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09-06-2010, 08:23 PM   #1
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Newbie looking for the right first time SLR

*waves hello*

Hi everyone! I'm a jewelry designer who's been using a "pocket" canon SD700 for several years to take my jewelry photos. But I haven't been 100% happy with the macro quality I'm getting for a long time. Every time I see some amazing macro photo online, it seems to be taken with an SLR or DSLR. I like digital. It's very convenient for me to upload my jewelry photos. A photog friend of mine recommended Pentax. He likes the quality for the price, and mentioned I could pick up some older lenses for pretty inexpensive costs.

What I really want is a fairly light weight camera I can take good macro images with, and also pack with me on the family vacation to disneyland. Living in Oregon and taking my photos outside in natural light, weatherproofing would be a plus, because we get a lot of rain. My friend the pro uses a Pentax K20D, and loves it. He recommended I pick up a K-x body if I wanted to buy new, along with a good 50mm prime lense and an extension tube for when I want to do macro shots, as well as a "clear" filter because "they're cheap, and they protect your actual lense".

This all seems like very good advice to me. So, being excited, I looked around. At first glance, the only thing I don't like about the K-x is the AA batteries. I like rechargeable batteries for my camera - it was one of the reasons I bought the SD Canon over one of their Powershots, years back. But I can't afford the jump up to the K-7. Looking around it seems I could pick up a used K20D for about the same the K-x body would run me. Does this seem like a good idea? Or should I just own up to the AA battery and buy the K-x?

Thanks for any recommendations. Like I said, I'm a total newb, and a little intimidated by the DSLR world!

09-06-2010, 08:36 PM   #2
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Rechargeable AA batteries have been available for many years, and as you'll see if you browse the many existing threads on the subject, these are what almost everyone uses. the Sanyo Eneloop brnad specifically, or similar "hybrid" low self-discharge cells.

So anyhow, don't let the AA's stop you form considering the K-x - rechargeable AA's work just as well as the proprietary batteries used in other cameras, and they are cheaper and easier to find. Win-win.
09-06-2010, 08:45 PM   #3
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I'm not getting into the AA fight again, that's a no win argument. I can agree with everything your friend says except 'the clear filter because they are cheap....'. I'll agree with the cheap part in general but you will gain far more protection and benefit from using a hood. Cheap glass is cheap glass, no matter what name you put on it. It is known to induce flare and degrade images (in my experience anyway).

RE the K20d, it's a fine camera and will allow you to use options that simply are not available on the Kx (dual dials for instance). It doesn't do video, the live view on it sucks, but beyond that, a Very capable camera.

09-06-2010, 08:49 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffJS Quote
I'm not getting into the AA fight again, that's a no win argument.
There's no need for any argument here - the OP wasn't even aware rechargeable AA's existed. I simply informed him they do, so his concern is misplaced.

09-06-2010, 08:56 PM   #5
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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.

Anyway, it's not a deal breaker either way. As for other features, I don't have any need for video. I've never used it on my little Canon, and if I ever do want to video something, the husband has a Canon XH-A1 he's pretty handy with. This camera would only be for photos.

I'm sorry if this should be obvious, but what's the advantage of dual dials? More features?
09-06-2010, 09:33 PM   #6
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As I was reading your post, it struck me that about a year ago a poster in Japan asked about some specific jewelry related photography advice - camera, lens, lighting for their particular type of jewelry line. So, I went looking, and found it....The original poster then took all the advice and their experience in terms of what worked and did not work for them, and reduced it to a very nice web page that laid everything out step by step.I think that this particular thread will probably go places beyond what you are asking specifically. Noteworthy, is a post from Ben Kanarek on lighting aspects. Ben is a world famous Paris fashion photographer who posts here. Also, jewelry photographer brecklundin (a Forum regular) provided very insightful comments, suggestions and recommendations. The whole thread and ultimately the how to website is very instructional. I do not think you can find any better suggestions and comments - anywhere, at any price.

One additional item - The K20 supports remote USB tethering, where by via the USB cable you can attach a PC (laptop) and have some level of control and pull the images so that you can use the monitor to assess your work nearly instantly. This is not a feature found on the KX or K7. Both the KX and K7 are smaller, however the K20 is not really all that large. I have the K20 and I really do not see how you can go wrong with this body. It has everything you need - and the prices are very reasonable. I would check the market place here, since most everyone really takes care of their equipment.

