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04-16-2009, 05:17 AM   #1
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A Tale Of Two Systems

I presently do not have a DSLR nor any lenses, so I am completely open about which brand/system to buy into. My choices, after a great deal of research, have boiled down to Pentax or Nikon. I have had a play with both the K20D and the D300. As far as bodies are concerned, I must admit I am swaying towards the Nikon D300

BUT.

I'm buying into a system. In other words, lenses and only then the camera body.

Here in Australia, I have priced out a Pentax and a Nikon system, going by the best lens prices I can find, not necessarily Aussie prices which have rocketed upwards lately for Pentax glass - especially the DA lenses. Here are the systems:

Nikon D300
Sigma 10-20
Nikon 35 f2.0
Nikon 85 f1.8
Nikon 70-300 (VR)
Total cost - $A 5020

Pentax K20D
Pentax 12-24 (Aussie price $A 950-1050)
Pentax 35 DA Macro (from Adorama - Aussie price is now $A 1100 plus)
Pentax DA 77 Ltd (Aussie price $A 1000-1100)
Pentax DA 200 f2.8 (from Adorama - Aussie price is now $A 2400 plus)
Total cost - $A 5254

This is a VERY tough choice. The unparalleled selection of Pentax prime lenses is tempting indeed. The Nikon D300 is a superb body. The cost is pretty well even.

Any comments, suggestions? Were it not for the fact that, lens for lens, the Pentax selection here is probably superior, I would probably go for the Nikon. But I reckon that the Pentax lens selection IS superior. The point is that nowadays, the old HUGE price advantage of Pentax over Nikon glass (at least here in Oz) is nowhere near what it used to be.


Last edited by brumby; 04-16-2009 at 05:41 AM.
04-16-2009, 05:36 AM   #2
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I suspect the Pentax glass is better, but the D300 body smokes the K20. I prefer the control interface of Pentax cameras, I find the Nikon to be rather menu heavy.
04-16-2009, 05:56 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by brumby Quote
the old HUGE price advantage of Pentax over Nikon glass (at least here in Oz) is nowhere near what it used to be.
Especially if you look at used Nikon lenses...

It would help if you told us what you use the camera for...
04-16-2009, 05:57 AM   #4
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I would agree that the D300 is superior to the K20D. I would not agree that it "smokes" it by any means. The areas of superiority I have found after examining both would be:
  1. Better viewfinder
  2. Better rear LCD screen
  3. Better low light/high ISO
  4. OK, better AF, but not as much better as everybody seems to think it is

The D300 also costs more than $1k more than the K20D here in Oz

Yes, I know that the rumours of a "D400" are rife. And I would expect that Pentax is at least working on an upgrade to the K20D (I hope they don't up the pixel count but deal with the more obvious and more widely discussed issues in any upgrade).

Nikon and Pentax can take legacy lenses. Nikon has NOT made the same effort as Pentax has to upgrade their selection of good primes at the "shorter" (10-100mm) end. Nikon's long glass is fantastic - with prices to match.

Like I said, it's a tough choice. I have more qualms about the longevity of Pentax than I do about Nikon, but I'm not too fussed over this. I DO have qualms about the recent HUGE increase in Pentax lens prices here in Oz.

04-16-2009, 06:00 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by kenyee Quote
Especially if you look at used Nikon lenses...

It would help if you told us what you use the camera for...
Basically stationary or slow moving subjects. Sports or fast action photography are not in the mix. I am, however, a great fan of low light photography. Camera would be used for landscape - wildlife - portrait - indoor/street photography in that order.
04-16-2009, 06:42 AM   #6
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Why not wait? A new Pentax will be announced in about a month and can probably be bought in about two....
04-16-2009, 07:36 AM   #7
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Brumby,

As you wrote, you buy into a system. That's why I don't really understand the emphasis on both camera bodies. If I were in a position you are in, I would emphasize the quality and price of the glass you are going to use. And keep in mind that Pentax has a good reputation in that department (apart from obvious QC issues around the latest SDM lenses). Rightly you have the 77 Ltd in your line-up. I cannot name a lens that has given me more rewards.

Furthermore, the D300 may be a better body *in general*, but do the points where the Nikon is supposed to be better matter to *you're* style of photography?
Low light performance of the D300 may be better (I don't know) but for landscape usage, I really like and recommend the K20D. And the 77 Ltd is another great asset for low light photography.

So, it all comes down to weighing all the different aspects of both systems and deciding upon what matters to you. Both systems are very capable.

Hope this helps.

PS I would choose for a different lens line-up, but that's also up to you off course. Why not consider the Tamron (or Sigma) 70-20 f2,8?
04-16-2009, 07:42 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pål Jensen Quote
Why not wait? A new Pentax will be announced in about a month and can probably be bought in about two....
Do you think so? So, in all likelihood, will a new version of the D300.

Again, it's not so much the camera bodies, it's the lenses. My basic problem is the huge recent surge in the price of new Pentax glass here in Australia while Nikon glass has not risen in price by anything like the same extent.

My predilection, formed in my film camera days, is for good primes. This is the MAJOR reason, perhaps the only reason - as far as I'm concerned - to buy into the Pentax system. Nikon has two things going for it. The slight superiority of the D300 over the K20D - at a price premium I hasten to add. And the existence of affordable FF in the D700. Seen the Canon D5 Mark II. Forget it.

