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Old Feb 15, 2009, 4:36 PM   #1
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Well, it's time for the big DSLR step! I've been using 60s-era Minoltas for the last few years, and only have b/w film processing capabilities, so now that I want to move into colour I've decided to also move into digital. But, the problem is deciding which camera to get! I've narrowed it down to either the Pentax K200D or K20D, because:

- The weatherproof body is a huge selling feature for me, since I mostly shoot outside. Also I kayak/hike/live on the West Coast of Canada, where it rains A LOT, and while I won't let my camera get soaked it would be nice not to have to baby it all the time. The internal metal frame is also great, because a lot of my shooting is done while crashing through the forest, so sturdiness is nice.

- I started out looking in the Canon XSi/NikonD60/Pentax K200D range, and the Pentax seems to have more manual features than the other cameras. I like to do as much as possible manually, so this is good! I especially like that the Pentax has the bulb setting, something the other models don't.

- My existing Minolta lenses COULD be used on a Sony, but I wouldn't be able to use the metering capability of the camera, so it's really more efficient just to buy into a whole new system.

- The Pentax has a lovely large viewfinder, and I like the layout of the little LED info screen inside the viewfinder.

- The top LCD screen is awesome, with or without backlighting.

- LiveView isn't a priority for me, so the K200D is still in the running.

- Pentax has lots of lenses, and backwards compatability is a good thing.



Now why, you might ask, choose between the K200D and the K20D? Well, I like that you have a bit more control with the K20D, and it has more megapixels for cropping. Since I'd like to do some enlarging, and also get into macro work, that could be a good thing. Also the K20D has a higher ISO rating, which is good for cloudy-day forest shots. The f-stop/shutter speed knobs are nice too, instead of having one knob and a button, and the K20D has a higher shutter cycle rating. The last thing is that the K20D has the ability to be controlled by a computer, which would be cool because theoretically I could then program my computer to operate my camera (I'm a geek!). But, I like the K200D's AA batteries --since I will probably be travelling with the camera, it would be nice to not have to worry about what would happen if my battery AND spare battery both died. And most of the capabilities of the K20D and K200D are the same (would I really USE ISO 3200 or 14 megapixels anyway?!?), but the K200D is quite a bit less expensive, which is a big bonus on a grad student salary!

So now, the big question: get the more expensive body or the cheaper body? It has been pointed out that if I got the cheaper body I would have more money to get a good lens (the lens issue is the next decision...18-55mm, 50mm prime...). It would be nice to be able to get one of the weatherproof lenses, and lenses seem to be a better investment than bodies anyway. Although I would rather like to start out with a good body, so that I can use it for longer without it becoming completely obsolete. Bodies just improve every year anyway, which brings me to the next issue: should I just hold out for the K300D/K30D which will probably be released soon? If tradition holds, the K300D will be basically the K20D anyway. But since they would be new, they would be more expensive, yuck. And there's only so long I'm willing to wait! Because there will ALWAYS be something better coming out.

I'd really appreciate any opinions/help/other points of view! You guys have way more experience than me, so I'd love to hear what you think. Thanks a lot!

Heather
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Old Feb 15, 2009, 6:06 PM   #2
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Since the 'Live View' isn't a deciding factor, and the difference between 14MP and 10MP isn't much, I'd get the less expensive body and havemore to spend on lenses.
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Old Feb 15, 2009, 7:01 PM   #3
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For the most part, I would agree that going with the K200 and buying more expensive lenses would be the way to go. However, the K20 is a really good buy at the moment (Adorama had it recently for not a lot more than the K200) and it is SO much more convenient to have the two wheels and some of the other on-body controls that the K200 puts in menus). I currently have the K100 and the K20 (having sold the K10 when I bought the K20) and prefer the pictures from the K20, especially in low light. When I played around with my various cameras (before I sold the K10), I found the K20's ability to resolve more detail than the K10 quite noticeable with better lenses (not with the kit lens). The discounts available on the K20 make it hard to say no to.

One of the differences between the two cameras is the viewfinder - the K200 has a pentamirror while the K20 has a pentaprism. Some people find the pentaprism noticeably easier to use, but I don't find all that much difference between the K100's pentamirror and the K20's pentaprism, and I use manual focus lenses quite often. Have you noticed any difference between them when you've looked at them?

A good reason to choose the K200 over the K20 is that the K200 is a lighter camera, and that might make a huge difference.

