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04-02-2010, 03:37 PM   #1
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k-x vs. k200d for night shots...

I currently use a Kodak point and shoot, and now I'm looking to enter the world of dslr. I've done a bit of research and am now debating between the Pentax K-x and the K200d as the camera to get.
  • The thing that draws me to the K200d is the weather-proofing.
  • The thing that draws me to the K-x(and the focus of this inquiry) is the extremely high iso ratings it has. The high iso makes me think "this camera might be what I need to be able to take night shots".
Let me explain further what kind of night shots I'm wanting to do;
When I am outdoors near/after dusk everything takes on a new appearance. It's a very special quality that I've been wanting to capture for a while. By the lighting of the moon, the porch light, street lights, etc.
I want to be able to "snap" these pictures... so with a fast shutter speed and without a tripod. Slow shutter shots distort the light/dark balance that one sees with their eyes.
As I understand it, this means I need to have wide aperture combined with high iso. I also understand that the kit lens doesn't have as wide an aperture as other lenses that I could purchase, however I won't have the money for buying an additional lens.

So I am wondering, will the K-x with kit lens be able to perform for this kind of shooting? And adversely, will the K200d not be able to perform for this kind of shooting?
I'll greatly appreciate any help in this matter. Please correct any assumptions I've made about what is involved in dslr photography, I'm a newbie.
Some example night shots, of the kind I'm describing, will be really helpful too.




Last edited by Applecart; 04-02-2010 at 04:13 PM.
04-02-2010, 09:38 PM   #2
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Hi Applecart,

Let's see - handheld moonlite landscapes with fast shutter speeds - not a problem!

Well, you are right that you need a lens with a large aperture (also referred to as a fast lens), to collect the light - easier. 50mm is a nominal focal length, and as such has the fastest / largest apertures available for the most reasonable price. The lower f stop values have the largest apertures. However, lenses shot "wide open" (at the largest aperture) may not be perfectly sharp and for the best results need to be stopped down (to smaller apertures). Going wider that 50mm, lenses tend to not be as fast, f2.8 tends to be a level that is achievable. Also going longer (telephoto), the faster lenses tend to be very large, heavy and also very expensive.

Using large apertures (low f stop values) controls the depth of field. What this does is that the area in focus is very shallow - just the physics of light here at work. Thus, using a fast lens, at its maximum aperture will tend to have a very thin plane of focus, with everything else tending to be out of focus, based on its distance from the camera. This is referred to as Brokeh. Here is a thread on the topic for background...

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/92961-ultimate...mpilation.html

Pentax has wonderful fast 50mm lenses, at the f1.2, f1.4, f1.7, f2 apertures that are reasonable (and the manual lenses are even more reasonably priced). The price increases dramatically as the aperture get larger. There are some what wider angles lenses available in the f1.9 aperture range (the FA 31/1.9 Limited, for instance) that is wonderful, however be warned that it starts at about $1,000 (just for the lens).

Your main question was on bodies. You are right that the capabilities of the body does come in to play with low ambient light levels, regardless of the lens - however a fast lens will certainly help. You are coming from the point and shoot world. P&S cameras have a relatively small sensor, and as such - all small sensor cameras have large depth of fields (everything tends to be in focus) - again due to the laws of optics and physics. Large sensor cameras, are able to collect a lot of light, however they interact with the lens' aperture and will produce very thin (or shallow) depth of field (as was touch on above with lenses).

The difference between the K200 and KX is a couple of years of technology. In terms of low light ability, the KX is superior. It provides very high ISO level with relatively low amounts of noise, and Pentax focuses on retaining a high degree of detail within the image (something that not all camera manufactures do). In that regard, it will be superior to the K200. Both cameras should be priced very reasonable. For low ambient light photography that is important, in that your lenses will be more expensive that the ones found in the kit. Bottom line, it would be better to concentrate available funds in the lens as opposed to the body - given that the body provides adequate ISO speeds. Shutter speed is of no real concern here. In that its going to be dark, you will still be using relatively slow shutter speeds. With these slow shutter speeds, and not wanting to use a tripod, the in body image stabilization is a must and will help. However, be for warned, that even with image stabilization, hand held photography at relatively slow shutter speeds, even with high ISO speeds and a fast large aperture lens, you may be disappointed in the results. Again its a matter of optics and physics as opposed to the camera and lens.

The KX with a 50mm f1.4 or 1.7 lens should produce a good set at a reasonable price. Now, the bottom line is, will your images be any better than the ones produced by your p&s? Handheld? I do not really know. Using a tripod - yes, especially through stopping down the lens to get a reasonably wide (deep) depth of field. With a shallow depth of field, focusing be comes very critical - which is even more difficult in low light situations. Also in low ambient light (dark), auto focusing is not a real option. Manual focusing will be necessary.

Weather proofing on the K200 - is good, however are you planning on taking images out in a rain storm? For me weather proofing is not a large concern. To others it is a VERY large concern. That is something you are going to need to judge for yourself, and others can provide better guidance here.

