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Old Apr 6, 2009, 12:13 PM   #1
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Ok so I am a college student and I have begun taking photography courses and am interested in photography as a career or a serious hobby. I already own a K10 and my mom and I share a few lenses. (Nothing much yet) But I am wondering, before I spend my money on a Pentax flash and possibly a new tripod and a remote, is Pentax going to be enough for me?

I love photography and am just a beginner at this point in time but in your honest opinion do you think it might be a good idea to switch over to Nikon or Canon (preferably Nikon if I do) because of their higher end cameras? I really don't want to spend thousands of dollars on lenses and than not be able to proceed farther. Is it worth it to switch over to be able to have a full frame sensor camera later on?

Hope that was clear and thanks for any advice ahead of time.

Oh and one more thing. Whenever I go to Ritz or Action or the like, I try out the Nikons and Canons in my price range yet they don't feel as sturdy and reliable as my K10 has been. And also I would only have a thousand dollar range for a new camera if I were to get one.
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Old Apr 6, 2009, 12:38 PM   #2
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I doubt, in your $1,000price range, that you will find anything in the Nikon or Canon line up that is more feature rich than your K10D. For that matter you could move up to a K20D for under $700 right now.

A tripod is an investment that will withstand camera brands, at least that is one thing (1/4 inch tripod socket) that is common among all brands.

As far as a flash, you could get an Auto flash like the Vivitar 285HV that will work accross other camera brands, just not in TTL mode. I have a Pentax AF360 and probably would have gone with a cheaper Auto flash like the 285HV had I known then what Iknow now.

There is a decent market for used Pentax lenses, so you would not loose your entire investment if you decide to switch later on.

If you decide to go with Nikon, I think you would have to be looking at the D80 to D90 to beat par with the K10D toK20D.

Good luck.

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Old Apr 6, 2009, 12:59 PM   #3
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I had the k10D which I upgraded at the end of last year for the k20D

I have thought about swapping brands on a regular basis, but to get the equivalent / slightly better camera, I would have to buy the D300

Then add the vertical grip, and dedicated flashgun.

Then replace my lenses with the VR equivalent........

I was looking at £5,000 easy. Too much for a hobby at the moment.

I guess what I am saying is do not look at the entry level Nikon / Canon as they are below the K10D - you have to be looking at the D300 / D700

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Old Apr 6, 2009, 2:43 PM   #4
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It depends on where you ultimately want to go with your photography. If you are going to become a pro sports shooter and shoot football, basketball etc. as a primary occupation, then switching to Canon or Nikon makes sense (the sports pro I know is happy with his Canon).

If your primary purpose is product photography then Nikon's flash system seems to be better, and I would agree that the D300 would be the bottom end of the Nikon chain that's equal or better than the Pentax. But that's a relative thing - if you look back a little bit, you'll see where a pro who's big in fashion photography posted about a magazine that was mostly shot with a K20.

As far as outdoor/landscape - it's a more level playing field. In either the January or February Outdoor Photographer magazine there's a whole article about a pro using K20 for his professional pictures (kayaking in Alaska for instance). And I'm not convinced that the D300 is any better than the K20 for landscape and macro.

The full frame question is one without a definite answer. My sports shooting pro friend showed me his full frame Canon and it has awesome dynamic range - definitely better than the K20. I looked at the sample pictures on the LCD and sighed, thinking that maybe I should switch. But as I skimmed through what he had on the card, my arms got very tired and I realized that I couldn't hold that camera steady. Even with a course in weight-lifting, I figured I still wouldn't be able to comfortably hike with it, and would probably have to include a tripod no matter what I was doing. That means even more junk to carry around, and I'm pretty much maxxed out now with weight. If I left out the tripod I'd end up with blurry pictures, so the extra dynamic range wouldn't do me any good. So for me, full frame is out of the question, even the D300would bepushing it (it weighs more than the K20). But that's relative - others can handle a big, heavy camera better than I can.
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Old Apr 6, 2009, 8:42 PM   #5
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I think Mtngal hit the nail exactly on the head. For fast sports, both Canon and Nikon's high end cameras focus faster, and have higher burst rates than Pentax. In terms of image quality, I think Pentax competes very well. I terms of build quality and weather sealing, I think Pentax has a decided edge.

Others on this forum are probably tired of reading my repeated mention of this, but I have a K100D, which Pentax says is *NOT* weather sealed. A couple of years ago I slipped and fell while getting out of my kayak, with the K100D in my hand. The camera was fully submerged underwater for a second or two. I removed the lens, memory card, and batteries, and left the access doors open, then dried the camera thoroughly by the cabin's fireplace, and a few hours later the camera worked flawlessly. It has continued working like a champ ever since. And that's a camera that isn't weather sealed. I was quite lucky, but I think this story says a lot about the build quality of their entry-level cameras.

For a rather disconcerting assessment of how some high-end gear worked in a recent Antarctica trip, check out Michael Reichmann's essay:

Note that no one on this trip brought along any Pentax gear, so this essay may not be all that helpful in terms of comparing the K20 to other cameras. Of course, if you anticipat doing most of your shooting in a studio, then build quality and weather sealing are much less important.

