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Thread: Have older Pentax lenses - buy a K5, or go with a Nikon 5100?

  1. #1
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    Have older Pentax lenses - buy a K5, or go with a Nikon 5100?

    I am looking to buy my first SLR. I have three 25 year old Pentax lenses in great shape - 2 shorter ones and one telephoto lense. Becasue I have these I am considering buying a Pentax DSLR.

    However, these older lenses will not be compatible with the auto features of a DSLR. Also, There is a decent Nikon 5100 package that includes 2 lenses - one a 200mm telephoto lense.

    The Pentax K5 body costs about the same as the Nikon 5100 package with two lenses.

    So, I`d have 2 Nikon lenses that are obviously compatible with the Nikon auto features, or 3 Pentax lenses that would have no auto featres with the K5. The cost of both scenarios is about the same ($800 to $900)

    I have little SLR experince. What would you advise? Which camera should I go with?

    Thanks for your input.

    P.S. Is it true I could get an adapter for the Nikon and use the Pentax lenses on that body?

  2. #2
    Moderator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
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    Manfred Mueller

    Re: Have older Pentax lenses - buy a K5, or go with a Nikon 5100?

    If you are relatively new to shooting with a DSLR, I would suggest that you look at the Nikon. The one real beef I have with most modern DSLRs is how difficult it is to shoot with a manual focus length. The focusing screens have been designed for autofocus use. I suspect that you would not necessarily enjoy the experience.

    That being said, your old Pentax lenses are going to be more mechanically robust than the Nikon kit lenses. Yes you can get a Pentax K mount to Nilon F mount adaptor, just Google it or check on eBay.

    You should be able to get a really good deal on the D5100, as the D5200 has just been announced as its replacement.

  3. #3

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    May 2012
    Johannesburg South Africa
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    Andre Burger

    Re: Have older Pentax lenses - buy a K5, or go with a Nikon 5100?

    Hi jd,

    Depending on your budget. You buy whatever suits you best. It is worth looking at good used cameras as well to start out with.
    Hold a Pentax and Nikon in the same price range in your hand and feel the difference.

    I am very bias towards Nikon because Nikon in SA made me believe there is no other way to go. Backup service, free workshops, free sensor cleaning full range of products - simply excellent.

  4. #4
    Melkus's Avatar
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    Paul Melkus

    Re: Have older Pentax lenses - buy a K5, or go with a Nikon 5100?

    Hello jd,
    Have you took a look at the K30 yet?

  5. #5
    Tringa's Avatar
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    Re: Have older Pentax lenses - buy a K5, or go with a Nikon 5100?

    Hello JD and welcome to CiC.

    I have to declare an interest here as I own a Pentax K5 and some old lenses.

    One thing to consider is that while the Nikon D5100 and the Pentax K5 function in the same way they are not directly comparable cameras. The D5100 probably mid range. The K5 is very similar to the Nikon D7000 and this alone would account for the price you have seen.

    You are correct in saying some (or all) of the auto functions will be lost with older Pentax lenses on the K5. That may, or may not, be important to you.

    A function that definitely will be lost is auto focus. For birds in flight/sports photography the loss could be a deal breaker, though years ago there was no auto focus and I'm sure there were good photos of moving objects.

    For other photography, eg landscape/archetectural auto focus is not, in my opinion, so important, but I agree with Manfred that manual focussing on DSLRs is not as easy as it was many years ago with 35mm film SLRs. However, with a bit of work, it is not that difficult.

    Whether you lose auto aperture when using old Pentax lenses depends on the lens. If the lens is an 'A' series lens (ie it has a letter A on the aperture ring after the largest f number) the aperture is controlled by the camera, so apart from the focussing it acts just like a modern lens. If the lens is not an 'A' series then it will normally operate fully open, though I believe there is a workaround to get a non A lenses to operate stopped down.

    More information about using old Pentax K mount lenses is here -

    The lens I use most (other than the 18-55mm kit lens) on my Pentax K5 is a 70-210mm Sigma zoom that I bought in about 1980. As it is a 'A' series lens the aperture is controlled by the camera but the focus is manual.

    Here are a couple of examples of shots with this lens -

    Have older Pentax lenses - buy a K5, or go with a Nikon 5100?

    Have older Pentax lenses - buy a K5, or go with a Nikon 5100?

    You said that you are have little SLR experience. I don't think this alone should be a reason for choosing one camera over the other. For a great number of their functions the D5100 and K5 will operate identically so your learning will be similar with both.

