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01-17-2013, 07:17 PM   #1
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pentax advantages, pentax vs nikon backwards compatibility, pentax future...

I've been looking around the web at the advantages of pentax, and what better place than pentax forums to bring up the topic...

1) Best value for money by far it seems. I read about the lenses spiking up in price last year, but they seem to have gone back to their more reasonable prices. Now much later after the fact, anyone know why Pentax spiked up their lens prices or what this could mean for the future?

2) People often mention that Pentax is an innovator, a non-conformer. Can anyone shed light on how Pentax does this?

3) Image stabilization and autofocus in DSLR body. How significant is this or how and to what extent is this an asset?

4) I even came across someone saying that Pentax image quality has more of a film look than Canon or Nikon. In addition to this point, is there anything to be said of the differences in image quality that Canon, Nikon, or Pentax DSLR's create? I'd imagine no, that it's too subjective of a topic, and that all three brands sometimes use the same sensors in their camera bodies. But if there's anything to be said on the topic, I'd enjoy hearing about it.

I've been getting back into film photography and am looking at getting a DSLR. In general Pentax looks good, and I'd appreciate any additional insight to the above points.

What I'm actually most interested in is backwards compatibility, meaning I'd like to use old film lenses with my DSLR. Wikipedia states that, "The large variety of F-mount compatible lenses makes it the largest system of interchangeable flange-mount photographic lenses in history. Over 400 different Nikkor lenses are compatible with the system." Can anyone verify this? I had previously surmised that more K mount lenses existed. Perhaps it is that more third party K mount lenses exist than any other mount? Wikipedia lists more third party K mount lenses than F mount lenses.

Than there's the actual backward compatibility of K mount and F mount lenses. Pentax's in body image stabilization and autofocus seems a great plus for using older lenses. So can anyone contribute as to which lens mount they think is more backward compatible?

Here's an excerpt from another forum on someone making the case for Nikon: "In 1977 [Nikon] they added Auto Indexing as you say and you have to convert a pre-ai lens to AI if you want to use it on a D50, D70, D80 or above Nikon... Ai is backwards compatible. Some lenses you have to add an indexing hook to use on an older 1967 body...But basically with little effort and no adapters Nikon lenses from 1959 until now will work on modern Nikon DSLRs...Pentax comes the closest but requires adapters to use their older screw mount to K mount, and most Pentax owners would not consider a 1968 lens for day to day heavy use on a modern K5 camera using that adapter. I doubt there's a way to electronically couple it or input the lens data into the camera both of which are common with Nikon without adapters. You'd have to stop down meter probably."

Lastly, I found this elsewhere on this forum and find it quite interesting: "Nikon has the longest registration distance of any of the major SLR manufacturers. This makes Nikon an almost universal donor to other SLRs but makes it impossible to adapt other SLR lenses to Nikon without optical correction. You can force fit a Nikon manual focus lens to Pentax but not the other way around."--so is it true that older Nikon film lenses can fit on newer Pentax DSLRs? It'd be great if this were true, to be able to use older K mount and F mount lenses on a Pentax DSLR.

I know this is already a lengthy post, but I've also found mentionings of people seeming to believe that Pentax could go out of business. Anyone think there's any truth to this? Or anyone think it's total bunk?

01-17-2013, 07:43 PM   #2
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One key advantage of Pentax is your #3, the shake reduction system that is built into the body.

This means that you have image stabilization with each and every lens ever made.

With most other brands image stabilazation is built into (some of) the lenses and when you venture off of the consumer zoom path, lenses with image stabilazation carry a hefty price tag. That's where you start seeing that Pentax is the better value. It's not the initial purchase of the camera and kit lens - here Pentax isn't necessarily the cheapest. But in the long run - yes.
01-17-2013, 08:17 PM   #3
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Running a D600 and a K5, I can see some pro's and con's between each system overal

value for money right now is a strong toss up. It's hard to beat the Pentax K5 for image quality, especially for the price. The build quality of Pentax components is generally very good. Nikon has become very plasticy, and some of the sub $500 lenses scream plastic. That said, Pentax has a huge range of Legacy glass that can be had realtivley cheaply. Nikon also has tons of legacy suport, but I find the prices of good used AI lens generally much higher than their Pentax equivalents. Also, an M lens seems to be a much better performer than an AI lens from the same era...

The in body image stabilization is huge, massive really. I do a lot of low light, and never realized how shaky my photos would have been without SR now that I've got a non SR Nikon kit.

Pentax is an innovator, but they are quirky in their innovations. Take the Q for example, a fantastic piece a kit, very innovative, unique, solid product, but doesn't appeal to the masses as well as it should have. The weather sealing is unequalled, their limited lenses are unequaled... but I wouldn't call them innovations anymore.

As for image quality, Canon uses their own sensors, and they are arguably behind the curve for image quality. Nikon, Pentax, and others do share a lot of the sensor tech, mostly built by Sony. All things being equal, Pentax is able to squeeze more out of the sensor tech than their competitors. DXOmark scores prove this with the 16mp sensor from the K5 beating every other camera on the market that uses an APS-C sensor, even ones that use the same sensor. I don't know about being "closer to film", I guess it depends on the film used. Pentax lenses do have wonderful color rendition and contrast. Something that I find the Nikon lenses lack a bit...
01-17-2013, 08:30 PM   #4
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In my opinion, Pentax is just as good of a brand for beginners and enthusiasts as is Canon and Nikon. So unless you're prepared to spend thousands on a pro body and fast glass, Pentax will be just as good as the competition. The only small caveat is that Pentax's low-end DSLRs don't support 14-bit RAW while low-end Canons/Nikons do.

