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09-13-2010, 12:19 AM   #1
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Helping my mom get into DSLR

I got into Pentax because my friend was selling a used one at a great price that couldn't be beaten when he upgraded. I never struggled with the whole Nikon/Canon/Pentax.

It made my choice easy and i'm proud to be in the Pentax Family, it suits me.

But when my mother told me she was ready to make the jump and wanted some advice, it became a bit tougher.

I decided to give her 6 choices to choose from,

3 med level cameras and 3 Enthusiast level.

Here's what I came up with

Medium level
-Nikon D5000
-Canon 550D (also known as the EOS T2i)
-Pentax Kr (this isn't out yet, but looks quite nice and might destroy the other 2 here)

Enthusiast
-Nikon D90
-Canon 50D
-Pentax K7

P.s.

My mother is mostly into Flowers and Macro photography, she has a great eye for that.

She can be stingy, and that's why I think the Enthusiast camera's would be great, they've all seen nice price drops, but it'd be a long time before she outgrew them.

What do you guys think of the options I gave her?

09-13-2010, 12:55 AM   #2
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One thing you should consider if what she's into is flowers & macro; so far as I know, there aren't any third party image stabilized macro lenses for Canikon. So, unless she's ready to hunker down for 800-900US (IS) or (VR) macro lenses, or shoot mostly with a tripod, one of the two Pentax cameras are going to have an advantage; any macro lens you throw at it, it'll give her good stabilization. I never had to use a tripod to shoot with my Macro Apo-Lanthar 125mm f2.5 on my K-7.
09-13-2010, 01:27 AM   #3
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Depends on how deep your pockets are. You are basically looking for a macro with whatever body you can afford. Canon has the EF100/2.8 IS macro, Nikon has 105/2.8 VR micro, and Pentax is a little more flexible as you can stick any macro lens on it with SR, though less effective than lens base IS/VR for such lens. I'd say lens 1st, body is not quite as important. Personally, I would pick the Nikon 105/2.8VR with the cheapest Nikon body I can find. Both will be cheaper than Canon, with more effective VR than Pentax.
09-13-2010, 05:12 AM   #4
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One thing, if you're into Pentax yourself, its often useful to have someone close to swap lenses with.
Having multiple people in the same system has its privileges. If one splurges on a nice Macro lens, the other can benefit.

09-13-2010, 07:28 AM   #5
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Yeah, I definitely thought about that lens swapping, but I also thought I shouldn't push her into Pentax if that's not her thing.

I know the basic pro's and con's of each of those camera's, what I don't know fully is the pro's and cons of each system.

If my mom is like me, then I don't think an articulated screen is a big selling point. I don't even think Live View is a major selling point either. And video also. This is for taking photos, video is just a nifty bonus.

Here's what I've concluded so far,

Pentax,
-build quality, durable and weather proof
-Backwards lens compatibility, especially being as it's the only one with built in image stabilisation.
-Decent access to low-price, good old lenses
-Primes
-slower AF
These are true for Pentax of all levels

Nikon and Canon is harder for me to distinguish.

Nikon D5000 has no motor so it can't auto focus as many lenses, and lenses must have built in image stability (i'm guessing this means old lenses require the use of a tripod)
many reviewers say it's good for beginners but can be annoying for advanced users.

The D90 just seems like a workhorse. It's maybe the oldest camera on the list, but it's what I was drawn to at first. There's a large following, seems tried and tested. (plastic body, cheaper feel than K7 or D50?)

Canon 550D
This one surprised me. At first I was leaning to the D5000, but most reviewers said the main draw back to the 550D is slow speed/AF. I don't think that's a major concern considering what my mother shoots (nature/landscapes) and the trade-off is a really good sensor. The build is a bit cheaper than Pentax, I assume.

Canon 50D
Seems like a great camera, drawbacks include that it's the only one without video, as I mentioned, I don't think this is so bad. Seems to be well built, both canons seem to get fairly poor reviews of their kit lenses.

I'll be honest, I don't know much about the Canon and Nikon lens systems. From what I read, Nikon has wider access to older lenses and can use more. Another article said Canons can use Nikon lenses, but Nikon cannot use canon lenses.

This two macro lenses look really nice (Canon EF100/2.8 IS macro, Nikon has 105/2.8 VR), but I guess they will probably be a couple years off.
09-13-2010, 08:18 AM   #6
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Mom being into Macro would be a deal sealer for me. The fact that you can put ANY macro lens ever made for a K mount on a Pentax dSLR and have SR is the greatest thing since (fill in your favorite invention here). Personally, I've never found Auto Focus on a macro lens (at very close range) very useful. Usually the wind kicks up just as I'm about to press the shutter release and I have to refocus anyway. None of the SR systems will get you around that.

As to which one, I prefer the flagship models over the 'entry level' cameras because they simply offer more flexibility. Mom may not care about that though. That said, there are also used options. The K20d for instance is a Very capable camera offering many of the same features as the K7. If mom wants to remain frugal used may be a good way to go. The K20d lacks a good Live view, doesn't do video, etc but, as you said, Who cares?

