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02-15-2009, 09:34 PM   #1
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DSLR advice from one of those "other" photo forums (also, Pentax and low-light)

Well, this is what happens when you ask for camera advice at "DSLR Forum".

This was when I was just starting my DSLR research (way back.... last week),
and I asked to be pointed in the direction of a camera. My requirement list was:

QuoteQuote:
Decent low light performance
Affordable 50mm/f1.4 lens
Bright viewfinder
Solid feel
Well designed manual controls and overrides

...works well with old style manual focus lenses I can buy off of eBay

and

...as far under $1000 as possible for body and basic lens

Here was some of the responses I got:
QuoteQuote:
you should forget about DSLR as your "wants and needs" don't match your budget....really really really don't.
QuoteQuote:
NO dslr under 1000$ performs well in low light... they are all quite horrible... when compared to the 5 000$ cameras

and then:

QuoteQuote:
so, Look at both Canon and Nikon's entry level bodies and 1.4 entry level lenses you will find that both brands are very similar and both offer a good return on investment.
QuoteQuote:
Just had a look and a Canon 50mmF1.4 new will cost you $325 Canon 40D which is good in low light $899 new Nikon would be about same price so your budget looks no where near enough unless you buy secondhand
QuoteQuote:
...the best option I can think of is a used Canon 5d, it has a bright viewfinder and can take other lenses if you use a adapter.
By this point, I had poked about a bit more, and had been pointed towards checking out Pentax. (by people in dpreview forums, I think)
I asked what Pentax was missing, so that they had not suggested it .

QuoteQuote:
quality, low noise, fast lenses and market penetration.... are a few things missing from Pentax.
I asked why every review said that Pentax had BETTER build quality than all
others in the class, and also why, exactly, "market penetration" mattered.
I never got an answer.

So, whats the deal here? Am I being vastly unrealistic hoping to get a decent
camera setup that will do what I want for under $1000?




[kurt]

02-15-2009, 09:51 PM   #2
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I don't think so. You are seeing the vast difference in market share between the 'Big 2" and the other brands. There are just more shooters of the other brands and they flood the forums with advice to support their brand. All manufacturers produce good cameras But bang for the buck is still Pentax's territory for the most part.

A K20D is selling around $720 at B&H, You can pick up an FA50mm f1.4 for around $200 or so. Well within the budget.
But budget is not the main reason to choose a brand. The features of a K20d can rival many other cameras that cost significantly more. Several Pentax users (myself included) earn a substantial income from our Pentax's and some are full time Pro's. The cameras have always performed well.

For image quality you should check here: PENTAX Photo Gallery

Also to name a couple of shooters here (not to slight anyone):
Marc Langille Photography - Adventure. Nature. Wildlife.- powered by SmugMug
Benjamin Kanarek Photographer ftvstudio.com featured member
Photography 2.0 - Unconventional - Unrestricted - Unreal- powered by SmugMug

Feature advantages are numerous and to name a couple,
1) in body anti shake. Saves you a ton on IS or VR lenses
2) backward compatible with most K mount and screw mount lenses
3) weather sealed bodies

And I know others will add to the list.
02-16-2009, 06:29 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
A K20D is selling around $720 at B&H, You can pick up an FA50mm f1.4 for around $200 or so. Well within the budget.
Indeed. For the same quality from another brand would simply cost 3 times this price.

A nobrainer's choice.
02-16-2009, 06:32 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by shuttervox Quote
So, whats the deal here? Am I being vastly unrealistic hoping to get a decent
camera setup that will do what I want for under $1000?
[kurt]
If you ask which truck is best for your given needs, among Chevy and Ford redneck users, you can expect no one will suggest Toyota or Nissan. And if you ask about them, the obvious answers will come... "no market penetration, not american, not big enough, not "manly", not whatever...."

02-16-2009, 06:47 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by shuttervox Quote


So, whats the deal here? Am I being vastly unrealistic hoping to get a decent
camera setup that will do what I want for under $1000?




[kurt]
Hell, you can probably get a new KM and an FA50/1.4 for under $600.00. Most forum respondents are so tied up in their own private fanboyishness regarding Canon and Nikon that they don't admit to the possibility that there are other brands.
They threaten to switch brand loyalty back and forth between to two toprove that they aren't fanboys.

The one piece of advice you got regarding noise is true, the expensive full frame bodies do perform better in low light because of better high ISO performance, but you are paying fairly heavy coin to get this.
02-16-2009, 07:19 AM   #6
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I wouldn't mind paying a little coin for it, if pentax would make it.......
02-16-2009, 07:51 AM   #7
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shuttervox, like the thread.
Found it interesting the comments you got.
I guess they're like has been mentioned, "fanboys".
The fanboy won't give you a photographers perspective, rather you will get the opinion that matters with the equipment only he/she uses.