QuoteOriginally posted by ftngrave Quote
1) Best value for money by far it seems. I read about the lenses spiking up in price last year, but they seem to have gone back to their more reasonable prices. Now much later after the fact, anyone know why Pentax spiked up their lens prices or what this could mean for the future?
What Pentax did is they introduced a unilateral pricing policy, just like Canon and Nikon and just about every other big brand in consumer electronics. Prices didn't actually go up, but Pentax started requiring all online retailers to sell gear at list price (i.e. the original MSRP). This restriction does not affect in-store or phone prices, and thus online lens prices have become highly inflated. Adorama and B&H have recently added hidden in-cart pricing for select items which isn't shown until after you've added it to your cart.

Refer to the left column in this table for the actual values of Pentax lenses:
Brutal Pentax Lens Price Increase: 15-90% - Pentax Camera News & Rumors - PentaxForums.com

As far as value goes, Nikon currently has the best deals for beginners through the D3100 and D5100. Pentax doesn't have an intro-level DSLR at the moment, and it's hurting them IMO, but hopefully that will change in the coming months. Pentax makes up for this through their backwards-compatibility, as $40-$60 manual lenses will get you just as good image quality as Nikon's cheap DX primes.

QuoteOriginally posted by ftngrave Quote
3) Image stabilization and autofocus in DSLR body. How significant is this or how and to what extent is this an asset?
Well, Nikon cameras except for the D3000 and D5000 series also support their legacy screwdrive AF. And, generally-speaking Nikon's silent AF system is faster and more reliable than that of Pentax.

As far as in-camera stabilization goes, it's a huge plus if you're a prime shooter, as it means that all of your compact prime lenses will enjoy the same stabilization as VR lenses. Nikon currently has no stabilized primes below 105mm, which sucks.

QuoteOriginally posted by ftngrave Quote
What I'm actually most interested in is backwards compatibility, meaning I'd like to use old film lenses with my DSLR. Wikipedia states that, "The large variety of F-mount compatible lenses makes it the largest system of interchangeable flange-mount photographic lenses in history. Over 400 different Nikkor lenses are compatible with the system." Can anyone verify this? I had previously surmised that more K mount lenses existed. Perhaps it is that more third party K mount lenses exist than any other mount? Wikipedia lists more third party K mount lenses than F mount lenses.
I believe that there are more K-mount lenses than that. Plus, Pentax's K-mount supports adapted M42 lenses (and they work surprisingly well), which is another strike against Nikon (Canon also supports M42 however).

Take a look at the legacy glass in our comprehensive lens databases:
Pentax Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
Pentax Lenses by Sigma, Tamron, Zeiss, and more - Reviews and Specification Database - Pentax Lens Review Database

This page gives you an overview of what's what:
Pentax K-Mount Lenses Explained: The differences between various Pentax lens series

QuoteOriginally posted by ftngrave Quote
4) I even came across someone saying that Pentax image quality has more of a film look than Canon or Nikon. In addition to this point, is there anything to be said of the differences in image quality that Canon, Nikon, or Pentax DSLR's create? I'd imagine no, that it's too subjective of a topic, and that all three brands sometimes use the same sensors in their camera bodies. But if there's anything to be said on the topic, I'd enjoy hearing about it.
I don't think so. As long as you shoot RAW you'll get the same level of control regardless of what camera you use. White balance, metering, and overall JPEG rendition can vary significantly from camera to camera, however.

You may want to see this review for a level-headed comparison of the K-30 vs the D5100 and T4i:
Canon T4i vs Nikon D5100 vs Pentax K-30 Comparison - Pentax Camera News & Rumors - PentaxForums.com


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01-17-2013, 08:43 PM   #5
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Here's the Nikkor lens club on Pentax forums... I think about halfway down the first page is a person that describes how they mount and how (un)stable it is - it sounds ok, but definitely want to be careful.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/lens-clubs/60225-nikkor-lens-club.html

ck out this thread too...
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-k-5/186131-nikkor-50mm-f-1-2-k5.html

I'm sure you'll find some good info there.

I should mention that if you are wanting to use manual lenses, there are some people who find that a different focusing screen has helped. Further, a feature called "focus peaking" has come out on some models where you use live-view to focus and the in focus areas have kind of a static halo making manual focusing much easier. At this point, the Pentax k01 and Pentax k30 have this feature. None of the k5's have it. If you may want weather sealed lenses on a weather sealed body, the k30 will be your only choice if you want focus peaking. Picture quality wise, it is a superb camera. And it has a 100% view pentaprism viewfinder (as opposed to the dimmer pentamirror variety) and a front and rear control wheel to make adjusting the settings on the camera much easier. There's even an option of using AA batteries to power the camera when using an optional adapter. Price wise, it's in the mid-level crop range, but it has many top-level features which makes it unusual (but good) for its class.

Last edited by vagrant10; 01-17-2013 at 08:59 PM.
01-17-2013, 11:37 PM - 1 Like   #6
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ftngrave, a lot of great points have been made already, so I'll try to not be redundant and give my take as well.

I stand by Pentax's build quality and even have pushed it to the extremes myself. See here if you don't believe me (scroll down to posts 5 and 6 by me). Also, here is a montage of photos taken of and/or by Pentax DSLR's in adverse weather. Scrolls to posts 4 and 5 in that thread as well.

Check out http://www.camerasize.com - I bet you can't find a smaller and more compact DSLR than the K-30 and its "big" brother, the K-5. Some of the larger 4/3 ILC cameras are only a bit smaller.

Regarding weaknesses though, there are a few that you should be well aware of should they hinder your abilities as a photographer which only you can assess and deem.

