Please help me think through a possible system change. (cross post) Thanks!

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yoyoma007 New Member • Posts: 22
Please help me think through a possible system change. (cross post) Thanks!

A hard decision....

I’ve been a Pentax fan and user for well over a decade. I love the ergonomics, ruggedness, and control scheme of Pentax cameras. They are a joy for me to shoot with. I am currently using an old Pentax K20D.

The K20D is a 14 Megapixel camera, and has served me well, but it’s terrible low light performance, terrible autofocus, and general out dated-ness has led me to decide it is time to upgrade, as I want to dip my toes into more professional work on the side.

My current kit is:

Pentax k20D

SMC Pentax FA 50mm f/1.4 - Full Frame

Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro Telephoto – APS-C

Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II – APS-C

Pentax DA 35mm f/2.4 AL – APS-C

Out of these lenses, I love the 50mm, and like the 35mm. The 18-55 is a pointless stinker, and I have little use for the 70-300 most of the time.

I am considering a few cameras. The Pentax K1-Mk ii, the Pentax K-3 iii, the Sony A7R III, the Sony A7 IV

Reasons I love Pentax:

Optical viewfinder: I PREFER this over EVF. I’m making no claims that it is better, just my preference. It makes me FEEL more connected to the process in a way I prefer and it brings me joy. I understand the EVF has advantages and I respect that. I am also a wood worker, so an apt comparison for me would be a power planar vs a hand planar. The power planar is faster, more consistent, and more precise. It’s great for cookie cutter results delivered in the same way every time for production line type work. The hand planar is less consistent, takes more skill and practice to use well, but creates a more intimate and connected experience making for work I find more joyful and fulfilling. Both are great tools, but if I had to choose one, I enjoy using the hand planar more. It just makes me happy, and that’s important to me.

Rugged weather proofing: The K1 is a tank. It’s a go anywhere in any sort of weather camera. I love this, as I enjoy landscape, travel, and nature photography, sometimes in very extreme conditions.

Ergonomics: I love the ergonomics and control placement of Pentax cameras. It feels natural to me and they fit my hands well. I am a large man in my early 40’s. I have large hands, I am strong. When I backpack I don’t mind slinging 80 pounds on my back if I need to. The size of the Pentax K1 and large DSLR’s is an ADVANTAGE to me. The weight of the camera and lenses means nothing to me. I often see size and weight touted as an advantage to mirrorless. This is great for smaller or older folks who have a hard time with large tools, but that is not me. I hate small tools because it’s very hard to use them comfortably with the size of my hands. Maybe this will change when I’m 70, but for now small, light weight cameras to me are a big disadvantage. If I need to go small, I can use my phone.

Lenses: Pentax makes some fantastic lenses. I’d like to get the 85mm 1.4, the 15-30mm, and the new 100mm macro.

I love the 36 MP sensor of the K1, I love it’s size, ergonomics, high iso performance, and super rugged build. I can get it with the battery grip for 1799 and I already have a nice 50mm to go on it. I find astrophotography as a new hobby to be very interesting.


Smaller used market. I’ve looked at used K1 MKII and the price difference of used vs new is so small I would never make that choice.

Poor autofocus.

Questionable future of the system.

I’m irritated as hell that the K1 MK III isn’t a thing yet. Pentax moves so slowly and I hate that about them.

Alternative choice:

Sony A7R III – on sale right now for 1999$

I like the look of this camera. 42MP, great autofocus, more varied lens choices, though that doesn’t always mean BETTER lens choices.

Downsides for me are EVF, battery life, overheating issues, less rugged, and small size which will be difficult with my large hands. I also don’t like the layout of buttons and dials. I don’t mind chimping a little as a consequence of keeping the OVF. I don’t like to shoot with live view, I’ll never use that on either camera most likely.

The biggest upside to me is the autofocus.

That said, I’m not a closed minded curmudgeon. I’m open to considering possibilities.

What will I be doing?

I’m going to be embarking on a second career in which I would like to shoot portraits (Family, headshots, engagement, seniors etc.) I may dabble in product and real estate photography. I will shoot landscapes to perchance sell at art shows. I will shoot candid's for my own pleasure. I have no interest in weddings or sports (other than my sons soccer games). I have absolutely no interest in video production of any kind. Only stills.

I do not need to pay bills with this endeavor. I’m fortunate enough that it’s simply going to be supplemental income chasing a dream. I could make 0$ and suffer no consequences. It’s a passion project.

I’m really looking to get feedback from other photographers on the fitness of these systems for my uses.

Will the K1 autofocus well enough for me to get some nice shots at my kids soccer game? Because if it will that’s great. Everything else I do will be slow paced. Is the autofocus on the K1 much better than the old k20D?

Does the Sony have more advantages that I’m not seeing? It has a slightly higher MP count, better autofocus and much better video. However, I have no interest in video.

Looking back at what I’ve written, it seems like the Pentax is still a good choice for me, but it’s a big investment and I’d just love some discussion.


Pentax K-1 Pentax K20D Pentax K-3 Sony a7 Sony a7R IIIA
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