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Old Apr 30, 2010, 4:02 PM   #1
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Default strongly considering the K-7...insight needed from the best!

Hello all,
Was directed here from the lovely experts in the "which camera should I buy" forum.

Here's the dirty:
1200ish budget
Living in north africa for 3 months come august.
Shooting landscape, people, travel in general, with the desire to shoot macro and products when I return to the states.
Very attracted to the weather resistance of the K-7 and the variety of WR lenses that Pentax offers.

That being said, I am looking for some insight as to the longevity of this camera, specifically its weather resistance, and the overall picture quality compared to other dslrs in this price range. I've read that there are considerable levels of noise above iso 1600. Besides that, any further advice, words of wisdom/caution are greatly appreciated.
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Old Apr 30, 2010, 6:28 PM   #2
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Hello doorholder, and welcome to the forum.
Let me say, you have two good choices in Pentax to choose from. The K-7 and the K20d.
they are both 14.6 megapixel and share a lot in common. I haven't checked prices lately but I know they have come down a bit. the K-7 hasn't been around long enough to have a longevity history but, its the same quality of all Pentax cameras and I can't see the K-7 being any different. I love my K20 and will keep it for a while before going with the K-7. There are others here that will give the K-7 a 5 star rating and I'd get one in a minuet if I had the cash. That said, if tou want to make your 1200 budget go farther, I would highly recommend the K20. its missing some of the bells and whistles of the K-7 but, nothing you can't get along without and you can get one for half the price of the K-7. that leaves a lot of cash for a good lens. (the kit lenses are OK, but lack the image quality of some of the other options out there.) One of the lenses that I use quite a bit is the Pentax 55-300mm. it picks up where the kit 18-55 leaves off and the tele range is really nice to have for those wildlife shots where you can't or don't want to get close. others on here will jump in and give you there opinion on some other options too. this is a great forum, people are friendly and eager to help with there knowledge and first hand experience so, don't be afraid to ask questions.

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Old Apr 30, 2010, 8:27 PM   #3
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Thanks Goldwinger for the valuable insight.

I did some price research on the K20d vs the K-7 and the results were interesting. Amazon has the K-7 with the 18-55mm WR lens for $974 while the K20d with the 18-55 (non-WR) is $877.



I wonder if the K20d has been discontinued, resulting in a higher, commodity price? If you could help me make sense of that, I'd greatly appreciate it, because I am all for saving some money for better lenses.

The other question I have is where can I get my hands on a Pentax K-7 or K20d to see if I like the ergonomics and layout? I can't seem to find a camera store in Georgia (US) that has them. Is this a common situation with Pentax cameras? If you could help me find a physical camera I can go check out, I'd be very grateful.

Thank you so much for your time.
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Old Apr 30, 2010, 8:48 PM   #4
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Hi Doorholder

Welcome to the forum. I am going to go out on a limb based on what you have already indicated and say, from a lens perspective the 18-55 WR and 55-300 would suit your needs. The 18-55 is "Weather Resistant", which means sealed, however the 55-300 is not (Pentax has not offered a WR covering this focal length range yet), however with a little care everything should be just fine. Between these two lenses, you have 99% of everything you would ever want to shoot covered. The kit lens is wonderful, much better than most from other makes, and the 55-300 has gained high marks all around. To do better, you will have to spend a small fortune. You can go out and get better lenses, however the price will go up (quite a bit) and if you really do not know what your particular interest is going to be, why spend $800 on a wide angle lens or $1200 on a telephoto. The kit and the 55-300 lenses are a very difficult combination to beat.

So camera bodies - The K7 is a wonderful camera, weather sealed (WR), magnesium and steel frame, built like a tank, small and lightweight. The K7 essentially replaced the K20 (discontinued), which is also weather sealed, steel frame, and a bit larger. The main difference is that the K20 can still be found new but you really have to look.

The K7 with the kit lens is running about $1100.
The K20 with the kit lens is running about $800.
The DA 55-300 runs about $300 to $360.

