bottom Line Straight up, I needed a lens to test the K-3 and this seemed to be the best of all the options that were available locally to me at the time. Will this be a keeper lens for me? No, probably not. While the center sharpness is good enough, the lack of clarity and sharpness from mid frame to edge is a deal breaker. Again, please take this review with the stipulation that I may have a decentered, dud lens that is not realistic to the actuality of the other copies out there. If you are looking for major convenience, weather sealing and only shoot at f/8 or smaller apertures and post your pictures on the internet at web sizes…this may be something to consider…but for any other purposes, I’d steer someone asking into a direction of the Limited primes or the DA* f/2.8 zooms (16-50 and the 50-135). One the used market they are not outrageously priced and I’ve seen them at a lot of online retailers and eBay shops. Bottom Line = Not Really Recommend.
  2. Family friend got married and I took some shots. Nikon Z6 + Z 28-75/2.8 (2 x YN-682 flashes & YN 622 trigger for inside shots) Nikon Z8 + Z 70-180/2.8 Rattled off just shy of 800 shots, keepers were around 175 delivered to bride and groom. Below shows the layout of the inside venue 'X' indicates the location of the flashes. Popped around 1/2 to 1/4 power, ceiling bounce.
  3. Some additional shots today with this lens at a local cemetery while walking the dogs. Nikon Z fc, mostly shot at f/4 Below - heavily cropped.
  4. The last set were from a zoo. Africa would be interesting, but alas, I can not see myself getting there. Honestly, I can see why this lens is so popular and pre-orders are through the roof. I don't find the weight objectionable, honestly. I did have to buy another backpack to carry it though. All my current bags have migrated to use with smaller kits. You'll want to shoot it in decent to good light for the f/5.6-6.3. Happy with the sharpness for the price. sharp through out the range even wide open. internal zoom and focus is nice. short throw on the zoom makes composing quick. Takes the Z teleconverters well, I use it frequently with the 2.0x. It has only a small hit in IQ, but at 2.x, your base aperture is f/11 or f/13 depending on the zoom setting. I find it worth it for my use cases.
  5. Introduction I “need” another camera system like I need another hole in the head, as the saying goes. Pentax has always fascinated me. I dabbled a little into that world prior with the Pentax Q and the Ricoh GRII/GRIII (still have this little pocketable gem). Never really delved into the DSLR cameras though. Always heard good things, though about weather sealing, ruggedness, the way their sensor output handles greens and blues. I was wandering about my local camera store and behold! I see in their used cabinet a gaggle of Pentax DSLRs. They had the K-3, K-5 and a K-30. Out of those, with my limited knowledge and prior research, I chose the K-3. It was a good price and included the vertical/battery grip. I decided to pick it up. I checked the lens selection and there was not a lot to choose from. Eye balling the 18-135/3.5-5.6 – I decided to give that lens some life on the K-3. Another review will be coming about that lens in the future, this review will concentrate specifically on the K-3 only. Tech Stuff Body Right off the bat, the camera body has a solid feel in the hand. Without the grip, it is almost too small…reminding me of the time that I was considering a Nikon D7000 series camera as an ASP-C backup to the D500. Most of the major dials are where you would expect them to be so getting used to the basic shooting ergonomics was adopted fast. The viewfinder is good, much bigger than I had anticipated for an APS-C camera. Dials. This is very similar to many other DSLRs. Main and sub command dials fall naturally under index and thumb. Setting them up like the way I shoot my Nikon’s makes the transition to it easy! The power switch is around the shutter release and is easy to find. As an interesting difference, the depth of field activation is the third 4th position on the power switch. Never saw that before. There is also a mode dial lock switch. This switch in the off position allows for the mode dial to me moved freely. In lock position, the mode dial can be moved, but it would take you pressing down the button on the top of the mode dial itself. Kind of the best of both worlds in control scheme. Shutter Release – The shutter release has a positive feel between activating the auto focus and actuating the shutter. It is pretty standard feeling. Rear LCD – Bright and fully usable even in bright sunlight. You have to use the Info button on the camera body to switch between the different LCD views and turning it off completely. I’m used to having to dive into the menus to change those settings. I kinda like it, but not sure if that is because it is different and I hate going into menus for stuff like that. At the end of the day, let’s just say it’s different – not better or worse than other makers offerings. Top LCD Again – much like that on other DSLRs with top LCDs – You get a lot of great exposure and shooting information and it is backlit. Viewfinder The viewfinder is large and bright and not what I was expecting from and APS-C camera from this time. Usually they are small and dark in all but the brightest of light. Actually a very good experience all-around for its 95% coverage. Weather Sealing Pentax weather sealing is legendary and I have no doubt that the K-3 lives up to that. As always, you make the decision for yourself on how you wish to treat your gear and if shooting in inclement weather is the right one for you. Lens Line Up You have access to the full lineup of K mount lenses I’ve just started dipping my toes into the mount, so I don’t have the full knowledge yet of what all can be used (the manual for the K-3 describes all the compatible k-mount glass). I hear that there are a lot of manual focus k-mount lenses that can be used as well as a lot of the modern ones. Will need to dig into the manual and sources on the internet to see what “trouble” I can get myself into. 