I've mentioned recently that I haven't really owned a DSLR for a while. That's a bit overdramatic—I've had several cameras on manufacturer loan, and my trusty old Konica-Minolta 7D, although broken, is not entirely out of commission—most recently I used it to take the portraits I showed in the post "Last Minute Senior Portrait." And I've not been deprived of digital camera ownership, either—I bought myself a Panasonic GF1 and its accompanying 20mm lens last year.
But it's true that I haven't had a fully functioning DSLR that I actually own myself for some time now.
I'm afraid the bad economy may have hit TOP at last, two years after the crisis—sales through our links, which keep the site afloat, have been worryingly depressed so far this season, down considerably from last year. I hadn't realized how much until the past couple of days. I certainly hope this doesn't signal the beginning of the end, although I suppose this gig can't last forever. Anyway, despite the poor economy for the site, today I went ahead and did the deed—ordered a Pentax K-5. (Mike needs a DSLR, right, guys? Help enable me here....)
Pentax was kind enough to sell me a camera "on accommodation"—a widespread practice in many different consumer products industries whereby reviewers are given a wholesale, discount, or employee price—but I did pay for it myself; it's not a loaner. It'll be my camera.
I've also mentioned many times that despite its stellar lineup of primes, Pentax doesn't make the lens I need—a 35mm equivalent. Again, just to be clear, there's absolutely nothing magical about my preference of a 35mm equivalent prime lens (or, for that matter, the 3:2 aspect ratio); it's just that I shot for so long with a 35mm lens on a 35mm camera that it's become the way I see pictures, and the way I want my camera to see pictures. It's just a personal thing, but it's the way it is with me.
Where a lens is concerned, it seems like the choice is down to either the Sigma 24mm ƒ/1.8 EX DG ASP Macro lens (which is a little too big and heavy) or the Pentax 31mm Limited (which is a little too long). I have to admit that I have not personally had good luck with Sigma products in the past; but many of those experiences are quite old now, so maybe they're also out of date. At any rate, you take pictures with lenses, not with reputations, so if I decide to go that way I'll deal with the lens I receive and judge it on its own merits.
Here are the reasons I decided to go with the K-5, roughly weighted according to how much I was influenced by each:
- Its size, weight, and ergonomics (familiar to me from using a prototype K-7 prior to the introduction of that camera). 15%.
- The quiet shutter. Having once been a Leica shooter, it's very hard to go back to a loud shutter if you're a "candid" photographer, or, let's call it, a photographer of "found" situations. 25%.
- Weatherproofing (anyone interested in this camera should see this great link). 10%.
- In-body image stabilization. As I've discussed at various times, a feature that underwhelms some people, but that I love. 30%.
- The fact that Pentax is an advertiser on TOP and I have a good relationship with the company. 5%.
- The recent sensor-performance reports and sample images I've seen online (like this shot by John Cavan taken at ISO 20,000). 15%.
Pentax gives priority to its civilian customers, so I have to wait for mine until the next shipment hits these shores. That may be a few weeks. I'll write more when the K-5 actually comes.
(Thanks to John and Nic for the sample pic and weatherproofing links)
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