So a K7 based setup will run about $1460 while the K20 setup will run about $1160. You will also need a couple SD memory card ($20 each) and a spare battery (about $40). One note - the kit lens that comes with the K20 is not WR.

The K20 has been out for about 2.5 years and has a very good track record. The K7 is just coming up on a year now. There were some initial reports of a green line in the video, but that was early and appears to have been taken care of.

Which brings up another difference - the K7 has video, while the K20 does not. I have no idea if that makes a difference....

Your concern about noise levels above ISO 1600. The entry level KX (a newer camera - not weather sealed) is much better than anything else available (including Canon, Nikon, Sony and Olympus). You are going to get some noise, however noise can be removed with software. Pentax chose to retain detail within the image, which can not be put back in, so with the K7 you get the additional detail with some noise, and then you can decide on the level of noise, and the balance your desire between noise and detail in terms of what you want removed, based on what your eye sees. This is something the other brands do not provide or tell you. [note - based on shooting in RAW format.] The other thing, is that if you are going to want to shoot a lot at low ambient light levels, with a tripod and longer shutter times, you can stay at ISO 100 and have the best of both - tremendous detail, with no noise.

I have the K20. I would like to get the K7, but based on my needs - the K20 will be just fine for the foreseeable future (2-3 years). There are others here who have upgraded to the K7 and shot with both extensively and I will assume that they will add in with their postings.

Bottom line, you can spend a lot more money on better lenses - however the Kit set - I think will be just fine.

... hope that helps
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Old Apr 30, 2010, 8:55 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by doorholder View Post
The other question I have is where can I get my hands on a Pentax K-7 or K20d to see if I like the ergonomics and layout? I can't seem to find a camera store in Georgia (US) that has them. Is this a common situation with Pentax cameras? If you could help me find a physical camera I can go check out, I'd be very grateful.

Thank you so much for your time.
Pentax is in very few retail outlets - mainly selling on line or in the very large camera stors (B&H in NYC). One of the few is Fry's Electronics - I see that there are a couple in Georgia...


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Old Apr 30, 2010, 9:19 PM   #6
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Great advice. Thank you so much for all of that. Unfortunately, I checked the store availability of the K-7 at both GA stores, and they do not have them.

Other than that, any other creative ideas for me to be able to get my paws on one?

Also, I don't know if you saw my amazon links, but they are currently selling the K-7 new with the 18-55 wr lens for $974!

Any thoughts/opinions on purchasing a used K20d body? So far, I've been told to stay away from used bodies, but I am open to more opinions...
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Old Apr 30, 2010, 11:19 PM   #7
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I also vouch for the k20. At the time I bought it, the k7 was 1400 and i got the k20 with the 18-55 for 719 brand new. Id say keep looking around for a better price. You should be able to get the 50-300 and possibly a nice dedicated macro off ebay with the rest.
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Old Apr 30, 2010, 11:37 PM   #8
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I'm one of those who owns both the K20 and the K7, along with a much older K100.

As far as buying used, I'd be careful about that if you don't know the previous owner. I sold my first dSLR, a DS to someone else when I bought a K10 and it was still working with it's third owner when it was stolen a year ago. The person who bought my K10 is still using it. So used might work out well. On the other hand, you could also be stuck with a camera that's been abused and isn't working right, and unless you bought from a store with some type of warranty, you'd be stuck with the repair bill. So it is a crap shoot unless you know something about the camera and previous owner.

With the K20 going back up in price as stores sell out their remaining stock, and with the K7 price finally dropping it seems less worth it to buy the K20. The image quality is very similar - as far as noise, the K20 has more color noise at higher ISO, especially in the darks while the K7 has less color noise but a bit more luminance noise in the mid-tones. I will occasionally use ISO 3200 but never 6400 - the detail loss is too much for my taste and it's rare that I'm concerned about shutter speed (I don't shoot sports). The K7 has a faster frame rate for continuous shooting (nice for birding) and it's faster to do everything (at least it seems that way to me). The shutter is quieter, noticeably so. The K7 is also smaller and lighter. The smaller size was welcome, though the smaller, narrower grip took some getting used to at first, I had liked the ergonomics of the K20 (though it was a bit heavy for me).

