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09-05-2011, 03:39 PM   #1
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Pentax K-r vs Nikon D3100

Hello Pentaxians... I'm new to (d)slr's and i need some advice ....

I'm about to move from my compact camera to dslr camera, so i went to the nearest shop for photo equipment, and Canon and Nikon are here (in Macedonia) favored by sales man and marketing posters and stuff... and for my needs and money , the nikon d3100 was a nice choice... but then, i went to other shop, and they have shown me the PENTAX K-r and i forgot about the nikon ! ... as videos is not my priority (because i will buy a photo-camera not a video camera), and the photo-related features of the K-r are way better that the nikon...
This is what got my attention:
1. AF motor in the body vs. motor on the lenses on nikon
2. Image stabilization in the body (sensor shift) vs. stabilization on the lenses on Nikon
3. Shutter speed - 1/6000s vs 1/4000s
4. Continuous shooting - 6FPS burst vs. 3FPS (nikon).............. etc...

So... the question that i address to You, Pentaxians, is...
if the АF motor fails, how much does a repair costs? is that a complex and expensive procedure? and what about stabilization method on the K-r? If one (or both) things fail, does it gonna cost me a "new" camera?
At first i thought that these features is an advantage for the K-r.... but now i'm not so sure.... :P

The sales man, after asking him this questions, said that they have official service for this cameras (but i didn't find any official dealer or service for Macedonia on pentax website) and i that i shouldn't care about that issue.... but, he is "Sales man" and he must Sell... that's his job, so his answers on this questions i don't include in the equation....

I really want to buy the K-r, those features (every lens stabilized, every lens has AF) are fantastic for the price (K-r+18-55mm kit+8gb SD=537,88 EUR) versus (d3100+18-55mm VR= 521,58 EUR). (1 EUR=1.41 USD)

Please, illuminate me with Your experience

09-05-2011, 03:53 PM   #2
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Reports of failure of the screwdrive AF system and the SR system are next to none, so you shouldn't have to worry about that. Higher-end Pentax lenses that have SDM focusing technology do fail from time to time, but chances are that you will never end up using such a lens, so you don't need to be concerned. If anything breaks within a year of the original purchase date, it'll be covered under warranty and you'll be able to send the camera in for repairs for free

If you end up getting the K-r, here's a lens that you should also consider: Pentax-DA L 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED Reviews - DA L Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

Maybe get the 2-lens kit? That'll have you covered from 18 to 300mm and you won't end up paying that much more for the extra lens.

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09-05-2011, 03:58 PM   #3
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I do not recall reading of a single in body focus motor failure on these forums. Or the in body SR. Someone correct me if i am wrong.
In body SR could have some cases of failure come to think of it.
09-05-2011, 04:11 PM   #4
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Any camera (or brand) can have issues however I cannot remember hearing of a screw drive AF failure and that includes cameras that are approaching 25 years old. The in camera shake reduction also seems to be very reliable, I can remember of hearing about only one instance and that might have been user error.

In short if you are happy with all other aspects of the k-r the two issues you mention are not something to worry about.

As Adam mentioned the SDM lenses have had some problems but those are high end lenses you are not likely to run into without understanding the plus and minuses of them.

"(every lens stabilized, every lens has AF)" Please note that every lens does benefit from in camera stabilization but not all lenses will be AF. There are many, many manual focus lenses available on the used market, some over 30 years old that will work on the k-r. Most modern lenses will be AF but even today manual focus lenses are still being produced for the Pentax system. Anything you buy new at the camera store will likely be AF, I just wanted to make sure you understood that the lens is what makes it AF not the camera.

09-05-2011, 04:14 PM   #5
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Good Afternoon and Welcome to the Forum,

You have asked some pretty good questions. Over the years I have read posts about problems, however the auto focus screw drive motor was not one of them. I have just not read a post on this part failing. I have 2 bodies - a 6 year old K100 and a 2.5 year old K20. In terms of cost of replacement, with so little history, its something that has not come up - that I can remember. The in-body motor design goes back sometime - to the F series lenses, and that would be at least 20 years of history and usage.

Doing some searches the only item that comes up is the SDM auto focus motor in the lenses failing, and that is only on the SDM lenses, not the older non SDM or K, M, A, F, FA and DA, DA Lenses. The auto-focusing (AF) lenses are the F, FA and DA, DA Lenses. The K, M, and A lenses are manual focusing.

edit - The SR or shake reduction is accomplished through magnetic suspension. Again, I remember very few failures that have been posted - one or two over the last 6 years. Again, something that has not really failed. You will hear a small wining sound from time to time and or some movement inside the camera body, and that its (the sensor's) movement.

The Kr is a wonderful camera and the kit lenses are difficult to beat when purchased as a kit.

...hope that helps...

Last edited by interested_observer; 09-05-2011 at 04:20 PM.
09-05-2011, 05:25 PM   #6
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Others have addressed the drive motor question, so I'll offer some thoughts about the others. First off, both are fine cameras capable of taking excellent photos. There's no "objective" better or worse.

Having the camera body handle image stabilization has some tradeoffs. On the plus side, since you don't have to buy a new stabilization system with each lens, therefor, lenses tend to be less expensive. If you end up with several lenses the cost savings can add up quickly. In addition, Pentax bodies can work in manual mode with just about any Pentax lens ever made. The lower end Nikons need to use lenses with built in motors, which means the newer ones.

