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12-03-2015, 06:24 PM   #1
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Some advice....

So, I've been around the pentax world for a while, and I was asked by a friend of mine (a student, without money to spunk up the walls), what would be a good starter DSLR? (Image quality is king, weather sealing and all that jazz, less so). What would be best for image quality, keeping to a student budget, that also had great bokeh and sharpness?

So, being a pentaxian, my recommendation was a Ks-1 + 35mm DA f2.4, or DA XS 40mm 2.8. Seem reasonable? (I've experienced low/mid range Canon & Nikon cameras, and never been that impressed personally).

I met up with him this evening, brought my K-3 along, with the 18-55 kit zoom, M 50 f2, DA 40mm ltd, FA 43ltd, and DA 21ltd. (Here's what the kit zoom is like in low light, here's an example of a cheap 50, here's what the 40mm would be like, and this 43mm is why quality matters over quantity.... the 21 was simply a focal length comparison). He now owns tthe 50mm f2 (I've got more 50mm lenses than I need!). Positive comments from my friend included "If the viewfinder is anything like that, I'm sold" to ", look at that Bokeh!".

I think it's a little wrong to introduce someone to a K-3, and then recommend something worse

I tried my best to explain that image quality wise, the K-S1 and K-3 are close (I've used both, I'd be happy with either). I tried to explain the build quality differences between the K-S1 and K-3, I hope I succeeded, but I guess it's easy to forget everything else apart from how awesome the FA lt + K-3 were.

So. I'm opening this thread to gather some opinions (I will send this thread to my friend). Would you, knowing what you know now, opt for a K-S1 + Kit lens + 1 Prime (35DA/40XS/50DA), or would you choose something else entirely? (Remembering that image quality is the most important factor here). Is pentax a good idea for a first DSLR? What are your thoughts.....

12-03-2015, 06:34 PM   #2
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If your friend was already a photographer, the K-3's great. As a starter, the K-S1 has lots of features and there have been great deals over the last few weeks.
12-03-2015, 06:48 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by robthebloke Quote
Is pentax a good idea for a first DSLR?
I actually think Pentax makes a better starter camera than some others because the menu system is easier to explain. That said, there really is not a bad body available for Pentax right now. Is your friend set on new or will used work? If used is OK, then a k-5IIs or a k-3 might be in his budget. And I would suggest the 18-55 or if the budget allows the 18-135 + the DA 50mm f/1.8 as a first prime. After that they can figure out what other primes they need / want on their own. Not everyone is a prime shooter. Both my wife and future, potential DIL shoot the 18-135 almost exclusively, they have access to my primes, they just are not interested that much.
12-03-2015, 06:57 PM   #4
mee
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Yes Pentax still seems to have the better starter to mid range camera bodies. Going up to flagship I think is much more a debate.

In any case, if he has already a Pentax lens or two and is sold on K mount, I'd say the KS-2 would be quite nice. As jatrax mentioned, how about a second hand K-3 if he absolutely wants a K-3? Otherwise Get the KS-2 and the kit lens. Use the kit lens to see what focal lengths he uses the most and then buy primes of those focal lengths (generally speaking the DAL 35, 40, or 50mm)

12-03-2015, 07:19 PM   #5
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If he can afford it, I'd say the K3. Not that hard to understand and get to know and use, and has everything he could want in the future, without having to upgrade as his photography skills get better.
12-03-2015, 07:19 PM   #6
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If a "starter" means someone who wants to get a good camera to learn on, just to see if he'd be any good, but doesn't have much money at all, then I'd point him to a K50. Cheap as can be right now (200-something), with great quality, a serious camera that takes great pictures. Now, if he has more $$ than he initially thought, surely the K3 would be the way to go if he's serious about learning. But only because you showed him the difference.
12-03-2015, 08:11 PM   #7
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By "starter" and cheap, you could get a K-x for even cheaper. I like my K-30 better by a lot, but I've kept my K-x because it is a great little camera I can use for knockaround or let my daughter use to learn about DSLRs.
12-03-2015, 09:10 PM   #8
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Used K-x is a great value. The K-50 is also very cheap. The K-S1 is at a ridiculous low.

12-03-2015, 09:36 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by dansamy Quote
The K-S1 is at a ridiculous low.

20Mp, can use a Flu card, no AA filter, HDMI output, just about the smallest DSLR on the market.


And cheesy green LEDs (can be switched off, BTW!).
12-03-2015, 09:52 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
20Mp, can use a Flu card, no AA filter, HDMI output, just about the smallest DSLR on the market.


And cheesy green LEDs (can be switched off, BTW!).
And the ridiculously low price of $179 that Samy's was selling it made it a no brainer! Plus, whatever percentage of cash back your CC rewards will be.

