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Old Nov 4, 2010, 12:53 AM   #11
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Default Here's what I ended up getting...

Since I started this thread, I'll update what I have ended up with. (I have also provided links to the places where I bought the accessories. You'll be hard pressed to find them cheaper, and I've been happy w/ the quality and functionality of all the ones for which I've provided links. Prices include shipping.)
  • K-x with 18-55 and 50-300 lenses kit (Price has since gone up at BH, but their prices seem to fluctuate daily. In general, their prices have been better than anything on Amazon. Btw, I have learned to denote it as K-x so as not to confuse it with an old Pentax film camera called a KX)
  • Got hoods for each from eBay: for the 18-55 and 50-300 (~$10 each)
  • Got a couple of lens cap keepers for $1 each
  • Got the Giottos Cleaning Kit w/ blower and brush from BH (~$12)
  • Already had tripod and monopod (but they will probably need to be upgraded some day since they were both fairly inexpensive ones. I do find I use the monopod a lot, and it is a great help just for stabilizing normal shots.)
  • The Pentax neck strap is fine, but it seemed to be in the way a lot of the time, so I got an Op/Tech Wrist Strap from BH. This is what is on the camera most of the time now, and I like it.
  • Found a remote control for the camera for $2.57 on ebay that works fine
  • After much researching, I ended up buying a Bower SFD926P flash (~$105). The head tilts and turns and has Autofocus TTL Power Zoom and has a built in reflector and diffuser.
  • I needed to get some more batteries. Eneloops come highly recommended, but I ended up getting 8 of these comparable (ie, like the Eneloops, they retain their charge longer while stored) Rayovac Rechargeable Hybrid NiMH Batteries for about $17 at Amazon
  • Picked up another SD card - a Transcend 16Gb Class 10 (!) for only ~$25 at Amazon (Transcend is regularly recommended as a reliable card)
  • I spent a lot of time looking for a camera bag. I decided I wanted a sling bag. I really liked the Case Logic 205, but no one seemed to have it in stock. (It is now in stock at BH for ~$56) It's a pretty compact bag, so I ended up getting something that's a bit larger, the Lowepro Slingshot 202 AW. (You may be able to get it a bit cheaper if you want to try bidding on ebay, but get it immediately for ~$65 here on ebay)
That really provides for a complete outfit, but...

Okay, I really love the 50-300mm lens, but I find the 18-55mm somewhat more challenging. I need to work harder at getting a sharp pic, and I find that for truly sharp images, it really needs to be stopped down to F8 or more. After poking around this and the pentax forum, it appears that one really might be better suited with a fast prime. So... because I need to keep this as cheap as possible, I've been doing some 'bottom fishing' on ebay. I found a SMC-Pentax A 50mm 1:2 for ~$20 on ebay. For that price I will be keeping it. It isn't necessarily sharper, but I can shoot at F2 or 4 w/ decent results. The lens that is more often recommended is a 50mm 1:1.7. Again, I'm working cheap, and I just recently won (but have not yet received) a SMC Pentax-M 50mm 1:1.7 attached to an old Pentax ME camera for ~$33. I'm hoping that will serve as my 'family portraits' lens. (The A lens w/ manual focus is quite easy to use. I'm hoping that this M lens and the green button will be just as easy.)
BUT, since the APS-C sensor has a 1.5 crop factor, to get something closer to a 50mm equivalent on a 35mm, I'm still poking around for an old 28mm 1:2.8. Those seem to be harder to find.
So, all told, I'm in for about $900, but I think I have a really decent DSLR outfit. The family is glad to have all their birthday and Christmas shopping for me already completed!

Last edited by mgvh; Nov 4, 2010 at 12:56 AM.
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Old Nov 4, 2010, 11:07 AM   #12
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Great followup, thanks!
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Old Nov 4, 2010, 11:24 PM   #13
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how do you like the Bower SFD926P flash? I am looking for a flash for my pentax k-r for around $100 myself.
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Old Nov 4, 2010, 11:40 PM   #14
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It is not a great flash, it is the same as the vivtar, and couple of other brands. Just a rebadge.

My brother tried it, as it was cheap. He returned it. Miss fires happened allot. Go to BH sites, and look up the customer review to the bower and the vivtar. Not great.
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Old Nov 4, 2010, 11:49 PM   #15
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i'll cross that one off my list then. i'll do a bit more research and read over http://pttl.mattdm.org/

thanks for the heads up!
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Old Nov 4, 2010, 11:51 PM   #16
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you are welcome. You really get what you pay for.
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 7:51 AM   #17
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Geez, the camera is coming today already, before the other stuff - even the memory.

Other than that, I'm on my way, having ordered the Sanyo batteries, hoods, memory, and remote control. Not sure about the lens keeper dangling around (but better than misplacing cover). There's a cleaner kit, case, and table tripod included in the kit I got, but I'm sure I'll have to get a Pentax sensor clearner kit, backpack type case and monopod at some point as well.

Next up is the computer aspect. How to process, organize, and backup (I've lost all my vacation pictures over the years through various hard drive mishaps) the images for the lowest cost. My bro-in-law uses Picassa for organzing. I understand hard drives are pretty cheap now-adays. Much more reading to do.
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 3:48 PM   #18
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That Bower SFD926P flash has worked fine for me though I have not used it a lot... The reviews at B&H on it are all quite positive. It may not be particularly powerful compared to other ones, but for $100, it was the best I could find.
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 5:18 PM   #19
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You need to look at the bower for all brands, and there are enough review that points to it as not a great flash, just okay. And enough from different retail sites giving similar results. There are couple of canon and nikon version that has had it failing after some time. There are allot more reviews of the bower from canon and nikon as they are the market leaders, and it will give you better expectation what the flash will be like in the long term. And since it is multi rebadge flash. Looking at the sankar and vivtar reviews is another good indicator. And there are some pentax reviews that point to the same. So the point is why I say it is not that great.
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 5:40 PM   #20
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The M 50 f1.7 is a very nice lens (I have one). The 50 f2 lenses were supposed to be a bit softer than the 1.7, but both are very capable. Both are manual focus, the A is auto exposure which has advantages.

I'm not crazy about lens cap keepers. I loved having one with my Sony F717, but have found them annoying with the dSLR for some reason. I ended up taking the one I had off and just stick the cap in my pocket. I haven't lost one yet.

VelvetFoot - As far as software, for organization and raw conversion I really like Lightroom, but it's not free like Picasa. For processing shots, I like Photoshop Elements quite a bit, it's on my hubby's computer. If you can get an educational discount the full version of Photoshop becomes affordable, which is what I use all the time. The Pentax software that's included with the camera is useable and has the browser has the advantage of being able to tell you all of the settings on the camera, something that most other browsers don't. The raw converter seemed to be rather a pain to use, but it does work well. I haven't used it in a very long time - it's never been installed on my 2 year old computer.
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