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Thread: Your thought's on Pentax

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    Member A.Sattler's Avatar
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    Your thought's on Pentax

    hello Everyone,

    I've been reading the thread on the A900 as a walk about camera and discovered that a couple people here have the Pentax K20D. I have been looking into getting a dslr (my first) and the K20D has been highly recommended. I've looked around at various cameras for a few months now and have literally been all over the map. So I would really appreciate any input or advice that anyone here has to offer.

    Thank You.

    -Adam

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    Senior Member nostatic's Avatar
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    Re: Your thought's on Pentax

    Hi Adam,

    I have been shooting the K20d since it came out. I briefly had a K10d (the predecessor) but didn't really like it. I tried the K20d and was impressed enough to pay full pop. Like any system, there are pluses and minuses. If you go to the Pentax boards, probably the most common complaint is slow/poor auto focus. In my experience, while certain lenses will hunt in low light, much of the complaining is due to operator error rather than "horrible AF" in the camera. It is not as fast as Canikon, but it isn't as bad as people make it out to be. People also whine about "only" 3fps. While there certainly are some (thought not many) who need high frame rates, imho most of the ones complaining on the Pentax boards are guys who read spec sheets rather than shoot photos. Well, to be fair they do shoot photos...of focus charts and brick walls.

    The reason I have stuck with Pentax has to do with a couple of factors. First and foremost, they have some great lenses. And if you have old Pentax glass, it will work fine on the K20d. So for those with a lot of legacy Pentax gear, a K20d is a no-brainer purchase. I didn't have any, having come from a Nikon D70. Both the FA and DA "limited" lenses are pretty special though. Very much old-school small prime lenses. The FAs are fast (31/1.8, 43/1.9, 77/1.8) and frankly the 77 is a magic portrait lens. The DA aren't quite as sublime but they are smaller and have "quick shift" focus, meaning you can AF then tweak without flipping any switches on the camera or lens. So if you combine the relatively small body with a small prime, you've got a very good portable system.

    Some of the zooms are special as well. The 50-135* is downright amazing. I shot many of the longer shots with this lens in this series: http://nostatic.com/yos08

    Another thing is that there is image stabilization in the body, so any lens has IS. Plus I find the button layout and ergos to be better than any other body I've tried.

    I actually did some quick and dirty comparison shots between the a900 and K20d today. The a900 had the Zeiss 24-70 zoom set at 35mm, and the K20d had a 35ltd macro 2.8. Of course dopey me should have set the Zeiss at around 50mm (forgot the 1.5 crop factor - doh!) but this wasn't a very controlled test. And the 35ltd isn't a superb infinity lens as it'll do very close focus (around an inch or so). While I certainly can see the resolution difference when I crop and pixel peep, and think the Sony colors have a bit more pop (these were raw shots with only a bit of WB correction on some), the Pentax actually doesn't do too bad for a body that is 1/3 the cost.

    http://nostatic.com/photos/a900K20d/

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    Member A.Sattler's Avatar
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    Re: Your thought's on Pentax

