once more on the merry-go-round

Today the K-3ii left the building, a week after the 20-40 Limited zoom. The debt-reduction strategies were not quite sufficient to change our financial situation. The goal of buying at Christmastime was correct, and buying early to catch the silver model was unwise. It hurts on several levels: poor budgeting, buying too much too soon, and going back to institutions for restructuring of debts. A refinance will happen soon which will 'finally' put us right - but we must watch things more closely.

So the GM1 with its simple looks and talented insides will take charge for a while. More Pentax lenses will go and a bargain 35-100 or 45-150mm Lumix lens will complete the kit. Depending on circumstance the NX300 team might leave as well; funds trump gear right now to ensure no last-minute surprises interfere with the loan-granting process. And that will be fine, for now.

HOW COULD I let go of the K-3ii?
While I was sure the top-level APSc body would serve me well, several factors caught up to be; combined with another financial crunch, this was easier to decide than I expected.

For one thing, the GM1 has multi-exposure and timelapse stills & video. I have always liked having those items available but did not expect to see them in the miniscule Lumix. While I believe the K-3 series has more versatile options in the combining of multiple exposures that I could use, that use would not be all that frequent.

Another is the overhead that Pixel-Shifting brings to the table. I have no doubt that it can be used to great effect in many places I like to be (e.g. above timberline where few things move), the truth is I haven't been in those places recently. Also the time expense to get my software in alignment, massage and motion-correct any issues then deal with other image factors.. well those really aren't my photographic 'thing'. Pretending that I want to do that will not impress anyone for long, and fooling myself will not be ideal.

Finally: 24 megapixels. I find 16 to be more than enough, and usually too big to put online. When I print I feel that's sufficient, but again that's not something I have done in a few years. Having the capability to do things that don't greatly interest me is the wrong path right now. Perhaps in a few years I'll take a road less traveled, but as a homebound caregiver for the past several years it's not a time to overextend my gear. I need to accept that reality.

So 16Mpix, micro4:3, and simplicity will do - for now!


the 'simple' GM1

The GM1 and K-3ii are both excellent cameras with numerous features that add to their capabilities. Both have intervalometers for stop-action video or time-lapse imaging, sensor sizes are similar (4Thirds / APSc) so enlargements are of high quality, and each is pretty compact for its type. The Pentax adds weather seals, the larger sensor with more resolution, an optical viewfinder and really long battery life; the GM1 is essentially pocket size, can use its own or Pentax lenses, makes great videos with minimal fuss, and its touch-screen allows for precise AF and other rapid adjustments.

The 4Thirds sensor in the GM1 does very nice work; I tested it to iso20k and found it 'acceptable', meaning it looks rather like a phone capture except it's basically shooting in the dark. Studies like those at dXomark show the K-3ii wins for all sensor specs, but how often will I notice the dynamic range is narrower (especially when iA modes or shadow adjustments are enabled)?

The best news is really that the GM1 is so small that it can come along pretty much any time! However I must confess* that the tiny 9mm fisheye from Olympus has gone missing. It's so small that it's in a pocket somewhere that I cannot find.

*Update 9/10 - hooray the lens is found! It was hiding in a day-pack that I use to pick up the mail. I had checked there before but too casually; the BCL0908 is really tiny and light!


Mirrorless options

My greatest challenge with the GM1 is that it wants its own lenses! Such small wonders as the 35-100 would be a great match to my Lumix' 14-42ii (e.g. they both use 46mm filters) and in-lens stabilization would lead to improved telephoto images.

The problem is that I have a Pentax smc-M 100/2.8 that is really small and takes excellent images that are 2 stops faster than the Lumix zoom. The smc-A 50/1.7 can make that same claim. The GM1 has focus peaking so these small prime lenses are easy to adapt and focus with that little body.

So the temptation to buy µ43 lenses must be tempered for now; maybe at a future time I will add a Lumix lens or two. In reality the 12-60mm Lumix is the greater threat with its extended range on each end!

