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09-07-2010, 09:25 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by suliabryon Quote
Thanks for the fast replies! Honestly, not trying to start anything w/the AA battery thing; I didn't know it was a hot issue! It's really just a personal preference with me, that goes back to having rechargeable AA batteries in my old mini-disc player (post-portable CD players, but before the time of the ipod!) I hated them and how often I had to charge them, and so now I have this probably unreasoning prejudice.
Two *very* important things to note here:

1) A camera is not a CD player. Just because your CD player ran through batteries quickly doesn't mean your camera will - and that applies just as surely to Li-ion as to AA. Different devices place different demands on batteries. A CD player is running a mechanical motor non-stop while it runs.

2) Your experience may be based on older battery technology. There's a reason nearly everyone who uses AA's recommend the newer hybrid / low-self-discharge types.

Yes, indeed, as you are discovering, there *are* differences of opinion regarding AA's. But there are differences of opinion, and then there are simple erroneous assumptions. The K-x with hybrid rechargeable AA's lasts *as long if not longer* than most DSLR's that take Li-ion cells. Worry abut AA's being heavier, worry about needing four of them instead of one, worry about the somewhat lower voltage and whatever that might imply - those are legitimate (if petty, in my *opinion*) things to worry about. And that's where the debate comes in - some saying that the difference in weight, or the hassle of having four instead of one, or the difference in voltage, is enough of disadvantage to offset the advantages (cheaper, more easily available, can share charger between devices, future-proof, etc). That debate is endless, because it does depend on opinion and opinion only, and really, the issues involved are incredibly minor.

But it is simply *wrong* to assume the K-x won't last long per charge as some other camera taking Li-ion's - that's not a matter of opinion, but of fact. It's tough to nail down specifics because it depends on how much you use the LCD, how much you use flash, etc - but either camera can be relied on to give 600+ shots per charge, and neither will lose any significant charge if you go a few weeks without shooting.

QuoteQuote:
I'm sorry if this should be obvious, but what's the advantage of dual dials? More features?
No, just easier to do certain things. Like in Av mode with one dial, you use that dial to set aperture and use that same dial in conjunction with a button to do exposure compensation. Whereas with two dials, one can do aperture, the other exposure compensation. Think of it like a computer keyboard where one has the "+" sign and "=" sign as separate keys, and the other makes you hit "shift" with the "=" to get "+". Both work just fine, but if you're doing a lot of math operations, you'll probably get tired of hitting shift prefer having those as separate keys.


Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 09-08-2010 at 07:34 AM.
09-08-2010, 07:01 AM   #17
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Thanks, that's all great information!

Well, everything has gone through and I've bought a gently used K20D off the marketplace. It's not from very far away, so theoretically I should have it in a couple of days, and it comes with a vertical grip and an 50mm f2, so I should be good to start and see how that lens does for my pieces.

Any other lens recommendations for this newbie? The database of reviews is a bit daunting when you don't have any clue where to start. Yes, I am getting a fixed lens to start with, but I'm talking about not just that (I've already marked down that I might eventually need to look at a 1.7 instead of a 2) but also for things like vacation time. What are some good all-around lenses for snapping photos at, say, Disneyland, or the beach? Preferably without breaking the bank, but I do have some time to save up and get something, so I suppose recs across the spectrum of the expense scale would be good.
09-08-2010, 07:35 AM   #18
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Are you buying the camera with the kit lens it was usually sold with (DA 18-55 II)? If not, then that's the obvious choice - it's sold with the camera for a reason.
09-08-2010, 07:38 AM   #19
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I would add 2 items. A wired shutter release (inflation has set in - these use to be $4)...... and an inexpensive tripod from craigslist. Now folks are going to say, get a large heavy one and that can run quite a bit. See if you need one, and if you do, what type will work best for you - you really don't know. I am betting you can find one close by for $10 to $15 (I find that folks buy a tripod, use 1 or 2 times, hate it, never use the camera again, wind up selling tripod a couple of years later when they are cleaning out the closet). It will be good enough to start out. In time you will find what works well with it and what you hate about it. Then you will know what to go out and spend some real money on. Heck, hit craigslist again, passing along your old one and look for a new one.

and maybe an inexpensive haligon desk lamp or two for additional lighting if needed.

use ISO 100 for the best quality
2 second delay when on the tripod




Last edited by interested_observer; 09-08-2010 at 07:43 AM.
09-08-2010, 07:54 AM   #20
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Thanks again! Well yes, the camera is coming with the kit lens, which is what I'll play with to start. But I was looking for recommendations beyond that, for future explorations.

