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12-30-2010, 12:06 PM   #1
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Pentax as a first DSLR.

I was thinking between Pentax K-x and Nikon D5000 as my first DSLR.

Pentax camera achieved better scores in tests (Nikon's photo quality is slightly better, but in terms of low noise level Pentax K-x is the best in EL class). However, here in Poland Pentax is not a very popular system and therefore better lenses are very expensive. Access to cheaper and good lenses is Nikon's main advantage in my case.

...or I can wait a while, scrap some more coin and choose between:

Pentax K-r*; as far the best in entry-level class, and Canon EOS 550D (My cousin owns EOS 5d and I could borrow lenses from him for testing).

So there is my main question: Why should I choose Pentax as my DSLR system? How it is better comparing to the others?

*I know that K-r has it's own section but I'm asking about the system, not the camera itself.


Last edited by Bones85; 12-30-2010 at 04:35 PM.
12-30-2010, 12:22 PM   #2
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The main difference between the K-x/K-r and D5000 is lens compatibility. The D5000 has almost no compatibility with older lenses. It lacks a screw drive for older AF lenses and the meter does not function for older MF lenses. The only MF lenses that work with the D5000 are AI-P lenses.

Nikon has crippled all their low end DSLRs this way since the D50. The D40, D40x, D60, D3000, D3100, and D5000 all lack AF with older lenses.

Last edited by boriscleto; 12-30-2010 at 08:54 PM.
12-30-2010, 01:03 PM   #3
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The main advantages to the Pentax system for me, and my needs are:

1. Availability of small, high-quality prime (fixed-focal length) lenses
2. In-body image stabilization
3. Backward compatibility with older lenses
4. Continued release of weather-resistant midlevel lenses

I don't have a new body, but the high-ISO performance of the K-x, K-r, and K-5 is as good or better than their competition. This bodes well for my eventual upgrade.

There are more new nikon lenses on the market, but unless you buy a pro-grade model, you can't use old glass.

Canon has a large portion of the market as well, and even less backward compatibility. They also seem to have gone off the deep end increasing the resolution of their sensors, at the expense of noise. The 550D has an 18MP sensor... you'll need really good glass to be able to use all that resolution at 100%.

If I were starting all over again now, I'd be looking at a new K-r or D5000 (so in my mind, you're on the right track). Nikon has released some nice primes lately, including a 35mm F1.8, and their upper level bodies are very solid and well-supported. Unfortunately they are also huge. I don't need or want video, so that is less of a consideration for me.
12-30-2010, 08:30 PM   #4
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You already received some good advice.

About 18 months ago, I was in a similar situtation. I hesitated between the Nikon D5000, Nikon D90, Canon 500D, Canon 450D, Petnax K-x and Pentax K-7, after considering also the Olympys E620. At the time, this was my first dSLR purchase and I had no preference for any brand. I had friends with Canon and Nikon. I knew Pentax and Olympus by name and reputation.

My decision was taken after a trip to the local store where I tried all the camera bodies. (In fact I visited a couple of stores to try all the bodies.) My hand feel led me the Pentax K-7 (1st choice) and Kx (2nd choice). The Nikon D5000 was the bottom last ...

Simply, the hand feel for a camera is very important. The Pentax bodies have an excellent reputation in particular, with the K-7/K-7 body (*) being considered the best among all brands by some:

"Despite its relatively small dimensions, the K-7/K5's excellent build quality and well thought-out user interface means that it feels like a professional tool and in terms of build and ergonomics it is up there with the very best in its class." (Dpreview .com review of K-5).

NB: (*) the K-5 has the same body a the K-7.

In summary: a major advantage of the Pentax bodies is their superbe handling. As a use/owner, you love the hand feel.

This adds to the In-body image stabilization (called SR by Pentax), some high-quality prime (fixed-focal length) lenses, the backward compatibility with older lenses, and the continued release of weather-resistant camera bodies and lenses (WR & DA* series).

Hope that the comment will help....


Last edited by hcc; 12-31-2010 at 08:31 AM.
12-30-2010, 09:01 PM   #5
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One more thing. Don't discount the availability of M42 lenses. M42 lenses can be mounted on a K-x with an inexpensive adapter, Nikons are not compatible with M42 lenses because they have a longer registry distance.
12-30-2010, 10:57 PM   #6
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I decided on the k-x when I bought my first DSLR last spring. The factors that led me to the k-x were:

1) AA batteries.
2) Body feel in my hand. The k-x just feels right, others I tried did not.
3) High ISO performance.
4) In camera Image Stabilization.
5) Price.

