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03-02-2008, 03:34 PM   #1
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Is Pentax the best camera system for someone starting out?

If this Thread is in the wrong section, by all means move it.



Here's a bit of background information. I bought a Canon S2 IS when it came out in 2005 and I really like it, but I'm kind of getting tired of it, it's not that it's a bad camera it's just that I'd like something a bit better since the S2 is just an over-glorified P&S with a fancy 36-432mm lens. I've been looking at a lot of DSLRs and Pentax by far is my top choice.

Here's my Dilemma, What ever camera I get, I'll be locked into that camera system. I've been reading a lot of threads on here, and I see many lenses going for $600 and up, while the equivalent lenses for a Canon of Nikon are much cheaper. The cost wouldn't bother me as much if I were making money off my photos, but this is just purely a hobby of mine, so what ever money I spend on my camera I won't ever see again. I know SLRs aren't cheap, but it would be great if I didn't have to spend an arm and a leg to buy a nice lens. Besides, this is just a hobby of mine, I guess I've inherited that frugality from my parents.


So here's my question, Would a Pentax make a good choice for someone who wants a good camera system, but who doesn't want to spend an arm and a leg on lenses, or should I just get a Nikon or canon? I really like pentax though, Nikon and Canon don't really interest me that much. I want a good camera system, but I also want a wide assortment of reasonably priced lenses too.

If this isn't too pretensions, I'd like to get some unbiased opinions. I know that may be asking too much seeing as I am in a "Pentax" forum.


Last edited by Lambda_drive; 03-02-2008 at 03:56 PM.
03-02-2008, 04:49 PM   #2
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You can get into any camera system inexpensively, you just need to shop around and buy it piece at a time not all at once.

My collection has taken more than 25 years to assemble, and while I have bought 3 new lenses since going digital, they all would have cost the same regardless of camera system, because none of them are Pentax.

That does not mean I don't have any pentax lenses, just that some of the new zooms from Tamron and Sigma are excellent lenses, and suited my needs better than what is presently available from pentax. (regardless of price)

Start with one body, and a kit of 1-2 lenses and you can get taking photos better than the P&S, then carefully go out and buy new lenses when you can add to your kit, expand the focal length range, etc. You are making somewhat of a long term comittment, but with pentax, history has proven that your purchases will remain useable. You can't actually say that for the other makers. Look at canon, they totally discarded the origonal mount, and then left the second mount behind when they went to AF, Nikon only supports limited lenses and then only with some bodies
03-02-2008, 04:58 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lambda_drive Quote
many lenses going for $600 and up, while the equivalent lenses for a Canon of Nikon are much cheaper.
Out of curiosity, which equivalent lenses are cheaper for Canon/Nikon?

As for which you should choose, what is your primary and secondary subject matter?
Each system has its strengths and weaknesses.
E.g., Canon does best at sports, Nikon has the best flash exposure, Pentax has the best selection of primes, etc.
While each system can take photos of everything, you'll get a different percentage of good shots depending on subject matter...

p.s., one problem w/ DSLRs is the selection of lenses. I'm frugal as well and I've already collected 4 lenses with 2-3 more planned for this year. It depends how much you want the best quality though. Some folks are happy w/ just the Tamron 18-250 and using it just as a P&S in JPEG mode, so you have to find your level of obsession ;-)
03-02-2008, 05:01 PM   #4
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Have you looked at the prices of the IS and VR lenses for Canon and Nikon, nothing cheap about them !! Remember, with the Pentax, ANY lens you mount on it is Image stabilized. Plus , if you buy a Pentax, you wouldn't be "just another" Canikon user, hehe

03-02-2008, 05:07 PM   #5
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They are easier to learn

One rating that no one else has added is the ease of use. Pentax has very logical and easy to use control layouts. Nikons are very close. Canons are at the back end of the field. Every time I have picked up a Canon, it has taken two steps to do what is a single step on Pentax, and usually one step on Nikon.

