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01-17-2014, 03:35 AM   #1
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Looking for Advice on a New Camera

Hello friends! I am looking into getting a Pentax and just wanted to toss this here to make sure I wasn't messing up too badly.

I have recently decided I would be interested in acquiring a new DSLR. This would be an upgrade from my current hot pink point-and-click. While I am by no means an expert in photography, I am fairly familiar with newer DSLR cameras and have used three or four kinds.

I'm looking at a budget of $700-$800 USD, and the Pentax K-50 has caught my eye, mostly for the weather sealed body, I won't lie. I'm the sort of person who spills lemonade on $700 cameras, I like taking pictures of snow during snowstorms, it has a nice collection of features that I can get behind.

What I'm most concerned about is the fact I have been generously given my father's collection of lenses. They are old Canon FD mount lenses, and though I can't remember their exact specifications at the moment (I'll update later!) they're the BIG puppies. One's telephoto, if I remember right. I've been doing research and I understand I'll need an adaptor to get them on any Pentax (or for that matter, any camera made after 1980) I end up with, and that I'll be stuck manual focusing them and that I'll lose my ability to focus to infinity with them. I'm really okay with this. To be honest, I'm really tired of the pink camera's near useless auto-focus, and I'm really about the macrophotography life. I figured I might as well get some use out of the thousand dollars of glass I have sitting around and that I'd need an adaptor regardless of what new brand of DSLR I went with. I'd probably update my lenses as I had the money. I've been snooping in the forums at all of the lens mount adaptor threads that feature FD mount information, so I'm not running into this blind.

So after all of that, tell me, how off base am I here? Does this sound reasonable? Am I headed in the right direction? Do you guys like owning Pentax cameras? Is Pentax ownership for me? Is the K-50 a sensible choice, or should I be looking at used Canons or something?

I'm open to suggestions and would really appreciate any information or tips you guys had for me! I guess I just expect to have this camera for a few years and want to make the right decision before putting a good chunk of money into it. Thanks so much for taking the time to look this over! I really appreciate it.

01-17-2014, 04:05 AM   #2
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The K-50 is a fine camera, and the only (New) WR SLR option in your price range.

There are infinity focus adapters for FD lenses available. They have and optical element that makes them a 1.4x teleconverter and reduces IQ. The corrective element is easily removed and the adapter becomes a short extension tube.

If you are interested in Macro photography there is a nice primer on cheap options available to DSLRs here.

That being said, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is down to $800 and is WR. Being mirror less it can adapt FD lenses without a corrective element (though large FD lenses may be awkward to use on such a small body), and a 2X rather than 1.5X crop factor.
01-17-2014, 06:37 AM   #3
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My first thought was that you should get a mirrorless for use with the old FD lenses. Sony NEX and Samsung use an APSc sensor. Panasonic and Olympus (and possibly a few others) use 4/3 sensors. Do not get a K-01 as it is a K-mount and has the same 'disadvantages' as the Pentax dSLRs (describe above by boriscleto).

I don't know how bad 'not focusing to infinity' actually is. But I can very well imagine that having a 400mm telephoto and only be able to focus up to 3 meters is not quite what you want; it might be exaggerated.

If mirrorless cameras were where they are now when I started with a dSLR 5 years ago, I would not be shooting with Pentax, but with a Samsung or Sony mirrorless so could use my old Minolta MD glass.
01-17-2014, 06:53 AM   #4
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Though of course if you want to take that camera out in snow and rain (like lots of us do) you'll really want to consider the Pentax line.

I think if you're looking for cameras to use your Dad's old glass and a rugged DSLR you may need two cameras to do it effectively. That said, you may be able to afford it if you examine the used market. A used K30 (or K5) instead of K50 might let you get a mirrorless body for the old lenses in the future.

01-17-2014, 07:32 AM   #5
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I would say don't let those old lenses determine what you buy. There may be one or two that is worth adapting but it would have to be pretty special - and are they weather resistant? Pentax cameras are known for their build quality, ruggedness and weather resistance so a K50 or k5ii (great autofocus) would be a good choice. But if you don't have a Pentax, be warned that you may not be able to just go to your local camera shop and buy stuff for it. You will probably have to order since most stores support mostly Canon/Nikon, but that shouldn't stop you if you are serious about photography.

