Saturday, August 1, 2015

Nikon D7200 and incredibly high ISO photos: 51,200 and 102,400

One feature that intrigued me about the D7200 over older models was the two black & white high ISO modes.

The difficult part of photographing sports is getting enough light to capture the action.  Anyone who has attempted to photograph night games, such as American football, knows that it is extremely difficult, even with a Nikon D4.

Photographing in Florida in early spring outdoors was even difficult.  I was photographing a lacrosse game from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and it went from bright and warm enough (75 degrees F) to dark and cold by the end.  Having had frostbite, I had another obstacle in working the controls as my fingers seemed less flexible.  In 2006, I had a choice of using ISO 400 sensitivity and a GN50 flash.

This March, I was photographing a competition at an indoor skate park, which meant ISO 3200 and some hope.  Since I was taking still photos and video, it wasn't possible to use artificial light and make it work.  The image quality was sufficient.

The Nikon D7200 is supposed to be so much more in low light and HI1 (ISO 51,200) and HI2 (ISO 102,400).  These black and white modes could give someone an edge in getting clear sports photos.  The Nikon D4 featured ISO sensitivity up to 102,400.  That is a huge deal.  Since the D7200 has an Expeed 4-class processor, it should be able to increase the image quality over the D7100.

ISO 102,400

ISO 51,200

ISO 25,600

ISO 51,200

ISO 25,600

There is a great deal of banding in the ISO 51,200 and 102,400 photos.  It can't be seen so well with these 25% sized photos.  These were taken July 31, 2015 around the time of the blue moon.

Still, if it means getting the shot over not getting the shot, should there be a question?

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Olympus 8mm f/1.8 fisheye has arrived

At US$999.99, this is the most expensive fisheye lens I've encountered.  It's the first I've ever bought.  I always thought a typical, great zoom lens could do exactly what I wanted but at skate parks, was there an advantage?

Over the past year, at skate parks all over California, I've heard things like "Is that a fisheye?"  "What kind of fisheye do you have?"  "Fisheyes are the best!"

Looking back at the 1980s and BMX Plus and other skate park-oriented magazines, I saw a lot of close up photos taken with a fisheye lens.  The distortion is distinct and at times, endearing.

However, most of what I see now at skate parks are converters--those nasty clip-ons or screw-ons that attach to the cheapo kit lens.  At US$34.99, can you beat the effect?

A typical kit lens is sufficient for many people but so many people tell me "That's so clear!" when they view my photos and video because I use lenses far above that level, usually zoom lenses with a constant maximum aperture.

If you're struggling to get to that point, there is no shame in using the best tools available, which you probably already have.  I might do better with them, if that was all I had.  My recent experience with the Pentax K-50 and its kit lens proved to me that it was a very good choice.  Adding a US$34.99 fisheye adapter would probably work just fine.

Olympus' micro Four-Thirds 8mm f/1.8 came at a good time for me.  I've been photographing at skate parks for 1 year and my experience inside Woodward West cried for something faster than f/2.8.  (My Four-Thirds ZD 14-35mm f/2.0 might have been a heavy but better choice than the m.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 indoors.)  In Northern California, it may still be near 100 degrees F at sunset, but as it cools down, the skaters become active.

Focusing in the dark isn't much of a problem for the Panasonic GH4.  It focuses down to -4 EV, equivalent to starlight.  However, in my experience, AF is much more reliable in video than for still photography.  I also use the Olympus E-M1, which isn't great for video, but the 5-axis image stabilization can do wonders.

Olympus 8mm f/1.8 on Panasonic GH4

I'm pleased to say that, with some trouble, I have the Olympus 8mm f/1.8 fisheye lens.  I placed a pre-order with Mike's Camera in Dublin, CA May 26th but the day (June 29th) before the lens was due to be generally available, they couldn't give me a date when mine would arrive, and the sales person told me "whenever", which was not a proper response to a customer.  June 30th, I returned and explained why this didn't work for me, and the manager had a refund in the works before I requested one.  I made a call to Adorama and they placed the order and a little over a day later, I had mine.

