Tag Archives: k5

In Praise of the Pentax K5/K5II

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I have been using my Pentax K5 for roughly 20 months now. During this time, I got one lens glued to the K5: a cheap Sigma 17-70mm/2.8-4.5 that you can buy brand new for more or less $300. I did buy a no-name fully manual 50mm/1.7 but it didn’t really get used at all. It was practically 20 months of one camera one lens.

To be honest, I did not expect much from the K5. After all, I already have a Nikon D700. I was in a store (which I wouldn’t name) wanting to test the K5. It was their only stock. I would have been buying a display model. I asked if they could give me a discount for the “used” item. The sales person didn’t give in but instead he mockingly said “trust me, it’s good as brand new. It’s a Pentax. Nobody wants to touch it.“, to that effect. No, I didn’t buy my K5 from that store. The only reason I bought the K5 was that I was about to go on a vacation to the Philippines and didn’t want to bring my heavy equipment. Philippines is not the safest country for photographers either so in case the K5 got stolen it won’t hurt much. It was a risky decision; a month of holiday with a camera that had a bad track record for reliability (remember the sensor stain and mirror flapping issues?) and one that I was not familiar with. Those issues have been fixed already and Pentax were very supportive of those unfortunate customers who recieved faulty units. Nevertheless, I went on with the purchase.

It was during that month long holiday that I became very close to the K5 and the Sigma lens. I quickly learned all the features and limitations of my equipment. Since it wasn’t CaNikon, other photographers didn’t bother with my gear either so I got to concentrate on just making photos. I didn’t have to pretend that I knew what I was doing just because I was carrying CaNikon gear. I was carrying a Pentax so I must be clueless 🙂 One photographer even (jokingly) commented that I should get a real camera. Such is the joy of being different — you get to do your own business without the need to defend your gear from fanbois.

To summarize the rest of this post, the K5 is the best camera for landscape photography…and then some.

You might want to read my post on essential settings for landscape photography because it supports the rest of this article. Here’s why I strongly think that the K5 is one of the best, if not the best, landscape camera at present.

Let’s tackle the easy one first: resolution. Believe it or not but 16Mp is plenty. I have a 12Mp JPEG shot at ISO 800 with an old camera that I cropped to 2×1 format and printed it at 1m x 0.5m and it looks fantastic. That’s roughly 8Mp printed at 1 meter long. When was the last time you printed that big? At 16Mp, it means I will have 12Mp 2×1 panos or 8Mp 3×1 panos. That’s a lot.

I won’t even bother discussing about high ISO noise because in landscape photography, if you are shooting above ISO 400 then you are doing something silly or you are just too lazy to carry a tripod. I won’t expect people of this kind to even wake up early or stay up very late to take photos. Needless to say that the performance of the K5 sensor is very good. The interwebs should be able to provide you with all the technical measurements and results.

Now for the important features ….

Intelligent timer and mirror lock-up mode. I can see that the engineers at Pentax really used their brains here. MUP is a very important setting for capturing landscapes. With the K5, the moment you engage the timer, it automatically activates MUP to avoid camera shake. Not only that. Since the K5 has in-body image stabilization, the timer also automatically disables SR. Genius!!! I have never seen that being done by other brands. Timer and MUP are usually two entirely separate modes. To disable image stabilization in other camera brands, you will have to remember to turn them off or dig through the menus.

Very flexible exposure bracketing. You can have up to 7 brackets with infinitely flexible intervals. That means you can do, say, 5 frames at 1 stop intervals to span -2 to +2 or use 2.5 stop intervals for a really wide -5 to +5. It’s the HDR photographer’s dream! Wait, there’s more. You can do fully automatic single click bracketing or single-shot type multiple click bracketing. With the former, just click once and the camera goes through all the bracketed exposures unattended. No need to hold the shutter or click multiple times. Wait, because there is even more. You can couple bracketing with the timer and MUP. What does that mean? It means you do not need a shutter release cable even. Just set your brackets, then use the timer mode and since the timer is coupled with MUP you get absolutely shake-free automated bracketing. Photographers of other camera brands do not know what they are missing.

