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10-06-2016, 06:47 PM   #1
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New to the digital world, from old school

I'm planning on finding an "early" Pentax DSLR and will be asking "newbie" questions. Just now I have my sights set on the K10, K20 or the like.

I want to start with better quality hardware though the technology may be older. I'm sure that the ability of any of those cameras will keep me occupied for a loooong time and will be a better fit for my budget. One of the "plusses" that drew me to Pentax is the range of lenses, early and later that can continue to be used. Of course Pentax has made well-designed, durable cameras for decades, witness the myriad KX1000s that art students have mauled and that have emerged intact.

All of my experience is 50 or more years old. My forte was in the darkroom as well as the viewfinder. Now it's a whole new world of skills to learn. Not only the in and outs of digital photography but the array of post-processing tools that are available through my computer (if I can afford them).

When a young man, I worked for Ansco in color products research. Nothing special, just a lowly research tech. But it was a dream job, all the 35mm film that I could shoot and free processing. As well, I had my very own to-die-for darkroom with state-of-the-art equipment. And they paid me to use it!

While I'm now retired, I'm far from idle. My wife and I recently celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. We have 4 children and nine Grandchildren who are scattered across the US. I do believe that "If you don't use it, you lose it." That said, I want to do some creative things to keep mind and body active and well.

I've been using a Lumix super-zoom for the last few years and while I like auto exposure, auto focus, etc, I really miss being able to control the elements of the photo. A sister-in-law produces much better photos than I and while I have to admit that she's probably a much better photographer than I, her Canon DSLR and assortment of lenses have to make an impact as well. So, keeping in mind my meager budget, I now set out to enter the digital age with a DSLR.

I've found a Pentax K200 with the kit lens and Tamron 20-200 for $150. Thoughts. As well I see some K10s and K20s at what seem fair prices on eBay. Is the K200 preferable to the K10 or K20, or not? I'm open to counsel and have never disparaged good advice.

And so on...

Dan

10-06-2016, 07:32 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by drose40 Quote
I've found a Pentax K200 with the kit lens and Tamron 20-200 for $150. Thoughts. As well I see some K10s and K20s at what seem fair prices on eBay. Is the K200 preferable to the K10 or K20, or not? I'm open to counsel and have never disparaged good advice.
The K200D has the same sensor as the K10D, and it was the corresponding mid-range model. The K20D has a higher resolution, though its sensor didn't get much praise due to higher noise levels as well. These models are close to 10 years old at this point, so newer cameras like the K-50 more or less blow them out of the water.

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10-06-2016, 07:35 PM   #3
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Dan, I jumped into the DSLR world about a year ago with some dated experience with 35mm film also. I chose a K20D and that is still my only DSLR so far. I started with a couple inexpensive-vintage-manual focus lenses and still mostly shoot primes, that seems to be a preference that carried over from my film days. The K20D is a fine camera and even though it is about 8 year old technology, it is a great performer.

So I don't own a K200D, but a general difference between the K20D and the K200D is that the K20D was a "flagship" Pentax model with some more advanced features and more of an "enthusiast" camera. A few of these are 2 control wheels instead of 1, a number of more advanced shooting modes, a pentaprism viewfinder instead of pentamirror, higher ISO range, etc. I also see that the K200D used a CCD sensor and the K20D uses CMOS (others can speak to this issue better than I can, not sure one is better than the other just different). You might look at this comparison, I put the K200D, the K20D and the K10D in but you can change these to any models you want to compare: Pentax K20D vs. Pentax K200D vs. Pentax K10D - Pentax Camera Comparison - PentaxForums.com

Anyway you will get more input and advice from others as well. Good luck with your decision and welcome to the Pentax Forums.

---------- Post added 10-06-16 at 09:41 PM ----------

Another informative resource on this Forum is the Pentax Camera Reviews:

Pentax K-mount DSLRs - Pentax Pentax Digital Cameras - Pentax Camera Reviews and Specifications
10-06-2016, 07:58 PM   #4
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Dros:

If you are skilled in photography, though a bunch to learn, you will catch on quickly. The big additions are White Balance and file formats. The software comes as you use it. Shutter Speeds, f-Stops, ISO/ASA, are all old hat for you. Changing ISO in "mid-role" you will enjoy! Unfortunately your older polarizers (linear) do not play well with the digital systems, so Circular Polarizers are the answer. You will find many things are the same!

