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04-19-2008, 08:11 AM   #1
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Magazine Review: K20D/SDM AF.C performance vs. 8 competitors (Good Info!)

Hi everybody.

As a servive to the forum, I will cite from a magazine review. Don't know if it has been published elsewhere already. I will limit this initial post to the pure facts.

(c) This is my own wrap-up and must not be copy-pasted to another forum/blog.

Summary:
- Good/near scientific test with credible results
- Good choice of gear
(e.g.: K20D with DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 SDM lens -- first K20D/SDM AF test ever!)
- K20D came in last but still close enough to the rest of the pack, i.e., still good.

Source: fotoMAGAZIN (Germany) (fotoMagazin), Nr. 5/2008, p30ff.

Results

Gear:
  • 40D: Canon 40D + EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS USM (3230,- € German list price)
  • 1D: Canon 1D-mkIII + EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS USM (6390,- € German list price)
  • 1Ds: Canon 1Ds-mkIII + EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS USM (10290,- € German list price)
  • D80: Nikon D80 + Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 VR G IF-ED (3260,- € German list price)
  • D300: Nikon D300 + Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 VR G IF-ED (4120,- € German list price)
  • D3: Nikon D3 + Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 VR G IF-ED (7140,- € German list price)
  • E3: Olympus E3 + Zuiko 50-200 f/2.8-3.5 ED SWD (3100,- € German list price)
  • K20: Pentax K20D + DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 ED IF SDM (2180,- € German list price)
  • A700: Sony Alpha 700 + 70-200 f/2.8 G SSM (3800,- € German list price)

(Order and prices as chosen by original print, K20 has best price in the field due to affordable DA* lens.)

Result (Test #4 -- Relative ratio of out-of-focus shots, central AF):
  1. A700: 2.1 %
  2. 40D: 6.4 %
  3. D3: 9.2 %
  4. D300: 10.0 %
  5. 1D: 11.7 %
  6. 1Ds: 14.3 %
  7. E3: 17.8 %
  8. D80: 23.2 % (but 10.7 % with multi-field AF)
  9. K20: 25.6 % (and 43.6 % with multi AF)

Result (Test #3 -- Absolute number of in-focus shots, central AF):
  1. 1D: 30.2 images
  2. D3: 21.6 images
  3. 40D: 20.6 images
  4. A700: 15.3 images
  5. 1Ds: 15.0 images
  6. D300: 13.5 images
  7. D80: 8.6 images (10.7 with multi AF)
  8. E3: 7.4 images
  9. K20: 5.8 images
    3.7 images (with multi-field AF, other multi-field AF results ommitted here)

Method:
  • Continous shots (burst, continous AF aka AF.C) of an approaching red Chrysler PT cruiser, tripod mounted and panned centering onto radiator grill. Photograph besides road. Road straight. Test done on a closed military airport.
  • Controlled speed: 100 km/h (62 mph).
    Starting photo burst at 100m distance (109 yards, 328 ft). Stopping when passing by.
    Time to drive through 100m: 3.6s.
  • Focal length: 35mm equivalent of 200mm (135mm for K20).
  • Aperture: f/2.8 or widest (Olympus).
  • Shutter: 1/320 or shorter.
  • Light: Daylight overcast with grayness. Constant conditions.
  • Storage: JPEGs onto Sandisk Extreme III.
  • Statistics: 6 series, averaged.

Short verdict (mine):
While the K20 comes out last, it did do its job surprisingly well after reading all the complaints around. We all don't position the K20 as the sport photographer's machine gun and rightly so with only 20% of the available peak performance on the market (1D).

However, it is more than sufficient for everyday photography with ~75% of images in focus.

If I may make my personal scale:

Outstanding: 95-100% (relative ratio of in-focus shots)
Excellent: 85-95%
Good: 75-85%
Average: 25-75%
Poor: 0-25%

Then I get:
  • Outstanding: A700
  • Excellent: 40D, D3, D300, 1D, 1Ds
  • Good: E3, D80, K20

Nothing to complain about. Of course, this is a representative test for AF.C performance (probably the best been published to date). It is nowhere indicative for low light AF.S performance.


Note: If you found this reading worth your time, you may also like our forum friend's lol101 post here:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/25294-k20d-af-trac...ific-test.html.
He found a 96% in-focus rate for K20 vs. only 25% for K10.

The article contains more information. So if the discussion needs it, it may provide some more info (e.g., the D300 results were said to have shown large variations).


Enjoy.