Very easy full manual exposure. Ok so you want to be a pro. Pros shoot only in full manual mode. Automatic modes are for n00bs. So you set your camera to M mode (M for macho), your ISO to it’s lowest native sensitivity and your aperture to the sharpest for your lens. What about your shutter speed? With other cameras, you will wear out your thumb rolling that thumbwheel. Not so with the K5; it has this magic green button. Click it once and it automatically closes the aperture to your intended value and get a metered reading all in one go thus giving you a shutter speed that is very close if not perfect for the intended exposure. Another genius!!! Hey, this feature works with fully manual lenses as well; it simulates stop down metering but in a split second and with a touch of genius. I call that green button the instant pro button.

Five custom setting banks. These are real custom settings banks that persist unless explicitly overwritten. Sorry Nikon folks but unless your camera has U1/U2 then you do not have this at all. Even the most advanced D4 and D800 are crippled in this respect. Why would a landscape photographer need these custom banks? Well, I know several photographers who unintentionally shot an entire session in high ISO because they forgot to set their cameras. Landscape photography may involve people in the scene as well so you need to be able to switch quickly between long exposure and instant capture modes without wrestling your camera.

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Very efficient live view mode. When your camera is a foot above the ground, you wouldn’t want to use the viewfinder. Live view is not only advisable, it will also save you on trips to the chiropractor. The K5 is a very efficient machine. Even with hours of shooting in live view I could get more than 500 hundred shots in a single charge. That’s a lot of shots. As a comparison, my D700 drains batteries in live view mode like a camel drinks water from a bucket.

Full professional-grade weatherproofing. Landscape photographers take their cameras everywhere and whatever mother nature throws at them. Having a camera designed to withstand harsh conditions gives you that extra confidence that you will come home with keepers and get to shoot the day after.

DNG RAW files. Heard about photographers complaining about Photoshop not supporting their RAW files? It’s not the end of the world for them really but it does hurt the bottom line if they have the older version of Photoshop that Adobe abandons as soon as a newer version is released. Getting new RAW file support for the previous version of Photoshop is futile. Forget it. It won’t happen. I, on the other hand, am not worried because my K5 shoots in DNG RAW. Every worthy photo editing software supports DNG out of the box. You want proof? Lightroom 4 is happily editing the RAW files from my unsupported K5 II. How awesome is that?

Of course there are other features that do not mean much to landscape photographers but it would be nice to mention them as well:

Very fast autofocus. Landscape photographers use hyperfocusing. Nonetheless, the K5II can autofocus in complete darkness.

In-body image stabilization. Landscape photographers carry tripods but there are times when you need to shoot in tactical situations like when human figures add a point of interest in the scene.

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It is light. For a camera built like an M1 Abrams, the K5 is light. You can carry it around your neck during long treks.

Sensor dust reduction. For those times when you absolutely need to change lenses during a shoot because absolutely need to bring your holy trinity of lenses plus multiple primes on your family holiday trip.

Seven frames per second. So you can capture the minute movements of the tectonic plates and improve your spray and pray technique. Seriously, you don’t need this.

So that’s it, dear readers. The Pentax K5/K5II in real world scenarios. The best landscape camera you can buy NOW.

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Essential Settings for Landscape Photography

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(An HDR image of Salamanca harbour in Tasmania)

I have been asked about what settings I use when shooting landscapes. It’s no secret but depending on the camera and lens that you use, you may have to use different configurations.

Let me start by saying that I use my Pentax K5 for most of my landscape shots because it does everything I needed it to do. My lens of choice is a cheap Sigma 17-70/2.8-4.5 which you can buy brand new for about $300. I like it’s very flexible range and the focus markings in the barrel.

