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12-27-2010, 08:06 AM   #1
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what starter DSLR to buy for my old school wife

My wife wants to get back into photography (take a class with my son - who just got a digital for christmas) and has an K1000 that is old. She likes the manual and I want to get her a DSLR for her birthday (jan 30th). I started looking and see a lot of cameras in the 200 - 300 dollar range. The K10D (for sale used here) and k100D (used on amazon) are two that look like what I want to get her. What can you all suggest that will meet her old school needs and help her get into the digital world without too much of a culture shock?


12-27-2010, 08:43 AM   #2
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pentax 200-300 is hard to get... you end up with pretty old bodies.

spring for 450 ish and get a k-x basic kit
or 400 for the body (which is not a bad deal IMO).
12-27-2010, 09:26 AM   #3
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[langtitle=fr]k100 D super[/langtitle]

le k100d super est un super appareil pour débuter, j'en étais ravi et le regrette presque depuis l'achat de mon kr! sinon on trouve des kx pas cher actuellement.
12-27-2010, 09:30 AM   #4
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I'd get her a K10d. I have always liked mine and it was what took me from film to digital. The controls are much better than the k100d. While its performance is less than the k5 or Kr it is still a very usable camera in many conditions and weather sealed to boot. Plus if she has any lenses left over from the K1000 using them on a K10 is very straightforward over the k100.

12-27-2010, 09:48 AM   #5
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If she likes manual lenses get her a *ist DS. It has a Pentaprism instead of the Pentamirror of the K100D and a more accurate meter with manual lenses than the K10D. It also works with older TTL flashes.
12-27-2010, 10:45 AM   #6
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Hi, Wstrine,
ist series can be found for $280 or so.

I have both ist ds and dl, side by side, ds pentaprism is much sharper than dl pentamirror for manual focus. However neither seems as easy to focus as a K1000/MX/ME_super which had the split diagonal/speckles.

Like Boris I recommend pentaprism for manual lenses, whatever model series you choose.

ist was the (only?) model that supports ttl flash with A series lenses and they are smaller and lighter than later models; not much heavier than a K1000.

Problem with all my ist bodies (and many similar comments on forum) is they are prone to early shutdown by low battery alarm. To overcome this, top up the batteries for 10 minutes before each session, or every few days, which can be a nuisance. Trade off that against the more costly later models.

I feel she will not have much culture shock, whatever model, because the "M" mode allows exposure setting like the K1000, along with the added pushbutton exposure setting
12-27-2010, 11:04 AM   #7
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Definitely look for SR, a technology that reduces camera shake at low shutter speeds. Although the cameras without SR are fine otherwise, it's a great feature and works with all lenses. That rules out the *ist D series and the K110D.

Pentax has two tiers of models. The low range still has plenty of features, so don't worry about missing on some key feature. The low range (oldest to newest) is the K100D, K100DS, K2000 or K-m, K-x, and K-r. To get megapixels out of the way, the first 2 have 6, next two 10, last two 12. More megapixels is nice but barely makes a difference. I have a nice 20"x30" print from 6 Mp. The big difference in sensor technology is high ISO, how sensitive the camera is to low light. The oldest cameras can be set to ISO 3200 and aren't that good above ISO 800, two settings below the top. The newest cameras can be set to much higher numbers, with ISO 3200 being a reasonable number, above that less useful. The numbers are the same as used on film. I'd say high ISO on digital is better than high ISO on film. Good high ISO performance can make it much easier to take photos in difficult conditions. All these cameras take AA batteries, with the K-r also taking a lithium ion pack. The K-x and K-r can do video, though video on DSLRs is kind of weird. The lower-tier models tend to have slightly better JPEG engines, so the camera can process the image better on its own. They are equal in RAW, where you do all the processing yourself.

The higher tier of camera models is the K10D, K20D, K-7 and K-5. These cameras have basically all the features, more than you'll ever use. The K20D added live view, the K-7 and K-5 can do video. They are also weather-sealed and have better viewfinders. The K10D has 10 Mp, K20D and K-7 have 14, and the K-5 has 16. The controls are better on the higher tier. All these cameras use proprietary rechargeable batteries.

The K200D is the only middle-tier model, using some features of the lower (K2000) and upper (K20D) models. It has 10 Mp.

I would not get too focused on feature differences that I don't mention here. They won't make a significant difference in photos. The lower-tier cameras are a little better for someone who will take a lot of family snapshots and share mostly on-line instead of printing. They have more shortcuts and settings to skip the mechanics and get good photos without hassles. The upper tier rewards someone who is more into photography and is willing to learn how to manage all the details themselves. Both tiers can cross over - I don't get an electric shock from the K-7 if I put on the cheapest lens, pop up the flash and let the camera choose all the settings.

