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01-04-2009, 09:28 PM   #1
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a900 vs. K20d

I know there are those that are clamoring for a FF Pentax, and I've been reading some very good reports of the a900. After looking at a few beautiful raw files from the a900/Zeiss24-70 combo, I figured I'd check one out at my local store.

Disclaimer - not a scientific test, I was just snapping away (while my son kept bugging me about wanting to shoot his stop-frame animation bits) full auto. These are not art shots, just trying to get some different looks. I only did some WB correction on a few shots, otherwise just jpg spit out of Aperture. The K20d had a 35ltd (and dopey me set the Zeiss at 35mm, not even thinking about the crop factor on the Pentax).

I didn't walk out with the a900. I certainly can see more detail and I think it does colors very nicely. It is a significantly bigger camera than the K20d, and the Zeiss lens is huge compared to a ltd prime. It actually is about the same as a 16-50* (which I don't own) but the Zeiss is heavier. Balance is decent though.

a900K20d - Page 1

Frankly I think the K20d actually does well especially considering it is 1/3 the price of the Sony. Having looked at a friends files from the a900, I can see where there would be an advantage for more radical crops and huge prints. Plus the colors have more pop and more subtle shading. But for most uses, and certainly if you're going to heft it around all day, the K20d is a great system. I have a tough time convincing myself that I should move to something else...mostly because of the ltd primes. While the portrait shot of my son is great with the Zeiss, I still get the best magic from either 43 or 77ltd.

01-04-2009, 10:36 PM   #2
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I truely appreciate the above link revealing the comparison of these two cameras. Your support for Pentax gear is very clear and you are truely honoured for that.

Unfortunately, a lot of camera experience derives from a diverse range of user applications (not from the common method of testing on charts, walls or meters). I discovered a lot more about k20d after utilising the camera the way I wanted. It was a tough test and it delivered in many aspects of photography. So the above comparison is more like point and shoot shoot out and little difference is there between the two.

FF sensors do have quite a lot of advantages over cropped sensors on k20d. However, these differences are not applicable to many of pentax users in general.

Some Zeiss lenses are good for its reliable flare control and true colour rendering in many subtle areas that some of pentax limited are lacking. So far, Voe and I are testing these zeiss lenses out individually but the differences are rather subtle but crucial for a few fanatic like some of us.

Seriously, FF will get so cheap. For the marketing reason, it is almost inevitable for Pentax to do FF. If FF is going to be cheap and available, why not buy one?
01-04-2009, 10:59 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by roentarre Quote
I truely appreciate the above link revealing the comparison of these two cameras. Your support for Pentax gear is very clear and you are truely honoured for that.

Unfortunately, a lot of camera experience derives from a diverse range of user applications (not from the common method of testing on charts, walls or meters). I discovered a lot more about k20d after utilising the camera the way I wanted. It was a tough test and it delivered in many aspects of photography. So the above comparison is more like point and shoot shoot out and little difference is there between the two.

FF sensors do have quite a lot of advantages over cropped sensors on k20d. However, these differences are not applicable to many of pentax users in general.

Some Zeiss lenses are good for its reliable flare control and true colour rendering in many subtle areas that some of pentax limited are lacking. So far, Voe and I are testing these zeiss lenses out individually but the differences are rather subtle but crucial for a few fanatic like some of us.

Seriously, FF will get so cheap. For the marketing reason, it is almost inevitable for Pentax to do FF. If FF is going to be cheap and available, why not buy one?
I'm not sure about "support", but there is some Pentax stuff that I like and am willing to say so. There is other aspects that I don't care for (metering can be interesting, and some front focus can be annoying) and am willing to say so. I try not to whine though, but instead try to look at things realistically. I always put a disclaimer whenever I do something like this indicating that it isn't scientific or particularly controlled. And I do firmly believe that the proof is when you shoot for yourself under your conditions, with your subjects. I don't buy most any of the online test sites, especially the machine measurements. Similarly focus charts and brick walls don't really inform me much either.

I will however admit that I am a fairly "lazy" photographer. I tend to let the camera figure out metering and will only intervene if I don't get what I'm seeing or think I might see. So this particular comparison was somewhat meaningful to me as I usually am in lousy light and shooting on the fly. I very rarely have a tripod or controlled conditions. And I'm usually moving. So in some respects it is essentially a p&s shoot out.

What is interesting to me is that even with that there are some palpable differences in the resolution and the look. Imho you get what you pay for. And you are right that for most Pentax (or any brand users), there really is little reason to go FF (hence my other thread on why *not* to go FF).

As for me I'm torn. I have my own aesthetic and places/ways I shoot. In addition I am pretty opinionated about function and form of the tool. imho Pentax actually gets a lot of this part of the equation right. From the reasonably small body to the ltd primes, the setup just works for "higher rez" street and other oddities. And I have printed 24x36 with good results from the K20d.

That said, there are times that I have shots from the K20d that fall apart when I crop to what I was seeing (or see in post). Maybe it is a lack of experience, but sometimes I don't really see the crop until after the fact. Always something else to learn and more to see. And since I'm shooting "art" as opposed to something for a client (at least most of the time), I do have the luxury of not worrying if I miss a shot. But there have been times when I saw something and nailed it. Almost. So a tool that gives me a little more cushion can be a plus.

The bottom line is that they are both great tools with different strengths. In a perfect world I'd own both. I love the micro contrast of the Zeiss glass, and though I favor primes I'd love to mess with the 24-70 for awhile and see what it does. Now I just need more money. And time. And hard drive space.
01-05-2009, 03:38 PM   #4
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a900 focusing is not that great either.