Without further delay, let me go through my camera settings.

0. Always use a tripod. It will slow you down to think about proper composition. You want to get it right the first time if you can. Of course it will also allow you to shoot at low ISOs and smaller apertures. If you decide to be lazy then stop here; landscape photography isn’t for you.

1. I use aperture priority mode when shooting landscapes. It allows me to keep on shooting even when the light conditions are changing fast without the need to constantly adjust my exposure settings. The only time I use full manual mode is when I’m stitching panos or when doing exposures longer than my camera can handle (i.e. more than 30 seconds).

— Aperture priority mode does not always get the exposure right. When the luminance of the sky and land are almost the same or when there’s only a stop or two of difference between them, say, after the sun is down, I tend to do exposure compensation of +1 stop to maximize the available light (ETTR concept). I also do this during blue hour. If unsure, check your histogram.

2. Set your camera to the lowest NATIVE ISO required to make the shot. Native ISO is not thefake extended ISO values. Most cameras have ISO 100 or 200 with extended ISOs being 50 and 100 respectively. Extended ISOs use some whacky tricks inside the camera that may be detrimental to the images that you capture.

— ISO values are a bit tricky to manage and how you handle them depends on your camera. Note that noise is affected by ISO sensitivity and length of exposure. You will have to test this with your camera. Do not be afraid to shoot at a higher ISO if the scene calls for it. I have been in situations where I have pushed my camera to the limits by shooting at ISO 6400 for 30 seconds. The result was worth it:

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3. Know your lens’es sharpest aperture. It’s usually around f8 when shooting wide or f11 when zoomed in. The difference in aperture compensates for the focal length. At f11, APS-C sensors will start to experience softness due to diffraction but by zooming in, you force the aperture blade to open up to maintain the same f-stop thus allowing you to maximize the center of your lens without suffering from diffraction issues.

— Having said this, don’t be afraid to shoot at f16 or f22 if the scene requires it, say, you want to force a longer exposure to blur the water. If your shot is good enough, people won’t notice the insignificant blur caused by diffraction.

4. Manually focus to your hyperfocal distance. This is something that even experts tend to ignore. Most people rely on autofocus. Learn to hyperfocus because it will save you when your lens starts hunting when the light drops or when you use very dark ND filters. If your lens does not have focal distance markings then you will have to estimate. Read my tutorial on hyperfocusing here.

5. Turn off any image stabilization feature of your lens and/or camera. This means Canon IS, Nikon VR, Pentax SR, Sony SSS and so on. Image stabilization will cause blur because it will try to compensate for movement that isn’t there. This is a feature that is meant for handheld shots and is destructive when shooting on a tripod.

6. There are several choices on how to release the shutter but the best option is to use mirror lock up mode (MUP). MUP will flip the mirror up before opening the shutter curtain to avoid camera shake. Especially that sensors are getting denser, the effects of mirror shake become more noticeable. When using MUP mode, use a shutter release cable to avoid touching the camera. You will have to click the shutter twice: once to flip the mirror and then to open the shutter curtain.

— Your second option is to use the camera timer. This is handy in the absence of a shutter release cable. Set your timer to two seconds or whatever option is available for your camera. This will allow any movement in the camera to settle down after you press the shutter before taking the shot.

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The rest of the settings I will outline below are entirely optional and might be very subjective.

7. If you need to bracket, set the exposure intervals to at least 2 stops. That means -2, 0 +2 for a three-shot bracket. Anything narrower than that is kinda useless because a one-stop gap can easily be recovered from a properly exposed single RAW image.

8. Save both RAW and JPG copies of your shot. Although RAW is very flexible, JPG will save you a lot of retouching time later on. This assumes that you get it right in the camera as close as possible to your intended result. Shooting JPG benefits those who would rather spend time shooting than being in front of the computer.

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(JPG capture looks fantastic if you get it right in camera.)

