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09-27-2011, 03:25 AM   #1
Emma Brooks

First dslr advice

Hi everyone, i have been loitering around your site reading threads for awhile now and while i am learning lots it isn't helping me decide which camera to get! I am trying to be sensible and move slowly as i have never done photography or had any type of SLR camera. I love photography and have been saving for a VERY long time to buy my first DSLR. I have read about other brands of DSLR but would really like some feedback from other users as to what type of camera you think would best suit my needs.
I am a very very novice DSLR photographer, I have never been happy with my point and shoot photos. I have two kids (7months and 2years) and I want to take gorgeous photos of them (obviously) but also want to take good photos of whatever tickles my fancy.
After reading lots of threads i am thinking get a basic DSLR and when i am more sure of the type of photos i love to take, get a good lens that works for that style, i am just not sure which camera will best suit me (a novice who aims to improve as fast as I can learn it). I don't really want to have to upgrade the camera, I was thinking a K-R, if anyone has time to offer advice I would greatly appreciate it.
Thanks so much

09-27-2011, 05:57 AM   #2
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You really can't go wrong nowadays with any entry level camera, they all have much larger sensors than point and shoot cameras, will resolve the scene you are shooting very well and are much more responsive in their handling than a point and shoot. There are differences like image noise in low-light photos, focusing accuracy, feature sets, but will all do the same basic things.

The reason most of us go with Pentax is the compact size of the cameras, the wealth of features offered on the cameras, the colours, image quality, weather sealing on some models, ruggedness, ergonomics and the compact but very high quality lenses, both old and new. Pentax is the single manufacturer which has really made a concerted effort to be backward compatible with their entire lens lineup, and this is a huge plus. It makes acquiring high quality, fast lenses affordable to most amateur photographers.
09-27-2011, 10:30 AM   #3
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A good starting point would be the kr w/ 35mm lens- it'll get you great images and bokeh.

Pentax K-r Camera Kit W/35mm Lens (Black) 14678 B&H Photo Video

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09-27-2011, 03:40 PM   #4
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K-r would be great, but I'd just hold off a few days and see what if anything is announced on 1st October (or is it 3rd?) when there's a photo trade show in Paris and there are rumors that a new DSLR will be announced by Pentax there, possibly/probably the successor to the K-r.

09-27-2011, 09:54 PM   #5
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Thankyou for the advice, Twitch a little scary that yet another camera could be released to tempt me! I have friends telling me to get the K-5 but i am not sure this is the best one to start out with, seems like a camera for a more experienced user? I wouldn't want to get it and then not use all the features it has, would seem a waste...

Just a quick edit to say OP is me, i decided to join to soak up more info and ask more questions!

Last edited by Scemma; 09-28-2011 at 05:48 AM.
09-28-2011, 06:12 AM   #6
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The vast majority of photographers, certainly amateurs such as you and me, never use all the features of our equipment, even on P&S cameras, so I wouldn't worry about that. The great thing about an advanced DSLR such as the K-5 is that you can set it up so that it's as easy to use as a P&S -- auto exposure mode, autofocus -- but when you want different modes or even full manual control, it's there. That said, the K-r looks like a great choice, and of course it's much less expensive than the K-5. Digital camera bodies lose their value pretty quickly, but good lenses don't, so there's a lot to be said for buying the K-r now with one or more good lenses.
09-28-2011, 07:47 AM   #7
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My input between Kr and K5 would really be the weather-sealing. If you're likely to photograph the kids at sports games in the rain etc or take the camera hiking with a chance of rain or snow, that extra money is probably worth spending.

The K-5 in Tv mode to keep shutter speed high is really simple to use, or any of the other modes for that matter. I wouldn't be concerned about it being for experienced or novice users. You can use a more complex camera in simplified ways, but not vice-versa.

I'd like to get a 35mm lens myself (#2 on my to-buy list), though I'm more tempted by the 18-135WR for the WR and convenience factor.
09-28-2011, 08:06 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
My input between Kr and K5 would really be the weather-sealing. If you're likely to photograph the kids at sports games in the rain etc or take the camera hiking with a chance of rain or snow, that extra money is probably worth spending.
Good point; weather sealing was certainly a factor in my decision to buy a Pentax DSLR. A lower-cost weather-resistant alternative to the K-5 would be to pick up a used K20D. Along with the 18-55 WR lens you'd have an excellent inexpensive WR kit.

That said, in practice for me the weather sealing is reassuring, but I generally keep the camera safely dry. Most of my lenses aren't weather sealed anyway.

Last edited by baro-nite; 09-28-2011 at 02:06 PM. Reason: grammar correction
09-28-2011, 01:40 PM   #9
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I just purchased a slightly used K7 at about 1/2 the price of a K5 and am well pleased with its results........Sooooo many options and so few $$$$...Cliff
09-30-2011, 02:38 AM   #10
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Please be aware that if you opt for the 35mm prime lens that is indicated by e.g. Adam, you can NOT zoom except by using your feet. While your kids are small and don't move much, that might not be a problem but when they grow up and start moving around faster it might be a problem where they are sometimes further away (so they are too small in the photo and you have to move closer) and sometimes too close (so they don't fit in the photo and you have to move away from them). So you might miss opportunities or a special moment and that can easily result in loosing your interest in photography.

If you can post make and model of your current P&S, we might be able to give you some advise at what to look for if you want the (more or less) same range that is covered by your P&S.

