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06-12-2013, 04:19 PM   #1
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Thinking the unthinkable - switch to Nikon?

I have owned my K-30 with 18-135 for around 5 months, and have thoroughly enjoyed it as a first DSLR with regards to ease of use, construction and image quality. However, the vast majority of my photos are wildlife (particularly bird) related. I have been looking into getting a Sigma 50-500mm lens to help with extra reach, which I have found lacking - all my wildlife photos have been taken at full zoom and cropped. I work on deep sea fishing vessels, so spend most of my time photographing seabirds in flight and on the water. This requires a long zoom lens and ideally <F/4 lens to enable faster shutter speeds. I have tried ordering the Sigma 50-500, and have been told it will take 2-4 weeks to get to New Zealand. Additionally, I recently saw a secondhand Canon mount Sigma 100-300 F4 for a relatively low price ($800NZD).

This got me seriously thinking about if I want to stick with Pentax, as other systems seem to have more variety in terms of long lenses (such as the 100-300) available, and less issues sourcing these long lenses in New Zealand. I have done some research, and it seems like the Nikon D7100 is the way to go if I do decide to switch - more precise focus which is key for the BIF shooting I do, longer battery life which is handy, weather sealing, and no major drawbacks - I imagine I could make the switch without losing more than several hundred $.

My question is, am I crazy to be considering a switch based on these factors? I am considering it now, rather than later when I will have more Pentax lenses and therefore higher cost of switching.

Thanks in advance!

06-12-2013, 04:30 PM   #2
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Genuine Water resistance? Can you get that with the bodies you are thinking about?
06-12-2013, 04:31 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Snipsnap Quote
I have owned my K-30 with 18-135 for around 5 months, and have thoroughly enjoyed it as a first DSLR with regards to ease of use, construction and image quality. However, the vast majority of my photos are wildlife (particularly bird) related. I have been looking into getting a Sigma 50-500mm lens to help with extra reach, which I have found lacking - all my wildlife photos have been taken at full zoom and cropped. I work on deep sea fishing vessels, so spend most of my time photographing seabirds in flight and on the water. This requires a long zoom lens and ideally
This got me seriously thinking about if I want to stick with Pentax, as other systems seem to have more variety in terms of long lenses (such as the 100-300) available, and less issues sourcing these long lenses in New Zealand. I have done some research, and it seems like the Nikon D7100 is the way to go if I do decide to switch - more precise focus which is key for the BIF shooting I do, longer battery life which is handy, weather sealing, and no major drawbacks - I imagine I could make the switch without losing more than several hundred $.

My question is, am I crazy to be considering a switch based on these factors? I am considering it now, rather than later when I will have more Pentax lenses and therefore higher cost of switching.

Thanks in advance!
IMHO Nikon has better equipment out there for wildlife photography, and if you're missing shots due to slow AF with your Pentax gear, or not satisfied with your current lens, then I'd say go for it. The new 120-400mm lens combined with the D7100 would be a killer combo It might cost you a bit more than a Pentax setup, though, but it depends on what lens you ultimately decide to get.

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06-12-2013, 04:43 PM   #4
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Not crazy but try to get your hands on whatever Nikon you are considering first and try some shots and see if it really is better in your hands. See if you can rent one along with a long lens. Getting BIF shots is difficult with any camera. Mount a long, heavy zoom like the Bigma and it's even more difficult. Getting crisp shots with a 500mm lens takes practice and skill no matter what camera you are using.

06-12-2013, 04:43 PM   #5
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Go to a store and hold the Nikon camera you are thinking about buying in your hands and use it for a bit. Nikons ergonomic choices can be odd. And I suspect that their grips are designed for hobbit hands, not man hands.
06-12-2013, 04:49 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Snipsnap Quote
My question is, am I crazy to be considering a switch based on these factors? I am considering it now, rather than later when I will have more Pentax lenses and therefore higher cost of switching.
QuoteOriginally posted by Snipsnap Quote
...the vast majority of my photos are wildlife (particularly bird) related.
Perfectly good reasons.

You are not abandoning a spouse, you are not married to Pentax. Why call it 'unthinkable'. This is just a piece of equipment. I would switch to C/N if long lenses were my thing. Its not. So Pentax suits me fine. In your case, don't think it fits your equipment needs.
06-12-2013, 04:54 PM   #7
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I consider switching to Nikon all the time, just it never happens.. if you're getting serious, you have to do the math.. there's no shortcut....until you find a weather sealed Nikon lens that suits your purpose you don't know what the cost will be. The 18-135 is not a birding lens. You need to be looking at at least 400mm, but, the DA*300 ƒ4 seems to give pretty good results. joe.penn switched, maybe see what he got...Another guy frogfish also I believe has switched to Nikon, or possibility canon for BiFs. Another possible source of info. Many of the best Pentax birders are shooting the Sigma 500 ƒ4.5, but I've never seen a side by side analysis of that lens compared to a Nikon or canon camera. It isn't really the cost of the camera body you need to think about, it's the cost of the lens. I shoot MF and got a Pentax A-400 for $450, but that's not a solution for everyone. It's all a question of how far you want to take it. If you want to take it Nikon far, you can spend a lot of money.

