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06-23-2008, 09:30 AM   #1
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Pentax K20D or Canon 5D

I am considering either a Pentax K20D with 16-50 2.8 zoom or Canon EOS 5D with 24-70 2.8L. The factors I am considering for the two cameras are below, in order of importance to me. I shoot mostly outdoors, hiking and backpacking. I am very interested in any input you might have on the decision. I am posting this on both Canon and Pentax forums.



Advantages of K20D over EOS 5D

o Waterproof & Dustproof . I have lost two compact cameras to dust and I shoot outdoors. The Canon 'L' is sealed, but the 5D is not.

o Price. The K20D with lens is ~$1.6K (after $200 rebate), the 5D with lens is ~3.1K. (Refurbished version would be ~$2.7K, or with the 24-105 f4L is ~$2.6K). That is a huge price difference; the benefits of the 5D would have to be equally great.

o Ergonomics. The 'hyper program' (moving one of the wheels changes to shutter or aperture priority), the 'TAV priority' (user sets aperture + shutter speed, camera sets ISO) and the green button to set aperture and shutter in Manual mode are all very simple and great examples functionality designed for real world use.

o Weight. The Pentax is heavy 48 oz), but the Canon is even heavier (56 oz).

o The K20D is a new camera and the 5D is a little dated.

o ISO displayed in the viewfinder. This is most useful in the 'TAV Priority' mode.

o Auto bracketing set via hard button rather than buried in a menu





Advantages of EOS 5D over K20D

o Image quality. The 5D is lower resolution but the larger pixels and higher lens quality more than make up for it.

o Future of full frame. I thought that with increasing resolutions, the advantage of full frame would be reduced until I read about the issue of diffraction and pixel size. This implies that as resolutions rise, the sensor size will become more important, not less important. Diffraction Limited Photography: Pixel Size, Aperture and Airy Disks and Digital Camera Sensor Sizes: How it Influences Your Photography. The Canon is impacted by diffraction at f13, the Pentax at f7.6

o Quality Control. The Pentax lens is based on a Tokina design and I am reading lots of reports about quality problems.

o Lens quality. The Canon L is a much higher quality lens.

o Manufacturer viability. I am a little concerned about the long term viability of Pentax.

o Viewfinder. The Pentax has a larger viewfinder than most DSLRS, but the 5D is even bigger. Digital SLR Viewfinders: Size, Magnification, Coverage, Crop

o Lower noise at high ISO. This is exacerbated by the fact that the Canon is more sensitive and the Pentax less sensitive. (Pentax tends to underexpose - this could be a metering problem, or the fact that the sensor is actually lower ISO than indicated.)



A top 10 list that includes both is The Online Photographer: Summer '08: T.O.P. 10 New Camera Recommendations

06-23-2008, 09:36 AM   #2
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I think the issue here is you are comparing an old "Pro" camera with a new "advanced amature" camera.

I know I will get beaten on the use of these terms but so what.

In reality you should consider the overall price vs what you get concept. take the $3100 you are willing to spend on the 5D and what can you get with the K20D system.

Additionally, when you talk about the "tokina" designs. You've got that wrong.

they are co designed optically, but manufactured differently and have different mechanical implementation.

Quality problems on Tokina lenses does not necessairly mean quality problems on Pentax ones, or the opposite.
06-23-2008, 09:41 AM   #3
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the better question is which assortament of glass do you think is better, or, better suited to your needs, that of canon, or pentax.

the 5D is a relic and will be replaced

the K20D is new but will still be replaced

both will be replaced by something better, but your glass will last you forever.
06-23-2008, 09:50 AM   #4
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Tough call really. I myself picked between 40D and K10D. You can't really go wrong with any of your choices. The 5D is an excellent camera and so is the K20D. If you are looking to get more lenses in the future, you will see that the price gap will rise alot when you get new lenses. Canon is overall more expensive the the Pentax on lenses. On the other hand, since you mostly hike about with your camera, I guess you won't be looking into too many prime lenses?

