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10-30-2007, 09:31 PM   #1
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Seeking Gear Advice...

Good evening all,

I'm about to take a 6 month 'vacation' (1 month of true vacation in Thailand and 5 months of working just 20 hours a week teaching English to Chinese students near Yangshuo, in southern China).

I have been a fan of photography for quite some time, but am sick of the limitations of my Kodak Easy-Share C340 digi-cam (this thing is nearly worthless as far as I can tell). It's great for parties, but that's about it...

I am interested in landscape and wildlife photography and plan on shooting constantly while overseas. I'd guess that fully 80% or more of my shots I've taken in the past 2 years were outdoors and I'm looking for recommendations for a gear configuration that will work well for these applications... (specifically looking for recommendation on potential lenses).

I've settled on the K10 camera, for a variety of reasons (price, features, fact that it forces you to learn about photography w/out relying on 'scene' modes), but will I be able to get adapters and other components (lenses, accessories, filters, replacement batteries, etc, etc) while in China? Is Pentax well represented in Asia? Or should I purchase all of my gear before I leave to make sure that I've got everything I need?

And are there convenient ways to adapt the camera to Chinese power sources (read: can I easily, and cheaply, get something that lets me plug it's charger into a Chinese wall?). I'm hoping someone here has been there and can save me the time of scouring websites looking for compatibility solutions for Chinese wall sockets.

I'm willing to spend around $1,000 - $1,500 for my initial gear set up- I figure that can get me the K10 w/ starter lens kit, a nice big SD memory card, an extra battery, perhaps the battery grip, and one additional lens (I'd like a nice telephoto if it's possible at my price point...) or perhaps even two if I can find everything at the right price (I think two is stretching it).

I've found the K10 w/ lens kit for under $600 ($549) here:

SuperPricedElectronics Store | Super prices, Outstanding Electronic Products

Are you aware of it listed for less anywhere else?

Also, and really most importantly, what recommendations do you have for an additional lens, or perhaps even for two more. I'm well aware that they are the single most important component of the set-up, but since I'm so new to the art I can't really see myself spending any more than $300 on a single lens... yet! I'd really like something with a great telephoto (although I know those are quite pricy), but I'd settle for a great mid-range solution too. I'm thinking that versatility is going to be most important for initial lenses...

I'm just a little worried after having read numerous times now that the Pentax compatible glass line-up is not as expansive, or as high-quality, as that of Canon or Nikon... is there any truth to this rumor? Or are people just upset that they wasted hundreds of dollars more on their Canon and Nikon bodies, for less features than Pentax offers?

Any input and advice that this board has for me is MOST appreciated!!

Thank you for reading my long-winded post!

-Tim

10-30-2007, 09:58 PM   #2
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Awesome sounds like youll be having alot of fun. BTW congrats on choosing pentax you will not be disapointed. As for the lenses, I personally feel that you should go for Super Takumar lenses because not only are they of the highest quality but you can find them for very reasonable prices on ebay or at your local pawn shop. For example, you can probably get a 200mm Super Takumar f4 for about 100 bucks or even less ive seem them go for like 75 and its an awesome Medium-high telephoto lens the only problem is that its a prime and its a screw-mount lens but you can buy an adapter for lik 15 dollars. And youd still have alot of money left for like three or four more Super takumar lenses that will give you extremely great results. Personally I dont buy any new "auto-focus" lenses because once I put a Super Takumar on my camera ive never looked back. Other really great lenses are the 50mm 1:1.4 and the 55 1:1.8 super takumars. Good luck on your trip and I hope you find what your looking for.
10-30-2007, 10:30 PM   #3
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Thanks Silus!

I'm going to look into these "Super Takumar" lenses- I have not heard of them before but they sound like a great deal.

I don't mind having to manually adjust the focus, but I am a little concerned with the adapter and screw mounts... are they and the adapter easy to install?
10-30-2007, 11:40 PM   #4
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Lol yeah its easy to install and Super Takumars are mearely the name Pentax used to give to its lenses before they went SMC PENTAX but I personally think and feel that the Super Takumar line was superior in both built and image quality. But yeah I HIGHLY recomend them and alot of people actually prefer old glass to newer lenses so yeah check it out and im sure youll find plenty to look at on ebay.