Maybe you could say that about us Pentax users, too. But from the requirements you posted, the K20D would be a good camera to choose.
02-16-2009, 08:17 AM   #8
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The secret that nobody is willing to admit is that all DSLRS in any given class will be about equal in IQ, with some small, and I mean small variations. All of the 25 mp full frame cameras are the similar, as are all the entry level 10-12 mp cameras. The FF cameras are better as a class but you pay $$ for them.

FF cameras are better in low light but that doesn't mean the entry level cams are bad. People just have to justify spending so much money on their hobby.

Everyone likes to say their brand is better for some reason. For me it is the features and handling that set each brand apart.

02-16-2009, 12:29 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by arbutusq Quote
The secret that nobody is willing to admit is that all DSLRS in any given class will be about equal in IQ, with some small, and I mean small variations. All of the 25 mp full frame cameras are the similar, as are all the entry level 10-12 mp cameras. The FF cameras are better as a class but you pay $$ for them.

FF cameras are better in low light but that doesn't mean the entry level cams are bad. People just have to justify spending so much money on their hobby.

Everyone likes to say their brand is better for some reason. For me it is the features and handling that set each brand apart.
I agree 100%. Whatever minute differences might exist in IQ, these disappear are dwarfed by the differences you can make with a little intelligent PP - even batch applying settings that please you. No reason not to buy on features and price.
02-16-2009, 02:00 PM   #10
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Original Poster
Thanks for the comments...

I have to agree that the high ISO performance of FF class cameras really is very
impressive. It would be nice if Pentax would make one of those- not that I could
afford it mind you, but it sure would be nice to know I have some headroom to
grow into after buying a few nice Pentax lenses.



[kurt]
02-16-2009, 04:30 PM   #11
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Don't worry about high ISO performance. Anything you can buy today is "good enough" for almost anything reasonable -- i.e. has 1600 that has graininess/noise better than or similar to 400 print film, and while it is (unsurprisingly) true that an A900 or D3 will be measurably better than a K20D at high ISOs, even if you get the biggest, baddest low-light monster today, there will be a new camera that dwarfs it in 6 months and you'll be back to square one. Just get something that feels good to use.

Whose signature was it that read "the camera doesn't matter, but I'll use a Pentax, just in case"? Yeah, that.



(Random footnote: a couple of days ago a Canon user complimented a couple of my K100D ISO 1600 pictures and called Pentax noise "film-like". Which is cool.)
02-17-2009, 12:08 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Erik Quote
(Random footnote: a couple of days ago a Canon user complimented a couple of my K100D ISO 1600 pictures and called Pentax noise "film-like". Which is cool.)
I actually find the noise from my K10D less obtrusive than the grain from film, particularly at 1600 ISO.
02-17-2009, 03:41 AM   #13
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Since you mention budget as a concern, I will chime in with my usual advice pointing out that one need not buy new lenses. There are millions of perfectly fine used Pentax lenses out there.

Though they are not for everybody or for every situation, you may find that M42 (screwmount) lenses provide excellent quality coupled with extreme affordability. Every one of these photos was taken with a $10 kit lens from the early 1970s. Some on the K100D and some on the K20D and some on film bodies. I could have paid $200~300 for a new lens to take the same shots, but I hardly see the point.

Go to the Lens forum and check out the Takumar Club thread for some samples of what can be done with lenses ranging from $10~100 or so, when coupled with a simple $30 adapter.
02-17-2009, 06:38 AM   #14
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I think used K10D or new K20D have all the features you need except decent low light performance. None of those cameras have built-in AF assist light and you will see that when lighting is poor AF will hunt. I was told that new KM is way better than K20D or K10D when it comes to low light focusing but I have not played with this camera.

Anyway, if you can live with that, second-hand K10D or new K20D would be far better choices than pretty much anything else within your budget.
02-17-2009, 07:58 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by drabina Quote
I think used K10D or new K20D have all the features you need except decent low light performance. None of those cameras have built-in AF assist light and you will see that when lighting is poor AF will hunt.
This is also dependent on lenses. The Sigma 17-70 e.g., will hunt in lower light at 70mm where it's 4.5. A 77Ltd won't hunt in the same low light.

In that price range, I'd consider the XSi, D90 and K20D if you want low light performance (all CMOS sensors which are 1 stop better than the D80 and K10), along w/ a 50mm lens. On Canon, you can get a 50/1.8 for $70...even more plasticky than Pentax's FA50/1.4 but still great images. For Nikon, do a D90 w/ a used lens. For the K20D, new body and new 50/1.4 or see if you can still find a $200 Sigma 24-60/2.8 lens.
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