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04-12-2008, 08:13 AM   #16
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Everyone has their opinions on what they like and how they shoot, and what equipment they need. There is a reason why there is so much equipment out there, because everyone is different with different requirements, different likes, and different dislikes.

I can only comment on my personal experiences. There is much out there that I haven't expereinced. I will say that I do like this forum, as you wouldn't be getting so much unbiased, honest and frank assessments of camera gear elsewhere. Visit a few Canon and Nikon forums, and they would burn you at the stake for even thinking of another camera from another manufacturer.

I own both an aging Canon 20D and a more recent Pentax K10D. I am not particularly attached to any lineup, as I have owned (in no order) Samsung, Olympus, Ricoh, Pentax, Nikon, Sony, and a few other odd esoteric camera brands in both digital and film formats.

Yes it is true that Canon usually beats Pentax in the AF department (although I must add a qualifier here, I have no experience with a Pentax K20D or any of their motored lenses). All my Canon lenses either have USM or Sigmas version called HSM built right in. This does make the lens physically speed up the AF process. Pentax now has some lenses that have this feature; I just don't know how much better it is then a motorless lens, which all my Pentax lenses are at the moment. I do know that Canon has better programming in regards to tracking fast objects. My older 20D trounces my newer K10D in this at least. In all other aspects, the Pentax is superior to my Canon.

Pentax glass is legendary. It ranks right up there with all the other top brands in history. I kid you not in saying that even their cheapest kit lens lineup beats most others out there in both IQ and build quality. I only have the 50-200mm, but wow. The colours and all are really good for such a cheap lens.

Add to this, the cost difference of what you can get from the other lens lineup, and it does get painful. I have a Canon 17-40 f/4 L which I compared to my Pentax 16-45 f/4. I like the Pentax better, and it was only half the cost of the Canon.

As far as IS goes, yes, it is nice to have it built into the body. The big advantage is that you can use it for all your lenses. However, after reading a bunch of articles, etc, lens based IS is still superior to body based IS. With that said, you do pay quite a bit for it in a quality lens. I know Canon is now forced to put IS into some of their cheaper lenses in order to compete. I have no clue how good the lenses are or how good the IS is on these cheaper lenses. I much prefer the built in Camera body IS then the more expensive lens based IS systems though. It may not be as good, but its always available and on tap. That is a big bonus.

Both systems have their pros and cons. Neither is perfect. For example, Pentax still has a lack of super telephotos for nature and action photographers. Your quite limited in glass also. Any lens made from a third party lens maker will be available for Canon and Nikon users. Pentax selection is limited still, even though this seems to be slowly changing. The point is, you can even get Pentax lenses in Tokina skins for Canon and Nikon cameras.

I feel you can't go wrong with either. Just carefully weight the advantages and disadvantages of each system, and I am sure in the end, you will be perfectly satisfied with your selection.

04-12-2008, 08:19 AM   #17
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Both will do what you want. Go back to the store and have the sales person show you how to use the Canon 40D and the Pentax K20D. Take some shots with both. Buy the one that feels best in your hands.
04-12-2008, 08:45 AM   #18
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Manual lenses

Have you considered using older lenses? There are lots of great old lenses you can get used for sometimes less than 20$.

The Pentax system supports ALL lenses ever made by pentax (that's what they promise), even the M42 screwmount ones (with adaptor). I'm using a couple of screwmount lenses from the 60s

Of course, there are occassions when you absolutely need AF, but think of portraits, available light or macro photography. You could get a great, wide aperture portrait lens without AF for a couple of $$.
04-12-2008, 09:26 AM   #19
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For me the most important aspects of a DSLR are:

- Shake Reduction: won't buy a camera without it. I don't have to buy overpriced IS lenses. I also get an image stabilized 50mm f/1.4 prime lens, which is impossible to get from Canon or Nikon. Great for ultra low light portraits.