9. That UV filter is useless unless you are shooting film. Digital sensors have built-in UV filters. UV filters will only cause unnecessary flare and prevent you from using filters that do matter like a CPL or an ND filter for example. If you really want to protect your lens, use a hood instead; it will also protect you from flare instead of causing flare.

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(CPL filters will give you nice saturated colors. This is straight JPG from camera.)

So that’s it. Very easy to follow settings that will hopefully make a difference to your landscape photos. Until next time.

Understanding Your Lens (Part 1)

As promised, I will start this series of tutorials on understanding how lenses work.

This first tutorial is a direct follow up to my previous post on why zoom lenses are better than prime lenses in real life photography. Here I will discuss how to creatively use a zoom lens to change perspective. I decided to tackle this technique first because most beginners do not understand this. I bet even those who claim to shoot with only prime lenses are ignorant about the concept and that is why they quickly dismiss the importance of cheap zoom lenses while boasting the superiority of their f1.2 prime.

In this lesson I will be using my Pentax K5 and my only lens, a Sigma 17-70, which you can get brand new for about $300. For the price, it’s totally worth it. My subject is Thomas the Tank Engine because the rain here in Brisbane is not allowing me to capture proper landscape shots. At any rate, the examples should give you an idea of how we might apply the concepts in real world shooting.

Without further ado, allow me to demonstrate the effects of varying focal lengths and how they affect composition.

Let’s have a look at how a nifty-fifty (50mm) lens might render a scene. Since I am using a camera with APS-C (crop) sensor, I will have to use a focal length of 35mm. This focal length is how your eyes would normally perceive the scenery. It’s what tells you that a particular spot and angle have the potential of creating a nice photograph. This is the perspective that your eyes send to your brain. Here’s the shot:


Apologies for the crappy shot but that is not the point. We could translate this to a real landscape scenario though. A typical theme goes something like this: Assume that Thomas is a huge rock that you have chosen as your foreground and the toy house is a mountain. With a 50mm lens, all you can do now is step foreward, back, left and right to properly position the foreground against the background. The problem here is that given the distance between the rock and the mountain there is not much you can do to change their relative sizes. In the example above, Thomas and the house look like they are of the same size. This makes the shot confusing because the viewer can’t concentrate on one subject. The relative significance of the background house is equivalent to the foreground Thomas. Boring and downright bad. If you only brought your nifty-fifty in this location, you are better off going home than waste your time and disk space.

Cheap zoom lens to the rescue. Supposing that the mountain isn’t really that good. It’s summer so it looks pale and generally uninteresting. However, the foreground rock has got some vibrant green mosses growing and some flowers. Naturally, you would want the foreground to dominate the frame while making sure that the background isn’t distracting. What does a photographer with a zoom lens got to do? Shoot WIDE. Here’s the same scene shot at 17mm:


Not quite a huge rock with flowers but you get the point. Let’s analyze this for a bit. For starters, I did NOT move the subjects at all but just changed the focal length and distance to foreground. Notice that in this shot, the size of Thomas relative to the FRAME, is almost the same as the first shot. But look at what happened to the background. The toy house now seems a lot farther and smaller. The exaggerated perspective created by the wide angle lens makes the foreground appear so much larger than it really is thus shifting the compositional balance to the front. This is the technique used by majority of landscape photographers where they prefer to use ultrawide lenses (12mm or wider) to create this wild perspective that hits you right in the face.

Before I continue, I would like to point out that the use of ultrawide lenses is easily abused by beginners. N00bs think that ultrawides allow them to include everything in the frame. BAD! Had I done that in my example, the frame would now have included pillows, TV, PS3 and cabinets…stuff that distract from the main subject. The main purpose of ultrawides is to allow you to approach your subject.

