I got a new camera! A Pentax K-5, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it. But at the same time, sort of by accident I bought a lens, Pentax’s D-FA 100mm f2.8; it’s a little on the exotic side and fooling around with it has been eye-opening and also pure fun.
Background · What happened was, I was in Calgary on family business. I’ve been watching the price of the K-5 creep down since its introduction last year and waiting to pull the trigger. Alberta doesn’t have a provincial sales tax so I thought I’d hit a camera store or two. I started at Robinson’s because it was out of downtown; easier to reach and park at. They only had one K-5 in stock, the demo model, and offered me an outstanding price.
It’s been a couple years since I bought a new lens and if you’re in the Pentax niche, that’s sort of missing the point. I have all the basic lenses I really need, so anything I buy is going to be for edge cases.
Recently there’s been considerable buzz around Pentax’s new 100mm “WR” prime, which is of metal construction and weatherproofed. At Robinson’s I noticed the previous model, about the same optics but in basic plastic; plenty good enough for my limited talents. I suspected they’d want to unload it and I was right.
By the way, if you’re anywhere near Calgary and are interested in a telescope, you really need to drop by that store; I’ve never seen such a big impressive collection anywhere.
MACRO · The lens’ official name includes that word, all in caps just like that. Which means “use this for close-ups”. I dragged a couple of family members out in the brutally-awful late-spring cold for a photowalk, and observed that the vegetation was plentifully equipped with hoarfrost:
It was bright enough so the lens wasn’t wide-open, but this puppy has, by design, cruelly limited depth-of-field, which is why the background is attractively blurred and also why the hoarfrost is just barely focused.
Clearly my limited photographic technique faces a challenge here. Also I need to print out a focus chart and maybe dial in some lens-specific corrections, which Pentax makes easy.
Portraits Darkly · You may have noticed that that picture of Anne and Poppy above came out pretty darn good for an unplanned natural-evening-light point-and-shoot effort. I’m beginning to think that where Pentax says “MACRO” they should have said “PORTRAITS”.
The 100mm is reasonably bright at f2.8. Also, the K-5 is regarded as an outstanding low-light camera. So let’s point it across the table of a dimly-lit restaurant at my other niece Elizabeth, who’s Anne’s twin.
Ladies and gentlemen, those are at ISO 6400. Yes, I could have used Lightroom’s outstanding noise-reduction to smooth out some grain, but actually the way the raw capture looks doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I suspect that for the next little while, my dinner companions are just gonna have to get used to having this particular K-5/100mm combo pointed at ’em.
Oh, and another portrait:
My much-loved 12-year-old Bengal cat enjoying my mother’s lap. The ISO is a mere 3200. One of her eyes can be in focus but not both because cats’ faces aren’t flat like ours are. She doesn’t seem to mind.