After using it for six months or so I have also discovered:
1) Backward compatibility with older AF lenses.
2) The wonderful M42 Takumar glass.
01-01-2011, 06:45 AM   #7
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I wasn't in your boat in particular but I was buying a camera for a relative and I had the same dilemma between the Kx and the Nikon D5000, D3000, and D3100. I must say on paper the Pentax Kx is much better than all of them. However, what puts off people from buying them is the reputation and availability. For myself I have Km (K2000) and I love it. As for in Poland and not having a wide range of places to purchase items you can always go the online route and procure your LBA.

Reasons why:
Size... The Nikon to me seems bulky and the Canon is big and slim. Just doesn't sit right for me. However if you want the profession look then it works.
Batteries AA... Yes they can get heavy but in a pinch you can swap them for Alkaline and keep shooting.
Compatibility with older lenses... SMC Takumar enough said
Performance... Low and High ISO ranges completely usable. AF in Live View compared to D3000 and D5000. Video with audio sound.

And most importantly
Prime Lenses

The not so good:
Definately the Autofocus speed. After playing with the D3100 and Canon T1i. The Pentax Autofocus system is definately slower in comparison. However it is just as accurate. It seems to me that the focusing ring on the Nikon and Canon have much less rotation than the pentax kit lens. Not sure if that would have anything to do with the speed but when I was focusing on the Nikon I would turn it less than a 1/10 of it and I'd be in the focus point while with the pentax it'd be 1/4 of the turn. Not too sure how it works if I am working with a shallow DOF.
01-01-2011, 10:40 AM   #8
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I would look into how easily you can get Pentax lenses and accessories in Poland. If you can't get them easily or cheaply enough FOR YOU - then Nikon is the way to go. I remember seeing a post or two from people in Eastern Europe who are stuck paying exorbitant shipping fees to buy and sell glass from overseas because there's no market for Pentax in their home country. If that's the case, as much as I like my system, you have to go with Nikon.

01-01-2011, 10:56 AM   #9
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Same boat...and still afloat

I was in your same situation back in march. I had it narrowed down to the K-x, the Nikon D3000 and the Canon Tsi. My decision was a bit easier due to inheriting a bunch of old M42 lenses and the K-x got great reviews. I do not regret one bit my decision to get the K-x. I have even found that the old autofocus film-days glass works great with this camera and those can be picked up quite cheaply off of ebay and the likes. I got an older sigma AF 28-105 for like 20 bucks and its by far my favorite lens! But having someone around with some pentax glass i could borrow from time to time would be really cool.
01-01-2011, 01:34 PM   #10
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One more thing to add: pro lenses, namely DA*, are relatively less expensive to other brands that support FF too.
01-01-2011, 01:50 PM   #11
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In addition to the points above I'd like to stress that the k-x "user-interface" is very well thought out (IMO). As for getting lenses and stuff there is always the option to order online, there are plenty of choices around the EU, currently it seems that these guys have pretty good selection and prices: www.camera-express.nl.
01-01-2011, 02:03 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
One more thing. Don't discount the availability of M42 lenses. M42 lenses can be mounted on a K-x with an inexpensive adapter, Nikons are not compatible with M42 lenses because they have a longer registry distance.

let's put it like this, M42 can be mounted on all brands except nikon (lol @ nikon)... so just between nikon and pentax that's a valid argument, against any other brand it's kindda a moot point.

between the 2 camera, i go for pentax... cheaper lens, the camera does just about everything you ever want it to do, nice handling, good color choice.

but unlike the people above wanting the AA battery, i enjoy recharge battery (not sure why, i think i just have bad experience with AA).

borrowing lens... bleh, i rather not, just for 1-2min to test is fine, i see alot of my friends go with canon because they can "share" lens, would you want to be responsible for an easy to break item that you can't afford to own? lol not me.

Nikon is the brand I would put at the bottom of my list if I have to pick a DSLR brand...

Cheaper alternative would be the oly 600 (yes I said 600 and not 620), the 600 is essentially the same as the 620, the sensor is quite nice, and you can get 1 with a dual kit for around 400 (exceptional value IMO), oly has one of the nicest jpg production out of the camera I've seen. The only problem is that it's a 4/3 system = 2X crop... that can get annoying real quick, the perk is that it can use MD/FD lens = super cheaper manual lens.

Last edited by clockwork247; 01-01-2011 at 02:08 PM.
01-01-2011, 08:22 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by clockwork247 Quote
between the 2 camera, i go for pentax... cheaper lens, the camera does just about everything you ever want it to do, nice handling, good color choice.
I agree with all the points except "cheaper lens". These days Pentax lenses really are not cheaper.

What Pentax has to offer with similar price/performance that would be equivalent to good Nikon consumer zoom's like:

18-70mm f3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX Zoom Nikkor
18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-NIKKOR?
Note, that these zooms are with focusing engines and they do focus faster than screwdriver lenses. They are not too expensive too.

What about inexpensive primes like:
50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor
AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G?