On the other hand Nikon image stabilization tends to have slightly better measured effectiveness than most in-body systems. I've used Nikon D90, D300 and the D7000, all fine cameras. I can't tell the difference in photo sharpness between those and my Pentax cameras. YMMV.

I know that frames per second has turned into a big selling point. IMO, it's mostly irrelevant. I feel the same about shutter speed. 1/4000 is plenty fast. You can even stop hummingbird wings at that speed. So few people, me included, ever push their cameras against even the low end limits that it doesn't matter. To really take advantage of the faster FPS, you need both very expensive lenses and more expensive cameras with faster auto-focus. That said, if you plan on eventually shooting a lot of sporting events or bird photos, Nikon has cameras and lenses that work well in those areas, which Pentax lacks. They are very expensive though. I have a couple of friends who are avid bird photographers. On an outing they can carry upwards of $25K worth of camera bodies, massive tripods, and lenses. That's each.

One concern you didn't bring up is buying accessories. If you're happy buying things online or mail order then it doesn't matter which brand you choose. If you like to pick things up and look at them first, then Canon and Nikon have the advantage of being carried by more vendors. Canon first, then Nikon. Beyond that, you may or may not see Pentax or Sony cameras offered.
09-06-2011, 12:41 AM   #7
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I would go for a nikon 3100 body, nikon has more extensive body of lens, pentax kr in body stabilization not as effective as that optical stabilization, AF speed and accuracy goes to the nikon, and pentax lens kits are barely tolerable. Less than one month after I got my pentax kr AF motor failed still within warranty period has been in the pentax repair center since the 3rd of august staff says they are still waiting for spare parts. So save yourself some frustration go for a nikon or a canon.
09-06-2011, 01:06 AM   #8
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Which camera's handling did you like best?

09-06-2011, 03:32 AM   #9
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Specification wise the kr and even the kx is better then the d3100. Id get the pentax in all cases unless you plan on ditching the system you choose for another system tat just won a popularity contest in which case the nikon will always be considered hipper. The only nikon id choose over the kx and kr is the d5100 or d7000. But those are in a different price range.

As for failures ive never heard of the af motor failing due to qc only people that break it because they screwed up. But if you do break both then yeah its gonna cost you a lot just like any camera system but random failure is very unlikely.
09-06-2011, 04:41 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by alyas Quote
I would go for a nikon 3100 body, nikon has more extensive body of lens, pentax kr in body stabilization not as effective as that optical stabilization, AF speed and accuracy goes to the nikon, and pentax lens kits are barely tolerable. Less than one month after I got my pentax kr AF motor failed still within warranty period has been in the pentax repair center since the 3rd of august staff says they are still waiting for spare parts. So save yourself some frustration go for a nikon or a canon.
Considering that the AF motor failing in body is a far less likely occurrence than in-lens motor failure...
09-06-2011, 05:16 AM   #11
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I personally would go with the kr. Feels to me like Nikon cripples their entry level cameras. My brother-in-law bought one recently and I found it difficulty to adjust settings and truthfully, auto focus was pretty slow too. The biggest question I would ask is if you are planning to "upgrade" down the road and will be looking for special lenses, or flash systems. Pentax has things pretty well covered below 300 mm length, but past that point you need third party lenses like Sigma to cover you.

As to your worries, auto focus motor and SR failures are very uncommon, despite the mention of it above. In lens motors for both Nikon (silent wave found in consumer lenses) and Pentax (SDM) have a much higher rate of failure. I have a couple of friends who have had malfunctions of their in lens stabilization that required calibration as well, so that is not uncommon either.
09-06-2011, 06:38 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote

As to your worries, auto focus motor and SR failures are very uncommon, despite the mention of it above.
With regard to the comments mentioned above I would point out the name(alias?) of the poster and the fact that they only joined the forum today. It sounds like someone who has a grudge against Pentax or the forum.

09-06-2011, 08:09 AM   #13
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Some points that I would consider:

The K-r has better noise performance. At high ISO, a lot better. That means more flexibility.

The K-r has a better rear LCD, good enough to check focus in live view.

Nikon still does that annoying software thing - charging extra for the full-featured software. The Pentax software isn't easy to use but offers more for free.
09-06-2011, 05:08 PM   #14
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Let's just say that I have the older K100D Super and have never had any problems and have no need to upgrade..that is how I am satisfied with Pentax!
With a higher and newer end model like the K-r, I for sure will be more than satisfied if I had one.
If you plan on getting the K-r, read up on the K-r section of the forum and read up on the experiences of the current owners: Pentax K-r Forum -
09-08-2011, 03:47 PM   #15
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Original Poster
Thank to all for the reply!
Everybody has different point of view in question of comparison of both models... but...

Pentax has two years of warranty (on body and kit-lens), so i guess i'll go with the Pentax K-r. I think it's the better choice for me. If something is about to fail, two years is a lot of time to show up

Thanks for your attention and resolving some doubts, this is a great forum, many experienced people! We'll write again when i'll own the K-r!

Nikon D3100 is a nice camera, but the build is not as good as the K-r. The buttons are not as good as they suppose to be, they're soft (i had a feeling they will pop-up every moment , weird). This is my first impression when i got the both models in front of me, after a few shots, and messing with the interface.

Greetings, Aleksandar

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