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09-08-2008, 02:59 AM   #1
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A fairy tale and some reflections about some Pentax fans

17 years ago I was an all-young guy who had his first salary and decided to buy a decent hifi system.

I took the approach that looked right to me: start getting information about different brands, then focusing on some models which were within my budget. Then comparing the features of those models. In principle the strategy looked fine: the model which showed better specs would win, and I would buy it.

So I started going to shops (at the time there was no internet, in case you don't remember). I asked for catalogues of different brands. And I went back home to study and compare. Some of the names that were up in my list were Sony, Pioneer, Technics and stuff like that. Nobody at any of the main shops gave me any advice: just the brochures and that was it.

Then I found, by chance, a little hifi shop in the center of town (I live in a mid town and we have not tons of hifi shops; and besides I live in Spain, which in that respect has nothing to do with, say, the UK, where any small city had at the time a couple at least of good hifi shops). I asked the owner the same: brochures to compare. Curiously enough, he gave me a few brochures and then he looked with a curious face at me and asked: "Excuse me sir, but what do you want to do with that information?". And I explained my strategy. He replied: "If you allow me to tell you, I think you are doing this in the wrong way. If you want to find a good hifi system, brochures and specs won't say you which is the one that fits your taste. You have to LISTEN to the system and compare it with a few others which might be fine for you. Specs won't tell you if it sounds good or bad: distortion or power etc are just numbers, but they won't explain you how the system plays music, which is what actually interests you. If you will, I could prepare a comparison of systems for you. But first I would like to know what kind of music do you usually play".

This conversation with this guy was an eye-opener to me, and it changed upside down my approach to hifi. From that time, I realized that the statements of this guy were true, and that many excellently specced pieces of gear sounded awful; and that some gear whose numbers looked bad sounded, in fact, stunning.

Now I hear you saying "fine, but what in hell has this story to do with Pentax?". Well, I will tell you: I've been following different Pentax forums for months, and lately a see an increasing number of people which got the disease called "acute featuritis", posting lods of times in an honest concern because they feel that Pentax should increase the number of fps, and the number of megapixels, and the number of focusing points, and the number of dSLR models, and the noise at high ISO, and on and on and on...

So I come here, humbly from the world of relatively newcomers, to say that all that are JUST NUMBERS. NOTHING ELSE. If you look at the pictures, THAT is what tells you the real story. And I have been looking for months at the pictures taken with my K10D, then with the K20D and it is just awesome. Further: one of the guys at my favourite photography shop (selling all brands) keeps on telling me that NO OTHER CAMERA focuses like a Pentax: he's trying all kind of stuff, and he tells that the cameras that are consistently shooting with a perfect focus, are the Pentax, not Canikons or any other brand. Which is quite funny, given the number of complaints about the focus in Pentax.

So while we wait what should surface, or not, from Pentax at Photokina, please keep in mind that IT IS ALL ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY, not about numbers. And once you realize about that, you will be as happy as I have always been with my NAD hifi system, whose specs are shit compared with Sony, but whose sound is quantum leaps ahead.

09-08-2008, 03:12 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by cateto Quote
17 years ago I was an all-young guy who had his first salary and decided to buy a decent hifi system.

I took the approach that looked right to me: start getting information about different brands, then focusing on some models which were within my budget. Then comparing the features of those models. In principle the strategy looked fine: the model which showed better specs would win, and I would buy it.

So I started going to shops (at the time there was no internet, in case you don't remember). I asked for catalogues of different brands. And I went back home to study and compare. Some of the names that were up in my list were Sony, Pioneer, Technics and stuff like that. Nobody at any of the main shops gave me any advice: just the brochures and that was it.

Then I found, by chance, a little hifi shop in the center of town (I live in a mid town and we have not tons of hifi shops; and besides I live in Spain, which in that respect has nothing to do with, say, the UK, where any small city had at the time a couple at least of good hifi shops). I asked the owner the same: brochures to compare. Curiously enough, he gave me a few brochures and then he looked with a curious face at me and asked: "Excuse me sir, but what do you want to do with that information?". And I explained my strategy. He replied: "If you allow me to tell you, I think you are doing this in the wrong way. If you want to find a good hifi system, brochures and specs won't say you which is the one that fits your taste. You have to LISTEN to the system and compare it with a few others which might be fine for you. Specs won't tell you if it sounds good or bad: distortion or power etc are just numbers, but they won't explain you how the system plays music, which is what actually interests you. If you will, I could prepare a comparison of systems for you. But first I would like to know what kind of music do you usually play".