- Ease of use: big bright viewfinder (see this site for a comparison of viewfinder sizes: Digital SLR Viewfinders: Size, Magnification, Coverage, Crop ), nice button layout, good controls, nice grips, etc. I think Pentax is very good here. The Canon cameras I've handled all seem "wrong" somehow. Nikon is also good, though.

- Cheap, high-quality lenses: Pentax is really good here. Pentax lenses generally cost much less than their Canon counterparts.

- Image quality in low-light: Pentax is good, but Canon is just as good, in my opinion. So, not something to concern yourself with, either way.

What I don't care about:
- FPS: 3 fps is plenty.

- Live view: Canon's is better (much better, in the case of the K200, because it doesn't have it), but not a killer much-have feature for me.

Pentax's slow AF is a slight concern, but the difference between waiting 1 second or 1.5 seconds for AF to lock in low-light doesn't make too much difference to me (just making up approximate numbers here).

04-12-2008, 09:41 AM   #20
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Not Really for Many Things..

QuoteOriginally posted by jms698 Quote
For me the most important aspects of a DSLR are:

- Shake Reduction: won't buy a camera without it. I don't have to buy overpriced IS lenses. I also get an image stabilized 50mm f/1.4 prime lens, which is impossible to get from Canon or Nikon. Great for ultra low light portraits.
It is handy and useful, but I don't think its "most important". Other tools like monopod and tripod are cheap and can help better in many cases.

QuoteQuote:
- Ease of use: big bright viewfinder
APS-C viewfinder cannot be as bright and as big as FF finder anyway.

QuoteQuote:
- Cheap, high-quality lenses: Pentax is really good here. Pentax lenses generally cost much less than their Canon counterparts.
But there are cheap to very cheap and usable Canon glass which are non-existent in Pentax land, say, EF 50/1.8II, EFS 55-250 and the very old EF 85/1.8 etc., which are widely available too.

QuoteQuote:
- Image quality in low-light: Pentax is good, but Canon is just as good, in my opinion. So, not something to concern yourself with, either way.
That depends on what C models you compared.

QuoteQuote:
Pentax's slow AF is a slight concern, but the difference between waiting 1 second or 1.5 seconds for AF to lock in low-light doesn't make too much difference to me (just making up approximate numbers here).
Its not about 1.5 Vs 1 second. Its about something like 3 Vs 0.5 or even Unable to Focus Vs 1 second. So, its the true "most important" thing IMHO. What thing else is more important than getting an OOF image for a *camera*? A camera is just a light box for adjusting focus and controlling exposure with a film or sensor afterall.
04-12-2008, 09:41 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by RiceHigh Quote


In the city where I live, the price of K20D and 40D is more or less the same.

.
He isn't looking at the K20d, so this would matter because....?!?!?

Please take the esteemed RiceHighs's comments with a grain of salt (or a salt lick). While he attempts to couch his words in civility, he has a *thing* for complaining about Pentax. More importantly, as far as most people can tell, all he ever does is handle the cameras in the store and maybe take a test photo...not real shooting.

The best advice here was to go and handle the cameras, having the salesguy show you the basic functions. I personally find that Pentax is a much more intuitive camera to operate...I've never bonded with the Canon menus and button placement. Before I owned my K20d I shot Nikons, so I'm not a long-term Pentax fanboy.

The reality is that you sound like a "typical" shooter. You don't need 6fps or 4000mm lenses. You do need a camera that is easy to operate and does decent auto focus and auto white balance. Canon has a slight edge on the AF side *depending on conditions*. I can say that with my K20d, I have very little problem focusing in low light conditions...and I normally shoot that. I haven't used the K200d so I can't comment on that.

If you really get into photography, Pentax will be cheaper because you can get fabulous prime lenses for about 1/2 to 2/3 of the cost of equivalent Canon glass. But if you just want a kit lens and to shoot away, it is a tossup. Whichever you feel most comfortable with. It is hard to go wrong with a dslr these days...they are all very good. As are most point and shoots.