I'm quite pleased with the lens, on both the Panasonic GH4 and Olympus E-M1.  It is probably too small, and that's why it has flaws but it is quite good, with only some purple fringing noticeable.  Flare resistance is good and that's great for me, here in the bright sun in California, especially at skate parks where there is no cover.  It also works fairly well at night.  In video, it has kept up, which is surprising since I saw reports that it was slow at focusing.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Olympus 8mm f/1.8 fisheye lens, Nikon D7200, and Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 in the works

I've been shooting so much that I haven't had much time to write.

I received my Olympus 8mm fisheye lens and I'm quite pleased.  I'm extremely happy with it, but it takes some acclimation to its ultra-wide angle.  I'm working on a specific report of my experiences.

July 5th, I got a special deal on the Nikon D7200 and Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 lens.  I've been shooting so much that I haven't even had a chance to write more than this about the combination.  I have plenty to say, especially since this is the first real attempt to switch brands--or at least, add to my arsenal of tools.

I haven't used any Nikon equipment since film SLRs.  It's taking some time to get good work done.  Their whole design work, electronic and physical, lacks clear thinking.  I appreciate that they have a status display, but if should be interactive, instead of just being frustratingly informative.

Something interesting and frustrating was learning how to switch from the factory setting of auto focus scatter pattern with 51 focus points to 1 focus point.  There is a button located within the AF/MF switch to the left of the lens mount.  Is it labeled?  No.  You hold it and rotate the rear dial to change patterns.

In any case, I am finding many new user problems that I didn't find with the Pentax K-50.

My main reason for buying the D7200 was its low(er) light performance.  I first took it out at 11/23 at night.  It was a frustrating experience, especially since AF supposedly works to -3 EV--what was standard with the Panasonic GH3 way back when it was introduced.  Half of the photos I tried to take just would not happen.  Subsequently, I took the Olympus E-M1 and Panasonic GH4 out at similar times.  The E-M1 struggled a bit but the GH4 didn't hesitate.  How good is the image quality of a camera body that won't take an image?

My first impression of the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 is that it's small, light, and too short in its focal length range, especially compared to my Olympus 14-35mm f/2.0.  It's also not weather-sealed which could be a major problem.  I didn't pay full price for it, which helps alleviate some of the shortcomings.  If you think it's not small or light, take a look at the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 lens.

I'll take some time to write about these experiences in detail.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Olympus' new Ultra Wide Angle and Fisheye lenses look good: fisheye on order

I'm a long time user of Olympus equipment, though I mostly claim the E-System as helping my serious photographic work.  Starting with the E-1, 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5, and 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5, I did quite well as digital photography was growing out of its infancy.

I have contemplated the Four-Thirds 7-14mm f/4.0 and 8mm f/3.5 lenses for a very long time.

The trouble with both was the relatively small aperture of each.  I don't really photograph landscapes, so using the 7-14mm indoors might be a problem without substantial lighting.

Equally, the 8mm f/3.5 fisheye lens was not enough for interior or lower light work at skate parks.

Today, they announced two micro Four-Thirds lenses that change all that: 7-14mm f/2.8 and 8mm f/1.8 fisheye.

At US$1299.99 and US$999.99, they are not cheap lenses, but they are not exactly expensive lenses, either, given the capabilities.  Both will be available around the end of June 2015.

At US$1799.99 and US$799.99, the Four-Thirds versions were somewhat similar in price and capability but a bit too big and slow for micro Four-Thirds.  The 7-14mm f/4.0 is a Super High Grade lens while the 8mm f/3.5 fisheye is a High Grade lens.

They're all weather-sealed.  I doubt seriously I'll be doing work at skate parks in the rain, but I suspect that these lenses will be great for many more situations.

