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02-23-2009, 05:17 PM   #1
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What's really wrong with K20D ?

The recent low prices have me very interested in a K20D, and I've read about as much material (reviews, etc.) as exists on the camera. While I hear lots about the AF (not much of which is good) I'd like to hear more specifics...does it hunt?, is it just slow to focus, are some lenses better than others and if so which ones?

I also see some negative comments about underexposing...is that correctable via a permanent setting (essentially as a preference?) or only via +/- exposure adjustments?

Is the exposure metering up to modern snuff? How does it compare (qualitatively, not numerically) to Nikon's 3D Matrix system?

I don't care about the limitations of live view or the comparative 'slow' FPS. I know the 2.7" LCD is both smaller and lower resolution than many, and can deal with that.

...just trying to get a better handle on the minuses to this otherwise impressive camera..perhaps I will just have to buy one from B&H or elsewhere (and a lens) and give it a go for a week or so and pay the re-stocking fee if it doesn't work out...

02-23-2009, 05:44 PM   #2
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The AF is NOT as bad as some people make it sound. In low light, it will hunt, but will eventually lock on, as opposed to Nkon and Canon, which will focus faster in low light, but when it is to low, it will freezPentax cameras do everything they can to avoid blowing highlights, so the misconception that they underexpose. It is easier to recover details in shadows then trying to get details in blown highlights. Once you realise how it works, you know when to apply exposure compensation.

Metering doesn't have as many "segments" as other makes, but it does the job properly.

To sum it up, I wouldn't trade for another brand. It has some issues, but then, so do the other makes. When it comes to color and how the pictures look, in my book, it is as good (if not better) than the competition. Not what I'd choose for sports, but for just about everything else, it is a very good choice. Ergonomics is just about the best you can find, and the weather sealing means you won't rush for shelter in case of a sudden downpour.
02-23-2009, 05:59 PM   #3
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thanks Flyer -

is the issue with sports shots using the K20D one of slow AF? My sports shots are mostly snow skiing, but these aren't pros going by at 55mph - I want to be able to AF on an aerial maneuver at the apex of a jump for example, but the subject at that moment is not moving at a high rate of speed...the other camera I'm considering is a Nikon D90
02-23-2009, 06:04 PM   #4
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Nothing, as far as I'm concerned. The only drawback I've read about that may not have a workaround is the inability to turn off dark frame subtraction, meaning bulb exposures are twice as long as they could be. However, that doesn't bother me (or a large percentage of users).

Other than that, I've been pleased for a year now. AF is fine by me. I've purposely tried to get the AF to fail, shooting in really dark situations, and I've always been able to lock focus. It may not be the quickest, but I'm only talking a second or two anyway, so it works fine for me.

High ISO performance is great, ergonomics are great, lots of controls, hot pixel mapping, dust mapping, AF adjustment for 20 lenses, 21 fps burst mode, live view. It's all good to me, and I'm looking at it as a $1200 camera since that's what I paid when it came out. For the going rate now, it's an absolute steal in my book.

02-23-2009, 06:33 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sundance62 Quote
The recent low prices have me very interested in a K20D, and I've read about as much material (reviews, etc.) as exists on the camera. While I hear lots about the AF (not much of which is good) I'd like to hear more specifics...does it hunt?, is it just slow to focus, are some lenses better than others and if so which ones?
While AF isn't as good as some of the competition, we have to keep things in perspective; the K20D is by no means a slouch or poor performing in this area. For 95% of shooters it's more likely faster and more accurate that they'll ever need. For fast moving sports or low light though, it might be an issue. Best thing to do is try one out and see if it's good enough for you.

QuoteQuote:
I also see some negative comments about underexposing...is that correctable via a permanent setting (essentially as a preference?) or only via +/- exposure adjustments?
You'd have to set the exposure compensation -- I usually left mine at +2/3 and found it to be the best compromise for what I shot.

QuoteQuote:
Is the exposure metering up to modern snuff? How does it compare (qualitatively, not numerically) to Nikon's 3D Matrix system?
Like any modern DSLR, it's got a perfectly fine meter. The Nikon system is great for getting accurate flash exposure, but for most other shooting you likely won't see much difference.

QuoteQuote:
I don't care about the limitations of live view or the comparative 'slow' FPS. I know the 2.7" LCD is both smaller and lower resolution than many, and can deal with that.

...just trying to get a better handle on the minuses to this otherwise impressive camera..perhaps I will just have to buy one from B&H or elsewhere (and a lens) and give it a go for a week or so and pay the re-stocking fee if it doesn't work out...
Considering the number of members on this site, have you thought about posting to see if anybody lives near you and would let you play with their K20d for a bit?
02-23-2009, 06:47 PM   #6
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K20D is a great camera

Exposure problems??? Focus problems??? Not in my experience.

Quite frankly, anyone who has trouble getting a well-exposed, in-focus shot with the K20D should consider taking up a new hobby.

Perhaps I'm not sufficiently picky. I have used Nikon equipment most of my life, and I even like the *ist-D and K-10D (both of which I still have). But I prefer the image quality from the new sensor. The K20D is a great camera. And at these prices it's an incredible deal! I may pick up another.

