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01-02-2009, 11:14 PM   #46
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rush2112 Quote
Here is another shot, just a tad of cropping and levels adjustment. The K20 meters well on reds from what I can tell so far, and the natural color setting seems to keep that red channel in check (very easy to blow out the red channel)...
It should do well with yellow too based on my experience with the K10D. (I have always considered yellow to be the acid test.)

Steve

01-03-2009, 02:15 AM   #47
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Thanks for posting your impressions regarding your new toy... it's always interesting to hear the differences between platforms. I know so far I've been very happy w/ Pentax, but I'm sure my expectations and experience are quite low compared to yours. Regardless, it'll be interesting to see how you grow into this camera and what lenses you end up liking (or not) and why.

I took a look at your site and as others have said, it's great stuff and a pleasure to navigate. Good luck to you, and hope to hear more of your impressions on the k20 (I'm toying with the idea of upgrading from the k10 since the k20 seems to be such a bargain right now).

Mike
01-03-2009, 07:03 AM   #48
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That is my experience too Steve

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
It should do well with yellow too based on my experience with the K10D. (I have always considered yellow to be the acid test.)

Steve
I purposely sought out reds and yellows, both were metered great (if even underexposed a tad). So that puts a plus on the K20's side.

C
01-03-2009, 09:11 PM   #49
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Ok, getting a bit serious now.

Enough playing around getting to know the camera. I took the K20D out with the 18-55mm DA II lens for a more serious go. I thought that the ocean would look nice today with a small passing storm, so off to Dana Point I went. I ended up with this shot (and others).

Processed from raw (lots of headroom and dynamic range in the raw files, wow!), a single exposure shot. Minor dodge/burn (very minor), and just a smidgen of sharpening in Neat Image (in camera sharpening is conservative, my favorite kind). I was impressed looking over the files to say the least. As I am impressed with the 18-55mm II lens, very sharp and very little distortion of any kind (when shot at f7.1 to f13).

Metering is touchy on the K20, but with all the room in raw to play with I'll give it a pass ( I do suggest that Pentax work on it a bit however).



01-03-2009, 09:14 PM   #50
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Beee You Ti Ful.


Impressive PP, looks very natural.

You should give the Pentax DA 12-24 a whirl sometime.

Looking forward to more shots!
01-04-2009, 01:44 AM   #51
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rush2112 Quote
(in camera sharpening is conservative, my favorite kind)
Nice shot. You can make out the rope well on the sailboat mast out there a good bit.

If you are referring to the RAW file, I'm pretty sure there isn't any sharpening in-camera.

I shoot a lot of RAW+ now'days, even given that I never seem to do anything with the JPGs. I found I need to turn the Lightroom sharpening up higher than I would have though to equate to the in-camera sharpening set to 0.
01-04-2009, 07:07 AM   #52
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QuoteOriginally posted by m8o Quote
Nice shot. You can make out the rope well on the sailboat mast out there a good bit.

If you are referring to the RAW file, I'm pretty sure there isn't any sharpening in-camera.

I shoot a lot of RAW+ now'days, even given that I never seem to do anything with the JPGs. I found I need to turn the Lightroom sharpening up higher than I would have though to equate to the in-camera sharpening set to 0.
I was referring to the jpegs, sorry for jumping around a bit in my commentary.

The full resolution file has tons of detail, it is pretty amazing. The autofocus is very reliable, I am impressed actually.

C
01-04-2009, 08:28 AM   #53
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A Mini Preview

I couldn't find a specific DSLR review section so, I decided not to start another thread and go ahead and put this small review here. This is a rather oversimplified summation of the K20D, yet I think hits on all the major standout points. So without futher ado, my preview:

The K20D is one of the most fully featured DSLRs on the market, let alone for its class and price range. It offers exceptional build quality with industry leading sealing from moisture and dust, class leading resolution, and a fully customizable menu system. It also has an excellent viewfinder- 95% coverage @ .95x magnification. It has live view for composing your shots at 100%. The rest of the features of the K20D are too long to list, I recommend seriously considering this camera if you are the type of photographer who likes to control nearly every aspect of a camera's features.

The K20D is a relatively small camera by dimension, yet remains a somewhat dense DSLR that gives you a feel of a higher than average quality product. In use I find the auto focus reliably accurate, and the layout and ergonomics very well designed and pretty intuitive. Exposure metering can be a bit hit and miss at times, yet it is most accurate to say that it reliably underexposes often by about .3 to .7 ev. which tends to protect your highlights.