Thanks for the recs; I actually already have a tripod. A small table top one I used for jewelry, and the husband recently upgraded to a heavier duty one for his HD video stuff, so I'll use his old one, which was kind of a middle-of-the-road tripod. I'll pick up the wired shutter release.

Any idea what size filter to get that will fit my fixed 50mm lens? The filters either seem to be 52mm, or 49. Not sure which is right.
09-08-2010, 09:35 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by suliabryon Quote
Thanks again! Well yes, the camera is coming with the kit lens, which is what I'll play with to start. But I was looking for recommendations beyond that, for future explorations.

Thanks for the recs; I actually already have a tripod. A small table top one I used for jewelry, and the husband recently upgraded to a heavier duty one for his HD video stuff, so I'll use his old one, which was kind of a middle-of-the-road tripod. I'll pick up the wired shutter release.

Any idea what size filter to get that will fit my fixed 50mm lens? The filters either seem to be 52mm, or 49. Not sure which is right.
Your table top tripod, as you probably already know, isn't going to cut it with the K20d. I would say use a Sturdy one, that may or may not mean a heavy one. Hubby's tripod is probably fine. One thing I always do when attaching a camera to a tripod is to wrap the strap around the center column. Just in case I've mis fastened the camera to the tripod, so it won't hit the ground.

I wouldn't bother with a filter on the 50mm lens but if you must, all but (in Pentax) the f1:1.2 are 49mm threads. The 1:1.2, is a 52mm. The Kit lens is also 52mm (but I still wouldn't degrade it with a filter unless you are speaking of a Circular Polarizer or similar).

09-08-2010, 04:55 PM   #22
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If you've got the kit lens and a 50, then the only thing you might considering adding for now would be a telephoto zoom. There's dozen of threads (here and in the Lens forum) comparing the various options, plus the reviews in the lens database, but basically, DA55-300 is the universal recommendation if you don't mind spending the money for it; otherwise, you might as well flip a coin between the DA50-200, Tamron 70-300, and Sigma 70-300, as there are pluses and minuses to each that are debated to death on the existing threads.
09-08-2010, 06:44 PM   #23
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My two cents: You've made a very good choice with the K20D. For shooting your jewelry, you'll need to get close sometimes, and the 18-55 kit lens focuses within 6 inches. To shoot any closer, you might consider a Raynox DCR-150 or -250 closeup adapter. See THE RAYNOX CLUB here for fine examples of their capabilities. Of course, the Macro Disease may overtake you, and you'll soon be searching for enlarger lenses to put on macro bellows, and you're doomed.

The K20D has a weather-sealed body. If you want to shoot in the rain, when all the wussy Canikonympus users run for cover, consider some fine Pentax weather-sealed lenses. After rolling in the mud a bit, you can just take the camera+lens into the shower for a wash-off.

When I got my K20D and AF360 flash and a first few lenses a couple years ago, I also bought:

* Rechargeable batteries for the flash, and a charger
* Extra battery for the K20D (you can never have too many batteries)
* 16GB SDHC card with tiny USB card-reader
* Wired and wireless remotes (wired remotes are easy to build)
* Lens pen and Official Pentax Imagesensor Cleaning Kit O-ICK1
* UV filters (which I immediately stopped using)

Personal note: I've been shooting for over 50 years. I about grew up in my Dad's small darkroom. Photography was my job in the US Army (one of my jobs, anyway). I now own way too many cameras and lenses, mostly cheap. The K20D is by far the best. The items I listed above, and a tripod and light box (which you already have) are IMHO the basic support kit for product and general photography. But eventually, the lenses win.

09-08-2010, 09:00 PM   #24
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Thank you again, everyone.

