Article Opinion

My first serious camera malfunction.

I went to a three day convention on May 20th – 22nd and almost exclusively used the K-5 without any issues. Around a week after getting back I visited a local park to get out of the house and take some nice scenic photos. As I began to take photos, it started making strange mirror slapping sounds when any button on the camera was pressed. I took the lens off and hand cycled the aperture mechanism, took out the battery for a few seconds, and cleaned off the lens contacts. The issue went away. I assumed it was just a fluke.

I found this posting on the Pentax Forums that described the same issue I was having, but at the time I thought it might have just been a fluke. Oddly enough, the original poster is localed around 100 miles from me. I wondered if maybe it was just a one time issue due to the change in weather…

A few days later I went to a local airshow. This time the K-5 had the problem, but much more serious. The mirror flipping issue would come and go. There was also another problem of double/heavy slap of the mirror or possibly something with the shutter as I took a photo. That secondary issue usually lead to the main one where the camera would not even take a photo. I forced myself to use the K-5 that day for long distance shots because I wanted to see what it was capable of and the airshow only happens once a year. I’d say it worked okay around 80% of the time. One battery out of 4 seemed to work alright after an initial period of the issue.

So within a few minutes if getting home, I contacted David at Camera Craft Inc. in Rockford, IL about the issue to see if he could help or suggest a good method of dealing with the issue. He said they could handle the repair process and take care of any shipping fees. Awesome! At times like this it is good to buy local.

As I was discussing the issue a bit, the aspect of reliability and craftsmanship came up. So I’ll talk a bit about that now to give some perspective on camera systems and issues that might happen.

This is my first big issue with a piece of equipment I’ve had since 2005 when I bought into the Pentax DSLR system.

– The *ist DS I had was flawless and it is still working for the friend who now has it.
– The K10D I had for a short while wasn’t that great at focus accuracy, but that was fixed with a trip to the debug menu. I have a posting about that on this blog.
– The K-7 I still have is flawless. There were issues some people on the Internet experienced, but I never did.
– My two SDM lenses have functioned as advertised so far.

When I was talking with David he wrote something interesting: “I do have a different view on the notion of Pentax losing it’s grip on reliability. When I see other branded and much more expensive bodies go through four, five and even six product advisories for much more catastrophic failures, the issues Pentax has had and nicely addressed seem fairly small.”

With that comes some clout as they deal with many brands of professional DSLRs. I think compared to previous Pentax bodies, the K-5 has had the most serious issues, but compared to other brands of similar or more advanced models that isn’t the case.

I’m just hoping that CRIS will have the abilities to properly diagnose and fix the issue. I also hope the weather resistance will not be lessened after having work done on the camera. After I get the camera back I’ll be sure to stress test it as much as I can, which is a good excuse to take photos often. Until then, I’m back to using the K-7 exclusively.