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11-05-2010, 09:22 PM   #1
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K20D or Kx for manual focusing

I'm a long time Canon FD lens user (great glass, but not compatible with current Canon bodies). So I'm well used to manual focus lens but I for that I need a decent viewfinder. I'm attracted to Pentax digital as they also have great glass and with the K5 release this may be a good time to pick up an entry level Digital body and a couple of manual focus lenses. (Image quality is all I care about as I'm mostly interested in landscape/city scape pics and I use a tripod for and shot I really care about).

Unfortunately I'm not able to see any see/handle these bodies anywhere local (SF Bay Area) to check out the viewfinder. I'd appreciate any feedback/comments from anyone out who has used MF prime lenses with the various Pentax DSLR's.

Any suggestions on specific lenses to look for would also be appreciated - however it seems that Pentax has had a bit of a resurgence recently and the days of bargain glass may well be gone).

Thx in Advance,
BrendanC

11-05-2010, 09:33 PM   #2
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I'd suggest the K20D over the K-x, as it has a brighter Pentamirror viewfinder. However, the K-7's viewfinder is even better, as it offers 100% coverage. If that's within your budget, I'd strongly recommend it. See here for a comparison of the viewfinder on these three bodies:

Pentax K-7, Pentax K20D & Pentax K-x - Pentax Camera Comparison - PentaxForums.com

The info on viewfinders is just about in the center of the table.

As far as lenses go, you should definitely start with a 50mm: preferably an A-series F1.4 or F1.7:

SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.7 Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Review Database
SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.4 Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Review Database

Another lens I can strongly recommend is the A 35-105mm F3.5. If you're that much into manual focus, then this is the walkaround lens for you, IMO. It's also got a macro feature that takes it down to 1:4 magnification, as far as I recall!

SMC Pentax-A 35-105mm F3.5 Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Review Database

There are also K, M, and screwmount series manual focus lenses out there, but those are much harder to meter with. That's why I recommend sticking to the A series. Those lenses are a bit more expensive, but they're much more convenient.

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11-05-2010, 11:33 PM   #3
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Adam is right regarding K20D and K-7. But I've been shooting manual focus lenses with K100D, K200D and now K-r and they are OK too. Maybe I wouldn't say this if I had tried the more expensive models but I've been mostly happy with viewfinders in these cameras (all pentamirror, 0.85-0.86, 95-96%, K-x is the same).

I use a split/microprism focusing screen and it helps a lot. I've also used the viewfinder magnifier which helps focusing but makes it harder to see the whole image in the vf (especially with glasses, which I wear). The 95-96% coverage means you always get a bit bigger image than you see in the vf but I've gotten used to that and usually end up cropping in pp anyway because my framing skills are not exactly perfect. Also now with K-r (on K-x too) I can also focus with liveview if I want to.

btw If you've only shot 35mm SLRs be prepared for the fact the viewfinder on APS-C dslr is going to always be smaller/dimmer.

I'm on the other side of the world but maybe you could find someone on this forum who lives near you so you could meet him/her to take a look at his/her camera?
11-05-2010, 11:43 PM   #4
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As Ovim mentioned, the split prism viewfinder helps.....a lot. If you are a serious manual focus guy, I highly recommend a split prism viewfinder, $28 for Chinese knockoffs or $105 for the current best, Katz optics. I use both the magnifier and the split prism, sometimes together, and find with the split prism screen even I can get a good focus with a shallow depth of field.

11-06-2010, 12:33 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by imtheguy Quote
As Ovim mentioned, the split prism viewfinder helps.....a lot. If you are a serious manual focus guy, I highly recommend a split prism viewfinder, $28 for Chinese knockoffs or $105 for the current best, Katz optics. I use both the magnifier and the split prism, sometimes together, and find with the split prism screen even I can get a good focus with a shallow depth of field.
I am interested in the katzeye myself, heard it messes up metering though, not sure how true that is.
11-06-2010, 12:48 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Abstract Quote
I am interested in the katzeye myself, heard it messes up metering though, not sure how true that is.
I remember someone stating that split prism might affect spot metering if the prism blacks out but haven't had any issues myself, not using spot much though.
11-06-2010, 01:14 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by ovim Quote
I remember someone stating that split prism might affect spot metering if the prism blacks out but haven't had any issues myself, not using spot much though.
Yes, the split prism screen does affect metering in spot mode. Katz publishes a chart on their web site showing how much change at each f-stop. Personally, I never notice when i am in the field as there are so many factors affecting exposure. Its not a show stopper as far as I am concerned, not even a blip.
11-06-2010, 06:53 AM   #8
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I don't use the spot metering option enough for the screen to get in the way. I've had no problems with other meter modes even with the cheap aftermarket screens. To me, there is no comparison between manual focus with a K10/20 plus aftermarket screen and my K-x. Not only is the viewfinder on the K-x dimmer and the screen choice limited, it also lacks display of focus points if you are using the AF system on manual lenses. Though I probably take more photos these days on the K-x than any other body, I don't seem to be tempted to use my manual lenses there.

11-06-2010, 01:15 PM   #9
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I have a K20 and do really like it. I just saw another posting yesterday that you can get a refurbished K20D with the 18-55 vII lens for $499 at woot.com

The only capability the Kx beats the K20 on is higher ISO. The K20's feature list is superior. Also, according to this you get the 1 year Pentax warranty.

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