In the end both cameras are capable of taking awesome pictures, so you can't go wrong with either one.
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Old Feb 15, 2009, 10:55 PM   #4
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Hmm, good points! Thanks!I don't remember seeing a noticable difference in viewfinder quality, but it's definitely worth another look to make sure. I hadn't checked out Adorama, but they seem to have some good deals. It kind of makes me nervous buying stuff like this off the internet, but they look pretty reputable so it would probably be okay. Mmmm must go browse there more and drool over the insanely expensive lenses...
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Old Feb 16, 2009, 12:08 AM   #5
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Both Adorama and B&H are reputable, they are both bricks and mortar stores. You can check them out at www.resellerratings.com if you want to know more about their reputations. I've spent quite a bit of money at both places (several cameras from B&H, lenses and other stuff from Adorama). I should probably warn you that if you buy a Pentax and hang out with other Pentaxians, you are liable to catch a serious condition called LBA, otherwise known as Lens Buying Addiction.
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Old Feb 16, 2009, 1:22 AM   #6
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I went with the K200D, precisely because of being able to afford the lenses vs. buying the k20d. Here's something else I considered, from DxO labs, in a sensor and other factor comparison of k200d and k20d:

http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/eng/Image-Quality-Database/Compare-cameras/(appareil1)/213|0/(appareil2)/277|0/(appareil3)/212|0/(onglet)/0/(brand)/Pentax/(brand2)/Pentax/(brand3)/Pentax

I'm not a super-technical guy, but assuming these #s are accurate, the k200d is actually slightly better than the k20d on its sensor, dynamic range and low-light performance. I do however give these #s significant credence, since reviews (as an offhand example I could think of) was that the Nikon D90 was one of the best low-light cameras in its price range--and these tests from DxO labs backed that up. There were several other higher-end models tossed around that reviewers praised in the full-frame DSLR ranks and again, I checked the #s out on the results DxO labs had and they backed up those conclusions in 3 cases I can remember.

I see you're in Canada, so I can only quote prices I've seen here in the U.S.: the k200d is going anywhere from $555-599 with the 18-55 mm kit lens whereas the k20d is going for $875 with a kit lens after Pentax REBITE (as I love to call it), as Pentax has an ~ $100 REBITE I believe until the end of Feb. Given I don't know anything about Canadian vendors and pricing there, I can say one shop that's at least really good for computer components and that has an excellent reputation among computer geeks at cdfreaks.com is NCIX and I've seen them have some very impressive sales. Since that's the only shop I can pass along, you can try these two price comparison engines I've used that have really helped me narrow things down:

http://www.pricegrabber.com

and

http://www.pricespider.com

Pricegrabber is the more established of the two and the latter is the newer one. Curiously though, pricegrabber won't list amazon.com in its results since a while back whereas pricespider will.

One thing to also consider getting: if you decide to go k200d, invest in 2 packs of Sanyo Eneloops or the Duracell equivalent (can't think of the Duracell-specific name), as those newer-generation NiMH have special features that really slow the discharge to where they last MUCH longer than standard NiMH. Only thing is that they can't be placed in the standard fast-chargers typically available, so you'd also have to invest in a charger rated to charge them properly, where you get the full charge and usage time from them. In my case, I bought two packs of Eneloops and got a MH-C801D charger (8-cell) from Thomas Distributing specially to charge them (and it needs 2 hours on soft-charging mode to do it, but with how the Eneloops last, charging time is rarely an issue if you plan for it).
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Old Feb 16, 2009, 1:40 AM   #7
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HeatherM wrote:
Quote:
Hmm, good points! Thanks!I don't remember seeing a noticable difference in viewfinder quality, but it's definitely worth another look to make sure. I hadn't checked out Adorama, but they seem to have some good deals. It kind of makes me nervous buying stuff like this off the internet, but they look pretty reputable so it would probably be okay. Mmmm must go browse there more and drool over the insanely expensive lenses...
Mtngal is right about Adorama, as they are also (in the U.S.) a BBB accredited member--which means they live up to pretty high standards for keeping the consumer satisfied. Here's the link to their BBB report:

http://search.newyork.bbb.org/report...bersOnly=False

Here's also their reseller ratings report:

http://www.resellerratings.com/store/Adorama

Now, if you find an online vendor that you feel comfortable buying from (and if you have it), use your AMEX or AMEX Optima card, as you'll not only get an extra 1-yr warranty on most products (anything under 5-yr warranty will give you 1-yr extra on the original manufacturer warranty), but you'll get really good customer support if on the off chance you buy from an Internet retailer and they decide to be jerks--AMEX will really back you up as a consumer, so if the retailer doesn't give you satisfaction...AMEX most likely will. I think there's other credit cards that offer similar great dispute resolution services + even extra warranty coverage (some Platinum cards, but I don't know which ones those are offhand), so you can have some extra power in your corner there if you have one of those kinds of credit cards. :G

