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08-20-2010, 01:38 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
Hey everyone,
...
I bought Pentax about a year and a half ago to teach myself photography...

I'm not rich. Far from it, actually, I'm a stingy student...
...
There is a difference between cost and value.

Think of it this way:

As a student, you willingly pay tuition... right?

Well, take the price of that lens you are lusting after then subtract the price you think it ought to sell for... Consider the difference your tuition cost for that len's learning curve.

For example: Want a new FA 31 for free?

Here's how to get it. The price for a new FA 31 is about $1,000. Let's say it takes a year and a half to learn how to really make it dance for you. If you consider a $1/day a fair price for the hands on "opportunity" to learn all there is to know about it then subtract another $1/day for the friendships you will gain as a result, suddenly you discover that it really cost you about $zero to own it. Plus, after only 1 1/2 years, you are set for life with an FA 31 that will excel at all of the challenges you can throw at it.

YMMV, but it sure makes an FA 31 look like a fabulous deal to me!

Cheers...

08-20-2010, 04:33 PM   #17
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You always have to remember that when you buy a camera body, you are buying into a camera system. This means that you need to make certain that you can have your lens needs satisfied by that company.

To me, the strengths of Pentax are: (1) Small primes, with all metal construction for reasonable prices. Nikon has a few cheap lenses and a lot of quite expensive lenses and little in the middle. (2) Image stabilized primes. Very few primes in other systems are stabilized and those that are tend to be both long and very expensive. I have shot my FA 50 at f2 and 1/4 second exposure. Not possible with Nikon without a tripod. (3) Reasonably priced high end zooms. The DA 16-50 and DA 50-135 are priced in the 900 dollar range. Sounds pretty expensive until you realize that Nikon 17-55 f2.8 runs about 1400 dollars and the 70-200 f2.8 VR II runs 2200 dollars.

Maybe the strengths of Pentax don't work for you. If that is true then go with Nikon, but I think for what you are willing to spend you are unlikely to find significant improvements over Pentax, particularly considering what you will lose on selling your current equipment.
08-20-2010, 07:25 PM   #18
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The primes are one good reason to consider Pentax but is it enough? Not for everyone. I would tend to agree that all manufacturers offer fairly similar products in terms of features etc in today's world, so other factors come into play. Pentax is not available in stores in some markets. One may want to follow the majority or side with the "little guy". The right combination of body/lens may be cheaper in one brand. In the end, any well informed choice is fine.
08-20-2010, 09:47 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
Hey everyone,

I'm going to admit, I am very discouraged. I bought Pentax about a year and a half ago to teach myself photography, and to that extent, it has been a very good camera! In fact the ONLY problem I have with the k20d is metering with M lenses, but I have learnt to cope with that. In the end, the experience taught me tonnes about exposure and RAW processing.

I am NOT bashing Pentax, every legacy Pentax lens I have used is everything I could hope for, IQ wise. However, I am beginning to really wonder if I should sink any more money into this brand.

Here's why - I'm not rich. Far from it, actually, I'm a stingy student. All my research 1.5 years ago told me that Pentax was THE bang for the buck brand. But all of a sudden, lens prices went way north, and made it really more like a Canon value brand, without the selection.

Sure the bodies themselves are reasonably priced, but the typical lens from Pentax is more expensive than that of Nikon... and with Nikon, you are paying for IS in the lens every time you buy! In body image stabilization drew me to Pentax, because it was supposed to save me money on lenses. Seems that hypothesis was bull!

Now I realize that Nikon lenses can be the price of a new car, and I will never, ever be buying one of those. But for me to get myself and AF fast fifty (not exactly a high demand), I will need to spend about 33% more for a Pentax lens than a Nikon (both 1.4). Why?

Furthermore, when I got into the used lens market.... I realized that the scarcity of Pentax glass actually made it harder to get a good deal on the lenses, not easier. I regularly see Nikon auto-aperture glass go for the same prices as Pentax manual glass. Every single piece of research I've done after I learned my way around photography has told me that Nikon is where the REAL deals lie. Sure, you need to buy a D300 for maximum backwards compatibility, but even if I were to buy a d5000, I would be able to buy lenses in a system that I would eventually be able to upgrade to the DX00 line (or full frame in 5 years, for the matter).

I understand Hoya is revamping the company, but I simply don't see the value in the brand for someone like me anymore. The limited primes? NICE. Very unique. Totally out of the question for someone like me, price wise.