Dan
02-23-2009, 06:50 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sundance62 Quote
The recent low prices have me very interested in a K20D, and I've read about as much material (reviews, etc.) as exists on the camera. While I hear lots about the AF (not much of which is good) I'd like to hear more specifics...does it hunt?, is it just slow to focus, are some lenses better than others and if so which ones?.
imho most negative comments are made by people who fall into a couple of categories:

a) those who know how to shoot but have rather particular needs for high speed AF
b) those who don't really bother to learn how to work with the system
c) those who don't really take pictures but just like gadgets that are "better" than their buddy's

I think many fall into b) or c) but think they are a).

Some lenses will hunt in low light. Shocking. AF tends to be fairly accurate though and with the K20d you can program in fine tuning for each lens. I shoot mostly FA or DA ltd lenses and don't have many issues with AF - it works fine for my needs. But ymmv.

Any AF issues are more than offset by iq, handling of the camera (great physical UI), and the ability to run the FA and DA ltd lenses. But again, depends on what you're shooting and what is important to you...
02-23-2009, 06:59 PM   #8
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- AF tracking is behind the competition

- Flash strobes in low light to get a lock on a target

- Mirror slap is louder than competition

- It does under expose but IMHO that is so easy to fix, just dial in +0.3 to 0.7 as a default and you're all set. This is really a non issue as it is very, very consistent and predictable.

System wise there are more serious problems ...

- Not a lot of lenses with internal motors so AF is loud and somewhat agricutural

- Not a lot of long glass options

- Some clasic designs are eye watering in price (think an 85/1.4 for example, an 80-200 ... prices are just absurd)


That's the bad news, I just bought a Nikon and good news for Pentax is that the SR is just the bees dick, honestly it's great. Pentax offers unique shooting experiences with the tiny, brilliant primes like the 21mm pocket lens, the 77/1.8 is tiny etc etc . No one else offers this, not even close.

Some lenses are crazy cheap, the 55-300 is cheap for the quality of the optic (slow AF though) and the 12-24 is a chunk cheaper than the Canikon options.

I could go on and on i guess.

02-23-2009, 08:03 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alfisti Quote
....
I just bought a Nikon and good news for Pentax is that the SR is just the bees dick, honestly it's great. Pentax offers unique shooting experiences with the tiny, brilliant primes like the 21mm pocket lens, the 77/1.8 is tiny etc etc . No one else offers this, not even close.

Some lenses are crazy cheap, the 55-300 is cheap for the quality of the optic (slow AF though) and the 12-24 is a chunk cheaper than the Canikon options.

I could go on and on i guess.
Well stated.

Also, to the OP, the difference in AF speed is not as great as some would have you believe. The Nikon D80/90/300 lock AF faster, but not always as accurately, especially in low-light.

And IQ-wise, the K20D is still class-leading, and really can even compete outside of it's class, up into Canon 5D territory. The detail retained at high iso is sometime astounding, and shake reduction makes all these old lenses a stop or two faster.

Another thing - AF adjustment in camera on a per-lens basis - can't tell you how great that is. The Nikon D300 has that, but the D80/D90 do not.
02-23-2009, 08:13 PM   #10
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Nothin

Personally i think the K20D is a gr8 camera.All the latest DSLR seem pretty even when you shoot raw but the K20D leaves them for dead when your a JPEG shooter.I do portraits ,events,birding and sports and scenery it does it all for me.
thnx Paul;
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02-23-2009, 08:21 PM   #11
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For skiing, AF speed is much less likely to be an issue than, say, shooting basketball in a poorly lit stadium. Any of today's DSLRs are quite fast in good lighting, and if you don't have enough speed, you can always do what the pros REALLY do: set a high aperture for deep dof (shouldn't be a problem in the kind of lighting skiing usually happens in) and pre-focus on something that's approximately the same distance away as the skiiers will be. Then you don't even need to worry about AF speed.

As far as the metering, it does behave differently than other brand's meters, but not badly: it just takes a different approach (highlight retention). However, in your particular situation, where you're dealing with a scene that may be mostly white (which will screw with any meter, particularly a highlight-biased meter like in the K20D) it would be best to spot meter off an object that will be similarly lit to your subject (say a tree or a buddy or something) and set exposure accordingly, before the fact. It's a lot easier to sort out things like focus and exposure in advance (not hard to do once you get used to it) than trying to get the camera to sort them out while your subject is whizzing by. Sure, maybe with a $5000 Nikon D3 you could just point and shoot. Maybe. But why pay $5000 for a camera that figures those things out when you could pay $700 and figure those things out yourself? Sometimes technique (knowledge) is a lot more valuable than electronics (material).
02-23-2009, 11:20 PM   #12
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thanks all - good stuff. While it's obvious that most folks on the forum have a Pentax body and lenses already, I think it's an amazing opportunity to get this kind of IQ for today's low prices...

