The Digital Photo Guy

Gotchas When Changing Camera Systems

by on Feb.03, 2017, under Articles, gear, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips

Things to Consider When Moving to a New Camera System

Changing camera systems is much more involved than it appears on the surface. If you read my previous article about upgrading from a Canon 5D Mark II to a Pentax K1, you might think all I considered were the technical specifications. In this post, I’ll cover some of my other considerations such as lenses, accessories, flash and, even, software.

Lenses – The Soul of a Camera

All things being equal, a good camera with a mediocre lens will never be as good as a mediocre camera with an outstanding lens. Canon has many outstanding lenses. Pentax has fewer but just as outstanding lenses. If you’re a professional photographer who needs to cover a wide range of of focal lengths, Canon is your best bet. However, advanced amateurs usually only need 6-10 lenses at most. Over the last few years, my “go-to” Canon lens has been the 24-105/4L. The Pentax 24-70/2.8D FA nicely fills that range. In addition, a $15.95  adapter lets me mount two excellent 50 year old manual focus lenses, a Pentax Super Takumar 55/1.8 and a Tele-Lentar 135/3.5. That pretty much covers my lens needs for the Pentax at this time.

Flash – Third Parties Rule

If you use flash a lot, things can get a bit messy but the Speedlite gods were looking out for me. Flash is not Pentax’s strong suit and, as far as I can tell, there aren’t many 3rd party flash systems for Pentax. Canon, on the other hand, has a powerful and sophisticated Speedlite system with many 3rd party products.

A few years ago, I decided to go with a Chinese Yongnuo (YN) knock-off Canon systems. Today, I have just one Canon flash left in my stable, everything else is YN685. Of course, YN doesn’t make Pentax flashes as the market is too small. But, it turns out YN makes a manual flash controller for their Canon compatible flashes. So, a YN560-TX controller on my Pentax gives me full manual wireless control over my YN685 flashes. The controller manages all the YN flashes while the Pentax only issues a trigger. Of course, there’s no Pentax P-TTL mode but that’s not a problem for me since I never use TTL. In other words, I set the flash power via the controller and, when the shutter is released, the Pentax tells the system to fire, easy peasy. If all this sounds confusing, drop a comment and I’ll explain further.

Filters – Bigger is OK, Smaller is a PITA

The only filters I use are Circular Polarizer (CP,) InfraRed (IR) and Graduated Neutral Density (GradND.) The biggest front element on my current lenses is 77mm. Unfortunately, the Pentax 24-70/D FA has an 82mm front element so I need bigger filters. I can put bigger filters on smaller lenses but not the other way. Good filters (B+W, Hoya) from B&H cost about $125 each so add another $375. This stuff adds up in a hurry.

Thanks for the Memories!

I have a stack of Compact Flash (CF) cards for my Canon system. The Pentax uses SD cards. In fact, the K1 has two card slots. I don’t have to put in two cards but files can be written to both slots at the same time for redundancy so I want two cards. Granted memory cards aren’t all that expensive these days but four cards at $20 each is another $80.

Juice, aka Batteries

The Pentax K1 D-Li109 battery seems to have good battery life but per Murphy’s Law, batteries always die at the most inopportune moment. No photographer ventures into the field without spare batteries. At $50 each, that’s another $100 or so.

Software Can Cause Hard Problems

There are the usual update issues such as Adobe Camera RAW lag for new camera support but the usual workaround is using the manufacturer’s software. Bigger issues with cameras like the Pentax K1 involve new features that Adobe hasn’t yet fully implemented. Pixel Shift Resolution (PSR) falls into this category. Adobe Lightroom doesn’t really know what to do with PSR files. LR6 recognizes and can process PSR files but many report it’s not a great implementation. I haven’t yet used PSR to any degree so I can’t really say but if that’s the case, my workflow will suffer until Adobe catches up.

A lesser problem is Tethered Capture which requires a Pentax (Ricoh) plug-in for LR. It doesn’t offer the full range of controls but it’s a serviceable workaround. I use tethered shooting for studio work.

Upgrade Path to the Future

For me, this is a biggie. My next upgrade will be to Medium Format (MF.) With Hasselblad’s management woes adding to the company’s uncertainties and potential instabilities, I want a known, (somewhat) stable upgrade path. From a Pentax K1, the MF path is the Pentax 645Z, an outstanding 50MP MF with large, beautiful 5.3 micron pixels. Also, many K1 accessories will work with the 645Z.

There are rumors that Canon will introduce MF after the 5DS/R but that’s just a rumor. The Pentax 645Z is a proven winner and will be that much better by the time Canon releases a MF. Bottom line, I want a known path, not a “potential” rumor. The only downside to a 645Z, at this time, is the $7000 price tag. I’m betting the price will drop in the future.

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