BTW about the adapter, its removable and easy to install so you can still use your kit lens on the fly if you still choose to do so. Choosing the right adapter is crutial so if you decide to go with the super takumars I'd be happy to suggest which adapter to get.

10-31-2007, 03:22 AM   #5
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Before you shop at that site..

look at this: WARNING! New Scam Store superpricedelectronics.com - ResellerRatings Store Ratings, Shopping, Deals, and Bargains
10-31-2007, 06:16 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hannican Quote
I've found the K10 w/ lens kit for under $600 ($549) here:
[...]
Are you aware of it listed for less anywhere else?
For some reason, slick-looking scam stores are the rule rather than the exception when it comes to buying cameras online.

The exceptions -- the good stores -- are: Adorama and B & H.

You can also buy from big-chain brick and mortar stores like Ritz or Calumet online, but their prices aren't very good.

And the final option is to buy from a big general online electronics retailer like Dell, or Amazon (which currently has the best body-only price I'm aware of: $636.15).

Or of course you could try your local camera shop. (They may pricematch B&H, but probably won't match anyone else because they know about the scams.) Especially if you intend to buy a lot of gear they may be flexible.

Do not buy from anywhere else online. It will be a nightmare.
10-31-2007, 08:41 AM   #7
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I dont think they sell 1962 Asahi Super Takumar Lenses at Dell.com lol if they did it would be pretty awesome.
10-31-2007, 09:30 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattdm Quote
The exceptions -- the good stores -- are: Adorama and B & H.

You can also buy from big-chain brick and mortar stores like Ritz or Calumet online, but their prices aren't very good.

And the final option is to buy from a big general online electronics retailer like Dell, or Amazon (which currently has the best body-only price I'm aware of: $636.15).

Or of course you could try your local camera shop. (They may pricematch B&H, but probably won't match anyone else because they know about the scams.) Especially if you intend to buy a lot of gear they may be flexible.
I purchased my K100D from Beach Camera back in August. It was about the best I could find then (about $400 with the kit lens). i was very happy with the service.

David

10-31-2007, 10:44 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by DavidH Quote
I purchased my K100D from Beach Camera back in August. It was about the best I could find then (about $400 with the kit lens). i was very happy with the service.
That's true -- Beach/Buydig (same company) also have a good reputation.
10-31-2007, 12:37 PM   #10
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I was about to say...that price is very incongruent with the lowest prices I have seen having just purchased a brand new K10d kit 2 weeks ago. The posts suspecting a scam were my exact thoughts. I bought at BeachCamera for $729 USd and then the $100 rebate kicked in as of 18October.

Jason
10-31-2007, 02:00 PM   #11
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I'll throw in a fourth place that may just complete the list of decent online camera retailers: TriState Camera. I've bought a few things from them, and have always gotten good service.

The four already mentioned--B&H, Adorama, Beach, and TriState--in my mind constitute the entirety of the Web's reputable camera shops. Amazon is always fine, of course, but cameras aren't their specialty and they don't have great prices (unlike their good prices for most things).
10-31-2007, 03:54 PM   #12
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Hi Tim (Hannican)

Question: "I am interested in landscape (photography)"
Answer: Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM !!

After a great deal of unexpected waiting (Sigma UK had two major break-ins at their warehouse, so sadly there were no Pentax-mount 10-20mm's to be had anywhere for months !) I expect to lay my hands on one of these extraordinary wide-zoom lenses early next week. You'll not prise this one out my hands 'for all the tea in China' !
I'm certain there's nothing better for the price IMHO !

Best regards
Richard

Last edited by Confused; 10-31-2007 at 04:56 PM.
10-31-2007, 04:07 PM   #13
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Tim,

Answers follow in response to your individual points.

QuoteOriginally posted by Hannican Quote
I am interested in landscape and wildlife photography and plan on shooting constantly while overseas. I'd guess that fully 80% or more of my shots I've taken in the past 2 years were outdoors and I'm looking for recommendations for a gear configuration that will work well for these applications... (specifically looking for recommendation on potential lenses).

