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11-28-2015, 12:03 PM   #1
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Help me decide on a camera

Hello all and SORRY for the lenghty post,
I'm a novice when it comes to photography and on a somewhat tight budget but would like to purchase my first real camera. I played around with an old Canon rebel but I would like to buy a camera that would last me awhile and provide me with good IQ, good AF (not shooting sports necessarily but would hate to miss shots) and usable images in low light.

I shoot primary candid photography (street photography, portraits on the fly) but would like the option to shoot wide for travelling (landscapes and monuments/temples etc...). Portability is also a major factor (for example I like shooting portraits but I'm unsure if I would buy a prime solely for that use). I would only shoot handheld.

For under $1000 with 1or 2 lens included, seems that Nikon and Pentax are strong contenders.
Both have weather sealing, provide good IQ and seem well loved by most users.

Right now I'm looking at either a K-3 bundle for $650 w/ a 50mm 1.8 prime included or a refurbished D7100 for $500.
I would like to add a good prime to either for low light situations, preferably 35mm as I find 50mm too narrow (but it might be redundant for the k3 since it comes with a prime).

The Nikon prime is more expensive but provides a wider aperture which would be great for night shooting and the Pentax DA 35mm 2.4 is a bit slow in that aspect.
For a walk around lens I was looking at either the Sigma 17-50 or the Tamron 18-50 for the Nikon and the Pentax 18-135 or Tamron 17-50 (if I can find it used) for the Pentax.
The Pentax lens has a longer reach but is apparently soft at the edges and the IQ is only deemed "satisfactory". Then again it's the only one that's weather sealed, so I'd be maybe less afraid to travel with it. I don't want to have to baby my equipment and moreover I know myself and accidents happen (a lot around me).
The Sigma 17-50 for the Nikon apparently has bugs with live view so I'm not sure it's worth the trouble. The Tamron apparently has some build quality issues and the QC is questionable.

I've handled both cameras and they feel great in hand but there's so much that can be tested in store under yellow lights.
I've considered mirrorless cameras but the EVF is not quite for me and their prices are a bit too high for now. The ability to view the pictures taken in the viewfinder is cool but the image seem a little detached from the scene I'm taking.

I'm concerned about the banding issue with the D7100 and the AF issue with the K3. Furthermore I don't know if Pentax's lens line is solid for cheaper options and how it fairs in low light.

Lastly I know the most important is the one behind the camera and I'm sureboth would provide a stellar experience. I've been obsessing over which system to buy in for months now (I've given myself a few headaches) and the disappointing Black Friday sale didn't provide a deal I couldn't pass up.

If you could provide an aspect I haven't thought of to influence my decision or have a lens you want to recommend for my needs feel free to share.

Thanks A LOT for reading and indulging me.

PS: I know you guys will lean towards the K3 and that's understandable, I just thought that you might provide some insight.

11-28-2015, 12:11 PM - 1 Like   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Availablelite Quote
For a walk around lens I was looking at either the Sigma 17-50 or the Tamron 18-50 for the Nikon and the Pentax 18-135 or Tamron 17-50 (if I can find it used) for the Pentax.
The 18-135mm and 17-50's are in a different league, but with that said the image quality of the 18-135mm is actually quite good, especially if you keep lens corrections on. You could of course also get the Sigma 17-50mm for the Pentax, since it's on sale at the moment.

QuoteOriginally posted by Availablelite Quote
I'm concerned about the banding issue with the D7100 and the AF issue with the K3. Furthermore I don't know if Pentax's lens line is solid for cheaper options and how it fairs in low light.
Pentax lenses are all heavily discounted at the moment, so in some cases you can get new premium Pentax primes for the same price as consumer Nikon primes. Both brands also offer lots of legacy lenses, and if you want to compromise on price but not image quality, look at Samyang/Rokinon/Bower F1.4 lenses.

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11-28-2015, 12:23 PM   #3
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Super short answer : you can't go wrong with the 649 dollar K-3 deal, and eventually add the 16-85 or the 18-135. The AF "issue" is perfect nonsense, the 18-135 produces incredible pictures (have a look at any Flickr group) and everyone else either has a Nikon or a Canon...The Pentax K-3 is a statement, an engineering prowess that lacks "nothing that I can think of" compared to CaNikon. Using the same skill and technique required for any other camera, the Pentax will assuredly not disappoint. If I had to do it all over again, I'd do it with Pentax (but that is why I'm here at this forum...). Good luck on your future purchase.
11-28-2015, 12:34 PM   #4
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The main reason i'm with Pentax is because their products are cheap in comparison with the "big two", or even Sony. The lens sales happening right now are quite good. I understand the nikon/pentax dilemma, nikon would be my secondary choice for photography. Again, I went with Pentax because its cheaper, for equally good quality. The 35mm is faster, but cheaper build quality, and no image stablization - would that negate the speed advantage? I don't know...