Jeff- Since the husband's video camera is about five or six of the k20d in size, I'm pretty sure his old tripod will support my camera fine, but at the same time, I definitely plan to be super careful. However, as close to my jewelry pieces as I'm likely going to need to get, I'm not sure how much I'll actually use the tripod...but I'm sure I'll play with it a few times.

Marc - Exactly the kind of recommendation I was looking for! Sorry, I have no clue about the different categories for lenses to have been more specific. I just knew the ones I was getting probably wouldn't zoom far enough to, say, capture the deer that walk through our property as close as I might like. But I'm not rushing into anything. The kit lens and the fixed 50 should give me plenty of playing room. :-)

Rio - Wow, thank you so much for both the endorsement of the camera, and the list of recommended buys! Photography for the army? My father-in-law wrestled for the army through most of the Vietnam war. Once they found out he was a college wrestler, they pulled him from his unit and reassigned him, lucky for us, since his old unit was hit the very next week.

An extra battery is definitely a great idea. The camera is coming with a grip that has a battery, but I suppose it would be good to have a second actual camera battery as well, for when I don't want to be carrying the grip (as on vacation).

A lot of people seem to buy external flash - is the flash on the camera itself inadequate for a lot of things?

A cleaning kit is also an excellent thing to have. My Macbook already has a card reader, and I purchased a 16Gig SDHC card from amazon yesterday...hmm, can I ask why everyone keeps saying not to use a UV filter? Does it interfere with the photo somehow? Are other filters bad, or just the UV? I thought that would be an extra clear layer to protect my lens from dust and dirt, but it sounds like that is not the recommendation here.

Just a note to say, I've ordered a couple of books people recommended on another thread, so soon hopefully I won't be quite so woefully ignorant.
09-08-2010, 09:09 PM   #25
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Regarding the battery, the K20Ds battery, and the battery in the grip, are one in the same....no need to buy another "camera" battery unless you just want to have 3 batteries ( like me )
09-08-2010, 09:26 PM   #26
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Ha ha! What was that I said about woeful ignorance? Good thing this is in the beginner's thread.
09-08-2010, 09:38 PM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by suliabryon Quote
My father-in-law wrestled for the army through most of the Vietnam war. Once they found out he was a college wrestler, they pulled him from his unit and reassigned him, lucky for us, since his old unit was hit the very next week.
He's very fortunate. My Nam-era service was in Kansas and Germany. I was a combat medic and combat photographer who never saw combat, for which I am eternally grateful. I did radio too, but that's another story...

QuoteQuote:
A lot of people seem to buy external flash - is the flash on the camera itself inadequate for a lot of things?
Yes.

The harsh onboard flash is good for emergencies and not much else. I put a sock on it. The cheapest dollar-store infant sock I can find, as a collapsible diffuser. Some here talk of using a translucent 35mm film canister for that. But it's VERY VERY good to have an aimable flash with a diffuser, to use as bounce and fill light. Light is all-important. There's a tagline you'll see around: Amateurs worry about gear. Pros worry about money. Artists worry about light. And that's the truth.

Besides reading the recommended basic books on exposure etc, get to a public library and study every book you can find on photography. Especially look for those that show HOW images are lit, how portraits are set up, etc. Google a bit and you'll find free technical manuals on lighting. Compared to light and shadow, color is almost trivial.

QuoteQuote:
...hmm, can I ask why everyone keeps saying not to use a UV filter? Does it interfere with the photo somehow? Are other filters bad, or just the UV? I thought that would be an extra clear layer to protect my lens from dust and dirt, but it sounds like that is not the recommendation here.
UV filters generally protect little but the paychecks of those selling them. Film is sensitive to UV radiation. With vanishingly few exceptions, digital sensors are NOT sensitive to UV, but they are to InfraRed. (More on that another time.) Big high-quality UV filters can cost more than the lenses they 'protect'. There ARE times and places for protective filters. A clear glass filter is a good idea if you're shooting in blowing dust & sand & salt, rolling in mud & blood & beer. If you're somewhere that objects tend to become encrusted with crud overnight, use a clear optical glass filter -- or a weather-sealed lens. But every extra layer of glass causes *some* loss of IQ (image quality). Generally, the best physical protection is a solid lens hood. (And a filter left on a lens for years can cause nasty fatal growths of fungi. Ewww...)

