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06-13-2010, 01:01 AM   #1
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Pondering first dslr purchase, need some guidance

For my beloved wife's birthday this year, I bought her a nice dslr (something she's wanted for years). She had her heart set on a Nikon, and I managed to find a great deal on the D3000 with two kit lenses. Since then, she's gotten ever more into photography, and I've caught her enthusiasm! I've greatly enjoyed playing about with her camera, and it's time for me to get my own.

After a good bit of research I'm leaning heavily towards Pentax (I bet you could've guessed that from where I'm posting this, eh?) and specifically the K-x model although the K20D, K10D, and K200D are in the running. Let me describe the sort of things I'm interested in, and I'd love some feedback on which model best fits what I want to do.

Goals:

Learn photography. I've always used point n' shoots and been very unsophisticated. With this camera (and the appropriate reading and ideally a class or two) I intend to change that.

General family portraiture. Candid snaps of my wife, friends etc.

Macro shots: I tend to trade and sell lots of things (fountain pens, flash lights, guns etc) where being able to get clear and detailed shots of tiny flaws is a huge help for the buyer. I also just think extreme close ups of mundane objects are fascinating and I want to be able to create those kind of images.

Low light work. This one is what's pushing me towards the K-x. I love dusk, sitting around the campfire etc, and I really want to be able to capture good shots without much ambient light. Especially in the context of taking snaps of animals or outdoor scenes where a flash either can't be used or would be ineffective.

So far, everything points to the K-x. However, there are a few concerns I have that make me reluctant to purchase on just yet.

K-x cons:

Unsealed. On the one hand, I love the idea of a camera made to resist adverse conditions. I tend to value ruggedness and durability in everything I buy, so it's a naturally appealing trait. However, there are other ways to protect the camera, it doesn't help older non-weather resistant lenses, and how likely am I to really take my expensive dslr out into the rain anyway? The logical side of my mind is telling me it's not really a big deal, but I can't help but wish it had it.

AA batteries. I just don't like the format as much as a sealed battery pack.

Lack of auto-focus indicators. I'm really not certain how much of a drawback this is (given my lack of experience with systems that have such a thing) but the reviews tend to make a big deal out of it. Much ado about nothing or a crippling issue for a newb? In all fairness, I believe all the cameras I listed have this issue as well, right?

Harder to find used. I hate buying new gear, partly because it's more expensive and partly because I like the concept of reusing durable goods. Not an absolute problem, especially as the new price is so low.

Price. It's very, very reasonable but we just bought our first house and I can't help but look at how much less a used K10D would be and wonder if that might not be a better choice. However, given how absurdly low K-x kits are I'm not sure this is a valid argument.

Anyway, it's very late and I'm rambling a bit so I'll leave it at that. Looking at the pro/con list the K-x seems like a really good choice, but if anyone can offer a differing opinion voting for a 20D etc I'd love to hear it.

06-13-2010, 04:23 AM   #2
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The low-light performance of the K-x is quite remarkable- the best of all current Pentax bodies AFAIK.

I know the K10 and K20 have AF indicators, so I'd presume the Kx would too, but don't quote me on that.

For your purposes, I'd recommend the K10D, as it's sealed, cheaper, and has more external buttons. If you want your wife to learn photography and don't want her to start with an analog film camera such as the K1000, then this is as close as you're going to get.

Out of the box JPGs from the K10D are quite good and won't disappoint compared to the Kx.
06-13-2010, 04:26 AM   #3
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Let me preface by saying that the K-x is just the right camera for me. I wish it had been out when I first bought Pentax.

* It has all the features I need.
* Love the high ISO capabilities. (Hated having to shoot at 800 ISO, now shoot at 3200 quite often).
* It is compact
* The price was VERY right.

I did not comment on your points about buying new/used and the price of the K-x. The K-x is more than competitively priced considering how well it sells, and not finding any used just shows that people rarely part with it after having purchased it. So, I do not see that as cons to the K-x.

QuoteOriginally posted by Balog Quote
K-x cons:

Unsealed. On the one hand, I love the idea of a camera made to resist adverse conditions. I tend to value ruggedness and durability in everything I buy, so it's a naturally appealing trait. However, there are other ways to protect the camera, it doesn't help older non-weather resistant lenses, and how likely am I to really take my expensive dslr out into the rain anyway? The logical side of my mind is telling me it's not really a big deal, but I can't help but wish it had it.
From what you said, it does not sound like you will be using the kit lens much (not good for candids or macros), so a WR lens will cost a lot of $$$. Then, a sealed body is kind of moot. I have one weather sealed lens, the 16-50, but neither my K10D nor the K-x have seen much rain action.
Yes, it would be nice to have, but at what price.

