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03-29-2010, 11:05 AM   #1
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Pentax K20D vs. Canon 550D

Hi all,

Well its been about 2 years now I've had the K20D, and about a year with the K10D (bought it after the K20D) Owning also a Canon G10, I've decided I like working with live view much more than a viewfinder. Maybe because I'm so use to working with view cameras (which are still my staple formats, 4x5 and 8x10) I really have not used my Pentax dslr's that much, and when I do, its always off a tripod, at base iso, with manual focus, and usually on a Nodal Ninja 5 pano head for stitching multiple frames.

So the bottom line for me is absolute image quality and being able to soley use live view for composing and fine focusing.Build quality, weather proof, camera heft, finish, and auto functions are not important to me. Has anyone who has a K20D had a chance to use or compare a 550D?I looked at IR's comparator, but don't trust them when it seems they couldn't get the K20D focused properly on their still life shots.

Also it seems I can still use my Taks with an M42 to EF adapter, how about using my Pentax M's via a PK to EF adapter, is that possible?

Thanks.......................................Chris

03-29-2010, 11:13 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by cloudswimmer Quote
Hi all,

Well its been about 2 years now I've had the K20D, and about a year with the K10D (bought it after the K20D) Owning also a Canon G10, I've decided I like working with live view much more than a viewfinder. Maybe because I'm so use to working with view cameras (which are still my staple formats, 4x5 and 8x10) I really have not used my Pentax dslr's that much, and when I do, its always off a tripod, at base iso, with manual focus, and usually on a Nodal Ninja 5 pano head for stitching multiple frames.

So the bottom line for me is absolute image quality and being able to soley use live view for composing and fine focusing.Build quality, weather proof, camera heft, finish, and auto functions are not important to me. Has anyone who has a K20D had a chance to use or compare a 550D?I looked at IR's comparator, but don't trust them when it seems they couldn't get the K20D focused properly on their still life shots.

Also it seems I can still use my Taks with an M42 to EF adapter, how about using my Pentax M's via a PK to EF adapter, is that possible?

Thanks.......................................Chris
None of the more traditional DSLR's does lifeview truely well.
You should have a look at the Panasonic Lumix GF1, G2 or G10....
They are designed with LV in mind.

- Bert
03-29-2010, 11:36 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by bymy141 Quote
None of the more traditional DSLR's does lifeview truely well.
You should have a look at the Panasonic Lumix GF1, G2 or G10....
They are designed with LV in mind.

- Bert
I have the G10.I actually considered at one point abandoning dslr's altogether and just stitching with the G10, but I need more reach than it can offer.I have toyed with the idea of a GF1 as well, I know I could use all my Pentax glass with it, but from what I've read you really need to process raw with it to get the quality, and when your shooting 15-20 increments of focus per shot, 4-16 shots per image, that can be up to 320 raw images you have to process before you even begin focus blending and stitching, yikes!
03-29-2010, 11:54 AM   #4
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The 550D/7D sensor offers the highest image quality in most measures of any crop-sensor currently available (detail, noise control, tonality), though some will contest this based on meaningless 100% crops. Other cameras may offer somewhat higher DR (K-x) or better color response (K20D, though this is somewhat subjective and post may make it irrelevant), and many like me prefer the user interface of the K20D over that of the Rebels by a large margin, but for a tripod-based live view experience with maximum image quality as the goal the 550D does come out ahead.

The real kicker is that the K20D's live view uses a reduced-resolution feed from the sensor, making fine focusing (using a magnified view) far less precise. As much as I loved the K20D, I really don't think it's really the right tool for your intentions.

You can still use all your K-mount glass with the 550D as well.

03-29-2010, 12:54 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by er1kksen Quote
The 550D/7D sensor offers the highest image quality in most measures of any crop-sensor currently available (detail, noise control, tonality), though some will contest this based on meaningless 100% crops. Other cameras may offer somewhat higher DR (K-x) or better color response (K20D, though this is somewhat subjective and post may make it irrelevant), and many like me prefer the user interface of the K20D over that of the Rebels by a large margin, but for a tripod-based live view experience with maximum image quality as the goal the 550D does come out ahead.

The real kicker is that the K20D's live view uses a reduced-resolution feed from the sensor, making fine focusing (using a magnified view) far less precise. As much as I loved the K20D, I really don't think it's really the right tool for your intentions.