- FLASH: agreed with prior responders that flash is not a strength of Pentax. But then what are you trying to do? This guy shoots Pentax, and this was with the 18-55 WR kit lens on a K-5 with 2 wireless flashes. He has also done 5 and 6 flash set ups with no issues. While Canon and Nikon (more Nikon) are superior than Pentax with their lighting systems, I don't think you will find something you can't find a third party or work around. I personally use a Metz 50 AF-1 flash and I have no complaints about it. Yonguo flashes are great - I recomment the YN560 MK II as a great full manual flash. I also have nothing but the highest praise for the Cactus v5's. So then that again brings the issue to light - unless you need super niche flash requirements, Pentax will most likely be perfectly capable assuming you know how to capitalize on its abilities.

- AUTOFOCUS: not the best in terms of speed, and this is a Pentax-wide "issue." I put issue in quotes because it is for some, and for others (most) it isn't. For me, speed is not critical (it sure is nice though!), but I need accuracy and low light focusing ability, which the K-5 II/s seem to have solved, and for which I am extremely excited for. But in daylight, unless you are shooting sports or birds in flight, you won't be hindered by the AF speed, and even then there are plenty of those whom make it work. DA* lens, although they are fitted with lens AF motors, they are very slow, and it is dependent on which you have. I find the DA* 50-135 to be slow, with the DA* 55 extremely slow at AF. But as they employed not as sport lenses, I really don't care. Models don't care about the difference between .02sec and .2sec either.

- METERING: regarding what Medium FormatPro said about metering (in another thread that where he stated Pentax Metering to be a significant weakness), I can't specifically give personal anecdotal evidence to support this claim, but I can't help but disagree with him. I find the metering of Pentax to be extremely effective (my experience being the K-7, K-5, and K-30, with the latter two being the newest and most effective at it). I honestly can say that metering is outstanding on Pentax's recent DSLR offerings, and all the tests that I've seen give credence to Pentax's doing a great job, and this goes for eV and AWB as well. I group it here because he was very adamant about it being a weakness compared to Nikon, but my experience (and I would argue that of others) is very different from anything but excellent metering. Sometimes I notice a slight underexposure, but honestly I underexpose everything by -1/3-2/3 stop, sometimes -1 to -2 because the shadow recovery is so remarkable, allowing me to also ensure my highlights aren't blown.

- LENS AVAILABILITY: whenever there are discussions that deal with whether Pentax is a viable option, there is always the issue of lenses being brought up as a counter-argument to why anyone should consider Pentax. Unless very specific niche needs are required (Pentax answered the super telephoto complaint, albeit not very cheaply) then I would call bullshit on this claim, especially when you consider what third parties bring to the table. I am not a professional by any stretch of the means, however I would consider myself a very serious/advanced amateur. I am 100% confident that my photography "needs" (because is any of this really a need?) are far superior and more demanding than most people who even consider a DSLR. For the lenses that I own, see my signature. I also just ordered a Rokinon 8mm Fisheye (it was 33% off...couldn't turn that down...stupid LBA...I'm too young to have LBA dammit! ), and with a 55-300 that I haven't sold yet, that brings me to 10 lenses. And there are over 100 different lenses that I will never get my sandwich clamps on, so how is that limiting to me photographically? Then you have to consider the lenses that only Pentax makes, such as multiple versions of pancakes (including one version that is 9mm thick - the 40mm f/2.8 XS). The limited, both DA and FA versions are spectacular, and are among some of the only all-metal bodied lenses made today. The only other ones are the super expensive Voigt and Zeiss lenses, and those are 100% manual focus - not AF like the Pentax's. And then don't even waste your time trying to find such an offer of weather resistant sealed lenses. By my count, there's 11 lenses (not including the 645D system) from 18mm to 560mm. With the exception of the 560mm, all of those lenses can be found for $1200 and less brand new.Again, like I said if the niche requirements were there (SUPER telephoto has been addressed, albeit expensively, FAST telephoto such as f/4 or f/2.8 above 300mm, tilt-shift), then I would recommend against Pentax.

- LENS PRICING: another complaint that seems to be ubiquitous is the pricing of Pentax lenses. While there are some lenses that should be priced far cheaper (DA 50 f/1.8 and the DA L 35 f/2.4 for example so be $150 maximum each) I personally believe that as a whole, Pentax lenses are very competitive, especially when you are looking for premium lenses ala DFA 100mm Macro WR and the DA* line. Yes the DA*'s have been very expensive (and all of mine were purchased used), but even still, they are far cheaper than anything Canikon has to offer, and with some critical features. The Canikon's will be faster in AF, yes, but what I find to be critical is the weather sealing provided by DA*'s. Canikon doesn't have anything that holds a candle to the sealing of those lenses, especially when you consider the premiums (not just cost, but size as well) you have to pay should you want a Canikon offering that is sealed.

- VIDEO: Pentax does not have a very strong video program. Some outstanding videos have been produced using Pentax cameras. For examples search youtube for "Uncle Jack" and "The Wedding Speech." The former was filmed using a Pentax K-7 and the latter was with the K-01 - all with Pentax lenses as well. I would post links, but youtube is blocked for me (I am in Afghanistan as a deployed soldier).

- LACK OF FULL FRAME: this is brought up ad nauseum any and everytime an opportunity presents itself, and even during those when it's unwarranted. I personally have zero need for a FF camera as I find APS-C to be perfect. The image quality is oustanding (K-5/II/IIs are remarkable with the K-30 following quickly in tow), and so the only benefit I can possibly think of would be the shallower depth of field. I personally can't see why people fight tooth and nail for a FF to have that - with f/1.4 lenses I have more than plenty shallow DOF than I find practical and attractive. Hell f/4 on my 60-250 is often too shallow, so how would FF benefit me in that regard? And then there's the significant increase in size, weight, and cost of the system - no thank you. Like I said, the image quality is so outstanding by Pentax's current offerings that I think going to FF would actually be a detriment (for me) because of travel and adventure photography being my mainstays. Your mileage may vary, but I am confident you should find this gripe as trivial as I do. Regardless, though, it seems that a FF camera is on the verge of being at the very least announced.