Also - please note, that your interests are in an area of photography that is difficult to start with. Also, folks that transition from P&S tend to have the quality of their images decrease (e..g., crappy pictures). Just going to a DSLR does not guarantee good photographs. It takes more skill, more understanding of the elements and what you are trying to achieve, more time and patience to develop your technique - hence skill level. So its not a matter of picking up a DSLR and becoming an instant Ansel Adams....

The KX with a kit lens - handheld - probably not. On a tripod, not a problem. It is all in how steady the camera is held for the duration necessary to capture the light. The KX with an older Pentax SMC A or M 50mm f1.4 or 1.7 (about $50 to $75), a much better probability of success. At night - anything handheld will be problematic or impossible (depends on the amount of light).

hope that helps....

Last edited by interested_observer; 04-02-2010 at 09:47 PM.
04-03-2010, 10:06 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Applecart Quote
When I am outdoors near/after dusk everything takes on a new appearance. It's a very special quality that I've been wanting to capture for a while. By the lighting of the moon, the porch light, street lights, etc.
Yep, that's a nice look.

QuoteQuote:
So I am wondering, will the K-x with kit lens be able to perform for this kind of shooting? And adversely, will the K200d not be able to perform for this kind of shooting?
Neither are yes no questions. Both cameras will successfully record an image with the kit lens. The K-x has somewhat better performance at high ISO, but I'd say not to as great a degree as is sometimes claimed. The K200d tops out at ISO 1600, but you can always get faster shutter speeds by shooting underexposed and then brightening in PP, which is pretty much exactly the same as raising ISO in camera. Brightening an ISO 1600 shot by +1EV in PP is the same as shooting ISo 3200 - same shutter speed, same brightness, same noise level.

I do the sort of shots I think you are talking about at ISO 1600 all the time on my K200D - sometimes deliberately underexposing to get a faster shutter speed, sometimes that's not needed. But I *do* have an f/2.8 lens I use a lot for this sort of thing - a manual M28/2.8 that you can get for well under $100.

Looking around for for K200D pictures taken with either the kit lens or something else that is no "faster", I can offer a few samples. To me they look fine at this size or printed 8x10" or smaller. Examine them at 100% on your computer screen and sure, you'll see some noise, and you'll see somewhat *less* noise with the K-x. I think most will say the improvement would be worth giving up weather sealing for. I'll say it's not enough to make me switch, but if I were buying a camera right now and those were my two choices, I'd probably go K-x too, although I'd have some reservations about giving weather sealing and few other minor feature differences.

These, it turns out, are all with the DA15/4, so they're slightly wider than the kit lens can go, but definitely no faster (f4 max versus f/3.5, and the last of these was actually shot at f/8):





04-03-2010, 04:35 PM   #4
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Thanks for the help, both of you
I learned a lot.
As I'm seeing it now, This kind of shooting that I'm talking about, might not be better achieved with one camera or the other. Being that the K-x has much higher ISO I'm lead to believe that using it's very high ISO at night will allow me to use a faster shutter speed than I could using the K200d at only 1600.
However, Marc, you say that this under-exposed result I'll get with the k200d can be corrected with PP(I have a lot of experience with this) and the noise level will be the same. Even at 100%? I'm surprised by this notion.
The K200d has weather-proofing, although the lens that comes with it I think does not. Are weather-proof lenses expensive?
The K-x has a few more mega-pixels(does this make that much of a difference?).

I might just go for whichever I can get a better deal on at the time I'm ready to purchase one.

Thanks a lot again


Last edited by Applecart; 04-03-2010 at 05:21 PM.
04-03-2010, 04:55 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Applecart Quote
Thanks for the help, both of you
The K-x has a few more mega-pixels(does this make that much of a difference?).

I might just go for whichever I can get a better deal on at the time I'm ready to purchase one.
I wouldn't think it would make a noticeable difference. As for the better deal, the K200D has been discontinued so i'd say the better deal could be had with the K-x. In saying that, i'm very happy with my K200D and once you start working with a top LCD panel for readouts, you won't want to go back. The K-x lacks the top LCD panel which tells you your shutter speed, aperture, shots remaining on card, battery life etc. It is more handy than it sounds.
04-03-2010, 05:40 PM   #6
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I'm not afraid to get into something new like using a top lcd but I wonder if it will really mater to me.
One of the main reasons I'm looking to get into dslr photography is so that I can have full control over the manual adjustments. I can picture myself with the camera, see a bird flying by, and quickly adjust the dials by instinct to get just the right image(an accurate depiction or something artistic depending on my feeling in the moment).
I think I would like as many adjustments as possible to be on the lens, this sounds like the most fun to me. If i can "feel out" the aperture, shutter speed, etc. then I don't care about the exif... and I don't mind having a bunch of screw ups until I get the feel for it.

I remember now!
- It's most important that I can manage the shutter speed simply by how long i hold the capture button for. Is there a mode for doing this? is it standard on all dslrs?

I'm trying to compare the kit lenses for the K200d and the K-x and it appears that the K200d has more dials on it's lens. Please help me make some sense of this.
Here's my resources:
for the K-x
for the K200d

Thanks again guys
04-03-2010, 09:10 PM   #7
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really depends how high you are willing to go with ISO.. i've found that k-x up to iso6400 or so gives very acceptable print results even with kit 18-55 lens.
04-03-2010, 09:53 PM   #8
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Your type of shot, if you have a tripod, i dont think either matters...