If I were you, I should go to a camera store that has the brands that interest you and try them hands on. Buy the one that feels good to you.

My definitely not humble opinion is that if you need the instruction manual to be able to take a picture, the camera is not the best. I have to use the instruction manual to figure out how to do things that are not easy, and things that are digital because the K10D is my first and only digital camera. I do have friends, however, who have never used anything more complex than a point in shoot in 100% auto mode, who have been able to use the Pentax k10d without serious troubles, without reference to the manual, or to me.
03-02-2008, 05:34 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
You can get into any camera system inexpensively, you just need to shop around and buy it piece at a time not all at once.

My collection has taken more than 25 years to assemble, and while I have bought 3 new lenses since going digital, they all would have cost the same regardless of camera system, because none of them are Pentax.

For you the choice to go with pentax was easier, since you had so many Film lenses. For me I'm just starting out fresh.

QuoteOriginally posted by kenyee Quote
Out of curiosity, which equivalent lenses are cheaper for Canon/Nikon?

As for which you should choose, what is your primary and secondary subject matter?
Each system has its strengths and weaknesses.
E.g., Canon does best at sports, Nikon has the best flash exposure, Pentax has the best selection of primes, etc.
While each system can take photos of everything, you'll get a different percentage of good shots depending on subject matter...
I forgot which thread this was in, but one member wrote that a few sigma lenses in the pentax mount were about $600, while the same lens was far less in nikon or canon mount.


I'd have to say my primary subject matter would have to be nature, and animals, my second subject is action photography. Mostly just cars and mountain biking. The area I'm the worst at is portraits, I suck at taking pictures of people.

QuoteOriginally posted by Stratman Quote
Have you looked at the prices of the IS and VR lenses for Canon and Nikon, nothing cheap about them !! Remember, with the Pentax, ANY lens you mount on it is Image stabilized. Plus , if you buy a Pentax, you wouldn't be "just another" Canikon user, hehe

EXACTLY! Those are two of the things that I like best about Pentax. Most Nikons and Canons are all the same to me, They don't interest me at all.

QuoteOriginally posted by Canada_Rockies Quote
One rating that no one else has added is the ease of use. Pentax has very logical and easy to use control layouts. Nikons are very close. Canons are at the back end of the field. Every time I have picked up a Canon, it has taken two steps to do what is a single step on Pentax, and usually one step on Nikon.

If I were you, I should go to a camera store that has the brands that interest you and try them hands on. Buy the one that feels good to you.

That's also what I like about Pentax, most reviews I read state exactly that. When I was using my friends XTi, it felt so unintuitive, just trying to shoot in manual mode was a bit difficult.
03-02-2008, 05:45 PM   #7
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Lambda_drive

While the decision was easier for me, as I had so many film lenses, the reason I had so many lenses was that unlike the other manufacturers, pentax has maintained support for the film lenses.

This is something to think about going forward, specifically that you can go forward.

I think part of the concern you expressed about third party lenses being more expensive for pentax is that they are, at present, a little rarer, due I think to the fact that the popularity of the pentax cameras caught the market by surprise. This issue should sort itself out soon.
03-02-2008, 06:29 PM   #8
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go try out each camera, hold them and see what you think.

i just bought into pentax in january and i think it's great. it's a huge step up from my old 3MP Sony P&S. if you don't want to spend an arm and a leg on lenses, the best choice would be the Tamron superzoom, of which Pentax makes their own version. 18-250mm (eff 28-375) should give you a similar range to what you had with your old camera. as well if you travel a lot and value portability, pentax have the small limited lenses which are quite affordable and have good performance.

the system is very intuitive, i thought i'd be lost in the menus or settings, but within a few days i had changed some of the more specific custom settings and was ready to go.

03-02-2008, 06:51 PM   #9
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I am going to play devils advocate here seeing that I have both a Canon and Pentax system.