Last edited by nostatic; 04-12-2008 at 09:48 AM.
04-12-2008, 09:44 AM   #22
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The in body shake reduction should sell anyone. Canon and Nikon's in-lens image stabilization is really antiquated.

And it will cost you real money to get that stabilization in Canon and Nikon. And they don't have a stabilized fast 50mm lens – as far as I know

Quite honestly, now that I have image stabilization, I wouldn't buy a camera without it. It really really works -- and in a Pentax, Sony, or Olympus camera, it works with every lens you own or will buy.

I like my K10D, but I would always recommend people look closely at Pentax, Sony, or Olympus because of the body based image stabilization.

Canon and Nikon are totally off my consideration for that alone -- but, if you have the cash for stabilized lenses, fine, but for most people, the other systems are a no-brainer if you ask me.
04-12-2008, 09:45 AM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by RiceHigh Quote
It is handy and useful, but I don't think its "most important". Other tools like monopod and tripod are cheap and can help better in many cases.
---

APS-C viewfinder cannot be as bright and as big as FF finder anyway.

.
I personally never use a tripod or monopod. And now the 40D is FF? Of course it isn't...why even bring that point into discussion?

Just so the OP has some perspective, here's a gallery shot almost entirely with my K20d...by me.

yosemite08 - Page 1

Perhaps RH can post an equivalent gallery instead of links to his words and spreadsheets.

04-12-2008, 09:58 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by regken Quote
Both will do what you want. Go back to the store and have the sales person show you how to use the Canon 40D and the Pentax K20D. Take some shots with both. Buy the one that feels best in your hands.
I agree with this comment. Having made the move to digital myself a few months ago, I went through much of the same process you're going through now. I didn't even consider Pentax until I was deep into my research, but after reading and testing a bunch of gear, the Pentax system just "felt" right to me. I feel the differences in IQ and related items are largely in the noise compared to the skill/experience/enthusiasm of the photographer. Bottom line, I think like my Pentax shoots, so it's very natural for me to switch shooting modes and make changes on the fly. This keeps me shooting more often and inproving my own skills.

My recommendation ... both systems are capable of taking great pictures, so figure out which one you're more likely to fall in love with. The best way to do that is to take each of them out for a couple of dates before making a purchase.
04-12-2008, 10:32 AM   #25
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You might also consider a good point and shoot. To be honest, most people who buy a dslr are better served by a good p&s. Ive printed 16x20 out of my leica dlux3 (same as panasonic lx-2) and it is beautiful. Unless you have specialized needs, you'll likely get more shots.
04-12-2008, 10:39 AM   #26
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I haven't tried a K20D, but I imagine its a much more "forgiving" camera than the K10Dand K200D in low light, where you can bump up the ISO to 1600 without worrying about noise.
04-12-2008, 10:51 AM   #27
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That very well could be. I haven't shot the K200. I have shot the K10d and swapped it out for a K20d.

It could be that the AF performance of the K200 is better than the K10d due to software changes. Evidence here and elsewhere (by people who actually shoot) indicated that the K20d AF performance is "better". I do know that I routinely shoot at ISO1600 with the K20d and have no issues.

The other thing is that if you work with raw files, you can get away with a lot more on the shooting end and fix it in post. That is another consideration. If you aren't willing to shoot raw, then you have to worry about the jpg engine in-camera. I would never use that as a consideration but some people might. Just depends on your workflow. Since iPhoto and Aperture do seamless raw conversion (ie you don't have to *do* anything, they work), on the Mac side it is a non-issue but some people try to make it one. Disk space and other considerations apply though...lots of variables.

But again, if words like "workflow" and "pp" aren't in your vocabulary and you don't want them to be, then a P&S is a better choice.
04-12-2008, 10:54 AM   #28
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and as an example, almost all of these shots were done with a P&S. I printed them at 16x20 and they rock:





But I'm also going for a certain look. I also have some of my favorite images that were taken with a Canon SD400.
04-12-2008, 11:03 AM   #29
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Striker,

The Canon 40D should, I think, be compared to the Pentax K20D, not to the K200D. If you feel that you'd be happy with the K200D, then my advice would be, buy the Pentax K200D and tell yourself (correctly) that you're getting a camera that's MUCH better than the Rebel XTi or even the XSi. If the features of the Canon 40D matter to you (ignore the megapixel count), then you should be thinking of a K20D or at least a K10D (which may still be the best buy in show biz right now).


