Pentax K-70: My new bang for buck champion.

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More on this when it returns, but due to backordered parts my Pentax K-1 is off to warranty repair spa until early October. Fortunately I held on to little orphan NX300 with a couple of lenses and a boatload of film cameras of varying format to hold me at bay. But many film cameras and a compact mirrorless do not a DSLR make… or something like that. Solution? Accelerate plans to acquire that 2nd Pentax body. With an acceleration to that acceleration provided by the awesome customer service at SE Camera Carrboro. I cannot say enough good things about this store. What body? Well the title was a spoiler so here it goes.

Since this is not my first Pentax dance I have written posts about both the Pentax K-3ii and the Pentax K-1. So instead of starting from scratch I will compare the three by sharing what they have in common and what sets the K-70 apart.

Pentax perks. All three have:

  • In body image stabilization bringing the added benefits of IS for everyone, virtual AA filter (never had need for it) and pixel shift for higher resolution photos under certain conditions (have not gotten to it).
  • In body image stabilization also brings one more benefit, Astrotracer, but I list it separately because the K-1 and K-3ii have built in GPS , but the K-70 requires an optional GPS module. Again, I have not gotten around to trying this on any. Glad to have it for when I get to it though.
  • The venerable 1975 and on K-Mount and all of the lenses that includes.
  • Water resistant and built like tanks. Being plastic instead of magnesium the K-70 is technically less tank-ish, but in hand the difference is not as big as one would think.
  • Great, honest to goodness what you see is what you get prism viewfinder. I have nothing against EVFs, and I honestly like both the new and the old tech, but this old school viewfinder is awesome. Most other DSLRs have mirrors instead at this price point.
  • Excellent low light performance with 3 vertical center cross type focus points that focus down to -3EV (with lense f/2.8 or wider as I understand it). This just works and works well when combined with these cameras and their excellent low light capturing capabilities.

K-70 differences:

  • Body only it saves you around $200 compared to the K-3ii and over $1,100 compared to the K-1. I loved my K-3ii, but starting from scratch today I might opt instead for the K-70 bundled with the so far excellent 18-135mm WR for only $50 more than the K-3ii body alone. It would largely depend on if I planned on also getting a K-1 or not.
  • Video friendly doo-dads like a more traditional flip out screen and on sensor phase detection focusing adding constant focusing to Pentax DSLR video for the first time. Admittedly video is not Pentax’s strong suit, but nice to have nonetheless. IS is a bit wonky during video as well, but nothing that firmware could not fix if they are so inclined. I rarely shoot video however.
  • Like the K-1 it has proper built in WiFi as opposed to requiring a WiFi enabled SD Card like the K-3ii.
  • None are compact by today’s standards, but it is the smallest of the three and anything helps when you like schlepping a DSLR wherever you go like I do.
  • Against the K-1 it is down a sensor size and a goodly chunk of MP (Not a fair comparison since dxoMark dubbed it a “Full-Frame Marvel” that just placed 3rd on their all time full frame list only bested by 2 cameras costing way more.), but it is a virtual twin of the K-3ii sensor wise. All will produce great results IQ wise.
  • Frames per second fall between the 2 with the K-1 at about 4 fps, the K-70 at about 6 fps and the K-3ii at about 8 fps. True, faster is better and there are better tools for sports, if  that is what you are after, and I have had cameras with upwards of 15fps, but these number are all fine for my purposes.
  • Shutter speed tops out at 1/6000s instead of the 1/8000s top end of the other two. admit 1/8000s is handy to have, but less than essential. Other great cameras, even full frame ones like the D750 I admire top out at 1/4000s for example.
  • It has a built in flash. I usually despise built in flashes, but I must say the K-70’s is quite nice.
  • 11/9 focus points/cross type to 27/25 on the K-3ii and 33/25 on the K-1. Not good on paper, but real world results depend on the shooter. I have had and still have a camera with focus points that number in the hundreds. How many do I typically use 90% of the time? One. I need about five all together the rest of the time. One on center and one each of the four directions off center. Your mileage may vary.
  • No top side LCD like the other 2. Do I want this if I can get it? For sure. But other great, highly regarded cameras (like the A7 line) do not offer one at all. Plus it may be a function of using film cameras and point and shoots for so long or that I only got my mitts on cameras with top side LCDs in the last year or so, but… psst… I never remember to look at the top side LCD. Instead I gawk at the big honking screen on the back of the camera.
  • 1 card slot instead of 2. Nice to have, but seeing as I had two much more expensive cameras in the past that also only had one slot (E-P5, A7 and NX1) this is a non-issue for me.

A few additional thoughts before I wrap it up and post some initial pics with a link to an ongoing gallery.

I have grown to like the one system, two body set up since I did so once before. While the K-3ii is an excellent standalone camera I argue that the K-70 is a better compliment to the K-1. The K-3ii is like an APS-C K-1 in many ways. Adds a body with flash instead of having 2 GPS built ins. Adds phase detection on sensor. Offers two crop sizes with the same mount making each lens more flexible like adding a bit of lengthened perspective to the old Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8.

Bottom line great camera at an even better price. After churning through a number of systems versatility is one of the defining traits for Pentax cameras. In the gallery below there are shots from different situations to show this. The football shots are taken at night (HS marching band Dad) from halfway up the bleachers behind the marching band. Others shared traits are value, great IQ, weather sealing, great control layout and so forth. I have owned and still own many camera brands and I pride myself on being brand agnostic, but suddenly realizing that you now own 2 Pentax digital cameras and 4 film Pentax cameras including medium format (Fully half of my total count including 7 others, not counting point and shoot digital, with no other brand repeats.) I must acknowledge Pentax leanings even if not intended.

Below are some shots and here is a link to a gallery I plan to add more photos to.


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