- LACK OF PENTAX PRESENCE AND SUPPORT: another issue is the lack of presence around the world, especially in Central and South American, African, East European, and West Asian countries. If you are in those countries, it will be extremely difficult to get replacement parts and/or new lenses/cameras. You can forget about going to the local camera shop and trying them out before you buy. Even in America that is very rare when compared to finding Canon and Nikon support and presence. I have lived in Germany (via military base) and currently in Afghanistan, and have had no issue being sent gear (including my DA* 60-250 to Afghanistan...undamaged) to either location. I research enough and dliberately that I don't need to see things in person - I am very confident in my decisions regarding online purchases. My first DSLR was a Pentax K-7 kitted with the DA 18-55 WR, and I bought it online after only ever touching a Canon Rebel. I am ok with Pentax being an mostly online presence, however for the health of the company, I recognize this is an issue and needs to be remedied via marketing and distribution (which are both very subpar, the former moreso, although there have been positive glimpses of it recently).

But do you have those needs and feel stifled under those "constraints?" Only you can answer that question, and if the answer is no, then in my opinion you will be hurting yourself by not very seriously considering Pentax. I am a stills only shooter (I think Pentax should shock the world with a true shooter's Full Frame - no video, just imaging in a FF DSLR body, but release it at $1200), and as such the video issue doesn't bother me. I am excited to explore the hell out of strobism once I get back from Afghanistan, and after seeing what others have created with Pentax and strobes, it will take me years before I can honestly say "Pentax is hindering my abilities as a strobist." If you haven't stopped by the link above that brings you to my testimonial of how I have abused my equipment, then I encourage you to visit - Pentax is truly the best sealed system there is, especially for the price.

Yes a lot can and will change in 15-20 years, and Pentax may sink and I may be forced to either abandon photography, stay with a 20 year old camera (the K-5/K-30), or choose either Canon or Nikon. But all staying equal, right now I would choose Pentax and I've never regretted or felt hindered by that choice.

---------------------------------

Also, I recently had the opportunity to try out the Nikon D7000 thanks to a friend over here that had one. These were my thoughts from that experience:

[T]his is the first update of this entire deployment series (link can be found here for the latest deloyment update, posted 29 Dec 12) that has images that have not been taken with a Pentax camera. The reason for this is because I had the opportunity to "branch out" and evaluate Pentax's competition, and because this was not a demanding mission in terms of weather and dust sealing, I thought I would take up a friends offer to use his Nikon D7000. He is the PAO (Public Affairs Officer) for my battalion, which is basically the journalist/reporter/photographer of the unit, charged with documenting key events (reenlistments, VIP visits, ceremonies, etc). He had the body as his own personal camera, along with a few lenses that were TPE (Theater Provided Equipment), which means that they were provided by the Army to units during a deployment. Basically a 9-12month loan (depending on the length of the deployment), and if the equipment is still good, then the equipment gets passed on to the unit to replace the current one, and so on. Anyway, these are my first impressions and are by no means a comprehensive review.

AutoFocus: In bright daylight, it did not seem any snappier than my experiences with K-5/K-30, however I found that it seemed more decisive in its lock, but I do believe that this is just purely psychological because the OVF has a lot of activity occur very rapidly until AF locks with different AF points lighting up, which gives the impression of decisiveness. At least to me it did. I did not do any tracking, though, so I cannot comment, however I have no doubt that it will be superior to Pentax's current AF offerrings, again in continuously tracking moving subjects only, not actual speed in AF-S. I had no way to validate accuracy, but seemed no different than any Pentax I have used in bright light - very accurate. Did not experience any issues of inability to lock, false locks, or Back Focus/Front Focus.

AutoFocus Points: The greater amount of points (39 I believe) is definitely a plus and you can immediately see where the 11-point system currently implemented by Pentax is very limiting and dated. The one thing that I found to be superior on the Pentax, however, is that the points go further to the extremes of the frame, which can be a boon for some creative applications of depth of field isolation and composition. I have at times found myself putting the AF point in the far top/bottom of the frame - see image 14 as an example of what I mean by this. What I did like about the D7000's points, though, was that they are far easier to see in bright daylight.

Here is a comment that I posted later that better explains what I mean by the above "AF Point" bullet.

QuoteQuote:
Regarding the focus points - I always (ok...usually) select my AF point and use that to AF. What that does is mitigates the need to focus and recompose (since I try to compose in the viewfinder as opposed to centering everything and then cropping later - I try as best I can to "get it right" during the shot as much as possible). Also, and more critical from an IQ standpoint, is that you run the risk of having your subject in focus during the AF sequence, and then if you recompose using the same focus, the subject may be no longer in focus, especially when using fast lenses. Also, I edited it once I read your comment - if you go back and reread my AF Point bullet during the D7000 mini-review, it explains a bit better as to why the AF points to the extremes of the frame can be useful. Also, more AF points allows for more precise focusing because you can narrow in on exactly where to focus, as opposed to the K-5's very large points, which has a lot of AF accuracy issues (i.e. you mean to focus on the closest eye on a side profile, but instead the nose or the ear is what catches the AF's attention, all of which may be within the same "point"). Lastly, for tracking it it critical because it allows the predicting of movement thanks without much lag because the AF points can follow where a subject in motion is in relation to the other points - the K-5's are too spaced out to allow for really accurate tracking of very quickly moving subjects. Not an issue for me since I haven't required tracking AF as of late, but I can understand why others would find it to be subpar compared to the competition.


