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Do pros use Pentax?

Barry Barbas , Jan 29, 2009; 09:52 p.m.

I've been shooting with Pentax for 30 years, mostly advanced am. quality but have had a couple of professional gigs. I am currently shooting with a K10d. I bought it because of the lens compatibility with my older systems. I find I really never use my old lenses, so that as a decision to buy Pentax was not as useful as I thought it would be. Here's my question: Are there many pros out there that shoot with Pentax? It seems that all my peers are shooting with Cannon and Nikon, which have a much larger accessory and equipment base.
Barry Barbas


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Hector Javkin , Jan 29, 2009; 10:10 p.m.

If Pentax works for you, even if you're not making use of the old lenses, why do you care what the pros shoot? I'm an amateur in a similar situation. If I found myself shooting in between Natchwey and Salgado, I don't think emulating their equipment would make me any better as a photographer. Their technique, certainly. If the genius of their vision somehow rubbed off on those near them, surely. But I don't think their choice of systems would help me. The founder of this site, Philip Greenspun, had it right: the most important attribute of Nikon and Canon for a serious photographer is that you can rent their equipment almost anywhere. If the ability to rent is not important, just decide whether Pentax makes the equipment you need.

Mike Earussi , Jan 29, 2009; 10:20 p.m.

A friend who has shot stock for 40 years uses Pentax and is quite happy with it, but none of his work ever gets turned into large prints either. But there's nothing wrong with Pentax or the K10d in general they just have fewer "professional" quality lenses than Canon or Nikon, especially in zoom form. Most of Pentax's lenses are of decent optical quality but nowhere as good as Leica, Contax or Canon L. But from what I've seen their ED lenses are excellent they just don't make a lot of them. That's my guess as to the main reason, but also possibly support and perhaps durability of Canikon's professional bodies as well as their excellent high ISO image quality like the D3.

Barry Barbas , Jan 29, 2009; 10:22 p.m.

My question is more about professional quality of the equipment. For instance, I bought a Sigma 18-200 from B&H. I had never handled or tested one. It turns out that I'm not as happy with the quality of it compared to Pentax DA or DA* glass. From the pros that have used Pentax vs Cannon, is ther a similar quality difference?

Maria McManamey , Jan 29, 2009; 10:30 p.m.

I am a pro, and I DO use a K10D, and I will NOT change platforms (ok, I'm also too cheap to spend thousands on Canikon IS lenses).

We currently have one DA* lens, and yes, compared to our Tamron 28 - 300, it's quality is much higher. There's the weather sealing, and the fact that it's much much faster than the Tamron.
I would assume the Sigma lenses made for Canikon and Pentax to be of the same quality between them, and certainly not the same compared to the DA*.

Garry Ian Young , Jan 29, 2009; 10:32 p.m.

Barry, I'm by no stretch of the imagination a pro, although I have recently started to do some paying gigs too.

But my understanding of the pros that I know who do shoot with Pentax is that they love certain qualities of the Pentax glass. So, yes! There can be a vast difference in lens quality. If you are not happy with your Sigma lens, try and send it back. I personally have come to swear by zooms with a small zoom range, and primes. I know some of the hobbyists on this forum love the mega zooms that they use, but I'm sure the capacity for quality improves with the less zoom needed to be engineered into a lens' glass.

Maybe someone will weigh in on the Sigma version of that superzoom. I have never used it.

Mike Earussi , Jan 29, 2009; 10:43 p.m.

From its beginning Pentax has never catered to the pro market, their focus has always been to provide the best quality for the money, and they still do. In fact when beginners ask for recommendations I almost always recommend the Pentax K200D as a best buy. But professionals do not care about getting "the biggest bang for the buck," for them it's always about image quality, speed, flexibility and durability which Pentax always runs a second (or third) to compared to Canikon. If you want the best and can afford to drop $10,000-$20,000 on the ultimate outfit then you should switch to Canon or Nikon, but if you just want better image quality in your lenses then stay away from the cheap super zooms that are nothing but a series of optical compromises (all super zooms are essentially junk regardless of who makes them, they can't help but be because of the laws of both optics and economics). My friend who shoots stock uses nothing but Pentax primes and they are all very good lenses. Buy one, say the 50 f1.4, and see if that doesn't do the trick for you.

Matthew McManamey , Jan 29, 2009; 10:48 p.m.

