Pentax Talk me out of trading up to a Pentax KP


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Central Ohio, USA
Was reading through this thread: Pentax - Pentax KP

And it got me thinking - as a side system I like Pentax as a DSLR. A little more so than the Nikon DSLRs in a relatively similar category.
I was looking around and I can trade/sell my K-5 and K-3 for a KP.

Seems like it would be a good upgrade, pairing them with my DA primes (21,32,70).

Anything that would hold any of you Pentaxians back from this? Maybe a K-70 instead?

I’m aware of the battery life not being the same as the K-5/K-3, but not worried about that. Spare batteries are easy to come by.
The KP is a marvelous mixture of technology but at the same time your K3 does it 90% the way. KP has a difficult grip and while you can use it with the changeable grips, it never gets to the comfort of a normal gripped DSLR body.

The K70 can suffer from ABF but otherwise is basically a KP with a different grip.
Anything that would hold any of you Pentaxians back from this?
The KP is more geared to street photographers and is designed to look as K1000 as possible.

I agree that the biggest difference between the K-3 and KP is the overall ergonomics. The KP has 3 grip sizes and the largest one seems to be the most-preferred version, although some people just prefer the small grip and hold the camera like the K1000. You can get the wooden J-Limited grip for maximum shooting comfort.

The KP has better ISO performance but we know we're not too fussed about that.

It's a sideways "upgrade" for me. I prefer the overall sportier ergonomics of the K-3.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of my K-3 with the Pentax-M 28mm F2.8 and the KP at a store.

Join to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

The pentaprism hump of the KP is similar to that of the K-1s and the K-3 IIIs. The KP is really tiny in person. I just prefer the ergonomics of the K-3.

If you still haven't seen it, here's a review by Matthias Burling:
Maybe a K-70 instead?
The K-70 has slightly better ISO performance than, but again, we're not fussed about that in this forum. It's a good upgrade if one is thinking about purchasing the almost unavailable KP. There are still brand new ones in some markets, though.

Some K-70s suffer from ABF but those are the ones made before 01/2021 with the revision 2 aperture solenoid. After 01/2021, they have the revision 3 solenoid which is still green and the holding force is almost the same as the white-coloured Japan-made ones.

The KF doesn't have the ABF issue anymore as it uses the revision 3 solenoid. Some Pentaxians are speculating that the made the KF to distance themselves from the ABF issue of the earler K-70s. By the way, the KF gets ALL the JPEGs that the K-3 III and K-1s have, including the season-inspired ones like the Katen, Fuyuno, etc. With the K-1s and K-3 III, you can only get those JPEGs when paired with some Limited HD lenses.

The K-70 looks even smaller and more compact. The body is polycarbonate but the chassis is still metal.


The K-70 has a much bigger grip.

EDIT: Added a video.
Thinking more about it - I guess I am more interested to know if the AF on the KP is appreciably better than that on the k-5 and k-3. As you mentioned, I'm not in any way put off by the image performance or the ISO characteristics of the K-3 or the K-5, so that doesn't really factor into it.

Not going to lie, I do also like the looks of the KP - like you mentioned closer to the film cameras of old in look and feel and I appreciate that. I loved the Nikon Df when I had it and I'm also eyeing the Nikon Zf for those same reasons (and honestly the massive internals upgrade that it would give me over the Z6 and the Z fc).
Since I don't have direct experience with the K3 or K5, I'll mainly just address the characteristics of the KP. It's a camera that you can readily grow attached to, and that means something if you don't find your existing Pentax DSLR bodies to be engaging. The camera that's fun to pick up and shoot is more likely to get used. The KP feels very solid and rugged, with chunky dials which have good movement. The grip(s) are good and bad - the smallest one definitely gives a similar experience to a classic SLR, but isn't terribly comfortable. If you can acquire other grips, the large one is the one I think works in tandem best with the small one. I never got much use out of the medium one.

