Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > What Camera Should I Buy?

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Aug 9, 2007, 11:33 PM   #11
Senior Member
 
mtngal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Frazier Park, CA
Posts: 16,056
Default

Huh, Sarah? Amy asked about Pentax, Itried to answer her questions.I didn't think we were talking about flashes. Amy said she had used Pentax cameras in the past and I was pointing out that it might save her some money because she might not have to buy some lenses. That same thinghad previously been pointed out abouther Nikon lenses and the D80. I was also bringing up that I didn't think it would be worth her while to wait for the K100 Super, unless she was going to buy the new, expensiveDA* lenses - again thinking about her pocket book.

If you want to discuss flashes, it sure seems to me that the D80 would be the way to go - the Nikon system sounds far more advanced than Pentaxwhen it comes to flash photography, and has many more options. But I didn't think flash photography was being discussed.
mtngal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 10, 2007, 12:14 AM   #12
Senior Member
 
mtclimber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 18,143
Default

Harriet-

I think you missed the point. I use my Pentax K100D and enjoy it very much. It is very dependable, and it produces many excellent and very marketable photos. However, going one step forward, wouldn't it be nice if we had more universal compatibility between brand names.

I am thinking of lenses, flashes, and accessory items. No, it probably will not happen in the near future, but it sure would be nice. Certainly it would go a long ways toward solving the lack of some really affordable lenses for the Pentax DSLR series.

Sarah Joyce
mtclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 10, 2007, 1:02 AM   #13
Senior Member
 
mtngal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Frazier Park, CA
Posts: 16,056
Default

mtclimber wrote:
Quote:
However, going one step forward, wouldn't it be nice if we had more universal compatibility between brand names.

I am thinking of lenses, flashes, and accessory items. No, it probably will not happen in the near future, but it sure would be nice. Certainly it would go a long ways toward solving the lack of some really affordable lenses for the Pentax DSLR series.
Ah, bring back the Tamron Adaptall lenses!
mtngal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 10, 2007, 2:57 AM   #14
Super Moderator
 
peripatetic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 3,599
Default

Amy,

First off realise that almost everyone who owns a DSLR also owns a compact P&S. One doesn't really replace the other.

A compact camera is useful where you would like to be able to take pictures and don't want to carry a bigger camera.

A DSLR is useful where you want to take better pictures and don't mind carrying it. I personally don't carry lots of lenses. In general I only have one on the camera and put the camera in my backpack. You don't have to have a big heavy bag full of equipment.

For me the superzoom/bridge cameras are neither here nor there, the image quality is poor compared to the DSLR and they are not that much easier to carry around, are much harder to hold and handle, usually feel cheap and nasty even if they are actually quite expensive.

If you missthe creative options of yourSLR then get a DSLR. Doesn't really matter which one. My personal choice of would be the Nikon D80, Canon 30D or the Pentax K10D. Any one of those will stand you in good stead and last for years to come. My view is that it's better to save up for a few extra months and go for quality rather than settle forlower quality and the thrill of instant gratification.


peripatetic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 10, 2007, 8:08 AM   #15
Senior Member
 
Trojansoc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Hot Springs, AR
Posts: 3,724
Default

amy, mtclimber & mtngal have done a wonderful job in covering most of the questions you raise about the Pentax cameras. There are a couple of specifics you ask, however, that have not been addressed.

You ask about batteries. I'm not sure about the K100, but the K10 uses a proprietary battery. I get tremendous life from them, although I've never taken the time to check just how many shots I get. Should you go that route, I would get an extra battery since they're not that expensive.

On the issue of stabilization, yes, the SR (Shake Reduction--Pentax's name for it) can be turned off. Pentax recommends, in fact, that it be turned off when shooting from a tripod. Since most of what I do is handheld, I tend to leave mine on all of the time.

On the issue of availibility of lenses--There is a good variety of lenses available for the Pentax, although probably not as wide as the Nikon. In addition to Pentax, a number of major lens manufacturers including both Tamron and Sigma offer many of their lenses in Pentax mounts. For instance, I have four autofocus lenses: the 18-55 kit lens, a Sigma 28-200 that I use as my walk-around lens, a Tamron 70-300, and an off-brand 100-400 that I use for birding. That's in addition to the tremendous range of Pentax manual lenses that are available. In addition, Pentax has the * line of lenses that are far higher quality and the new line of lenses designed to take advantage of the dust reduction features and the super-quiet zoom motors. This is the line to which mtngal alluded, and the line for which at this time,l I can only lust.

I think all the other specifics about which you asked have already been covered except some of the particulars about flash & I can't help you there. A good flash is next on my shopping list.