When the color setting is set to natural, colors are very accurate for outdoor use, and some of the most pleasing I have seen to date. Battery life is excellent, CIPA rated at 720 shots per charge yet I could easily get 900 shots out of it with some basic power management.

The resolution is at a sweet spot for just about all photographers' needs, yet pushes the performance of the APS-C sized CMOS sensor to just about the maximum. Noise looks nice through ISO 1600 (where the shots are all usable) but starts to interfere with details and color at ISO 3200 and degrades image quality. ISO 100 is very clean (a nitpick and requirement of mine). At ISO 6400 (available through an expanded menu change), jpeg images are unusable for anything over 4"x6" in my opinion, although it is nice to have and processing the raw files helps matters a little.

The K20D is a joy to use. From its spirited (yet pretty loud) auto focus to its awesome menu system and custom features, the K20D leaves very little for a professional to be desired. The live view system is lack luster though if you plan on using it for any accuracy in metering or checking your focus. You aren't able to view a live histogram while live view is enabled (what?), and the images when viewed at 4x or 8x magnification during focus check are pixelated and quite difficult to make out. I find that 4x is best when using focus check by basically watching the edge contrast for accurate focus. With some practice it can help some, but it stands room for improvement (firmware upgrade anyone?).

I recommend using the fastest SD card you can find and also with the most capacity (they fill up quick using raw, especially when using raw + jpeg). Perhaps a Sandisk III 8GB SD card.

Armed with one of the pro sealed lenses (identified with an *) this DSLR and lens combo is one of the best cameras to use for foul weather (rain, sandstorms, smoke etc). One of the biggest reasons for my purchase of it, and I'll be ordering up the 16-50mm DA* very soon.

Pentax offers many prime lenses for this camera of extremely high optical quality for relatively little cost for performance. For a one brand user, Pentax's only gap would be the big telephoto zooms (over 300mm). Otherwise a smart investment choice with this camera system now owned by Hoya (for financial stability).

In closing, it turns out that even though I purchased this camera for a specific niche, I wouldn't be sacrificing much by making it my every day camera. It has impressed me much more than irritated me and for that, makes a very solid design.

Carl

01-04-2009, 09:29 AM   #54
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Carl, very nice review, thanks for the effort. Good to have you here.

I think the K20D has probably spoiled me - every time I try another brand's body, I seem to notice the same three things:

1) The other body locks to focus faster than the K20D - sometimes just a little bit, sometimes pretty noticeably.

2) The other body's AF, while faster, misses more shots - just a tad off - while the K20D is spot on more often (with an accurate lens)

3) Color and detail is just plain better with the K20D in almost every case. Nikon D300 and a Canon 5D I tried matched it, and the D300 was better at ISO 1600+.

What is your take on the AF speed vs. your Alphas?

Thanks again.


.
01-04-2009, 11:37 AM   #55
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QuoteOriginally posted by jsherman999 Quote
Carl, very nice review, thanks for the effort. Good to have you here.

I think the K20D has probably spoiled me - every time I try another brand's body, I seem to notice the same three things:

1) The other body locks to focus faster than the K20D - sometimes just a little bit, sometimes pretty noticeably.

2) The other body's AF, while faster, misses more shots - just a tad off - while the K20D is spot on more often (with an accurate lens)

3) Color and detail is just plain better with the K20D in almost every case. Nikon D300 and a Canon 5D I tried matched it, and the D300 was better at ISO 1600+.

What is your take on the AF speed vs. your Alphas?

Thanks again.


.
I agree with your assessments on autofocus, it does seem to lock more accurately than other bodies, and to me it is faster than about half of what is on the market in this class.

On color, I find the A700 and K20D in a dead tie with equal lenses.

Autofocus is fast on the A700/200, with the A700 being just a tad faster than the K20d, accuracy is about the same.... perhaps a slight edge to the K20d (often by a hair, but sometimes hairs are what counts most).

I am really delighted to have what I feel are the best two DSLR's in the industry as my main cameras. That being the A700/K20D. They are really different cameras and seem to compliment each other well.

C
01-06-2009, 01:03 AM   #56
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Very nice read. Thanks for all the insights Carl. Wish I could see the photos though, I don't know why they don't show up in my browser.
01-07-2009, 06:07 PM   #57
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Hi Carl

As someone who has been considering moving to either a K20D or an A700 from my Canon 40D, your observations have been very helpful. I am curious though about the conditions in which you have tried out the K20D autofocus.

