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12-23-2009, 06:11 AM   #76
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Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Pac NW
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I thought I would chime in here and add my perspective, as I have just purchased my first dslr. First off, my history. Back in high school, I used my parents old Pentax slr for an elective photography class. Since then I have used only point-n-shoots but I've always wanted to buy an slr. Just couldn't afford it and/or justify the expense. Now I am 33 and figured I would use my point-n-shoot breaking as an excuse to get a dslr.

So I started my research. Read through magazines, spent days on DPReview, sifted through the fanboyism on the forums. I truely did not know what features I needed nor wanted and I kept seeing the same advice for new buyers over and over. one: You just cant go wrong with ANY new dslr and two: you are not buying a camera, you are buying a system. So I stoped looking at the cameras I thought I was interested in, and started looking at entire lines of cameras and lenses from each company to try and map out a possible upgrade path I could follow.

With the lenses, I had no idea what I would want or need in the future. Discovered that the third party lenses are usually cheaper than the OEM and often as good or better quality. They are also usually the same price regardless of the mount so I gladly decided to mostly ignore the lenses.

About at this point I had to stop and ask myself, what kind of photographer was I, and what kind did I want to become? With some self-honesty, I realized I was an aspiring amateur and could never conceive of myself buying a body that costs much more than a $1000. ever. So then whats the point of buying into a company that has 8 cameras in their line-up, if only 3 are sub $1000. This is actually where Pentax and Olympus have an advantage, assuming they stick to the same model range and price points. With both of their top of the line models just over $1000 right now, if I were to upgrade to one of those, I would not have to worry about getting a "dumbed-down" version of a more expensive model. I would be very content in the knowledge that I had the very best that that company had to offer.

Now i also went to local camera shops to try and get a feel for the ergonomics of each camera. What I found was this. The budget Nikons were VERY uncomfortable for me. The budget Canons were ok but had a very cheap build quality to them. The Sony a500 and up felt good and had decent build quality but the a230/a330/a380 were crippling to hold for more than a few seconds. The Olympus were nowhere to be found. And of all the stores I went to, I found only 1 Pentax, a K7. Very comfortable, but too expensive for my first dslr.

So heres my take on each company.

Nikon: They were my favorite until I actually got one in my hand. Ergos suck. why does everyone love these ergos? (the d90 and up however felt great)

Canon: At the end, canon was my second choice. even though build quality felt like a cheap Chinese toy, I was impressed that i could hold each model comfortably. It is also one of the big two (Canikon) so felt like the safest bet for the future.

Sony: Was impressed with them and I might have bought a a330 if it didnt make my hand cramp. what was sony thinking!? Their live-view system was great but I got the feeling that it came at the cost of the OVF quality. view-finder is much more important than the speed of the live-view. They do have the most models under a $1000 right now.

Olympus: not at all impressed with the 4/3s system. Really hate the "square" aspect ratio. They also seem to be focusing on small bodies including small grips. Without seeing in person, I wasn't going to take a chance on them. However, if you can get past those issues, they have many budget models to choose from and their top of the line is just over $1000. They seem to be the best deal for the budget conscience person right now.

Pentax: No local presence. but, reviews and forums all said what great build quality they had. from pictures online, i was 85% sure the kx grip would be fine for me. I often also prefer the underdog. will company still exist when im ready to upgrade in the future? all the talk and rumors had me worried.


So the final 4 I considered, Canon XSi, T1i, Sony a500, Pentax K-x. The sony seemed way overpriced, as did all the sonys. Then, in order to get it to 2, I decided I wanted video. The t1i was $720 and the K-x was $550. they seemed to have similar specs but the K-x promised to have better build quality. I got the K-x.

Had the K-x been more expensive (say $700), I probably would have chosen the XSi. Had the T1i been less expensive (say $575), I would have chosen it. But get this, had I been able to find a K-x in store to compare, I would have gotten the K-x regardless of how close in price it was to the T1i. So I think local in-store presence is very important. especially when a big selling point is build quality, something that can only be measured and appreciated in person.

I did see several back-cover magazine ads for the K-x but they kind of turned me off. It was the different colored camera bodies, made the camera look cheap and toyish because subconsciously i guess i feel that "real" cameras are always black. Dont get me wrong, I think the colors are a good idea and innovative but just not for me.

Was I influenced by my previous experience with Pentax? I doubt it, other than being familiar with their name. I dont remember thinking that old camera was anything special.

Weather sealing was also a selling point for me. I know, the kx is not weatherproof, but my next upgrade probably will be.

Now onto the subject of bridge cameras. I think that's a huge misnomer. At least in 2009 when you can find a sub $500 dslr from all 5 companies. Today's more logical progression would be a pocket point n shoot straight to dslr. I think most people who buy bridge cameras just use them as big point n shoots. If they really wanted a dslr, then they would have bought one. As far as I see, the bridge cameras are an end point, not a stepping stone.

As I see it, if Pentax wants to continue to shun the brick n mortars, then they need to somehow play up their build quality online. but more importantly, they need some sort of detailed comparison of the grip size and shape compared to the canikons that are easily found in stores. These are not dvd players, you actually have to hold a camera to use it and if its uncomfortable, then it wont be used.

What I want to see Pentax do, is put the K7 grip on EVERY camera they make. I dont understand why all the budget dslr's have to have these tiny uncomfortable grips.

Also they should commit to making every body and lense at least water resistant. Kind of like how Subaru back in the early 90's said all their cars would now come with all-wheel drive standard (at least in the US). When they did that, I thought they were crazy. It adds cost, complexity, weight, reduces MPG and why would an econo-box like the justy need AWD? Well over the years, their name became synonymous with AWD, and now when someone shops for a AWD car, the first name they think of is Subaru. They may go look at other cars, but Subaru is now the yardstick in which to compare.

Pentax can easily carve out the niche market of rugged and waterproof. They just need to commit to it.

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