If you are only going to use the camera as a hiking camera and simply use one or two zooms, I would probably recommend the Pentax. It's more bang per dollar. And to be honest, it's quite enough for a travel camera, and more to that. And as you said, your backpacking and hiking, and no matter what the Canon people will tell you, the more seals you got, the more protected you are, simple as that. Do remember though, if moist get in, it wont get out either, so it's not a 100% safe bet when in moist tents etc. I still recommend dry bags and such. But it will indeed help. And the built in stabilizer will also help.

If you however are into alot of landscape photography, I would recommend the Canon 5D for the full format. But then remember to get stabilized optics and a waterproof bag. Since I assume you wont be carrying a tripod around too often when backpacking.

For me it would be a K20D, but thats because I love using old lenses. But I will at some point get a fullformat Canon aswell, and all my lenses will fit on it. But they won't be stabilized, so I assume that the Canon will only come out to play when I have a tripod with me .

It is very very hard to make a choice, the pricedrop of the 5D is very very intresting. But it's also just a house. And your next upgrade might not be as cheap .

Toss a coin. You will win whatever the outcome is. You can't go wrong.

06-23-2008, 10:20 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Additionally, when you talk about the "tokina" designs. You've got that wrong.

they are co designed optically, but manufactured differently and have different mechanical implementation.

Quality problems on Tokina lenses does not necessairly mean quality problems on Pentax ones, or the opposite.
The Pentax lens is manufactured differently, but there are reports of significant quality problems. There is a forum thread somewhere that is tracking the good and bad serial numbers.
06-23-2008, 10:23 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jfsavage Quote
The Pentax lens is manufactured differently, but there are reports of significant quality problems. There is a forum thread somewhere that is tracking the good and bad serial numbers.
As I said, the issue of quality is not mutually exclusive to one vendor or the other, and I know about the thread you mention.

I cannot personally speak of the 16-50 and its problems, but I am sure there are reported issues with many lenses of all types by all manufacturers as they shift production to low labour cost countries.
06-23-2008, 10:29 AM   #7
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If you really want Canon, wait for the new one.. Rumors says something is coming out..
Fit it with the Canon 24-105L F4.. and you're good to go
06-23-2008, 10:43 AM   #8
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Hi jfsavage

Here's yet another point to bear in mind. Once the resolution of a sensor begins to exceed the resolving power of a lens, something naturally has to give where image quality is concerned. Today's high-res sensors are reputedly merciless in revealing less-than-perfect glass, which will really come as no great surprise to someone who has used either the Canon 1DS Mk11 / Canon 5D / Nikon D3 or Pentax K20D for any length of time !

So potential purchasers had better realise that they can't just slap any old cheap lens onto one of these DSLR's and subsequently expect to produce stunning images...it simply ain't gonna happen, believe me ! Having absorbed these words of wisdom, all you need to do now is inhale very deeply and then take a trip down to see your friendly local bank manager......lol ! Incidentally, have you SEEN the equivalent retail price for the range of Canon's IS / Nikon's VR stabilised lenses......ouch ! So although the Pentax K20D may leave an indelible hole in your savings account, the equivalent set up from either Canon or Nikon is virtually guaranteed to bankrupt you and then some. If you have deep pockets, then all well and good.....

By the way, have I forgetten to mention that ALL K-mount lenses (both Old & New) automatically benefit from the K20D's in-body Shake Reduction system ?

Best regards
Richard


Last edited by Confused; 06-23-2008 at 06:07 PM.
06-23-2008, 10:45 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by jfsavage Quote
Advantages of EOS 5D over K20D

o Image quality. The 5D is lower resolution but the larger pixels and higher lens quality more than make up for it.
you're still limited by how many LP/MM your sensor can resolve, for detail.

QuoteQuote:
o Future of full frame. I thought that with increasing resolutions, the advantage of full frame would be reduced until I read about the issue of diffraction and pixel size. This implies that as resolutions rise, the sensor size will become more important, not less important. Diffraction Limited Photography: Pixel Size, Aperture and Airy Disks and Digital Camera Sensor Sizes: How it Influences Your Photography. The Canon is impacted by diffraction at f13, the Pentax at f7.6
if you're concerned about full frame, why not wait until pentax offers a full frame pro model camera?