D7000 Body Ergonomics: I tried very, very hard to find a comfortable way to carry the D7000, and I must say, it is without question the most uncomfortable shooting experience I've ever had holding a DSLR. Granted I've only shot with a few DSLR's outside of a camera stand at the electronics store (D7000 and Canon Rebels). Also, it didn't seem to be too much larger than my Pentax's (not much more than the obvious), but the grip (on the body, not the additional grip attachment, which I did not get a chance to try) - just....awful. The Pentax K-5 is smaller, and yet the grip is "larger," "deeper," contoured, and ultimately far more comfortable due to the superior attention to detail to the ergonomics of that absolutely critical piece of the camera. If Pentax could get have gotten their bodies in stores side by side with the competition, the D7000 would never have been as successful as it is.

D7000 Body Construction/Weather Sealing/Ultimate Durability: I did not get a chance to test the weather sealing like I have thoroughly done so with Pentax (scroll down to posts 4 and 5), however except for the fact that it is advertised as such by Nikon, I honestly would not have guessed that it was weather sealed just by picking it up. The body is incredibly "plasticky" (whoever claims that it is just as "all-metal" as the K-5 is seriously off their rocker) for such a caliber of camera and one that claims to compete with the K-5. Also, were I the owner of the camera, I would NOT be comfortable using the camera in any situation that called for true weather/dust sealing. The rubber flaps on the ports were embarrassingly flimsy and lacking of any staying power. A drizzle, sure, but the things I have done with my Pentax's? Absolutely not.

Lenses: the lenses from Nikon that he had with him were the 18-55 VR kit lens, the 10-24, and the 24-120. The lenses were nice, not terribly large, but nothing about them impressed me. I know they are not Nikkor's best lenses, however they just weren't anything to write home about. It is clear that Pentax leads when it comes to kit lenses, especially when you factor in that the kit lens is weather sealed. But AF was snappy enough and I had no issues with any of them. Maybe it's because I am used to DA* quality as of late, however the construction of the lenses seemed incredibly cheap. I know Pentax has cheap lenses and "Plastic Fantastics," but these felt...I don't know - "adequate" is the best word I can describe them as.

Menu System: I consider myself a very advanced DSLR photographer. Not necessarily an incredible photographer (I don't), but I understand the fundamentals and basic technicalities that elude my iPhone wielding generation. More importantly, however, I take to technology very easily and intuitively. Despite all that, I had an incredibly difficult time sifting through the menus to find critical options to change. After coming from Pentax's menu system (which I understand I am used to and will naturally find "more intuitive"), it seemed that there might be some logic to all the menu options were put individually on separate pieces of paper and then how they fell from a shaken bucket, is how they were organized. I don't mean to seem dramatic, but I absolutely could not find a single thing simple about it, and I tried. Hard. The D7000's menu system doesn't hold a candle to that of Pentax's.

RAW Conversion: I had no problem importing and processing the images in Lightroom 3.6. I only shoot RAW, so this was nice to see. I didn't expect to see any issues, but it was nice to validate that assumption. I found the RAW files just as easy to work with in LR as I did with my Pentax K-5's, and I was not in demanding enough situations to push the D7000 for optimal Image Quality regarding Dynamic Range, Noise, etc. I find Pentax in the better position with natively supporting Adobe's .DNG format, however for my purposes for this shoot, there was no issue with Nikon's RAW format.

Overall: I know I did not use the camera very extensively, however that first impression was all I needed to know that I made the right choice despite the sometimes nagging feelings of lacking any full frame upgrade path (do I really need one though? I can't find any legitimate reason to trump the portability and lack of sacrificing any IQ by staying with APS-C), worldwide availability of accessories and services, etc. It is my assessment that unless tracking AF is needed (which I have not tested personally, but every account speaks on behalf of Nikon's superiority here), then the Pentax K-5 family, especially the new II/IIs series, are far superior cameras by themselves, and then especially when you factor in the much, much more enjoyable shooting experience. I could probably go in depth more, but this is from simply one day of use, and what I remember from three weeks ago (I don't have the camera anymore).

-Heie

Last edited by Heie; 01-17-2013 at 11:41 PM. Reason: typo
01-18-2013, 12:13 AM   #7
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Thanks Heie for sharing your experience w/ the d7000 - I've used my uncle's a few times and that menu system of Nikon seems way harder than it needs to be. I'm sure there are some tricks to making it more efficient, but it would take some getting used to. Maybe one day, I'll trade cameras with him and see if my opinion changes any. Look forward to reading your other posts!
01-18-2013, 12:51 AM   #8
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Here are my Pros for both systems (cons are just down to personal subjective points nowadays, anyway):
Pentax:
- SR on all existing lenses, but you can also enjoy those 3rd party OS lenses if you want (great for tele!)...
- build quality: take a D7000 and squeeze it, now do the same with a K5 (just try not to hurt yourself!)...
- Auto-iso based on focal length.
- AF calibration possible on nearly all models.
Nikon:
- cheap fast glasses available for beginners.
- great flash system! The ability to set each of your flashes in manual or TTL mode right from the camera is great!
- better AF-C.

01-18-2013, 02:30 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by ftngrave Quote
1) Best value for money by far it seems. I read about the lenses spiking up in price last year, but they seem to have gone back to their more reasonable prices. Now much later after the fact, anyone know why Pentax spiked up their lens prices or what this could mean for the future?
Well, up untill a few years ago, Pentax had the best value for money in camera bodies and lenses. Right now, since buying my 5DMKII, I'm not so sure about that anymore! I dare to say that the current Pentaxians still believe it to be true, due to not looking at other systems. Adding a second and thrird system to my lineup sure opened my eyes.


