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Old May 30, 2005, 12:13 PM   #1
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Somewhere on the board there is a discussion comparing the merits of the *ist DS versus the Rebel XT. Despite the fact that the camera store was running a promotion for the XT that offered a free 512 GB card that effectively took away the price difference between the two cameras, I chose the Pentax. It wasn't a difficult decision. I know I'm preaching to the choir on this board but just in case somebody is weighing the same possibilities as I did, here are my reasons.

Firstly, the Nikon D70S is a fine camera but it was more than $300 CAN more expensive for a camera built around the same chip as the Pentax. After purchasing 4 Nikons over the years, I had some brand loyalty. But the camera wasn't backward compatible to my old lenses and my wife just found it large and heavy. (She loves the Coolpix 4100 I had bought her, by the way. No anti-Nikon prejudice there.) That left the Pentax and the Rebel XT.

The Rebel XT has some advantages, the extra megapixels and speed, but in the end, the choice was easy.

- Ergonomics. At Canon the engineers who work on the electronics must work in the penthouse while the ergonomics people are somewhere down in the second basement next to the janitor's closet, surrounded by the steam pipes. I have large hands with relatively slender fingers and simply couldn't hold the Canon comfortably. Despite the fact that its dimensions are virtually identical to the Pentax, I ended up holding the thing with my thumb in an awkward postion and only two fingers. I simply couldn't fit the baby finger onto the camera. My index finger had to be arched very awkwardly to reach the shutter release button. Meanwhile, the *ist DS nestled into my hand like my wife's... whoa, better stop right there with that comparison!

The curved inside of the handgrip, the rubberized material, the little thumb grip on the back of the camera and the very slightly different position of the shutter release button made all the difference in the world. Some of the reviewers have noticed the same problem with the Rebel XT.

To be fair, my wife had no problem with the XT's grip. But anyone who has medium to large hands or even thick fingers had better try out the two carefully.

- LCD screen, larger and WAY brighter on the Pentax. I had to look carefully to read the menu on the XT, even inside the camera store.

- Clearer, brighter viewfinder. (Also a big advantage over the D70s.) The quality of the viewfinder of a camera has always seemed to me an underrated ease of use factor. Check both the numbers and the experience. The Pentax comes out on top.

- Lenses. Although I owned no Pentax lenses. the backward compatibility business seemed important to me. The possiblity of buying inexpensive used lenses is attractive. I tried out a couple of older lenses, and even on manual focus, they worked well. The autofocus system is actually a help in focussing manually on the Pentax.

- The kit lens. I had checked the Canon forums and lens review sites and found a lot of complaints about the Canon kit lens. Maybe it's just that there are fewer Pentax users but I don't see nearly the number of complaints there. What I can say for myself, is that the Pentax lens simply felt more solidly put together and smoother in operation.

- The Pentax can operate on AA batteries, available jsut about anywhere.

- Build quality. This one's subjective, I admit. The XT seems a big improvement over the Rebel 300D but the Pentax just seems more solidly put together. Lots of friends still tell me about their first K1000 with fond nostalgic smiles. It seeems reasonable to me that superiority in build quality may be more than just a subjective feeling on my part.

- Flash system. I hesitate to mention this one since I don't know much about this and will be asking for advice on the forum. But I do know that I want to buy an external flash that I can use off the hotshoe. I'm not sure how well the Pentax will do this but I do know the Canon system is major league expensive. (This might be a Nikon advantage, by the way.)

So there are my reasons. In the end, the quality of my shots will be more limited by my ability or lack thereof than by the choice of camera. But any camera, even the cheapest, that is actually used is better than one that sits in the closet, even the most expensive pro model. And I think I am more likely to use a camera that feels good in my hand and at my eye.

I'll be looking forward to improving my skills and will be bothering you all with lots of questions on the board.

Thanks for reading!
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Old May 31, 2005, 2:04 AM   #2
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Posts: 51

Excellent - someone else who has the same issues as me with the shape (if not size) of the 350D/XT.

I'm with you on every point and I'd add that despite having gigs of CF cards, the price of memory these days means that the SD card is not an issue either.

I haven't regretted my desicison yet.

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