I love the effect of long exposures, and the strong ND filters like the Big Stopper or the B&W ND110 are fantastic, but pricey. There used to be a cheap alternative from Citiwide, but sadly it suffered consistency problems and they stopped making it. I recently decided to add a 6 stop ND32 filter to my lineup, for the evenings when the ND110 was just a bit dark. I ordered a 77mm ND32 from a UK seller on ebay and the initial results are promising. It is actually darker than the B&W (by about 2 or three stops I think) and it was only £12. Seems to be glass and decent quality (for a £12 filter). It has a bit of a blue tinge on long exposures and vignetting is evident at wide angle (I think this is due to the increased density as a result of the angle of light entry, it is not from the mount. You also see it with the dark welding filters which are much larger than the front of the lens). Anyway, more results when I have had a chance for a thorough play with it.
There used to be a lot of on-line hysteria about soft images and mirror slap with the Pentax Kx. I was not really convinced that mine was affected by the slapping, but I was getting soft photos. Now that the camera is over a year old (but still in warranty as I bought from a Pentax Pro dealer), I decided it was time to have a go at testing for front/back focus and trying adjusting with the debug menu http://www.pentax-hack.info/documents/debug.html Well slap me 😉 if the thing wasn’t front focussing! I have made the adjustment to 90 (out of 150 I think) and it is all a lot better now. This one setting seems to be acceptable for the two main lenses I use now, the Sigma 10-20 and the Sigma 18-125 HSM. It also has improved my catch-in-focus success with the Takumar 28mm and Pentax SMC 50 f1.4. Looks like I can delay the K5 for the moment.
Before I go any further I have a confession. I am actually a paid up Adobe user now. To do the wedding pictures for my brother I bought a copy of Elements 9 (and Portrait Professional, but that is another story). Buying into the coven has not changed that much though, I still like some of the excellent tools coming from Linux or opensource developers. One really nifty editor I found recently is Photivo http://photivo.org/photivo/start Have a look at it, it offers some very interesting and powerful manipulation of image colour and detail. Not a complete package yet, but it works in tandem with Gimp, a powerful image editor. I am still playing with Photivo and need to be a bit more systematic, but it looks interesting enough to keep going.