Frames per second

I shoot a lot of sports. I almost always have my camera set to continuous shooting, so I can capture several shots in a row by just holding down the shutter button. But I have never cared very much about frames per second. My personal feeling is, if you don't know for a fact that 5-6 fps will make a big difference to you, then it almost certainly won't.


"External" advantages of Canon/Nikon product line

On the other hand, there are some significant reasons to purchase a Canon or Nikon, and they weren't among the reasons you mentioned. Buying one of the Big Two means you're buying what everybody else has, and that means that camera stores provide better support (most stores I go into don't carry Pentax), that you can find more lenses to choose from, that there's more stuff for sale on eBay that's compatible with your body, that you can easily find lenses to rent (hard to do with Pentax), and so on. If you're just buying a camera and don't expect to buy another camera again for years, then these factors may not matter much. I might add that, if you use or plan to use flash a lot, you might want to do some more research. My main gripe about the Pentax system has to do with flash. It's possible to get the Pentax flash system to work very well, but my Canon and Nikon photographer friends don't seem to have to work quite as hard as I think I do to get good results from their flash systems.


Shake reduction

As for shake reduction (a.k.a. "image stabilization," "vibration reduction" and other names): remember, a lot more people buy Canon and Nikon cameras without in-body shake reduction than buy Pentax (or one of the other brands) that have it, and apparently these folks are happy. They are not all spending thousands of dollars on IS/VR lenses. Most of them simply do without and somehow they cope. Actually, until pretty recently, NOBODY had shake reduction, at any price, and the pros coped, too.

How can that be? Well, for most of the kind of shooting that most amateur photographers do (and quite a few pros, as well), shake reduction just ain't that helpful. If you always shoot on a tripod, it's of little consequence, since normally you'd be turning SR OFF while the camera is on a tripod. Even if you never use a tripod but you mostly shoot at shorter focal length and/or reasonably good light - if you are generally able to keep your shutter speed faster than your focal length, then shake reduction also doesn't matter too much.

Who does SR matter to? I shoot weddings and other church events. Light usually stinks. It's not uncommon for me to be trying to take a photo at 120mm focal length, f/2.8, and a shutter speed of 1/60th sec. There, shake reduction is a real help: as long as I don't jiggle the camera and the subject doesn't turn suddenly, I can still get a decent shot. But this is a kind of shot that most people don't take all the time, and for good reason: it's not a very promising circumstance for good photos. If you're a wildlife photographer and you will be shooting at 300mm or longer a good bit, than SR might matter to you as well.


Why Pentax?

So why buy Pentax? I will confess that I purchased my first Pentax DSLR (the K100D) because it had the best combination of price and performance, and it had shake reduction in-body (which could be considered a part of performance). I still think this is a pretty good analysis of Pentax's advantages, although I would now also want to mention the amazing ergonomics and build quality of the K10D/K20D, plus the terrific quality/cost ratio of Pentax lenses.

As I have said many times, the good news is, it's hard to go far wrong. Every camera has its drawbacks and weaknesses, but nobody seems to make one that's truly bad these days.

Will
04-12-2008, 11:33 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by jms698 Quote
For me the most important aspects of a DSLR are:

- Shake Reduction: won't buy a camera without it.
Me neither. Sure, you can buy a tripod or monopod like RiceHigh says but those accessories aren't always practical. I shoot on New York City streets and a tripod is a no-no unless you have a permit from the city. Monopod - maybe but I much prefer Anti-Shake, especially for quick candid shots. And for other shots, even scenics outside the city, I often do those handheld now. Even a light tripod sometimes is a burden for this oldster.

Richard
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