Back on topic. Now supposing that the situation is the opposite. The mountain is very beautiful. It’s showing wonderful autumn colors. The rock on the foreground however, is just ordinary but significant enough to be used to anchor the composition. The problem is that the mountain is far and a lake is in between your chosen foreground. There’s no way you can approach the mountain without walking several miles. You need to take the shot before the mist fades away. What can you do?

Lens compression to the rescue! Here’s the same setup shot at 70mm:


Again without rearranging the subjects I have managed to bring the background house “closer” and relatively bigger than my foreground. The size of Thomas relative to the FRAME has remained approximately the same and yet the house has now occupied the entire background. The roof has even disappeared from the frame. This is the effect of lens compression. It brings the background closer to the front and larger in the frame. The composition now has made the background significant.

This is the reason why I’m stuck with a general purpose lens. Since I shoot mostly landscape, I don’t really give a damn about wide apertures. Bokeh addiction is for n00bs who just got rid of their point-and-shoot. Take a look at that last shot because that was taken at f11. I could have used f5.6 to make the background disappear in a creamy blur. Ultrawides, on the other hand, have no lens compression at all. And 50mm prime? Limited and boring unless you have an endless supply of subjects to shoot with.

So let’s summarize what was covered:

1. Use a wide angle to emphasize the foreground and increase foreground to background distance.

2. Use longer focal lengths for lens compression to bring the background closer while maintaining the size of your foreground relative to the frame.

As I have said time and again, your cheap zoom lens is good enough for just about anything. I hope you find this post helpful.

Until next time.

Megapixel Wars Resurrected

Back when digital photography was in its infancy, people were after the camera that had the most megapixel. Resolution was king. And rightly so. Digital photos looked crap when printed large especially when compared to the enlargements made from film. It wasn’t until sensors hit the 6Mp mark that digital photography became a viable alternative to 35mm film photography.

But it didn’t stop there. Megapixels kept climbing. Even point-and-shoot cameras with their tiny sensors reached a whooping 14Mp and that trend continued until the present. Megapixels were the easiest way to trick customers into buying the latest model. People upgraded their 8Mp camera to 10Mp!!!

Now photographers have learned that megapixel isn’t everything. Even some camera manufacturers have learned their lesson. The Canon G10 with 14Mp was upgraded (or downgraded) to 10Mp with the release of the G11 and G12. The megapixel wars are slowly dying…up to a certain point (the latest Nikon D800 has 36Mp!!!).

You’d think that would silence the gear whores. Unfortunately, there’s a new kind of war that’s raging in the “photography” forums and it goes with the initials of “I.Q.”. I’m not talking about intelligence quotient but in fact, it’s actually a dumb war. IQ stands for “Image Quality”.

Image Quality. What exactly are they looking for? Let’s have a look at the “requirements”:

1) High ISO performance. If your new camera can’t produce clean images at ISO 6400 then it’s not good enough.

2) Sharpness. If it looks blurry at 200% zoom then it isn’t sharp enough.

3) Bokeh. Anything slower than f2.8 for zoom lenses or f1.4 for primes isn’t good enough.

4) Add more stupid requirements here.

The war has become uncontrollable and has grown n times!

Seriously, WTF people?!

Let’s tackle those 3 items one by one.

High ISO performance. This is my favorite. Back when real photographers shot with film, people didn’t complain about grain the size of boulders. Grain actually added character to the photograph. Weddings were at times shot with ISO 1600 film when the light dropped considerably. The unfortunate ones who brought only ISO 400 film had to push them during development which made the photos look more “interesting”.

Sharpness. I went to an exhibit of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photographs and let me tell you that a lot of his photos were really blurry. But they were so awesome that you would never even pick on the picture quality. I was there dragging my jaw on the floor.