I tried all these 3 cameras at a local store specifically to get a rough idea of their autofocus performance. It was during day time, thogh the inside of the store was not very brgihtly lit so the light was on the lower side. I chose two targets in the store, one was about 8-10 meters away and the other was about 2 meters away. And then I repeatedly focussed on them in succession. My observations were the following:

40D (with 18-200 lens): Almost instantaneous for both targets

A700 (with a kit lens = ??): Again almost instantaneous

K20D (with a kit lens (probably 50-200): pretty quick when focusing on the closer target. But hunted for focus when going from closer target to farther target

K20D (with 50-135 2.8): Much smoother and quieter then the kit lens. Also much more positive with no hunting. However unlike 40Dand A700 which were near instantaneus, I could actually feel the K20D focus motor take its time. I am not sure if it should be called "slow" but the difference in speed was very noticeable. It would sound something like --- blip for 40D/A700 and bleeep for K20D.

I dont know if the difference would be important in real life shooting situations or not. But sinec one of the intended uses of my camera would be to take indoor shots of my toddler, so the last thing I want is being frustrated by the autofocus.

So any toughts about the low light focusing of K20D versus A700 would be gret.
01-08-2009, 03:36 AM   #58
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QuoteOriginally posted by random Quote
40D (with 18-200 lens): Almost instantaneous for both targets

A700 (with a kit lens = ??)
I dont know if the difference would be important in real life shooting situations or not. But sinec one of the intended uses of my camera would be to take indoor shots of my toddler, so the last thing I want is being frustrated by the autofocus.

So any toughts about the low light focusing of K20D versus A700 would be gret.
I think your observations are fairly representative. Nevertheless you will miss the occasional toddler shot with any of these cameras. I have been using my istDS, K10 and K20 over the years to follow the growth of our son (now 5 years old) from birth on and felt never let down by the Pentax. Ofcourse sometimes images are blurred, because I often used available light without added flash, but that would be the case with any camera. And as the K20 has such a good noise level at ISO 1000 (and even good at ISO 1600), this latter problem is not pronounced anymore.

What you really need is a fast lens, which helps focusing and stopping the motion of the little ones.

Ben
01-08-2009, 01:19 PM   #59
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote
I think your observations are fairly representative. Nevertheless you will miss the occasional toddler shot with any of these cameras. I have been using my istDS, K10 and K20 over the years to follow the growth of our son (now 5 years old) from birth on and felt never let down by the Pentax. Ofcourse sometimes images are blurred, because I often used available light without added flash, but that would be the case with any camera. And as the K20 has such a good noise level at ISO 1000 (and even good at ISO 1600), this latter problem is not pronounced anymore.

What you really need is a fast lens, which helps focusing and stopping the motion of the little ones.

Ben

Thanks ben for your comments about autofocus - thats reassuring. The lens I use most to photograph my baby daughter is canon 50 1.4, plus I am very comfortable using upto ISO 1600 on my 30D. So I am likely to use a similar strategy if I get a K20D.

Btw, do you tend to use focus tracking to track your running toddler / kid? And if yes then how well does that work on K20? Plus which lenses you found most useful at different stages of your son's growth?
01-09-2009, 04:45 AM   #60
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QuoteOriginally posted by random Quote
Thanks ben for your comments about autofocus - thats reassuring. The lens I use most to photograph my baby daughter is canon 50 1.4, plus I am very comfortable using upto ISO 1600 on my 30D. So I am likely to use a similar strategy if I get a K20D.

Btw, do you tend to use focus tracking to track your running toddler / kid? And if yes then how well does that work on K20? Plus which lenses you found most useful at different stages of your son's growth?
Good questions indeed. I usually use AF-S, single-AF, because AF-C is the exact point, where the Pentax cameras all are noticeably lacking, compared to Canon. But also I find, that AF-C is too "nervous" for my taste. It is hard to keep the eye of the baby in focus and AF-C doesn't really help. So I usually pre-focus and wait, until my son is moving back into focus, during his activities...

For lenses: in the beginning, when he was really small and not on his legs, I was often quite near to him, when taking photographs. Therefor I would often use a mild wide angle (something like a 24/2) or the standard zoom lens (a Sigma 18-50/2.8). Later and especially when other children played with him, I would step farther aside and use the 50/1.4 or sometimes the 85/1.4, which allows to make nicely concentrated shots. But by total number count, I guess I have used my 18-50 most often for convenience. Because even if you ask him to sit a few moments still, in order to make a proper portrait, that is hardly achievable, as children have quite a different perception of sitting still, than we do...

When I use flash, I use longer exposure times (not X-sync), to include the available light into the shot. My flash usually is bounced, with the small secondary reflector (I use Metz flashes) providing fill-light and the catch lights in the eyes. That works nicely.

Ben
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