The micro Four-Thirds lenses look absolutely small, especially compared to the Four-Thirds versions.

According to DPReview, the 8mm f/1.8 fisheye is not really f/1.8.  While they are referring to the effective depth of field, they insinuate more.  I suspect that the shutter speeds used to make use of the maximum aperture will reflect f/1.8, regardless of DPReview.  Their bias against Olympus has been so strong that Olympus refused to send them an E-3 dSLR review unit.

In any case, I'm likely to pre-order the fisheye and I may pre-order the UWA lens as well.

Update 2015.06.29: I went to the camera store to see about the lens.  They have no idea when it will arrive.  Apparently, the only information is that two of us have ordered it.  I'm wondering, as much as they ignore the California stores, if the Colorado stores are getting them first, regardless of when we ordered.  I should have gone with Adorama.

Update 2015.06.30: I returned today and talked to the manager in a firm, but pleasant tone of voice.  I told him that I didn't think that being told "whenever" as a delivery date was acceptable, and that my money didn't seem to be important to the sales person.  He agreed and swore to impress upon that person (through torture, if necessary :-D ) that sales requires a bit more finesse.  The money has been pushed back to my account, but of course, that doesn't happen immediately, does it?

A few minutes later, across the street before entering a store, I called Adorama, checked to see if they had the lens in stock, and they had just received 10 of them.  I should have it Thursday or Friday and I'm using 2nd Day Air.  It could arrive the same time regardless, but UPS will artificially hold packages, even when they don't have enough deliveries, unlike FedEx.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mirror-less, interchangeable lens cameras have been mainstreamed for around 6 years

It was late in 2008 when Panasonic and Olympus announced micro Four-Thirds and when Panasonic quickly introduced the DMC-G1.

Panasonic had very little success with the DMC-L1 or the DMC-L10 and partner Leica didn't really do much with the Digilux 3 dSLR.  Olympus had more like with the E-330 (like the DMC-L1 or Digilux 3) from that time, bringing Live View to the masses.

However, Panasonic, by itself with the G1, made people think.  It was a dSLR-style camera body and the controls were similar enough that it didn't confuse.  It was just that there wasn't much available, especially since Olympus didn't have anything ready.  If not for the Four-Thirds lens adapter, there would not have been much available at all.

Those lenses have helped me transition from Four-Thirds to micro Four-Thirds, though I'm still skeptical about the system, even though I own the Olympus E-M1, Panasonic GH4, and 4 native micro Four-Thirds lenses.

If my skepticism was strong for micro Four-Thirds, it was impossible to break concerning Sony's NEX-system.  It still doesn't have very good support since 2009 when it arrived.  FujiFilm has certainly surpassed Sony in many ways, most prominently in lenses.

Samsung has once again come with something, and it's not a Sony clone this time.  The NX1 and the NX500 actually seem useful.  It took them several generations of crap, and they barely have any lenses or industry support.  I wondered if they would have transitioned their name to Beta, to match Sony's change to differentiate themselves from the copier.  It might be interesting to see if Samsung could manufacture (micro) Four-Thirds sensors for Panasonic, Olympus, and those hiding behind the Kodak name.

Sony has recently shown that they have created a 20 MP sensor for (micro) Four-Thirds, which is interesting, if it can improve only low light photography.  ISO 3200 seems my reasonable limit.  However, seeing the Pentax K-50 with a lower pixel density at ISO 3200, it seems APS-C is not really better, even though the high limit of the K-50 is ISO 51,200.  Perhaps, with a higher resolution lens, it would be better.

Of course, Sony's 135 Format A7-series is much more interesting, as far as technology goes.  As far as lenses go, my skepticism is very high.  Adapters are much more necessary than they are with micro Four-Thirds.  For my use, a dSLR is still better but for those who don't photograph sports, the A7 Mk II looks a treat.  For people who don't mind huge lenses, and back-breaking backpacks, 135 Format is great, mirror-less or otherwise.

