Pentax K-3

I’ve recently upgraded my DSLR and have had a bit to play around with it and get a feel for it. I went for an upgrade over my old Pentax K-7 to a Pentax K-3.

  • I already have lenses so I saved money by buying Body Only
  • I like my K-7, it just got worn out
  • The K3 has a build in flash unlike the K-3II, so when my wife uses it she doesn’t have to fight with an external flash
  • It’s not the newest K-1, which means it costs less, though is still nice

I mentioned my K-7 became “worn out”. I have no other way to describe it. I noticed around the end of last year it started taking extremely washed out photos when using the flash. I’m taking nothing but white screen if it was anything up close. I figured there was a sensor or something going bad and looked into several avenues to get suggestions on it to possibly get it repaired. This whole exercise ended up being completely futile. Every forum and even the camera shop I tried basically tried to give me photography advice or tell me how “using the flash isn’t a good idea”.

Yeah, I get that. I get all that exposure and shutter speed and f-stops and blah blah blah and no, the flash isn’t always great but not every photo needs a tripod and a set up, sometimes it’s just a photo of a moment and not a piece of art or some bull shit like that.

There is something wrong with the camera. Even when I tried to replicate the settings on a fresh photo of an older photo for comparison that there is obviously something wrong, I got nowhere. So I gave up and upgraded instead. chances are the repair would have been more than I wanted to pay anyway. The camera still sort of works, on a tripod, with freakishly long exposure times and things are still kind of yellow. The best suggestion I ever got was that it’s not stopping down properly.

This new camera works so much smoother and better. It also lacks several of the nitpicky problems that plagued my K-7 since day one. I always chocked those up to it being a pretty early model of DSLR in it’s class especially. It did real full HD video, it had higher mega pixels than comparable cameras at the time and it’s the only one (at the time) that was weather sealed. The K-7 was pretty nice, but mine had issues, and I have no idea how prolific they were, if at all. For one, it lost the date any time the battery was removed. Not a huge issue. More of an issue, it would over heat when recording video for more than around 20 minutes. I always chocked that up to new tech and the weather sealed body being poor for ventilation. Third, half the time when using the live view to take photos, it would snap, then show “Battery Depleted” even when full. I don’t use Live view a lot but sometimes it’s convenient for getting funny angles where I’m holding the camera over my head.

The K-3 has none of these problems. I’ve done all of these things and had zero issues. The video is the best part, I spend last weekend recording a ton of video for my wife’s home business and had no over heating at all, after hours or recording, some single segments being 10-15 minutes long. I’m seriously considering using it in place of my DVC80 Video Camera this year for a show I record each year. Upgrading to HD from SD would be really nice. My only issue is I wasn’t able to get Premier to accept the video, but that is probably a settings issue somewhere.

Anyway, not much directly to say about I otherwise, aside from it’s a nice upgrade from my K-3. The Dual memory card slots will be nice and the interface all around is more refined and easier to use. Here’s a few photos I’ve taken with it, just for kicks. Nothing amazing or anything.

Figma Indiana Jones

Saber Struggle

Sinister... Five?

NextThing CHIP and Raspberry Pi Zero

Raspberry Pi Zero and Next Thing's CHIPI’ve already briefly discussed my NextThing CHIP computers before. A few weeks ago I was purchasing a Raspberry Pi 3 and found that the store had Pi Zeros in stock as well, so I tossed one on because, hey, $5, and they are apparently hard to find.

These two little devices are pretty similar, but at the same time so different.

Both are small computers, not just microcontrollers like an Arduino, but little Linux machines. Both have GPIO pins, both can be used as a regular “desktop” if you wanted, both cost less than $10… Mostly…

Raspberry Pi ZeroThe cost is where things get tricky, especially for the Raspberry Pi Zero. Upfront, the Pi Zero is only $5, which looks great on paper, and it’s still pretty cheap. That five dollars gets you a small flat circuit board with a few low profile ports on it. Chances are you’ll need a power supply, if you want to be able to configure it at all you’ll also need a way to plug a standard USB hub for keyboard and mouse into a micro USB port. The display out is a mini HDMI port, which you’ll likely also need an adaptor for. The Pi Zero also doesn’t have any sort of case on it. All of this is stuff that you may or may not need, you might have on hand, or, if you’re programming many Zeros, you can reuse the adapters and parts on all of the Pi Zeros you want, once configured.

The point is, after picking up even some cheap accessories, you’re probably looking at closer to $15 for a Pi Zero. Still cheap, just not quite AS cheap.

Next Thing CHIPThe CHIP on the other hand, is $9. It has built in WiFi and Bluetooth, it comes with a little plastic case for the underside of the board, and it comes with an RCA adapter. The RCA isn’t ideal and an HDMI or VGA attachment are both coming (for $10-$15) but the RCA is usable for setting up WiFi easily for SSH or VNC access. It even has built in storage. For $9, you’re pretty much up and running right out of the box. The Pi Zero is actually kind of useless all on it’s lonesome.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the CHIP is better.

Both The Raspberry Pi Zero and Next Thing’s CHIP run an arm based version of Debian (by default, but this could be changed), thus both have a lot of common in terms of what sorts of software can be used. The CHIP however seriously lacks the Raspberry Pi’s strong community. I’ve not been able to find any decent resources for how to even use the GPIO pins, for example. I had hoped to use one of my CHIPs for a project in the garage but I’ve hit some roadblocks.

chipdesktopI’ve actually had lots of roadblocks with the CHIP. Initially they were unstable, requiring a firmware update. I’ve had many strange problems getting software packages to work properly, even when following tutorials put out by others. The closest I’ve come to finishing a project is making a homemade Alexa clone. Even after buying identical parts (Mic and Button really), after trying many fixes and even wiping the thing out and starting from scratch, I still get errors with the Audio about “Period too large”.

Everything being built in is really convenient though. I honestly haven’t come up with any ideas yet for what to do with my Pi Zero. It ends up with some goofy dongles all over it to make it functional and I have 4 full sized Raspberry Pis at my disposal for other projects. I’ve seen an interesting Game Boy emulator build using the Zero I will probably try but so far, it’s pretty much just been running quietly on my workspace counter.

Personally, I think that ultimately it comes down to there is a point where these things become too cheap or small to be useful, at least for my needs. The sorts of projects a smaller board like this may be useful for feel like they would be better suited for an Arduino. Most of the projects I use my Pis for amount to “Hardware VMs”. Single task servers that can easily be repurposed or swapped out (using SD cards).