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06-12-2013, 04:40 PM   #1
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What exactly is an 'Entry Level' Camera?

I keep seeing all of these posts and descriptions of cameras and I keep seeing 'entry level' and 'upper entry level' and 'medium format', etc.
Will someone please post the definition of these camera levels?
What are the differences? Is it the price tag? Is it the features? Is it the number of pixels?
Can you please tell me which Pentax cameras fall into which camera level category?
Personally, any DSLR that I purchase is a professional-level camera.

06-12-2013, 04:48 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by kbace50 Quote
I keep seeing all of these posts and descriptions of cameras and I keep seeing 'entry level' and 'upper entry level' and 'medium format', etc.
Will someone please post the definition of these camera levels?
What are the differences? Is it the price tag? Is it the features? Is it the number of pixels?
Can you please tell me which Pentax cameras fall into which camera level category?
Personally, any DSLR that I purchase is a professional-level camera.
QuoteOriginally posted by kbace50 Quote
What are the differences? Is it the price tag? Is it the features? Is it the number of pixels?
All of the above, generally. Entry-level DSLRs are the cheapest, usually with a fairly basic feature set and a price that's consumer-friendly.

Upper entry-level / mid-range DSLRs are slightly more expensive than their entry-level counterparts, and while underlying hardware is often very similar, they have higher specs in some areas.

Advanced / "enthusiast" DSLRs cost even more, but their feature set is considerably better than that of entry-level cameras.

Professional DSLRs are generally very expensive and designed for people who take photographs for a living, work for the press, etc.

Medium format just refers to the sensor size, though current medium format DSLRs are all in the pro category.

The current Pentax lineup can be broken down as follows:

Entry-level: K-500
Upper entry-level / mid-range: K-50, K-30
Advanced: K-5 IIs, K-5 II
Professional (medium format): 645D

If you're familiar with other camera brands, here's the breakdown for Canon and Nikon:

Entry-level: D3200
Upper entry-level: D5200
Mid-range: D90
Advanced: D7100, D600, D300s
Professional: D4 (sports), D800 (stills)

Entry-level: SL-1, T4i
Upper entry-level: T5i
Mid-range: 60D
Advanced: 7D, 6D
Professional: 1Dx (sports), 5D III (stills)

The classification isn't set in stone or anything, but price is generally a pretty good indication of what market segment a camera is aimed at.

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06-12-2013, 04:53 PM   #3
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These terms will vary from your point of view. If you are making money from your camera it could be called 'professional' just because it is an income producer.

But generally 'entry level' means a lower cost model with less features. 'Professional' is loosely defined as the upper end of the line with features that working photographers appreciate but that casual users might not want to pay for.

Pentax has not followed the rules well on this in the past as their low end cameras usually had features found only in mid-level cameras of other brands. That seems to have been changed today with the release of the k-500 and k-50.

From a retailers viewpoint a three SKU line is classic. Usually called "good, better, best" it consists of a low end product that can be sold cheaply, advertised to draw traffic and featured on end caps. Lower price point but hopefully higher number of sales. The middle or 'better' product is the sweet spot with more features but a higher price point. This is not often advertised but customers are 'up sold' to it from the entry level. The 'best' product has higher end features and a higher price. Often but not always better build quality and so on.

Medium format on the other hand is different. In today's terminology medium format is a camera with a larger sensor or film such as 4x5. Pentax's 645d is a digital medium format which uses a sensor that is larger than the traditional 'full frame' sensor which is 36x24mm. There is also 'large format' such as 6x7 and even larger.
06-12-2013, 05:20 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
All of the above, generally. Entry-level DSLRs are the cheapest, usually with a fairly basic feature set and a price that's consumer-friendly.

Upper entry-level / mid-range DSLRs are slightly more expensive than their entry-level counterparts, and while underlying hardware is often very similar, they have higher specs in some areas.

Advanced / "enthusiast" DSLRs cost even more, but their feature set is considerably better than that of entry-level cameras.

Professional DSLRs are generally very expensive and designed for people who take photographs for a living, work for the press, etc.

Medium format just refers to the sensor size, though current medium format DSLRs are all in the pro category.

The current Pentax lineup can be broken down as follows:

Entry-level: K-500
Upper entry-level / mid-range: K-50, K-30
Advanced: K-5 IIs, K-5 II
Professional (medium format): 645D

If you're familiar with other camera brands, here's the breakdown for Canon and Nikon:

Entry-level: D3200
Upper entry-level: D5200
Mid-range: D90
Advanced: D7100, D600, D300s
Professional: D4 (sports), D800 (stills)

Entry-level: SL-1, T4i
Upper entry-level: T5i
Mid-range: 60D
Advanced: 7D, 6D
Professional: 1Dx (sports), 5D III (stills)

The classification isn't set in stone or anything, but price is generally a pretty good indication of what market segment a camera is aimed at.
Thanks Adam. You have answered my questions perfectly.

06-12-2013, 05:34 PM   #5
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Consumer friendly price.

All other criteria is subjective.
06-13-2013, 08:54 AM   #6
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Some opinions on this are based on the shifting sands of irrationality. For example, a few years ago, using SD cards would define an entry level camera for a lot of people. Cameras that used CF cards were pro. Early on, SD cards were not as good but the line persisted well past the point where there was a technical basis for it.

Your last line makes sense - any DSLR today has enough on it to take weeks to try out all the options, way more than you ever need. The upper level adds to that.
06-13-2013, 09:07 AM   #7
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In my mind, entry level cameras are interchangeable lens systems with a cheap body that can be upgraded later. The consumer can buy lenses flashes and other accessories that will be compatible with a higher end camera.
06-13-2013, 09:52 AM   #8
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I also think, generally speaking, the Entry Level tends to rely on a simpler set of controls. For instance Scene Modes which taylor automatic controls instead of the more advanced shooting modes where the operator has to adjust levels based on condidtions. They're a step up from bridge cameras only in that they use interchangable lenses.

06-13-2013, 05:20 PM - 1 Like   #9
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An entry level DSLR is the gateway drug to LBA.
06-13-2013, 05:51 PM   #10
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Entry camera is the one being used by an entry photographer.
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