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07-08-2009, 10:01 PM   #1
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Pentax VS the World: Am I Missing Something Here?


First, I'm a happy new forum member, glad I stumbled on the new Pentax DSLRs and then this site. While a serious amateur photographer I had both Nikon and Cannon systems and was lucky enough to also work in a large camera store during college. Now, as I get into DSLRs and search anew for a system I don't really know much about digital photography, but might know a little more than average about camera basics and lenses.

I was talking last night with an old friend who is a very accomplished photographer, works in a large camera store, and for decades has been an avid Nikon user. He brushed off Pentax as a serious consideration, thinks Cannon is pretty good, and feels strongly about the D700 and D300. I read about the 300 and it looks tempting, but then I checked out the price, and the relative prices of Nikon lenses and was more than a little stunned. It's like double the equivalent Pentax K7 system.

I asked about in-body versus lens IS systems, and he just said in-lens is better, and must be if the Cannon and Nikon engineers think so. And of course he said how dominant Nikon and Cannon are in photography.

I know this question must have been asked a million times and if there is a thread you can point me to then I'll just head there for answers.

Why are the prices so much more? In-lens IS? Is that better? Better optics?

He has a new D300 he offered to sell me, but I am just trying to justify a K20D and good walk around lens price, and it appears a way better system to start with and not get stuck with the high priced lenses.

With the lapsed time in photography I'm taking a fresh look at the equipment landscape and the scenery has changed. Seriously, is there something obvious I'm missing?

Many thanks.

(and sorry about the long post, the longest I've ever written....)

07-08-2009, 10:17 PM   #2
Damn Brit

Welcome to the forum.

First, he IS a salesman and I think it's probably safe to say that his store doesn't sell Pentax. If they do, they probably don't actively push Pentax.
It seems like you've done a fair amount of research already and I'm sure your previous photographic experience will help you come to a decision you are happy with. Whichever system you decide on is going to be good quality.
In lens stabilisation supposedly works better for longer lenses. Another advantage is that you can actually see it working through the VF as you focus. In camera stabilisation is an act of faith as you can't see it working. You pay a premium price for in lens stabilisation. With in camera stabilisation it works with any lens and in the case of Pentax, it'll work with forty year old lenses that you can pick up for a few bucks at a thrift store.
Pentax probably has the best value for money.
Pentax are also renowned for lens quality, that's something no self respecting Canon or Nikon owner will deny. In fact many of them use the old Pentax lenses on their cameras with the aid of adapters or modifications.

I hope this has helped and good luck with your decision making.

I'll leave you with a plug; with Pentax, you also get this forum.
07-08-2009, 10:26 PM   #3
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Biff, welcome to the forum.
These questions have been asked several times here:

and the list goes on... you can make a search with nikon or canon in the forum's search prompt and you'll see loads of threads that may inform you further.

The D700 is another class of camera, being full frame, but its capabilities are reflected by its price.
The D300 is also a great camera with blistering-fast and accurate AF, though in my opinion the K-7 matches up well with the D300 in most aspects. And in your application (landscape photography), the K-7 or even the K20D (coupled with Pentax's high quality lenses) are more than capable of giving you brilliant images.

Pentax spends much less on marketing, and is one of the reasons why they can afford to produce high quality equipment at a fraction of the cost of the competitors. In lens IS may be more effective, but the K20D/K-7's SR mechanism is very capable, even up to 4 stops - and you probably won't need this so much capturing those time-lapsed landscapes...

Walk around lens? Perhaps a DA 16-45, or even the new 18-55 WR lens if budget is tight, then couple it with a DA 12-24 if you need a wider focal length. Pentax's optics rate well against its competitors - just check out results from the lens testing groups online like:
Digital SLR Lenses ? Find Reviews of Nikon Lenses and More on
Lens Reviews | Home | Review
All Tests / Reviews

All the best in your decision!
07-08-2009, 10:49 PM   #4
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Thanks for the Replies, and I'll Follow the Threads

I knew this question must have significant coverage and will follow the threads so others won't feel need to answer.

And thanks for your insight. Shows you what I know: I didn't even realize you can't see the in-body IS actually focusing. Should have known. I have to admit, I think I'm pretty hooked on seeing the focus in action, so that might take some getting used to.

I'm still leaning towards the K20D and 18-55 WR for starters (maybe with the 3 year warrantee.....)


07-08-2009, 11:01 PM   #5
Damn Brit

QuoteOriginally posted by Biff Quote
I think I'm pretty hooked on seeing the focus in action, so that might take some getting used to.