The jewelry poster actually wound up using a much older Pentax *istDS, 6MP because the internet postings are relative small and the images of their rings were relatively small, so - what every you choose, K20, KX or even older K10, K100 or one of the *ist, it appears that the camera body is the least of your concerns. For a lens, their tutorial indicated a older M 50mm f1.4 which does go for a $100 - $200, although I have watched them go for a bit less at times.


Last edited by interested_observer; 09-06-2010 at 10:34 PM.
09-06-2010, 09:37 PM   #7
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Jewelry will not leap out and attack your lens, so you can safely and wisely not us a filter.
09-06-2010, 09:41 PM   #8
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I love my K-x, you can't go wrong with it. It's great for the price.

Since you don't like AA batteries and if you don't need to buy the camera this very moment, maybe wait till October when the Pentax K-r is released. It's supposed to be a step up from the K-x and will take both AA batteries and a rechargeable battery pack. There is a pretty large price difference, though, the K-x's retail price is $650 (but most stores around me that carry them sell them for $500-575) and the K-r is supposed to be priced at about $875.

Like I said, if you don't need the camera right this moment, maybe wait a bit until the K-r comes out and people write some reviews on it.
Good luck choosing, whichever camera you decide to choose, I'm sure you'll be happy!

09-06-2010, 10:36 PM   #9
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Wow, talk about getting more out of this post than I ever expected! Thank you so much for the advice and links. I've bookmarked them and it definitely looks like interesting reading. Makes me wish I'd come here back when I was exhaustively googling how to better photograph jewelry.

I do have a lightbox for doing photos, but I've found through trial and error that most of the time, natural outdoor light gives me better pictures. Sometimes photographing certain stones can be problematic, even in a lightbox - like labradorite, that flashes different colors under different lighting. there have been times when I've tried outdoors, lighting box, different angles, you name it, and the stone still looks flat and gray, instead of pretty and blue or green.

This is really rather embarrassing, as my photos are pretty amateur hour, but you can see some of my photos here in my shop (not a promotion, merely posting to show what I'm currently doing, and the style of photo I'm going for. In fact, you can probably tell which pieces are older by looking at the different photos, and where I was "at" with my experimentation in photographing my pieces at the time.)

Right now, I am leaning toward the K20D. I did take a look at the marketplace here, and it looks like there are a couple for sale. $500 is really my price range for the basic body, so while the K-7's or the expected K-r are appealing, I don't think I can justify the added expense for now.

I know this broaches yet an other question, but in the sea of prime 50mm lenses on ebay, are there any I should lean toward or avoid? My friend told me I'd be fine with a Pentax-M, which seem to run about $45-50.
09-06-2010, 11:33 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
There's no need for any argument here - the OP wasn't even aware rechargeable AA's existed. I simply informed him they do, so his concern is misplaced.
Sorry Marc, should have put the

:sarc:

in my post... I realize the she may not understand the argument joke so I didn't put the icon in.

QuoteQuote:
Right now, I am leaning toward the K20D. I did take a look at the marketplace here, and it looks like there are a couple for sale. $500 is really my price range for the basic body, so while the K-7's or the expected K-r are appealing, I don't think I can justify the added expense for now.
I think the K20d would be a fine choice. Since your friend has one you already know how big it is.. One thing I didn't mention but someone else did, is the Tethering. The ability to use a computer to control a camera. That, is a feature even the K7 lacks (and if I ever find out they did away with it to make room for Video capability, I'm going to sock someone at Hoya-tax in the mouth ). The only thing about the Remote assistant (tethering) is it doesn't play well with Windows 7. Not in my experience anyway.

If budget is an issue, Pentax A (or M) 50mm f1.7.


Last edited by JeffJS; 09-06-2010 at 11:43 PM.
09-06-2010, 11:51 PM   #11
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Does the remote tethering still work with a Mac, does anyone know?

One of the sellers in the market here is willing to part with their k20d and an A50 f/2.0 lens, so I'm thinking that's what I'm going to go with.
09-07-2010, 12:15 AM   #12
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From the Pentax Website..