Have fun and show us some images when you get some!

10-06-2016, 08:05 PM   #5
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I went from film to digital by buying a K20D and using my manual focus Pentax screw mount lenses (Super Takumar 28 mm /f3.5, 50 mm f/1.4, and 200mm f/4). Actually Pentax Reps at the annual NYC photo show suggested I start with my older lenses--as that was more like my film camera background.

I only have used and own the K20d, the K-x, and the K-5 and the Q (the Q is my every day/back packing camera). The K-x is quite good and small, but does not allow the control similar to better mechanical film cameras, and its exposure mode dial moves when bumped and the batteries fall out when bumped--so I have it all taped down. l use all the DSLR's for theatre photography and they are all capable--my estimation is they are within 1-1.5 f-stop (ev) of each other in low light ability. But the K-5 menus are much better than the K-20d, and shake reduction is better--it comes on quicker and stays on for a while (with either camera, if you have good technique, you can hand hold a 200 mm lens reliably at 1/15 sec! Amazing!). So yes the K-20D is fine, as is the newer K-5. Although I have not used either of them, I would not get the K-10d, nor the K-7.

About lenses, besides a dozen or so manual focus lenses I own a couple of AF lenses, but I have never used either one in anything except manual focus--so my opinion is suspect. Anyway I would suggest you start with a couple of older mechanical/non-plastic bodied lenses that have real distance scales and depth of field markings, and see what's what. Definitely (IMO) don't start with a kit zoom lens.

Oh--I would suggest start with the most capable software (which IMO is photoshop). CS2 is apparently free and later you can get CS6/etc. And from the start use camera raw. (I purchased a used MacBookG4 for $250 (for PS CS2), and later a used MacBookPro for $500 for (PS CS2)--so I find you don't need the most current computer and memory/speed requirements are quite modest--and the laptop display allows me to accurately assess and print photos.)

Last edited by dms; 10-06-2016 at 08:23 PM.
10-06-2016, 08:57 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by drose40 Quote
New to the digital world, from old school
Hi Dan. welcome to the Pentax forums and Pentax equipment. Excellent advice already given, to which I could add not much at all, so I will just say welcome and good to have you here.

Last edited by pjv; 10-07-2016 at 03:05 AM.
10-06-2016, 10:14 PM   #7
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The polarizer issue is mainly a potential for affecting autofocus and very slight problems in metering. Use them with manual glass without worry.

As for equipment the K50 era equipment is stellar. The K-5 as well. If you go as far back as the K10/K20 it will work but it needs more care with ISO. This means faster lenses tend to be better - and since you are on a budget - paying a little more for higher iso performance may be worth it.
10-07-2016, 03:08 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
The polarizer issue is mainly a potential for affecting autofocus and very slight problems in metering. Use them with manual glass without worry.

As for equipment the K50 era equipment is stellar. The K-5 as well. If you go as far back as the K10/K20 it will work but it needs more care with ISO. This means faster lenses tend to be better - and since you are on a budget - paying a little more for higher iso performance may be worth it.
Won't that still give him problems with focus confirmation if he chooses to use it?

10-07-2016, 03:54 AM   #9
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Hello Dan,

It all really just depends on your budget. As Adam said, the K20s etc that you're looking at are fine, but newer camera are significantly better. K5 was an especially good one, a transition model in terms of its sensor and low light ability. Plenty of good used ones come on the market at very reasonable prices. If you're prepared to spend a couple of hundred bucks on the oldest ones then I'd look at spending a few bucks more and go K5 - it'll set you up for the next 5 years.

It is a whole new world digital, the cost of learning is minimal and postprocessing will get you out of all sorts of holes. You can take as many shots as the card on the camera and the camera's batteries will let you, all at no cost. In terms of postprocessing I'm afraid that I use the premium package out there, adobe photoshop, which can do everything but also costs. I'd recommend it as it can help you in all sorts of ways, but there may very well be something open source and free that'd suit your budget better.

