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08-20-2009, 09:02 AM   #16
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This sort of question gets asked a lot in this forum and others. It elicits two kinds of response. First, some people will tell you what they would buy. I don't think that should be terribly helpful; I mean, if you want to make your decision by asking for a show of hands, buy a Canon. Second kind of response comes from people will try to help you understand your options - and this is what I'm going to do. But this is always difficult, because none of us can really tell what is going to be best for YOU. Nine out of nine responses here might recommend the K20D and yet it MIGHT be true that, for you, the K2000 (for example) is a better choice or even the Nikon D60. So, take all of our opinions with a big grain of salt.

That said, let me turn to your list.


Pentax vs Pentax

One thing is easy to say: IN the list you gave, the K20D is undoubtedly the best piece of equipment in an absolute sense - head and shoulders better than the other models you listed - and it's also certainly the best deal right now. If you're leaning toward Pentax anyway, then you should certainly consider the K20D seriously. The advantage of the K20D that would cause me personally to buy it and reject the others is the presence of 2 e-dials. I will never again buy a camera that doesn't have 2 e-dials.

But that's just me, and there are things to be said about the other Pentax models. The K2000 for example can be had at Amazon.com today for $550 while the K20D is selling for $620. That doesn't sound like a big difference, but the price for the k2000 includes either (a) one good lens (18-55) plus a AF200FG flash unit or (b) two good lenses (18-55 + 50-200); while the $620 price of the K20D buys the body alone. I'm sure that the K2000 can take terrific photos, and getting a lens and a flash for under $600 is a very good deal. You may not care about the K20D's 2 e-dials or its weather-sealing.

I'm not sure how to compare the K2000 to the K200D.


Pentax vs Nikon?

As for the question of whether to go with a great Pentax camera (the K20D) or an okay entry-level Nikon (the D60), that's a tough question.

I decided several years ago to go with Pentax for two main reasons: (1) price and (2) built-in shake reduction. I have generally been happy with my decision as I've moved from Pentax model to model - but after I started shooting for money almost three years ago, I started to wonder if perhaps Pentax was still the best choice for me and I go through periodic bouts of Nikon envy. My film SLR is a Nikon and if I quit using Pentax, I'd probably move to Nikon. But I would not switch from a K20D to any Nikon less than a D90.

If you plan to shoot mainly for yourself (which does not mean you aren't very serious - just that you aren't thinking of going into business as a photographer), then I think it's impossible to beat Pentax in the value-for-price department, not just because the Pentax bodies are such a good deal (especially with the K20D selling for $620 right now) but also because its better lenses are as good as anything Nikon and Canon shooters have available and the Pentax lenses generally cost less, too.

If you think you want to do a lot of flash photography, then Nikon may be a better choice. If you're planning to build a big system and you've got money to spend on it, Nikon may again be a better choice - more options. There are also advantages to having either Nikon or Canon over anything else: these are the "default" brands, they're what everybody else uses, so it's easier to find help, buy accessories, get new lenses from a local camera store, rent lenses, etc., if you own a Canon or Nikon. There are real advantages to using what everybody else is using.

Nevertheless, at the moment I'm NOT wracked by Nikon envy and in fact I'm feeling pretty good about sticking with Pentax. I got the 40mm limited lens yesterday and I'm enjoying getting to know it. Shake reduction probably isn't as important to me as I thought it would be (although I think it matters). More important is the K20D's build quality and ergonomics. And if I did have a Nikon system, well, I'd have fewer lenses and I'd be able to upgrade less frequently because everything costs more. And I'd STILL have Nikon envy, because if I had a D90, I'd want a D300; and if I had a D300, I'd want a D3 or D700.

If you want someone to push you in Pentax's direction, read this excellent post from Mike Johnston's The Online Photographer. He reveals that the Pentax K20D was going to be his pick as the #2 best camera of the year (#1 being the Nikon D700) but just before he announced his pick the Pentax K-7 was announced and he felt bad about recommending a camera that was about to be superseded. And note that the K20D was ALSO mentioned as one of the cameras in his group choice for spot #3, along with the Nikon D90, Canon 50D and the Sony A700. Actually I think this latter article about his #3 spot might be more helpful to you than the former one about #2. Notice in his list of cameras that the K20D is the least expensive in the group by a good bit.




