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Old May 11, 2007, 11:23 AM   #1
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BTW i emant XT or XTI
"I am new to dslr's, although i have been in photography w/ advanced point and shoots "i never experienced a manual mode yet". Im expecting to learn alot, and i know i iwll have to. I enjoy photography as a hobby, although i also developed it into a business. I take pictures of famous speakers on a podium, who are 30 feet away and 20 degrees upwards from where ym camera is. On a point and shoot camera i have to go to 8X zoom to get the perfect shot. So ijust started thikning of just buying a 8X(400mm?) prime lens. The reason im using 8X and not mm is b/c i dont understand how to use the mm measurments, and dont even bother trying to explain it, b/c i cant get it, yet. SO, which camera would be the highest quality, that i could buy w/ 2 average lenses for my hobby, and a 8X prime lens for uder 800$, if its possible" I've been looking at pentax, and it seems to be lvl 2 camera company (like not on the top w/ olympus, cannon or nikon or sony etc..), and seems to be much cheaper. Can there be any camera w/ lenses that i could get to accomplish all of the above w/ 800-900$
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Old May 11, 2007, 3:33 PM   #2
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It's interesting you put Olympus above Pentax. I wouldn't. Not to say I feel Olympus is not good. They are. I'm just saying the 4/3 system Olympus uses is much more of a compromise than Pentax's APS-C sized sensor system.

You want a dSLR and a three lenses (one of which will be expensive) for less than $800?

To answer your question: You might get close with Pentax.

I've seen *ist DL bodies go for $225 used. From there, if you can accept the quality of the kit lens, throw on another $60~80 for a used 18-55 zoom. From there, you may want to look at one of four lenses as your second average lens: DA 40, FA 50, DA 50-200, Tamron 70-200. You might be able to find one of those for $250 used. That leaves $265 for a 400mm lens and that's assuming best case purchase prices for the other kit.

You're probably never going to get a really long Pentax brand lens for $265, even if used and a smoking deal. That pretty much leaves you with something like the Phoenix 500/8 (Amazon sells them for $100.


The other angle here is you say 400mm but you don't say if you want 400mm equivalent in 35mm focal length or 400mm. To get 400mm equivalent in Pentax you will need about 260mm. To get 400mm equivalent in a 4/3 lens, you will want 200mm.



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Old May 11, 2007, 4:47 PM   #3
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I looked at revies, and the pheonix 500/8 lens got NO good review, all negative. I think ill stay a way from that. Any other ideas?
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Old May 11, 2007, 9:45 PM   #4
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HI, I have transitioned from a P&S to a dSLR also. I choose the Pentax k100D for a number of reasons. I went down and handled all the major brands and liked the feel and weight of the Pentax. I also have a 35 year old Pentax Spotmatic and knew that Pentax has produced some of the best lens around - its a matter of opinion, and every vendor has their "dogs" too, but take a look around the web and Pentax is well respected.

For your budget range, Pentax fits very well, as they probably has the best value for the money - they also offer rebates within the US. Using the K100D, the kit 18-55 lens, I also picked up the DA 50 - 200 zoom. Very good for the price. I bought about a year ago and it came out to be a tad over $800 (with rebates) and prices have come down, so shop the internet (the good rated retailers not the fly by night ones). So this covers the range from 18mm to 200mm - however with the Pentax digital crop factor of 1.5 - thus multiply everything by 1.5 to get the 35mm camera equivalent and you get 27mm to 300mm. That I believe is essentially a 10x (in P&S terms) range.

First - I would go down to a local camera shop who carries Pentax, Canon, Nikon, Olympus and any others you may be interested in and play with them. What feels best in your hands? Which do you like the best? Which set of menus and external controls appeal to you, etc. ? You will hate some, and you will like some. It does not really matter since there is no perfect camera or make, just the one you are going to like to use. If you wind up hating it - you will not use it and it then becomes a loss. Set up a test range at the camera shop (estimate 30 feet and select a target) and at 300mm you should be able to get a very good head and sholder shot from your range. Take a SD and CD card with you, so that you can take the images home with you and check out what you like and did not like (shoot in JPG).