Another thing I really like about Pentax cameras is their ergonomic design. Its often considered the best. The only down side I see in the Pentax is the lens choice. They often miss the mark on lens offerings - i.e. may have the right focal range but not good quality, or the other way around, and now their lenses are not as cheap as they used to be. This may be where your lenses come in handy or you can look at Sigma or Tamron lenses. Just make sure you check the reviews. There are good Pentax lenses to be had. Here's a good place... Pentax K Lens Tests

Also, you probably need to decide right now whether you want optical (DSLR) or electronic (Mirrorless) viewfinder. After that there is no turning back -lol!
01-17-2014, 07:35 AM   #6
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So you have a large collection of FD lenses, very cool. Some of those were really good quality. You are probably aware that the greatest cost of any given system is all the lenses.

While the Pentax line is great, I have to agree it makes more sense to go with one of the other mirrorless mounts, to avoid a corrective element altogether -- if the goal here is to preserve the FD collection and get the most out of those optics.

Not sure if you are aware of the fact that most digital cameras in that price range use a smaller sensor than 35mm film, so this has the effect of pushing all the FD lenses more towards the telephoto range. This is the crop factor that others have mentioned above. The greater the crop factor, the bigger the "hole" it opens in your FD collection at the wide-angle end.

Sony has the A7 which has a full-frame sensor so there would be no problem with enjoying the full focal length range of your collection. It uses the mirrorless E-mount so no corrective elements are needed, just a mechanical FD-to-NEX adapter. But that is outside your stated price range. Not trying to push you in this direction, personally I am not a FF advocate. I just wanted to point out that in your price range (which is entirely reasonable), there isn't really a way to use the FD lenses, the way your dad built up the kit, without some compromises.

Of course you could always supplement your FD collection with just one or two native wide angle lenses in the mount of whatever camera you get (i.e., a wide-angle E-mount or m43-mount lens). This is probably the best and cheapest overall option.

Edit: My post crossed with the previous one. It wasn't intended as a rebuttal. I would easily suggest a K-50 to anyone. But if your idea is to leverage the FD collection, it is not your best choice. You could always buy into multiple systems.

Last edited by Tanzer; 01-17-2014 at 07:42 AM.
01-17-2014, 07:59 AM   #7
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The choice is straightforward. Right now what is your priority? If weather resistance is very important, that's a trump card (so to speak).

A mirrorless camera can be tougher to use in bright light, and generally a standard DSLR is more convenient for following action - the viewfinder is a big advantage.

If those are minor concerns, the mirrorless option is attractive. Using older lenses on modern SLRs is an art, though, so be prepared for a learning curve. Manual aperture and manual focus make it more challenging, but often the glass is so very nice and you can get beautiful color rendition.

I don't know what the used market is like for the mirrorless cameras. They may be a bit new to have dropped significantly in price.
01-17-2014, 08:04 AM   #8
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Crop factor, here's a chart;
1.3x – Canon EOS 1D/1D MkIIN
1.5x – Nikon D40/D50/D70/D70s/D80/D200/D2XD2Hs Minolta 7D/Fuji S3 Pro Pentax *istDS/K100D/K110D/K10D
1.6x – Canon EOS 300D/400D/20D/30D
2.0x – Olympus E-400/E-500/E-300/E-1

Multiply the lens by the factor IE: 50mm X 1.5 = 75mm.

Is this a big deal? IMO, no. You're going to stick a lens on, frame the shot and go. If it's not what you want, you go to a different lens BUT...that 35mm in your bag acts more like a 50mm on a camera with a factor of 1.5 and 200mm is more like a 300mm. It's not something I worry about because I don't see a FF in my future, LOL. Is it something to think about ? Sure, especially when I'm trying to frame a shot next to a cliff and that 35mm ...can't back up quite enough to get the shot I want...LOL. When you're using those older lenses which, with an adapter you'll have LOADS of fun using that great old glass. Go for it!

Having said that, I wouldn't let those old lenses dictate what camera you buy. Canon A-1's, AE-1's are out there at very reasonable prices. It is cool to use that old glass on a DSLR, I started using my modest collection of Pentax stuff on my K100DS.

01-17-2014, 05:40 PM   #9

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I had a bunch of FD lenses and have sold most of them (all of the better ones.) Remember that most adapters will lose some degree of functionality, even if they are infinity/glassless adapters. On the other hand, I never had any truly high-end FD telephoto lenses. If you have very frequent use for those long lenses, and they're in excellent condition, and you're willing to deal with any limitations the adapters have, then that might be a reason to buy into a system that would let you use them with glassless adapters. But before you do that, check the value of the lenses and see whether you might want to just sell them and start over with (almost any) modern lens system - not necessarily Pentax.

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