Lenses!

One last important point that new buyers often overlook. As a rule, a more expensive body won't take better photos. Just about all dslrs on the market right now at any price point are capable of taking really good photos. Check reviews at dpreview.com: nearly everything gets a very positive review. The quality of the photos isn't determined by the body (or its sensor, or the number of pixels) so much as by the skill of the photographer and secondarily, the quality of the lenses. I could take better pictures with a Pentax K-m than my wife could take with a Nikon D3. And I could probably take better pictures with a Pentax K2000 with my new DA 40mm limited lens than I could with my K20D and, oh, one of the mediocre lenses that I've occasionally had in my possession.

So as you shop for bodies, think about lenses, too, considering both lens quality and price. As I've heard others here say repeatedly: bodies come and go, but lenses are forever. I don't take that quite literally, because I've bought, used and then sold quite a few lenses. But the general idea is sound.


No matter what you choose, it will be wrong - but not too wrong. Wrong, because there are too many choices today and no brand right now is absolutely better than any other. Whatever you pick, it won't have something that the other brand had. But you can't go too far wrong, because nobody's making truly bad cameras right now.

Good luck with your decision.

Will

08-20-2009, 09:04 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by ballgofar Quote
The only reason you shouldn't get the K20d is if the size and weight are too much to handle for you, but I've never found them to be a problem.
I agree that the K20D is the obvious choice ("strong opinion") here with that important caveat. For me, it actually *is* bigger and heavier than I prefer; between that and the price difference at the time I was buying, I chose the K200D. At today's pries, I'd think long and hard about the K20D despite the size difference. Luckily, I don't have to make any such choice; I can sit tight and expect that by the time I feel the need to upgrade, the K-7 will be discontinued and in my price range.

I hadn't heard rumors about a K200D replacement coming "any day now". If that's something credible, with a specifi time frame (eg, someone has said they've been invited to a press conference on such-and-such a date), then sure, wait until then. but if it's jus general, "hey, it's been a while, and I heard Pentax was putting out two or three cameras this year, and I'll bet one of them will be before Christmas", I wouldn't bother waiting on that. There's *always* something else coming out a few months down the road; you'd never buy anything if you let that possibility stop you.
08-20-2009, 09:05 AM   #18
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Well, I was ready to burst in here with a call for the K200D, then realized it's only going for $100 cheaper than the K20D right now. For me, I think it comes down to a couple of questions: 1) does the weather-sealing mean much to you? 2) Do you want to grow into the camera and hang on to it for 2-3 years minimum?

Seeing as how you're new to DSLR, the K2000 is a good bridge between - very user-friendly, but doesn't have the specs of higher models (obviously). Also, not weather-sealed.

OTOH, the K20D is a very fine camera - with a learning curve. I will say that my first DSLR was the K10D, also a camera with a learning curve. I owned it for two years, and learned to use it fairly well. And, it's weather-sealed.

So, strong opinion:

If weather-sealing is important, and you plan to keep the camera for a couple of years, and you want to grow into it, get the K20D with the DA 18-55 and 50-200 Weather-Resistant Lenses.

If weather-sealing doesn't matter, you're just looking to break into DSLRs with an upgrade coming as soon as you've learned to use it and the newest model comes out, and you want to buy better glass from the beginning, get the K2000 with the DA 17-70 SDM and DA 55-300.

Todd
08-20-2009, 09:50 AM   #19
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I am not going to disagree that the K20D seems like the best option for the money. You won't find a body better featured and with better IQ at that price point.

That said, reasons to consider brand C or brand N would be for things like the availability of really good superteles, being able to borrow/rent stuff easier, and having a clear and available upgrade path if you're interested in FF. That, and if you're primarily going to be shooting things that move, where the Pentax AF system lags behind the competition.