1. I'm a pro.

2. A super zoom (yer 18-200) is handy, but generally slower and softer than a tighter range zoom, and WAY softer than a prime. Pentax DA*, FA* &, A* glass is killer - hands down. Typically, Pentax's "Pro" glass designated by the *, and is par with Canon L glass, etc. Superb. Pentax also excels in their 'mid-range' zoom offerings like the 16-45 f/4 DA. Notably better than the kit, but more affordable than the f/2.8 DA*

3. Compare apples to apples with your lenses. Comparing zooms of VERY different ranges, zooms to primes, or kit to pro lenses isn't fair. I've made some beautiful images with the 18-55 DA kit lens, but side by side with the 16-50 DA* it's no contest.

4. I make 30x40 prints that are tack sharp from my K10D & DA*, and I have about 45,000 shutter actuations between my 2 K10D bodies. - ABSOLUTELY PRO QUALITY PENTAX!

Barry Barbas , Jan 29, 2009; 11:39 p.m.

I appreciate your comments and this forum. It is very helpful. I have noticed color bleeding from my sigma 18-250, which may be the softness that Matthew is speaking of, especially on brightly colored and highly contrasted racing bikes at Daytona. The mega zoom is nice for an all around single lens, but I have struggled to get the tack sharp images from it. I plan to pick up a DA* 200 and another K10 or K20 body. I should probably ebay the sigma. My old manuel 50mm 1.4 beats trhe image quality hands down.

Justin Serpico , Jan 29, 2009; 11:53 p.m.

I think we go over this thread 3-4 times per year.

Short answer yes, many people make all or part of their income off of Pentax cameras and lenses.

Quite a few independent or freelancing pros shoot Pentax.

Large prints, I feel like Mike is misinformed or his friend has poor technique. There is no limiting factor in Pentax cameras or lenses that limits print size. Actually, quite the opposite, Pentax lenses are quite good, and the sensors are also better implemented than Nikon and Canon.

Case in point the K10D had better IQ than the Nikon and Sony cameras that used the Sony 10MP sensor. So again, misinformation is being spread.

What's funny is Mike Jonston wrote an article about the quality of Pentax glass not that long ago. Which he compared it NOT to Canon L but to Leica and Zeiss. So someone is lying about Pentax lens quality. Not to mention PopPhoto called the 31mm Limited one of the 3 best AF primes ever. I'll gladly admit the standard FA lenses were pretty averagely built, but the FA*/A* series and Limiteds exceed are top notch. And even the lowly FAs do a pretty good job optically. Compare the 35mm f/2 or the 50mm f/1.4 to their Canikon counter parts, surprised?

Also, how many Nikon and Canon pros never print bigger than 8x10? I bet quite a few.

Not I don't have a problem with what Mike is saying, it's just not well informed.

Mike, was the Pentax 67 and 645 system "professional". Or do you discount that system? You do realize how many professionals who filled the pages of National Geographic used the 645 and 67 system, right?

It wouldn't be unfair to discount it, after all, Nikon and Canon catered to pros but never made a medium format system. I always bring that up because I think Canikonites forget that fact.

At the end of the film era, I bought a Pentax ist 35mm film SLR, I believe it was the worlds smallest SLR, but on the literature, it said "blah, blah, blah, and also our PROFESSIONAL medium format camera system." My inference, possibly wrongly, was that Pentax didn't consider 35mm professional during the film era. The good news is a lot of professionals shooting medium format didn't either!

I always point out the PZ-1P vs. the Nikon N90. The N90 was I believe the largest selling autofocus camera of the era with several million bodies sold, but when you compared the two cameras, the PZ1P was on spec with it in everything but the AF system, and in many ways actually a better camera. And when the AF issue was really looked at closely, the PZ-1P actually was on par with Nikon in all but focus points (having used both I feel comfortable in saying that).

Gotta say, not bad for a camera from a company that wasn't even trying to produce a pro camera, or court a pro 35mm base. The N90 was used by quite a few "pros" before the F100 was introduced.

BTW, do any pros shoot Hassy, Fuji, Leica, Olympus, Sony, or the others? Absolutely.

Finally this theory that pros just drop exorbitant amounts of money on gear is absurd. I shoot next to guys who as of late last year were still shooting D2Xs, or Canon 1DIIs when the D3 and 1DIIIs were out for months or a year. Some of those cameras have tape holding doors closed, or covering ripped off gaskets. Working pros are cheap, they look at gear as a means to an end. They use gear with no love or appreciation, and tax write offs are over rated to anyone with real world expenses. It's a fantasy that pros run out and buy a new camera every time one is released and have unlimited funds to spend on equipment. Actually, that sounds more like the hobbyist/prosumer market

I've said this before, there is nothing wrong with being loyal to the brand you love. I am loyal to Pentax, but spreading misinformation on another brand that you don't have intimate knowledge with is just not good judgment.

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