This conversation with this guy was an eye-opener to me, and it changed upside down my approach to hifi. From that time, I realized that the statements of this guy were true, and that many excellently specced pieces of gear sounded awful; and that some gear whose numbers looked bad sounded, in fact, stunning.

Now I hear you saying "fine, but what in hell has this story to do with Pentax?". Well, I will tell you: I've been following different Pentax forums for months, and lately a see an increasing number of people which got the disease called "acute featuritis", posting lods of times in an honest concern because they feel that Pentax should increase the number of fps, and the number of megapixels, and the number of focusing points, and the number of dSLR models, and the noise at high ISO, and on and on and on...

So I come here, humbly from the world of relatively newcomers, to say that all that are JUST NUMBERS. NOTHING ELSE. If you look at the pictures, THAT is what tells you the real story. And I have been looking for months at the pictures taken with my K10D, then with the K20D and it is just awesome. Further: one of the guys at my favourite photography shop (selling all brands) keeps on telling me that NO OTHER CAMERA focuses like a Pentax: he's trying all kind of stuff, and he tells that the cameras that are consistently shooting with a perfect focus, are the Pentax, not Canikons or any other brand. Which is quite funny, given the number of complaints about the focus in Pentax.

So while we wait what should surface, or not, from Pentax at Photokina, please keep in mind that IT IS ALL ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY, not about numbers. And once you realize about that, you will be as happy as I have always been with my NAD hifi system, whose specs are shit compared with Sony, but whose sound is quantum leaps ahead.
Thank you for a sobering read. BTW: you made a good choice, NAD and Dual are among the best as far as I know in terms of quality of sound per price!

Best regards,
Boucicaut
09-08-2008, 03:25 AM   #3
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Re:

Truer words have not been spoken.
09-08-2008, 03:26 AM   #4
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very good points regarding the spec comparison. also I enjoyed your comment about the photo store worker who said that Pentax has the most accurate AF --- I also tend to agree with that statement. By the way I still own and use my Yamaha integrated amp that I bought in 1977, they sure don't build 'em like that anymore.

kman

09-08-2008, 03:56 AM   #5
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I say use what you've got and use it well. I would only get a new DSLR body if my existing one was broken beyond repair. It's not just economical, it's wasteful not to use such a thing until it's worn out.
I totally agree about Hi-Fi. People who compare frequency response, speaker sizes, etc. are totally misguided. If you've heard a spectacular Hi-Fi system you just know that you need to ...listen...
Our Hi-Fi system (not as spectacular) has a pair of big KEF 105 speakers that must be getting on for nearly 30 years old. They still sound great. Not changing them.
I do see parallels with Audiophiles and folks with LBA though...
09-08-2008, 04:14 AM   #6
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A disease that won't ever be in the books of psychology or medical journals indeed.
I still have an old amplifier I bought in 1990, but it was made in 1982 (my birthyear) and some wattpuppies. They don't keep up with latest "numbers" anymore, and the (whats the word)... ZEALOTS criticize them, so be it.

Photography is as much about enjoying as listening to music is. The day I start caring about numbers and crap is the day I start worrying if the band im listening to are wearing white or black socks, and drink their vitamins.
09-08-2008, 04:33 AM   #7
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Agreed completelyy, from the first word to the last.
Excellent wrinting !
09-08-2008, 05:48 AM   #8
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I find much joy in using my 3 fpm aperture-priority only camera.

09-08-2008, 06:07 AM   #9
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Well written and a great (and fitting) analogy to stereo equipment. I agree with every word.

Loved the "acute featuritis" Phase and will remeber that one

I tried to post something similar regarding lenses and the seemingly endless competition to have more and more without learning to use what you already own.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/33651-shoot-le...eam-about.html

I don't want to hijack the thread but there's a reason Pentax is more accurate in focusing.
09-08-2008, 07:27 AM   #10
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Very well said Cateto. Thanks for posting...
09-08-2008, 07:33 AM   #11
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It is always a pleasure to come across good specialist stores. They can be increasingly hard to find though.
09-08-2008, 07:37 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by marlon Quote
A disease that won't ever be in the books of psychology or medical journals indeed.
I still have an old amplifier I bought in 1990, but it was made in 1982 (my birthyear) and some wattpuppies. They don't keep up with latest "numbers" anymore, and the (whats the word)... ZEALOTS criticize them, so be it.

.
Hhhhmmm - I am still using an A&R Cambridge A60 made in about 1980 and a Leak Stereo 70 made in the 1960s. That's sustainabiilty for you ...

Tim
09-08-2008, 08:01 AM   #13
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These are good...

