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Old Nov 25, 2009, 11:00 AM   #1
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Default For want of a mouse.... [aka - camera shopping]

I took this week off from work, and wound up doing some shopping as my wife needed a new mouse - the buttons died on her old one. So off to Best Buy. After selecting a mouse, I wandered across the aisle to just peek at the cameras - obviously no Pentax cameras there but there were Canons and Nikons.

Later, we needed to stock up on supplies since #1 son will be home from Flagstaff and #2 will also be home and not scheduled to work, so off to Costco. Walked by the cameras (next to the laptops - #2 son needs one for college, too), again Canons (D90, D3000) and Nikons (t1i) [I think I have the models right], each with 2 lens packages (and real good price$).

In picking up the bodies and the lenses at both stores, I did not realize how much plastic are in these units. They are feather light, and compared to my K100 and K20 weight nothing (and feel like nothing) - I was almost afraid that I would break them. The lenses are all plastic - even the image stabilized ones, plastic mounts and again, I was afraid that they would crumble away. Now, I am NOT complaining that the K100 and K20 are lead anchors, there is a difference of substance vs the feeling of nothing.

I understand that they are good cameras, take great pictures, have wonderful reputations, great following and sell a LOT of cameras. But, several years ago, I picked up an FAJ 75-300 lens - the price was right, and its all plastic, and compared to the DA 55-300, appears flimsy and is very plastic. All my other Pentax lenses (DA 12-24, DA 16-45, DA 10-17) are extraordinarily well built compared to what I just picked up.

In comparison my Pentax gear has the feeling of quality, the ability to last the ages (my old Spotmatic is 40 years old), and take a few bumps and jars along the journey. By comparison the D90 weighs 24oz vs K20's 28oz and the K100's 23oz. I think Pentax is missing out here - on a physical side by side comparison (and maybe I am a bit biased here) its not an anchor vs a feather, but substance vs a hollow shell cold feeling.

Anyway, - I was very surprised - or better to say stunned - to say the least!! Obviously, I have not been shopping for cameras (at least in person - in an actual physical store - where you can pick things up) for quite a while [years]....
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Old Nov 25, 2009, 11:34 AM   #2
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I'd like to start off by saying I am a Canon user. Now that we have that out of the way, I agree wholeheartedly. I really do prefer magnesium bodies and metal lenses. I'm not a big fan of the plastic construction used in many entry level DSLRs or in the lenses.

BUT, I understand it. I think we're in the minority. A number of users prefer small/light. That's more conducive to plastic build vs. metal. I like the feel of my 1dmkIII and 24-105 lens. Recently I used a friend's Canon XTi and it felt like a toy.

All of which is why it's critical for people to actually handle cameras themselves vs. buying blind from the internet. Size/weight/ergonomics are different on all cameras. Some people would hold my camera and swear they'd never want to carry around a brick like that. I on the other hand like to point out that several years ago, one of my metal framed lenses (canon 100-400L) was knocked off a table and fell on cement. There's a slight dent in it but not one that affects it's function or the quality of the photos. I'd hate to think what would have happened if it had been made of plastic.
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Old Nov 25, 2009, 11:50 AM   #3
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Also, it is far easier to get camera movement in your photos with a light camera and lens combination than it is with one that has some heft to it.

There is a limit to the weight thing, which I found out when I used my friends Nikon D3, that thing with Nikon's 300mm 2.8 is a real beast and I prefer my K20D in both size and weight.

I guess everyone is looking for a less expensive DSLR and to make them that way, C & N seem to have resorted to plastic. As John stated, just drop one of those plastic lenses on the floor once and see how it holds up compared to a metal lens.

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Old Nov 25, 2009, 12:00 PM   #4
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This is not limited to photo gear. Automobiles are another example where plastics have replaced metal in the area of bumpers, grills, etc. The upside is that vehicles today are (on an inflated adjusted basis) less expensive, have better gas mileage and overall provide greater value. Same for photo gear. So long as the quality of the image is not compromised, at the entry & mid levels, plastic technologies make a good value proposition. BTW the the K-7 have a metal body? I know it has a Mg-Alloy frame. . .

The remaining factors are personal...i.e. ergonomics, weight/feel, etc. Of course you can always buy metal lenses for a price. It's a tradeoff!
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Old Nov 25, 2009, 1:04 PM   #5
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k7 is stainless steel frame and magnesium alloy body (i think possibly the other way around but i dont think so)
Pentax-DA 12-24mm f4 | Pentax-DA* 16-50mm f2.8 | Pentax-A 50mm f1.4 | Tamron 90mm f2.8 Macro | Pentax-DA* 60-250mm f4 | Sigma 150-500mm
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Old Nov 25, 2009, 4:32 PM   #6
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I've noticed more plastic then metal in modern cameras. My old screw mount (M42) were all pretty well metal..ES 11, S1a.

My '52 Leica 11F is all metal...built like a German tank.

My K10D is substantial, but although it has a stainless steel chassis. I beleive it's polycarbonate surface....but it's @#$% good polycarbonate !!

I was not impressed with my 18-55 kit lens that came with my KM...plastic lens mount !

But I don't use that lens much, usually have my Pentax 10-17 Fisheye on it, which seems mostly aluminum and glass.

A lot of my newer Pentax glass is plastic, not like my Pentax A 35-105 Macro zoom bought in '84...which is a very heavy, metal and glass lens...a superb lens by the way. Picture quality is excellent and almost 26 years later of hard use...seems to work as well as when it was new.

I use it on my K10D with battery grip as it seems to overwhelm my KM body...weight and balance wise.

I prefer robust construction on camera equipment as I'm out pretty well every day using my stuff...summer and very cold winters we have up here.

I think eventually a K7..or K8 (future successor ?) with a magnesium body will be the camera for me....but only when the K10D fades out.

Last edited by lesmore49; Nov 25, 2009 at 4:34 PM.
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Old Nov 26, 2009, 11:34 AM   #7
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Yesterday, I ventured across the valley dodging tumbleweeds, to Fry's Electronics - so following up on rumors that they had Pentax bodies that you could actually touch and hold, I went over the the camera section first.

Yes! Indeed they actually had a K7 and KX. The K7's ergonomics was everything everyone has been saying. It did feel wonderful - just perfect (I did like the finger notch - nice touch), however I did leave empty handed.

The KX did suffer from the same light plastic sensation that I had with the other C and N bodies. It was small, light but (maybe I am biased) did not have the absolute toy feeling as the others did. Maybe its the texturing on the body? I have no idea....

One thing I will say about the Pentax lenses, is that they are relatively small in comparison to their Canon and Nikon counterparts, whose girth is enormous.

I also picked up the higher end Canon and Nikon bodies there at Fry's and in comparison to the K7 they are monsters and weigh a ton.

I was actually shopping for computers for #2 son. The decision - Costco who had a Dell 4 core, 8GB 750GB 23" monitor package for $599 which goes in the rec room for my wife. My wife's system - dual core 3GB 500GB (with a very high end graphics card) goes to #2 son, along with a new net book (he is still deciding) to haul around for school. They are both happy - so I think that this is a good combination.

Me - well I still am using my 8 year old system in my home office. Maybe I should go shopping for a new mouse for myself....
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