QuoteQuote:
I imagine I could make the switch without losing more than several hundred $.
All I'm saying is find out how much in hard numbers first.

Last edited by normhead; 06-12-2013 at 05:18 PM.
06-12-2013, 04:55 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Snipsnap Quote
This requires a long zoom lens and ideally <F/4 lens to enable faster shutter speeds.
...
I have done some research, and it seems like the Nikon D7100 is the way to go if I do decide to switch
There are reasons to consider a switch. But IMHO it would make most sense if you are ready to invest ~ $2000 to do it (cost of switch assuming you sell and buy used). At the amount of money you invested so far, Pentax offers good value.

Esp., the combo D7100 + *new* 80-400/4.5-5.6G zoom offers you another league of resolution and AF tracking. But at a price. But that lens is a unique offer in the Nikon system currently only paralleled in the Sony system. Some people switch systems for this lens alone Others consider its prize to be crazy. If you are among them, I'd better not switch. Another option would be the Canon 400/5.6 though.

If you are not ready to invest this much, I don't know. You'll loose 24 MP cropping performance and a 400mm lens sharp enough to support it. And lenses <F4 at this reach start at $5000, so I don't even mention them (full frame plus 500-800mm prime lenses costs you 10,000$ but is yet another league). So, you may not see improved results when switching away from Pentax. Or look at Canon 7D + 400/5.6. But it is no zoom and has less cropping headroom.

And only few Nikon or Canon shooters buy Sigma tele lenses. Which means they can be even harder to buy used than for Pentax. Be prepared to buy Nikkor glass.

So, my advice in summary: How serious is it? Is it for the occasional snapshot? Then stay with Pentax. Is it becoming a serious hobby where you need produce "best of its kind" photography? Then invest another $2000+ and switch. (disclaimer: I am shooting Pentax, Nikon, Nokia, Apple).

Personal note for you: Considering you just started using a K-30 and hasn't moved to a K-5II with DA*300/4 yet, I count you into the occasional snapshot group until you have gathered more experience (the DA*300/4 is better value than the same lens from Nikon because the latter isn't stabilized. And the Pentax DA* 60-250/4 is one of the best possible options available in any system, a zoom as sharp as a prime). The source of most early frustration is (lack of) experience, not equipment. Done that, been there. You'll know by yourself when it is time to invest another $2000. Until then, don't switch and become more experienced. One element often underestimated by beginners is patience.

QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
The new 120-400mm lens combined with the D7100 ...
Adam, you probably mean the 80-400 I was mentioning. I say it because Nikon has a 200-400mm which costs a fortune but may be the best tele zoom money can buy. Short of Pentax 250-600 no money can buy anymore. But even the 80-400 is the price of five or six K-30...


Last edited by falconeye; 06-12-2013 at 05:31 PM.
06-12-2013, 05:15 PM   #9
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Switching to Nikon for birds makes sense

I switched to Nikon for wildlife and birds (Nikon D7100 and Nikon 500mm f/4 vr). I'm sticking with Pentax for medium and wide. The D7100 is superior to the K-5 for continuous/predictive autofocus, and the extra pixels allow for more aggressive cropping. So, more keepers on birds in flight. I expect Pentax will achieve parity on these features whenever it releases the successor to the K-5, but that leaves Pentax still way behind on long glass. Nikon has the 80-400mm 4.5/5.6, the 300mm 2.8, the 400mm 2.8, the 200-400mm f/4, the 500mm f/4, the 600mm f/4, and the 800 mm f/5.6. Each is optically superb and the in-lens stablization is superior at these longer lengths to the Pentax in body IS. Nikon also offers excellent TCs that mate well to all of these lenses except the 80-400. Against this Pentax offers a 300mm f/4, the 560 5.6 (not a great lens) and no TCs. Pentax isn't really in the game for long exotic glass. That's a shame because I would much rather hold and operate a Pentax camera than a Nikon. But switching to Nikon makes perfect sense to me given the type of photography you do.

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06-12-2013, 06:45 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the feedback, much appreciated.
QuoteOriginally posted by falconeye Quote
If you are not ready to invest this much, I don't know. You'll loose 24 MP cropping performance and a 400mm lens sharp enough to support it. And lenses <F4 at this reach start at $5000, so I don't even mention them (full frame plus 500-800mm prime lenses costs you 10,000$ but is yet another league).
One particular alternative to the Sigma 50-500 I was looking at was the discontinued Sigma 100-300 F/4, which is available in NZ for slightly less than the 50-500, and not available in Pentax mount.