QuoteOriginally posted by ftngrave Quote
2) People often mention that Pentax is an innovator, a non-conformer. Can anyone shed light on how Pentax does this?
Again, up untill a few years ago.

They were the only ones with inbody SR. Competition has caught up on that.

They were the only ones with excellent backwards compatibility. Other brands with mirrorless cameras now greatly surpassed that, by being compatible with almost any lens out there.

They were the only ones with WR.

They always were multiple steps ahead of the competition. But failed to innovate and keep those steps ahead by new innovations. Letting the competition catch up. Their innovations from the past tells me that Pentax can do much better. I don't know, why they won't.

Recently Pentax announced to be working on a Full Frame DSLR. How conformative is that? The Pentax userbase is very happy with that announcement. But I don't know how smart it is for them to try a market completely dominated by Canon and Nikon. Imagine stepping into the boxing ring, without experience, and challenging both Vitali Klitschko and Vladimir Klitschko simultaniously.


QuoteOriginally posted by ftngrave Quote
3) Image stabilization and autofocus in DSLR body. How significant is this or how and to what extent is this an asset?
Pentax lens prices used to be very low, compared to the competition. Because of the AF motor and SR being in the camera. But with todays lens pricing, it seems like you get more bang for the buck from the competitors lenses. For just a tiny bit more, you get a Canon lens with it's own fast silent reliable AF motor and its own dedicated stabilisation.

SR gives you one stop advantage. I don't miss it when using Pentax lenses on Sony.


QuoteOriginally posted by ftngrave Quote
4) I even came across someone saying that Pentax image quality has more of a film look than Canon or Nikon.
Was that meant as a pro or a con!? If my camera produced film quality images then I would return it to the shop the next day.

Seriously, IQ from all todays cameras is excellent when comparing within the same class, whatever brand you take. And Pentax is no exception.


QuoteOriginally posted by ftngrave Quote
What I'm actually most interested in is backwards compatibility, meaning I'd like to use old film lenses with my DSLR. Wikipedia states that, "The large variety of F-mount compatible lenses makes it the largest system of interchangeable flange-mount photographic lenses in history. Over 400 different Nikkor lenses are compatible with the system." Can anyone verify this? I had previously surmised that more K mount lenses existed. Perhaps it is that more third party K mount lenses exist than any other mount? Wikipedia lists more third party K mount lenses than F mount lenses.

Than there's the actual backward compatibility of K mount and F mount lenses. Pentax's in body image stabilization and autofocus seems a great plus for using older lenses. So can anyone contribute as to which lens mount they think is more backward compatible?

Here's an excerpt from another forum on someone making the case for Nikon: "In 1977 [Nikon] they added Auto Indexing as you say and you have to convert a pre-ai lens to AI if you want to use it on a D50, D70, D80 or above Nikon... Ai is backwards compatible. Some lenses you have to add an indexing hook to use on an older 1967 body...But basically with little effort and no adapters Nikon lenses from 1959 until now will work on modern Nikon DSLRs...Pentax comes the closest but requires adapters to use their older screw mount to K mount, and most Pentax owners would not consider a 1968 lens for day to day heavy use on a modern K5 camera using that adapter. I doubt there's a way to electronically couple it or input the lens data into the camera both of which are common with Nikon without adapters. You'd have to stop down meter probably."

Lastly, I found this elsewhere on this forum and find it quite interesting: "Nikon has the longest registration distance of any of the major SLR manufacturers. This makes Nikon an almost universal donor to other SLRs but makes it impossible to adapt other SLR lenses to Nikon without optical correction. You can force fit a Nikon manual focus lens to Pentax but not the other way around."--so is it true that older Nikon film lenses can fit on newer Pentax DSLRs? It'd be great if this were true, to be able to use older K mount and F mount lenses on a Pentax DSLR.
I'm no expert in the backwards compatibility. I started with old lenses, but replaced them all by modern glass. have you checked forum.manualfocus.org? I've read about people just mounting Nikon lenses on Pentax without adapter. But never tried it myself.


QuoteOriginally posted by ftngrave Quote
I know this is already a lengthy post, but I've also found mentionings of people seeming to believe that Pentax could go out of business. Anyone think there's any truth to this? Or anyone think it's total bunk?
Who knows? Pentax is losing third party lens support indicates that the thrid party manufacturers are giving up on them. Pentax themselves have halted, or slowed down innovating for whatever reason.

Pentax is now owned by Ricoh though. A huge company with very deep pockets. So they won't go out of business any time soon. The brand name will be kept, because it has history.
01-18-2013, 04:15 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote

In my opinion, Pentax is just as good of a brand for beginners and enthusiasts as is Canon and Nikon. So unless you're prepared to spend thousands on a pro body and fast glass, Pentax will be just as good as the competition. The only small caveat is that Pentax's low-end DSLRs don't support 14-bit RAW while low-end Canons/Nikons do.


Never before on ANY photographic Forum has there ever been such a simple and succinct statement the actually sums up the whole "What Brand do I buy??" question... Thank-you Adam, you have my permission to take $3.00 from your mums purse, run down to the Local Ice-cream store, and buy yourself a double scoop cone, You can have Vanilla, and one other flavour of your own choice, so long as its not Boysenberry. Enjoy.
01-18-2013, 07:56 AM   #11
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I think it "depends" on what you want to shoot, and how far you want to take things. I can only address things in your post that I feel that I have a slight bit of knowledge about so the fact that I have left some things out is not intended as being rude or ignoring what you asked. I simply do not have the expertise to give you my opinion on them. Also, this is all based on the kind of photography that I choose to pursue and is therefor based on what is important to me alone.

1) Lens prices are above what they were before MAP. It seems there is something foul afoot with the entire MAP system. I know that at Adorama, they list one price, but when you put the lens in your cart, it is a different price. B&H used to do this but no more, at least on the lens that are important to me. The Da* 300 and Da 35 macro limited.