QuoteOriginally posted by Balog Quote
AA batteries. I just don't like the format as much as a sealed battery pack.
I felt the same way, and now I do not anymore. The batteries last a long time, even the supplied alkaline ones, and they are easier and cheaper to replace. My kit came with an eneloop charger and battery set, so that made it even easier.

QuoteOriginally posted by Balog Quote
Lack of auto-focus indicators. I'm really not certain how much of a drawback this is (given my lack of experience with systems that have such a thing) but the reviews tend to make a big deal out of it. Much ado about nothing or a crippling issue for a newb? In all fairness, I believe all the cameras I listed have this issue as well, right?
I used his extensively on the K10D. I would miss this a lot less if the center AF point was smaller. I would say this is one of the bigger drawbacks, but still, I does not bother me.
06-13-2010, 04:36 AM   #4
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YES

I was given the Niokn D3000 for x.mas to me it just a point and shoot only bigger. I have Nikon film gear and Pentax film gear. The switch for me was no loss I can meter with my old glass with the Pentax. Oh I should say that I bought a used new to me K100d with only 1'400 shots yea less mega pixies but so much more to offer than the d3000 or 5000 well maybe I don't have the movable screen but to me that just seems like something easy to break and besides if I wanna take movies just get a movie camera P.S Great Site

06-13-2010, 04:50 AM   #5
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I was in the same situation as you just a couple months ago, considering my first DSLR purchase. After much pondering and too much research, and with the sames concerns as you, I went with the the K-x and have no regrets.

QuoteQuote:
K-x cons:

Unsealed. On the one hand, I love the idea of a camera made to resist adverse conditions. I tend to value ruggedness and durability in everything I buy, so it's a naturally appealing trait. However, there are other ways to protect the camera, it doesn't help older non-weather resistant lenses, and how likely am I to really take my expensive dslr out into the rain anyway? The logical side of my mind is telling me it's not really a big deal, but I can't help but wish it had it.
Not much of a concern for me; I don't like being out in bad weather. You say you like macro photography, so stay inside on rainy days and shoot some macros.


QuoteQuote:
AA batteries. I just don't like the format as much as a sealed battery pack.
My ancient Casio P&S also used AA batteries, so I am used to it and to me it's an advantage, not a drawback. A couple sets of good rechargeables will suffice, and the money you save by not buying a spare specialized pack can go towards a nice used lens.


QuoteQuote:
Lack of auto-focus indicators. I'm really not certain how much of a drawback this is (given my lack of experience with systems that have such a thing) but the reviews tend to make a big deal out of it. Much ado about nothing or a crippling issue for a newb? In all fairness, I believe all the cameras I listed have this issue as well, right?
Having never had this feature on any camera, I don't miss it. I'm used to center focusing and recomposing with a P&S, so the lack of indicators is no big deal to me.

QuoteQuote:
Harder to find used. I hate buying new gear, partly because it's more expensive and partly because I like the concept of reusing durable goods. Not an absolute problem, especially as the new price is so low.
Maybe it's harder to find used because it's such a great camera, no one is selling?

QuoteQuote:
Price. It's very, very reasonable but we just bought our first house and I can't help but look at how much less a used K10D would be and wonder if that might not be a better choice. However, given how absurdly low K-x kits are I'm not sure this is a valid argument.
I think this camera is a steal brand new. Buy it from B&H or Adorama through this site and you can get 6 months no interest. Skip the daily Starbucks and there's your monthly payment
06-13-2010, 05:13 AM   #6
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Although there will be lots of support for the K-x here, your discussion has dwelt a lot on the features the K-x does not offer but you seem to value. In this regard a used K10D or K20D (if you can afford it) is well worth the money.

The K10D will give you advanced features at your finger tips at around $350, while the K20D will add better high ISO performance (at least a stop) for around $600. Both are sealed with the right lenses and are built to last. Enjoy choosing...
06-13-2010, 06:20 AM   #7
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Addressing some of your cons:

From you description, I don't see a need for WR. Nice to have but no deal breaker.

AA batteries have advantages (you can buy them in the middle of the bush while a dedicated battery might pose a problem from that perspective. Also, I have a charger that will work on the car battery (for the AAs of a K100D). For the K10D (with dedicated battery), I need either a DC/AC converter or a generator under the same circumstances.