You can still use all your K-mount glass with the 550D as well.
Well I did it.Just ordered me a T1i, PK-EF adapter, and M42-EF adapter.So I guess look for my K10 and K20 with grips in the for sale section.They are still both as new, and I know I'm going to take a big hit, especially with the K20 as I bought it when they were still over 1k.
03-29-2010, 02:29 PM   #6
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If I had the cash I'd take it. I must admit I feel nostalgic for my old K20D from time to time.
03-29-2010, 02:34 PM   #7
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Nostalgic?! Shoot, I just got mine last fall. lol


QuoteOriginally posted by er1kksen Quote
If I had the cash I'd take it. I must admit I feel nostalgic for my old K20D from time to time.
03-29-2010, 04:23 PM   #8
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Nahhh.......nostalgic is my Nikon F2 or 1955 Calumet C-!



03-29-2010, 04:47 PM   #9
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The grass is always greener somewhere else...

As others have said, no current DSLR is great for live view, though one of the best is supposed to be the K7.

If you don't use your DSLR, maybe it's because a DSLR is not right for your style of shooting. Using a compact is quite fine, though you have to keep in mind that you'll be loosing DOF control, high ISO that's usable, flexibility, lens quality, speed of operation and AF, battery life, etc.

I will suggest you actually try to use the viewfinder for a short while, maybe during non "important" shooting situations. It might just grow unto you. It takes some time to learn how to adapt and use the viewfinder when you learned with an LCD, but it's better in many respects.

also, others have said that Canon cameras are better, on paper, for some specific specifications. That might be true or not, but there's more to a camera than noise figures. I recently walked in a colleague's office, looked at a picture of his daughter, and rightly guessed that it was shot with a Pentax camera and lens. the texture, the colours were just special enough. You might like the Canon finish more, as I like the Pentax finish better, but remember that each brand has their own "special something" an that you will loose it if you walk away. Plus your lenses will be larger, more expensive, you will loose image stabilization, etc.

I'd think twice about switching just because of live view If you decide to switch, do it knowing what the cost are.
03-29-2010, 06:04 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
The grass is always greener somewhere else...

As others have said, no current DSLR is great for live view, though one of the best is supposed to be the K7.

If you don't use your DSLR, maybe it's because a DSLR is not right for your style of shooting. Using a compact is quite fine, though you have to keep in mind that you'll be loosing DOF control, high ISO that's usable, flexibility, lens quality, speed of operation and AF, battery life, etc.

I will suggest you actually try to use the viewfinder for a short while, maybe during non "important" shooting situations. It might just grow unto you. It takes some time to learn how to adapt and use the viewfinder when you learned with an LCD, but it's better in many respects.

also, others have said that Canon cameras are better, on paper, for some specific specifications. That might be true or not, but there's more to a camera than noise figures. I recently walked in a colleague's office, looked at a picture of his daughter, and rightly guessed that it was shot with a Pentax camera and lens. the texture, the colours were just special enough. You might like the Canon finish more, as I like the Pentax finish better, but remember that each brand has their own "special something" an that you will loose it if you walk away. Plus your lenses will be larger, more expensive, you will loose image stabilization, etc.

I'd think twice about switching just because of live view If you decide to switch, do it knowing what the cost are.
Thats some very good advice, and advice I would probably give someone starting out, or relatively new to photography Myself, I put bacon on the table with that big view camera above, and a 4x5, and thats not going to change.I've been doing it this way for 30+ years Color for me is not an issue as I'm a fine art b&w photographer.DSLR wise I started with a D70, then went with a Canon 5D when they first came out, but was not satisfied with the output compared to my drum scanned 4x5 and 8x10 film.So I sold off all the dslr gear and continued with my large format film.

A year later Pentax came out with the K20D at less than half of what I paid for the 5D, and on an emotional whim I bought it thinking I could use the live view like a mini ground glass.Well things were feeling better, but I new the only way I could get the files I needed was to start stitching.Well the problem with that is if you want to do intimate landscape/closer fine art work, you need more dof, not less, and the only way to achieve this is with focus blending, shooting anywhere from 10-20 manually focused shots per image.I use Helicon software for focus blending now and it works quite well.

Using this technique with stitching in Autopano Giga has resulted in files that now compete with my Tango drum scans, but the whole process is more time consuming than just setting up the 8x10, applying a tilt, and running the neg through a Jobo.However, a little camera can go places obviously an 8x10 can't.I've tried using the viewfinder on the K20, but after a while my neck gets sore, and its a pain taking my glasses on and off.With my G10 I've been able to do some successful stitches using my technique with its LCD and magnified MF mode.Neck doesn't get sore, glasses stay on But I need the reach of a 200mm or 300mm for a lot of stuff I want to do, so a dslr with a good live view implementation seems in order.