QuoteOriginally posted by cateto Quote
17 years ago I was an all-young guy who had his first salary and decided to buy a decent hifi system.

I took the approach that looked right to me: start getting information about different brands, then focusing on some models which were within my budget. Then comparing the features of those models. In principle the strategy looked fine: the model which showed better specs would win, and I would buy it.

So I started going to shops (at the time there was no internet, in case you don't remember). I asked for catalogues of different brands. And I went back home to study and compare. Some of the names that were up in my list were Sony, Pioneer, Technics and stuff like that. Nobody at any of the main shops gave me any advice: just the brochures and that was it.

Then I found, by chance, a little hifi shop in the center of town (I live in a mid town and we have not tons of hifi shops; and besides I live in Spain, which in that respect has nothing to do with, say, the UK, where any small city had at the time a couple at least of good hifi shops). I asked the owner the same: brochures to compare. Curiously enough, he gave me a few brochures and then he looked with a curious face at me and asked: "Excuse me sir, but what do you want to do with that information?". And I explained my strategy. He replied: "If you allow me to tell you, I think you are doing this in the wrong way. If you want to find a good hifi system, brochures and specs won't say you which is the one that fits your taste. You have to LISTEN to the system and compare it with a few others which might be fine for you. Specs won't tell you if it sounds good or bad: distortion or power etc are just numbers, but they won't explain you how the system plays music, which is what actually interests you. If you will, I could prepare a comparison of systems for you. But first I would like to know what kind of music do you usually play".

This conversation with this guy was an eye-opener to me, and it changed upside down my approach to hifi. From that time, I realized that the statements of this guy were true, and that many excellently specced pieces of gear sounded awful; and that some gear whose numbers looked bad sounded, in fact, stunning.

Now I hear you saying "fine, but what in hell has this story to do with Pentax?". Well, I will tell you: I've been following different Pentax forums for months, and lately a see an increasing number of people which got the disease called "acute featuritis", posting lods of times in an honest concern because they feel that Pentax should increase the number of fps, and the number of megapixels, and the number of focusing points, and the number of dSLR models, and the noise at high ISO, and on and on and on...

So I come here, humbly from the world of relatively newcomers, to say that all that are JUST NUMBERS. NOTHING ELSE. If you look at the pictures, THAT is what tells you the real story. And I have been looking for months at the pictures taken with my K10D, then with the K20D and it is just awesome. Further: one of the guys at my favourite photography shop (selling all brands) keeps on telling me that NO OTHER CAMERA focuses like a Pentax: he's trying all kind of stuff, and he tells that the cameras that are consistently shooting with a perfect focus, are the Pentax, not Canikons or any other brand. Which is quite funny, given the number of complaints about the focus in Pentax.

So while we wait what should surface, or not, from Pentax at Photokina, please keep in mind that IT IS ALL ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY, not about numbers. And once you realize about that, you will be as happy as I have always been with my NAD hifi system, whose specs are shit compared with Sony, but whose sound is quantum leaps ahead.
if you want a nice pair of speakers:



and have got $100,000.00 or so to spare.

And I love the rest of your post. I got into Pentax because of the lenses, and I've stayed. I think the best has yet to come from this company; the golden years ore now upon us.

Cheers,
Cameron
09-08-2008, 08:06 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jonson PL Quote
It is always a pleasure to come across good specialist stores. They can be increasingly hard to find though.
The problem for most users (including me) is that those stores usually (at least in Europe) offer prices which can not compete at all with Internet outfits.

I still buy there when possible ang get my B&W stuff from there but sometimes prices are difficult to swallow. And IMO that's the reason why most people will buy online.
09-08-2008, 09:13 AM   #15
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Wow, the hifi portion hits home. When 16 took $700 dollars (a ton of money to a kid back then) and bought my first "really good" component. A Marantz 1200B integrated amp. It was a huge step up from the Sherwood receiver. About a month later a friend loaned me a small receiver to listen to. Didn't hook it up for days. Why bother it was 15w a channel vs the Marantz 100w. It was cheaply built compared to the "rock" Marantz. It was ugly! It also was ten times better sounding than the Marantz! That was the end of blindly following measurements. Was in total shock. Ended up buying that little Advent receiver.

This of course got very expensive. My system today is much nicer. Have had my first real turntable for over 30 years. Linn Sondek LP12.
Still have my first slr. Olympus OM1n. Have a Leica made the same year I was born.

New features do sometimes get you into photo niches you weren't into before. Not sure what Pentax has to do to get me moving from the K20D. Almost hope they don't think of any thing yet (want a new cd player).

Great story cateto
thanks
barondla

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