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Old Jan 26, 2009, 4:09 PM   #1
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Hi all,
So it's camera buying time for me and I need some help specifically from Pentax and Sony users on the forum.

I've ruled out Canon, Nikon and Olympus (especially when my e510 turned out to be a lemon). Canon and Nikon we already have (EOS350d aka Rebel XT and a D80) but I am now looking for a new cam for myself.

I've narrowed it down to a Pentax K200d and a Sony A300.
I've also narrowed the lens I want to get to a one-lens-does-all Tamron 18-250mm superzoom. Unfortunatrely, both cams are only sold as kits here, with an 18-55mm on the Pentax and 18-70mm on the Sony but the kit lens I will sell off later.

I'm leaning towards the Pentax at the moment since it offers tried and proven weather-sealing and is splash and dust proof which are so important to me as I have been caught in the rain many time before while in the jungle shooting plants. I'm aware that the lens too needs to be weather-sealed for true weather-resistance but the camera at least offers better protection than the Sony A300 would.

The Pentax also has a top LCD info panel (no backlight though) which would come in handy for me as I love the one on the Nikon D80. It also uses AA batteries which is also a big plus for me. Then, there are tons of Pentax lenses or third party lenses available new or used.

The Sony A300 on the other hand, has an easy to use Live View mode but I hardly used LV on my Olympus e510 and I don't think I'd be using it much on the A300 either. The A300 does have a vertically tilting LCD however, which will be useful when I need to shoot at awkward angles. It is also lighter and smaller since there is no weather-proofing. The Sony, I believe takes Minolta lenses too so used lenses and third party makes are available for it.

So my one question now concerns reliability. I hope some Pentax or Sony users would share their experiences with those two, especially their DSLRs.

Thanks for taking the time to read this!
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Old Jan 26, 2009, 4:37 PM   #2
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OK - I can't help you with your question. But I am morbidly curious why you're buying into 3 different SLR systems. What, may I ask, is the purpose?
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Old Jan 26, 2009, 4:51 PM   #3
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I don't know why you would be "morbidly curious" but I'll answer that. I'm not buying into 3 systems. My camera was an Oly E510 till it broke, twice! first the dial then then the LCD stopped working. I only have the Oly kit lens and a 105mm Sigma for it so I don't have a slew of Oly lenses. I am now moving away from Oly after that lemon.
Both the Canon 350d and Nikon D80 belong to two different brothers and we all use different lenses of course. I have shot with both cams many times (preferring the D80) but am now looking for my own cam and like I stated above, narrowed it down to Pentax K200d (which I am leaning to) and the Sony A300. All I want to know is how reliable they are as the Oly lemon experience really made me rather wary.
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Old Jan 26, 2009, 5:01 PM   #4
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Thanks so much for graciously answering my question. Strangely enough, most people on this forum don't know you. So when you say "Canon and Nikon we already have (EOS350d aka Rebel XT and a D80)" that could easily mean you and your spouse, you and your significant other, you and your business partner. The question goes to whether or not it makes sense to invest in the same system so lenses / flashes can be shared. I get the gist you're not interested in sharing at all so we'll return this to your original question - reliability of the Pentax and Sony. I might also suggest posting the question in the Sony and Pentax DSLR forums if you have not already done so. You might get answers from people who don't normally contribute to the 'what camera should I buy' forum but do have experience with one of those cameras.
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Old Jan 26, 2009, 7:00 PM   #5
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I don't have the Sony, but I do have the Pentax K200D. Before I had the Pentax *ist DS.

I came close to buying a Sony A200 about 6 months ago. It is supposed to auto focus faster than the K200D, its kit lens has more range, its sustained burst rate is faster, and it was about $100 cheaper.

I ended up getting the K200D. The reasons?

1. I already had some lenses left over from my *ist DS.

2. It is weather-proofed. For an entry level DSLR, it is built like a tank.

3. It's easier to get inexpensive quality lenses for the Pentax than the Sony (at this time; maybe not in the future).

4. When I tried to buy the Sony online, their website froze two or three times. Also, the discount coupon code I was given for having applied for a Sony creditcard did not work.

Now that I have the K200D, I am happy with it. The burst mode is quite fast enough for me. I have the kit lens, a 55-300MM zoom lens, and their f/1.4 prime lens. I like the sensor based image stabilization. The Sony has that, too.

I think I could be happy with the Sony, too. Its build quality is not bad. Both these cameras seem to me to be sturdier than the Olympus E-510.

If I were into super fast burst modes and better low light image quality, I would probably go for the Canon 40D or 50D. I like the Canon XSi, but it seems a little less well built than the K200D.

By the way, I think John's question was a good one. As I read your post, I, too, wondered why you were switiching to a different camera and what it was about the other cameras that you didn't like. Some people do switch quickly from camera to camera. When they ask for advice on new cameras, it's useful to know what they want from the new camera that they couldn't get from the old ones.
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Old Jan 26, 2009, 10:05 PM   #6
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I have the K200D as well. I bought it last July and haven't had a single problem with it or the three Pentax lenses I currently own: The 16-50mm f/2.8, the 50-135mm f/2.8 and the 55-300mm f/4-5.6.

Reasons I went with Pentax include, but are not limited to:

1) The cost of Pentax's better lenses is 30-50 precent cheaper than better lenses from Canon and Nikon. I'm not talking kit lens level.

