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04-01-2011, 09:13 AM   #1
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Advice for first DSLR

I have been shooting with K1000's for over twenty years and only used a P&S for lab documentation while in school. The last six months has seen a lot of on line research into bodies and systems. The choice has come down to the K-r and K-7 for Pentax. Have even tossed around the idea of a used K20D as the filters, in camera processing and video of the other two are nice but not necessarily high on my requirement list. Most of my photography is landscape and travel oriented. Some portraiture and architecture get thrown in on rare occasions. I have seen posts in this and other forums concerning focusing issues with the K-r and most recommend the K-5 over the K-7. As to the option of purchasing a used K20D to get my feet wet, there is little advice to be found. Budget is a constraint and these are the three options I have so far considered:

1. K-7 with DA 35mm and 18-55mm WR
2. K-r with same lenses.
3. 20d again with same lenses.

Advice, pro/cons and comments greatly appreciated.

Pentax kit items from SLR include: 3 K1000 bodies; Pentax 50mm/1.2, 50mm/1.4, 50mm macro (all M); Maker unknown 28mm/2.8 auto; Albinar 35-70mm/3.5-4.8 auto zoom macro; Sears for Pentax 60-300mm/4.0-5.6 auto zoom macro; Soliger 28-80mm/3.5-4.5 zoom macro; Cambron(?) 28-200mm/4-5.6 auto zoom macro.

04-01-2011, 09:20 AM   #2
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I'd go with 3. Reasons:
A) probably less expensive than the other two options
B) better low light performance than the K-7
C) two control wheels (sometimes called e-dials) vs one for the K-r
D) readily available due to lots of ppl upgrading to K-5 (tho to be honest, K-7 almost as common)

NaCl(but you will get as many opinions as posters! )H2O
04-01-2011, 09:26 AM   #3
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With 3 what about replacing the 18-55mm for the DA 18-135 as my budget could be stretched a little if the body price is right.

Last edited by BugsAunt; 04-01-2011 at 09:49 AM.
04-01-2011, 09:36 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by BugsAunt Quote
With 3 what about replacing the 15-55mm for the DA 18-135 as my budget could be stretched a little if the body price is right.
I just got the 18-135WR recently and am pretty happy with it. However, the 18-135WR costs a lot more than the 18-55WR, so you'd have to consider how important the extra reach is. You could also buy the 18-55WR and 50-200WR for a bit less or the 18-55WR and 55-300 for about the same amount as the 18-135. Lots of options to think about That said, the 18-135 is a very versatile zoom and is certainly worth considerings.

QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
I'd go with 3. Reasons:
A) probably less expensive than the other two options
B) better low light performance than the K-7
C) two control wheels (sometimes called e-dials) vs one for the K-r
D) readily available due to lots of ppl upgrading to K-5 (tho to be honest, K-7 almost as common)
All good points, I would just add the following thoughts:

A) A nice condition K20D goes for about $400 used, which is a good $200 cheaper than a used K-7 or new K-r.
B) While the K20D might be slightly better in low light than the K-7, the difference is minimal. Both are a couple stops behind the K-r IMO.
C) not much to say there; the K20D and K-7 have two, the K-r has one
D) There seems to be a fair number of K20D and K-7 bodies for sale at any given time, so finding either shouldn't be too difficult.


Last edited by dgaies; 04-01-2011 at 09:59 AM.
04-01-2011, 09:52 AM   #5
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I don't personally know this lens but reviews have been very good. I had a Sigma 18-125 lens for about a year and a half with my first DSLR and found the range very useful. I think that would be a good option to consider.
04-01-2011, 10:14 AM   #6
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If you're going for the K-7 you'd better be quick about it. Pentax has stopped production of it and the K-x.
04-02-2011, 07:23 AM   #7
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The subjects that you mention are not screaming 'high iso performance', so I would go for K7 or K20D. K7 has AF assist light if I'm not mistaken, which might be an advantage when it comes to focusing in lowlight conditions.

Compare the two and read some reviews. And most important the prices, as money saved can go towards the lenses (as you already indicated).

Lenses

Which 35mm are you referring to? DA35Ltd or DA(L)35/2.4 ? What is the motivation for this lens?

Note that each of these cameras originally come / came with a different lens. Only the K7 comes / came with a WR lens and the K-r one comes without lenshood, distance scale on the focus ring and quickshift). The missing distance scale can be important for landscape where use of hyperfocal distance is often useful. Optically all these are however said to be the same.
04-02-2011, 07:53 AM   #8
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The 35mm is the DA(L). The motivation is having learned first with a prime with the K1000 and taking that experience with my first foray into digital. The lens choices were made with thoughts of not immediately going to the manual lenses I currently have. Looking through a PDF down load of the users manual I think that starting to learn the functions and operation of the camera are a priority. The artistic will come with practice and skill attained from the basics. Better glass as I can afford and improved skill. It is the acquiring of the skills needed for digital that has me most concerned. I like the control two wheels present and fear that having to go into a menu for settings would be a little offsetting. I am not what you call techno savvy. However, once I learn something I tend to be quite proficient. The learning curve tends to be extremely steep. Basics then artistic as my photo instructor of the 80's always said.

High iso would only be a concern for museums or aquariums when traveling or school trips with the niece and nephew. Also, maybe some cave visits. I have never used a flash in previous situations and have loved the challenge of getting a quality shoot in less then ideal situations. Little post processing experience with computer. Still process own film when time and opportunity permit.


Last edited by BugsAunt; 04-02-2011 at 08:05 AM.
04-02-2011, 01:39 PM   #9
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Lenses:
With that motivation for the 35mm, you get me curious what currently your most used lenses are.