QuoteQuote:
o Quality Control. The Pentax lens is based on a Tokina design and I am reading lots of reports about quality problems.
there are issues, but, when you get a good copy, from what i've seen you get an outstanding piece of glass.

QuoteQuote:
o Lens quality. The Canon L is a much higher quality lens.
by quality, are you saying the QC is better? if so, that should be lumped into the above point, not given it's own. if you're talking about optical merits, well, that's a subjective thing to measure, as one might prefer the look from lens A, while someone else likes lens B.

QuoteQuote:
o Manufacturer viability. I am a little concerned about the long term viability of Pentax.
why? pentax has been around for over half a century, and with the recent merger with Hoya, i doubt they'll disappear any time soon.

QuoteQuote:
o Viewfinder. The Pentax has a larger viewfinder than most DSLRS, but the 5D is even bigger. Digital SLR Viewfinders: Size, Magnification, Coverage, Crop
with a FF sensor comes a FF viewfinder. chalk this one up under the FF advantage.

QuoteQuote:
o Lower noise at high ISO. This is exacerbated by the fact that the Canon is more sensitive and the Pentax less sensitive. (Pentax tends to underexpose - this could be a metering problem, or the fact that the sensor is actually lower ISO than indicated.)
lower noise is due to lower pixel density. if you were to compare the 5d to a similar pixel dense APS-C camera, the noise should be about the same, but the APS-C will be of a lower mp count. full frame has the ability to cram the same number of pixels into a bigger area, thus creating less noise.


so, in reality, all of the advantages of the 5d are that it's full frame, you seem to prefer the look of their glass, and that pentax has QC issues for the 1 lens you're immediately looking at.

i don't think those out weigh your pros for the K20d
06-23-2008, 11:00 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jfsavage Quote
The Pentax lens is manufactured differently, but there are reports of significant quality problems. There is a forum thread somewhere that is tracking the good and bad serial numbers.
You are correct, but if I recall, it's an issue with the lens being bad from the start, not going bad after it's been used for a while.

Having said that, and given the fact you intend to use the camera backpacking, I would be more inclined to go with the 18-250mm zoom, especially if you use the camera for wild life photography.
06-23-2008, 11:13 AM   #11
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OniFactor - thank you for the response; it has been very helpful.

QuoteOriginally posted by OniFactor Quote
if you're concerned about full frame, why not wait until pentax offers a full frame pro model camera?
I would like to purchase in the next few weeks; you can always wait for the next big thing, but sooner or later you have to act.

QuoteOriginally posted by OniFactor Quote
there are issues, but, when you get a good copy, from what i've seen you get an outstanding piece of glass.
by quality, are you saying the QC is better? if so, that should be lumped into the above point, not given it's own. if you're talking about optical merits, well, that's a subjective thing to measure, as one might prefer the look from lens A, while someone else likes lens B.
The reviews I've read have indicated that the Canon is objectively a better lens, though at nearly twice the price, it should be. However, the 24-70 2.8 is not stabalized and the 24-105 is 'only' f4.

QuoteOriginally posted by OniFactor Quote
with a FF sensor comes a FF viewfinder. chalk this one up under the FF advantage.
That is true, though the K20D has the best (biggest + brightest) viewfinder of any 'cropped' sensor DSLR. I discounted the Olympus because the viewfinder was tiny.


QuoteOriginally posted by OniFactor Quote
i don't think those out weigh your pros for the K20d
Great analysis; I greatly appreciate you taking the time.
06-23-2008, 05:07 PM   #12
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I like how you named the pros of each system, in order of importance.

It looks like you're doing the research, which is good

---------

I can't comment on the K20D, as mine won't be here until Wednesday. I can't comment on the 5D, either.

Looking at your list of "importances", though, it really looks like the Pentax list simply trumps the Canon list, offering more of a "bang".

For example:


Weathersealing - You state the conditions of use for the camera, and the fact you've lost cameras before. An important point! A camera is not good if it's broken.

vs

Image quality -- Both cameras, I'm sure when paired with appropriate optics, are outstanding. Would you be able to tell the difference between a 5D and K20D shot? (I'm curious - I have never studied med. format shots).
Is this difference (whether perceived or real) greater in importance than weathersealing?