Today's cameras are all pretty much equal when you come right down to the basics - in the dSLR category. They all take really good images, that really should be shot in the RAW format so that you can "tweak" them to your liking. They all do JPG images also, however some process them more (in the camera) that others, thus the difference between the various brands. Everyone will argue the fine points, for any and all vendors - its almost like arguing religon.

Next - you are allready talking about a body and 2 lens - maybe 3. So your buying into a system. Pentax new lenses are somewhat limited - they do not offer the widest selection of 153 lenses across all focal lengths and speeds - however they have been producing 35mm lenses for 40+ years and the used ones are superior to many of the vendors (including Nikon and Canon). There are a very wide range of lens available on the used market, that rival the other vendors. These can be picked up from a few dollars to a few thousand (yes - there are some that people will morgage their children for some selected old glass). People have been re-discovering Pentax and this has been reflected in the price of the used lens - they have reall increased. There are also web sites just devoted to rating old Pentax lens (along with other brands too).

Another item to consider is image stablization. Canon and Nikon only offer it in the lens at additional cost. Pentax and Sony offer it in the body, so that ALL lens (even 20 year old lens) are thus stablized. Pentax uses shake reduction as the name. In your situation, I would have to think that shake reduction would help out here quite a bit.

Another item is film speed (iso), Pentax will go up to 3200 on the K100D. What this means to you, is that you can need less light - at the expense of possibly grainey images, therefor it would help in indoor low light settings.

Faster iso speed coupled with shake reducthon will help you use the larger f stop lens that the Pentax kit offers. However, on the market (read ebay), you can get 50mm lens at f1.2, f1.4, f1.7, f1.8 and f2.0. Some of these are available for under $100, and are renouned for their quality - even today. So the 50mm lens would be a 75mm equivalent - which may not be too bad.

Currently Pentax has 2 models K100D (6MP) and the K10D (10MP). The K10D has more manual controls, they both offer automatic focusing, and the real difference between 6 and 10 MP is if your going to do a lot of cropping, otherwise 6MP is just fine.

So - now that you have read down this far - you have the feeling that everything is essentially a trade off - and your right.

I would wander over the the Pentax forum here and ask a lot of questions if your going to lean towards Pentax. The same with the other brands also. There is a lot of help here.

Today the camera body has a reasonable short life - not due to quality but features. Lens are the key to the system. Great lens will produce great images, while a great body with a poor lens will produce poor pictures. So go for the lens is the moral of the story here. For the price - Pentax has the best lens going - and the K100D with the shake reduction has sufficient features to last you probably 3+ years. I am a year into it and still do not know everything and am learing with every shot. The K10 for me is way overkill.....

Just remember - what is right for me - might not be the best for you. In the end - it is what feels right in your hands and what you want to work with. Its not really the camera or the lens, but the photographer who actually frames and takes the picture. You can spend a gazillion dollars and pick up the absolute best of everything and still take lousey pictures.

Ansel Adams essentially used a coffee can camera to capture his stunning images.

PS - it would also help to know what your current P&S camera model is so that the equivalent 8x lens would actually mean something and be translated to numbers that would work in the SLR world.

Hope that helps....
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Old May 12, 2007, 6:24 AM   #5
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Arfi wrote:
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I looked at revies, and the pheonix 500/8 lens got NO good review, all negative. I think ill stay a way from that. Any other ideas?
Yup I have always thought that too... and likely they are but that doesn'r mean Phoenix overall.... in fact I never even knew they made AF lenses but off EBAY for a good price picked up a Pentax mount Phoenix AF 100-400mm that while not the best thing on earth really SHOCKED me for the barely over $100 price. (Even retail if you can find one still is like $250)

A really not stellar exmple (I have better), but for the conditions really is... can be found here

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/fo...mp;forum_id=80
OOPS link does not show photo....after reading post click on the attachment link to see it.

