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10-17-2010, 05:23 PM   #1
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Should I stay with Pentax or not?

Hello,

I'm having a big dillema here. I just bought my first dSLR, K-x with 18-55mm and 55-300mm lens kit two weeks ago. I absolutely love the build quality of both the lens and camera body, and like the colors.

But I do have a small problem with the lenses Pentax makes. The focus on these kit lenses are pretty bad. Doesn't matter if I go with 5 points or 1 center point AF, it does a bad job a lot and I have to either focus a few times before it gets it or just give up and go manual. The motor is REALLY noisy as well, and many times it does a whole zoom loop (where it can't focus and goes in and other of focus).

So I thought... ok these are just kit starter lenses. But I go on Amazon and look at the prices.... they're on average 3x as expensive as comparable Canon lenses I find, and the selection is TINY! Not to mention Canon as the 50mm f/1.8 lens at an amazing price of $99. Something similar on Pentax costs $400! It's ridiculous

So basically can you say something to encourage me to stay? Are Canon lenses the same way on the lower end? And is the focusing problem a body problem or lens problem?

Oh and the dillema is that I have a few days more before I can return the camera kit for a full refund xD forgot to mention


Last edited by RUSBoris; 10-17-2010 at 05:29 PM.
10-17-2010, 05:41 PM   #2
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G'day Boris.

I have a few thoughts on your problem.

1, you will not get a Canon (or Nikon) body anywhere near as capable as the K-x for the price. The K-x is the best entry level camera available (maybe now topped by the K-r, but at a higher price)

2, yep, its true that canon have a few 'loss leader' primes. The build quality, materials used and IQ are the things that determine the price of a lens (and the ability of the company to absorb a loss). The el cheapo Canon is no match for the FA50 1.4 in any of these criteria, it is cheap, and it is meant to be. These are not comparable, as you state, they are lenses of a different class. Pentax do not currently have an el cheapo 50mm prime (despite much gnashing of teeth on these boards) You can however find a jewel of a manual focus prime such as a M50 1.4 for a few dollars. These things have outstanding IQ, are built like a tank and beat the pants off the Canon el cheapo's.

3, yes, its true that Canon has a vastly larger selection of lenses. A lot of cheap crap, a lot of stellar "L" series. Lots of lenses most will never use like 400mm F2.8 or tilt shift lenses. To get equivalent quality to the Pentax offerings in DA or FA you will be spending significant amounts of cash for a Canon lens. An you will be paying for image stabilisation in each and every lens. With Pentax the IS (or VR or SR, same thing, different nomenclature) is built into the body.) Therefore you get SR with any lens you can mount. Millions of them!

Something to think about
10-17-2010, 05:46 PM   #3
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Are you looking for top-end performance from entry-level cameras and lenses? Maybe you could try some hands-on usage at the camera store of a Canon or Nikon to see it better meets your needs.
10-17-2010, 05:56 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Focus

QuoteOriginally posted by RUSBoris Quote
So basically can you say something to encourage me to stay? Are Canon lenses the same way on the lower end? And is the focusing problem a body problem or lens problem?
In my limited experience of Canon lenses, the auto focus, even of their kit lenses is better than Pentax when used on their higher end bodies, however I have friends who have low end Canon bodies with moderately high end lenses and they complain about the focus precision of their kit, particularly the long lenses where it is more noticeable if there is a significant problem. Focus speed is comparable on some lenses and much faster on others.
In my experience the Pentax auto focus on K10/20D is much fussier than on Canon and so takes a little longer to focus but gets a spot on result. All that may be about to change with the two new bodies currently being released which seem to be a major catch up. Any camera/lens combo can miss focus in low contrast or poor light settings and shift through it's entire range.

The Canon 50mm f1.8 you mention is cheap because it is cheaply made. The Optics are OK but the construction is mostly plastic. One friend has broken three of them in four years. The short focus stopper just wears out and the focus ring is pliable enough and the focus motor strong enough that the lens just pops itself apart and the end elements end up on the ground. However he doesn't seem to mind as he says it is cheap enough to just keep buying them and then he never has to bother about cleaning them either.

As you bought the Kx, I guess you don't particularly care about the big advantage that Pentax holds: Affordable Weatherproofing. That is the main reason I am sticking with Pentax.

