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12-27-2009, 05:54 PM   #1
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First DSLR, considering k-x

I'm about to purchase my first DSLR and considering the Pentax k-x. Have been using a Canon P&S till now and increasingly dissatisfied by the limitations especially portraits, depth of field, and action shots of kids who never sit still!

The type of photos I'll mainly be taking are of my children (newborn and 3 year old) esp. indoor/ low light; portraits; and some travel photography. I'm not really into wide angle, landscapes or macro much - but it will probably happen :P

I know I have a lot to learn, but wondering how others have found the k-x as a 'beginners' DSLR? How does it perform in low light? What's the video capture like?

Also, questions about the lenses - while I'm learning how to work manually I'll probably rely on AF quite a lot. The twin lens kit seems like a great deal for $849 from DCW, but what are the kit lenses like and are they appropriate for the type of photos I want to take? Would I be better off getting just the Body and a 18-200mm lens?

I've been told that a 50mm prime 1.8 lens is great for portraits, low light, and bokeh so I'd like to get one of those too - but I'm on a budget and looking at old/ used lenses, how do I know which one will suit the k-x? Do I need to get one with AF or not? A bit confused...

Many thanks for any suggestions!

12-27-2009, 06:11 PM   #2
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I remember being in the same boat about two and a half years ago. moving from ps to DSLR. I really hadn't the smallest clue how to take a photo but none the less dove head first and never looked back.

seeing your needs, I dont see how you could go wrong with the kx. As someone who used the k10d, k20d, and tested out a k7, and kx...the kx is a Very capable camera with whats arguably the best high ISO of current APS-c cameras out there (basically its darn good!).

I've used the nikon entry levels and was quite disappointed in image quality, color, and high iso performance (the d40, d5000, and d60)

Cant speak much for the canon t1i or the other entry levels.

From what I can see...I think the kx would be an awesome camera to have if I was starting out again. Good luck!
12-27-2009, 06:23 PM   #3
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Go for it! Since low-light performance is critical for you, the K-x is the best choice for you unless you go to a very expensive full-frame DSLR.

The advantage the K-x has is that it shows low noise at high ISO and has built-in stabilization, so you can get a DA* 55mm F1.4 and stabilized that for extreme low-light photography. If you prefer something wider the 31mm F1.8 Limited is pricey but performs extremely well.

As a beginner I would definitely count on autofocus. Stay away from the kit-lens, it is of low quality and rather dark (F3.5-5.6 - plus it is quite horrible at F3.5) which eats up a lot of the low-light advantage. You can get the 16-45mm F4 as a low-cost compromise to start. If you can afford more, go for the 17-70mm F4 or 16-50mm F2.8 as a first zoom lens.

- Itai
Digital Camera Buying Guide, Photography Articles and Reviews | NeoCamera.com
12-27-2009, 06:26 PM   #4
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K-x couldn't be better suited.
Beginner's? Yes
Budget? Yes.
Room for growing with it? Yes.
Good performance? Yes.

Now just pick your lens. I'd suggest an AF lens for starters, like the FA 50/1.4, but it's up to you how much you want to spend on it.

12-27-2009, 08:59 PM   #5
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You don't *need* AF, but some find it worth paying the extra $$$ for. You can get a manual focus 50 like the A50/1.7 for well under $100 - and the "M" version (also manual exposure) for wlel under $50. Whereas an AF 50 will cost you $300 or more on Pentax unless you get lucky finding a used one. Not worth in my opinion, since I don't find 50mm a very useful focal length at all - I shoot candids shorter and portraits longer. Others find it a useful compromise, though.
12-27-2009, 09:15 PM   #6
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Pretty much any pentax lenses can work with the K-x, but only the newer ones will autofocus.

the FA 50mm f/1.4 can be had for $350 these days from B&H, this would autofocus with the K-x just fine.
Pentax | Normal SMCP-FA 50mm f/1.4 Autofocus Lens | 20817 | B&H.

The nifty 50 would cover your indoor / low light photos perfectly, and then the dual kit would cover pretty much any focal length you'd need.
So, perhaps $1100 would get you the full setup. However, I'd wait to buy the 50mm lens until you test out your K-x with the kit lens. Who knows, it may not even be necessary for your photos!