I've been looking at old lenses recently and it's amusing to see the old crap that I used to have to sell because there were so few great lenses.  I'm so thankful for the digital revolution, especially since Olympus' Four-Thirds lenses made things so much better.

The company has been making headway with their "PRO" series lenses, despite the silly name.  The 12-40mm f/2.8 is quite good, especially for just under $1000.  I wish they could have put a bit more of the ZD 14-35mm f/2.0 goodness into it, but it would have raised the price, and increased the size and weight to where the lightweights would have complained.  However, a 67mm filter size might have allowed an f/2.5 maximum aperture instead of f/2.8.  I've used the ZD 14-35mm f/2.0 with the Panasonic GH3, so a 67mm or 72mm filter size wouldn't have bothered me--the closer to f/2.0 the better.

Third party lenses are few, and I'm not sure any of the lenses from Tamron or Sigma are worth it.  Does Tokina even make lenses for mirror-less?  Voigtländer has made some good lenses for micro Four-Thirds, and Zeiss has native lenses for Sony, and adapted cinema lenses for micro Four-Thirds.  I'm sure if I wanted a US$20,000 lens for my Panasonic GH4, a Zeiss lens would be my first choice.

Thankfully, Veydra, a crowdsourced startup is working on making affordable cine lenses of a uniform size for micro Four-Thirds.  Competing with Zeiss' Compact Prime series will be difficult, but does everyone need Zeiss?  With a lack of electronic connections, these are for the serious users who want to control their imagery, just as those from Zeiss are.  The prices are quite different between the two lines.

While Canon, Nikon, and Pentax have all created mirror-less models, they seem afraid to encroach on their dSLRs, and have given somewhat too interesting alternatives.

FujiFilm has been the most exciting company in the market, with some interesting choices.  They have the best selection of lenses for any APS-C sized sensor camera bodies.  While they've been stuck at 16MP, that isn't necessarily a bad thing, considering the lower pixel density.  The X-T1 is a valuable body with a great EVF and enough dials to make enthusiasts' eyes spin in their sockets.

The company continues to update the firmware with fixes and new additions.  It almost seems as they've kicked Panasonic and Olympus into update mode, also.  For me, the X-T1 could have more of a grip and since there would be more room, a bigger battery.  I haven't tried the X-T1 since the 50-140mm f/2.8 lens has become available, but I wonder about the balance.  There are many times when a dSLR still feels just right for shooting sports.  However, I rarely pull out a dSLR these days.

For the majority of camera users, mirror-less models make sense, especially for those who buy a base dSLR and only use the kit lens and set everything to Auto.  Sure, you can take good photos with those, but the same can be said for cameras without the mirror slap.

One thing about mirror-less camera bodies remain--the many acronyms.  MILC seems to fit best because they are indeed Mirror-less, Interchangeable Lens Cameras.  ILC could include dSLRs and rangefinders.  CSC (Compact System Cameras) wouldn't have to have interchangeable lenses.  EVIL doesn't seem to fit as things have progressed since the original Panasonic DMC-G1.

MILCs haven't taken control of the market, but I can see when the crowd is better informed, that they could.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

ShopNBC, err, EVINE goes back to 2006 for computers

I was looking for a laptop computer for someone else.  I looked at one of the shopping channels just to see what they had.

I'm always amused that they cheat by not really being specific.  It's rare that they tell the display's actual specifications, such as the resolution or the graphics hardware behind it.  You can bet that 1366x768 is the 15.6 inch display's resolution and that it has the basic, integrated graphics hardware that is part of the CPU package.

