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02-16-2010, 05:28 AM   #1
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Amateur advice needed

Hi all,

I've been shooting for a few years now. Started on my dad's old ME maybe three years back, had a couple of K lenses with that so decided on Pentax K100D when I first went digital. Shot with that for maybe 2 years, upgraded to a K20D in the summer. Now - I've always been decent as a visual arts type guys, sketching, painting and even photography - to a degree. Having said that, taking photos is definitely my 'weakest link' and I am no means a pro or gifted photographer.

So, I use the K20 for mostly 3 things: macro, family shoots, very rarely occasional birding/wildlife. I find that I miss taking videos for family affairs, and resort to using the old point n' shoot. So I'm thinking of the K-x downgrade from my K20D to gain the convenience of video.

I realize I'm giving up the weather sealing, AF per-lens adjustment (which I actually use), higher res sensor and the supposed superior ergonomics of the K20. But I don't think I'll need those things. Can I rely on the K-x's AF? How much cropping will I get for macros with 12Mp instead of 14Mp? I think 12Mp will still be alright. Any thoughts?

Has anyone ever taken a step backward like this and been happy about it? I don't want to step back only for video features and a lighter camera and be regretting the decision later on.


Last edited by firefly; 02-16-2010 at 09:13 AM.
02-16-2010, 07:39 AM   #2
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02-16-2010, 09:19 AM   #3
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I'd suggest trying out a K-x in a store to see how you like the ergonomics and movie mode. Take an SD card with you so you can take a few and review them when you get home. More than likely, SR is disabled on the store model, so try a movie like that first. Then go into the menu and enable SR and take another. Remember, once recording begins, focusing becomes manual so test for this as well.

Personally, I'm disappointed with the amount of noise SR makes when enabled for LV and movie modes. The thought never crossed my mind that SR noise would be such an issue. Most of the movies I make are handheld and moving around so having SR on is a big benefit. Unless I can use a tripod and shut it off, or leave it on and just mute the sound captured and dub the video to music, the movie mode is sorta useless for me.
02-16-2010, 09:43 AM   #4
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I have been shooting Digital since pentax first released the *istD, and have upgraded twice, once to K10D and once to K7D.

due to the low resale value of the bodies at the time of upgrade, I have always kept my old cameras as back ups or alternate bodies.

As a result, I am constantly switching back and fourth between 6, 10 and 14 MP and to some extent, I don't understand your concern.

you can print easily to 13 x 19 with a 6 MP shot, so unless you are really cropping in, resolution of the sensor is not an issue, and the difference between 12 and 14MP will be impossible to notice.

02-16-2010, 10:39 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by firefly Quote
Hi all,

I've been shooting for a few years now. Started on my dad's old ME maybe three years back, had a couple of K lenses with that so decided on Pentax K100D when I first went digital. Shot with that for maybe 2 years, upgraded to a K20D in the summer. Now - I've always been decent as a visual arts type guys, sketching, painting and even photography - to a degree. Having said that, taking photos is definitely my 'weakest link' and I am no means a pro or gifted photographer.

So, I use the K20 for mostly 3 things: macro, family shoots, very rarely occasional birding/wildlife. I find that I miss taking videos for family affairs, and resort to using the old point n' shoot. So I'm thinking of the K-x downgrade from my K20D to gain the convenience of video.

I realize I'm giving up the weather sealing, AF per-lens adjustment (which I actually use), higher res sensor and the supposed superior ergonomics of the K20. But I don't think I'll need those things. Can I rely on the K-x's AF? How much cropping will I get for macros with 12Mp instead of 14Mp? I think 12Mp will still be alright. Any thoughts?

Has anyone ever taken a step backward like this and been happy about it? I don't want to step back only for video features and a lighter camera and be regretting the decision later on.
Some may say it's not a step backwards. That said, unless you are completely cash strapped, I would keep the K20d for the situations where you want to use it. I really don't think you're going to notice much if any difference between 12 and 14 Mp. 2 completely different cameras with different feature sets and different sensors.