09-13-2010, 08:21 AM   #7
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As mentioned above, Pentax will have SR and old lenses can be used. You can also share the lenses. She can also get the K-r in different colors. This may be a selling point.
09-13-2010, 08:57 AM   #8
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Can anyone tell me a bit about some macro lenses you'd use on a Pentax?

I've never explored this type of photography very much and am just curious how Pentax measures up to a lens like the Nikon 105mm f/2.8

09-13-2010, 09:14 AM   #9
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I can better show you than explain it..

Pentax A 100mm f4 (1:2). I've sold this lens so I cannot show any more samples.

Pentax A 100 f4 Macro - a set on Flickr

Pentax A 50mm f2.8 (1:2). Only have samples from my IR K20d but..

Pentax A50mm f2.8 1:2 Macro - a set on Flickr

Pentax DFA 100mm f2.8 WR 1:1 (one of the nicest I've ever used)

Pentax DFA 100mm f2.8 WR - a set on Flickr

The last of my current macro Lineup,

Pentax DA 35mm Limited (1:1)

Pentax DA35mm Limited - a set on Flickr

09-13-2010, 09:26 AM   #10
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If you go Nikon, I'd suggest you go D90 or another model with an in camera motor (Nikon D200s are also available for pretty cheap). I have a friend who got the Nikon D5000 and I had a hard time recommending lenses for her under $400, besides that very nice 35 f/1.8 Nikon has, of course. If a person just uses a few lenses and the kit lens, this isn't necessarily a big deal, but I found it to be an annoying restriction. It unnecessarily limits lens selection.

Does she like to do Macro Macros or is it just more of a take photos of flowers and pets sort of a person? The DA16-45 f/4 has pretty good close focus and great image quality for a low price. If you set her up with that, a Pentax K-x, and a fast 50 manual focus prime for portraits she'd be set for about as cheap as you could get.

The DA35 Macro Limited is also excellent. If you get Canon or Nikon look for its cousin 35 mm macro made by Tokina. Just remember again that if you get Tokina for Nikon you had better have a model with a screw mount motor in it. (I'm still bitter)
09-13-2010, 09:30 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by dj_saunter Quote
Can anyone tell me a bit about some macro lenses you'd use on a Pentax?
Also something for you to consider is that 100 mm macros, while they produce beautiful results, are also more difficult to handle with camera shake, especially without shake reduction.

35 mm and 50 mm make it harder to sneak up on bugs, but they're a little easier to handle. The D-FA 50 and FA50 macros (and 60 mm macro from Nikon) also tend to be cheaper options.

I'm far, far from macro expert, but here are a few snap shots from my D-FA 50 Macro



09-13-2010, 02:29 PM   #12
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Straight from mom, it seems like this is pushing her in our Pentax direction or Nikon. From what I hear, Nikon has better subject tracking than us pentaxians.



Thanks for all this research and advice. For clarifying that it is lenses and not megapixels that are the major factor to consider for quality and detail.

I know I would like something that can produce better quality, focus, detail; more control. I definately would like something suited to macro, if the same equipment could be useful for birds, I'd like that too (i.e. a subject that moves more and that one cannot easily get to close to).

The durability of your "old style" camera with the metal body as opposed to present plastic bodies sounds appealing. And also the fact that you can get lenses (which you say are the key) at relatively low prices.

When I upgrade this time, I think I should upgrade to "enthusuastic amateur" instead of something just half-way there (and on the other hand, I realize there is no need for "professional" equipment because that's a whole other ball game). I'm quite open to the idea that something old and second-hand might be the best option for me.

I've got $2000.00 socked away that could be used for this. ... and I'm still lost and confused in the maze of details and pros and cons. I think i'll probably need your help as my "personal shopper" when it gets around to decision-making. Many, many thanks.
Mom

Last edited by dj_saunter; 09-13-2010 at 02:34 PM. Reason: formatting
09-13-2010, 02:44 PM   #13
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I just noticed you have a K10d and a Pentax A 35-105. Put that lens on the camera, show mom how to use the Macro feature and see how she likes it. That is arguably one of Pentax's best manual focus zooms out there. The K20d and K7 are just that much better cameras but the 10 is a nice one too. It May help her make the decision. That is if a physical hand off is possible.

09-13-2010, 04:05 PM   #14
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Haha, that'd be great, but unfortunately i'm half a world away and won't be home until Christmas
09-13-2010, 04:25 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by dj_saunter Quote
Can anyone tell me a bit about some macro lenses you'd use on a Pentax?

I've never explored this type of photography very much and am just curious how Pentax measures up to a lens like the Nikon 105mm f/2.8
I wasn't thrilled with close ups I was getting with the kit lens on my Kx, so I put on the F35-70/3.5-4.5 that came with my SF1 since it had a macro setting. I like the results better, and apparently it is an inexpensive lens.


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