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01-03-2009, 12:18 PM   #1
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10D or 20D for landscape/outdoor?

Hello!

I’m a soon-to-be Pentaxian looking for some advice. I’ve been photographing for nearly 20 years, early on with SLRs and most recently with some Olympus and Canon prosumer digital P&Ss, but now I’m looking to take the dive into digital SLRs. My photography is primarily outdoor nature, often black and white landscapes but sometimes color nature/wildlife including some macro (flowers, insects, etc.), as well as outdoor stills of old buildings, streets, etc. I do very little action/sports/movement photography.

I don’t have the budget for (or probably the skill to extract the performance from) an expensive pro system, but I’d like something beyond the entry-level offerings.

After reading some pieces emphasizing the importance of sensor size/pixel density over the “race for simply more megapixels,” I did a fair amount of research into specs, reviews, etc. for various models and narrowed my choices down to the Nikon D70 (older camera with only 6MP but very low pixel density) or D90, Canon 450D/xsi, and the Pentax K10D or 20D. After comparing some sample images (e.g. the ‘comparometer’ at Imaging-Resource), it seemed the 20D really stood out (10D samples weren’t available). I was also impressed by the nearly-unanimous very positive user reviews for both the 10D and 20D compared to the other models.

So I have 2 basic questions I’d appreciate some input on:

1. Is the 10D or 20D a better overall choice for my photographic needs?
2. What are your lens recommendations for either the 10D or 20D (particularly a wide-angle for landscapes and a decent macro, either Pentax or 3rd party), including whether it makes sense to spend the extra $75 for the kit lens rather than just the body (it would seem to for only $75)


In favor of the 10D I’ve noted the following:

• Roughly $175 less expensive (more $$$ for glass!)
• Lower pixel density (2.7 compared to 4.0 for 20D)
• One reviewer was of the opinion that in his experience, the 10D was better for landscape/macro since he felt the CMOS sensor/greater pixel density of the 20D created slightly more noise than the 10D
• Higher DxOMark Sensor rating from DxO labs (66.9 compared to 65.4 for 20D)
• Greater dynamic range, tonal range and SNR (DxO labs)
• Slightly higher Amazon user average rating
• Slightly higher DPReview average overall user rating
• Higher PhotographyReview.com average user rating

In favor of the 20D I’ve noted:

• Greater ISO range (100-6400 compared to 100-1600 for the 10D)
• Greater Color Depth (DxO labs)
• Greater low-light ISO figure (DxO labs)
• Slightly higher Smartratings composite score
• Higher DPReview rating (8.5 compared to 7.5 “Just” Highly Recommended)
• Slightly higher DPReview average image quality user rating
• Higher Cameralabs image quality rating and overall score/ranking
• Higher DigitalCameraHQ Editor and user ratings

I think ultimately either the 10D or 20D would be a great camera for me. But since I can make the choice I’d like to get some input from the Pentax community.

Thanks in advance for your time and help!
Coyotefred

01-03-2009, 01:36 PM   #2
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Either the K10D or K20D will make a fine landscape camera. I have both and I have gotten good images from both. Here are a couple of samples with the DA* 16-50 f/2.8.

K10D. I have these images at 11x14 and the pine branches and needles are clearly visible. I have no doubt that they will go much larger.




K20D. I haven't printed these yet but I'm sure they'll be fine.




Hope this helps.
01-03-2009, 02:06 PM   #3
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If you don't have the coin for a DA*16-50, I find the Pentax DA 16-45/4.0 and my K10D to be an excellent combination for landscape/outdoor. Both lens are excellent and cover a popular shooting range. Most likely you'll have plenty of light and won't need a faster lens. Now if you're going to be shooting indoors as well a few extra stops can be very handy so the DA* would be a better choice. I also have a Pentax DA 12-24mm/4.0 and it's excellent for landscapes shots as well, but the tighter zoom might not be what you're looking for. If you want to stick to wide angle the Sigma 10-20mm is another good alternative. I've not tried it, but it has a very strong user base and gets constant excellent reviews. It might actually be a better value than the Pentax DA 12-24mm/4.0. The The kit lens is very good, for a kit lens. I think the money for a lens is better spent on something else considering what you want to shoot.

Some samples with the DA 16-45mm (most are at 16mm)





01-03-2009, 04:23 PM   #4
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Beautiful shots...I particularly like Monument Valley. May I ask which lens you used for that one and your recommendations for landscape lenses in general? thanks!

01-03-2009, 04:24 PM   #5
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That 16-45 seems like a very good choice. I particularly like the effect in your second photo of the alpine/mountain scene...
01-03-2009, 06:25 PM   #6
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I'll second the choice of the 16-45. Here's one of my favorite shots taken with it, so far :



As to whether you should go for the K10 or 20, one thing to take into consideration is how long you plan on keeping it before upgrading. If you're thinking you might want to eventually upgrade to the K20's successor, then get the K10; when you go to sell it, you won't lose as much money as you would if you had bought a new K20. OTOH, if you think you'll be keeping your body for a good while, then go for the K20. As of late, I've seen several threads where K10 owners are asking whether or not it's worth it to upgrade to the K20, so you might want to look around for those and use the info to come to your own conclusion.