I mostly use primes, but I usually also can take my time to take a photo.
09-30-2011, 07:41 AM   #11
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I had a bridge (also know as superzoom) camera and after that one broke I was stuck with just my point and shoot. The IQ is not the same by a long shot. So after a while I was on the market for a new camera. I decided to take a look at DSLR models. After comparing a few brands, Pentax seemed to me to offer the best cost benefit. Than the problem became which model: K-r or K-5? Asking around at the forum (I opened this thread: I was recommended to get a simpler body and invest more on the lenses. The body you exchange after some time, good lenses stay with you for many more years. So I got the K-r, kit lenses (18-55mm) and a Pentax 100mm Macro (my wife loves macros).
I'm very happy with my choice. I still have a lot to learn before I can extract 100% from the K-r. I even took a few photography lessons to improve. I really feel that the K-5 would been an overkill at this point for me. The money I saved I used on the lenses and the lessons. A far better choice for me now. The problem now is that I'm already itching for some lenses. Beware of LBA...
In a few years I may upgrade my camera body, but my lenses will continue with me. You hear stories of lenses with 20+ years of use. Which camera body gives you that?
Oh yeah, get fast lenses. Kids are tough to shoot. Fast little buggers hehe
09-30-2011, 05:19 PM   #12
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As you stated you're looking at the K-r, it seems you've already picked a great camera in your price range. I'd definetly suggest to at least pick up the 18-55mm kit lens, the newest version is quite good quality wise, plus it's priced right. For photographing fast moving kids, see if you can get prices for different prime (DA, FA, or F) lenses. The DA 35mm f2.4 is quite affordable as it was released less than a year ago in the U.S. You'll want to stick with auto-focus lenses at the start of your adventures in photography, but I would also suggest to you to see about getting one of the camera guides (instructional books) if you can locate some in your area. The user manual is quite technical, and if you do not understand the terminology, it can get pretty thick, pretty fast.
10-01-2011, 08:28 PM   #13
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Sorry to chime in late on this thread but I wanted to add a little food for thought for Emma and anyone else who may be thinking along the same lines.

I understand you're not happy with the pictures you're getting from your point and shoot. So the question is "Which DSLR should I buy?" but a more basic question might be "How does one take better photos?" Ansel Adams would say You don't take a photograph, you make it. and he would add There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.

If I had to make a prioritized list of the components needed to create a great photograph I would organize them them as follows:
  1. A pre-visualization of what you want to achieve.
  2. An understanding of the available light and how it can be controlled, and at times, supplemented.
  3. An understanding of composition.
  4. An understanding of focal length, camera-to-subject distance, and the effect they have on depth of field.
  5. An understanding of the effect shutter speed, aperture, and sensitivity have on your exposure.
  6. A good lens.
  7. Something tasty for lunch.
  8. A camera.
As you can see, your choice of lunch matters slightly more than your choice of camera (can't shoot on an empty stomach).

All kidding aside, a camera is to a photographer what a good brush is to a painter. It's a tool for creating the image, but it is the artist's understanding of aesthetics, artistic vision, and technique that are really responsible for the final masterpiece. I'm not saying that a good camera like the K-r won't help, but don't look for it to magically solve all of your problems either. If you truly want to improve your photos, the most important thing you can do is learn to understand light. That's what it's all about.

Look around on the galleries here Strobox, and find photos that speak to you. Try setting the search filter to just natural light and maybe a reflector, then look at the lighting diagrams provided.

What settings did the photographer use? Fast shutter, slow shutter; wide aperture, narrow; high or low ISO? What was the white balance? Where was the light in relation to the subject/camera? Did they use a reflector to fill the shadows? Where was that positioned? Now find some pictures you like from other places on the net, just simple shots, try to stick to natural light at first. See if you can't reverse engineer the lighting in these photos from the diagrams you've studied. Now go out and practice recreating what you've seen. I recommend keeping a small notepad with diagrams to help you remember.

Photography is a game of variables and as you become a better photographer, you will learn to juggle more and more variables successfully and your photos will become better. DSLRs are great at juggling them for you (well actually P&Ss are even better), but what you lose when you let the camera make decisions is control and reproducibility.

Having said all that, the K-r is probably a good choice, but you might even want to go with a used camera and save something for lenses and a flash or two.
10-01-2011, 08:34 PM   #14
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I'll just second the suggestion of a K-r with 18-55 kit lens. Can't beat that combo.
10-04-2011, 08:57 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Scemma Quote
Thankyou for the advice, Twitch a little scary that yet another camera could be released to tempt me! I have friends telling me to get the K-5 but i am not sure this is the best one to start out with, seems like a camera for a more experienced user? I wouldn't want to get it and then not use all the features it has, would seem a waste...

Just a quick edit to say OP is me, i decided to join to soak up more info and ask more questions!
I personally think the K5 is a fantastic camera. All of the Pentax DSLRs have a Green Mode that will let the camera do all the thinking for you (It is limited in the features available however). From there you can move into the auto and manual modes where you can explore your creativity. However, with Any DSLR, Pentax or other, there is going to be a learning curve you'll need to overcome. Chasing two toddlers around with an SLR can be a frustrating experience at first.

The 'entry level' DSLRs have scene modes similar to those on your P&S. The Pro level cameras (K5) do not although you can save your most used settings in the user modes (5 are available on the K5, 1 on all of the rest). At the end of the day, what is going to matter most is not so much the camera but the lens on the front of it and the person behind the viewfinder. However, set aside this feeling you may have that a camera is 'too much' for you. It is Never too much but can become, not enough. That is, aside from the price. Whatever you buy I suggest buying it New, and from a reputable dealer. Pay the extra few $$, Just In Case.

I wouldn't worry about 'the next release', you'll be waiting forever unless you are just waiting for it to drive the current model price down.

Good luck.


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