I tried the a900 @ sony store in boca raton and it could not track my friend walking towards me. I got some pics in focus but for $3,000.00? That turned me off completely besides it's ugly and looks like anything but a professional camera. Professional camera with a separate grip? r u kidding me?

01-05-2009, 04:41 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by vitalsax Quote
I tried the a900 @ sony store in boca raton and it could not track my friend walking towards me. I got some pics in focus but for $3,000.00? That turned me off completely besides it's ugly and looks like anything but a professional camera. Professional camera with a separate grip? r u kidding me?
Yeah, who would want something as horrible and unprofessional as say a D700...

(Or an EOS-1V)
01-05-2009, 06:23 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by pingflood Quote
Yeah, who would want something as horrible and unprofessional as say a D700...

(Or an EOS-1V)

A D700 would be perfect if it wasn't too soft
01-05-2009, 06:25 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by vitalsax Quote
A D700 would be perfect if it wasn't too soft
Which you base on what?
01-05-2009, 09:19 PM   #8
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glad u ask :)

QuoteOriginally posted by Duplo Quote
Which you base on what?

The soft one is from a d700 the other is from a K20D When the real owners start wondering how to remove the AA filter then u know something is soft. If u need i can send u a link from a guy that had removed from his d3 to improve it's sharpness, a problem that we don't have



01-05-2009, 09:42 PM   #9
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vitalsax:
any idea what lenses were used?
A friend showed me wedding pics from his D700 and Nikon 24-70. That's a zoom lens w/ macro sharpness. We were checking out the bride's pimples, facial hair, eyelashes, etc. when zoomed at 100%...
01-05-2009, 10:16 PM   #10
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The comparometer isn't too usefull because it's not compared well with the pixel patch and the lenses that were used. You could combine two photos with a Canon 5D and a Pentax Optio W60 and the Optio could win if the lens on the Canon was cheap enough.
01-05-2009, 10:23 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by kenyee Quote
vitalsax:
any idea what lenses were used?
A friend showed me wedding pics from his D700 and Nikon 24-70. That's a zoom lens w/ macro sharpness. We were checking out the bride's pimples, facial hair, eyelashes, etc. when zoomed at 100%...
No, i have no ideia about the lens used in this comparison but i remind u that we've never heard petaxians wishing for more sharpness, that i can't say about nikon FF camera users.

About the resolution of the 24-70: photozone rates it with more resolution than many nikon primes i know it goes up to 2.300 lw/ph when few nikons can get to that number to be honest is hard to see a nikon go much higher than 2.000 so the lens u saw it's unique in the other hand pentax glass reaches high numbers easily, maybe this is the factor.

Last edited by vitalsax; 01-05-2009 at 10:40 PM.
01-05-2009, 10:35 PM   #12
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That is so dependent on so many variables it isn't even funny. Almost as ridiculous as the OP's photos.

Oh wait

Actually I've been doing a lot of shooting the last few days and pondering pixels. I think the conclusion that I've come to is that if I can't get the photos that I want and create what I'm seeing with my current gear then something is wrong with me. I could drop $5K on a Sony setup (or Canikon) but frankly I like my Pentax stuff as it just feels right. And I've cranked out some things that myself (and others) have liked. And hell, some of my best work has come out of a P&S. While it would be neat to have new toys, it ain't gonna help. And then I have a whole new system to learn. Bah! I need to make art.

And, if I don't spend $5K on a new FF system, think of how many lenses I can buy
01-05-2009, 11:04 PM   #13
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we would not beeing having this conversation if the digital era was in a so early stage. I hope in ten years from now we can discuss more about glass quality than this.
01-06-2009, 07:29 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by vitalsax Quote
The soft one is from a d700 the other is from a K20D When the real owners start wondering how to remove the AA filter then u know something is soft. If u need i can send u a link from a guy that had removed from his d3 to improve it's sharpness, a problem that we don't have

Hmm...
So what you say is based on what you have read and what appears to be a jpg test, where you have no knowledge on lenses used etc. and not personal experience?

I have been shooting the sensor (D3) the last year.
Frequently delivering up 60x90cm prints from it, granted my work are all done with either Zeiss or pro line nikkor lenses. I have had no issues with softness from this sensor at any time.

Thus with a year of actual use to speak from, that test you keep pulling up is a joke to me, nothing more nothing less.
How many users do you know of that has stripped the AA filter?
I know quite a number of very satisfied users (most of them depending on it for their living) and none have had AA filters removed, found the sensor soft or anything like that.

Now speaking from a year of professional use myself, I dare say that anyone finding this sensor soft, gotta have either a operator issue, lens issue or a faulty unit. simple as that.

I am not not having any 100% samples online thus unable to post a sample for you, will look into a real world 100% crop for you once I get around to it.

Now granted I do not belong in the pixelpeeping category of photographers, thus I am one of those worrying about tonality, renderings DR and other stuff instead, but I would imagine that either my clients or me myself would have found out if the performance was as poor as described by you, at some point during the last year.
01-06-2009, 07:57 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by vitalsax Quote
...we've never heard petaxians wishing for more sharpness...

...so the lens u saw it's unique
I actually do wish for more sharpness but I pixel peep too much ;-)

That lens and the Nikon 14-24 are done using Nikon's latest design/manufacturing and are equally impressive. The 70-200VR is also impressive (sharper than Pentax's equivalent from what I've seen) but was designed for APS-C. They have a few gems in their lineup as Pentax does in theirs. The fun part for me is looking for the gems
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