Other filters have their definite uses. I won't go into my whole filter lecture now, but the most useful are:

* PL (polarizing) and CPL (circular PL), which reduce glare and reflections, and improve sky contrast. Two CPL's, or a PL+CPL pair, form a variable ND.
* ND (neutral density) which allow slower shutter speeds, useful when shooting flowing water etc; strong ND with LONG exposures can make people disappear.
* GND (graduated ND), where half is darkened and half ain't. Useful when shooting a dark foreground with a bright sky.

Later I'll blather on about diopters and split diopters, IR-pass filters, odd uses of B&W and color-correction filters, etc. But these are specialty items. Some are only of interest to actinic-light pervs like me. Oh yeah, spectrum-slicing, ooh ooh...

Have fun!
09-09-2010, 05:44 AM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by suliabryon Quote
Thank you again, everyone.

Jeff- Since the husband's video camera is about five or six of the k20d in size, I'm pretty sure his old tripod will support my camera fine, but at the same time, I definitely plan to be super careful. However, as close to my jewelry pieces as I'm likely going to need to get, I'm not sure how much I'll actually use the tripod...but I'm sure I'll play with it a few times.

.......

An extra battery is definitely a great idea. The camera is coming with a grip that has a battery, but I suppose it would be good to have a second actual camera battery as well, for when I don't want to be carrying the grip (as on vacation).

A lot of people seem to buy external flash - is the flash on the camera itself inadequate for a lot of things?

A cleaning kit is also an excellent thing to have. My Macbook already has a card reader, and I purchased a 16Gig SDHC card from amazon yesterday...hmm, can I ask why everyone keeps saying not to use a UV filter? Does it interfere with the photo somehow? Are other filters bad, or just the UV? I thought that would be an extra clear layer to protect my lens from dust and dirt, but it sounds like that is not the recommendation here.

Just a note to say, I've ordered a couple of books people recommended on another thread, so soon hopefully I won't be quite so woefully ignorant.
The grip is a nice accessory to have if you can stand the size of camera it creates. With the two batteries, you'll actually forget the last time you charged them. I have my K7 set to use the grip battery first and typically only recharge that one (because the grip has to be removed to get the camera body battery out). Spare batteries can be had dirt cheap and it never hurts to have them. Any NP-400 type will work.

My tripod cost me several hundred dollars, is compact, easy to take with and set up, and I use it maybe 2 or 3 times a year. When I get the urge to sky gaze and try to take photos of the stars. If I did things like photograph moving water and things like that I might use it more but for 99%, there is no need. I bought a Monopod about 9 months ago here on the marketplace. I don't think I've used it Yet.

An external flash is always a good idea. Pentax offers two that I would readily recommend. The AF540 and the AF360. The 540 being the more powerful and versatile of the two. The only thing however that the 360 lacks from the 540 is a swivel head. Otherwise, it will do everything the 540 does and for a small room, is sufficient. Both will add an auto focus assist lamp to the camera, both are capable of wireless flash, both are capable of high speed sync. Used, these units can be had for $300 and about $160 respectively (current ebay prices I've seen). There are other options of course but those are the only two I have experience with.

Lenses: A long zoom is nice to have, I won't argue that. For your purpose of jewelery photography however, I would suggest something more along the lines of a 50mm f2.8 macro (or even a 100mm f4). Manual focus options for both are relatively easy to find and can be had for (what I think are) reasonable prices. *A* versions are better but *M* versions will get you there too. What I mean by all this is, let your needs dictate which lenses you purchase, not us. We all love to spend someone else's money .

RioRico has answered your UV question as only he can. I would add, that I use to put expensive UV filters on everything. That is until one day I noticed why I couldn't get a clear photo in certain situations. At a family reunion, in an open air shelter (no direct sunlight), I saw that all my photos had a lot of flare. I removed the filter, flare gone, nice clean clear crisp photos from then on.

Books: Read, then read some more. Hold your camera and practice what you read about, and you'll master it in no time. Get stuck? Ask here. You'll get 10 answers with 10 different ways to solve your problem. Good knowledgeable crowd around here.

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