The K-x has pretty good performance up to ISO 6400, which is good in low light and stopping motion without a flash (even with the kit lenses).

Last edited by erickallemeyn; 12-27-2009 at 09:21 PM.
12-28-2009, 04:18 AM   #7
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I think you may want to here from a very recent DSLR convert and a former fellow Canon PS user (love their PS's).

I also say - go for it! I've been playing with the camera for about a week and it is fantastic for this price. I got a set which includes 18-55mm and 55-300mm for a very good price. The 55-300mm seems like a terrific lens although I've tried it in only a handful of shots.

I am fortunate to have a bunch of old SMC prime lenses, some of which I already tried. They absolutely shine, but are a little bit of a pain to use, especially when you get spoiled by AF and everything else automatic.

BTW, I compared some of my shots with a friend's latest Canon Rebel and Canon doesn't even come close when it comes to indoor and low light shots. K-x rocks!
12-28-2009, 07:32 AM   #8
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The k-x is a really good camera, i own the k-m and look at it with envy. Is all that i really wanted in my first DSLR. I've used and seen the k-x some and i like it a lot.

If you are going to buy a kit for taking pictures of your kids and I don't think that a third party lens would be bad choice. I recommend either the tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 or the tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 (this is my normal-use lens) as "cheap replacement" to the kit lens (they have a bigger maximum aperture and have excellent reviews, take a look around the internets). The 28-75 would get a smaller angle of view, but i find it better for taking pictures of people (unless it's a huge group) since you can get a little longer than the 55 of the kit, the downside: it weights more than the k-x and the kit lens together but it's because of the wider maximum aperture (because of the bigger aperture you could use it for portraits, until you get a even wider lens -the 50mm f/1.4 for example-, that's how i'm shooting right now). Although i can't say it is perfect, compared to the pentax kit lenses the tamron has visible flare when the sun gets in the way -the hood helps, but it's a little small-. For the 17-50 I can't say anything since i haven't tested it myself, but "they say" it's an excellent lens. Either of them go for around $350 new.

I have both the 18-55 and 50-200 kit lenses and both of them are sitting waiting for me to use them since i got the tamron. Some times I use the 18mm of the kit for wide-angles and the 135-200 of the other one for the tele-photo range i can't get with the tamron, but i'm thinking of getting a tamron 70-200 f/2.8 for that matter.

But then, why buy a pentax if you are going to use third party? For me, initially I'm getting my normal gear first (I also need to eat). Then I'm thinking of getting some of those gorgeous primes. The 15mm limited wide-angle, the 100mm macro, and the 200mm f/2.8 DA star are in my long term wish-list (A pentax-m 135mm, FA 35mm, FA, A or M 50mm are also in the list).

As always, test all the equipment you would like to get first to see what are your personal needs.

Sorry for the long post.


Last edited by summonbaka; 12-28-2009 at 07:34 AM. Reason: Forgot one line.
12-28-2009, 10:07 AM   #9
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Morning, Right off the bat, being new to SLRs, I would recommend the 2 lens kit, for several reasons. You have the entire range of focal lengths covered, the lenses are of good quality, and they are the cheapest you will ever find them packaged as a kit. Adorama Camera has the 2 lens kit - 18-55 and 55-300 for $780. (plus free shipping - 7 to 10 days). All in all not a bad deal - plus they are a reputable firm to do business with (they have a representative here that scans the posts for problems.)

IPXKXBK3A Pentax K-x Digital SLR Black Camera Two Lens Kit, with DA L 18-55mm & 55-300mm Lenses, 4GB SD Memory Card, 4 AA Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) 2900 mAH Rechargeable Batteries with 4-Hour AA & AAA Quick Charger, 110/220 volt. Slinger Camera Bag

The other advantage of the kit set is that, after a while, you can look back and see what type of pictures you are actually taking, and what interests you, and that would be very helpful in choosing your next lens (if you feel the need). You can always find some sort of bargain Pentax lens - a manual 50/2 or what ever for relatively good prices. You just need to wait and watch evilbay and the like.

You can chase the "best" lenses early on, or use the kits. Its been about 5 years now and I have carefully acquired what I felt I wanted over that timespan. It would have been impossible for me to forecast let along select what I have now early on.