Granted, Pentax has DA 35mm f/2.4, with similar price, but it is slower than 35mm f/1.8 Nikkor.

The latest Pentax 18-135mm lens looks like a good consumer zoom. Nice focusing speed and sharpness. What about its price? Well ... thats not so nice.

So Pentax glass is not cheaper. Maybe it was cheaper some time ago.

Btw. "A lot of second hand glass" is another Pentax myth too. All photography stores in my area that sell second hand lenses have a lot of Canon and Nikon glass, but very little (if any) of the Pentax glass. The same applies to the new glass as well. In addition to this better Pentax lenses are overpriced (for what they can do). The same applies to Pentax flashes.

It may be slightly different story if you like to shot manual though.

QuoteOriginally posted by clockwork247 Quote
Cheaper alternative would be the oly 600 (yes I said 600 and not 620), the 600 is essentially the same as the 620, the sensor is quite nice, and you can get 1 with a dual kit for around 400 (exceptional value IMO), oly has one of the nicest jpg production out of the camera I've seen.
I agree that these Oly cameras are nice, but there is one 'but' - The Olympus is abandoning the 4/3-rds system. The only 4/3 camera still being produced is E5, the rest of the new Oly stuff is micro 4/3. Granted 4/3 lenses can be used on micro 4/3 cameras with an adapter, but still, their performance will not be the same. So it is probably not a good idea to invest into 4/3 system now. Micro 4/3 is a different story. Even there Oly is a bit slow.

Last edited by elg; 01-01-2011 at 08:30 PM.
01-01-2011, 08:39 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by jolepp Quote
In addition to the points above I'd like to stress that the k-x "user-interface" is very well thought out (IMO). As for getting lenses and stuff there is always the option to order online, there are plenty of choices around the EU, currently it seems that these guys have pretty good selection and prices: www.camera-express.nl.
I fully agree with the points about the user interface. As in relation to lenses-
with Pentax lens sample variation I am a bit hesitant to order much of the stuff online. If one orders from the shop in the town where they live, it may be a lot easier to get the lens replaced if you get a "bad copy". With online orders, or with getting stuff cheaper through non specialized store chains (like ordering by catalogue like Argos in Britain and Ireland) there may be problems (I had bad experience with Argos, for example). It is always worth to check store policy in relation to returns/repairs/replacements etc. before placing an order.
01-01-2011, 09:00 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by elg Quote
I agree with all the points except "cheaper lens". These days Pentax lenses really are not cheaper.

What Pentax has to offer with similar price/performance that would be equivalent to good Nikon consumer zoom's like:

18-70mm f3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX Zoom Nikkor
18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-NIKKOR?
Note, that these zooms are with focusing engines and they do focus faster than screwdriver lenses. They are not too expensive too.

What about inexpensive primes like:
50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor
AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G?

Granted, Pentax has DA 35mm f/2.4, with similar price, but it is slower than 35mm f/1.8 Nikkor.

The latest Pentax 18-135mm lens looks like a good consumer zoom. Nice focusing speed and sharpness. What about its price? Well ... thats not so nice.

So Pentax glass is not cheaper. Maybe it was cheaper some time ago.

Btw. "A lot of second hand glass" is another Pentax myth too. All photography stores in my area that sell second hand lenses have a lot of Canon and Nikon glass, but very little (if any) of the Pentax glass. The same applies to the new glass as well. In addition to this better Pentax lenses are overpriced (for what they can do). The same applies to Pentax flashes.

It may be slightly different story if you like to shot manual though.



I agree that these Oly cameras are nice, but there is one 'but' - The Olympus is abandoning the 4/3-rds system. The only 4/3 camera still being produced is E5, the rest of the new Oly stuff is micro 4/3. Granted 4/3 lenses can be used on micro 4/3 cameras with an adapter, but still, their performance will not be the same. So it is probably not a good idea to invest into 4/3 system now. Micro 4/3 is a different story. Even there Oly is a bit slow.

the reason why the oly 600 is so cheap is because
1) for some reason oly decided to make the 620 for the NA market and call it 600 without some filter built in... drop the price quite a bit
2) 4/3 is abandon = cheap ass camera
3) 2 kit lens = good coverage for super cheap, 4/3 takes almost all type of manual lens (MD/FD which are dirt cheap).

That's all it's got going for, some people buy older/cheaper canon DSLR to mod and mount MD lens on them, i think buying an oly 600 might be even better (you essentially get in body IS, a swing out LCD, 2 kit lens that cover 14-150mm that would do AF), all for 100 dollars more than an older canon body...

This is definitely not something for the fainted heart, but you will definitely learn alot from it .

Other wise go with the pentax, the k-x/k-r are quite nice camera to be had ATM. the pentax bundle with kit lens provide exceptional value IMO... haven't found anything that can beat their bundle.
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