Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Through The Looking Glass

I initially decided on 3 lenses with 2 more to come sometime afterwards.

smc PENTAX DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL WR
Filter Size = 52mm
Weight = 255g (With Lens Hood)
35mm Equiv Focal Length = 27mm-84.5mm
Minimum Focus Distance = 9.84 inches(0.25m)

The included kit lens is a wider more limited zoom than I'm used to however I've grown to like it's abilities, it's light, cheap and has decent IQ while also being WR as well and the great surprise is the really good minimum focusing distance. I will tend to use it for night time, architecture and landscape shots.

smc PENTAX D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro WR
Filter Size = 49mm
Weight = 360g (With Lens Hood)
35mm Equiv Focal Length = 153mm
Minimum Focus Distance = 0.99' (0.303m)

This is my first purchased lens and it gives me the ability to do some 1:1 Macro photography, something i couldn't do well with the FZ30. It's a small very well constructed WR lens with some impressive IQ as well. Fast 2.8 means great shallow DOF and lots of light and generally a firm hand and accurate manual focus is needed for the best of shots.

smc PENTAX A-50mm f/1.2
Filter Size = 52mm
Weight = 375g (With Lens Hood)
35mm Equiv Focal Length = 85mm
Minimum Focus Distance = ?

One of the most esteemed Pentax lens, the A-50mm f/1.2 is a fast prime with high quality metal construction, the 'A' model was discontinued from manufacture in 2006, and was still available in small numbers from Japan until early 2009.

It's fairly rare and quite expensive, and doesn't have any Autofocus, but it's still quite revered and sought after and well loved by Pentax prime enthusiasts. I myself have a love for the silver FA43 still, but this lens allows for some creative choices as the f/1.2 difference is significant.

smc PENTAX FA 77mm F1.8 Limited.
Filter Size = 49mm
Weight = 9.5 o.z
35mm Equiv Focal Length = 115.5mm
Minimum Focus Distance = 2.3 feet

This is considered one of the nicest portrait primes currently made by Pentax, I do myself think this makes the perfect portrait lens focal length wise, add to that it's unique color and character it's warmth and it's true revered primes in the Pentax range. Also features manual aperture ring and a high quality metal construction, it's delicate small and focus's fast (despite the reviews).

Sigma (Bigma) 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM
Filter Size = 95mm (86mm with included step down ring)
Weight = 1970g
35mm Equiv Focal Length = 75-750mm (10x)
Minimum Focus Distance = 50cm @ 50mm-180cm@500mm

One of the main reasons for going Pentax was the the problem with decent length zooms the price on Canon or Nikon to get more reach of better image quality takes far too much money, so it seemed that i would go for Bigma regardless of which mount i would of chosen. The Canon 100-400l is similarly priced, but a little old. The extra reach i decided over the L of the Canon.

The lens has it's own drive motor HSM and has better optical image stabilisation than the inbuilt Pentax body SR. The lens is heavy and large and should be tripod mounted, but generally won't be with me. Well respected for Bird and Wildlife photography. I have yet to order or recieve this lens.

So those are my 5 chosen Pentax Lenses, I will see how they go before committing to any others.

To protect and serve, ND Filters, CPL and UV Filters:
I purchased some cheap DX no-name filters to eventually compare to Hoya filters, i would still like to add a few more and a ND4 filter.

49mm Premium UV Filter:

Massa 52mm Circular Polarizing Filter (CPL)

Massa 58mm UV Filter:

I think generally the UV Filters did help with unwanted reflections, but are really just a way to keep the lens protected and clean. The CPL filters have more of an impact and a desired affect in the right circumstances. Obviously plenty of Photos to come.

Monday, June 21, 2010

With a Backpack on my Back!

Before i got too carried away with the new Camera, I figured it would be equally important to get the required accessories for my rejuvenated hobby.

Kata Bumblebee PL-220:
The first of such accessories is of course the Camera Bag, and with that in mind i looked at the various models on offer and the choice came down to the Australian made Crumpler range, or the Russian Military grade Kata Bags. In the end it was hard to separate them for various reasons and features. The Kata PL-220 was chosen for it's size and feature set, with enough room for future lenses. I also plan on adding the smaller Crumpler Karachi for day trips.

Sandisk 16Gb Extreme III Class 10 SDHC Card.
The Sandisk cards are well known for their great performance and high price, the question of whether i needed an 8Gb Extreme II or 16Gb Extreme III. Really the Extreme II would of been fine for most shooting, only HD Video and perhaps continuous 5.2fps would of affected the slower card. I can shoot around 650 RAW images or over 11oo Jpegs on the Extreme III.

Pentax K7 BG-4 Battery Grip.

Pentax K7 D-Li90 Battery.

Cleaning Materials:
The need to keep all of the lenses, filters and sensors clean see's the need for a few cleaning supplies. Various cloths and microfiber items, as well as a AirBlowers and a LensPen was ordered from DX.

An added extra in the cleaning arsenal, This LensPen is well constructed and useful for when the AirBlower is not as effective, the LensPen retracts a oil free dusting tip that removes marks and dust.

The large AirBlower is really excellent for getting dust off the Camera, OVF, or Sensor, and am quite surprised at how useful it really is.