    There are a number of features that make the K5 a good buy but it would be unreasonable to talk about them here because if the D5100 does not have them then it would not make the Nikon a bad camera, far from it.

    The only one I will mention (and this is a feature of all Pentax DSLRs) is the in-camera image stabilisation(IS). Many camera manufacturers have the IS built into each lens (eg Canon, Nikon). Pentax have gone for putting the stabilisation in the body of the camera.

    The claim for lens based IS is that it is tailored to each particular lens and therefore better, and I can understand that. In body stabilisation means any lens used, including all the old ones, becomes a stabilised lens and that when new lenses are bought there is no need to buy the, sometimes, more expensive IS versions.

    I find the in body IS works well but to be fair I have to admit I have not used a system with in lens IS.

    However, I accept fully that some of the aspects of using older lenses may be enough to incline you towards the Nikon (btw if you had a Pentax K - Nikon adapter to allow you to use your old Pentax lenses on the Nikon the same auto functions will be lost). One other thing which may be important to you is that Nikon, being a major player, have a more extensive dealership network than Pentax and Nikon's range of lenses is larger, though a large range third party lenses is available for Pentax.

    As you have mentioned these two cameras specifically I'm guessing you have already looked at reviews, but if not here are a couple -

    Apologies if this has made your choice more difficult and also if I've given a biased view. I'm sure you will be more than happy with either of these cameras and it is who is behind the camera that matters.


    PS Your profile does not say where you are from but in the UK at present there are some good deals on the Pentax K30

  6. #6

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    Aug 2010
    Stockholm, Sweden (and sometimes Santiago de Cuba)
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    Urban Domeij

    Re: Have older Pentax lenses - buy a K5, or go with a Nikon 5100?

    I think, that as long as you are considering another system in order to get more bang for the buck, you should not narrow your choices down to a single model of an aging technique that is rapidly fading. The market has much more to offer, and it isn't necessarily so that a more complete system, i.e. a kit with two lenses, is better for you than one camera with a good lens and everything else left open for future upgrades, getting new lenses etc.

    In my eyes, DSLR is an antiquated concept, that is largely replaced by other concepts already. The market share for systems that are not DSLR is already rather large, and there are advantages as well as disadvantages whichever concept you opt for. The emerging technique of fully electronic cameras is gaining ground on the issues where they are backtalked by defenders of the older technique.

    That said, I think it would be wise to look at the purchase of a new system with fresher eyes and wider views. There are several manufacturers beside Nikon, and there are other concepts than DSLR, and it is possible that another might suit you better. If you think of using older glass, the cameras that are easiest to use with those old lenses are those that are not DSLR, although you might get a liking to AF and other automated functions to a degree, that you would not use the old glass much.

    If you think speed of focusing and the ability to seamlessly follow objects that are getting closer or farther away, the Sony SLT models offer that just as much as DSLR cameras, by using the same principles for automatic focusing. They also offer stabilisation with old glass, just as Pentax does. And there are adapters that also confirm focus via the AF system if you use an old Pentax lens.
    Last edited by Inkanyezi; 6th November 2012 at 03:11 PM. Reason: typos

  7. #7

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    Apr 2012
    Dunedin New Zealand
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    J stands for John

    Re: Have older Pentax lenses - buy a K5, or go with a Nikon 5100?

    On the basis of a single shoot, the photos of cable releases posted recently on another thread here, I would suggest that you consider an Olympus PEN e-PL1. These are going for about US$200 at KEH currently and then get yourself the VF-3 which will cost another couple hundred on Amazon. The camera is hard to use with the LCD but fairly easy with the VF-3. Easier than with a DSLR which are not designed to be manually focused the way the SLRs were with aids to focusing built in

    I don't see much difference between an APS-C DSLR where your lenses will have an Angle of View of x1.5 what they used to give you on your Pentax and the x2 that M4/3 gives you. In both cases you will probably want to buy yourself a wide angle prime or W/A zoom eventually.

    I am fortunate enough to have modern automatic lenses which is why my old Takumars rarely get used. I am not a fan of manual focusing. So I guess I'm plumping for the Nikon and then perhaps get an adaptor to use the Takumars on it fior close work ... the Nikon mount is a little too long for infinity focus. I'm assuming your Takumars are M42 mounts.
    Last edited by jcuknz; 6th November 2012 at 08:11 PM.

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