HTH,
Heather
01-03-2009, 08:27 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Coyotefred Quote
That 16-45 seems like a very good choice. I particularly like the effect in your second photo of the alpine/mountain scene...
Thanks! That one is among my favorites. I had to work for that one.
01-04-2009, 06:59 AM   #8
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The K20D's sensor is simply streets ahead of the discontinued K10D in resolving detail, dynamic range and WB accuracy.

The Pentax 12-24mm and DA 14mm are good picks for a ultra wide.

01-04-2009, 12:17 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Coyotefred Quote
Beautiful shots...I particularly like Monument Valley. May I ask which lens you used for that one and your recommendations for landscape lenses in general? thanks!
I used the DA*16-50mm f/2.8 in Monument Valley. There was so much blowing dust when I was there to change lenses. Any lens can be used for landscapes as it just depends on how you wish to depict the scene. If the lens you have isn't wide enough you can always try a pano shot using a tripod. I'm going to be on the lookout for a 12-24 or maybe the 11-16 if Pentax decides to produce it.
01-04-2009, 03:17 PM   #10
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Coyotefred - you put together an impressive list of user reviews, reviews, tests etc.

Forget all this. Go onto the next shop and try your hands on the cameras to compare. In terms of image quality, the low-end Canons, like the 450, will produce images, that are very pleasing to many people out of the box. The Pentax cameras will produce "duller" pictures. That means they reproduce the scene as naturally as a DSLR can (in this price range and up to double the price).

Both, the K10 and the K20, will be good choices. The differences are somewhat hard to find, if you only compare printed matter. But you will find in practice – and when you go through these pages, you will find much user evidence for this, too – that the K20, despite its higher pixel count, produces slightly less noisy images, than the K10, especially at higher ISO settings above ISO 400. If that is important to you, the choice is clear (in my opinion). Also the K20 has some nice improvements, which make it the first choice for me (though I also keep my K10), as it simply makes the handling of the camera easier.

Many core features are equal or very similar, like the big viewfinder, the long battery life, the acoustical noise (both are louder, than a Nikon), the high build-quality (better, than anything else in that price range), the weather sealing and not the least, the ability to use basically any K-mount lens ever produced with TTL exposure metering.

So, what are the real improvements in the K20?
– better high ISO noise and higher ISO settings
– colour "management" for the monitor and bigger monitor, too
– improved handling through bigger locks at the (sealed) doors for battery and memory card
– live view (though basic)
– overall improved AF function, though the difference is not too obvious and might be not so important for landscapes
– the higher pixel count gives some additional room for cropping, which can be handy.

On the other hand, in my own experience some lenses, that were useable with the K10 break down on the K20, which is probably due to the completely different sensor.

For an improvement over the kit lens, I would consider the 17-70/4, which has a wider tele range. As you would need a real wide angle lens for landscape anyway, this is no drawback compared with the 16-50/2.8 . Also the one f-stop faster max. aperture is not really important for landscape work, where you will often use a tripod anyway.

Ben
01-26-2009, 01:05 PM   #11
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I recently Upgraded from the K10D to the K20D and have yet to regret it. I shoot Landscapes mostly, but also shoot portraits.

I also use the DA* 16-50mm and the old Pentax-A 70-210mm F/4 which is undoubtedly one of the sharpest lenses produced and can be had from $50 - $150 on Ebay.

Here are some recent samples with the 16-50mm F/2.8 which I find to be a phenomenal lens.
If I didn't plan to use it also as a low light portrait lens, I would have bought the 16-45 F/4, but I do not regret buying this lens.



01-26-2009, 02:26 PM   #12
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I was going to suggest the K10D for outdoors/landscape shots since high ISO capability isn't really needed (and this is where the K20D trumps the K10D), and figured you'd save some serious coin.

However, if the price difference is less than $200, I'd consider getting the K20D instead. Liveview could be useful for landscapes, AF adjustment is nice, hot pixel mapping is nice, more resolution is nice, and it seems to play better with some of my DA* lenses (no PF from my DA*16-50 on my K20D, while K10D had a problem with it).

To me, the extra money would be worth it. However, you certainly won't be "getting by" if you choose the K10D. It's a very nice camera, and will take lots of great pix.
01-26-2009, 04:22 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Coyotefred Quote
• Greater ISO range (100-6400 compared to 100-1600 for the 10D)
To be fair, the ISO3200-ISO6400 is fairly noisy.
If you're doing mostly landscapes, you mostly shoot at ISO100 anyways and the K10D is a little less noisy (less shadow chroma noise) than the K20D.

The K20D is the more flexible of the two because of the extra stop of low-light performance (ISO800 and even ISO1100 is roughly the same as ISO400 on the K10D, but you can't set it to autoiso up to ISO1100...only ISO800 or ISO1600.

The price difference for a lightly used K10D is more than $175 less than a K20D. Current price difference is $380-400 vs. $700-750...
01-26-2009, 04:22 PM   #14
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Both with the DA16-45mm. On my K100D Super.

Man'O'War Bay




Kerry Coastal Ecosystem

01-26-2009, 04:24 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by thomps6s Quote
Here are some recent samples with the 16-50mm F/2.8 which I find to be a phenomenal lens.
Can I just say...

Wow. That first image rocks my world.
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