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danielsmu Nov 9, 2006 10:27 AM

I'm in the midst of trying to buy my first SLR of any kind to attempt to pick up some better photography skills as well as some much better shots than I can get on my current camera (Canon SD450 P&S). I was ready to pull the trigger on a Pentax K100D, but decided to make a stop off by the local Wolf Camera last night to simply hold the camera before buying it and also to get the salesperson's opinion since I would assume they would be more knowledgeable there as opposed to a best buy/circuit city/etc.
Based on the reviews I've read, the built-in shake reduction feature of the K100D was one of the best selling points however, the sales guy I spoke with told me that the physical size of the shake reduction functionality in the Pentax was much smaller than the physical size of the image stabilization found in Canon and Nikon lenses and he strongly recommended I pick up their best seller (the Nikon D50) instead because it was a much better camera overall. After hearing this information, I'm a little less confident about my K100D purchase and decided to brave outside of the lurking shadows long enough to post here asking and/or begging for some clarification since after reviewing some other sites, I can't seem to find any information about these specific features.
Al that being said I was hoping that one of the more knowledgeable readers of this forum could enlighten me about the following:
1. Does physical size matter in terms of shake reduction/image stabilization performance? (i.e. was I just being fed a line by a salesman or is there any merit to his concern?)
2. If you were a first time DSLR buyer in today's market (and own no SLR lenses currently which would make this decision easier), would you recommend going with the D50 or the K100D? (If there's another choice I'm missing here, please feel free to throw that into the mix too, but it seems from my research these are generally the best two entry-level DSLRs available today). Also, please keep in mind that I can pick up the K100D with the kit lens for $529 right now from a reputable dealer while the Nikon with kit lens appears to be running about $100-130 more if I want to stick with reputable dealers. Also, I did search the forums for this same comparison, but all of what I found was from several months ago when these cameras were closer to the same price point which is a big factor in my purchase.
Thanks so much for reading, and I'm looking forward to your responses!

milrodpxpx Nov 9, 2006 11:22 AM

to answer your first question, yes he was feeding you a line. in body stabilization makes every lens you will ever buy a stabilized lens; stabilized lenses on the other hand will come at a cost premium over the same lenses w/out image stabilization. With pentax, you can also use virtually every lens that has ever been made by pentax, i use several lenses that are 20-30 years old that have great optics (i dont have the k100d, i have a previous model, the *istdl).

basically, that salesman will make more money down the line when you want to buy those image stabilized lenses (the kit lens with the D50 would NOT be stablized). the price difference, a lack of stabilization, and backwards compatibility all point to pentax as the better purchase. with the exception of if you intend to do alot of sports or action photography, which require a faster shot-to-shot speed and also faster lenses, against which pentax can't compete in that area against nikon.

BenjaminXYZ Nov 9, 2006 12:50 PM

Also (I have to admit; as much as I like the Pentax K100), the Nikon D50 features better high ISO performance. If you will be shooting actions often, then the high ISO performance of the Nikon D50will be very important.

Based on reviews, the Pentax K100D (Sadly) is just below average in terms of overall speed &responsiveness for a consumer level dSLR camera.

I know that the Nikon D70s is a very fast dSLR (Based on review comments), so I am guessing that the Nikon D50 shouldn't be quite surprising.

Another important thing to take note of is battery performance. According to thereviews, the Pentax K100D only performs satisfactorily with the CR-V3 cells; other than that, it's battery performance leaves something to be desired.

I don't really know how good is the Nikon D50's battery performance, but I do know that the battery performance of the Nikon D70s is very good. (Once again according to the review test(s)) So this should give you what to expect of the Nikon D50. (The Nikon D70s can capture around2000 shotson a single charge of it's proprietary lithium-ion battery) The Pentax K100D was stated to be around 500 shots with good AA batteries.

Yapyap Nov 9, 2006 1:50 PM


Another important thing to take note of is battery performance. According to the reviews, the Pentax K100D only performs satisfactorily with the CR-V3 cells; other than that, it's battery performance leaves something to be desired.
I've taken about 1000 pics with my K100D during about a month on the same set of four rechargeable AA batteries (Panasonic 2600 mAH) and the battery indicator is still showing full. I've also used the LCD a lot to review pics and fiddle with settings, as I'm just learning to know it, and taken a few pics with the onboard flash. Plus the shake reduction has been on all the time. So while I have no way to compare it with other DSLRs, it doesn't seem too bad really.

(The camera actually lasted for about 150 shots (some with flash, LCD used to review every picture) with the provided non-rechargeable AA batteries, and allowed me to use all features fully, so that's not really too bad either IMHO - at least I know that option is there, should I ever need it.)

As for focusing speed... it does hunt a bit in lower light, more than I expected. (I don't tend to use the flash for autofocus assist though - I think it's far better if one allows that.) It's still not too bad though, and seems generally precise once it locks. The shake reduction is lovely though, as I've got pretty decent (the level of "decent" is a matter of expectations and taste of course!) photos handheld at 50-55mm at 1/4...1/5 seconds - with a relatively cheap, unstabilised lens (the Pentax DA 50-200mm).

BenjaminXYZ Nov 9, 2006 2:35 PM

If you could manage 1000 shots with the Pentax K100D on a single charge of it's AA batteries, thenI'll say thataloneleaves out the battery performance factor already! :-)

However, as forspeed and (or) responsiveness issues, I alsogot fromthe reviews that the continuous shooting of the Pentax K100D is slow.