QuoteOriginally posted by falconeye Quote
So, my advice in summary: How serious is it? Is it for the occasional snapshot? Then stay with Pentax. Is it becoming a serious hobby where you need produce "best of its kind" photography? Then invest another $2000+ and switch.
You are correct, it is the occasional snapshot at this stage, although I can see myself getting more serious and hence wish to future proof myself before I invest more money in a system that I may go on to sell at a greater loss. I would rather not spend more money on long Pentax lenses only to go on to find that the D7100 would better suit my needs.

QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
Genuine Water resistance? Can you get that with the bodies you are thinking about?
The only other body that I have found that seems to suit my needs is the D7100, which offers weather sealing.

With regards to hiring the Nikon before purchasing, this will be a little difficult as I am at sea for ~6 weeks straight, and that would be the best test of whether the camera suits my needs - in lieu of testing it how I will be using it, I will likely have to resort to mere red billed gulls, rather than royal albatross.
06-12-2013, 08:23 PM   #11
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6 weeks at sea? but a good book on bird photography and a FA80-320 (U$D 150 used) or DA55-300(U$D 250 used) to start and see what you can do. itīs a small investment but will give you excelent opportunity to learn and imrpove technique. specially the book!
06-12-2013, 09:13 PM   #12
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I agree that it is more the glass than the body which seems to make the greatest difference. After starting with the K1000 film SLR most of us used, I went digital with Pentax *ist DL; two years ago I moved up to 20D to continue in wild bird and nature photography. My long lens was an off-brand, well-used (to the 4th degreel-used!) 100 to 500 mm. I was getting pretty decent shots that kept me happy and were appreciated by others. Then a year ago, through the site's Marketplace, I invested in a used Sigma 150-500 mm — and I had no idea my photos could look that much better. Of course there's subjectivity, but I know it is giving a sweeter, subtle quality that's more pleasing to the eye.

Yes, we need a camera body which is a comfortable extension of our hands. Maybe that's where brand matters. But I now understand the experts when they advise, "Buy the best glass you can afford."

I still am amazed that I'm blessed to have such a great lens. For example: Caught with handheld Sigma 150-500 in manual focus on a K20D, the image is a pair of courting Canada Geese banking over the Susquehanna River across from Harrisburg, PA.
Attached Images
 

Last edited by bonitap; 06-12-2013 at 09:22 PM. Reason: better explanation and grammar!
06-12-2013, 10:23 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Snipsnap Quote
I work on deep sea fishing vessels
No judgement here about switching to Nikon. Whatever tool does the job is a good choice.

Weather resistance is important when you're out on the ocean. Your K30 plus 18-135 has some measure of WR. The Pentax DA* 300 is also WR. None of the Sigma lenses have that feature. Even with WR I'd be concerned about the long-term impact of salt corrosion shortening camera and lens life. The K30 + DA* 300 can be replaced every few years for under $2000 USD.

Nikon certainly gives you more lenses in production. Consider the cost of their WR telephotos before deciding; I don't know much about Nikon's telephoto lenses beyond the fact that there are many choices and they can get very expensive. What's the Nikon warranty length and is it voided in a salty environment?
06-12-2013, 10:59 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
Weather resistance is important when you're out on the ocean. Your K30 plus 18-135 has some measure of WR. The Pentax DA* 300 is also WR. None of the Sigma lenses have that feature. Even with WR I'd be concerned about the long-term impact of salt corrosion shortening camera and lens life. The K30 + DA* 300 can be replaced every few years for under $2000 USD.

Nikon certainly gives you more lenses in production. Consider the cost of their WR telephotos before deciding; I don't know much about Nikon's telephoto lenses beyond the fact that there are many choices and they can get very expensive. What's the Nikon warranty length and is it voided in a salty environment?
Both good points there, especially with the WR. While I like having at least one WR lens, it is not the main factor in choosing a long lens - if it's raining then I'm not going to be out on deck or in the bush trying to get a long shot. With this in mind I was looking into the Sigma lenses, and they are also much cheaper than the DA*300, for example. When I'm choosing a lens I want something with a degree of flexibility, hence the 50-500 or 100-300.
06-13-2013, 05:55 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Snipsnap Quote
One particular alternative to the Sigma 50-500 I was looking at was the discontinued Sigma 100-300 F/4
I hear good things about both lenses (don't own them). But I do also have the impression that only very few zooms actually fully exploit today's 16/24MP sensors on APSC. Therefore, I would probably go with the 300/4 prime if I switched to Nikon.

And the only affordable tele zoom in any system which I know resolves 16/24MP APSC is the DA* 60-250/4 available for Pentax only. Other than this, I agree to your rationale.
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