I really like the way the Pentax K-01 makes images of Sony RX10 cameras....

I was working in the studio today but every time I started to make progress on something my calendar program would chime in and remind me of something I needed to be doing somewhere else. I'd promised a friend that I would speak to his kid about what to expect of a career in the arts. The kid is in college and is focusing on what she wants to do in the real world. After our Starbucks consultation I headed over to meet my friend, Will, for lunch. Instead of heading off to yet another restaurant he invited me to his house and served an incredible clam chowder, some wonderful stinky cheese on freshly toasted sourdough bread, and a nice glass of chardonnay.

Over lunch I was reminded of how nice it is to have friends who are both great cooks and also much smarter than me. Will shared some of his newest assignment photographs with me and gently chided me for making the statement that 'photography has gotten too easy.' He is already a master of the art and he was quick to point out that there is always so much more to learn.

I was back in front of the computer screen a little while later when I got a call from Eric, a DP and motion picture camera operator I have known for nearly thirty years. He wanted to return a camera I'd lent him and it was a good excuse for me to procrastinate. To use an old saw, Eric has forgotten more about motion pictures, video and film cameras and TV commercial production than I'll ever know. We discussed all the stuff I generally only get to read about on the web. Things like shooting anamorphic with various sensor aspect ratios. The search of the perfect video production lens. The attributes of various codecs. Fast lighting for reality TV.  The way projects seem to come together and, of course, how to present one's self to an ever younger crowd of clients. (Tip: Never talk about how we used to do this in the past...).

I tend to think and live in my own little world as a photographer and it was great to share notes with someone who spends his life enmeshed in a different but related field; one with shared clients and similar work situations. We both have clients half our ages and we both have brain acres of detailed information about how we used to do the work that are no longer needed or valued in day to day production. But we've both figured out how to make accommodations and to move forward with projects and passions.

So it wasn't until four in the afternoon when I got back into the studio and started working on making a photograph. I wanted to work with the Pentax K-01 in order to see how well the sensor works with darker tonalities. How it manages the left hand side of the histogramic universe. So I put the K-01 on a tripod and popped a big Loupe/Hood on the back so I could make the highest and best use of the LCD screen on the back. I equipped the test camera with an 18-55mm DA II lens, stopped down to f8 and got to work on the lighting.

I used the Fiilex P360 LED light on the gray background and lit the subject of the exercise with several big florescent fixtures modified by two overlapping 4x4 foot Chimera panels covered with one stop white diffusion screens.

Just to make sure I was practicing safe shutter actuation I put the drive mode of the K-01 into the self-timer mode. I know that my choice was a little eccentric but I chose the 2 second delay instead of the 10 second delay.... Just to be macho and techno I made sure to shoot raw.

After I shot a few frames of the static subject I stopped and made a really close evaluation of the image on the rear screen of the K-01. I decided that I needed some subtle fill on the front of the lens and, indeed, the front of the entire still life subject so I grabbed an 8x10 gray card and held it just out of the frame on the opposite side from the main lights. I think it does the job well. Not too much but not too little...

My take? The sensor in the K-01 does a really great job of handling shadow transitions with no apparent banding and very little noise in the dark areas. It's really a very good performance!


Anonymous said...

What the hell???

Anonymous said...

I see where this is leading... :-)

Not much time wasted since yesterday's "consolidation" post, uh?

Nice shot, by the way, can't wait to see this the other way around :-P

Happy new year, everyone!


Mark Forman said...

Not surprised been shooting Pentax for quite a few years. Now using K-30. It tickles me every time you use that "odd duck." :D

Claire said...

Eh eh eh, I saw that coming, Kirk !! Enjoy ;)

Rufus said...


I love your blog and have been an avid reader for a couple of years now. I enjoy sharing your open and honest approach and the constant tension between the creative process and the need to make decisions over gear. I share these never-ending issues with you.

But something has just occurred to me. Kirk, you need a creative holiday, if I may be so bold.

Your work is characterised by a single fundamental feature - you control the light. Because you control this fundamental aspect ( and very well, I may add ) your attitude to gear is adjusted accordingly. Most cameras and lenses shot at f5.6/ 8 are going to produce sharp images. And with you controlling the light source, great images are assured.

When you break out and go walkabout around Austin, you are also invariably greeted with great light. Again, your gear choices are not challenged.

Maybe take a holiday in a different climate or try a new assignment - maybe some reportage work where you have to make do with the light that the weather has given you.

Try shooting natural light in an English winter, as I am now.. Then it becomes apparent that small sensors, slow glass and high ISO starts to bring challenges that you don't have to deal with in Austin.

People pick the gear that suits your circumstances. Your circumstances are your own.

I think you would find shooting in the darker corners of your country an invigorating challenge. I bet you'd enjoy it heaps. Those creative synaptic pathways would go crazy. Your A99's would come into their own with some fast primes stuck to them.

Greeting from wet, dark and cold England, where the light seems to change ever 10 minutes… :)

Kirk Tuck said...

Sounds like a great idea. I'm ready to go.

Claire said...

Oh yeah Rufus, excellent point !!!

Adrian said...


I am in a similar situation to "Rufus" above. I have been reading your blog on and off since you were talking about the Nikon 1 system. I enjoy your writing style and your honest comments about the cameras you use.

I also admire your studio work, and ability to control light (a skill I do not have) - it results in some lovely photographs.

However, I must also agree with Rufus - this clearly influences your choice of camera, in my opinion. I often find myself taking pictures in quite poor light, and it is often a juggling act of apequate depth of field and ISO settings - what can I get away with, whilst still achieving the best quality photograph?

Like you I am still using a Minolta/Sony SLR system, and like you I am wondering how much longer I will do so - but currently I don't want to give it up as I haven't found a mirrorless system that can achieve the same quality.

I agree with Rufus if you went outside the studio and the apparently good light of your home into some of the darker reaches of the world, it might give you a whole new outlook of photographic equipment!

I hope none of this appears like criticsm - it isn't! - but it is important for us all to recognise that our circumstances greatly influence our choice of equipment, and may be very different from someone else.