As I've been annoyed in the past with tablet sales from the shopping channels, they're overcharging for laptop computers, as well.  I noticed a mid-2014 MacBook Pro Retina bundle was US$1100 extra for the lovely accessories.  Instead of paying US$1799.99 from various stores, you'll pay US$2899.99 from HSN.
What was really curious was an IBM ThinkPad T60.  Remember that IBM sold their PC business to Lenovo a few years ago.  You'll notice that the display has a 4:3 ratio rather than 16:9 (or even 16:10), as is typical today.  The processor is equally ancient--an Intel Core Duo T2500.  That was replaced with the Core 2 Duo a long, long time ago, and the latest are the Core M, the way Intel brands them.

Even more sadly amusing is that the price is US$214.99 for a refurbished machine from at least 8 years ago.  They should be selling it for just the US$16.99 shipping and handling--or maybe, they should be paying customers the price for taking it off their hands.

In the end, I saw many curious offers for people who can't get out to a real store or those who are not knowledgeable about companies such as Newegg, Micro Center, or even Best Buy.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

I just ordered photographic equipment I never expected: Pentax

I've been searching for a resolution to my lower light problem that wasn't going to cost a fortune, or three.  I found a couple of solutions that might work:

Nikon D750 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8
Nikon D7200 + Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8

At least, US$2000 was required for a solution that wasn't often needed.  You see, I don't photograph at indoor skate parks much.  The solution could help me with indoor gyms and swimming pools and similar situations with poor lighting, but those situations aren't a huge part of my life right now, unlike two years ago.

What's wrong with my current equipment?  Panasonic and Olympus aren't getting the best sensors from Sony, and at a pixel density similar to APS-C at 24 MP, you don't have a lot of luck.  Even the D7200 is not a great substitute right now but it may have enough of an advantage, if I find a bigger need.  In my experience, the Panasonic GH4 is doing well at ISO 3200 with 1080p video but neither the GH4 or Olympus E-M1 did well with photos.  (Take this as I consider it.  If you can't print above 4x6 inches, I don't consider it good image quality.  If you can get 11x14, 11x17, or 13x19 prints from an image, great!)

The D750 would be a much better substitute, but considering that the cost would be US$3500 plus tax, it is even more risky in making my money back.

Therefore, I'm doing something that even I didn't expect.  I'm buying a Pentax K-50 body, now with kit lens, flash, and SD Card for US$419.  Yes, that doesn't solve the lower light problem by itself but it's inexpensive enough, and weather-sealed, that I can become comfortable with it before investing even more money.  I'm actually buying two.  The other is for one of the riders who keeps borrowing my equipment, so that he and his friends can freely make video clips without using me or my equipment as a resource.  I don't think that the kit lens is formidable but I've seen plenty of good that's been done with kit lenses on lesser equipment.  I'll probably try the equipment as a consumer for a week, just to see how that works.

I've mentioned in the past that Pentax firmware is quirky.  Ricoh hasn't changed that, unfortunately, because the company has also had quirkiness of their own.  However, they have proven that their images seem quite noise free, and they have been stating a top sensitivity at ISO 51,200 for quite a long time.

The Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 lens currently $849.95 seems useful, but the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 has been on my list.  The Pentax lens is weather-sealed and the Sigma lens is not.  Generally, weather-sealing is important to me, though indoors, you don't usually have to deal with bad weather, it is sometimes the case.  The Pentax lens is heavily discounted and the Sigma lens is selling for a typical full price.  The Sigma lens likely will require the dock to fix the calibration issues that seem to come with each lens.

There is also a unique 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 fisheye lens available from Pentax, currently at $475.95 but on backorder.  Obviously, this maximum aperture will not be nearly as useful in lower light situations.

The K-50, however, is a compact body.  I don't believe that it's smaller than the Panasonic GH4 and I'm willing to use my older, larger Four-Thirds lenses on the GH4 and they are generally a good combination.