The K1000 film camera had no features, and all of these digital models have an overwhelming feature set. There (unfortunately) will be a culture shock. Although the higher-tier adds a lot of features, it's also geared towards someone interested in the mechanics of photography, and less towards someone who will set everything on Auto. For someone coming from a K1000 and taking a class, the higher tier sounds better. The higher tier will hold value slightly better if you decide to sell later. So I'd suggest the K10D or K20D. Get the "kit" lens, the DA 18-55mm zoom typically sold with the camera. It should come with a hood. There should be a battery and charger. If you can get a spare battery that's great. You'll need an SD card too. An 8 Gb card holds as much as ten 36 exposure rolls of film.
12-27-2010, 11:07 AM   #8
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Get that used K10D or a K20D. Great cameras with everything you need to take amazing shots. And nothing to hold you back. At a bargain price.

12-27-2010, 11:55 AM   #9
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I think on the subjectives and appeal-to-the-old-school, the K10d/K20d bodies have the edge, (it's why I'm here, after all) Same body, just the K20d has a lot of real advantages in the under-the-hood department, and I think worth the stretch if you find a deal and don't expect her to want to upgrade soon, anyway. (My opinion is that it hits a level where it's capable of just about all I could do with B&W film, (Or about any film I've been used to) so it's a good model to stay with a while.)

Both'll feel and operate 'like a real camera,' have real pentaprisms, can be fitted with aftermarket manual focus-optimized screens, and the weather-sealing adds up to a lot of peace of mind, if you asked me, meaning I can treat the camera more or less like I would an old pro body (I wasn't one to be jumping out of airplanes or banging nails with those, anyway, mind you,) before they were weather-sealing lenses, anyway.

The *ist DL is older tech but people do like em for old lenses, and the K-x is one of the better bargains out there in any brand right now: it's an entry level and simpler little body that's slightly newer than the K20d, though you get less in the way of controls and displays and other stuff that sort of is more in line with old-school thinking, so that's not a bad choice, either.
12-27-2010, 01:00 PM   #10
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thanks for all the great advice - I am leaning toward the K10D right now - I think the K20D is just a bit more than I want to spend - unless I find an incredable deal.

I believe that she will love the K10 D - after looking at all the spec's it is a great camera!
12-27-2010, 01:01 PM   #11
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I have just over a month to get the equipment - so if you know any great deals on fine equipment please throw me a line.

12-27-2010, 08:05 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by wstrine Quote
I have just over a month to get the equipment - so if you know any great deals on fine equipment please throw me a line.
Keep an eye on the classifieds here.
12-27-2010, 08:05 PM   #13
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ist DS

Keh has a DS for $215 in EX+ condition.
12-27-2010, 11:27 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by gp1806 Quote
Keh has a DS for $215 in EX+ condition.

I wouldn't buy a D ist... it's just not worth it.

and it all comes down to this. do you have alot of pentax lens already? (auto or manual?) ect...

I'll make it easy for you.

do not buy any old pentax, I'm not saying it's crap, but pentax hold value well, and buying their old tech for alot of money is not wise. 215 + shipping = 230 for a 6MP old CCD sensor, no IS, no liveview no movie? that's not even close to a deal. You can grab a basic kit from sony alpha low end range and still sit at only 300 (body + basic kit), and as crap as those camera are, they're still way a head of a D ist for 230.

If you already have alot of pentax lens (alot of auto focus lens), i strongly suggest a k-x body for 400 bucks, it's ONLY 100 more, and you get a very awesome camera body that will last a long long time (I don't see the DSLR game changes much in 2 years). Trust me on this, the k-x for 400 is so much better than any of the older pentax in the same price range, it packed so much features.

If you have alot of older pentax lens (manual), go for a micro 4/3 camera, the Oly 510 is 250-270 with basic kit lens, the PL1 is 350 with basic kit lens. Buy an adaptor for 20 dollars and she can use all your manual lens. the PL1 is very nice if this is the case, has video mode and small enough to pocket (jacket pocket). Micro 4/3 is not so good at wide angle (2X crop factor), but for 250-300 dollars, they provide the best value IMO.

I just bought a PL1 + kit used (like 2-3 months old) for 300 bucks, that's a nice combo at a killer price, I'm just starting out too. but I've read up on so many different brand and that's my conclusion. I woulda suggest the sony NEX, but 500 is way out of your asking price.
12-27-2010, 11:47 PM   #15
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I had an E510, it was a good camera, nice to use but very prone to blowing highlights and the viewfinder wasn't a patch on my K7. Given the small dark viewfinder I feel that using manual focus lenses on it will be a trial, with far more shots out of focus than in. Also the E510 is a 4/3 mount, not a micro 4/3 - AFAIK the two are not interchangeable.

She likes the manual
She likes the camera manual? Manual focusing? Manual exposure control?

My own experience of manual focus lenses on my K7 was that with the standard focusing screen it was somewhat hit and miss, as compared to the split image on my old ME Super where they were nearly all in focus.

Any DSLR can give her manual exposure (or semi-manual with Av or Tv), I'd suggest you get something in your price range that's second hand and not overpriced. Then with luck when she knows what she really wants you (or she) can sell it on for not much less than you paid to get the dream camera.

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