I've settled on the K10 camera, for a variety of reasons (price, features, fact that it forces you to learn about photography w/out relying on 'scene' modes), but will I be able to get adapters and other components (lenses, accessories, filters, replacement batteries, etc, etc) while in China? Is Pentax well represented in Asia? Or should I purchase all of my gear before I leave to make sure that I've got everything I need?
I was in China in 2001. At that time, I was using a camera that used AA batteries. I could not get good info before traveling about whether I'd be able to buy AAs in China, so I carried a ton with me. Quite unnecessary, as it turned out. I was able to find AA batteries everywhere we traveled. (We were always in big cities -- Beijing, Lanzhou, Guangzhou.)

Not sure about adapters for the K10D's battery charger, but I assume you can get one. But if it were me, I think I'd consider getting a camera that takes AAs instead. On the other hand, you're going to be there so long that buying non-rechargeable batteries will be pretty expensive.

Sounds like you've decided on the K10D. But I'd also suggest that you consider getting a high-end fixed-lens superzoom like the Canon PowerShot S5 IS or the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50. The air pollution in China is really bad. In Lanzhou, one morning, I was sitting in the lobby of the Lanzhou Legend hotel and looking outside everything seemed to be light yellow, washed out. I asked our guide what was up. She replied that it was a sand storm, but quickly added that it wasn't serious. I asked what it would be like if it was serious. "We would not be able to see anything," she replied. Lanzhou is especially bad in this regard, but even in Beijing and Guangzhou there was noticeable dust everywhere we went. You'll see people in every big city in China -- street workers, especially -- wearing face masks to help minimize the adverse effects of pollution.

The moral is: you're not necessarily going to relish the idea of changing lenses in this environment. There are of course ways to deal with it. But a high-end fixed-lens superzoom will be very versatile and will take excellent photos, too. Plus it will be lighter and easier to carry everywhere.

Just my thought. Not recommending against the K10D, which I own myself and love. But if I were going back to China (which I hope to do soon), I'm not sure I'd lug the K10D, for various reasons.


QuoteQuote:
Also, and really most importantly, what recommendations do you have for an additional lens, or perhaps even for two more. I'm well aware that they are the single most important component of the set-up, but since I'm so new to the art I can't really see myself spending any more than $300 on a single lens... yet! I'd really like something with a great telephoto (although I know those are quite pricy), but I'd settle for a great mid-range solution too. I'm thinking that versatility is going to be most important for initial lenses...
If you get the K10D, I'd suggest getting the Tamron 18-250. Really nice lens, and it would answer the problem I raised above with changing lenses. Put this one lens on the camera, go to China and never change lenses. Not the best lens if you're going to shoot weddings, do portraiture, macro work, shoot architecture, shoot action sports, etc. But the Tamron 18-250 is all about high-quality versatility, which I think is exactly what you'll need. The new Pentax 18-250 seems to be (a) very similar and (b) a little more expensive. Until someone tells us that the Pentax version of this lens has appreciably better image quality, I'd go for the Tamron.


QuoteQuote:
I'm just a little worried after having read numerous times now that the Pentax compatible glass line-up is not as expansive, or as high-quality, as that of Canon or Nikon... is there any truth to this rumor?
There certainly ARE fewer new lenses available for the Pentax mount than for Nikon or Canon. But that doesn't mean that it's a big problem for Pentax owners. The fact that somebody else is richer than I am doesn't mean that I am poor -- it doesn't even mean that their quality of life is better than mine. The Pentax system provides excellent quality lenses -- including digitally optimized zooms -- for just about every need you can imagine. The main problem is that you might have only one or two choices, instead of five or six.

I said "just about" every need, because my impression now is that Pentax is not the best system for a handful of purposes. I would not pick Pentax for shooting certain types of sports, because the K10D's fps rate isn't impressive, compared to some of the Nikon bodies. And the Pentax system might not be the best choice if you want to become a National Geographic wildlife photographer, because we don't seem to have as many very fast, very long telephoto lenses as Canon and Nikon have. But for most other forms of photography, the Pentax bodies and the lens line-up (Pentax's lenses plus those available from Tamron and Sigma) make for a very, very capable system.