    Hello Nostatic,

    Thank you for the reply! This all started with the Leica Digilux3! I bought my first Leica (a d-lux3) about two years ago. I then decided that I wanted more, and really loving the D-Lux I first looked at Leica. Unfortunately, the M stuff is out of my budget. I then considered the Digilux3 and liked the idea a lot, but was not able to actually see one in person as none of the shops here keep it in stock.So long story short, after a lot of self-debate,research, and price-checking I moved on to find something more feasible.
    I also wanted something that,like the Digilux, was unique. Cannon and Nikon did not quite do it for me and I moved on to Sony, Olympus, and Pentax. This is where I am now. I first looked at Pentax earlier this year, but forgot about it. However, over the holidays I was at the local professional photography store( to do more comparisons between Sony and Oly) and the manager there re-introduced me to the K20. Since then I've been reading up on it and have been very impressed and excited about it.
    I have read a lot of the same comments that you mention about slow AF, etc.. And I agree with you, some people will complain about anything! This is where I appreciate a real world opinion, from someone who actually has USED the equipment!
    In the tests that I did in the store I did not find anything that was horrible. Even the Live-view, with manual focus only, was hardly the issue that it seemed in some reviews. Quite the contrary, I was actually very pleased. The controls and their layout where good, I like that it is weathered sealed, the lens's are considered some of the best around. The store manager also pointed out that Pentax uses multiple coatings on all lens elements and metal mounts on all their lens's. He uses Pentax equipment also, a K10D, by the way. I really love the I/Q that I've seen produced by the K20. The pictures have all been clear and sharp with punchy colors and with a certain feel to them. This characteristic, while not the same, reminds of what I like about Leica.
    I am NOT a professional or even a highly skilled hobbyist, but I do have aspirations of greatness ! I really think that this may be a good fit and the best way to advance into something like the A900 in a couple of years. Especially if Pentax decides to bring out a FF body!
    Thank you again for your input! I really appreciate anything that you would like to share! Also, I am sorry if this post is to long, I just wanted to give a little background.


    -Adam

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    Member A.Sattler's Avatar
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    Re: Your thought's on Pentax

    Hello again,

    Nostatic, I just took a look at your Yosemite gallery. Great Work! I really like the B&W's, especially the tunnel shot!


    Thanks, Adam.

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    Senior Member nostatic's Avatar
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    Re: Your thought's on Pentax

    Hi Adam,

    Thanks, most of the Yosemite was K20d and either 16-45 (a very good budget zoom), 50-135* (awesome zoom) or 77ltd. The tunnel was shot out the front window while driving with the 16-45 (don't try this at home). I'm still feeling my way but the K20d is a very good tool. It does have some fairly unique features (the weather sealing at that price point, but the biggest draw to me are the ltd primes. They are a lens you just want to use. As for IQ, I think it is about as good as an APS sensor can get right now. I find the noise acceptable up to 1600 and even 2000, but admittedly I'm usually not going for a particularly "clean" antiseptic look. I do think it is more towards the Leica look than Canikon.

    I actually had a K10d briefly and wasn't thrilled with it. imho the K20d is a significant upgrade in a number of areas. The other thing that can be fun is that all the older Pentax lenses work, so if you're willing to do manual focus, you can pick up very nice glass on eBay or elsewhere. Voigtlander and Zeiss also make manual focus lenses in the Pentax mount giving more options and looks.

    I had never really looked at Sony until the a900 came out. Looks like the a700 is the K20d equivalent, but I'm not crazy about the Sony glass offerings beyond the Zei$$. Oly makes some nice cameras as well, but I went with Pentax because the K20d is significantly less money than the E3 and the Pentax has a nicer viewfinder than the 520/420.

    Since you have a local shop you are at an advantage because you can actually handle the camera and the lenses. That will give you some indication if you bond with it. If you can go down and have them pop a 43ltd on the body and take some portrait shots.

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    Member A.Sattler's Avatar
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    Re: Your thought's on Pentax

    Hi Nostatic,

    Your welcome! Another recommendation for the K20D came from a friend/co-worker of my wife. He had some similar photos of guy's on motorcycles. Also taken out the front window of a moving car! This must be a Pentax thing! I've pretty much arrived at the same conclusions as you about the Sony's and Olympus's. I did look at the A700, but with a couple good lens's to start out with your at quite a bit more $$. The Sony's( A700,A350) do not seem to perform nearly as well without the better glass. I was also advised,that if I was planning on eventually going full frame, that I would have to have the G and Zeiss lens's. I am not necessarily opposed to this(having good glass), but It would take a lot longer to build up a collection! The Pentax lens's do seem to be considered to be very good and aren't all expensive. My plan of attack would be to purchase the camera and a good zoom or two. Then work on building a collection of really nice glass, some of the small primes and some Zeiss or legacy lens's.

    -Adam

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