In terms of whether you'll outgrow the K20D, I guess you might, but I've had my K100D for more than three years, and I haven't yet outgrown that camera. Unless you need lightning quick autofocus, and blazing fast burst rates, it's hard for me to imagine that someone just taking up the hobby would outgrow the K20D any time soon.

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Old Apr 6, 2009, 10:10 PM   #6
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Hi Snoodle,

My cousin went to Brooks Institute 35+ years ago and just retired as a photographer (industrial products, etc - large commercial accounts). Mainly he had film, 6x7, 4x5 and 35mm cameras. There is quite a range to the title of professional photographer - fashion, sports, news, industrial, architectural, wedding & portraits (babys), landscapes, advertising, food, etc. and each specialty will have its own particular set of requirements for the type of equipment that needs to be used, and reasons for them. I guess if you want to be absolutely safe then Nikon or Canon would be the best choice. Each has a much larger choice of lenses. However, basically how many lenses do you really need (for school - remember you are a poor student)? A maximum of 5 to 6 will probably do it (fish eye, ultra wide angle, standard, telephoto to 300mm, and a couple of primes 50mm and maybe 100mm). [Editorial note - I know everyone with LBA will say how can you only stay at 5 or 6!!!] Any digital body that is 4 to 5 years old will be worth not a lot (and will depreciate by the day - however it does not mean that it will not work and not be useful). The lenses will retain their value and can be sold for probably no more than a 50% discount - and after 4 years with inflation you might even be even (100%), if you buy good quality brand name lenses at good prices (and take care of them).

On the other hand, as a starving college student (and I have 2 sons in college at the moment - one at home and one away) your main focus is trying to go to school (and do well), so what you need is a set of tools / utilities that provide you with a basis to learn on. Pentax has excellent lenses, and the camera bodies probably provide the best bang for the buck - but more importantly have all the basics plus a number of extras. Maybe not implemented exactly like Nikon or Canon, but a lot of what you need to learn is to adapt your tools to the situation at hand (this is also a 2 edged sword).

However, you also have to ask yourself - what are you going to be taught? What your going to learn is all about the technical aspects of capturing light and how to use (lighting the subject) and how to control it (iso speed, focus, aperture, shutter speed, depth of field and viewing angle) along with the component's inter-relationships. You are also going to learn to be a creative artist - to frame, compose, light the subject, etc. - even if your job is to photograph manhole covers. You can do that with just about any camera that provides a good set of manual controls and an adequate set of lenses.

You need to start off and ask yourself what type of photography you are interested in? This may help you to answer the next set of questions? Also, you need to ask if this speciality is large enough to get a job and support yourself and do you like/enjoy it? [My wife has a DVM and hated it - so she went back to school for another major - so she has 5 degrees.]
I would start by asking your photography instructors what they recommend in terms of camera requirements for the major. What set of lenses and body features. What set of brands - only Canon/Nikon, or a body with the following feature list of ....

Then you need to ask full frame or APS/4:3 or ??? I have a feeling that FF may not be a requirement - since they are so expensive and the choices are limited. This will determine your set of lenses to an extent.

So then you probably need to ask yourself if Pentax has a set of lenses (or third party) that cover all the needs your going to have in school? If not - Canon or Nikon.

Next you need to ask if the K10 provides all the control you are going to need in school? If not does the K20? If not - Canon or Nikon.

Then would come the question of comfort with the body. If you are going to hate your tools you will not enjoy your profession.

If Pentax offers the lenses, and the K10 offers the body features, then you might have your answer.
.... also, here is an interesting set of postings. It compares the K20 against the D90 and the result is different that what you might expect. Be sure to read the entire post, start to finish as it is very enlightening....


There are no absolutes in life - you pay your money and take your chances. The best, well thought out decisions - can turn out wrong (or off the mark) for a wide variety of reasons. You need to be able to adapt in real time, make decisions with the information available to you at the time at hand, go foward and make the best of it. I have a feeling that the Pentax choice may be OK in the end (but - I am not a professional photographer). You will second guess yourself several times, but it will work out. When you graduate depending if you work for yourself or if you go corporate, it may not matter that much in the end. The important thing, is to get a good education. We hire new engineers all the time. It turns out that its not the school they go to, or what classes they take, or equipment they us - its what they learn - i.e, how to think a problem through and execute a valid/acceptable solution - that is the most valuable item that they learn in school and bring to the job.

Hope that helps.... (and I did not intend to lecture)....

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Old Apr 7, 2009, 12:21 AM   #7
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Thanks for all the replies and advice everyone. I will take everything into consideration and will talk to my photography teacher as well to hear her advice. I love my K10 and really don't want to switch over, so as long as it continues to be enough for me than I think I will keep it. It has produced what I believe to be some pretty nice photos considering that I just begun and I feel a connection to it owing to the fact that it is the camera I have learned all I know on.

Thanks for the advice again. See ya around
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Old Apr 7, 2009, 7:52 AM   #8
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I have a K10D and shoot sports as well as a wide variety of other subjects.

The K10D (or even better a K20D) is great when I am paying the the bills.

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