Will
10-31-2007, 05:27 PM   #14
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Hi again Hi Tim (Hannican)

I'd totally agree with Will when he said:

"If you get the K10D, I'd suggest getting the Tamron 18-250. Really nice lens, and it would answer the problem I raised above with changing lenses. Put this one lens on the camera, go to China and never change lenses".

I own the Tamron 18-250mm myself and in most respects it's utterly brilliant for the price !

However, I have to SERIOUSLY question the wisdom of obtaining a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50, primarily for THREE reasons:

a) The lens on the DMC-FZ50 only operates between 36 mm to 420 mm (equivalent coverage of a 35 mm film camera).
I reckon that there is simply NO WAY the maximum 36mm range is wide-enough to cover landscape photography and some might argue that 28mm is only just sufficient, which is why I mentioned Sigma's 10-20mm !

b) The CCD-sensor on Panasonic's 'bridge-type' cameras are plain NOISY. Period ! I know, because I've used them all and speak from bitter experience !!!! What's more, IMHO this camera's Venus Engine III image processor 'smears' fine details very noticeably.......

c) The Panasonic DMC-FZ50 uses a 710 mAh, 7.2V Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery, NOT AA pen-cells !

SORRY, LOOKS LIKE IT'S GAME OVER !

Best regards
Richard

Last edited by Confused; 10-31-2007 at 05:48 PM.
10-31-2007, 06:23 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Confused Quote
However, I have to SERIOUSLY question the wisdom of obtaining a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50, primarily for THREE reasons:

a) The lens on the DMC-FZ50 only operates between 36 mm to 420 mm (equivalent coverage of a 35 mm film camera). I reckon that there is simply NO WAY the maximum 36mm range is wide-enough to cover landscape photography and some might argue that 28mm is only just sufficient, which is why I mentioned Sigma's 10-20mm !
Richard,

You may be "confused" about something, but about this topic, you seem to have very definite ideas!

I guess it depends on what one means by "landscape"photography." If you're photographing the Great Wall, for example, you're going to want depth of field more than an ultra-wide lens -- at least that was my own experience. And I've photographed the Rockies and even the Grand Canyon with a lens whose specs were simiilar to those of the Lumix I recommended. The attached photos were taken with a Canon PowerShot S2, if I recall correctly. Not National Geographic material, but if that's the only standard of worthiness, we should all give up and go home.

Now I'm not dissing the Sigma 10-20! I bought it myself this summer in good part because I was planning to be in the Grand Canyon THIS WEEK. Alas, my wife will make that trip alone because our daughter's volleyball team is in the championship game for the Dallas Parochial League and I have to stay and photograph that (and support my kid!). If I had gone, I would gladly have carried that lens to the bottom of the canyon and back again. It's a nice lens indeed. But gosh, I would never suggest that someone not bother taking a photograph of the horizon if they don't have the ability to zoom out to, oh, 14mm (in K10D 1.5x crop factor terms).

I suggested that the Lumix be considered. I didn't recommend it. I've read good reviews of it, but I have not used it myself. But my point was that there is probably SOME fixed-lens camera that might serve the purpose well.

And taking a dslr with the Tamron 18-250 also seems like a good idea, too, indeed, perhaps (perhaps) a better idea than taking the superzoom.


QuoteQuote:
b) The CCD-sensor on Panasonic's 'bridge-type' cameras are plain NOISY. Period ! I know, because I've used them all and speak from bitter experience !!!! What's more, IMHO this camera's Venus Engine III image processor 'smears' fine details very noticeably.......
The images are noisy at high ISOs, yes. That was and still is true of the PowerShot S-series cameras and is probably true of all the fixed-lens superzooms, with their little sensors. But that was a problem for me shooting indoors sports -- NOT when I was outside, in great light, shooting landscapes. The K10D is noisy, too, at high ISO. Solution? Try to shoot as much as possible with good light. That's a reasonable requirement for nearly all cameras.


QuoteQuote:
c) The Panasonic DMC-FZ50 uses a 710 mAh, 7.2V Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery, NOT AA pen-cells !
I'll accept correction on that score!


QuoteQuote:
SORRY, LOOKS LIKE IT'S GAME OVER !
You're having way too much fun, Richard. :-)

Will
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Last edited by WMBP; 10-31-2007 at 06:29 PM.
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