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12-10-2009, 09:05 AM   #1
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Interesting head to head reviews K-x and Sony 550

"Tom's Hardware" that started out loooooong ago as a PC review site, and has since branched out into other electronics has an interesting head to head review of the Pentax K-x and the Sony Alpha 550. What I found most interesting is that the Sony was about 50% more expensive than the Pentax, yet site essentially gave the two cameras the same overall marks (4 stars)
Pentax and Sony DSLR Face-Off : Pentax K-x

NaCl(two "equal" cameras but one costs half again as much?!!!)H2O

12-10-2009, 09:16 AM   #2
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I used to read Tom's all the time! I was a huge computer-gadget freak. I thought this would be a comparison, but it is just 2 reviews one page after the other.

QuoteQuote:
On the negative side, despite the return of 11-point autofocus as used on the K200D and previous models, there’s still no display of the focusing points in the viewfinder. So in multi-zone, it’s impossible to know what’s being focused on, and – as with the K-m – we advise you to use the center AF point only.
Annoying how this keeps getting mentioned this way. Select-AF point is not broken at all and is my personal favorite use (even on cameras with LED indicators), there is no need to only use center AF point. 11-point and 5-point is what is harder to use on the K-x.

QuoteQuote:
So we won’t complain about the poor-quality monophonic sound recording or the use of the Mjpeg codec, which produces overly large video files.
They won't? oh, too late! Lol anyways, I have heard the advantage of Mjpeg is for post-processing work on the video and that it is much better than other codecs, with the disadvantage being size. Any truth to this?

QuoteQuote:
You turn the camcorder on by pressing the Power button, which automatically opens the lens shutter, which covers a 10x optical zoom that starts at a focal length of 43mm – a bit narrow. We would have hoped for a slightly wider angle, even if the Sony HDR-CX520 does no better.
What are they talking about?

I think its funny how the bolded parts in the A550 review make it seem like its a positive, but it is prefaced with "isn't really"

No complaints about battery for the K-x, some for the A550. I really like the 7 fps w/o automation feature of the A550 and wish we had that!

For K-x, I usually use phase-detect AF since I care about speed, not being able to see the screen while it focuses. The major downside is mirror flipping sound. With the new firmware, Contrast-Detect AF is becoming more used for me as it doesn't search as much, but there is still a mirror flip anyway when capturing a picture.

Last edited by Eruditass; 12-10-2009 at 09:27 AM.
12-10-2009, 09:29 AM   #3
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Another amusing point is that while the K-x uses a Sony sensor, the Sony gets worse marks for IQ! (5 stars for the K-x and only 4 for the Alpha 550).

NaCl(what's up with that?)H2O
12-10-2009, 09:33 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eruditass Quote
I used to read Tom's all the time! I was a huge computer-gadget freak.
Mmm at least until 2 years ago, Tom's Hardware was as reliable and independent as DPR

QuoteOriginally posted by Eruditass Quote
I have heard the advantage of Mjpeg is for post-processing work on the video and that it is much better than other codecs, with the disadvantage being size. Any truth to this?
Absolutely, MJpeg creates huge files, but a lot easier to edit. H264 is not bad per se, but if badly implemented (read: GH1 in 1080p, H264 mode) and limited in rate (obviously the H264 in facts needs less MB/s than MJpeg, Panasonic really farted on this one), brings compression artifacts all over the place.

There's good and bad for both but MJpeg is not worse than H264 (and vice versa) except for clueless idiots who base their opinions on marketing crap.

12-10-2009, 09:48 AM   #5
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QuoteQuote:
On the negative side, despite the return of 11-point autofocus as used on the K200D and previous models, there’s still no display of the focusing points in the viewfinder. So in multi-zone, it’s impossible to know what’s being focused on, and – as with the K-m – we advise you to use the center AF point only.
This makes me laugh. Impossible? Note to the reviewer, that little window looking thing on the back of the K-X is called a viewfinder. When you look though it, you will see what is in focus. And another thing because the indicator can actually be wrong, I trust my eye more than a stupid little dot or a beep.


What on earth did photographers do before the invention of the red dot?
12-10-2009, 09:52 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
Another amusing point is that while the K-x uses a Sony sensor, the Sony gets worse marks for IQ! (5 stars for the K-x and only 4 for the Alpha 550).

NaCl(what's up with that?)H2O
Sensor isn't the only thing (although Sony has 2 more megapixels, resulting in higher pixel density / smaller photosites ), there is also the other electronics and firmware processing that may not be the same even outside of the JPEG engine. Other than that, there comments are most definitely on the final JPEG output.
12-10-2009, 09:53 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by thibs Quote
Mmm at least until 2 years ago, Tom's Hardware was as reliable and independent as DPR



Absolutely, MJpeg creates huge files, but a lot easier to edit. H264 is not bad per se, but if badly implemented (read: GH1 in 1080p, H264 mode) and limited in rate (obviously the H264 in facts needs less MB/s than MJpeg, Panasonic really farted on this one), brings compression artifacts all over the place.