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

Price -- This is important to me, as I'm not terribly rich. THe K20D and system can be had for pennies compared to the Canon. This may not be as large of a concern for you compared to ...

vs.

Full Frame Future -- A toughy, as I've never been technically inclinded enough to really learn about the intricate physics behind cameras. Again, though, I think "practice" vs "theory" comes into play - Yes, diffraction limits may be different - but would you really see the difference on screen when not 100% zoomed? On print? I don't know, but important question to ask.


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



I think only you can decide which of these factors are more important to you...every photog is different, and wants different things from the camera system in use.

I wish there was a perfect system, that's for sure, but until then we have to make compromises. Some choices are very tough for some people, while some choices are easy because of a huge limiting factor (money) makes one brand a sure win over another.


I personally chose the K200D after lots and lots of reading of reviews of the body compared to similar Nikon and Canon systems. The huge win for me, I think, was the sealing and the in-body stabilization and (older) lens selection.

Lucky for me, I am not a huge sports fan or photographer, otherwise I would be sorely disappointed, and I don't need (nor can I afford) huge telephoto lenses. For me, at least, Pentax matched my most prized criteria, while weak in the ones I deemed not as important.

I think you too should decided which of the points you present are more important and go from there -- There is no perfect system.
06-23-2008, 05:37 PM   #13
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I actually looked at the 5D before upgrading my K10D to K20D, since I do the same sort of photography, outdoors hiking and landscapes, some macro, etc. I had the chance to sell my entire system and move to Canon, probably the 5D and the 24-105.

In the end, I didn't because of quite a few things.

Cost, the Canon is expensive, and the decent lenses are expensive.

Sealing, I live in the tropics, and do a lot of walking in rainforests. Go inland a bit in Australia, its all dust. I dislike having to baby my camera.

In body IS/SR, I really dislike paying for it in each lens, and not having it on primes.

Lack of popup flash on the 5D, and with that, no wireless control of external flashes without MORE money. I don't do a great deal of flash photography with popup, but its very nice to have under a dark tree cover if required.

I have no real use for Canon's strength in long zoom lenses, so that didn't matter to me.

And the final reason was simply my photos wouldn't get any better with a 5D. My bank account would get significantly worse though.
06-23-2008, 06:22 PM   #14
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In my view, it is a huge price delta for not a whole heck of a lot IQ or capability wise. Of course, if you're patient, there will likely be a bunch of used 5d's on the market shortly. Dave
06-23-2008, 10:57 PM   #15
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Is your backpacking/hiking multi-day, high ridge summer/winter type?

If so then the 20D is the one you will feel more comfortable with.

I do a lot of serious mountaineering and rockclimbing and my mate NEVER brings his Canon - he's too crap scared of damage.

I just wrap my K10D in a shirt which always sits at the top of my pack for easy access and it has gone through all types of crap

On a recent rockclimbing trip my K10D was wrappped in its shirt in a day bag and on the top we were caught in a major storm - I was unable to access my bag/camera due to being on a rockface - took us 2 hours to escape the route.

When we reached the bottom I was stressing about the camera (because my previous Oly had died in only a light shower) - every thing in the daypack was drenched - took out the K10D and dried it off - and switched on - Eureka no problems!

On a recent rescue I took pics from the open helicopter door and later noticed had picked up quite a large dust piece on the sensor (from looking at pics)-dust was massive being generated fromthe down force of the blades.

A quick utilization of the dust removal and it was gone.

Also where everybody else's pics were blurred mine weren't cos of OIS.

In fact I have been able to get really good shots down to 1/15 sec at iso 100 with OIS.

Doubt if the 5D has any of this versatilty or durability.

On a side note recent tests on have found that the Canon 40D using same lens has the same IQ as the 5D (howls of protest from 5D owners)

I was going for the 40D but chose the K10D it was half the price wwith the kit lens and with the Pentax's protection it became an easy choice.

cheers
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