PENTAX REMOTE ASSISTANT 3.51

PENTAX REMOTE ASSISTANT 3.51



PENTAX is pleased to announce the release of PENTAX Remote Assistant 3, available free of charge to owners of compatible cameras. Remote Assistant allows you to use your computer to control a tethered camera, making it ideal in various studio and special application photographic situations. In addition to standard remote camera operation, Remote Assistant offers functions such as:

* Operational control of 2 or more cameras
* Interval, Timer, and Bulb Timer modes
* Remote User Mode and Custom Functions control
* And more

COMPATIBLE CAMERAS

* K10D (with firmware version 1.20 or later)
* K20D

VERSION HISTORY



Version 3.51

* Added support for the K20D DSLR camera.
* Added support for limited camera setting synchronization with multiple cameras.
* Added support for custom image modes.
* Shortened lens names in the Image Data window (Photo Browser).
* Added lens data for new PENTAX lenses: DA 18-250, DA 18-55 II, DA 55-300, DA* 200, DA* 300, DA 35mm Macro Ltd.
* Improved the autofocus indicator in the viewfinder when using Auto AF.
* Improve dialogue display when shooting in Continuous (Lo) (K20D).

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

* Windows: Windows XP/Vista (32 bit), Pentium 4 equivalent or later, 512MB RAM, 250MB HDD, monitor resolution 1024x768 or better (24 bit color).
* Macintosh: MacOS-X 10.3.9 or later, G4 (1 GHz) processor or later, 512MB RAM, 250MB HDD.

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Click the download link below appropriate to your operating system, and save the download file to your computer's hard drive. For example, saving the download file to your desktop will allow you find it easily once the download is complete.
2. Close other applications, then double click the download file to begin the installation/update. Mac users may need to first unstuff the download file prior to installation.
3. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the installation.
4. Once you have finished installing the Remote Assistant software, you can launch it directly from Photo Browser by clicking on the Remote Assistant button. You can also launch it from the Start Menu (Windows) or from the Pentax Digital Camera Utility folder (Mac).

DOWNLOAD REMOTE ASSISTANT 3 FOR WINDOWS XP/Vista (6.56 MB)
DOWNLOAD REMOTE ASSISTANT 3 FOR MACOS 10.3 (16.7 MB)
DOWNLOAD REMOTE ASSISTANT 3 FOR MACOS 10.4 or later (17.0 MB)



Manuals and Literature - Official PENTAX Imaging Web Site

The f2.0 if it is a Pentax A 50mm is a decent starting point but at some point you may want to upgrade.


09-07-2010, 12:28 AM   #13
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Awesome! Thank you Jeff.

Yes, my understanding is that the f2.0 is indeed a Pentax A 50mm. I have a feeling a good starting point is about perfect for me, since while this is all very exciting in theory, once the camera comes, I think I'll be looking at it and all it can do, and feeling a bit overwhelmed!
09-07-2010, 05:32 AM   #14
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I have a new K-x and the first thing I bought as an accessory was the a/c adaptor.If you are shooting inside,or outside for that matter and can plug into an electrical outlet,then you don't use the batteries.
The adaptor is well worth the money IMO.
Just something to think about and consider
09-07-2010, 07:14 AM   #15
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In terms of the lens, the one thing thing that it will uniquely control is the minimum depth of field. In the jewelery thread referenced, they used a very thin dof, thus the reason they went for a f1.4 lens, so as to be able to achieve it.

Based on the physical size of your jewelery pieces, it does not appear that you are going to be needing an extremely thin dof, so I would think that a f1.7 or f2 lens would work very well for you. However, I do not really know where you may go, so you are the one that needs to determine this.

Here is an online depth of field calculator that you can use.For a K20 with a 50mm f1.7 or f2 at 1 foot, the dof is 0.01 feet, which should probably be more than sufficient.

The A50/f2 I would think would work very well. Also, with the size of your pieces in order to get everything in focus you will be up at f4 to f8 any way. At those apertures, the lens would be at its best. With the K20 you will have more than sufficient real estate in order to heavily crop the images. I am wondering if your use of solid material to sit the items on inhibits the light going through the stone by which to show it off. maybe something translucent would allow light to come in from the bottom in which to highlight the stone.

... anyway - hope that helps...
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