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10-01-2008, 08:09 PM   #1
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K20D - first impressions

When I saw an 'open box" offer for $730 at amazon last week I could not resist and had to get it! I have it since a few days now and here are some impressions:

High iso performance:
very impressive! What I did not figure before is that the high resolution makes the noise much less visible since it produces a finer grain. I can get good images up to iso 1600. My DS was usable till iso 800.

Live view:
in contrast to some reviews I find it very useful. Especially when shooting portraits, since I can now look at the person myself I do not get this someone-takes-my-picture expression. For some reason the live view does not come back for several seconds after taking a picture (I guess till the picture is saved), but the picture is taken very fast nearly instantly when pressing the shutter.
BUT: My god! who designed this camera! the live view shares its button with the depth of field (DOF) preview, it can be either programmed for live view or DOF. To change from one to the other you have to find your way into the custom menu and go all the way to line number 30! There are so many other less useful buttons they could have shared, like the AF of raw button. Please Pentax, give me a firmware upgrade already.

Other button and wheels:
2 wheels! great! I immediately set all program settings to have iso adjustability on the front wheel- very useful.
The knob: the program shift is great so is the sensitivity priority (iso on the front wheel makes it redundant, though). But who needs a green setting on a 'pro-sumer' camera? And I have no idea what the user setting is for. I am still missing a setting on the knob for having a full program mode with emphasis on DOF and one for speed (as my old film canon eos had). This exists in the customs menu now but than P is set to one mode.
The raw button: I take all my pictures in RAW, but I can not switch from RAW to jpeg with this button for a longer burst mode, one can only switch from RAW to RAW+.
AF button, I use it to cancel the AF for manual focus- very useful!
The green button: What exactly is this for? So far I did not need it. Another one were live view could be. On the DS the exposure compensation is in this position.

Customs settings: strangely enough I have nearly none for which I left the Pentax default- tons of customization possible.

Handling: what a beast compared to the DS. Very comfortable, though. The hand grip is less deep than at the DS making it a bit harder to hold with my large hands. Does not feel like plastic in any way.

The pictures: Maybe this has something to do with light room, but pixel beeping looks very different, with the DS it was one pixel per point, while the K20D gives a fuzzy pattern. Is this a CMOS feature?

To much rant? - sorry than you got me wrong- you should see the smile on my face!

Here are some iso 1600 pictures:





10-01-2008, 08:25 PM   #2
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You don't have to scroll through all the items in the menus - as I discovered after nearly a year with my k10d, which has the same controls, other than live view. Push menu, then play with the two e-dials. The rear e-dial selects the menu, the front one changes the pages. As it sounds as if you were doing, I was using the four-way controller and it took forever to get anywhere.

You don't need to use up the front e-dial for ISO. Hold the [OK] button, and the front dial becomes ISO. Then it can go back to whatever you want it to be, other than ISO.

The [USER] position is the one I have my camera set to when I am using DA lenses. The rest of the time, I use M. Set the camera up so that every possible option is exactly as you want it. Then memorize it to the [USER] button. Presto Change-o! now you can go back to your favourite settings with a turn of the mode wheel, and still go off on a tangent whenever you wish.

The green button is used when you have moved an exposure setting off the normal. In P mode, as soon as you move the rear e-dial, you are in aperture priority and as soon as you move the front dial, you are in shutter priority. To get back to the default program mode, press the green button. To cancel exposure compensation without looking at the indicator, press [+/-] and the green button at the same time. It's a "take me back to defaults" button.

I also find the k10d (same body) difficult and a little bit off balance - until the D-BG2 grip is installed - then it sits in my hands as if it were custom made for me! I was lucky that I bought a package deal of k10d + d-bg2 and da 12-24. I took the grip off for a while, but never again. The camera just doesn't fit right without it.

Any other little quirks, add to the thread, and I'll see it.