However, i did room snap shots the other day...yellow, dark light, against a Canon Tli of several friends dancing. That means, locked shutter speed (dancing means faster than 1/60), limited aperture range....(stopped down a couple from maximum)

Mine, a manual 24mm 2.8, against a kit lens. When you cant control anything but ISO, the difference is painfully obvious - the one that can get higher ISO wins.

I even went home and tried several controlled shots just to make sure my camera isnt as crappy as it was made to be, lol >_<.
If ISO is your main control , i would go with K-x. If you can play around with shutter speed, or aperture, either one wouldnt matter.

My two cents

04-03-2010, 10:32 PM   #9
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QuoteQuote:
Slow shutter shots distort the light/dark balance that one sees with their eyes.
Not really accurate. The shutter speed will determine if the subject has any motion blur. The aperture determines the depth of focus. The light and dark areas of the image will remain the same.
04-03-2010, 10:44 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Applecart Quote
Being that the K-x has much higher ISO I'm lead to believe that using it's very high ISO at night will allow me to use a faster shutter speed than I could using the K200d at only 1600.
However, Marc, you say that this under-exposed result I'll get with the k200d can be corrected with PP(I have a lot of experience with this) and the noise level will be the same. Even at 100%?
Not the same as the K-x; they're different cameras. And I don't mean that pushing the shot in PP coems with no penalty in noise. I mean, if you push the K200d one stop in PP, you get the same results you'd get if that same camera *had* higher ISO. Yes, exactly the same, even at 100%. This shouldn't be surprising as that's exactly how higher ISO's are usually implemented in most cameras. Even in cases where higher ISO's are achieved through analog amplification, there's really no difference in practice. Amplification is amplification, and it increases noise very predictably. But the K-x is only barely slightly better than the K200D at ISO 1600, but this difference gets wider the higher you go.

Again, no doubt the K-x is better at higher ISO; the only questions are if the K200D is good *enough*, and how *much* improvement you can get from the K-x.

QuoteQuote:
The K200d has weather-proofing, although the lens that comes with it I think does not. Are weather-proof lenses expensive?
The 18-55 WR and 50-200 WR are not. The DA* lenses are.

QuoteQuote:
The K-x has a few more mega-pixels(does this make that much of a difference?).
Not really, no.

QuoteQuote:
I might just go for whichever I can get a better deal on at the time I'm ready to purchase one.
The K200D has been discontinued for well over a year now, so I wouldn't expect to be able to find one nearly as easily. That alone could be reaosn to go with the K-x.
04-03-2010, 10:49 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Applecart Quote
I think I would like as many adjustments as possible to be on the lens, this sounds like the most fun to me.
Give up on that thought. Most modern lenses do not have aperture rings; and aperture is the only thing that is ever adjusted on the lens. Older lenses with aperture rings can be used, but you get greatly reduced functionlity, and you are always better off *not* using the aperture ring. Modern SLR's (both film and digital) control aperture using a dial on the camera, not the aperture ring.

QuoteQuote:
I remember now![/B] - It's most important that I can manage the shutter speed simply by how long i hold the capture button for. Is there a mode for doing this? is it standard on all dslrs?
"Bulb", and yes. Works even better that this on the K-x, since you don't have to actually hold the button (press once to open shutter, again to close). but the K200D has a port for a wirted (as opposed to wireless) remote, and the K-x doesn't. But yu can use wireless remote on the K-x in the same way - one press to open, one to close.

QuoteQuote:
I'm trying to compare the kit lenses for the K200d and the K-x and it appears that the K200d has more dials on it's lens.
Nope. neither have any dials. Just a zoom ring and a focus ring.
04-03-2010, 11:52 PM   #12
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A lot more clarity now

The aperture is adjusted on these two camera models by the thumb, right? like seen here
how is iso adjusted?

About your description of bulb modes, Marc:
You say that with the k200d you press and hold it, and with the K-x you press it twice.
If this is so, then the k200d version is what I was thinking of. I was imagining using this feature for all my shots all the time. It seems like an unconventional method, but it can be done, right?
04-04-2010, 10:22 AM   #13
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On cameras with two dials (K-7, K20D, etc), one dial does aperture, one shutter speed (when in "M" mode, anyhow - in most of the automated modes you only contorl one of those directly). But the K200D and Kx have only one dial, so it controls shutter speed on it's own, or aperture when turned in conjuntion with one of the buttons. It's designed to be easy, so don't sweat that. ISO is set using the same dial after pressing the ISO button on the K-x, or Fn followed by the arrow buttons on the K200D. BTW, the reviews on dpreview are usually pretty good about explaining basic camera operation.

Regarding bulb modes, I am pretty sure the K-x actually gives you the option of either method - press and hold, or press then release. The latter is generally considered superior for really long exposures (no one normally wants to hold the shutter button for minutes at a time, and this is likely to introduce shake as well).
04-04-2010, 11:18 AM   #14
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Thanks so much ^_^

I've asked so many questions, now I will just relax, lol.
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