As for any lenses, I was asking around for a good low-light lens recommendation + macro shots + really good zoom coverage. Mtngal recommended these:

FA 50 mm 1.4 ($192-199 US)--everyone that reviewed this lens raved about how fast and how great the pictures taken with it were;

Pentax DA 55-300 mm ($279 @ amazon.com)--as a great zoom lens and this was also well-reviewed and loved [I especially liked that it was indicated the full range of the zoom could be used, whereas the Sigma and Tamron equivalents could not really].

It turns out I did indeed purchase those 2 lenses + the k200d and kit lens with it, but aside from the 50mm 1.4 prime lens, I have no idea if the 55-300 mm would be something you're interested in (although you did mention something about the forest).
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Old Feb 16, 2009, 9:32 AM   #8
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Heather - as far as lenses go, are you a detail type of person, or one who likes to capture grand vistas more? Since weather is a big concern, you probably should think about getting one of Pentax weather sealed lenses sooner rather than later. They have several options at the moment, either the DA*16-50 f2.8 (for wider angle) or the DA*50-135 f2.8 (medium telephoto) for zoom lenses and if you are primarily a wildlife shooter, the DA*300. They aren't cheap, but they are all nice lenses. The DA*16-50 had some QC issues when it was first released, but they seem to have that under control and lenses that are good are greatly loved by their owners.

Also, any lens ever made by Pentax can be used on their dSLR cameras, though the M42 screw mount lenses require an adaptor and will be manual. K-mount lenses will retain whatever capability they had when they were new - I'm happily using one or two manual lenses I bought in 1980 (but they have not magically become auto focus/auto exposure, they are still manual lenses). That used to mean that you could pick up some good lenses for not much money, but now that others have discovered that fact, the price of used lenses has gone up.
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Old Feb 16, 2009, 3:24 PM   #9
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Wow, you guys all ROCK! Thanks a lot!

Good tips on the pricing fotografo35, I will check that out! The battery suggestion sounds excellent as well, since I did want to use rechargables instead of the nonrechargable Li batteries.

With regards to lenses, I am definitely on the 'detail' side of things rather than the 'grand vista' or 'forest animal' side, so right now I'm not looking for a crazy 300mm telephoto or anything (although in the future, anything's possible! Especially with this LBA you speak of, mtngal :-)). The DA*16-50 f2.8 sounds incredible, although slightly pricey. It might be worth it though! The kit lens is decent too, and the FA 50 mm 1.4 would be good for normal and macro shots. Probably I will end up getting one of those 3 lenses, or maybe the kit + fixed 50. Thanks for the suggestion on which 50 prime to get, it looked like another confusing decision! How useful is the 16-50 zoom, compared to a fixed 50mm? I guess older lenses are always an option too, like off of craigslist or something.
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Old Feb 16, 2009, 4:03 PM   #10
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If you are more into the detail side of things, then I might suggest you look at these lenses:

1. Kit lens (it's reasonable quality especially for the price). The DA*16-50 f2.8 is a much superior lens (faster and better optics) but it's expensive. If you had said you liked wider vistas I would have suggested the DA* instead of the kit lens.

2. DA*50-135 f2.8 - weather sealed, excellent optics and medium telephoto. As someone who likes details, you might find this your walk-about lens (even though its fairly heavy). I own this lens and use it often.

3. If you want a faster lens than f2.8, then you could look for an M 50mm f1.7, which are often sold for around $50. I understand www.keh.com is a reliable source of used lenses (they tend to under-rate their lenses). It's a manual lens, but it's sharp, it was a kit lens for many film cameras so its easy to find. You set the aperture on the lens and push a button to meter, manual focus. It's advantage is that it's inexpensive and good quality. For macro you can also find manual extension tubes cheaply, or do what I did - take a poor quality manual 2X teleconverter (had been my fathers) and take the glass out of it - instant extension tube.

I'd probably recommend getting 1 and 2 right away, then think about 3 and other lenses while you get familiar with what you have. You may find yourself going in a totally different direction.
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