Trojansoc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 10, 2007, 8:42 AM   #16
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 29
Default

You all have helped so much and have really made me interested in the Pentax. I haven't had the opportunity to put my hands on this one, even though it's one I've been looking at online. It does sound like one I should give a serious look at.

Thank you for the explanation of the differences in the models. The low light photo you sent is very nice. Thanks for sharing that.

I do have a P&S that I feel isn't too bad for a P&S. It's 5MP and only a 3X zoom. I think the lack of zoom is what really bothers me the most with that camera. And the low light terrible quality that I usually get. Shutter lag gets really annoying too. So I just feel that if the above are the main reasons I'm looking for a new camera, I just do not think I would be happy getting another P&S, regardless which one. Don't you think? And my P&S is very small, so I could continue to take it with me to use in situations where a DSLR cannot go, or when I want to take a little video clip.

I think I am going to take a serious look at the Pentax. Thank you all again for helping me with this. I'll let you know what I end up getting!
amy129 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 10, 2007, 10:20 AM   #17
Senior Member
 
mlhm5's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 121
Default

Personally, I would buy a Panasonic FX33 in September when they come out and use it for a few months.

Low light shooting is where most non DSLRs fall down because of high noise above ISO 100, however the Fujifilm F31fd and the Panny FX33 excell, and at ISO 800 are more than comparable to some DSLRs.

Another issue with non DSLRs is the inability to get a wide angle view i.e 28mm in the single lens. Hopefully the Panasonic FX33 with its 28mm-100mm will solve the indoor picture taking issue with non DSLRs.

If you think you need to move up to a DSLR, then the choice is either Canon or Nikon and you can leave out the Nikon 40.

Most of the time I prefer a camera that I can pocket like a phone and have it with me all the time. Excepting the lack of a wide angle ~28mm, I have been very satisfied with the Panasonic FZ20 which is only a 5MP camera for the other times.




mlhm5 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 10, 2007, 11:46 AM   #18
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

amy129 wrote:
Quote:
The type of photos I like to take include: my children playing, portrait type, outdoors, indoors, low light, fast action, and close up.
Amy, I'd like to bring things back to your stated needs. I do quite a bit of photography in all these categories. A ton of action and low light stuff. But, with a 1 year old child and 10 nieces and nephews I take a lot of shots of kids, indoors and out - including portrait style shots.

Let's get one thing out of the way - not a single digicam out there is going to match the quality a DSLR IS CAPABLE OF in these areas. I say capable of because there are two important factors - 1) the photographer and 2) having the right tools for the job. The first doesn't need much backing up from me - a tool is only as good as the craftsman wielding it. To that end, DSLRS aren't a great fit for people who want to use a p&S (i.e. don't want to learn photography just point and shoot). But the second part is critical too: the reason a DSLR is such a great tool is because you can use the right lens for the job. AND you can use a good external flash when it's called for - and remote releases, etc. This is important because you are NOT going to buy a DSLR with single lens only and get great shots for all the above. You can get good shots but you'll fall far short of great shots.

Also - don't discount the fact I mentioned a flash. If you've got a family and take indoor shots, a good external flash is an absolute MUST. Sure, I love to take available light portrait shots. But I also like to take more real life shots - kids playing, birthday party, etc. And the reality is: to get good shots of those situations you really want a good flash. Anti shake doesn't help, high ISO won't do the trick, wide aperture primes aren't good enough. The reality is - you need more light for these types of shots.

Now, in the action category - it's not even remotely close. Not by a huge margin. No digicam out there comes close to what a DSLR can give you. The digicams are getting better but it's still a quantum leap difference.

So, let's stick with DSLRs here and talk about what features are important for your stated needs:

Children playing: outdoors, any lens can do OK. For general play in very good light you'll get good results with any lens. The faster the kids move around though - the better your system's focusing needs to be. Focusing is a combination of lens & camera. The camera determines the number of focus points: do you think a camera with 3 focus points will do as well as one with 7 or 9 or 45? No. The camera can only focus on something that is covered by a focus point. Now, if it IS covered by a focus point then it may perform just as well. But when you have more focus points you have a better chance of one of them being over your subject. And when your subject is moving that's a little harder to do then when they are just standing there looking into the camera. The camera also controls SERVO focusing - which is the ability to constantly refocus to track a moving subject. THe LENS determines how much light gets in to focus (wider aperture lenses let in more light - so this benefits not only exposure but focusing). In CANON & NIKON the lenses also have external focus motors - these motors yield faste results than using in-body focus control. Other manufacturers are moving toward this but they're not there yet.