These soft cloths come in a 6 pack and offer a nice clean residue free cloth, which is soft enough to use on most items, screens and lenses, they do not clean as well as the MF cloths, but are less prone to leave scratches.

Microfiber Cloth
Very effective 3M Microfiber cloths are truly excellent for cleaning just about any computer or electrical item, screen, lens or anything else, they are a little more expensive and harsher than the soft cloths above.

Remote Controls:
The need to control the Camera remotely, or wirelessly for various types of photographic situations is needed. The Pentax Camera's are compatible with Canon when it comes to accessories like Remote Controls: I purchased 3 remotes from DX for the Pentax K7.

The Universal Infra-Red Remote:
Universal Inra-Red Remote, is slim small and easy to carry in a side pocket, it uses the CRV2383 Battery and allows for focus after shutter, fairly basic and cheap but it works for it's purpose.

Yung Nuo RF Wireless Radio Remote:

Yong Nuo Cabled Timer Remote:
This little timer switch unfortunately does not have a hotshoe adaptor, which means it hangs down from the Camera, rather than mounts it, it also does not provide a memory or interval timing.

Joby Gorrilapod Mini Tripod:

Velbon Extendable Tripod:

Macro Extension Tubes

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Panasonic FZ30:
• 7.18 x 5.32 mm CCD Sensor with 8.3 million pixels total • 8.0 million effective pixels
• 3248 x 2160 (3:2)
• 60 - 1/2000 sec
• 9 Point AF + AF Lamp
• ISO - 80, 100, 200, 400.
• Continuous Shooting: 3FPS
• 640 x 480 /30fps MJPEG
Weight: 740g (With Battery)

The Panasonic FZ30 is a P&S (Point And Shoot) it generally refers to non-interchangeable lens designs like DSLR Cameras are. However the FZ30 does provide full manual controls, exposure, WB, focus, ISO, etc. The Panasonic uses a Leica designed and coated zoom lens that is 35mm to 420mm, with a 2.8 on the wide and a 3.7 on the tele end, it's actually quite an achievement for the size, weight and quality it obtains.
To get a similarly configured DSLR with similar abilities on the lens setup is impossible. You need a range of lenses and most are heavy, large and costly to come anywhere near the results found on the FZ30.

Pentax K7:
• 23.4 x 15.6 mm CMOS Sensor with 15.1 million total pixels • 14.6 million effective pixels.
• 4672 x 3104 pixels (3:2)
• 30 - 1/8000 sec
• 11 Point AF + AF Lamp
• Continuous Shooting : 5.2FPS.
• 1280x720 (720p) 30FPS MJPEG.
• Weight: 750g (with Battery)

The Pentax K7 is quite similar in a number of respects to my FZ30. The size, weight and ergonomics are almost identical. The K7 is a semi pro DSLR, with magnesium/steel body with complete WR sealing & dust prevention.

Both cameras can shoot RAW, with image stabilization, weigh about 750g and are considered to share the same weakness in low light or high ISO shooting, and are both made by smaller Japanese Camera manufacturers starting with the letter "P". :)

There are however some major differences. Obviously interchangeable lens, the larger DSLR CMOS sensor, a Pentaprism optical viewfinder and a Mirror/Shutter system.

The EVF on the FZ30 is actually an LCD screen which shows an illuminated display of what the lens is pointing at. The OVF on the K7 is an actual view of what you are seeing, via a prism, while it's bigger and offers a larger FOV the EVF is much brighter and easier to see.

Panasonic's mirror less 4/3rds DSLR's are born from the FZ's success, and has taken the DSLR market into a new era, creating all sorts of competition for industry heavyweights Canon and Nikon. I myself am left wondering if there is much benefit to still having a OVF over EVF.

There are times when i believe that that the OVF would be beneficial, but i tend think the EVF provides more advantages, in particular when changing aperture on the EVF you can actually see the whole scene in the EVF getting darker or brighter (under or overexposed) in realtime, and thus getting a immediate feedback. The OVF obviously gets no brighter or darker depending on the settings, you must actually take a photo and see the results before knowing if your settings are close or not.

Anti-Shake technologies differ in that, Panasonic use Optical Image Stabilization and Pentax use a Body/Sensor Shake Reduction(SR) technology. Personally i think the OIS is better on telephoto lenses and is more effective, however SR seems to help at lower shutter speeds a little more.

Pentax DA II 18-55mm WR Kit Lens actually is only covers a small amount of the focal length that the Leica provides and with an additional 255 Grams of weight, when you include the 55-300mm as well the Panasonic is a nice neat and light package.

I have used the FZ30 for thousands of shots over the last 5 years, but it will now be relegated to the backup camera, overall since owning the K7, there are been little reason to go back to the FZ30, but i will include some comparisons for fun.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

DA K7ing & Eye

So after a very impressed 5 year love affair with Panasonic, another Japanese beauty has caught my eye, literally as it were.

The Pentax K7 + DA II 18-55mm WR lens becoming my first DSLR with the standard kit with a few more to follow. The Panasonic was an outstanding P&S camera with an amazingly decent 12x Zoom lens with 28-435mm Leica credentials, it consistantly gave great sharp images even at 400+mm with the help of it's optical stabilization. It will remain my backup Camera.

The K7 is currently being charged and will begin a series of comparative tests to see how 5 years of technical progress can be in the Digital Camera market.