Last edited by Canada_Rockies; 10-01-2008 at 08:35 PM.
10-01-2008, 09:25 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Canada_Rockies Quote
To cancel exposure compensation without looking at the indicator, press [+/-] and the green button at the same time. It's a "take me back to defaults" button.
Does this work with the k10d? I can't believe I've been shooting with the k10d as long as I have and didn't know this. Yeesh! Thanks for the tip.
10-01-2008, 09:35 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by LaRee Quote
Does this work with the k10d? I can't believe I've been shooting with the k10d as long as I have and didn't know this. Yeesh! Thanks for the tip.
That's ok, I only found out about three days ago that I could navigate the menus with the e-dials. Duh!

10-01-2008, 10:15 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Canada_Rockies Quote
That's ok, I only found out about three days ago that I could navigate the menus with the e-dials. Duh!
Fortunately my Panasonic FZ30 had a menu that you could use in much the same way as the k10d. It would drive me nuts if I had to scroll through all those menus! Didn't it get on your nerves?
10-01-2008, 10:43 PM   #6
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Um... Albert - you rock! Didn't know I could do that...
10-01-2008, 11:47 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by LaRee Quote
Fortunately my Panasonic FZ30 had a menu that you could use in much the same way as the k10d. It would drive me nuts if I had to scroll through all those menus! Didn't it get on your nerves?
It drove me nuts! Another poster on the forums here mentionned the e-dials for navigating the menus - and I woke up!
10-02-2008, 12:41 AM   #8
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Underexposure?

The first and third pictures look dark and underexposed.

10-02-2008, 12:51 AM   #9
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Albert I found that out during some fidling after someone told me about scrolling and enlarging taken shots with the e-dials.


Great features
10-02-2008, 01:08 AM   #10
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holy crap, I didnt know either. This works great.
Thanks for the great review, my thoughts are pretty much on par with yours.
Im impressed by die iso performance coming from my K100D(which wasnt bad either)
10-02-2008, 01:38 AM   #11
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Don't you people read the manual?

Not sure if you're talking about the green button, or green mode. Green button been covered. Green mode is good for when you give the camera to a lesser being than a Pentaxian.
10-02-2008, 04:28 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by RiceHigh Quote
The first and third pictures look dark and underexposed.
Man you have good eyes. I only see two pictures.
10-02-2008, 06:06 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by tubadad Quote
Man you have good eyes. I only see two pictures.
Ooops. I saw the second picture top and bottom as two! :-)

Well, then, both pics are underexposed!
10-02-2008, 06:47 AM   #14
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chse, congrats on the purchase, I'm envious! r.e. the green button, put the camera in full manual, spin the dials a few times, then focus on your subject and press the green button -- it will come up with decent aperture and exposure values for you -- probably one of the handiest buttons on the thing
10-02-2008, 07:43 AM   #15
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by Canada_Rockies Quote
You don't have to scroll through all the items in the menus - as I discovered after nearly a year with my k10d, which has the same controls, other than live view. Push menu, then play with the two e-dials. The rear e-dial selects the menu, the front one changes the pages. As it sounds as if you were doing, I was using the four-way controller and it took forever to get anywhere.
Thanks for the tip, that helps. When moving the front dial the menus actually jump refreshing the whole screen (about 5 lines at once) making the access very fast. Still, not having a separate button for live view is a big drawback.

QuoteOriginally posted by Canada_Rockies Quote
You don't need to use up the front e-dial for ISO. Hold the [OK] button, and the front dial becomes ISO. Then it can go back to whatever you want it to be, other than ISO.
Another nice function I did not discover yet. I still like like the iso fixed on the front dial better, though.


QuoteOriginally posted by Canada_Rockies Quote
Any other little quirks, add to the thread, and I'll see it.
Thanks for the help, and actually yes: I set the displays the way that the iso value is always displayed. Is there a way to show the image count? Or even show iso in the viewfinder and images on the top screen? I noticed it displays the image count briefly when I turn the camera off, but that is a bit to complicated.
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