08-20-2009, 09:58 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by pingflood Quote
I am not going to disagree that the K20D seems like the best option for the money. You won't find a body better featured and with better IQ at that price point.

That said, reasons to consider brand C or brand N would be for things like the availability of really good superteles, being able to borrow/rent stuff easier, and having a clear and available upgrade path if you're interested in FF. That, and if you're primarily going to be shooting things that move, where the Pentax AF system lags behind the competition.
I think you are being a bit unclear, and making the Pentax system look worse than it is. "and if you're primarily going to be shooting things that move." come on now... you make it sound like your subject has to be completely stationary for the Pentax AF system to work... and that's just a load of horse crap. it may not be quite as easy to do fast motion capture with Pentax as it is with your 1Ds but there are more than enough people out there everyday proving that what Pentax offers is more than up to the task for the most demanding sports.. and from what I gather our friend here isn't going to have to worry about that too much.

when someone is asking for opinions on such a subject you should be as clear as possible in what you are giving that person as to not indirectly misinform them.
08-20-2009, 10:17 AM   #21
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K20d

My vote goes to K20D. It has features that you would love. The one I like best - focal point selection. It works great while shooting portraits - this always gets me to focus on the eyes effortlessly.
08-20-2009, 10:42 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by séamuis Quote
I think you are being a bit unclear, and making the Pentax system look worse than it is. "and if you're primarily going to be shooting things that move." come on now... you make it sound like your subject has to be completely stationary for the Pentax AF system to work... and that's just a load of horse crap. it may not be quite as easy to do fast motion capture with Pentax as it is with your 1Ds but there are more than enough people out there everyday proving that what Pentax offers is more than up to the task for the most demanding sports.. and from what I gather our friend here isn't going to have to worry about that too much.

when someone is asking for opinions on such a subject you should be as clear as possible in what you are giving that person as to not indirectly misinform them.
No, that's exactly what I meant. If you plan on PRIMARILY shooting things in motion, be it racecars, running kids, dogs, horses, airplanes or birds, I think you are doing yourself a disservice going with a system that is not as capable as the competition in that aspect.

And we keep coming back to it being "possible" to do with Pentax. Sure, and you could shoot race cars with a Super Graphic, but that doesn't make it a suitable tool for the job. Why pick a tool you have to fight with to get the picture? I see numerous posts on here saying it's fine to shoot sports with because you can just manual focus override. My question is, why the hell would you want to settle for something like that when you can get fast, accurate, reliable AF tracking from the competition?

I stand by what I said: if you're not primarily shooting subjects on the move, and aren't worried about moving to full frame in the future, the K20D is the best deal on the market.

Sorry if I'm not gushing with praise and calling it flawless, but having owned one as well as currently owning some from another brand, I believe I am entitled to my opinion on the matter.
08-20-2009, 10:58 AM   #23
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'on the move' and a damn race car are two very different things. and you know it. it isn't about what is capable or what is best. do you really think the OP is looking to jump into fast action sports photography? do you think that is a concern considering the OP's camera choice list? do you think the info you gave is really helpful given the OP's likely uses for this camera? do you think what your canon can do or what a high end canon or nikon can do even matters considering the OP listed a D60? you can stand by what you said all you'd like, I dont really care. what I was merely pointing out was that the way you described it (looking at it from the OP's point of view) it would be very easy to mistake what you said as the Pentax AF system being pretty much useless. now I would give the OP more credit than this, but that's not the point. the point is, that you were looking at it from your use, and point of view and not the OP's and in doing so, you assumed the OP shares your interest in photography and gave information that isn't very clear or even relevant.

you sure are entitled to your opinion. that doesn't change anything. defend your canon all you'd like, as I don't much care what you use or what you think is best. and where did I or anyone else call the K20D flawless? now your reaching...

08-20-2009, 11:05 AM   #24
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You wanted a STRONG OPINION? I respect your guts. OK, you wanted it, so here it comes:

You are a fool if you think that there is any other camera on that list that is in the same class as the k20d. Your friend with the nikon D60? After he gets his hands on your k20d, he will think himself accursed, and hold his manhood cheap, that he did not make the same decision as you.