🙂 Performance Overall System Performance Once the camera is powered on, everything runs smooth and snappy. There is a weird delay from the power switch going from off to on. Seems a little longer than I would have anticipated from a DSLR. However, the battery is ample and this is one of those cameras that you can just leave switched on when out shooting. Really a non-issue, but something to be aware of if you are someone that prefers to have the camera powered off in between shooting sessions. Autofocus Single Point 27 auto focus points (auto – camera chooses the best focus point for you), and it can be blocked down to a grouping of nine ( the group can be shifted around the viewfinder as needed and the camera picks the best point within the grouping) or one (you can move the autofocus point around where you want it), then there is spot (uses only the center AF point and it cannot be moved. I had some struggles early on with the AF and I didn’t think it was accurate. Turns out there were a few missed focus shots, but mainly my perception was due to a combination of inexperience with the AF system, the lens not being as sharp as I was wanting (speaking specifically about the Pentax 18-135mm) and a combination of JPG settings in camera. Once I got those items squared away and tempered my expectations to reality, my conclusion on the auto focus is that it works, but not as well as what I have been used to with my Nikon’s and with mirrorless cameras. It will be adequate for general photography, but I don’t think that I would want to rely on it for difficult subjects. Continuous Having used some of the best auto focus on APS-C (Nikon D500), my initial thoughts were that this may very well be a futile and frustrating exercise. I tried using the continuous auto focus when shooting some insect shots and it just felt clunky and imprecise – I didn’t trust it. Manual Focus I will use it rarely. There is a focus confirmation dot on the bottom of the finder. Battery and Battery Life I believe I read in the manual that the CIPA rating is 720 shots for the D-LI90 battery in the K-3. Pretty good and you’ll probably get way more than that out of it in the course of a days shooting. I’ve personally experienced excellent battery life in all day shooting excursions. In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) – SR (Shake Reduction) Pentax calls the IBIS in their DSLRs Shake Reduction (SR). In use, it seemed to work well, even out to 135mm (~202mm field of view). Longer focal lengths found on the Pentax 55-300, may prove to be less effective, but in our use it did a good job. Ergonomics For me, the size of a camera is important. There is a point of diminishing returns on size. You can only go so small before the controls are hard to reach and the camera is difficult to hold. Feel in The Hand The K-3 feels solid. Grip is comfortable without the extension but may be a little small for some peoples hands. I do teeter on the verge of the camera being a bit too small as my pinkie does rest right on the bottom edge of the grip. During extended use, there are some quirks. First, if using a standard neck strap and the camera rests with its back LCD facing your body, it is possible for the ISO, white balance, and exposure compensation to get changed around without you realizing it. Luckily, I was shooting in RAW+JPG, so the white balance changes did not affect me, but the jpg were very difficult to try and recover. Some other items that I’m not sure I like in the handling is changing between ISO and Auto ISO. Without digging into the manuals, its not intuitive that the ISO button must be pushed and then the green button on the back pressed to cycle the option. Having the focus point change be shared between various options like jpg profiles, white balance, etc and activated / switched between the 2 modes by a button…just not very smooth and clean. Image Quality Keep into perspective the age of the camera now based on the options we have at the time of the review here. This sensor is capable of providing decent sharpness and details. 24mp sensor used in the K-3 seems relatively capable. It does seem to lag a little behind the current sensors of the day (2022/2023) in dynamic range and in noise at higher ISO. No surprise – keep in mind that technology moves along quite rapidly in the camera world, especially in sensors. Please look at the images you see here in this review and use them to make judgements for yourself. Final Thoughts Pentax’s K-3 is a fun experiment and first dive into the world of K mount. I can see with its handling quirks and the pokey AF why it may not be someone’s first option as a do everything camera. For portraits, general photography – if the price is right – it might make sense for you. Another thing to consider is if you already have a catalog of k-mount lenses, manual focus, film, etc – the digital k-mount might make sense. For me, if I had to pick between this and the Minolta Maxxum 7D, I’m still picking the Minolta. May seem strange, but all the issues I described earlier in handling, the Minolta does not suffer from. Also, even though the Minolta lags behind in high ISO capability and megapixels (6mp CCD), it does rather well for itself in the dynamic range department. With modern post processing, you can easily upscale a 6mp image to an equivalent 24mp with very little penalty. Most likely, I’ll be keeping the Pentax K-3 for a while – but I may not keep it for the long term. There may be some lenses that change my mind – perhaps the Limited primes or the DA* lenses would turn me around. However – as it sits today, it is a fun diversion but not a system that makes me want to consider jumping ship and using Pentax as a daily driver over another brand already in the stable. For those reasons, I’d still recommend the Pentax, but with a lot of consideration on what is already out there. You may find that the quirks that give me hesitation may not be an issue for you. Now – please also keep in mind that the K-3 is succeeded by 2 other upgrades in the Mark II and Mark III (also the Mark III Monochrome). I’ve no experience with the newer models. A lot of my issues with some of the performance may be addressed with those cameras. Feel free to educate me on the topic in the thread section below! Final Thought: Recommended, with caveats.
  6. Went to try my hand at birds in flight. No TC 2.0x...just the Z8 and lens!
  7. Next, lets see how this lens works with the TC 2.0!! To start, the white egret shots were taken from this blind as is the first Heron image. White spots in the water are the birds that I showcase here. Tried some relatively difficult shots, shooting through grass and foreground elements. Second kicker - all these were hand held and a bunch were also shot in DX mode and then cropped even more! Nikon Z8. These are not shot from the blind and a bit closer than the above.
  8. Decided to check out a Mystics fair - a home for all things weird. Took the Z8 along with the Z 28-75 and 70-180/2.8. Found some interesting subjects. Even lost my mind and accidentally set the camera for a few shots at f/2.8, 1/2000 (the mistake) and the auto ISO set to 14400, which seemed to not make a whole lot of issues in the end. I did run that shot through Topaz Photo AI. Lighting was terrible, but you make due with what you got! AF-C, Auto 3D with human face/eye detect were used and it performed flawlessly in these conditions. Still getting used to the Z8, but it is becoming more and more seamless with every outing. 1 2 - this is the ISO 14400 shot 3 4 5 6 - I skirted the boundaries of the shutter speed here with these last 4 shots, trying to keep the ISO as low as I could. 1/400th got me where I wanted to be in the end. 7 8
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