Whatever brand of camera you have, don't feel tied to their lens range. Tamron, Sigma, (Tokina) and Samyang produce some excellent affordable lens for all major mounts. The Pentax range has great build quality and some nice features like the best focus clutch system available. I agree that some are overpriced, but most are designed to last indefinitely. Cheaper lenses (possibly including the "L" series that you probably have) generally are not.

So no definitive answer for you. You have to decide which features are important to you.

10-17-2010, 06:04 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by wizofoz Quote
G'day Boris.

I have a few thoughts on your problem.

1, you will not get a Canon (or Nikon) body anywhere near as capable as the K-x for the price. The K-x is the best entry level camera available (maybe now topped by the K-r, but at a higher price)

2, yep, its true that canon have a few 'loss leader' primes. The build quality, materials used and IQ are the things that determine the price of a lens (and the ability of the company to absorb a loss). The el cheapo Canon is no match for the FA50 1.4 in any of these criteria, it is cheap, and it is meant to be. These are not comparable, as you state, they are lenses of a different class. Pentax do not currently have an el cheapo 50mm prime (despite much gnashing of teeth on these boards) You can however find a jewel of a manual focus prime such as a M50 1.4 for a few dollars. These things have outstanding IQ, are built like a tank and beat the pants off the Canon el cheapo's.

3, yes, its true that Canon has a vastly larger selection of lenses. A lot of cheap crap, a lot of stellar "L" series. Lots of lenses most will never use like 400mm F2.8 or tilt shift lenses. To get equivalent quality to the Pentax offerings in DA or FA you will be spending significant amounts of cash for a Canon lens. An you will be paying for image stabilisation in each and every lens. With Pentax the IS (or VR or SR, same thing, different nomenclature) is built into the body.) Therefore you get SR with any lens you can mount. Millions of them!

Something to think about
Can the M 50mm 1.4 be mounted on the K x body or do you need an adapter of some sort? And how does IQ compare to the 18-55 kit lens? Do you know?
10-17-2010, 06:06 PM   #6
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lens upgrade

I have a KX also. My first dslr. The kit lenses that came with it, 18-50 and 50-200 I found to be very poor. Since then I have bought a Tamron 17-50, Pentax 77 mm, pentax 50mm 1.4 and a Pentax 55-300. The new lenses have been a huge improvement. I dont care how good the camera is, the pictures will be no better than the lens on the front of it.
10-17-2010, 06:10 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by RUSBoris Quote
Can the M 50mm 1.4 be mounted on the K x body or do you need an adapter of some sort? And how does IQ compare to the 18-55 kit lens? Do you know?
The M50/1.4 is superior to the 18-55 kit lens in terms of IQ and needs no adapter. Of course you lose AF and the 18-49mm focal length range compared to the kit lens.

If you want a prime, I would personally suggest the new DA35/2.4 or a used F50/1.7. Either one should run you about $200 and would give you great IQ and AF. If you want a better zoom, a used 16-45/4 would run about $250 and is another good option.
10-17-2010, 06:19 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by dehanson1 Quote
I dont care how good the camera is, the pictures will be no better than the lens on the front of it.
... and, to some extent, than the photographer behind it.

10-17-2010, 06:20 PM   #9
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Regarding focus failure, can you specify what sort of problem you have encounter? Are you trying to focus in difficult lighting condition to a low contrast item?
10-17-2010, 06:22 PM   #10
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There is little time left, but one thing I suggest for you to do is to try out the Canon you are interested in buying. In my family, I have a Pentax K-x, and my siter has a Rebel XSi. If you are shopping for a Canon, I presume you are interested in the T1i or T2i?

This is what I get from experience in low light situations, which I presume is what you tested on:
Pentax K-x produces much better quality images in low light situations, but autofocusing is a bummer.
Canon XSi is much better at focusing, but quality is crap. It looks great on the LCD, but when you zoom in and look on a computer, the noise control is terrible.

Unfortunately, screw mount lenses will produce more noise than the in-lens motor of all the EF Canons.

All I can say is this: Each Camera brand/system has it's nuances that the photographer has to work around. Try out both if you can, perhaps from a friend, and if you really like the Canon more for quicker AF and quieter AF, then go that way. If you want a great bang for buck IQ, then go for the Pentax K-x.
10-17-2010, 06:26 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by RUSBoris Quote
Can the M 50mm 1.4 be mounted on the K x body or do you need an adapter of some sort? And how does IQ compare to the 18-55 kit lens? Do you know?
Any Pentax lens can be mounted on a Pentax body - the M42 lenses need the adapter.