Bokeh. People buy these outrageously expensive, fast, heavy lenses. For what?! So you can shoot wide open at f1.4 and complain that you can’t get your focus right? They say it’s for shooting in low light. Yeah, that’s why you want that ISO 6400 as well right? Let me see, where can I find a place that “requires” f1.4 at ISO 6400? Hmmmm…. Uh, none?! Of course somebody out there will always manage to trap himself in a dark cave…everyday…and that makes the purchase fully and truly justifiable. If you really need to shoot in very dim light then use a tripod. You know, that cheap thing with three legs. But I’m sure a tripod isn’t good enough for them so let’s stop right there.

Measurebators will always find a reason to justify their purchase. Go find a pulitzer photograph and see if there’s any that meets the IQ requirements. I actually proposed this challenge to a measurebator and he gave me the photograph of the Afghan Girl that was captured by Steve McCurry. I had to stop myself from laughing inside the train. This guy probably thought that the photograph was captured by a digital Hassy or a Nikon D3s 🙂 I had to explain to him about 135 Kodachrome and told him to go get himself a 6Mp point-and-shoot camera if that was his reference for image quality.

Just for laughs, somebody posted HCB’s photo of the cyclist and winding stairs in a critique forum in Flickr and people started bashing the photograph like it was captured by a n00b who can’t even take a sharp image.

I have to be honest and I am not afraid to tell you that I have been there. How do you think I ended up with a Nikon D700?! I thought that my photographs will become so much better if I upgraded my Canon 40D to a Nikon D700 that was three times more expensive. To my disappointment, the D700 produced exactly the same photographs. My photos still looked like they were captured by me. Actually, I have grown a hatred for my D700 because it sucks big time in landscape photography. I’m not talking about IQ. This darn camera gets in the way of how I work (please refer to my comparison of the D700 and K5).

Been there, to some degree, and done that. Image quality has very little to do with capturing a jaw-dropping photograph.Take it from me, your camera is not to blame if your photos are crap. I own two cameras that others dream of having. My D700 and K5 still have not saved me from taking crap photographs.

Choosing the Dark Side

Canon vs Nikon. They never end. Lucky Sony, Olympus, Pentax and other underdogs for not having to deal with the stupid arguments. But this post isn’t about brand wars.

Expose to the right (ETTR) is a common advice in digital photography. It simply means, try to make sure that you expose your shot with bias towards the right end of the histogram. Make it as bright as practically possible without blowing out the highlights. If you understand how digital photos are stored, this makes sense. You want to maximize every bit of those 12-14 bits.

There is danger in blindly following this advice since the linear profile of digital camera sensors is not very forgiving. Once you clip past a certain limit, no data is stored in the photograph. This is characterized by blown highlights. Unfortunately, it is a lot easier to blow the highlights than lose the shadows.
There is something I discovered just a few months ago that I would like to share with you: It is better to underexpose than expose to the right. Not just underexpose but severely underexpose especially if the dynamic range of the scene is too wide.
Have a look at this photo because I quite pushed the camera beyond its limits when I took the shot:


Very dark isn’t it? The exposure was ISO 400, f8, 30 seconds after +2.5 stops of exposure compensation from the metered reading. That’s pushing the sensor a bit too much. I could have opened up to f5.6 but my cheap lens is very soft at that aperture. Going ISO 800, on the other hand, will only introduce more noise.
Now have a look at the same photo after post processing:


That’s a world of difference! I just pushed the exposure by +1.35 stops and then pulled some of the shadows with fill light. I have managed to extract details in the shadows while preserving the highlights. There’s more: peep all you want but there is barely a trace of luminance or chroma noise even after brightening the shadows. Amazing!!!

The photo was captured with a Pentax K5. It’s really amazing how modern sensors have improved. I would expect the same performance in the Nikon D7000 and Sony A55 because all of them use the same Sony sensor (surprise?!!!).

This is not the only instance where I managed to salvage a seemingly hopeless exposure. I do a lot of HDR work when the scene is too contrasty and I normally bracket at -2,0,+2. Many times, I was able to scrap the HDR because I was able to extract enough information from the -2 frame. Single exposure shots are still way cleaner than HDR so I always try to pull the shadows if I can.