It may (or may not) surprise some of you to know that I am a 3rd generation Nikon DSLR owner (D100, 200, 300) who - having just sold my D300 to a family member who really wanted one-) now find myself possibly selling my Nikkor 18-200, 80-400, and Speedlight SB-600 all for like Pentax gear:

-K20D
-lens #1 (16-50, 18-55?)
-lens #2 (most likely a 55-300)
-AF360
-BG2 Battery/Grip

and I'll likely have enough left over to get a new Kata bag if I got this way...amazing...
my other path is possibly to sell my Nikkor 80-400 (too heavy and limited anyway) and use the proceeds to buy a D90, and throw in a few buck for a battery/grip.

As much as I know and respect the Nikon brand, the D90, and my 2-lens/flash investment, I'm leaning toward going Pentax...if they announce a better flagship DSLR at PMA, I'll be a bit tweaked, but I'm guessing it will cost a fair chunk more and I'd have to wait a few months to get one to boot....we'll see...
02-23-2009, 11:34 PM   #13
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I frankly think the Nikkor 18-200 lens is pretty bad considering all the hype around it. I had a Nikon D70 and briefly had that lens and for the life of me I can't figure out why everyone was in love with it. IQ was so-so, handling was plasticky and klunky. Now the Nikkor 105/2.8 micro (pre-VR) was a sweet lens...but I sold that no problem.

If you're going K20d, I'd recommend the 16-45 if you want a wide/normal zoom - great IQ for the price. A significant step up from the kit lens and close to the 16-50* (and the 16-45 examples are very consistent). 55-300 is a great lens considering the price, but I think the main reason to go Pentax are the limited primes. Pick whichever one is a "common" FOV for you. 21/31/35/40/43/70/77 - they all have their charms and not a bad one in the bunch.

Do you really need a flash? I don't own one and never will, but that is more personal bias than anything else. I shoot very low light with no issues. SR helps a lot depending on the subject.
02-24-2009, 12:12 AM   #14
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The Nikon or the K20d?

QuoteOriginally posted by Sundance62 Quote
thanks Flyer -

is the issue with sports shots using the K20D one of slow AF? My sports shots are mostly snow skiing, but these aren't pros going by at 55mph - I want to be able to AF on an aerial maneuver at the apex of a jump for example, but the subject at that moment is not moving at a high rate of speed...the other camera I'm considering is a Nikon D90
Wow, I was in Tahoe a couple of weekends ago, I would have met up and let you shoot mine for a bit had you posted sooner. Unfortunately I am not planning to head back up this year.

Let me preface my statements with the fact that for what I use the pentax for I am very happy with it. Probably 90% of my shooting needs are fine with this camera. And there are lots of fans of the camera who will suggest work arounds to many issues I have...

I think the type of skiing shots you are describing are some of the easiest sport shots. First of all, there is so much light that you can stop down the lens to F11 or higher and have a lot of depth of field to help your AF accuracy.. And as you said you are hitting at an apex of a trick and that is the slowest point in the action. It is the tracking AF in average or lower light that really is not great with the Pentax AF. Or on moving subjects moving towards or away from the camera.

The other issue for me with pentax is the PTTL flash system. Where now I am comfortable on setting and using the camera in just about any situation that does not require a flash, I have never got consistent exposures with the PTTL flash. I dread heading off to an birthday party or some event where I know I will need to use flash to capture the memories. It also pre-flashes to set exposure and I have a daughter who half blinks with every PTTL family shot. I have to use an old manual flash with her.

I could show you a bunch of photos that I really love that I have taken with this camera... and I will post a few from our sledding adventure in tahoe...

But I would 'definitely' consider the D90 if action shots are what you are interested in.
If you can try them both out... It is a system you are buying into and how it feels and the user interface is also very important.

some sledding shots... It ain't the X-games













and some other shots I just posted in another forum... just for fun

An Eye for an Eye: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review
02-24-2009, 10:03 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sundance62 Quote
thanks Flyer -

is the issue with sports shots using the K20D one of slow AF? My sports shots are mostly snow skiing, but these aren't pros going by at 55mph - I want to be able to AF on an aerial maneuver at the apex of a jump for example, but the subject at that moment is not moving at a high rate of speed...the other camera I'm considering is a Nikon D90
two thingsI just made this decision and went with the k20d)

1. AF would not be a problem there, the AF tracking is practically nonexistant on the k20d but that doesn't mean you can't be a little more prepared (I've shot snowboarding before its not hard to tell where someone is going to be after going off a jump). If I'm shooting a moving object I put it on burst mode, AF-c, hold down the AF button and fire/hold the shutter depending on the situation. I shot some ping pong in a pretty dark garage last weekend and was able to get some decent high ISO shots, even catching the ball coming off the paddle at times.

2. If you are shooting skiing, i'd HIGHLY recommend the k20d because of weather sealing. Thats one of the biggest reasons I went with the k20d. A lot of my photography is outdoor so really for someone like me (who likes to push it) I had to go with a weather sealed body so that made the decision the k20d or the d300(an AMAZING camera) but for the cost of a used d300 I got a k20d, lens, battery grip overnight shipped.

You'll make your own decision but for me, pentax was it. Each camera will have its high points and each will have its low point, for me its about picking some strengths and shooting to them.
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