K5 Quandry

Figure 1:  Should I go mirrorless?

When I first used my K5, I was enthralled.  It was easily the most solid feeling camera I’ve ever owned.  Most cameras give me the feeling that I have glass in my hand (smile) – and that I have to be careful.  The K5 made me feel like I had a hatchet in my hand and that tossing it into a spiraling arc that ended on a cleaved tree trunk would do it absolutely no harm.

But the problem has to do more with the concept of external toughness versus the reality of internal precision instruments, and the K5 is certainly fitting of the latter definition.  It has IBIS (internal body image stabilization).  Even in 2018, Canon was not putting IBIS into some of their DSLR cameras.  Reason?  IBIS is a very precision instrument that is very expensive, relatively.  The two most expensive sub-assemblies in a camera are the electronic viewfinder and the IBIS.  The K5 has both.  So do many other relatively pricey DSLR and mirrorless cameras.  I consider Pentax cameras to have better performance-for-price than most other brands.

Over time, the internal precision of the K5 went on the skids.  This is not to disparage Pentax in general, and I must add that other models of the brand maybe are less likely to need factory re-calibration, but I don’t know.  I have only a sample of one data point – my camera – and it is in serious need of such a calibration.  I can no longer use either of the viewfinder or the LCD screen and end up with a focused result. I have to guess at the mis-calibration offset when I take a picture.  In other words, I have to make the picture intentionally blurry by a specific amount, to account for the offset.  In addition to that, for some reason, the custom white balance seems to be on the skids.  I seemingly cannot get it “zeroed in” anymore.  Maybe it’s something I’m doing, but I don’t know for sure.

I didn’t treat my K5 like a baby.  It seemed tough, so I didn’t worry so much about how much it bounced in my backpack, or jiggled against my body as I walked (or ran).  So, I shook it up a lot, certainly.  Maybe I shook it too much.  This is to say that you shouldn’t bounce your camera excessively even if it seems built like a tank.

I can get it fixed for a flat rate of $300 (it’s out of warranty).  Since I really like it, I probably will do that.  But, I’ve been thinking …

Much of the precision we need to worry about in a DLSR has to do with mirror alignment and IBIS and shutter mech.   So, a mirrorless camera has no mirror (hence no mirror alignment issues).  Some of them have no mechanical shutter either.  So – that would eliminate two out of three potential recal issues.

Sigma is very close to releasing a camera without mirror and without mechanical shutter mech (if I remember the press release correctly).  I’m intrigued by the idea.   Pentax says there are no plans for a mirrorless design in their high-end line.  What do you think I should do?

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