I would not buy the DA18-135WR in that case, but consider the DA55-300 next to the DA18-55WR and DA(L)35 if budget allows (even if it's not immediately) and if you need the longer reach (with two longer teles, you probably do). General consensus is that it's difficult to find a better 300mm for that money and it covers about all your possible long needs. Lens swapping should not be the biggest issue for you if I look at your current setup

DA(L)35 as your standard lens, DA18-55WR for the wider side or for bad weather (in that sequence) and DA55-300 for the long end. More or less the way I used my K5 kit.

Later you can start dreaming about adding a dedicated wide angle if that need exists or replacing the kit lens by something better like DA17-70 or e.g. a 3rd party 17-50/2.8

WR lenses are not the holy grail in protection; a plastic bag will basically be better and some of us see the WR as a second line of defense against the elements (the plastic bag being the primary).

ISO:
Did you take Ilford HP5 to the caves and push it to ISO1600? Or did you get away with the film that was in the camera at that moment? I guess your challenges will be more or less the same.

Good luck with the decision.
04-02-2011, 02:03 PM   #10
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The film at the time was kodak 100 and 200 color film and in Carlsbad Caverns in NM about twenty years ago. I just used the available feature lights, bulb and timer on a tripod. I believe that was with my first K1000 with the kit 50mm. Others include cave tours in Alabama, Tennessee, Florida and Georgia. Later 800 films. The most used are the primes. They always seem to be on one of the bodies. The usual kit was one body set for color and the second for black and white. Usually with whatever film i could afford at the time. Once a student, forever a student it seems. The zooms for general walk around and ballon festivals and macro experimentation. I am looking at ultra wide later on and a good 65 or 100 macro as those both offer something new and interesting.

Last edited by BugsAunt; 04-02-2011 at 05:13 PM.
04-03-2011, 05:57 AM   #11
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I would not recommend the 18-55 WR kit lens unless you get a weather sealed body and need the WR. The 35mm prime is a nice lens and comes bundled with the K-r if you go that route. The sweet spot for Pentax bodies right now seems to be the K-7 which is a lot of camera for not very much money. The kit lens is only $50 or so when you purchase one, so it would be worth it in that case. I find that I only use the kit on the wide end now, as I don't have anything else wider than 35mm.

Since you mention that you are looking at an ultra wide lens later on, Pentax recently patented a 12-35mm WR zoom and I'm hoping it will be released later this year. I don't believe it has been confirmed that this lens will be ever be released but if it is I will be buying it. Welcome to the forums.
04-05-2011, 03:33 PM   #12
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Quick before my battery dies: The old non-Pentax zooms that you have could get stuck on a DSLR. Search for information on the Ricoh pin before trying them. Check the Sears lens in particular.

Two dials is a little easier for the newer lenses. It's nice, and there are a lot of nice features that come along with the two-dial cameras.

The K20D is a larger body than the K-7 or K-r. It won't seem large to a K1000 user. DSLRs are all thicker than film cameras because of the rear display, but the K-r might seem a little small. Or refreshingly light.

The camera makers have a strong incentive to keep us upgrading, and older models tend to get overlooked because the new models have improvements. But the old models were once heralded as the best, just a short time ago. I'd go with a good used model. If you discover a need to upgrade, there's always something new around.
04-05-2011, 03:36 PM   #13
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Go with the K-r as it's the best value. If you then want to upgrade to the K-5, you'll always be able to do so. I wouldn't get the K-7 just because the K-5 is falling in price quickly and is vastly superior to it in terms of IQ.

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04-05-2011, 03:55 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by BugsAunt Quote
The 35mm is the DA(L). The motivation is having learned first with a prime with the K1000 and taking that experience with my first foray into digital. The lens choices were made with thoughts of not immediately going to the manual lenses I currently have. Looking through a PDF down load of the users manual I think that starting to learn the functions and operation of the camera are a priority. The artistic will come with practice and skill attained from the basics. Better glass as I can afford and improved skill. It is the acquiring of the skills needed for digital that has me most concerned. I like the control two wheels present and fear that having to go into a menu for settings would be a little offsetting. I am not what you call techno savvy. However, once I learn something I tend to be quite proficient. The learning curve tends to be extremely steep. Basics then artistic as my photo instructor of the 80's always said.

High iso would only be a concern for museums or aquariums when traveling or school trips with the niece and nephew. Also, maybe some cave visits. I have never used a flash in previous situations and have loved the challenge of getting a quality shoot in less then ideal situations. Little post processing experience with computer. Still process own film when time and opportunity permit.

Digital is like film...just different. You have been using a K1000 so the transition will be easy. DSLR bodies are very capable....but many of the features are not used. You should handle a K20 B4 you buy. It is larger than the K1000 and a camera ' feels right' to you is important. You will also be able to use your existing lenses. Most of all you are going to love the instant feedback with digital.

You can get a 30 day free trail of most PP. So check 'em out and choose the one you like to use.
04-06-2011, 07:13 AM   #15
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I went into Arlington over the weekend. Only store within hour drive that sells pentax. The Kr felt ok but would be even better if it had a grip available. The K-7 felt very much lighter than the K1000 and also very familiar. Tried K-7 with grip and felt even more at home. The K-5 body is the same as I understand it. They did not have any used K20's so can't compare. I did research the pin problem on the two zooms and both have the mentioned pin. Not a deal breaker. Let's me look into more glass as the skills develop. I would like to keep one manual and digital kit ready to just pick up and go.

I had totally forgotten about free trails for PP. Thanks for the reminder.

Thanks so much for all the info. Have not made final decision and continue to weigh the input so generously given.
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