The other mirrorless kit is the Samsung NX300 team. The white one now has the 16/2.4 prime and matching white 20-50mm lens, both quite talented but with no IS. The brown body comes with 16-50/OIS, and a 50-200/OIS is available for both. Since all are interchangeable this is an arbitrary alignment - and of course the Pentax lenses are also adaptable for the NX mount.


post-Olympics silver

I compete with no one when I use cameras.. well perhaps with myself, as I have owned so many cameras in the past several years. Do they give out medals for that?  I am probably not top-10 in any case so -- never mind.

Financial pressure is substantially less now on our household, yet going full-bore with $2500 in camera gear is not something I can justify. However, the K-3ii in silver spoke to me rather strongly, and now I have responded. This is a major step forward in capabilities, and hopefully I can both understand and make good use of these additional features.

image from ricoh-imaging.co.jp
What are those additional features?
  • improved SR of ~4.5 stops for steadier, sharper images
  • 24Mpix sensor for additional detail
  • removed AA/lowpass filter, but with SR-based remedies for too much sharpness
  • composite multiple-exposure mode with several ways to accumulate light
  • inbuilt GPS / AstroTracer subsystem
  • PixelShift 'true color' mode, with motion correction available on my computer
  • 24 AF points for more precise tracking, three f/2.8 AF points and -3EV capture
  • multi-pattern white balance, focus peaking and 'improved' video capabilities
No doubt a few more items are in there as well that I'm overlooking.  The big ones to me are lack of AA filter, composite multi-exposure, PixelShift abilities, and better captures of astronomy shots after dark & moving birds in the daytime.

So: a silver camera with black grip. That sounds a lot like my 1970s and '80s cameras in the time when only Pros used all-black bodies. The digital era reversed that trend for no particular reason, and silver is now the rarity. Pentax has issued several of their high-end cameras in silver and one in gunmetal grey (plus their mid- and low-end models in 120+ color combinations, of course!) but this will be my first 'special'; this one commemorates Ricoh's seventy years in photography (ironically the Ricoh nameplate on the back is gone on the II model!).

image from ricoh-imaging.co.uk
Silver lenses are as rare as the bodies nowadays. Pentax makes several lenses in a similar silver color, most especially their Limited models. The black ones tend to be less expensive on the used market though, so I've contemplated the appropriate lens for some weeks once the silver body looked likely.  This evening I found the ideal match, a 20-40 Limited zoom. While the HD 16-85 does more overall it's also more bulk and can do things I don't need as often, so the silver 20-40 plus the 50-200wr that I have in hand will do very nicely as an imaging trio.

I owned the 20-40 briefly last year - and I liked it quite a bit. 
The image I took of Lake Sacagawea on that post is very nice for both colors and sharpness.  Despite the modern view of things, maximum sharpness from edge to edge does not guarantee an excellent image. Limited lenses have always stressed image character as a balanced item, with color contrast sharpness and physical attributes all having their place. This lens will perform very well on the new camera, and the silver pairing will be quite a sight! While I don't buy cameras to win medals (as I mentioned earlier), I am willing to answer questions from onlookers - and a camera with such a distinctive look could induce a few questions :^)


timetable shift!

As I mentioned in this pentax-forums post, I needed to accelerate my next-camera timetable today.

I planned to update my camera gear around Christmas-time.  First thoughts were a K-3 but the news that pixel-shift images can be corrected with computer software moved me toward the model II instead.  When I learned that silver bodies were available at the Pentax webstore, I was certain I had chosen my next camera..  and the last one for quite a while!

Then it struck me today.  Pentax seldom makes a lot of silver bodies, and when they run out it's over.
Sure enough, websites aplenty announced this was a limited run of 500 to commemorate Ricoh's eighty years in the camera business - and assuming those would last until December just wasn't a safe bet.

So it ends.
All my recent work to acquire some big-ticket items is done, and especially camera gear needs to settle for several months.
  • I sought out smaller cameras and ended up with a GM1 and the YoCam
  • I sought out a new vehicle for our rural home and found a used Ford Expolrer SportTrac
  • We replaced washer, dryer & refrigerator with efficient new Samsung models
  • The dream of a Pentax K-1 became a more practical but similarly impressive APSc option -
  • and we paid down a bunch of debt!
Now to figure out how to delete those ads for used cars and K-1 cameras..