I'm a budget guy, so I went with the K-30, Tamron 17-50 f/2.8, and HD DA 55-300. If you're looking for a used Tamron 17-50 f/2.8, there will likely be one on Keh.com, or in this forum's marketplace.

I think the K-3 kit is perfect, if I was starting out (and had a bigger budget) that's what i'd likely get

Good luck!

11-28-2015, 12:35 PM   #5
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The Nikon is not weather resistant... If that is important and you want to stick to your budget I would get a Pentax. But be sure to get a WR lens with it. In your budget you could get a K3 with 18-135 or a K-50 and the 16-85. I personally would go for the 2nd option unless you can afford the K3 with the 16-85 that would be a bit over your budget but worth it.
11-28-2015, 12:38 PM   #6
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Ricoh has catched-up a lot with the K-3. So the K-3 is in the same league as D7200 or 7DII. But...Take Nikon over Pentax. Camera bodies evolve pretty fast, while lenses really are the investment you can enjoy for many years, get yourself good bright lenses (not the cheapo). Nearly every third party lenses are available for Nikon. The K-3 is competitive, at least on paper. But the Nikon AF trounce it (or Canon 7DII), not only on paper (the Nikon has the better sensor). And as far as FPS is concerned , Pentax K-3 claims 8.3 FPS, but in AF tacking mode is a lot less FPS. With Pentax gear, you have to be patient and technically educated to get something out of it, with Nikon the AF just works, you don't have to think. Nikon claims less FPS, but the actual FPS of Nikon in AF tracking mode is actually higher than what the K-3 can do. What's really nice to have on Pentax is the in body image stabilization, that allows image stabilization with older lenses, even manual lenses and those lenses are generally more compact and light weight compared to lenses with optical stabilization. Regarding weather sealing, I think Nikon high-end body are also weather sealed, and I don't take photos under the rain with camera fully exposed, so practically, weather sealing is not a strong argument to me (especially when a lot of lenses are not weather sealed). Overall, I think Pentax makes you a better photographer (because there are always some issues that you have to figure out), the best is to start with a Pentax K system, struggle a bit, learn, and when you know what you want, move to Nikon, then you get excellent results. When you use Nikon immediately, you don't learn because you don't have any problem to solve. (hopefully I don't get fired from Pentax Forum, as I'm trying to be objective in that summary. Obviously, to me it is strange to me that you ask advice between Nikon and Pentax on Pentax forum, obviously, everyone will tell you to take a Pentax K-3).

Last edited by biz-engineer; 11-28-2015 at 12:48 PM.
11-28-2015, 12:44 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChristianRock Quote
The Nikon is not weather resistant...
It is. Nikon claims weather resistance equivalent to the D800 or D300S. It even has magnesium alloy for the top and rear covers. But you still need to use a sealed lens $$$.
11-28-2015, 12:52 PM   #8
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@biz-engineer likely true, which is why many pros use Canikon - they know it will work, they can rely on it. Ed from photouniverse was using the k-5 iis, but had unreliable flash issues. So that is true, Pentax is catching up, but they are not at the same level. However, that said, Pentax is still the budget brand, and for the reliability of Canikon (or soullessness as Ed called it) you have to pay. And this reliability is usually at the pro level, with complicated flash systems, or af, BIF... not necessarily at the amateur level

More expensive, but good glass is what's important: you could go for the Tamron 17-50 and DA* 50-135, both used, should be about $750 total

since you're asking on pentaxforums, it seems like you're leaning towards Pentax?


Last edited by Imp; 11-28-2015 at 01:09 PM.
11-28-2015, 01:05 PM   #9
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If the weather sealing isn't number one on your list.. I'd go with Nikon. Better AF system, far larger 3rd party lens availability in stores, larger repair/support service, more second hand sales, and more training using the Nikon system as starters.

It is just a more comprehensive system as a whole compared to Pentax today.
11-28-2015, 01:14 PM - 2 Likes   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChristianRock Quote
The Nikon is not weather resistant... If that is important and you want to stick to your budget I would get a Pentax. But be sure to get a WR lens with it. In your budget you could get a K3 with 18-135 or a K-50 and the 16-85. I personally would go for the 2nd option unless you can afford the K3 with the 16-85 that would be a bit over your budget but worth it.
I have a Nikon D7100 and it IS weather sealed. Both the K3 and D7100 have a Sony CMOS sensor and I am very satisfied with the Nikkor 16-85mm and 35mm f/1.8 prime.

