All Hail The High King Of The Handsome Photograph

Last summer I thought I’d try DSLRs again, and after much research bought a Pentax K-30.

It’s a lovely camera and ticks many boxes.

So why wouldn’t I care much if I never used it again?

There are two main issues.

First, whilst it’s far from a cutting edge camera (released in 2012 and superseded multiple times since), it’s just far too complicated for my needs. 

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The menus are logical and familiar (I’ve had five or six Pentax DSLRs) and once set up, I don’t alter the settings much from shot to shot, other than aperture and exposure compensation.

But I just don’t like all that complexity.

It’s superfluous, like having a car with cruise control, an automatic gearbox, and a six channel sound system with full iPod integration, when you just want something you can rely on to get you from A to B, whilst being in full control yourself.

The second issue is the images. 

Again, it’s just too good.

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After some deliberation, the most apt word that comes to mind is handsome.

The K-30 is king of the handsome photograph. 

Those that, like a handsome male model, a highly efficient smart phone or an expertly engineered bridge, you can admire coolly from a distance.

But not really have any emotional attachment to, or connection with.

The pictures are technically beautiful, but it’s an aloof beauty, not like the earthy and homely appeal of the quirky girl next door with the glasses and the crooked smile you had a crush on for seven years.

I kind of want to give the K-30 another chance, because it really is a great camera.

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I guess I’m just hoping if I spend enough time with it, I’ll find something more to love, rather than admire from a distance.

Do you have cameras you admire but struggle to love? Do you have cameras that make pictures that are technical good, but leave you cold somehow? 

Do you have a K-30, and if so can you help me love mine better?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

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15 thoughts on “All Hail The High King Of The Handsome Photograph”

  1. Yup. My most recent digital camera purchase was my Canon EOS 1100D which I bought new in I think 2013, complete with two kit lenses, the 18-55mm and the 75-300mm. It is a very competent entry level DSLR, but I have to say it never really inspired me. A couple of years ago I got back into film, which I am loving, but the additional bonus has been realising that I can adapt my vintage zeiss lenses to the Canon, which has transformed it. So when I use the Canon now it is almost always with a vintage lens, either completely manual or aperture priority. It is much easier to gain the artistic control I want with manual focusing and aperture on the lens, where it is completely intuitive, and with the shutter speed controlled with the thumbwheel. The only time I need to take my eye from the viewfinder is to change the ISO setting, so you could say we have reached an understanding and the camera has had a reprieve from the shelf!

    1. Thanks Steve. I wonder about camera names sometimes, I mean who could ever fall in love with a camera called an EOS 1100D? Doesn’t inspire any kind of anticipation or excitement does it! Maybe I’m expecting more than the average DSLR buyer.

      That said I have many times considered a digital EOS. I had two or three EOS SLRs and they were pretty much flawless in terms of handling and ease of use and delivered excellent results. Like you I used them with vintage lenses as the large EOS mount is so adaptable.

      It would make a lot of sense to get a digital EOS to use my old M42 favourites. But again there’s that lack of any kind of connection or excitement. Like the Pentax K30, which I really want to love but doesn’t do anything for me like the old CCD models.

  2. As you may know Dan, I can and choose only to shoot with one proper camera for a long period of time (well maybe two if i include my iphone) as I’m scared to fall into the trap of making the choice every time (something you talked about in previous post i believe)
    I remember when using entry level DSLRs and images were ok, it was great to learn with them but i’d still use presets and tweak in PP to get the wanted results.
    It’s important to not worry about your camera and settings while shooting and for a few years now my little Fuji does the trick for me.
    Nice macro shots by the way!

    1. Yuri, one of the major landmarks in my photograph adventure was discovering the Pentax K10D, which could take lovely JPEGs in camera without any processing. Before this I shot RAW with it and use LightRoom presets etc, but I was endlessly tweaking every image. Way too much time on a computer that could/should have been proper photography time, ie out shooting with a camera. Once I got fed up with RAW (and LightRoom, that’s another story) and trusted the good old 10MP CCD of the K10D it set me free! My K100D has a very similar sensor, but the 6MP predecessor (I can’t tell the difference in the final pictures unless I look at the image pixel dimensions) and my K-m has the same 10MP CCD as the old K10D. My K30 has a CMOS sensor, but with that b/w mode and the contrast cranked up, it delivers well straight out of camera too. In fact the colour images are pretty good too. Just don’t have the special something the K100D/ K-m/ K10D seem to produce in colour.

      In many ways I envy you just having one camera you love and committing to it.

  3. I love my Nikon D750. It takes images that I can work with. If I am going to created art I go to that camera. The images are less noisy and less cartoony. It is simple to just use the A setting and only adjust for depth of field. I use back button focusing to stay on track with birds. My Sony DSC-RX10M4 is a slightly better than my cell, a Samsung Note 10+. Good for snaps.

    1. That D750 looks a pretty serious camera! Like you I generally use Aperture Priority mode and adjust for the required depth of field. Sometimes I just default to Program where a precise DOF isn’t necessary, or just leave the lens somewhere in the middle like f/7 or 8. I looked up your Sony, that’s a very expensive and hefty looking camera to be only “slightly better” than a smart phone! I thought it would blow smartphone images away.

      1. The Sony has a good zoom, but the internal processing on images tends to make them come out cartoony. I prefer to do my own selective noise reduction post., similar to my cell.

  4. I have a K-50 which is a K-30 in different clothes… so close enough 🙂 Everything other than appearance is basically exactly the same.
    Try these settings:
    For color pictures, select the Muted setting (stay with me, the pictures won’t be muted at all!). Then apply the following settings: Saturation: Max; Toning: Cyan; High/Low Key Adj: 1 to the right; Contrast: Max and don’t apply any sharpening – if anything take sharpening out (the more you take out, the more “real” and less “perfect” the pictures will look!)
    For black and white: Filter Effect: Magenta; Toning: In the middle; High/Low Key Adj: One to the Right; Contrast: Max and again, as little sharpening as you are comfortable with. Lately I just go all the way down.
    The Magenta filter really brings those low midtones to life.
    Let’s see what you say, I don’t know if you’ll like the color pictures setting, but it will make you see the camera in a different light! Colors are so much more film-like than the regular settings.

    1. Thanks very much for this Chris, I took your settings as a starting point then experimented further. See the results in the latest post about the K-30.

  5. I wish my pictures were only too good! I’ve never had that problem with any of my cameras, I’m sad to say. I’m just being cheeky, I know what you’re driving at. I think it’s a fairly well-documented phenomenon. But I’m fortunate enough to be constrained by my natural limitations 🙂 That b/w of the fern is neat!

    1. Thanks re the fern, the local woods is full of these gently unfurling at present. I think there’s almost a wider phenomenon these days that virtually anyone can make a photograph with a camera phone or digital camera on auto and it look pretty amazing, superficially. Especially if you add a filter in Instagram or Google Photos or Snapseed etc. The “art” in photography used to be so much harder to find back in the film days, and even in early digital days when you needed to know more about how to set the camera up to make the most of its capabilities, and overcome its limitations. Today, cameras – even in phones – have hardly any limitations, in terms of producing a cosmetically beautiful looking image.

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