I almost bought the K-X, it would have been perfect for this, but the deal killer was you can't move the zoom area like you can on the Canons.So I'm going to give the 550D a try, and if it doesn't work out I won't loose as much in resale as its a brand new eos, and everyone thinks eos cameras are best, even though we better.Right tool for the right job eh

Last edited by cloudswimmer; 03-29-2010 at 06:09 PM.
03-30-2010, 07:58 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by cloudswimmer Quote

I almost bought the K-X, it would have been perfect for this, but the deal killer was you can't move the zoom area like you can on the Canons.So I'm going to give the 550D a try, and if it doesn't work out I won't loose as much in resale as its a brand new eos, and everyone thinks eos cameras are best, even though we better.Right tool for the right job eh
Yes you can. I just turned mine on and did so! The real issue with the K-x's live view is that it chews through batteries (even lithiums, just more slowly) like there's no tomorrow. Otherwise it's pretty full-featured.
03-30-2010, 10:02 AM   #12
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To be short:

1) K20D as ideal ergonomics DSLR
2) 550D as video DSLR, otherwise don't bother
3) Samsung NX10 as small camera with really good liveview, EVF.
Similar to K20D sensor. Have 720p video, but mono audio. Cheap. In time, it allow to mount any lens you like without chipped adapter.
03-30-2010, 12:24 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by er1kksen Quote
Yes you can. I just turned mine on and did so! The real issue with the K-x's live view is that it chews through batteries (even lithiums, just more slowly) like there's no tomorrow. Otherwise it's pretty full-featured.
How?I couldn't figure it out with the K-X I played with at my local Sammy's.Then I read the DPeview review and read this

"Live view can be zoomed 2, 4 or 6 times (8 and 10 times magnification is available in manual focus mode). At the greatest setting the magnification is good enough for manual focusing but not very clear. Also note that the magnification area cannot be moved to the extreme edges and corners of the frame."

I need those edges
03-30-2010, 01:05 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by tr13 Quote
To be short:

1) K20D as ideal ergonomics DSLR
Did you read my post and how I use these cameras?Camera never leaves base iso, manual focus is always used, a tripod is always used, 2 sec. self timer is always on.The only thing I ever touch is one dial to adjust aperature, so ergonomics is moot point.I also currently own a G10 and have owned the 20D and 5D.I never had a problem with any of em because in this style of shooting ergonomics is again just moot point.


QuoteOriginally posted by tr13 Quote
2) 550D as video DSLR, otherwise don't bother
Why don't bother?Have you used both cameras?Some of my large format peers say don't bother with a dslr period, but when I ask have you tried multi frame mosaics with exposure and focus blending with a dslr, almost none have.I could see don't bother if the image quality was inferior, but after pixel peeping test files from both IR and DPreview, it doesn't seem the image quality is inferior at all compared to my K20D.Of course my own personal test will verify this next week when the Rebel arrives, I still have my K20D.Probably one of the most well known mosaic imagers, Max Lyons Max Lyons Image Gallery, uses Rebels and doesn't seem to have any problems, so again I'm not sure why the "don't bother" for still imaging?

QuoteOriginally posted by tr13 Quote
3) Samsung NX10 as small camera with really good liveview, EVF.
Similar to K20D sensor. Have 720p video, but mono audio. Cheap. In time, it allow to mount any lens you like without chipped adapter.
I also considered a GF1, EP-1, K-X, NX10, and even the Leica M9.There are too many choices these days
03-30-2010, 10:40 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by cloudswimmer Quote
How?I couldn't figure it out with the K-X I played with at my local Sammy's.Then I read the DPeview review and read this

"Live view can be zoomed 2, 4 or 6 times (8 and 10 times magnification is available in manual focus mode). At the greatest setting the magnification is good enough for manual focusing but not very clear. Also note that the magnification area cannot be moved to the extreme edges and corners of the frame."

I need those edges
You zoom by pressing the "info" button. I just checked it (using a manual-focus lens, so obviously in manual-focus mode) and I was able to scroll all the way to all the edges and corners all the way down to 10x magnification. Given that the magnification is limited in AF mode, it may be that the viewable area is also limited only in AF mode and DPReview simply missed that point? I'll check it for sure when I feel like digging out an AF lens sometime tomorrow.
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