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02-28-2010, 08:52 PM   #1
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Pentax Menu system better than Nikon D300?

A friend and I who own K20's gave an HDR workshop for other club members on Saturday. One of the Nikon D300 owners in the club (he and his wife own 3 D300's and several expensive telescopic lenses for birds) volunteered his help to show Nikon owners at the workshop how to switch their cameras into HDR mode. After reading his manual and over 2 hours at the workshop, he was unable to set his D300 (which he's had since it came out) in fully automatic exposure bracketing mode, e.g. hit the shutter once and it takes all the shots until finished. The next day he posted to the club website and happily reported finding a youtube video that explains how to automate HDR bracketing on the D300. He then encouraged others to find their camera instructions on youtube. I felt like replying: i don't have to - i own a Pentax :-)
Automating HDR bracketing on the K20 is amazingly simple, one bracketing button on the back of the camera and one line item in the Menu collection. I tried to help one of the Nikon owners but after finding the bracketing menu, gave up in finding the way to automate the process to one click as the menu system seemed complicated.

02-28-2010, 09:35 PM   #2
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Hi Phil,

After the workshop I was wondering out loud to my wife and considering if I am so drawn to HDR photography because my camera makes bracketing so easy. I'm not sure. It certainly doesn't hurt.

The K20D and K-7 are probably the easiest cameras around for taking auto-bracketed HDR exposures, at least for less than $2500. I looked at the specs for the new hot camera on the block, the Canon D7. While it looks to be a great camera, it still only does 3 bracketed exposures. The Nikon D300 that you mention, can take the same ad our exposure range as our K20Ds (though in 9 1EV brackets instead of 5 2EV ones), but it's far from intuitive to do so.

It's the same with long exposure night photography. Most DSLRs are capable of bulb exposures but don't have a dedicated dial position for that setting. They have to go into the menu system and set their manual setting to bulb. I use bulb setting a lot. Again is this because the camera makes it so easy?

On the other hand. I do believe the Nikon owner's assertion that his camera has a much faster autofocus and is better for bird photography.

michael mckee
My Port Townsend – A City in Photographs – 365
02-28-2010, 09:40 PM   #3
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In class, I find Nikon menus complicated. They aren't laid out the way I think. They don't even work the same from model to model. Many accuse entry level Canon owners of being a little slow, but the entry level Nikon people have more trouble setting their camera. The new 3000 dslr has approx. 65 page IB. Half the class was reading it trying to figure out how to do any thing with it.

In the previous class a student had the D40. She didn't have the orig IB, only an after market one. When I tried to access the Nikon IB on their web site I was stopped cold. Can't down load it without a camera serial #. Amazing policy, and a poorly thought out one.
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02-28-2010, 10:09 PM   #4
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Having never used the bracketing feature while being with Pentax, and having never used it with my 6 months old D300s and having never read the manual, it only took me a few minutes to figure it out... I admit-it isn't as straightforward as on Pentax bodies... But hey, you should see all the possible bracketing options... you'll realize a thing or two for you... And same goes for the N...'s menu b.t.w.

I guess it's in people's nature to justify to them-selves the choices they've made... and the sh@#t they own... Grass is always greener on the other side, but one still need reasons and proves that it ain't that bad on that side either...

02-28-2010, 10:21 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by mysticcowboy Quote
While it looks to be a great camera, it still only does 3 bracketed exposures. The Nikon D300 that you mention, can take the same ad our exposure range as our K20Ds (though in 9 1EV brackets instead of 5 2EV ones), but it's far from intuitive to do so.

It's the same with long exposure night photography. Most DSLRs are capable of bulb exposures but don't have a dedicated dial position for that setting. They have to go into the menu system and set their manual setting to bulb. I use bulb setting a lot. Again is this because the camera makes it so easy?
Correct me if I'm wrong...