Generally Pentax's kit lenses are better than Canon and Nikon, and from what I understand a tad less than Olympus. My kit lenses are 5 years old (from the K100) and still perform very well even with a higher resolution sensor in the K20. The kit lenses admittedly have a pretty slow aperture. Also, to get a good focus, you do need some contrast. It would help if you posted the images (with the EXIF data attached) so folks are able to see the conditions you are complaining about.

QuoteQuote:
Since then I have bought a Tamron 17-50, Pentax 77 mm, pentax 50mm 1.4 and a Pentax 55-300. The new lenses have been a huge improvement.
The kit lenses are not going to compare with a prime, and to compare them against the FA 77 Limited is utter non sense. The 77 has the reputation of being one of the best lenses ever produced - by anyone. Of course you are going to see a large improvement with the 50/1.4, the 17-50 is a very good lens, and the 55-300 is very good. I would have suggested that you should have done some research and purchased the Kx with the 55-300 kit (the DAL has the same optical design as the DA). The 55-300 is much better than the older 50-200 design.


Last edited by interested_observer; 10-17-2010 at 06:41 PM.
10-17-2010, 06:28 PM   #12
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since you are saying you have problem focusing correctly with both lenses I will assume that they are not both decalibrated. that being the case, the problem is about 30 cm behind the viewfinder (i.e. the user)
two weeks isn't nearly enough to get to know your camera and lenses and how to get the best from them but over time if you are willing to lear you can get great results, even with your existing equipment.
btw the canon 1.8/50 isn't nearly as good as the 1.4/50 that Pentax offers, sure Pentax doesn't offer an AF 50 for $99 but my A 1.7/50 cost less than that and beats the crap out of the Canon.
p.s. as we are talking cheep primes you might want to eye the new 2.4/35, I know I am
10-17-2010, 06:32 PM   #13
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you will find, if you switch that a lense like the EF-S 55-250 is a steal of a lense and generally delivers quite well with GREAT IS (Canon's version of SR in the lense). it's a 4-stop IS and does deliver quite well and sells new for under $300.

After than the next best zoom option is a $600 EF-70-200/4 in the Canon brand zooms. The Canon 18-55 kit lense, is worse than the Pentax but not by much. As for Canon primes...the 50/1.8 is fun but really over rated beyond a curiosity and intro lense for using primes to those who were born after the zoom lense became "the thing".

I would say to post some samples of what is wrong, in the right part of the forums, and ask for help figuring out what you might be doing wrong. It would be odd for both lenses to not deliver reasonable results. Of course your camera body itself could need some calibration, it happens with all brands. But until you show examples you won't know for sure.

I also agree you won't find a new body that is a better entry level DSLR than the K-x but that doesn't mean it's not buggered...or maybe it's you not the camera. Folks here will help figure it out. but ya gotta give them something to work with.
10-17-2010, 06:42 PM   #14
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I spent about a week with both a Canon 550D (T2i) and the K-x. Ultimately, I chose the K-x because I really liked the ergonomics and the price was cheaper.

But, that being said, my experience with the two cams are similar to those posted above. The K-x delivers better low light quality pics, but the AF is just really poor compared to what the T2i offered. K-x AF is slow, noisy, and indecisive -- meaning, the lens will zoom in, zoom a little back out, then zoom a little back in, before it finally focuses. The 550D on the other hand, just zoomed right in and locked on focus in one go.

I presume the Nikon D3100 might also be a good choice for a beginner cam, but I havent read much up on it. Generally, Nikon leads the pack when it comes to AF though.

So in general, with Pentax you get good IQ in low light, in-body SR, but poor AF (at least in the previous generation, K-r, K-5 probably different).
10-17-2010, 06:48 PM   #15
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To get precise AF, in case you want to take a photo of a close object, pre-focus at some distance before actually focusing on the subject, or, in case you want to take a pic of a distant object, pre-focus on you hand, for instance. That way, you'll force the AF to give you an accurate result.

Reports say the new Pentax camera have much better AF systems. Given the (still) cheap cost of legacy lenses (I've just used a Tak 35mm 3.5 wide open in low light, and it's spectacular: paid $60 for it!) and the superb Pentax sensor performance of the entry bodies, I'd tell you to wait some more.
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