And as far as to the OP take EITHER of the PENTAX K's over any Olympus.... I ADORE my K10D, it does why not try it... WOW things amazingly often STILL after many months, if not now daily anymore at least weekly still.
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Old May 12, 2007, 8:47 AM   #6
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In worldwide sales, there are two big players and a bunch of smaller companies mopping up the remainder. Canon and Nikon are the two. The rest are the second tier. That much said, all make good product.

You may have some difficulty coming under budget with the big two.By the time you get decent lenses to cover your zoom range, I think you will be a couple hundred over budget. I'd stay away from their kit lenses as they aren't up tothe task (Canon optically, and Nikon build quality). If your willing to bust your budget, they may be worth a look, especially for long term expansion.

As an owner of the Olympus E500, this may not be the best choice. I assume that the speakers you are photographing are sometimes indoors, and the the previous generation of these cameras are not as good at higher ISO. The newly released E410 seems to be very much improved in this area, and that with the two lens kit may fit your needs and would be at the top of your budget. The positives would be the best kit lenses of the entry level cameras, A very small compact system that is light and easy to handle. The down side is your at the top of your budget, only three AF points, and a small body that may not be as comfortable if you later choose long, fast lenses. Olympus has great zooms, but primes are limited. The new E510 will be released in about another month and adds image stabilization and a little larger body for $100 (over budget).

Sony has the same problem as the older Olympus as the noise at high ISO may be a problem for you. You may enjoy the stabilization and the optical quality of some of the old Minolta lensesmay be worth it anyway.

Pentax has operated in the budget niche of the market for decades. Still does today. The kit zoom is ok. As others have pointed out, the buck goes a long way. They offer some nice primes, but new the good ones aren't cheap either. Zooms are not their strong suit and you may be best off going third party for that. Down side is the auto focus is not as quick and reliable as the competition, and shooting in RAW would be highly recommended.

No easy choices and you may need to add a few :??
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Old May 12, 2007, 11:05 PM   #7
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fldspringer wrote:
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Pentax has operated in the budget niche of the market for decades. Still does today. The kit zoom is ok. As others have pointed out, the buck goes a long way. They offer some nice primes, but new the good ones aren't cheap either.
But again you really don't have to go NEW with Pentax.... and MF especially on a prime is not that big a deal (especially with the help of AF confirmation that is still active even in MF mode)

I have some very fast and fine 50mm and other Pentax "A" primes I love. (still AE but MF) cheapest $20 and ALL under $100. There is lots of old Pentax glass out there still (but going fast as the new K's cameras realy take off) and some actually supperior than much of the new stuff Pentax or 3rd party if you study things a little.
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Old May 13, 2007, 10:53 AM   #8
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But again you really don't have to go NEW with Pentax.... and MF especially on a prime is not that big a deal (especially with the help of AF confirmation that is still active even in MF mode)

I have some very fast and fine 50mm and other Pentax "A" primes I love. (still AE but MF) cheapest $20 and ALL under $100. There is lots of old Pentax glass out there still (but going fast as the new K's cameras realy take off) and some actually supperior than much of the new stuff Pentax or 3rd party if you study things a little.

Everyone has different needs. I'm glad you've found your ideal camera. I'm doing well with my choice also.

I do require that my lensesautofocus and that they do so accurately. My shooting demands that. My subjects are always moving and I use continuous AF as often as single AF. I'm willing to buy new or late model lenses and I'm willing to pay for them if they perform.They will be around through several camera bodies if I care for them. If landscapes were my primary subjects, perhaps it would be different.

Bottom line,manual focus may be an option for you; may not be an option for all.



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Old May 15, 2007, 10:07 AM   #9
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fldspringer wrote:
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Bottom line,manual focus may be an option for you; may not be an option for all.

I agree.... in fact manual focus often requires changing focus screens in order to get it right, not to mention the drawbacks in doing so.
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