This is not a troll... set me straight! Guide my hand to the real deals. I like MF for the fun, but when something is happening really fast, MF can be a nightmare. I need options in the AF category, and right now, none of them seem like a good deal. I'd rather just wait until my Pentax breaks and decide where to throw my money then...
Possibly if you were to be more specific about what sorts of photograhy you are trying to do and what focal lengths your are looking for some specific advice could be given. In general I suggest you consider earlier used Pentax AF zooms. Some are quite respectable and affordable. As a relative beginner you can learn a lot without expensive primes or brand new zooms.

In terms of MF Nikon primes, I would be cautious. I am very familiar with several Nikon primes built in the late seventies, having used them professionallyl for several years. Pentax SMC lenses are distinclty better in terms of flare control due to the excellent coating. I often used my personal pentax gear in place of Nikon in critical situations . For that reason, the back compatibility picure for Nikon gear is not as rosy as it looks.

I cannot comment on later Nikon MF lenses as I have no experience with them and am not particularly interested in Nikon history.

I also have substantial experience with first-generation Nikon AF lens. They tended to be a definite improvement over the MF lenses mentioned above but often had slightly more flare than SMC equivalents.

If I were you I wouldn't jump systems until I had more experience under my belt.
I wouldn't discourage you completely if you're looking at current lenses because Nikon and Canon have come a long way regarding optical quality.

08-20-2010, 09:55 PM   #20
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Hey P-Bag - just order your lenses from an american dealer like most Canadians do. You will pay slightly higher shipping and will have to pay the GST and your provincial sales tax upon import (no duty). With the Canadian $ close to par you are saving a lot of cash going this route..
08-22-2010, 06:41 PM   #21
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Thank you everyone for your responses!

I overall agree with the advice given, and while I have been entertaining the idea of jumping to Nikon, I think the advice that I should wait until I have more experience under my belt is strong.

I went with Pentax because I was enticed by well-priced primes - I like prime lenses better than zooms because you tend to get more IQ bang for the buck, faster apertures, and size reduction at the cost of some flexibility.

At first I found all sorts of deals in the prime category - in the manual focus world. Not a bad place to be, I am learning, because if you actually get good at manual focus it can be much faster than AF.

But when I went to look for AF lenses in the used market... well I can't really find any. The few I can find aren't really deals. Now maybe I was under the wrong impression - by value I should have understood that to mean high quality for the money (which has been my experience) instead of cheaper than brand X. When I began doing comparisons, I was beginning to believe that I had to pay a premium for Pentax, but maybe the truth is that Pentax does not offer much in the lower quality department - there is no FA50 1.8 anymore, for example.

Overall I really appreciate your criticisms of my thought processes. When it boils down to it, I think the issue is that Pentax only offers good or great quality glass, and does not offer much in the cheap category. Of course, with backwards compatibility, I think that there are a plethora of good deals in the legacy department!

I had a great chat with my pro friend this weekend (he's a Canon fiend, but he's very balanced when it comes to brands). He told me that I should not be so reliant on the metering inside the camera, and that changing brands would not really help that. Instead, he told me that you just need to learn the light so you don't need a computer to tell you what to do. I think that was very sound advice.

I think I need to buy a good light-meter and not rely on the in-camera metering, and continue to use MF so that I can become better than any AF system .

---

As an aside, I do have one question - the K7 and D90 are about the same price, and both have an autofocus motor inside of them. So what are the disadvantaes of the Nikon backwards compatibility that some of you hinted at? I am curious because for the same price of a Pentax M lens, one can get a Nikon A (it's not called that, but you know what I mean) 50mm 1.8. The metering would presumably be better with the A lens, no?
08-23-2010, 07:16 PM   #22
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I can't speak for your friend, but I doubt that he meant that you switch your dependence from the in-camera meter to an off-camera meter - he most likely meant you shouldn't be so dependent on *any* meter, period. Although I'd put this a bit differently. There's nothing wrong with using a meter - whether in camera or off camera - to provide you with information. But you need to know how to augment that information with your own knowledge and experience to know when and how to override the meter's suggestion. And that's equally true whether the meter in question is located inside or outside of your camera.

As for Nikon compatibility, my understanding is that the issue is that some older lenses won't work correctly even with the D90. I keep hearing references to complex chart showing which lenses work with which bodies. But I don't really know.
08-24-2010, 04:09 PM   #23
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I agree with paperbag...

I too have had similar feelings about Pentax for a while.

My issue is generally with the basic 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm primes. Both Canon and Nikon offer decent quality primes for much less than Pentax's 40mm, 50mm and 70mm llineup. Plus, Canikon's 35 and 85 are a tad faster.