2) Weatherproof camera body (and weatherproof lenses in the case of the 16-50 and 50-135).

3) The Pentax felt "right" in my hands - both in terms of ergonomics and robustness. That includes the excellent viewfinder (for a pentamirror).

4) The enthusiastic Pentax community - both here at Steve's Digicams and elsewhere on the Web.

5) Toyota and Honda make great cars, but I don't own them. Canon and Nikon make great cameras - but I don't own them, either. I just like being a bit different - as long as I'm still getting a solid product.

Yes, burst speed with the K200D is a bit slower than Canon - auto focus, too - but not enough for either to ever have been a problem. And I've never lost a shot because of either.

It's interesting your other possible choice is Sony - because I think both Pentax and Sony are often underestimated by the photographic community at large. I recommend the Sony A200 (and the Pentax K200D) to many DSLR newbies. And I think Sony has the best live view for DSLRs right now. If you plan on doing a lot of tripod work, then live view will be a lot more important. If not, then you probably don't need it at all.

The upshot: I think you'll do fine with either camera. Just pick them both up and see which one "speaks" to you.

By the way, do you know that there is a Pentax-branded 18-250mm lens... which is pretty much the same lens as the Tamron? But reportedly the Pentax version has better ED coatings. While there is no official "kit" featuring this lens, Adorama or B&H might cut you a deal if you buy the Pentax lens at the same time.

With both the Pentax and the Sony, I advise that you take the kit lens. The Pentax 18-55mm kit lens is a very decent piece of glass that would come in handy indoors or when you want to keep it light. The Sony's 18-70mm lens offers the same advantages with an extra 15mm at the long end to boot. And both add less than $100 to the price of the camera body.

Hope this helps.
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Old Jan 27, 2009, 12:43 AM   #7
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Thanks to everyone for taking the time to respond. I really think my Olympus is a lemon because I cannot find (google) anyone else with such problems like mine. The dial was fixed under warranty but the LCD would cost quite a bit to fix. So I wanted to change before something else breaks on the Oly lemon.

I am very interested in the Pentax because:

1. Weather sealing - very useful as I will use it while hiking or in the jungle photographing plants and wildlife. I have been caught in the rain and scrambling to wrap my slr in plastic bags before!

2. The top info LCD! Why is the trend now to eliminate these? They are perfect and a must for me. I love the info lcd on my bro's D80 snd hate that my Oly doesn't have one.

3. Lots of Pentax lenses old and new available including third party.

4. Big viewfinder. The other camera I am looking at is the Sony A300 but I am now 85% leaning towards the K200D. No LiveView is not a big deal and not a selling point for me. I disliked the small VF on the Oly and I seldom used the LV on it so the big VF on the Pentax is a major plus.

IQ wise, I think all the cams today are very capable so that's not a big concern for me.

The K200D is made/assembled in Philippines right?

I just hope I do not get another lemon... Thanks again for responding. I've gotten some very good feedback from other Pentax forum/users so far too.
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Old Jan 27, 2009, 9:47 AM   #8
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I bought the Canon XS but had focusing issues with it and I was not happy with the pictures. Exchanged it for the Pentax K200D and I am very happy with it.
The Pentax community is fun. Go to the different forums and you will see that.
I am not bashing Canon because a lot of people really like the XS and XSi, but I got a bad copy.
If you plan on doing sports and can afford fast lenses the Canon is faster in continuous mode, but then you might as well pop for an even more expensive Canon body that is even faster.
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Old Jan 27, 2009, 2:11 PM   #9
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I'm surprised that none of the Sony owners have jumped in and said what they like about their cameras. I'm another Pentax owner and thought the main thing I didn't like about the two Sonys with live view was the viewfinder. I do lots of macro (as well as landscape, travel, hiking, snowshoeing) and I find auto focus is sometimes a liability. So I use manual focus quite a bit and don't think I could do it with the Sony's smaller viewfinder.

I don't have a K200 - I have the older K100 and the K20 now, but used to own a DS and a K10, both sold. As far as reliability goes, both of my old, sold cameras are still working (I hear from the new owners every so often). Both of my own cameras have been real work-horses, getting dragged around all sorts of places without problems (I carry at least one camera every day). I've been really impressed with their reliability.
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Old Jan 27, 2009, 11:29 PM   #10
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I have a Pentax K10D and a buddy has the Pentax 200. So far (I've had my K10D since Nov./07) no problems...touch wood. I've had Pentax SLR's..digital and film since '68 and they seem like the Energizer bunny...they just go and go and go.

My friend and I are out taking pictures on a regular basis...all 4 seasons and up here (Canada) in the winter we have gone out when it's 25 below zero +. We give up to the extreme cold, eventually, but the two Pentaxes keep on snapping away.

I like the fact that I can use all my old Pentax lenses and that it has shake reduction in the body, not the lenses (Think Sony has this, too) and that the body of my K10D is solid and built like a tank.

We have a Sony DSLR at work and it's a nice camera, but to me, just doesn't seem as robust as the Pentax.

The other reason I went for Pentax was that I have had great service from my Pentax products over the years..they have been very reliable, durable..touch wood.

I have a number of older Pentax, Takumar (Pentaxes old name for their lens) and new Pentax lenses..50 F1.4, 16-45 Zoom, 55-300 Zoom. Been happy with them all.


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