02-16-2010, 11:20 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote

As a result, I am constantly switching back and fourth between 6, 10 and 14 MP and to some extent, I don't understand your concern.

you can print easily to 13 x 19 with a 6 MP shot, so unless you are really cropping in, resolution of the sensor is not an issue, and the difference between 12 and 14MP will be impossible to notice.
I enjoy shooting macros, but don't have a 'true' macro lens, I have what they refer to as the close-focus tamron 28-75. I rely on some pretty heavy cropping to get what would be considered a macro shot. That said, I think you're right, the difference would be hard to notice.
02-16-2010, 11:22 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffJS Quote
Some may say it's not a step backwards. That said, unless you are completely cash strapped, I would keep the K20d for the situations where you want to use it. I really don't think you're going to notice much if any difference between 12 and 14 Mp. 2 completely different cameras with different feature sets and different sensors.

Well, I guess I could say that I'm cash strapped. I have three kids and it's difficult to justify having two camera bodies of equivalent $$$ value kicking around for my own amateur use. I'd feel a bit selfish. So that basically leaves me in a 'one or the other' situation.
02-16-2010, 11:26 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hemi345 Quote
I'd suggest trying out a K-x in a store to see how you like the ergonomics and movie mode. Take an SD card with you so you can take a few and review them when you get home. More than likely, SR is disabled on the store model, so try a movie like that first. Then go into the menu and enable SR and take another. Remember, once recording begins, focusing becomes manual so test for this as well.

Personally, I'm disappointed with the amount of noise SR makes when enabled for LV and movie modes. The thought never crossed my mind that SR noise would be such an issue. Most of the movies I make are handheld and moving around so having SR on is a big benefit. Unless I can use a tripod and shut it off, or leave it on and just mute the sound captured and dub the video to music, the movie mode is sorta useless for me.
What do you mean SR noise? Is the sensor shifting audible on the recording during playback? Is it louder than a whisper... than the background noise... is there anyway you could qualify that for me?

I think trying one out and reviewing when I get home is the way to go... I never considered that before.

I just want to say thanks to all for the great advice so far.

02-16-2010, 11:31 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by firefly Quote
I enjoy shooting macros, but don't have a 'true' macro lens, I have what they refer to as the close-focus tamron 28-75. I rely on some pretty heavy cropping to get what would be considered a macro shot. That said, I think you're right, the difference would be hard to notice.
if you enjoy shooting macro, why not spend perhaps $150 and put together a superb macro arrangement.

I have 4 different ones all costing less than that.

SMC-M 100 F4 macro (does 1:2 on its own) plus a set of extension tubes totalling 67 mm (I bought this back in the 1980s used)

SMC Takumar 50mm F4 plus extension tubes total cost this year $96 CDN

a bellows with a 135mm enlarging lens Bellows cost $25 used but I had to adapt it to take my lens and mounts but still well below $150 for everything not counting time.

you can also spend $50 for a set of close up lenses to use on any prime you have,

so there should be no reason to give up the camera just to go macro. The cost you spend setting up your kit is much less than the perceived cost of 2 lenses.

As for video, I would personally use a video camera not an SLR for this.

capable is not the same as a long term useable feature.
02-16-2010, 01:15 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by firefly Quote
Well, I guess I could say that I'm cash strapped. I have three kids and it's difficult to justify having two camera bodies of equivalent $$$ value kicking around for my own amateur use. I'd feel a bit selfish. So that basically leaves me in a 'one or the other' situation.
I'm in the same boat. My wife and I use our Canon SX1 for both photos and video. The video quality is excellent but the photo quality indoors left a lot to be desired. I was thinking the K-x would be the perfect compromise with a little lower video quality (720 vs the SX1's 1080) but capture the better "memories" of our daughter in the lower light shots we have been recently been taking a bunch of.