This last point is debatable since there are also advantages, especially at the long end, to the APS-C format. But knowing consumer "fashion", FF is the coming thing, no doubt about it.

04-16-2009, 07:42 AM   #9
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Does that include searching OS for lenses?
04-16-2009, 07:45 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by drerka Quote
Brumby,

As you wrote, you buy into a system. That's why I don't really understand the emphasis on both camera bodies. If I were in a position you are in, I would emphasize the quality and price of the glass you are going to use. And keep in mind that Pentax has a good reputation in that department (apart from obvious QC issues around the latest SDM lenses). Rightly you have the 77 Ltd in your line-up. I cannot name a lens that has given me more rewards.

Furthermore, the D300 may be a better body *in general*, but do the points where the Nikon is supposed to be better matter to *you're* style of photography?
Low light performance of the D300 may be better (I don't know) but for landscape usage, I really like and recommend the K20D. And the 77 Ltd is another great asset for low light photography.

So, it all comes down to weighing all the different aspects of both systems and deciding upon what matters to you. Both systems are very capable.

Hope this helps.

PS I would choose for a different lens line-up, but that's also up to you off course. Why not consider the Tamron (or Sigma) 70-20 f2,8?
Thanks for that, a well thought out comment. The lens line up is tentative, basically set up in an attempt to form a rough parallel between the two systems. Any suggestions for a different line up would be gratefully received. I'm a prime lens fan boy though - from way back.
04-16-2009, 07:47 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alfisti Quote
Jesus i could buy that package and send it to you for $1,000 less. Those prices are just freakin crazy.

What a rip off our country is.
If I bought that Pentax package exclusively in Australia, it would cost considerably MORE than the price I quoted. The local Pentax distributor is NOT doing the parent company any favours.
04-16-2009, 07:48 AM   #12
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BTW, you can REALLY drop those prices by poking aropund the marketplace or swapping the 35DA for the 35 f/2.

I grabbed a 35 f/3 for $200US used, the 35 macro goes for around $400US used etc etc ... you'll save a bundle.
04-16-2009, 08:02 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by brumby Quote
I presently do not have a DSLR nor any lenses, so I am completely open about which brand/system to buy into. My choices, after a great deal of research, have boiled down to Pentax or Nikon. I have had a play with both the K20D and the D300. As far as bodies are concerned, I must admit I am swaying towards the Nikon D300

BUT.

I'm buying into a system. In other words, lenses and only then the camera body.

Here in Australia, I have priced out a Pentax and a Nikon system, going by the best lens prices I can find, not necessarily Aussie prices which have rocketed upwards lately for Pentax glass - especially the DA lenses. Here are the systems:

Nikon D300
Sigma 10-20
Nikon 35 f2.0
Nikon 85 f1.8
Nikon 70-300 (VR)
Total cost - $A 5020

Pentax K20D
Pentax 12-24 (Aussie price $A 950-1050)
Pentax 35 DA Macro (from Adorama - Aussie price is now $A 1100 plus)
Pentax DA 77 Ltd (Aussie price $A 1000-1100)
Pentax DA 200 f2.8 (from Adorama - Aussie price is now $A 2400 plus)
Total cost - $A 5254

This is a VERY tough choice. The unparalleled selection of Pentax prime lenses is tempting indeed. The Nikon D300 is a superb body. The cost is pretty well even.

Any comments, suggestions? Were it not for the fact that, lens for lens, the Pentax selection here is probably superior, I would probably go for the Nikon. But I reckon that the Pentax lens selection IS superior. The point is that nowadays, the old HUGE price advantage of Pentax over Nikon glass (at least here in Oz) is nowhere near what it used to be.
May I suggest as a cost saving measure on the Pentax lineup that you also swap in the DA55-300 for the DA 200 f/2.8? I believe the DA55-300 is more equivalent to what you're looking at with the Nikon VR 70-300, and the Pentax zoom would also be about $500-700 cheaper than the DA*200 mm depending on prices in Australia. This would make your Pentax system significantly cheaper than the Nikon system.

Also, looking at the list of lenses you have for both systems so far, the Pentax equivalents seem higher end than the Nikon counterparts than you have chosen. Is there a reason for you to have done that? Just to be clear, I'm not saying that the Pentax lenses are inherently better, just that you seem to be comparing lenses from two different price classes, higher for the Pentax and lower for the Nikon.

If you're making the system choice based on lenses and are looking at the lenses you have here, the best choice would appear to be Pentax. If the body is important to you, especially if you're looking at a system with full frame eventually, Nikon is probably the wiser choice.
04-16-2009, 08:04 AM   #14
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I agree the Nikon system is quite appealing. But you chose to specify the two systems rather differently. You have selected a 70-300 (VR) zoom for the Nikon system against a 200mm prime for the Pentax. It's not clear why. You could have matched the Pentax 200mm f2.8 with the Nikkor180mm f/2.8D instead. Or you could have chosen from a few k-mount lenses more directly comparable to the 70-300 (like the Tamron AF 70-300 or Pentax 55-300, for example).

My point is that even if BOTH systems were Nikon, it would be reasonable for anyone to prefer one kit over the other. Thus you really haven't presented a basis to choose according to brand.

Also, what is the value to you to have SR in all those k-mount lenses?
04-16-2009, 08:14 AM   #15
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Yes Nikon's 12-24 is hardly going cheap either. The siggy is not a fair comparison IMHO.
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