FOr indoors - flash is critical for this. You can get SOME shots using a wide aperture lens (like a 50mm 1.8) but your shot selection is limited - you still need decent light, good luck trying to get multiple people in focus due to shallow depth-of-field etc. FOr me, having a good flash that I can bounce off the ceiling is much more useful. I can then use narrower apertures to get multiple kids in focus - the flash freezes the motion and I can use a zoom lens and not prime.

Portrait Type: Two different styles here - studio portraits and shallow-dof portraits. I'm assuming you're talking about the latter. For shallow DOF portraits you want a shallow DOF (obviously :G) - that shallow DOF is achieved by wide apertures, focal length and distance to your subject. In addition you can control the blur of the background somewhat by the distance between your subject and the background. DOF itself doesn' t change - but if your DOF is 4 feet and a building is 3 feet behind your subject vs. 100 feet the photo will look quite different. Bottom line - again you're not going to get fantastic results with a kit lens. If you're doing head shots you either want something like an 85mm 1.8 or 200mm f2.8 / f4 to get started. A good external flash is also good here - to provide fill ant catch-light.

Outdoors - too many variables.

Indoors - depending on the indoor area you may need a wide angle lens (remember each camera you're considering has a 1.5 or 1.6 crop factor - so a 50mm lens is really 75mm). Depending on the type of shot this is where the following attributes can be key - High ISO performance, wide aperture lens (1.8), anti-shake (for slow shutter speeds), wide angle lens (for tight rooms) and again a good external flash.

fast action: well the basic keys here are shutter lag, focus speed, focus tracking (servo), shutter speed (which depending on the light levels COULD mean using very high ISO, and/or wide aperture lenses). See my comments above in your children playing regarding camera/lens features that are important. In addition to that we have shutter lag - for your purposes you won't see a noticable difference in any of the DSLRs under consideration. BUT, there is a difference in frames per second among various DSLRs. Most non-pro DSLRs will have 3fps or 5fps. I'm not sure if any of the cameras you're looking at has 5 fps. And, contrary to myth it isn't the ability to capture a LOT of frames that fps gives you. It's the ability to reduce the span BETWEEN frames.

So, enough rambling - let's get to it. What do I think you need:

DSLR Body

walk-around lens: something in the 17-100mm range

low light / shallow DOF lens: 50mm 1.8 (around $100 in Nikon, not sure about Pentax). An 85mm 1.8 would be better but that's around $400.

External flash

That's it for starters. I don't recommend getting any other lenses right off the bat. But you can probably plan on buying a telephoto lens down the road.

Nikon vs. Pentax: Pentax gives you more bang for the buck at the low end - you get more features for less money. If you don't mind buying used gear and using manual focus lenses you can also pick up 2nd hand lenses for less $$ - but they won't autofocus. Nikon has the advantage of having more auto-focus lenses available - more are made but quite frankly they're also easier to get. Pentax has a small share of the DSLR market right now so stock levels are low. It can often be a little challenging to find gear even on line. It can be extremely difficult to find a variety of their gear in an actual store if you want to handle it before buying. The Nikon system is also going to give you better servo focusing than Pentax. So, if action shots are going to be an increasing part of your shooting as your kids grow up and get into sports then the Nikon system will serve you better.

In the end the cameras you're considering are all good. I just wanted to point out that you'll need a flash and at least one other lens (maybe 2)to meet your shooting needs.

I'll follow up with some photos to illustrate some of my points.


JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 10, 2007, 12:15 PM   #19
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

some examples to illustrate my points:

Why you want a good external flash for indoors:





Why wide angle (and flash)can be very useful indoors:



Example of high ISO importance, wide aperturesand frame rate. My son's first steps - made possible by 2.8 aperture, ISO 6400 and high frame rate:





Example of shallow dof from wide aperture:

50mm 2.0:



85mm 2.0 (taken in the same dining room the wide angle shots were at - so there's a dining room table 5 feet behind him and a wall behind that - but you can't see them);



shallow DOF WITH external flash as well:





Now - longer focal lengths. Here's 117mm f4 - not very shallow DOF but the backgrouond is farther away:



200mm 2.8:



300mm at 2.8:



Focusing / tracking ability of camera (and shallow DOF):






JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 10, 2007, 12:27 PM   #20
Senior Member
 
mtclimber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 18,143
Default

That is really a great selection of photos, JohnG-

Thanks a lot for posting them. Are they from your Canon 20D? On the indoor photos, what flash are you using? It appears that that the flash head is not pointed straight up, but instead at an angle that pushs light forward into the scane, while at the same time allowing for some balance off the ceiling.The photos look great. I, for one, would really appreciate some discussion on your flash technique, that looks so great. Thanks, John!

Sarah Joyce
mtclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 9:55 AM.