Last edited by falconeye; 04-20-2008 at 03:26 PM. Reason: added multi-AF for Nikon D80 which are better
04-19-2008, 08:42 AM   #2
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Stats can be interpreted in so many ways. For instance, with test #4, one way to interpret the results is that for every day use, you are more than 4 times as likely to get an out-of-focus image with the K20D as compared to the 40D, and more than 10 times as compared to the A700. If only considering AF, in absolute terms, the K20D even with its improved AF performance, is far behind the field.
04-19-2008, 08:51 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by twinda1 Quote
you are more than 4 times as likely to get an out-of-focus image with the K20D as compared to the 40D
One additional note only...

The results apply to continuous AF, and more specifically, to images of a moving target taken in a burst.


Consider the K20: 5.8 images in-focus + 2.0 images out-of-focus within 3.6 s (2.2 fps). This is about one image every 12.0 m. It could well be that the last 2 images (18m and 6m) are the fails. Or random images failed. My experience is that AF.C fails if the subject moves up really close. The test didn't disclose this level of detail, though (except for A700 where fails were random).


An extrapolation to the results as abtained in AF.C mode but taking a single shot only, or even AF.S mode for a single shot, are speculative. Of course, it is ok to speculate, then...

Last edited by falconeye; 04-19-2008 at 09:01 AM.
04-19-2008, 09:06 AM   #4
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I don't deny that the Pentax AF is a little slower than the others but don't forget that pricing is put into this test as well.

Using the Euros quoted the Pentax is some 8,000 euros cheaper than the most expensive camera which offers 11.7% OOF shots or 88.3% Accuracy.

The closest in price to K20D is the Olympus E-3 920 Euro more expensive for 82.2% Accuracy.

The Pentax with 74.4% accuracy doesn't look such a bad proposition for the price.

I appreciate these are not Body only prices and some models may be closer in price to K20D on body only.

My point is - " Are Pentax owners (current & future) willing to pay the extra for fast AF?"
I find a lot of comments from people who see the Pentax K20D as the poor mans D300 - they want (even demand) the same performance as a D300 but also want it at a cheaper price.

I have no doubt that Pentax engineers are more than capable of creating a faster AF system, but at what cost? Would many of you here would pay the exact same price as a Nikon D300 if the Pentax matched it ounce for ounce on performance?

I seriously doubt it.


Last edited by Falcons; 04-19-2008 at 09:13 AM.
04-19-2008, 12:13 PM   #5
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Well,,,

"Would many of you here would pay the exact same price as a Nikon D300 if the Pentax matched it ounce for ounce on performance?"

I would have, but had to buy a D300 as Pentax has continued to place their emphasis on fashion/landscape photography, and don't seem to have the will or the $$$ to provide anything else.

Life is too short to be continually waiting and hoping they'd get their act together.
04-19-2008, 02:12 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tom Lusk Quote
"Would many of you here would pay the exact same price as a Nikon D300 if the Pentax matched it ounce for ounce on performance?"

I would have, but had to buy a D300 as Pentax has continued to place their emphasis on fashion/landscape photography, and don't seem to have the will or the $$$ to provide anything else.

Life is too short to be continually waiting and hoping they'd get their act together.
Tom,
I'd like to hear what you think of the D300, specifically about it's size and layout compared to your K10D.
Thank,
Ken
04-19-2008, 02:16 PM   #7
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Thanks for your work falconeye,
the German mag is very thorough in their testing and writing.


QuoteOriginally posted by Falcons Quote
I have no doubt that Pentax engineers are more than capable of creating a faster AF system, but at what cost? Would many of you here would pay the exact same price as a Nikon D300 if the Pentax matched it ounce for ounce on performance?
Thanks for your evaluative comparison of E3 and K20.

I think many of us in the forums, wouldn't mind paying the D300 price for an equivalent K-mount body. But we are not the typical users, most here would have more lenses and accessories than the normal DSLR shooter.

I expect a K2 and Samsung high-end sister cam, at Photokina. It will do what the D200 could, (but some added features), and be priced around the 2.000 $ / Euro mark

Last edited by Jonson PL; 04-19-2008 at 02:23 PM.
04-19-2008, 02:28 PM   #8
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Tom,
You beat me to the punch! I had a feeling that you were about to try the D300. Did you get the nikon afs 300mm f4.0 lens also? Sure would be interested in what you think even if you have to send me a PM. Thanks, Kent

04-19-2008, 02:57 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Falcons Quote
I don't deny that the Pentax AF is a little slower than the others but don't forget that pricing is put into this test as well.

Using the Euros quoted the Pentax is some 8,000 euros cheaper than the most expensive camera which offers 11.7% OOF shots or 88.3% Accuracy.

The closest in price to K20D is the Olympus E-3 920 Euro more expensive for 82.2% Accuracy.

The Pentax with 74.4% accuracy doesn't look such a bad proposition for the price.