Good luck, it's a lot of fun
10-07-2016, 05:41 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
Won't that still give him problems with focus confirmation if he chooses to use it?
It could - depending on how fast you go. F2.8 is faster than many zooms and still not too bad to get focus confirmation from. But really fast lenses like f1.4 will be harder to manually focus. The lack of live view on older bodies is also a constraint on manual focus lens accuracy - yet people do use the faster manual focus glass successfully with old and new dslr bodies. Keeper rates may require practice and better eyes than mine.
10-07-2016, 05:42 AM   #11
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For open source and free, I can recommend Raw Therapee for Raw-JPG processing. I cannot speak to programs that handle jpgs only because I perceive no use for them in my workflow. But I second the remarks about stretching a little further to a used K-5 if you can. I went up to this from the early-model *istDL and it was a revelation. If casual photography is your thing, you will probably never find its limits. And if cost is an object, Pentax's almost unbeatable reputation for back-compatibility means that a nice range of affordable lenses is never hard to find.

The problem with the earlier Pentax DSLRs is that not all of them (particularly some of the K-10 range) will drive the autofocus on many of the current (DC WR) lenses so expanding your lens collection can be fraught with issues (whether it's you or anyone who might inherit the camera in the future). Granted, the K-5 will not drive the new all-singing, all-dancing 55-300 (insert alphabet soup of designations here), but nothing is absolutely future proof, and the K-5 will handle every other lens in Pentax's current lineup. And as Nass said, it's one of the watershed cameras in Pentax's lineup, representing a significant advance from everything that came before it.
10-07-2016, 07:26 AM - 1 Like   #12
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I would consider a used K-5. You get an outstanding sensor and rugged body for a very low cost now. Nothing against the K10, I started with one, but the K5 is far more capable in lower light, allowing you to keep a faster shutter speed. Mine has seen a lot of (unintended) abuse and keeps performing.
10-07-2016, 08:32 AM - 1 Like   #13
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Welcome aboard.

I made the jump in 2012 and it was frustrating. Always used Pentax or Ricoh SLR's and when I decided to go digital (I still wince a little here as I am addicted to the smell of fixer.) and typed "pentax forum" into Google and wound up here. I didn't even know if Pentax had a DSLR or not. I got a K5. It was a very frustrating experience simply because the cameras have all these different modes and settings. And the manuals are good at telling you how to select something they don't tell you whatever you are selected actually does.

The learning curve was steeper than I imagined and a almost decided to just go point and shoot when I put my old SMC 55mm f1.8 lens (42mm mount) on the camera and went full manual. Suddenly things started to make sense again. As a bonus, that lens rocks as much today as it did when I first got it some 45 years ago. Great piece of glass.

Start with manual mode and work from there. Ask questions here. Pretty friendly bunch. BTW, I worked for Kodak for a long time. My career covered a lot of areas and some were even related to photography.

Are you in the Binghamton, NY area?
10-07-2016, 08:45 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by gaweidert Quote
I made the jump in 2012 and it was frustrating. Always used Pentax or Ricoh SLR's and when I decided to go digital (I still wince a little here as I am addicted to the smell of fixer.) and typed "pentax forum" into Google and wound up here. I didn't even know if Pentax had a DSLR or not. I got a K5. It was a very frustrating experience simply because the cameras have all these different modes and settings. And the manuals are good at telling you how to select something they don't tell you whatever you are selected actually does.

The learning curve was steeper than I imagined and a almost decided to just go point and shoot when I put my old SMC 55mm f1.8 lens (42mm mount) on the camera and went full manual. Suddenly things started to make sense again. As a bonus, that lens rocks as much today as it did when I first got it some 45 years ago. Great piece of glass.

Start with manual mode and work from there. Ask questions here. Pretty friendly bunch. BTW, I worked for Kodak for a long time. My career covered a lot of areas and some were even related to photography.
This is pretty reasonable advice. Since I was coming from a PZ-1 and had used come compact Pentax cameras (Optio 330 for example) I didn't find it too difficult to adjust to the K100D Super I got and then later the K-50 and the K-3. However I completely understand how jumping from a ME-Super or a K1000 would be daunting.

My advice is to look here:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/194-pentax-ebooks/323769-pentax-ebook-dow...nt-access.html

These e-books are very nicely made and better than the manuals for most people.
10-07-2016, 10:18 AM   #15
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Welcome to the forum, lots of good advice already given, so I'm just going to say welcome here again.
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