Lack of autofocus indicators can be an issue if you're used to them. However center focus and recompose works as well in my opinion. I don't have a Kx but it's how I use the K100D/K10D most of the time.

Other points:

The Kx does NOT have a connection for a cable release. This might be a big minus for macro photography; as far as I know it's the first Pentax dSLR that is missing this feature. Only infrared remote and it only works from the front, not from the rear.
The kit lens for the Kx (DA-L) does not have a lenshood. You have to buy one separate (add US$32 according to PentaxWebstore 52mm Lens Hood PH-RBA )
06-14-2010, 08:05 AM   #8
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Thanks for the replies everyone, certainly a lot to think about. Somehow I don't think I'll go too wrong no matter which model I go with...

06-14-2010, 03:22 PM   #9
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I would worry a little about how much lenses will cost you. Say you get a nice dedicated macro lens. Your wife sees the results, likes them, and now you have to buy a Nikon-mount macro lens too.

It is very easy to develop the same outlook as a review site, and concentrate too hard on the small differences between cameras. I can see why the review sites mention the AF points in the viewfinder, because it's an obvious difference. Then again I have not used my AF points ever, after having them for 5 years. They could be broken for all I know. You're probably going to end up with a camera that is missing "something", and without a lot of experience, it's tough to say if you'll really miss the missing feature.

You can reduce that effect somewhat by purchasing a really good used camera, like the K20D. As a former top-of-the-line model, it has quite a few little features that can be very useful. Yet it costs close to the K-x. That option is good for eliminating most of the decisions on features.
06-15-2010, 05:00 AM   #10
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I would look at a used K20. Performance wise, the only thing you will lose is a little bit of high iso ability. The K20 sensor is easily shootable to iso 1600 (and maybe to 3200 depending on how big you print). Get it used and get the weather sealed kit lens with it and you will have a very nice package that can do anything you want it to do for a long time to come (except video).

I personally use auto focus points a lot, but I know a lot of folks shoot with the center point and recompose. Anyway, I wouldn't think that that would be a deal breaker on the kx. On the other hand if you spend a lot of time out doors, the weather sealing is the real deal. I lost a k100 when I went hiking and got caught in a down pour, it was in a bag, but not a weather proof one and the LCD screen never worked right afterward. On the other hand, I have shot with the K10 and K20 in quite heavy rain and never had any issues.

Just my 2 cents, but I think over all you can't go wrong with any the SLRs out there now.
06-16-2010, 01:33 PM   #11
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And Balog, beware the PK-R mount lenses. Beware the Ricoh pin.
06-17-2010, 11:22 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nowhere Matt Quote
And Balog, beware the PK-R mount lenses. Beware the Ricoh pin.

How do I determine if I lens I'm lookin at online has that type of mount?
06-17-2010, 07:12 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Balog Quote
How do I determine if I lens I'm lookin at online has that type of mount?
Here you go

theatre of noise: Ricoh Lenses On Pentax Cameras -- The Ricoh Pin Fix
06-17-2010, 07:27 PM   #14
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To me you could do with a 20D or a 10D. Both are built like absolute tanks, better than the K7 FWIW.

The 20D is an AWFUL lot of camera for under $600, super value. I mean, i just happen to have one for sale

Seriously, why get a beginners camera when you can get somethign this robust?
06-17-2010, 08:16 PM   #15
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Well..here's my 2 cents!

Around Christmas last year, I decided to get my first DSLR, having played aroud with a Canon T1i and a Nikon D90 with work colleagues.

So I went around electronic stores, played with the cams and got brainwashed by the selllers and collegues rooting for Canon or Nikon. I targeted my budget.

Then I visited a real camera store, that actually had Canons, Nikons, Olympus, Sony's and Pentaxes, and talked with the owner, who is a professionnal (Master degree) photographer, University teacher, and all around good guy! His advice...you can get great pictures with all of the DSLR's on the market....gather knowledge about functions available, evaluate what you really want from the camera, and ignore all the marketing bu****it ; take the cameras in your hands and feel it...size does matter!

So I went from the T1i to the D90 to the k-x to finish with the K7, that I now own, and am very happpy with it, thank you!

As for your price concerns, the K7 is coming down fast and some used ones are more readily seen these days. And even if poeple gasp at K-x's hogh iso performance, for the average newcommer and future enthusiast I swear to you the K-7 get me some good pics at high iso. As for lenses, ther are tons of used ones available..

There u go! Good luck!
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