There's good and bad for both but MJpeg is not worse than H264 (and vice versa) except for clueless idiots who base their opinions on marketing crap.
As with DPR, I typically read through the reviews and took a pinch of salt with the conclusion. In addition, I read and still read 5+ more review sites of the same product, including user reviews, before I am done.

Good to know about the codecs and implementation.
12-10-2009, 09:54 AM   #8
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Fanboy much guys? It's not the end of the world, but the lack of AF indicator in the viewfinder *is* a major oversight and an important feature that many photographers DO use.

Instead of going "pfft, you don't need it anyways", maybe we should own up to the fact that Pentax dropped a major feature that many people have come to expect from a DSLR. Maybe then Pentax will be competitive the next time around.

Also, coming from film experience, do you know just *how* small modern viewfinders are? It's entirely likely when doing small subject photography to have the wrong AF point selected, focus on the wrong bit of your subject, and not be able to tell at a glance from the viewfinder.

12-10-2009, 10:04 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by potatolicious Quote
Fanboy much guys? It's not the end of the world, but the lack of AF indicator in the viewfinder *is* a major oversight and an important feature that many photographers DO use.

Instead of going "pfft, you don't need it anyways", maybe we should own up to the fact that Pentax dropped a major feature that many people have come to expect from a DSLR. Maybe then Pentax will be competitive the next time around.

Also, coming from film experience, do you know just *how* small modern viewfinders are? It's entirely likely when doing small subject photography to have the wrong AF point selected, focus on the wrong bit of your subject, and not be able to tell at a glance from the viewfinder.
I said Select-AF point works just fine and 11-point and 5-point are indeed much harder to use.

QuoteQuote:
I agree, you can use the LCD to place the focus point in the camera, but not while looking at your shot through the viewfinder. So, for example, lets say I have a horizontal shot. I have a person standing on the right third of the shot, and in the center extending to the left, a row of trees in the background. If I have the camera set to the auto points (5 or 11), it may be very difficult for me to tell what the camera has focused on.
Exactly the problem with using auto focus points. If you have indicators, what do you do? refocus and hope again. I used to do this but learned it is a waste of time - and since it's so easy to select the focus point without even moving your eye from the viewfinder (make the green button center AF point and you can use the dpad to move from there).


I never said people don't use 11-point and 5-point (many certainly do), but I have pointed out that people are incorrectly saying that sports and pro photographers use them. Not this review in particular, but many people state that without having any sports photography experience. See this thread asking pros:

sports shooting [Page 1]: Pro Digital Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review

I've said time and time again they dropped a feature that many amateurs (especially those coming from P&S) will want to use and will be disappointed in not having. Then I've corrected people saying that "oh well when you have expensive equipment and are shooting sports..." which most of the time, is not the case.

Yes, modern viewfinders are much smaller due to smaller sensors (and misleading percentage coverage/magnification sizes because of that) - so thats why its even more important to have a bigger and brighter one - but I would never replace it with LiveView. Personally, I got a 1.35x magnifier.

Last edited by Eruditass; 12-11-2009 at 09:28 AM.
12-10-2009, 10:20 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eruditass Quote
Personally, I got a 1.35x magnifier.
Where did you get one of those? The only eyepiece/viewfinder magnifier I know of is the O-ME53. And that one is only 1.2x. I would be VERY interested in a 1.35 magnifier.

NaCl(60 yr old eyes just ain't what they used to be)H2O
12-10-2009, 10:21 AM   #11
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Viewfinder are smaller since AF, not since digital.
12-10-2009, 10:35 AM   #12
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toms hardware sold out a long long time ago, and stopped being a site you could rely on, in 1999 or so.
12-10-2009, 11:25 AM   #13
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I especially love the 'lowest price retailer links' following the articles! Clearly there must be 33% more things wrong with the K-x...after all, that is how much less it costs....

And what was the bit I read in the sony review that you cant even MF with the kit lens? Clearly this wasn't very thorough on either side of the ball.
12-10-2009, 01:10 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by thibs Quote
Viewfinder are smaller since AF, not since digital.
Yes, that's when the magniciation went down, but before digital the magnification sizes made it apparent without looking through one that they would be smaller.

Now with crop sensors the magnification is back up but VF's are still not as big and it's even more complicated with say Canon with slightly smaller sensors (and larger mangification numbers for the same effective VF).
12-10-2009, 01:27 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eruditass Quote
Yes, that's when the magniciation went down, but before digital the magnification sizes made it apparent without looking through one that they would be smaller.

Now with crop sensors the magnification is back up but VF's are still not as big and it's even more complicated with say Canon with slightly smaller sensors (and larger mangification numbers for the same effective VF).
Yep but comparatively, IMO, Canon high end viewfinders (1D/1DS) are crap compared to good old viewfinders la LX/MX.
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