1)As far "one click" bracketing on D300 goes...
-Most bracketing work is done on a tripod....
-When taking pictures from a tripod, it's wise to use a remote....

Set the camera to bracketing (push of a button+turn of a dial), let's say for 9 frames... set the camera on a tripod.... snap the remote into multi-frame, press and hold the shutter button on the remote while camera takes all the frames.... release the shutter when camera stops... now, which part is complicated?

2)Bulb mode on non Pentax bodies for dummies: Pentax should get a medal for the dedicated mode... But...
-Most bulb work is done on a tripod....
-When taking pictures from a tripod, it's wise to use a remote....

There's a BULB mode on most remotes, which overrides the current shutter speed setting on the camera... why bother with a dedicated BULB-mode on the camera body?
02-28-2010, 11:01 PM   #6
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I think it depends on what one is used to. I also at occasion battle with a K10D. I set something to try and have to go through the menus a few times before I find where I changed it.

QuoteOriginally posted by alexeyga Quote
Correct me if I'm wrong...

1)As far "one click" bracketing on D300 goes...
-Most bracketing work is done on a tripod....
-When taking pictures from a tripod, it's wise to use a remote....

Set the camera to bracketing (push of a button+turn of a dial), let's say for 9 frames... set the camera on a tripod.... snap the remote into multi-frame, press and hold the shutter button on the remote while camera takes all the frames.... release the shutter when camera stops... now, which part is complicated?

2)Bulb mode on non Pentax bodies for dummies: Pentax should get a medal for the dedicated mode... But...
-Most bulb work is done on a tripod....
-When taking pictures from a tripod, it's wise to use a remote....

There's a BULB mode on most remotes, which overrides the current shutter speed setting on the camera... why bother with a dedicated BULB-mode on the camera body?
Ask the user that did not manage it after reading the manual.
02-28-2010, 11:46 PM   #7
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I don't really think you can fault a pro-level camera body for having menus that are too complicated. Working photographers often rely the extensive menu options to configure a to their shooting style.

So while you may find the D300 too complicated, D300 users may find your K20D too limited.
02-28-2010, 11:48 PM   #8
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Oh ya deffinatly easier.

I use a D300 at work because I have to, and have been doing so for over 2 years. I use a K-7 on my spare time because I want to. The menu on the D300 is very indepth and difficult. The K-7 is way much easier and explains everything much better with out having to push a (?) button to find out the meaning of the setting. Yes there is such a button on the D300. The one thing I do like about the D300 is the two button (format). You can format a card is seconds with out having to go half way through the menu to find it like on the K-7. But thats only one thing. I had to train over 20 people on how to use the D300. That meant I had to learn the ins and outs of the camera very well. The abosolute thing I noticed is this. The K-7 takes all the best things of Nikon and all the best things of Canon and melds them into one body, excluding all the gimmicks. Does this sound like a sales pitch? LOL The K-7 makes sense and is user friendly and would recommend it to anyone. I have not had the pleasure of working with other Pentax bodies, but is they are anything like the K-7. I would recommend them too.

03-01-2010, 08:11 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by mickeyb73 Quote
I use a D300 at work because I have to, and have been doing so for over 2 years. I use a K-7 on my spare time because I want to. The menu on the D300 is very indepth and difficult. The K-7 is way much easier and explains everything much better with out having to push a (?) button to find out the meaning of the setting. Yes there is such a button on the D300. The one thing I do like about the D300 is the two button (format). You can format a card is seconds with out having to go half way through the menu to find it like on the K-7. But thats only one thing. I had to train over 20 people on how to use the D300. That meant I had to learn the ins and outs of the camera very well. The abosolute thing I noticed is this. The K-7 takes all the best things of Nikon and all the best things of Canon and melds them into one body, excluding all the gimmicks. Does this sound like a sales pitch? LOL The K-7 makes sense and is user friendly and would recommend it to anyone. I have not had the pleasure of working with other Pentax bodies, but is they are anything like the K-7. I would recommend them too.
First thing that i've done a few weeks after switching to a D300s, was a wedding for my high school friends... (Note that I don't do weddings and not planning to...) A bit rough of a transition, but i've learned quite a few things.... the hard way.... So my after-math conclusion was that D300s (all Nikon DX and DXXX bodies for that matter) is a tool... there are so many things, often little things that you only come to appreciate when you really WORK with the camera... as oppose to using one to take snap-shots every other weekend... for this purpose there's Pentax...