You might also look into which JPEG profiles are available with the different cameras. Pentax Forums has a thread on JPEG recipes with the KP, there were some nice styles people came up with (though they will never be as thorough as the Ricoh GR, Fuji cameras or a few others). The KP has the noise pre-processor at high ISO values like the K-1 Mark II does (they might be different iterations, but are similar). I never found detail to be lacking with the RAWs, contrary to some opinions on the web - same as with the K-1 II. It does allow for some crazy-high ISO ranges on the KP to be fairly usable. Grain has a somewhat natural look to it that I found pleasant enough.

What eventually steered me in a different direction from the KP was mainly the OVF, I was simply not used to the somewhat smaller and less bright nature of APS-C DSLRs (it had been a number of years since my last one). It sounds like they're already par for the course for you with the bodies you have, and the KP was known to have a decent one, so it's by no means a knock against it. I do prefer the size and brightness of the K-1 OVF, and I hear that the K3 III OVF is better than previous ones, but its certainly not a cheap camera.

In summary, I think it's a camera you could potentially bond with, and want to keep around. It's a great camera.
Unless you go to the K3iii , I don't think you'll see a big AF gain over the K3 in stills photography.

I've very recently picked up a K-70 as the "upgrade" to my K5. I considered the KF, K3, KP and K70. ( I'd overall probably have gone straight to a K3iii if i had the money, or if this was my primary system). I factored in the 24mp sensor, wifi, non fixed LCD and top plate display. In the end, not being able to have all of those without going to a K1, I sacrificed the top plate display and the better layout of the K3 series for the non fixed rear screen. But mainly, sheer price was the deciding factor. I found a barely used K70 ( 1800 shutter actuations) with the DA 18-135 for US$300. Mine is a 2018 build, so the Aperture block failure is a risk, but at that price i think easily worth it. The lens is worth half the purchase price anyway. . My biggest gripe so far is the lack of customisable buttons , or more specifically the lack of options you can assign to the two that it does have.
Thinking more about it - I guess I am more interested to know if the AF on the KP is appreciably better than that on the k-5 and k-3
The screw-drive motor of the KP is very similar to that of the K-3. With Pentax, the best AF upgrade can be done with a lens upgrade. Pentax-F screw-drive lenses have very fast AF gearing. SDMs are quiet but they are not necessarily fast. DC motors are going up there in terms of speed but screw-driven lenses like the 18-55mm and 50-200mm WR are faster in the KP than the lenses with DC. PLM lenses are on a different league. When you put in a PLM lens on your PLM-capable Pentax camera, the AF is just night and day. When Pentaxians say that the AF is instant with PLM lenses, it's an understatement because that reminds me of MFT speeds of the Lumix 25mm F1.7, Olympus lenses, etc.

With screw-driven and overall AF performance, the K-3 III is top-notch.
Not going to lie, I do also like the looks of the KP - like you mentioned closer to the film cameras of old in look and feel and I appreciate that.
It's a pretty good-looking camera, isn't it? Even the J-Limiteds are somewhat eye candies for me:



The Gundam-looking pentaprism hood is removable, by the way.
Unless you go to the K3iii , I don't think you'll see a big AF gain over the K3 in stills photography.
Yup. PLM lenses are already an upgrade with capable bodies but with the K-3 III, PLMs are faster, as well as the screw-driven ones. It's just a faster overall AF system. Even when a screw-driven macro lens without a focus-limiteris used, the K-3 III doesn't hunt either in the OVF or on the EVF.

The good thing about the K-70s and the KFs is that they've got a hybrid sensor when in Live Mode/EVF. It's pretty handy when doing Live View macros/shots.
Because this Pentax setup is actually my 4th system camera, I don’t want to dump too much money into it. If money were no object, I think I would for sure just get the K-3 III and call it a day!

I’ve not had the pleasure of using the PLM lenses. I quite like the performance of the DA Limited primes. Maybe some day I’ll be lucky enough to experience a PLM.

I have been out shooting the last 2 days with the K-3 and realized why I liked it when I first got it.
I had hoped that Nikon would have put as good a viewfinders in their DX DSLRs. The Pentax ones are so bright and easy for me to see the whole frame with glasses.

If it is a lateral move I may still entertain the KP just for the looks of I can get a pretty close to no extra money trade for the other 2 bodies I have. Otherwise, based on our convo here, I’ll just stick with the K-3 and K-5 for now.