If I've lost my mind, I hope that this is a good insanity.  I looked at Pentax back in 2003 and 2004 when the *ist was their digital model, and after looking at Pentax, Nikon, and Canon, I chose the Olympus E-1 body.  A lot of time has passed and technology has changed.  Further back, I would have bought a Pentax ME Super film camera because it was quite good and the K-mount was new at the time.  I was using a FujiFilm SLR at that time, which used the Pentax screw mount, so the two brands were fairly close.  Around the same time as the Pentax ME arrived, FujiFilm brought the Fujica AZ-1 to market with Aperture priority automatic exposure--and a K-mount.

Update 2015.04.21: The package arrived with both K-50 bodies.  For $419, it included a K-50 body with the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 with the newer, plastic lens mounting.  It's great that it's a light lens, but I have memories of people with their Canon 300D/Digital Rebel with part of the lens in their hand and the other part still attached to the camera.  Obviously, the lens mount itself didn't fail but was it ever ugly in real life experiences.

In the box was also a 4GB EyeFi card.  Since the K-50 came standard with support for the card, it should be an easier way to transfer JPEG files to phones and tablets.

The Adorama kit also included a Monster Cable Advanced 32GB SD Card and a Pentax AF-200FG external flash.  I'm not certain how reliable the SD Card will be.  I always think of Monster Cable products as overpriced junk.  Hopefully, it will be fine.  Obviously, as part of the kit, it wasn't overpriced.  The flash seems good enough, as an add-on to overcome the shadow that might come with the in-body flash and bigger lenses.

The group of items included in the price seemed generous.

This is the first time I've ever owned a lower end dSLR.  However, because this one is weather-sealed, it hardly seems at the lower end.  In my hand, the body seems rugged and well built.  The lens doesn't seem that way, but it seems sufficient for what it is.  I wasn't expecting much.

After charging the battery completely, I inserted it into the slot carefully.  It doesn't have a typical slot, as it can be powered by four AA batteries.  The lithium ion battery fits into the grip, as expected, but it doesn't have a dedicated space.

There was a bit of setup asking me which language to use--Japanese was not an option, unfortunately.  It asked for a time zone and whether daylight saving time (DST) was in use.  It also asked things like date format, and had me enter the date and time.

After the initial setup, I went through some options.  I noticed that the camera came with firmware version 1.00.  I'm fairly sure that the firmware update isn't difficult.  I was reading something about it earlier.  It's only up to version 1.02 anyway.

I really hope that there are fixes to keep the rear display off until I want it enabled.  The tiny (~1000 mAh) battery isn't enough to keep the display going that long.  Adorama has a price of $44.00 for the original replacement.  That seems similar to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 battery, which is small also, and about the same price as the Olympus dSLR battery, which has about 1.5 times the capacity.  The Panasonic GH3/GH4 battery is much bigger and about $80.

The menus are just as awful as everyone else's, though they are shorter, so you don't have to scroll vertically.  I'm hoping that familiarity will save me at some point in time.  While there is a status display, there doesn't seem to be an equivalent to Olympus' great Super Control Panel or Panasonic's Quick Menu, but that may be that I just haven't found it yet.  I'd like to say that it is much easier to use than Olympus or any other menus, but I'm not finding that to be true.

I like that they have two custom user sets of settings.  Now, I just need to learn to fill those and save the sets.

I've taken a few quick shots, just to see how the auto focus and image quality is indoors and in typical lighting.  It responded quickly, but ISO 3200 doesn't seem particularly wonderful with noise reduction disabled.  Auto focus seemed okay, even though it apparently doesn't focus lower than EV -2.  It should be interesting to compare it to the Panasonic GH4, which focuses to EV -4 but often in good light doesn't focus where I want when there are fences or walls available.  As well, the Olympus E-M1 has great face detection and it's great for portraits.

It should be an interesting adventure.  I'll first use it in the simplest modes with JPEG files only.  I will jump to raw files later and really see if there is a bit difference, other than the 4 bits of color per channel.

Update 2015.04.22: The firmware update was painless, virtually the same as Panasonic's updates work.  The exception was that the camera turned itself off, rather than waiting for me to acknowledge that it had completed the update.  That left some doubt in my mind as to whether it had finished correctly or terminated abnormally.