Last edited by PentaxPoke; 08-20-2009 at 11:23 AM.
08-20-2009, 11:09 AM   #25
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Oh for heaven's sake, here's what I posted.
QuoteQuote:
I am not going to disagree that the K20D seems like the best option for the money. You won't find a body better featured and with better IQ at that price point.

That said, reasons to consider brand C or brand N would be for things like the availability of really good superteles, being able to borrow/rent stuff easier, and having a clear and available upgrade path if you're interested in FF. That, and if you're primarily going to be shooting things that move, where the Pentax AF system lags behind the competition.
I said that Pentax does seem to be the best option, particularly K20D. Then I pointed out the reasons one might want to look elsewhere. If OP's interest lies in any of those areas then yes, I do think he should go look at something else.

I also did not recommend looking at a "high end" Canon, so not sure where you got that from. All of the current Canon bodies from the Rebels on up perform very well tracking moving subjects in my experience.

And I did not say the Pentax AF system is useless. Just that it is not as capable as the competition when it comes to tracking.

Finally, I did not say that anyone called the K20D flawless. My point was that unless I neglect to mention what I consider the flaws (i.e. the camera being "flawless") people will jump all over me, like you just did.
08-20-2009, 11:19 AM   #26
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k20d

my friend got the nikon d60 from a ritz clearance and when he uses my k10 or the k20 he regrets his purchase. the nikon has great AF but colors can really suck at times where the pentax really strives. I played around with it and in build quality/ and image quality it lacked. He's a very outdoor guy and really regrets not buying a more solid camera for the elements. His nikon came back SO dusty from his last off roading trip and he doesnt know how to clean it. The nikon is still a good camera but at the current price of the k20d Id say makes it a nobrainer.

Go for the K20d!
08-20-2009, 11:29 AM   #27
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My vote goes to k20d had nikon d70 and had loads of trouble, had canon 20d loved it ,loved the faster shutter speed, but the focus speed was about the same as k20d, Picture , iq etc the pentax wins , also never had a problem with a lens not being compatable, and can get better glass a lot cheaper .. my 2 cents worth..
08-20-2009, 11:46 AM   #28
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K20D + DA18-55 WR for $820 with free shipping from B&H (add the 50-200WR for $250) and you will be set for your week-long camping trip. The K20D can be a glorified point and shoot and/or an advanced amatuer tool, it's all up to you on how you use it, but with this kit you get weather-sealed body, weather-resistant optics and incredible image quality.
08-20-2009, 12:01 PM   #29
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Original Poster
Wow. What an amazing response to my questions. Thank you all for your valuable input and STRONG opinions. To those of you who focused on offering objectivity, I value your input equally.

It seems the overwhelming consensus is that, as of today, the K20D is the best possible choice. I do, however, resonate with the responses of some of the Posters in that perhaps my specific wants and needs could clarify the choice to be made. I'll do my best to describe what I am wanting out of a camera, and then perhaps the conversation can continue.
  • I would prefer light and small, having grown accustomed to a P&S, but I'm not completely opposed to the idea of something bulkier.
  • I am outdoorsy. E.g., I'm going to the Boundary Waters Wilderness and Canoe area in Northern Minnesota for 6 days. Wet, cold, potential spills from a canoe... I definitely want weatherproofing (btw, doesn't the K200D offer weatherproofing as well? I seem to get the impression from this forum the K200D isn't weatherproof).
  • I would rather buy only nice lenses (within my budget). E.g.- I'd prefer to not buy a kit lens if down the road I'd be better off with the equivalent specs (but better quality) for say, $350.
  • I have no intention of photographing a Nascar event, either now or ever in my lifetime.
  • I would like to photograph nature scenes and people. Now, Nascar fans, on the other hand could make for interesting subjects...
08-20-2009, 12:23 PM   #30
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I bought the k2000 and was strongly considering the k20d for its price. I was so on the fence about it I made a post just about interface/mode differences but it does turn into me discussing why I am on the fence and not completely for the k20d. Grabbed from some other places as well where I talk about my purchase:

k20d > k2000
-weather sealing - one feature I would quite like but I will be using mostly old lenses but flexibility is always nice in case I do want to go in the rain or something. May induce a habit of allowing things like these to reduce how much I take care of my equipment - bad I know!
-top lcd - to show the more important things already shown on the back lcd? conserve battery life? provide ease of access if using a tripod? Not useful to me as the most important purpose of it for me would be a tripod which I mostly use in low light which means the top lcd is not readable.
-focus point selection - didn't think I would use it - most shots for me I will center point focus and pivot. Maybe slightly easier when on a tripod but I wouldn't want reliance on that kind of thing to limit how I put into composing a shot. The only thing that I see it as useful is for sports photography to AF on the ground beneath the object or helping compose action shots. However, it is easier for me to focus on action subjects being in the middle of the frame - at that speed it is hard for me to look at where the focus point is while I follow and on cameras that light up - they don't stay lit up. However, the focus point on others is more visible.
-focus point indicator - useless for me. If you do area AF, what if it pics the wrong point? you just AF again and hope? In addition, the AF areas are significantly better than the indicators on the VF, so using all of them, you have even less precision for AF - which is why center spot is widely used. You especially don't want to use area focus for continuous action shooting - if something comes infront of what you are focusing on, it will AF to that.
-orientation - don't mind
-pentaprism - do mind, especially with manual focus lenses
-high iso performance - something I care about
-much larger buffer - see abovet
-optical preview stop down - helps with metering manual lenses - my m42 adapter is not in yet so I have not tried it, but there is a green-button effect for the k2000 already. digital preview is better for shot previewing for me.
-live view - don't mind, from what I read when put in this mode it limits what you can change
-release cable - do mind, but I got a really cheap remote.
-timelapse?
-extra 2 year warranty - useful
-The IS button is helpful for using a tripod where it is recommended that it is turned off, but then again I never rarely turn off IS as I mostly use a monopod. When I do, I find the control panel takes very few steps to change it.
-extra dial - useful for quickly changing iso in manual mode, otherwise the dedicated iso button is easy enough for me on the k2000.
-TAv mode - don't hear about many people using this, but it makes it slightly easier to do sports shooting and not be wide open all the time with auto iso - otherwise you adjust the iso when clouds come out or something.
-separate AE-L and AF buttons - don't mind, my AF button is assigned to AE-L as half-shutter press serves as my AF and to get the same effect I just switch the AF to MF on the body with my left hand
-RAW button - my help button is assigned to that.
-Fn button - I don't like it, I prefer k2000's instant access to those things, it takes out one step.
-lens AF correction - useful. on the k2000 you can enter debug mode and do AF corrections but it is across all lenses.

k2000 > k20d:
-size/weight - I want to take it everywhere and on long hikes and such. Also, I want to comfortably adjust the lens and focus while holding it up to my face as a small guy with small hands
-faster low light AF - I care about this a lot
-low iso quality - typically CCDs are better at this.
-no automatic DFS for long exposures
-AA batteries (LSD cells are quite amazing now, and cheap, and everywhere, and when they become better, anything that uses them will benefit). Don't want to have to buy a grip to get this. I got 1400 shots on my kodak non-LSD not having even tried my duraloops yet, which reportedly get better than lithium AA and such.
-slightly faster burst speed - nice and I don't burst for more t han 5 or so shots that often, within a couple seconds it is ready to shoot again.
-control panel and control button layout - more intuitive, easy to change many things.
-one handed shooting - with size/weight and control layout all on the right side, something I like to do.

I ended up grabbing a K2000 + 18-55 DAL for ~370 USD from beachcamera on ebay using bing cashback and stuff. The main reason I chose the K2000 is because the K20d was not better in all areas I cared about (I would've let some stuff slide like size/weight) and I would probably want to upgrade it to the K-7 or something later on. With the K2000, because of its size and weight, I will keep it around when I buy the K-7 or later models.
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