For wildlife, action, and sports, you are probably going to prefer a Canon system. The AF on my old 20D still beats the pants of my K10D for speed. I have a Bigma for the canon mount. This lens has Sigmas version of USM which they call HSM. Makes the 50-500mm focus rather quickly. Quick enough that I can get birds in flight real quickly and accurately. I have compared the same lens on a Pentax, and without the HSM feature, it is a dog to autofocus. Quick enough, but not anywhere near what the HSM version will do for you in the Canon mount.

That is about it for the Canon benefits for most every day folks, unless your interested in spending a mint on Pro L optics which sometimes don't even warrant a look compared to what Pentax has to offer. Oh, and there is a new Canon kit lens with built in IS for a nice cheap price. They had to do something to remain competitive. Not sure of the quality of this EF-S IS lens however, but worth a look, especially if you can buy it with a camera body. I myself do not own any IS optics on the Canon side. I am sort of a luddite when it comes to IS and optics I guess. With that said, I don't seem to mind the built in IS found on my Pentax.

The Pentax however, is something else. Most of the times, I use my Pentax over my Canon for many reasons. It fits my paws better, has better user controls, definitely beats the 20D when using RAW. The 20D's RAW images always seem to need more work then the Pentax RAW images. The colours are always better on the Pentax, and the optics are really awesome for the price.

I have always had a soft spot for Pentax. To me, Pentax has always been a photographer's camera.

Irrespective, all cameras from every single manufacturer out there are easy to use. They all have green modes that make them into big fancy point and shoots. They will all take beautiful photographs in the right hands. And each and every camera system out there has pros and cons. Only you can decide which is best for you.
03-02-2008, 07:27 PM   #10
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Hi Lambda_drive

Well, this is probably about as unbiased as you're probably gonna get, so fasten your seatbelt....lol ! Starting out in the early 1960's and being virtually penniless as most youngsters tend to be, I worked at a photographic store for about a year or so and during that period got to familiarise myself with virtually every 35mm SLR system on the market. This included advanced semi/pro MF cameras such as Bronica & Hasselblad etc, but all I could afford to begin with on the meagre wages I received was an
East German Praktica. Nevertheless I learnt all the important basics of photography on it (manual everything !) and having moved on some years later, managed to progress to a new Olympus OM1N SLR, which I still treasure to this day. A Mamiya 645 MF body & a few lenses followed some decades further on and I subsequently added a Fuji S602Z & Panasonic FZ20 'bridge' camera to the collection, before finally purchasing my first DSLR in the shape of Pentax's K10D. So, hopefully no sign of any bias towards Pentax prior to this and no legacy glass to worry about either for that matter ?
Put quite simply, I pretty much knew what I was looking for but wasn't prepared to throw megabucks at the problem. The ONLY solution that ideally suited my requirements at the time was the 'bargain-priced' K10D, as in my humble opinion it is genuinely a true 'photographers' camera. I love the solid feel and the way that it handles in a naturally instinctive fashion, enhanced by the excellence of it's ergonomics. Such a device will undoubtedly be viewed in a slightly differently fashion by each individual who handles it and although I seriously doubt whether ANY camera could be accurately described as utterly perfect in every respect, the K10D 'crosses most of the boxes' in my particular wish-list. YMMV !

The post below sums it all up perfectly:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/187907-post44.html

Best regards
Richard

Last edited by Confused; 03-02-2008 at 07:43 PM.
03-02-2008, 07:36 PM   #11
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As an ex-newbie (also previously a Canon P&S user), my answer to your question is absolutely YES !

Pentax gives you a very capable platform, great ergonomics, affordable range of lenses, lots of fun for a person just learning to work out the camera.
Just have to compare the huge price difference between a Pentax-compatible 70-300 mm telephoto and a similar IS lens from Canon.

There are very good deals still available on the K100D Super and K10D if you look around, though stocks are running out.

K20D isn't a good fit for a newbie - costly (for a beginner) and probably too much camera to learn. Need a more detailed look at the K200D when that comes out.