I prefer the K7's interface, it's quite a bit different than any of the other Pentax dSLR cameras I've owned. As was pointed out, the K7 can do video. I keep saying I should plan something out and try using it but I don't think/see in motion. I like the extra range for auto bracketing that the K7 has, though the K20 is no slouch (I use auto bracketing for HDR).

I'd definitely get the WR kit lens - it's very nice to have a sealed lens and it doesn't add that much cost to the camera. Pentax makes the DA 50-200 in a sealed version that might be an idea, though I had an unsealed version of the lens and wasn't very impressed. The DA 55-300 (not sealed) is a better lens. If you are concerned about rain/water, put a plastic bag around the lens mount. The other weather sealed lenses are all * lenses (Pentax has traditionally added a green star to their higher quality lenses and they are all more expensive).

You can always buy from Amazon, I've heard their return policy is quite good. I know they were great about my first K7 - I bought one a couple of days after they were available and it had the green line. I exchanged it and the second one (shipped a week after I had bought the first one) was perfect, so it was only some initial cameras that had the fault (and I understand it was corrected by a firmware update, but I can't verify that). All I know is that I don't regret buying it. The K20 is still my back-up and the camera my other half uses when we are on a trip. I'm glad I kept it also.
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Old May 1, 2010, 1:22 AM   #9
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Hi DH,

I think everything's pretty much been covered. I also own and regularly use both the K20 and K-7, so I'll just chime it with an endorsement of either. It would be hard to go wrong between them, and either would be in their comfort zones in your intended purposes.

Prices seem to be all over the place for both bodies right now, but with some careful shopping, you'll probably still be a bit over budget with the K-7, but could come in under budget with the K20. I'd also recommend getting the DA18-55 and either the DA 50-200 or DA 55-300. The first two can be gotten in their WR versions, but they are more expensive. Some users are selling off their original non WR kit lenses and getting the sealed versions or upgrading to either faster or better lenses that cover the same FL ranges. This might be a source of some great lightly used lenses to stay under budget. Unfortunately, the 55-300 is rarely offered used at this time.

I'd echo Harriet's caution against used bodies without some warranty, but most of my lenses were bought used. You still have to be careful concerning the source you purchase from, but the money you can save can be substantial.

Personally, I wouldn't obsess about ergonomics. I currently own and shoot a DS, K100D, K10/20, and a K-7. I just don't tend to sell the older body when I get a new one. . . The way I see it, any camera feels a bit odd when I first pick it up -- just like getting a new car -- everything seems weird until you've been driving it a few days -- then your old car starts feeling strange when you get behind the wheel. Sure, it's nice if that camera just feels "right" when you first pick it up, but it's just not essential. We're a surprisingly adaptable lot. . .

Good luck with your choice -- two more possibilities might be considered if prices don't cooperate -- the K10 and K200 are both also sealed, and they are very good bodies, but they suffer a bit more noise at higher ISO, and have a bit less resolution (10 MP). Of the two, I'd probably choose the K200. It was probably the most trouble free body that Pentax has produced. I really can't recall any negatives connected with it, other than the limitations of the sensor (which aren't really that limiting -- I took some of my best shots with the K10, but I had to work a bit harder to get them. . .). They might also be harder to find new, but if you can find them, they will be the cheapest WR bodies of any mfg that you'll probably find. When you're on a budget, compromises sometimes have to be made. . .

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Old May 1, 2010, 1:33 AM   #10
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I know everyone in this forum knows that I purchased a K7, it is 2-4 week deliver here in this part of the world, and it has been two and half weeks, so it should be here very, very soon.

I gave this link before, I will give it again about the Pentax K7 compared to other cameras... http://www.foto-natura.net/immaginip...600_large.html

Also, don't make the same mistake I made... whilst, yes, I spent over three months researching "which camera to buy", well being a typical first-born, the research can venture to the point of obsession... So, take a breather, ask questions, but be at peace to make your own decision and buy what is right for you. For, me, I tried, I pushed myself to buy a camera other than Pentax, but everything brought be back to the K7.

All the best.

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