QuoteOriginally posted by firefly Quote
What do you mean SR noise? Is the sensor shifting audible on the recording during playback? Is it louder than a whisper... than the background noise... is there anyway you could qualify that for me?
The sensor shifting is audible both while making the recording and during recording playback. If you're in a particularly noisy electronics store, you might not hear it. It's just important that if you do get a chance to try it out, that you try it with both SR enabled and disabled. Easy way to check: After selecting Movie mode on the dial, hit the right arrow on the D pad to show the Movie menu. Shake Reduction is the last item in the list.

When SR is enabled for movie mode, a whirring sound is present all the time even if the camera is perfectly still. The best description I can come up with is like the sound of rewinding a cassette tape. If you have any sort of background noise, then you might not hear it at all. When you move the camera (even if just panning), the noise gets louder and even clunks if you're don't start moving from a snail's pace... clunk is like rolling around a ping pong ball in a coffee can. This will probably be heard over background noise. I was outside filming some birds chirping and panning around my backyard and I could hear the whirring noise and clunking clearly.

If you're incredibly stable handheld (or plan to use a tripod) or don't mind some camera shake while handheld, then turning SR off would make the movie mode perfectly fine. I posted about this noise in the video forum to see if the SR noise my camera is making is normal but haven't got much feedback saying it isn't.

For reference, I can hear the image stabilization during playback of movies I've made with my Canon SX1 but only when it's dead silent and the noise doesn't increase exponentially while panning like it does with the K-x. IMO, the K-x is pretty noisy at all things (AF, mirror flipping, SR). Just be cognisant of it while trying it out as you may find it perfectly acceptable.
02-16-2010, 01:48 PM   #11
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I agree with Lowell that macro can be had cheap without relying on extensive cropping - just a Raynox 150 or 250 on the front of your 28-75 would give you 1:2 or 1:1 right there for under $50. On the other hand, I would't let that stop you from getting the new camera if the video or ligher weight are valueable to you. I'm just mentioning the macro thing to assure you that whatever tiny bit in you lose in resolution needn't be a problem, as you can easily get better macro capability with the K-x using any of the suggestions offered here than with your K20D and cropping.
02-16-2010, 03:42 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by firefly Quote
Well, I guess I could say that I'm cash strapped. I have three kids and it's difficult to justify having two camera bodies of equivalent $$$ value kicking around for my own amateur use. I'd feel a bit selfish. So that basically leaves me in a 'one or the other' situation.

Well, I guess the kiddies have to come first .. Can't argue that but I don't think there's anything wrong with feeling a Little selfish. Speaks highly of you that you would consider that (I know a lot who just don't give a damn)..

The good news is, I don't think you'll be disappointed as by all accounts the Kx is a nice camera. I just prefer the fit, finish, feel, and operation of the flagship models.

As to your macro desires (if I'm reading things correctly), Here's a gem that will soon be on the marketplace.. (a little shameless self promotion, hope it's allowed in this context)



The Vivitar 2x Macro Focusing Teleconverter. This particular one is the PK version which means you'll be doing manual everything. By most accounts, one of the best 2x (manual) converters ever on the market. With a 50mm lens, this gem will give you full 1:1 capability. Even with a doorstop like the Pentax M50 f2.0,



it does a pretty slick job..

Full Frame (not cropped) Click the image for the full sized one. Admittedly I could have done better on the critical focus, this was just a quickie show you shot.



02-16-2010, 04:32 PM   #13
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I believe in slr for stills and camcorder for video, have been drooling over Vixia HF S10.
Just my2cents.

Cheers, Mike.
02-16-2010, 04:55 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ex Finn. Quote
I believe in slr for stills and camcorder for video, have been drooling over Vixia HF S10.
Just my2cents.

Cheers, Mike.
But if you can have both in the same package, it's a whole lot better. Especially when you have kids and have a bunch of their stuff to pack around, one less thing really makes a difference as to whether you take it or leave it at home.
02-16-2010, 05:51 PM   #15
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I hear you, one multi-function unit would be great, how ever.
There are specific tools for a specific job, exception would be a Swiss army knife.
So far, what I have seen, there is no Swiss army DSLR yet.

Cheers, Mike.
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