I know that the Nikon D70s have a really steady and fast continuous shooting performance; the Nikon D50's is just slightly slower than it.

For the Pentax K100D to be able to get in 100+ shots with a normal set ofAA batteries certainly sounds great! (Reviews state 50+!)

mtngal Nov 9, 2006 2:42 PM

While I have no direct knowledge, I've read others who say that the image stabilized lenses are better than the in-body stabilization, but that has nothing to do with camera size. It certainly comes at a MUCH higher price tag, and I think your salesman is looking toward his bottom line. He doesn't want you to buy a less expensive camera and then never come back because you've found that you can pick up used lenses inexpensively and they are all image stabilized, he wants you to spend all kinds of money buying the more expensive camera and especially, those more expensive stabilized lenses!

The next thing to look at is how important IS/SR is to you and your shooting style. It might not be that important if you use a tripod most of the time, or prefer to use wide-angle lenses instead of long teles (are you a birder or someone taking pictures of architecture?). If you are really steady and don't plan on handholding a long tele lens, perhaps it won't matter either way.

I personally don't think the Nikon is a "better camera overall." Both cameras have excellent build quality, both will give you great pictures compared to a P&S. Both have their own strengths. It partly depends on "where you want to go next." When you buy a dSLR you are buying into a lens system, and you can use lenses you buy now on any future camera body you might upgrade to. That might have an impact on what you should buy. I think the biggest thing is to make sure that the camera feels good in your hands - get the one that feels best in your hands.

My own personal experience is with the K100D (and an earlier model, the DS). The Nikon is supposed to have faster AF. That might be true, and for certain subjects that can be important, but I've been perfectly happy with the AF on the K100D (I take lots of macros, landscapes, general photography, starting to take birds, some architecture and interiors, occasionally natural light night shots and sunsets/sunrises whenever I can find a good one). And I'm happily using lenses that were new 25 years ago, along with a couple of new lenses. I feel no need for anything else, and can easily hand my older Pentax to my husband (who has never owned a camera) and let him shoot away, knowing that he'll be happy with the results.

TDN Nov 9, 2006 2:44 PM

danielsmu wrote:

he strongly recommended I pick up their best seller (the Nikon D50) instead because it was a much better camera overall.
Spoken like a true salesman.

If you would check the store's background, you will probably see that he is an official Nikon dealer and not an official Pentax dealer, and therefore would rather like to sell you a Nikon than a Pentax. He will also have a lot more Nikon lenses in stock than Pentaxes, and is hoping to sell you a few lenses with your camera.

It's only natural that he wants to make some money...

However, anyone telling you one entry level DSLR is "a much better camera overall" than another one is either trying to sell you something or hasn't held a camera with a brand other than the one he described in his life.

The truth is, most entry level DLSRs are at about the same level of quality. They all offer the maximum of what the manufacturer can give you for that price.

Of course one manufacturer will be more skilled in one aspect than the other, but the differences are so minimal these days, saying one camera is "much better" than the other is way exagerated.

What you want to do is look at which camera fits you. If possible, hold and use both models. You will have a natural liking to one of them right away.

Then look at your budget and see what you're willing to spend. Know that Nikon lenses will cost you more than Pentax lenses. If you live outside the US they will be more widely available on the 2nd hand market than Pentax though...this doesnt mean you can't find used Pentax equipment in Europe, it does mean that you'll have to look harder. The older Pentax lenses are top quality though.

I was in your position 6 months ago when I doubted between the *ist DL and the D50. I eventually went with the DL because I got a great deal on it. If it were the other way around and there was such a deal for the D50, I would be a Nikon user now.

2 points I miss in my Pentax: vertical grip and TTL flash. Might not be important to you, but I thought I'd mention it...

That being said, I haven't regretted getting into the Pentax system for one second since. :)


BenjaminXYZ Nov 9, 2006 3:00 PM

I also saw this exact same threadonthedpreview forums! :idea:

Hopefully you can make your decision between these two great cameras. :-)



Yapyap Nov 9, 2006 4:02 PM

They're definitely both very nice cameras (for the amateur/beginner enthusiast anyway), and as said above, I don't think you could go wrong with either. I suppose one might say that if you consider wanting to get into shooting action (e.g. sports), then investing into the Nikon or Canon line would be a better choice, while for any other use at entry, the Pentax is certainly good enough.

I love my K100D but I don't consider myself a Pentax fangirl by any means (even if I am gushing over it a lot!) - if I'd finally decided to take the step into DSLR world before the K100D came out, the Nikon D50 would probably have been my number one choice.

As for batteries - I suppose that with AAs, quite a lot depends on the brand one uses. Perhaps I was fortunate with the non-rechargeable AAs that came with the camera, and I'm sure that with the rechargeable ones, there'd be quite a difference between four 2600 mAh batteries and four 1300 mAh batteries. I got two sets of rechargeable AAs, so especially if I remember to have one set freshly charged and with me as backup, I don't think there should be any battery issues.

kenbalbari Nov 9, 2006 6:44 PM

In lens stabilization may be a bit more effective for longer focal lengths. But you also won't find a decent Nikor VR lens in a longer focal length for under $1000. And when you do, you'll find it's also often adding quite a bit of weight to lenses that are already very big and heavy.

The Pentax system, meanwhile, has been proven to be very effective in test after test. I think it's worth paying the extra $100 for the SR system in the K100D, but if you doubt that, keep in mind also that the exact same camera is also available without the SR for $100 less. The K110D is currently about $350 body only after rebate, or about $420 with the kit lens.

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