The two cameras are very similar in many ways in terms of specs. From my experience, the K3 outperforms the D7100 in low light, but Nikon has faster glass and AF. Pentax offers more affordable WR zooms. If ego is a factor, the D7100 is eclipsed by not only the D7200, but also 5 Nikon FF models, whereas the K3 is the king of Pentax unless you want pixel shift, astrotracer, or medium format. Nikon is more accepted if you're working professionally, and Pentax is more polarizing (Canikoners won't take you seriously, but Pentaxians are a cult.)

Like you said, it really comes down to the photographer. One last thought: I shoot RAW. Others may disagree, but I have found that with the D7100, it has an excellent dynamic range, but I spend more time on PS or LR to get it the way I like it. I find Pentax jpegs and RAW need less image editing. Colors with Nikon are more natural but color with Pentax are more vibrant/saturated.

Again, everyone has their opinion, but mine is based on seeing hundreds of student DSLRs each year shooting assignments and doing side-by-side critiques, with a majority being Canon, minority of Nikon, and the occasional Pentax, Lumix, Sony, and Olympus. Pentax has a distinct look, probably more from the glass than the camera, and if I had to choose, I'd by the K-3.

Ultimately, you should make your decision based on which is the best lens choice for you, and then that will default to the K3 or D7100. What's more important, WR or speed?
11-28-2015, 01:23 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Imp Quote
@biz-engineer likely true, which is why many pros use Canikon - they know it will work, they can rely on it. Ed from photouniverse was using the k-5 iis, but had unreliable flash issues. So that is true, Pentax is catching up, but they are not at the same level. However, that said, Pentax is still the budget brand, and for the reliability of Canikon (or soullessness as Ed called it) you have to pay. And this reliability is usually at the pro level, with complicated flash systems, or af, BIF... not necessarily at the amateur level since you're asking on pentaxforums, it seems like you're leaning towards Pentax?
The entry level Pentax products positioning is slightly better relative to entry level offerings from Nikon or Canon: the cheaper Pentax bodies reuse a lot of the flagship bodies. The reason behind that, is, historically, Pentax did not develop products in parallel, they developed the flagship model, and then re-spin it into cost reduced entry level, so for instance, the K30 AF, K50 AF, K500 AF, K-S1 AF and K-S2 AF was the same as the K-5 AF, image stab was the same in all bodies, even the cheapest Pentax bodies. Nikon developed entry level bodies and pro-bodies in parallel with different engineering teams, so the pro-bodies (e.g full frames) get higher peak performance and higher quality bodies, and the cheaper Nikon/Canon camera bodies gets really cheap outside and inside. I selected Pentax as a beginner because the entry level body was about the same as the flagship, the image quality of the cheaper Pentax body delivered the same IQ as the Pentax high-end body, but for cheaper. In Pentax land, the entry level bodies were really good, had in body stabilization etc. For advanced usage, I don't see the same advantage of Pentax over Nikon at least. So, for someone not considering fast AF requirements and not considering sports, and not considering upgrades to pro-level, Pentax is a way to go, not with a K-3, but with a K-S2: IQ with K-S2 will be similar to K-3, but K-S2 is cheaper and has WiFi. For someone with significant budget and considering sport photography and upgrade to pro-level, I'm not sure is Pentax is the right choice (especially, the Pentax full frame things looks quite a slow move to me, it may take ages to have new primes such as DFA85, DFA135 etc..., while those lenses already are available new is other brands, Tamron and Sigma).

Last edited by biz-engineer; 11-28-2015 at 01:31 PM.
11-28-2015, 01:40 PM   #12
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I thought K-s2 af was improved from k-30/50/500 af?
11-28-2015, 01:48 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Imp Quote
I thought K-s2 af was improved from k-30/50/500 af?
K-S2 has the AF of the K-5II, same spec for low light. K-S2 also has a articulated display and it even has the OAA simulator. To me, K-S2 is the best entry level value, if high FPS is not required. If I was on a budget and if I wasn't aiming at full frame, I'd be getting the K-S2, not the K-3.

Last edited by biz-engineer; 11-28-2015 at 01:54 PM.
11-28-2015, 01:58 PM   #14
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I think you misread my question, i didn't mean k-30 is better than k-s2, i just sought to clarify your statement that "the K30 AF, K50 AF, K500 AF, K-S1 AF and K-S2 AF was the same as the K-5 AF" - K-s2 af is better than the k-30/50/500.
11-28-2015, 02:01 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Imp Quote
I think you misread my question, i didn't mean k-30 is better than k-s2, i just sought to clarify your statement that "the K30 AF, K50 AF, K500 AF, K-S1 AF and K-S2 AF was the same as the K-5 AF" - K-s2 af is better than the k-30/50/500.
Yes, I understood, you are right, the K-S2 does not have the same AF as others, it has improved AF low light sensitivity versus K-30/K50/K-S1, all having 11 points.
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