Did you ever see the Steve Martin movie 'The Jerk'?
He invented a device that went onto the bridge of spectacles so they could be removed one handed without eventually getting bent out of shape. He became a multi millionaire.
Then everyone went cross-eyed and sued him.
I would worry that seeing that in lens stabilisation would do something bad to my right eye.
07-08-2009, 11:11 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Biff Quote
Shows you what I know: I didn't even realize you can't see the in-body IS actually focusing. Should have known. I have to admit, I think I'm pretty hooked on seeing the focus in action, so that might take some getting used to.
In-body IS (or shake reduction) has nothing to do with auto-focusing; they are two separate, independent mechanisms.

BTW, you can see the shake reduction working on the K-7 in the video live view mode. It's quite effective.

Welcome to the forum
07-08-2009, 11:13 PM   #7
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Good point.

Maybe in lens stabilization is as exciting as new phone books.

It's all relative.
07-08-2009, 11:21 PM   #8
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Yes, thanks. I didn't mean see focusing, but instead "smoothing" or shake reduction. I had a Canon A2E where I could see it in action. Lack of sleep I guess.

07-08-2009, 11:57 PM   #9
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In lens IS or VR is really nice with a film camera.

In body SR is even better with ALL your lenses in a DSLR.

Have a solid look at the lenses you plan to use, and consider that most Canikon lenses do not offer IS/VR.

As for seeing the IS "in action" I've used both SR and IS, and frankly, as soon as the novilty wore off, I did not care if I could see the shake reduction in action or not.
07-09-2009, 03:29 AM   #10
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Seeing the shake reduction at work in the optical system is a mixed experience. It's cool, but it makes me sea sick

That's not a real problem, you will get used to it. When the wobbly feeling is gone, it makes framing a bit easier. I also believe it helps AF a bit in some situations, because AF works with a stabilised image.

That's all good. But I also believe that you benefit from seeing the shake, because it tells you when you are doing a bad job as a photographer. IMO the feedback you get in the finder makes you more stable, because it makes you work harder on your holding technique.
07-09-2009, 03:45 AM   #11
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For me, in-lens IS was not an option - why pay X amount four times in four lenses when you can pay it once in the camera body??? Frankly "itīs better because Canon & Nikon say itīs better" does not hold any water for me, especially as many of their IS lenses cost 50% more than the non-IS versions, so they stand to make a tidy profit from this line. And while it may be reassuring to see the IS at work in the lens, I have read reports of the resultant motion causing motion sickness (understandable but of course varies from person to person).

Biff, like you I considered all the options when getting an SLR & the more I looked into ALL the brands & models available, the more it became apparent that unless you have mountains of money to burn, a collection of lenses already or you need FF (only necessary for professionals & thatīs debateable) then itīs hard to see why you would buy anything but Pentax. For the money, you get far less with Nikon & Canon, with Sony & Olympus being not so bad but still far behind Pentax.
07-09-2009, 04:00 AM   #12
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Nikon and Canon have taken a film solution (lens based stabilization) and applied to digital. Obviously with film there is no possible way to move the film around to stabilize an image, however with digital, there is and with each succesive camera body, the ability to stabilize it improves a little more. I am firmly convinced that the reason that Canon and Nikon continue to sell these lenses is that they get a premium for them. You can't tell me that it costs an extra 400 to 500 dollars to manufacture these lenses as opposed to non-IS lenses, yet that is what they get for them.
07-09-2009, 04:23 AM   #13
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If you are looking for a dslr that can take the same abuse and punishment, with a similar size as the 35mm slr of yore then there are only really 3 choices, Oly E3, Nikon D300 and Pentax K10D, (200D) 20D and now K7.

The Pentax K7 is the ultimate tool where you will never ever have to worry.

My K10D has stood up to major abuse and just keeps on churning out pic after glorious pic

07-09-2009, 04:44 AM   #14
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I think that Canon and Nikon have better autofocus, and Nikon is the king at high ISO. But Pentax has the edge on size and prime lenses, and in-body IS allows you to shoot stabilized with old glass. These are key features for me.

I've had the K-7 for only a day, but it seems to be a MARVELOUS camera. It has a real personality. And aside from very high ISO, Pentax's sensor is as good as or better than any other manufacturer's. (I should say that the K-7 does seem to have great high ISO performance, but I haven't seen it matched up against the Nikon yet.)
07-09-2009, 04:47 AM   #15
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Get a k200d or k20d, and you'll never regret it. There are great deals for the k20d right now (because of k7's recent birth) to which Pentax adds a very appealing 3 year warranty! (I bought a k200d a while ago, and I'm extremely happy with it. But K20d is even better.) On the high ISO topic: Pentax's policy is to leave its customers the liberty to apply the degree of noise-reduction that they desire. On the other hand, noise-reduction means smearing of detail.

Last edited by causey; 07-09-2009 at 09:56 PM.

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