Experiment with your own camera and see how much you can extract from a severely underexposed image. Make sure you shoot RAW.

So who’s coming with me to the dark side?

Edit:
My new iPad blogging software ruined the original post. Lesson for me: sticking to one buggy software is sometimes better than switching software.

Nikon D700 vs Pentax K5

That’s not a typo. I’m not referring to Nikon’s crop sensor camera the D7000 but it’s professional full frame D700. Yes, I’m comparing a very good, very capable camera from Nikon vs Pentax’s crop sensor K5.

First things first. Both cameras are very good. If you decide to buy either of them, you can be assured of professional image quality output. If your photos are still junk then there’s no one else to blame but yourself.

I bought the D700 because it was on sale at an outrageous 40% off brand new from a legit (not grey) shop. Who could possibly resist that?! And besides, I have already invested in Nikon film cameras so it makes perfect sense to get a digital full frame that can share my existing lenses. Shifting from Canon to Nikon was a necessary evil I had to do but it wasn’t that bad since I haven’t invested in Canon lenses. All I had was the 17-85mm kit lens glued to my 40D. To be honest, I miss that camera. It was very capable, easy to use and infinitely customizable. Which brings us to my major gripes about this Nikon D700:

No memory for custom settings!!! What other modern DSLR camera can’t store your favorite settings aside from Nikon? You expect a camera as expensive as the D700 to be capable of storing user settings in dedicated memory banks. I shoot mostly landscape but I carry only very basic equipment: one camera, one lens and tripod. I never used filters (until recently) except for the default UV to protect my lens from salt spray and dust. If the scene is too contrasty, I bracket and use HDR technique. If you shoot at the proper lighting conditions, you don’t need filters because you could always do that in post. Which means, I expect my camera to do (reasonably) everything I ask it to do. Like bracketing 3 different exposures at 4EV wide, shooting at high speed using the built in timer to avoid camera shake. Unfortunately, the D700 can’t do that!!! To bracket at 4EV wide you need to shoot 5 frames, not 3. If you want high speed shooting, you can’t use the timer. How stupid is that?! And careful if you enabled bracketing mode because to shoot normally you will have to wrestle the darn camera like this: press that small button near the lens mount, turn the thumb wheel twice to cancel the bracket. If you want to bracket again, repeat the same procedure. Now if you are dead serious with HDR, you want at least 8EV wide brackets. That means 9 frames on the D700. As if Nikon RAW files are small. As if your shutter lives forever. Did you just shoot that cat at ISO 1600 in broad daylight? Ooops!!! It would be nice if you could easily reset your camera to your favorite settings to avoid the bloopers, yeah? And please don’t mind the exposure scale because going left is positive and going right is negative (yes, Nikon failed high school algebra). But there is a setting to invert that hidden somewhere deep in the stupid menu. You can read the very thick manual if you are unsure. But careful because that only changes the exposure scale. Everything else will still be in reverse. Seriously, WTF?!

Here comes Pentax K5. Fully weathersealed, built like a tank, in-body stabilization (which means all lenses including manual focus from the 80’s are image stabilized), lighter and way cheaper. And dig this: FIVE, as in five, custom settings memory banks!!! You can couple bracketing with timer. You can bracket 8EV wide with just 5 frames. There’s more: automatic mirror lockup in timer mode! How cool is that! The camera does not get in the way of shooting. It does what I want it to do. It’s the landscape photographer’s dream camera! Enough said. Anything I add here would only make the D700 look like it was crafted by amateurs.

Having said those harsh words against the D700, it still has a special spot in my photography. In controlled environments (e.g. portraiture) it’s still my camera of choice. And the fact that I have invested in quite a few Nikon mount lenses, it makes sense to keep it until it dies.

And that’s why my D700 is gathering dust while my K5 goes wherever I go.