Also, as I understand it, the MAP system was put in place to give brick and mortar stores equal competition with the on line retailers, and give Pentax more exposure in the market place. It isn't working, at least in my area. I live withing walking distance to a Hunts Photo and Video, one of the largest camera retailers on the east coast and still not find one Pentax lens. At Christmas, they only had one K30 in stock. They can "get" any lens I want and it will be there in a week, but so can I, and have it delivered right to my door. I bought my first Pentax DSLR on line because they did not have any Pentax gear in stock. That was 4 or 5 years ago, and nothing has changed.

In my opinion, lens prices have not come down, and in fact, I think they are significantly higher from my research. 700 for Da 35 Macro vs 529 and over 1300 for the Da 300 vs 1100 pre MAP. Even the "secret" rice at Adorama is higher by about 150 than the old price on the DA* 300

3) It depends on how or what you shoot. I cannot remember the last time I turned on Shake Reduction. All of my shooting is done off a tripod so this one is kind of a moot point for me. But that's the way I shoot. For someone else, it might be very important. I don't think you can make a blanket statement that in body stabilization is a plus or minus until you determine how you are going to shoot. It is, however, nice to have if you ever want to hand hold for a shot, as long as you remember to turn it on....

4) Nikon and Pentax use the same sensors don't they? At least in some cameras?? I don't think this is a valid statement. Both of my older Pentax DSLR's take significantly "better" photos than my old film cameras do in terms of sharpness, contrast, color, and grain or nosie. With modern software, the possibilities are endless and the results can be simply amazing. Things I could have never accomplished with my old dark room set ups.

Backwards compatibility is nice, but again, it depends on what you shoot. If you look at the lens reviews, there are more mediocre scores than outstanding ones. Modern optics it seems should be better. In some cases we hear talk that even new lens cannot take advantage of new sensors. So while some old lens are fantastic, others are so so and if you want to get the very best from your sensor, you might want to look at newer glass. It never fails though, that I am always amazed at the results from my old M 50 1.7. Probably the best 100 bucks I ever spent on camera gear.

I think everything is really based on what you want to shoot however. If nature is your goal, then I think Pentax is greatly lacking in a system sense. While the bodies and some lens are weather sealed, that does not alleviate the fact that there are no extension tubes available for Pentax from anyone unless you want something completely manual with no metering at all. There is no dedicated TC for the wonderful DA 300, and no long glass - even though they recently released a 560, it is untested and will have to be significantly better than the Sigma 500 to stand a chance in the market, which I doubt it will be - and while a TC is on the road map we have to wait and see for that. There is no current macro lens longer than 105 from anyone for Pentax. Third party support for Pentax is abysmal at best.

On the other hand, if you shoot street, or architecture, portraits, or just want a nice little camera to have with you all the time, you cannot beat Pentax. It is a wonderful system for these and other kinds of photography.

One final point I want to make, and have already alluded to, is the availability of Pentax in the market place. I can go to Hunts and try just about any lens I want for Nikon or Canon, excepting the really exotic glass. There is no place within 300 miles of me that I can do that with Pentax. I would have to drive to New York. Even the availability of Pentax gear on places like Craigs List pales in comparison to the other companies. I hope that will change in the future.

In closing, knowing what I know now, based solely on what interest me and the kind of shooting I want to do, if I were to start completely over, I would have gone with Nikon. I honestly think in any decision, you have to sit down and try to project yourself 5 or more years into the future and try to determine what kind of photography you are going to be interested in and how far you want to take things. Then pick a camera company that has the system to complement your goals. Right now, I feel a little bit stifled and held back by my Pentax system. But again, this is based on what I like to shoot and your goals might be different. Best of luck and good light.......
01-18-2013, 11:12 AM - 1 Like   #12
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Hi ftngrave, and welcome to the forum.

You wrote: "...is there anything to be said of the differences in image quality that Canon, Nikon, or Pentax DSLR's create?"

I'm not an expert photographer at all, and I only own and use Pentax gear, but I do see differences in the pictures created by the three brands. I'm referring here to subtle differences in the "character" of the images produced.

I should make it very clear that these differences are not always discernible in every instance, ie. it will not always be possible to just look at a shot and to identify which brand of camera was used to capture it. Moreover, post-processing can greatly alter an image.

I must also state clearly that I do not claim to be able to give a technical explanation for what I see - it's just what I have observed after studying the images created by the three brands.

What I have noticed of the three brands is as below. Please note that these are general trends, not 100% airtight, definitive statements, neither are they a criticism of any particular brand. Indeed, what suits my taste others may find undesirable, and the qualities I look for in a photo may differ from what you seek.

Pentax tends to produce images with good, balanced contrast; and natural, lovely colours. In particular, the way it renders the micro-contrast and the fine detail is very "airy", "relaxed" and "open" - similar to Zeiss. And I very much like the way Pentax renders fine details. All said, there is a certain "aliveness" to Pentax images. (I use these types of adjectives to describe it because it's hard to do so otherwise - same thing happens in the hi-fi world, where it can be challenging trying to describe sound quality).

Nikon tends to produce images that are immediately punchy, with strong colours. Bold and attention-grabbing is the idea here. And in certain instances, it imparts a unique "Nikon signature" to the colours, which I like. Nikon renders the dynamic range somehow differently than Pentax - things somehow appear more "tight and compressed", less "breathy". And one is not so much taken up with the micro-contrast as in Pentax. I should stress here that I do not claim to be able to explain technically how this could be, but this is how I perceive it. Nikon sharpness is certainly excellent, and here again it renders it differently than Pentax - the detail is more "forward" and aggressively presented. (I sometimes suspect that this may be a reason why some people praise Nikon for its sharpness; Pentax is plenty sharp too, but with those fine details rendered in a more "natural", "gentler" manner). Incidentally, these observations are made based on photos I've seen taken with D300, D300S, D700 and D3X bodies, and using the higher-end Nikkor lenses. I have found the more recent Nikons (eg D3000, D5000, D7000) to exhibit these traits substantially less.