That hard-buttoned FORMAT, in my book, is golden... so is the "no-flash" assigned to the FN button under the pinkie... Try shooting something where you need constantly turn the flash off and on... you'll see what I mean... all I have to do, just hold a button without ever removing my eye from the VF.... and b.t.w, same FN button with a dial combination is assigned to control the bracketing... no need to dig the menus...

Nikon menu system, while being more complicated has a dedicated "My menu" tab where you can bring and re-arrange all the most used features... Which, for me, is way better than K20's and K7's menus all together... And in Nikon, b.t.w. pressing menu-button brings you to the last item in the menu you were using.... Try adjusting the AF on K7... we'll discuss which menu is better after....

Last edited by alexeyga; 03-01-2010 at 08:22 AM.
03-01-2010, 01:38 PM   #10
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All,
For those that got excited at my one time annecdotal observation, i'm not at all bashing Nikon or the D300. For it to have the long run its had, obviously it must be a very good camera. And its predictive tracking , as mysticcowboy mentioned, is extraordinary by all reports.

In talking about Pentax's good design of its HDR feature, i'm not defending my purchase, indeed i have a Canon PS that i paid much less for which seems to me to have an even more intuitive menu system than my Pentax.

My point was more that every camera system seems to have some advantages, pros and cons, and Pentax has some good features and some issues, like any other camera.

As to menu systems, my first digital camera, a PS, had a menu system that i never could remember where everything was located, i won't mention the manufacturer as i don't need to irritate anyone else :-) The second digital camera for me was the Canon, which i can set down for many months and instantly go back and use it. The Pentax also seems easy to me. Do different menu systems suit different people, perhaps, but a subject way beyond me :-)
03-02-2010, 09:22 AM   #11
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Pentax has made a camera in the K10D/K20D/K7 that's particularly suited to making HDR photography easy. The exposure bracketing that has a dedicated button, with a 5 shot bracket capability, that has up to 2EV per shot makes it dead simple. That's without the need to dig through a huge menu system and program a button that may already be used for something else. That's without the need to buy a special programmable remote. With IR sensors on both the front and the back, my very simple and inexpensive Remote Control C, triggers a HDR sequence from many angles.

The Nikon D300 is the next least expensive camera that can be set up to do that, and it costs almost half again as much as a K7 and twice as much as a K20D at current street prices. Canon doesn't even make a camera for less than $2000 US with the 9EV bracketing range that Pentax and Nikon cameras offer. Yes, you can add a remote that will give some Canons that functionality, but that doesn't make the process simple. Sony and Olympus don't even offer that.

With great customizability comes great complexity, at least with cameras. What Phil and I witnessed was a very experienced and capable bird/wildlife photographer fumble around in the dark trying to figure out auto-bracketing. That's literally, he was using a flashlight, searching through the menu systems. Here's a shot of the guy trying to set his camera to bracket. He didn't get it that day, but had to go home and find a YouTube video that showed him how to set it up.


For each reasonably serious photographer there is a baby bear camera, not too complicated and expensive like papa bear's, not to simple and cheap like mama bear's. Sure, we all like to justify our purchases. That's human nature. I would love to own a Nikon D300. It's an excellent camera. The K20D is my baby bear choice for HDR photography.

michael mckee
My Port Townsend – A City in Photographs – 365

Last edited by mysticcowboy; 03-02-2010 at 09:28 AM.
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