Sure, everyone will say "build quality", "tack sharp", "color rendition"...but I don't think most of us amatures could really tell the difference.

About the legacy glass, Canon can use all of the M42's also, so I don't think there is much advantage there. Plus, eventhough everyone acts like they love shooting on full manual, I bet most people like using the technological advancements in cameras over the past 40 years. And this is coming from someone who shoots mostly with legacy glass due to financial reasons.

08-24-2010, 05:58 PM   #24
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I think you're misrepresenting the differences here.

First, there's nothing "basic" about a 50mm lens on APS-C. It's kind of an oddball focal length. But for those who want it (people who like shooting relatively wide portraits, or who like shooting them from relatively close up, for example), the 50/1.4's are virtually the same price from everyone. The issue is that C&N offer slower and less quality 50/1.8 for those who want this oddball focal length but don't want to spend as much. That's fine, but it doesn't take a professional to tell the difference between f/1.8 and f/1.4. Not that most amateurs *need* f/1.4, of course.

As for the 85 versus 70, first, the price difference isn't actually that great, but the real advantage of the Pentax isn't the subtleties you mention but rather the *size*. And 85mm is getting to be too long - in the same way that 50 is too short - for portrait use. the real issue with C&N here is that they haven't updated their prime lineup for APS-C much at all compared to Pentax.

And as for 35mm, it's true Nikon has this nailed, but Canon doesn't really have any better a story than Pentax here.

Anyhow, yes, if you pick and choose lenses, there are a small handful where Canon has a noticeably better price. Also a small handful where Nikon does. and also a small handful where Pentax does. As I've said before, in the long run, it all tends to average out.

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 08-25-2010 at 11:03 AM.
08-24-2010, 07:12 PM   #25
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When I started with Pentax DSLRs in 2007, I felt that Pentax cameras and lenses were both clearly a better value than the competition. It's not like that now, so I think it's reasonable to complain. Many of us work for the same or lower wages than a year or even a decade ago, if we even have work at all, so increases in camera/lens prices aren't easy to absorb.

Paul
08-24-2010, 07:45 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
When I started with Pentax DSLRs in 2007, I felt that Pentax cameras and lenses were both clearly a better value than the competition. It's not like that now, so I think it's reasonable to complain. Many of us work for the same or lower wages than a year or even a decade ago, if we even have work at all, so increases in camera/lens prices aren't easy to absorb.

Paul
Paul you definitely not alone and have every right to complain.

Thankfully as a Pentax user I can use less costly, but very high quality Takumars and Russian lenses to counter these large price increases. I am very grateful that Pentax has given me the option to do this.

I'm happy for all you high-rollers out there who aren't feeling the pinch right now, but there are many of us who are forced to buy our Pentax lenses used when we can buy them at all. This obviously doesn't help the company.
08-25-2010, 07:53 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by jeff knight Quote
I'm happy for all you high-rollers out there who aren't feeling the pinch right now, but there are many of us who are forced to buy our Pentax lenses used when we can buy them at all. This obviously doesn't help the company.
My thoughts exactly.

A lens like an AF or DA 50mm 1.8 or 28mm 2.8 in the bargain realm would be very nice. I would gladly pay 150 - 200 for either of those. In the prime category, it seems that unless one is willing to pay 450 + (canadian), then you really need to look at manual focus.

It seems the rarity of used pentax AF makes it not anywhere close to a deal compared to what you can find in the Nikon / Canon lineup.

I'm still very torn, however, because the all manual K55 1.8 or M 1.7 is a very good deal compared to any of that... just expect to lose some shots as the light changes.

Maybe backwards compatibility has everything to do with this: Pentax only sees a market in new lenses that do things differently than the legacy glass which is available for 1/3 the price. I find the A lens lineup very easy to use, but have some real trouble in tight situations with the manual lenses. It's mostly a metering issue... and I'm not sure Nikon's is any better really.

Maybe I'm just making the newbie mistake of blaming my gear instead of myself
08-26-2010, 04:24 AM   #28
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One thing that I have discovered over time is that it is often worth waiting to buy a lens till I have saved up for the one I really want, rather than getting something that is a "stop gap." I personally don't enjoy manual focusing and so I have not purchased any manual focus glass. At the same time, I know that even if was a Canon shooter, I would not be satisfied with their 50mm f1.8 lens and would have to save for one of the more expensive ones anyway.

The marketplace is actually a pretty good place to pick up used glass -- better in my opinion than e bay.

I wouldn't be surprised if Pentax brings out a DA L version of the FA 35 for 250 dollars, but if they do, it will be a cheap build and lacking a hood.
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