Canon tends to render the dynamic range more like how Pentax does, but still I find the micro-contrast in Pentax better. The colours in Canon tend to be a bit more "rounded" than Pentax, a touch more "pastel" (perhaps why it is so favoured for wedding photography). In all, Canon appears to me slightly "milder", a touch more "calm and controlled" in the way it renders an image - a trait seen also in its presentation of fine detail.

Are these things caused by the lenses, the bodies, or both? The thing is, I discerned these subtle "character" differences back in the film days too, so this tells me that at least the glass is involved. But I do suspect that the body plays a role too - in particular the way the internal software is written to manage the images - perhaps they are "tuned" to deliberately create a desired "house" look...? That's just my guess.

Two final things must be noted.

First, if you plan to use older lenses, there is every possibility that different brands of older lenses, hailing from different eras and with different design considerations, could bring with them their own unique flavour. This can be another factor affecting the images produced.

Second, with Pentax, if you use the Limited range of lenses (whether DA Limited or FA Limited), it will result in a distinctive look in the images produced. Many photographers (myself included) find this look to be simply superb and highly desirable. In situations where Pentax Limited lenses are being utilised, one can expect the image character to be discernibly different to that of Nikon and Canon, etc. If you are interested, you can see samples in the "DA Limited Club" and "FA Limited Club" threads found within this forum, and elsewhere too.

So in deciding what brand you wish to go with long-term, many of the members in the forum here have rightly highlighted the various factors that ought to be considered. I recommend that you include an appreciation of the differences in the "character" of images produced by the different brands, and make sure you like the image character of the brand you commit to, and that it can produce the sort of images you need, since the different characters will inevitably be slightly better suited to different types of photographic applications. This however is not going to the extent of saying that a particular application can only be done by a certain brand - all the brands can do it, but there may be some differences between them, with one yielding more desirable results.

Hope what I shared is of some help. Thank you.
01-18-2013, 12:31 PM   #13
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I think Adam is right. If you are a beginning to enthusiast level photographer, there is minimal difference between Nikon and Pentax. The biggest mistake anyone can make is to make a decision to go with a particular brand based on a single camera body. The big question is what lenses do you want (eventually save up for) and how well does the brand meet your needs in that respect. If you need a 300mm f2.8 lens, or a 600mm f4, Pentax probably isn't the brand for you.

Pentax offers small-ish, well made, sealed cameras and lenses for prices that are decent. Nikon and Canon offer some cheaper lenses and expensive lenses, but not much in the middle, whereas Pentax has a lot more solid lenses in the 500 to 600 dollar range.

SR in the body is awfully handy.

As to colors and appearance of images, there really isn't that much difference between Pentax and Nikon. Canon does have a different look to their jpegs, but most of these things are pretty changable in post processing, so shouldn't be a make or break thing either.
09-30-2013, 07:07 PM   #14
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I have both a K5 and a D7000. I can bring up several points.
1. The K5 fits in your hand much better especially with a small prime lens.
2. The K5 has anti-shake built in the body which gives you anti-shake with any lens..
3. The D7000 takes better indoor flash pictures and better flash pictures in general.
4. Pentax has pre AF lenses with an electronic connection( the A setting) to the camera whereas Nikon does not.
5. Entry level Nikon bodies have no built-in focus motors whereas entry level Pentax bodies do have built-in focus motors. This limits your lens selection with entry level Nikon bodies to lenses with focus motors. The D7000 does have a built-in focus motor.
6. The D7000 connects mechanically to pre-AF lenses so as you move the f-stop on the lens, the camera body reads the change. With Pentax there is no mechanical connection so if it is not an A lens the camera doesn't know the f-stop and you have to stop down to meter.
7. There is a bigger selection of Nikon lenses available so it is easier to find used lenses for a good price. You have to balance this against the advantage of built-in anti-shake with Pentax because long Nikon lenses with VR are very expensive.
8. Nikon has the 16-85mm VR which is a great walk-around lens in general and also indoors with or without flash. Very fast to focus and very good VR. Pentax doesn't have a lens in the same focus range to match it. The closest thing Pentax has to this lens is the DA 18-135mm but it is not as good.
9 The Pentax 55-300mm is the best consumer level zoom in it's focal range and one of the most compact in it's focal range. I like it better than the Nikon 55-300mm VR and better than the Nikon 70-300mm VR (which is good lens but really huge).
10. Pentax has some unusual and very nice primes but they are expensive.
11. Pentax has failed to come out with a good tele-converter whereas Nikon has several.
12. There are more third party lenses available for Nikon.
13. The older manual focus adaptall lenses by Tamron will work with either camera if you have both adapters (PK A & AIS) but only with Pentax do you get ant-shake with these lenses. You can use them with Pentax for anti-shake and with the Nikon for flash.
14. You can travel a bit lighter with Pentax. It is nicer than Nikon for hand held shots because it is easier to hold. The K5 plus a small wide angle prime is not much bigger than your typical point and shoot. In fact it is smaller than some of them.
15 I mostly use the D7000 with the 16-85mm VR and only have a few Nikon lenses. I have way more Pentax lenses and with the K5 I am always changing lenses. If it wasn't for the flash and the 16-85mm I would sell the Nikon and just keep the K5.

Last edited by bruceinvolcan; 09-30-2013 at 07:11 PM. Reason: Correction
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