Update 2015.04.23: Geez, let me remove the SD Card easily, please!  Who designed this contraption that puts the card too close to the door?  The card also won't just slide out once it is unlocked.  I tried to tilt the body in several directions and the card did not fall.

Also, who designs a camera body to allow it to do video, but makes it difficult to actually take the video?  Turn the mode dial to movie mode and press the shutter release isn't difficult, but would a red button on the back be too much to ask?  There is a green button on the back panel, but who has green buttons?  Pentax, only, apparently has them.

Update 2015.04.26: For a company that doesn't care about video, the video I've seen from the camera looks good.  I'm not saying that it's in the same league as the Panasonic GH3 but it's certainly as good as the Olympus E-5 that I have.

The scooter rider who has the same equipment bundle that I'm using has been using it very successfully.  He uses it through Live View almost always.  I was taking some video for him and I could not see much of anything that was on the rear display.  I wasn't even sure when it was taking video.

At one point yesterday, I needed to take a photo from just off the road but there wasn't a place where I could park.  He set up my camera to take the shot, and I stopped the car on the shoulder of the road.  Unfortunately, he put it in Live View mode, and handed me the camera.  It would not focus where I wanted.  I couldn't get it to do what I wanted, and I tried several things, in a bit of a panic.  I finally found the Live View button and after disabling it, the auto focus went where I expected.

Also, the Eye Fi card is very useful.  You need to download the Eye Fi Mobi app for either iOS or Android to be used in conjunction with the card.  The K-50 showed the interface as disabled when I first put the card into the camera body.  I enabled the card to Auto, within the camera's menu.  Then, I started the mobile app and entered setup, entering the activation code.  They quickly communicated.  I took a few shots and when I accessed the mobile app again, it transferred the photos I had just taken.

The only thing really disappointing with this bundle is the kit lens.  The only "kit" lens I've had was more expensive than this whole bundle--the Olympus HG ZD 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5.  The Pentax lens isn't horrible.  It's exactly what you should expect from a US$100.00 lens.

Update 2015.05.11: I've used the K-50 a few times without taking another camera body as a backup, forcing me to deal with the equipment honestly.  It frustrates me each time, naturally.

I don't want the rear display enabled normally but because the battery is so small, I want to save battery life.  Pressing the Info button multiple times to turn off the display every time I start the camera is annoying.  It can't remember my selection?

The fixed rear display is another source of frustration.  However, for the price, I can overlook it.  At US$1000-$2000, I would be more frustrated.  Still, I can't really shoot at a low angle without some guessing.  I'm not really thrilled with the Olympus E-M1's sliding rear display vs the Olympus E-5's fully articulated display.

Most of the other frustrations are typical new-user problems, not a problem with the equipment.  The 3:2 format is both not tall enough and not wide enough, compared to my usual 4:3 and 16:9 shooting, respectively, but that is also mostly a new user problem.

Update 2015.07.06: I gave away the K-50 kit about a week ago.  Someone I know had their camera stolen and it seemed the best thing to do.   I want to overreact about theft in this area but it's not a rampant problem although it is quite noticeable.

I'd handed out the K-50 on several occasions to people with almost no experience with cameras and they did quite well with it.  It's very capable for a really good price.  The selection of lenses was more of a problem for me than anything else.

Yesterday, I ended up buying the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 for US$200 off the regular price.  A day earlier, I could have had the Nikon D5500 at US$150 off but I didn't want to buy it for various reasons.  I ended up with the D7200 at full price, which is still less expensive than the original D7100 price.

When I went into the store, I pulled out my Olympus E-5 and ZD 14-35mm f/2.0 lens.  The D7200 and Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 is a smaller combination, although the focal length range is shorter and there is no weather-sealing, and it's much easier to design for 18mm than for 14mm.