I appreciate these are not Body only prices and some models may be closer in price to K20D on body only.

My point is - " Are Pentax owners (current & future) willing to pay the extra for fast AF?"
I find a lot of comments from people who see the Pentax K20D as the poor mans D300 - they want (even demand) the same performance as a D300 but also want it at a cheaper price.

I have no doubt that Pentax engineers are more than capable of creating a faster AF system, but at what cost? Would many of you here would pay the exact same price as a Nikon D300 if the Pentax matched it ounce for ounce on performance?

I seriously doubt it.
it can't even beat D80 which costs ~40% less
04-19-2008, 03:47 PM   #10
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Thanks Falconeye. Good info, interesting.
The 40D body is *roughly* the same price as the K20D.
The K20D has 4 times the out of focus shots. 6.4% vs 25.6%
Hmmm...... I wanted a 40D when I bought my K10D.
I'm beginning to be more sure that I bought the wrong camera.
04-19-2008, 04:25 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Film2Digital Quote
Thanks Falconeye. Good info, interesting.
The 40D body is *roughly* the same price as the K20D.
The K20D has 4 times the out of focus shots. 6.4% vs 25.6%
Hmmm...... I wanted a 40D when I bought my K10D.
I'm beginning to be more sure that I bought the wrong camera.
You shoot regularly towards you coming cars with AF-C? Well... then you obviously have bought wrong camera. For me, who has never since my first pictures in 1975 shoot in such situations, K20D is just perfect. Ice hockey is enough sluggish for me, my style and my equipments.. ;-9
04-19-2008, 05:44 PM   #12
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Ok, now it may be my turn to express an opinion. The facts are in my initial posting.


Personally, I love my K20D for many reasons, esp. for IQ (excellent low iso resolution and good at iso 1600 still) and affordable glass (as far as available).

With glass like the Limiteds and the four or so ~1000$ DA*s, I am able to capture "great cinema" in a quality only beaten by a MF camera.

Only look at lenses used in the test by the competition: >2000$, i.e. 2x the price (except for Olympus).

I knew that AF and fps are the two K20D's weak points. I knew that it would come out last in a thorough AF.C test.

That it only came out last so close to the rest of the pack was a very positive surprise to me. As I've written initially, it is in the good camp with 2 others, 5 excellent, 1 outstanding. I am satisfied with my choice.

If I would have picked a camera from the good camp because of AF performance, then I would now be concerned I didn't pick the outstanding contender
04-19-2008, 07:38 PM   #13
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Just thought I'd add another flavour of customer - I'm a prime shooter and have a big crush on everything that comes out of the Cosina factory these days (ie Voigtlander and Zeiss ZK SLR lenses). I can't think of another system that passes me SR on these great manual focus lenses, full auto control of aperture and metering, with high end resolution and low end pricing. The K20D is absolutely the PERFECT system for a guy like me... I hope the K30 is last in AF and low price and that the K2 etc has all the FPS to satisfy everyone else at cost. Pentax - don't change! lol.
04-19-2008, 07:59 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by deejjjaaaa Quote
it can't even beat D80 which costs ~40% less
Perhaps you might like to read the OP again - VERY CAREFULLY!

The test was done with top of the range lenses and the price of the outfit was given, so in this instance the D80 is 1080 Euro more expensive.
This was not a comparison of bodies only.

If you need the accuracy of photographing cars coming at you 100 kph then a camera already exists for you the Sony Alpha 700 - wipes the floor with the D300.

come on guys Nikon & Canon share almost 80% of the market any cost for research & development is amortised accross a larger consumer base and a larger range of DSLR.

Don't kid yourselves, Pentax engineers can quite easily develop a faster AF, what the cost is, I don't know. But I do know that that cost will have to be amortised over a lot smaller consumer base which means vastly more expensive cameras.

Perhaps some of you will pay the price due to having the lenses. But do you really think Pentax will attract new users with a more expensive camera that has fast AF?

I for one seriously doubt it.
04-19-2008, 08:15 PM   #15
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A follow-up.
I enjoy taking pics at womens basketball games, and used 1600 speed film for
years. Some grain and a yellowish cast were common. Bought a K10D because
of the price, and I wanted to try digital. I need ISO 1600 (or higher) and an f2.8
zoom lens to make that work. I'm now at the point --> do I want to spend the money
to get a high speed motor (HSM) zoom f2.8 lens for my K10D, --> OR, do I want
to switch brands.
I don't want to shell out big bucks, $800 each, on a lens or two and then realize
that the body I have won't do what I want it to do. The info above makes me
wonder if the AF is good enough/quick enough for basketball or other sports.
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