---------- Post added 12-03-15 at 09:53 PM ----------

For me, with rebate & cc rewards, it will come out to less than $175.
12-04-2015, 08:25 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by robthebloke Quote
Is pentax a good idea for a first DSLR?
Yes it is AWESOME, i've learned so much through my K-50, never used a camera before.
12-04-2015, 03:12 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by robthebloke Quote
I think it's a little wrong to introduce someone to a K-3, and then recommend something worse
Come for a drive in my sports car and I'll show you what to look for in buying a Ford Escort.

QuoteOriginally posted by robthebloke Quote
So, being a pentaxian, my recommendation was a Ks-1 + 35mm DA f2.4, or DA XS 40mm 2.8. Seem reasonable?
Very reasonable in my view. The K-S1 is excellent value for the reasons @Clackers gives. I'd miss the two wheels but if you haven't become hooked on them it wouldn't matter so much. You've said that your friend doesn't need WR and that image quality is king - with those criteria, I doubt you can get more bang for buck in a new camera body from any maker. (If used were an option, I'd suggest the K-5iis.) A new K-50 is a good option too, but if its advantages (2 wheels, WR, comfortable to hold, etc) are less important, the K-S1 would be a better bet for the pure image quality availlable from the 20mp sensor with no AA filter.

As for lenses, the kit lens that comes with the camera is a good learning tool. It will be nicely complemented by a prime or two. Now that your friend has a 50 f.2, I'd suggest either the DA 35 or a 28mm prime to complement it. For budget options, have a look at this thread: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/308951-affo...r-10-lens.html

If your friend is interested in telephoto, there are plenty of affordable MF/manual exposure 135mm and 200mm primes around, but honestly for value for money I think the better modern autofocus (AF) xx-300 zooms can't be beaten. I used a MF telephoto lens for 23 years and got reasonably good at focusing, but for wildlife AF really is an advantage. The DA-L version of the Pentax 55-300 is the best budget buy in my view - same optics as the DA and DA WR versions, with plastic mount, no lens hood ($5 on ebay) and no QuickShift. See what the 55-300 can do: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/304151-pentax-55-300-lens.html The Sigma 70-300 is even cheaper and (from the images I have seen) not far behind in quality.

One thing that might not be obvious to your friend (and hasn't been mentioned so far) is the value of image processing. If you shoot in RAW it makes a big difference to the final product - fixing exposure and colour balance, improving contrast, removing dust spots (yes it won't be long before you get dust on the sensor when changing lenses), correcting distortion and vignetting, removing chromatic aberrations (CA) (which is a blight with older lenses) and so on. All this is before you get into Photoshopping. You can spend a lot of money on good RAW processing programs (Lightroom, DxO Optics Pro, CaptureOne, etc), but for a student there are other free or cheap options. The K-S1 comes with Pentax Digital Camera Utility 5 which is quite well featured, so that would be a good start. And there are other free programs like DarkTable for those with a geekish bent.

Last edited by Des; 12-04-2015 at 09:31 PM.
12-10-2015, 03:38 PM   #13
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I suspect in this case, a k-s2 or k-3 is over budget. There are good deals to be had on ex-demo k-s1's, better even than prices on second hand k-5ii/k-3.

In response to des, I realise the difference between a k-3 and a k-s1, but since that's the only camera I own currently (digital at least), it's better as a reference point than no reference point at all. I did at least offer a comparison between the 18-55, 50m f2, 40mm da, and 43mm FA. You know, from crap to awesome.

---------- Post added 12-10-15 at 10:40 PM ----------

Think student, think poor. Is Pentax the best option (vs say canon, or Nikon). Within the Pentax world, imho, I'd say the k-s1 offers the best bang for the buck (but not at retail prices obviously)
12-11-2015, 12:48 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by robthebloke Quote
In response to des, I realise the difference between a k-3 and a k-s1, but since that's the only camera I own currently (digital at least), it's better as a reference point than no reference point at all. I did at least offer a comparison between the 18-55, 50m f2, 40mm da, and 43mm FA. You know, from crap to awesome.
If your only car is a sports car, what else can you do? Anyway the K-S1 is no Ford Escort. It's got the second-best engine in the range, and it's a zippy little machine. There were reports here that it was particularly cheap in Europe for some reason.
12-11-2015, 08:03 AM   #15
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If would recommend a K-50 and perhaps upgrade the kit glass to the 16-85

If and when he decides to upgrade for more (after a probable 1-2 year learning curve he can still use his lens. The K3 will be obsolete by then any way, so he might, even if he starts with a k3 upgrade again in 2 years time. Bodies simply don't hold value like lenses do, and using the 16-85 in place of the kit lens gets him 2very important mm wider, and enough more length that he has a good overall travel plus portrait combo

But it all depends on how much money he has. If he can't afford the upgraded lens start with a K50 kit
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