Just some suggestions....
12-28-2009, 10:21 AM   #10
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I forgot to add a couple of points. As a general rule of thumb zoom lenses are effective over a range of 4x. What I mean by that is that a 50 - 200mm lens is a 4x lens (200/50=4). Beyond that there are too many compromises that need to be made in the optical design. Now there are exceptions to every rule. Sigma's Bigma their 50-500 lens by all accounts is fantastic, however its $1K (or was - maybe more now). The 18 to 250, a lot of folks like it, some others have comments in various areas. Its all in what you want and what you are going after in a photograph - also in what you want to carry around.

You can put a very large dent in your budget chasing the best lenses, or whatever. Just my opinion - its best to start out slow, and moderate the acquisition binge until you understand what you want, and then be very careful selecting and buying. When in doubt - go take some pictures - that is what it is all about.

The Pentax kit compared to the other is very good, and a wonderful bargain.
12-28-2009, 12:14 PM   #11
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Hi. I got a K-x just before Christmas and I love it. I bought the kit with the body and the 18 -55 and 55- 300 kit lenses. I have a 5 and 3 yr old and find the higher fps is great. The low light capability is outstanding. (I shoot a lot indoors.) I use a Sigma 24 - 135 f2.8 - f4 as my main lense.

You'll be really happy with this camera.
12-28-2009, 06:59 PM   #12
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Thanks everyone for all the replies - very helpful! I'm pretty much sold on the k-x, just have to decide which lens option(s) to choose...

I probably should have mentioned that I'm in Australia and the twin lens kit offered here is 18-55 + 50-200 (other 'kits' on offer here for the k-x are with 18-55 Pentax, 18-200mm Sigma, 17-70 Sigma, 16-45 Pentax, or 17-70 Pentax)

We don't have the 55-300mm as a kit, unless I order it from the US, but then I'm not sure about import tax and international warranty etc...will have to check that out before I make a decision!
01-01-2010, 09:41 PM   #13
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I just upgraded from a Canon point and shoot (SX1) to K-X with the 17-70mm Sigma lens and love it so far. Video is harder but the picture quality is in a different class altogether (even though their price was not that far apart).

Am happy with the test shots I've been getting on the 17-70 but thought of maybe getting a cheap 44 or 50mm 1.4 lens on ebay (probably manual as auto seems too pricey), although I'm not sure I really need one... Is the advantage of these lenses for more depth of field shots ?

Would love to be able to get these type of shots - https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/42222-helios-44m.html

Don't get anything quite so dreamy with my 17-70 but maybe more skill is required :-)

Test shot uploaded...

Joined the Sigma 17-70 group on Flickr - seems like it can be achieved with that lens - so just need more practice I guess:
http://www.flickr.com/groups/sigma1770/discuss/72157594467724008/
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Last edited by eyew; 01-02-2010 at 03:41 AM.
01-02-2010, 03:35 PM   #14
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Hi, I got a K-x as my first DSLR (have had SLRs previously) with kit 18-55 and 55-300 lenses. After using it for a few weeks also bought a Pentax-A 50mm 1.7.

I must say that the quality of images coming from my kit lenses significantly exceeded my expectations. Nothing like the rubbish I saw with some old zooms I had with my SLR.
So much so that I use them (particularly the 55-300) more than the 50mm. I take a lot of photos of my children and find that the rapid shot rate is fantastic. There is a dedicated "Kids" scene mode that seems to work remarkably well in most moving kid type situations. Although I spend most of my time in Aperture and Shutter priority modes, these scene modes can be handy when want to take a quick shot (I have "kids" on my scene position) when don't have time to fiddle around with all the settings to get the shot right.
The 50 is good indoors though.

I'm thrilled with my camera and can't see a better choice at the moment for the budget.

Example shot with 55-300 lense:

Last edited by kiwi_jono; 01-02-2010 at 03:54 PM.
01-02-2010, 05:38 PM   #15
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That's a great shot with the 55-300 - I don't see that bundle here in Sydney or I would've gone with that.

I'm amazed at the scene modes - tested a shot with "Food" scene of my pasta and meatballs dinner and it looked better than it was :-)
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