Reflections On A New Camera

I now have a Pentax K3 body, which is both good news and bad. The downside is that it is likely to be the last upgrade to my Pentax system. I’m retiring, with all that means, so it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to get a new Pentax camera anytime soon.

The upside, though, is that it’s well worth it. I was pushing some of the limits of my K10D and the new K3 will take me beyond those limits. It has additional bells and whistles that I can actually use, as opposed to just being cool features. This camera should last me a while.

Plus, now that I have two extra DSLRs, I can now take two grandkids along at the same time and give them each their own camera to play with. I can also set up multiple cameras for different astrophtotgraphy and astro-landscape attempts. At events, I can now rig multiple cameras with different lenses. Lots of uses for having multiple cameras, especially with the type of photography I like doing. Let’s see those meteors find a patch of sky I’m NOT photographing! 😉

That last is a comment on how it always seems like the meteors go through the sky either between my taking photos or in an area just outside my field of view. I had a really bright, long meteor go over one night and was so excited because I was positive I’d caught it. When that exposure ended, I promptly checked it and…no meteor. It had been just above the top of my exposure.

Anyway…

Getting the Pentax *ist DL was a no-brainer and learning to use it was pretty easy. There were some differences, but on the whole it was so similar to the Pentax ME that it was almost a case of pick it up and use it. I had good arguments for upgrading to the K10D, and doing so from the *ist DL was straightforward. There were a few new settings I learned to use, but again, it could have been a straight FW upgrade. There were mechanical upgrades that were new, of course, such as the anti-shake feature, and being a faster camera. But there wasn’t anything “really new” as most of it was performance upgrading: lower noise, faster shooting, but on the whole, a nearly identical camera when using it in the field.

The K3, now…that’s a different story.

Sure, I can take it and go out and start using it. I know I’ll get good photos, and that I can manually control the camera every bit as well as with the *ist DL and K10D.

What gives me pause with this K3 is that it has features that I “need” that weren’t in the other two. Features I’ve never used because I never had them available. It’s kind of like getting a new car…my previous cameras were fundamentally identical, with them it was like going from a car to a car. Going to the K3 is more like going from a car to a car with built-in GPS navigation when you’ve heard about GPS but never used it. I know, everyone pretty much has GPS navigation on their phones now, but the point is I’m gaining additional tools with this new camera.

Take Live View. I’ve heard about it and I’ve read about it a little. I know how it can help you really fine tune your focus and with some lenses such as my fully manual 400mm prime I’m really looking forward to learning how to use this feature to get that lens dialed in for my photos.

Then there’s the ability to actually move the sensor for horizontal and vertical alignments. How cool is that? How can I take advantage of that? I have no idea but the fact that this along with the GPS option would enable me to take exposures of as much as 5 minutes without needing to track the stars excites me.

And what about the built-in “stacking” capability? Instead of taking multiple exposures then stacking them on the computer, I can somehow do that in-camera to create the single exposure with less noise, less star trails, etc.. Or get long star trails built up in a single image, if that’s what I want.

Yep, I said “somehow”. I’ve glanced through the manual and looked online a little, but I still have no idea how to use that. The menu isn’t that hard to navigate, but finding this feature, turning it on, and selecting the desired settings for it…easy enough. Using it…that’s a different story. What do I have to do to take the various images used in the “stack”? Will it take all the desired images itself, or do I have to take each one? How does it know when to stack them, when I’m done taking the desired images?

It’s also got HDR. I’m interested in that, too, and eager to see how it compares with the HDR I’ve created with my laptop. This, too, is right now in the same category as the stacking feature…it should be easy enough to set up, but the same questions apply.

On-board time lapse capability. Full HD 1080 i/p video capability. Dual card slots.

There are lots of new features I’m looking forward to taking advantage of, and also some bells and whistles I’ll probably never use, such as the various on-board digital filters. I’m not sure why those are there, or when I’d ever want to use them. That kind of stuff seems to me more appropriate for post-production workflows.

It’s going to be an interesting journey getting used to this new camera and I’m looking forward to experimenting and pushing the limits of my K3.

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