Pentax won't fit everybody's needs. If you are heavily into sports action or low-light Event photography, you may find its AF speed not as good as the competition.

For what I would call everyday "general-purpose photography", its performance is very acceptable.
03-03-2008, 07:39 AM   #12
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I'm starting to really like Pentax, but in a lot of threads I see a lot of people complaining about the autofocus speed. How bad can it be? I found a few videos of the autofocus speed of a K10D and it doesn't seem that bad to me. Is the autofocus on a Canon that much faster?

YouTube - terminusg's Channel


I really like the K10D, the K100D doesn't seem like enough of an upgrade to me. If I were to get a different camera, it would be a Canon 20D, but it so outdated.
03-03-2008, 07:52 AM   #13
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The best advise is to go to a store, ask them to put a similar (perhaps kit) lens on each camera you are considering.

focus on the camera boxes behind the counter, take a couple of snaps, evaluate the shake reduction vs hand held, and focusing in the poor (usually) lighting of the store.

Play with the controls of each. You have probably read enought to look at how to do things with each.

After spending some time (as much as you want, after all it is your money), take the one you like the best.

Outside on a bright day, they will all work well.

there is probably no wrong selection of the first camera.
03-03-2008, 08:04 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lambda_drive Quote
I'm starting to really like Pentax, but in a lot of threads I see a lot of people complaining about the autofocus speed. How bad can it be? I found a few videos of the autofocus speed of a K10D and it doesn't seem that bad to me. Is the autofocus on a Canon that much faster?

YouTube - terminusg's Channel


I really like the K10D, the K100D doesn't seem like enough of an upgrade to me. If I were to get a different camera, it would be a Canon 20D, but it so outdated.
The K10D AF only slows down in poor light (and I mean very poor - like indoor tungsten lighting) but generally the issue is lenses. Some (and I mean some not all) of Canons lenses have a USM ring motor and a very short focus throw, and can lock faster. OTOH they are a little harder to MF with any great accuracy. Canons later cameras are also better at locking on to a moving object moving across the frame.

Pentax have mainly screw drive lenses driven from the body through a mechanical coupler which has some slack in it - which means that a small adjustment is sometimes required after the first lock. The lower the light level the longer this "adjustment" can take and sometimes it fails altogether. However we are talking light level where you can barely see.

On the other hand they have backward compatability with almost every lens they ever made and you can pick up some real gems of you hunt around.

Since switching to the new SDM Pentax lenses I have not noticed anything like the same amount of hunting at low light levels. Pentax now have 4 SDM lenses and more being announced all the time so I think they will start to catch up.

Also, the 20D is out of date now, and I dont think the AF advantages are really that great. A little faster perhaps but the 40D is where its at in the pro-sumer market right now. If your main use of a camera is indoor sports, toddlers growing up or birds then you may find Canon as a system offers more features that you need. If you mainly do events, weddings etc and need good on-camera flash support, then you probably need a Nikon.

If you are generally more into landscape, people and journalistic type photography then Pentax is great and can handle the odd sports day too if necessary. Built in SR and weather proofing are both highly significant in day to day outdoor usage and the general handling of the K10D is fantastic. Its not all things to all people, but it does offer a lot for the cash.
03-03-2008, 08:08 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lambda_drive Quote
I'd have to say my primary subject matter would have to be nature, and animals, my second subject is action photography. Mostly just cars and mountain biking. The area I'm the worst at is portraits, I suck at taking pictures of people.
If you want to have some fun, really learn photography, and save a bunch of money try this. Get a K10D/GX 10, whichever is cheapest. Buy a 50mm f1.7 off ebay for about $50. Get a M or A 200mm f4 off ebay for about $100-$150 also. Learn to shoot action with the 200 using "Trap focus". It works great and is fast but not as fast as AF. Shoot for a year using that setup and you will be a better photographer. You will have less than $900 invested and will be able to sell it for close to that if action photography becomes a big deal for you. My bet is you would have more fun going this route.

Ken
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