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Old Feb 18, 2009, 6:45 PM   #11
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Someone mentioned fast primes in their post. What are they?
Primes are lenses that don't zoom and are usually of very high quality, especially for the price.
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Old Feb 18, 2009, 7:08 PM   #12
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jvanwees wrote:
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Someone mentioned fast primes in their post. What are they?
a 'fast' prime is a prime with a wide aperture. Usually f2.8, f2.0, 1.8 or 1.4. I think Olympus is the only system that has zoom lenses that have apertures wider than f2.8.

FYI a 'prime' lens is a lens that does not zoom it has a single focal length.
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Old Feb 18, 2009, 7:57 PM   #13
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The person I talked to does not recommend Nikon, or Olmpus.
This is very telling

Nikons have a way of selling themselves. Especially amongst rich people who are impressed with names. And Olympus seems to be popular with newbie's who like the small size and unique features.

My point is, He does not recommend Nikon or Olympus because that's not what he needs to sell. Or not where the profit is. But it's your needs that are important not his.

Having said that, Pentax makes fine cameras. I'm not familiar enough with them to say more than that.

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I don't think I am likely to make larger prints very often & certainly probably not larger than about 8X10
Then you have no need to worry. Some people will stress the need for more megapixels And in basic terms more is better. But all the DSLR's on the market today should do fine for 8X10 or smaller. So don't get hung up on it.

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Old Feb 18, 2009, 8:27 PM   #14
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I have the Pentax K200D. There is also a somewhat less expensive little brother to this camera, the K2000. The latter is often sold in a kit with a flash unit.

The K200D is indeed durable. It's weather sealed and just feels very sturdy. Nevertheless, if the price on the Canon XSi had been a little lower last summer, I might have gotten it. It is not as well built as the K200D, but it has slightly less noise in high ISO (low light) images and has a faster sustained burst rate, good for people who want to take pictures of sports. The entry level Sony cameras, A200, A300, and A350, also have image stabilization built into the camera bodies.

I am happy with my Pentax. You could probably be happy with any number of its competitors' cameras or with the K200D. My advice is to not spend a lot on your first DSLR, but learn what it can do, and then, if you really need to upgrade, you will know more what you want and which camera can provide that.

I am surprised that the salesman didn't like Nikons. In almost every camera shop I go into, Canons and Nikons are the most prominently displayed.
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Old Feb 18, 2009, 8:28 PM   #15
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I own the Pentax K200D and absolutely love it and can honestly recommend it. It's rugged, weatherproof (the body, that is) and I have experienced no problems.

I was considering the more-expensive K20D but opted for the K200D because - at the time - there was about a $400 difference between the two camera bodies and I wanted to dedicate more of the money I had to faster/better zoom lenses. Also, like you, I noticed how much more expensive comparable lenses from Canon and Nikon cost. As a value proposition, I just couldn't beat Pentax. I still feel that way.

Even though I went for the top-of-line 16-50mm f/2.8 and 50-135mm f/2.8 lenses, Pentax's kit-level lenses are still quite good and an excellent place to start. Plus, Pentax offers a wonderful range of fast, high-quality prime lenses. And that's not even including the option of buying used classic Pentax lenses. But that's for later, after you get some DSLR time under your belt.

Here's what I would recommend if you decide the Pentax K200D is for you as well: By all means take the kit Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. It's a fine piece of glass in its class. Now, I also have the Pentax DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 lens and it's a peach. Normally, I would recommend this lens with the wide-angle kit lens. But it's not macro rated. For that kind of work I have other lenses.

But there are two lenses in this class worthy of your consideration: TheTamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD macro lens and the Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG macro lens. I don't own these last two lenses but perhaps others can tell you more about them. If you don't get more info here, try posting a question in the Pentax lens forum. But if you buy a smaller, dedicated, prime macro lens, then I say go for the Pentax DA 55-300.

For a flash unit, I own and recommend the Pentax AF-360FGZ flash. Pentax makes a less-expensive flash that it bundles with the K2000 DSLR, but it doesn't pivot so you can bounce flash off the ceiling. The AF-360FGZ can do that and has more power/range as well. Of course, the K200D (like most DSLRs) is equipped with a built-in flash that is fine if you don't need much power and/or you're just using the flash for fill.

That's my recommendation if you decide to go with Pentax. You might also ask your local camera guy what he thinks of the Sony A200, which is bundled with an 18-70mm kit lens. If you decide you need live view, look at the Sony A300 or A350. Sony is essentially Minolta, whose camera unit Sony bought as a going concern a few years ago. By the way, the Pentax K200D also does not have live view. But I find I don't miss it.

Hope this helps. Good luck!
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Old Feb 18, 2009, 9:37 PM   #16
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Thanks for all your comments. Does live view mean that you can only use the viewfinder to take a photo & not the LCD?

Is the telephoto 70-300 lens good for taking macro shots if I don't want to purchase a macro lens.? I was told the macros are about $1000.
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Old Feb 18, 2009, 10:47 PM   #17
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Thanks for all your comments. Does live view mean that you can only use the viewfinder to take a photo & not the LCD?
It's the other way around. Live view means you can frame the photo with the LCD, though for most DSLR's that have it, using live view is slower than using the viewfinder. I understand that the live view system that Sony uses is the best and the one used by Pentax is one of the worst.
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Old Feb 18, 2009, 11:22 PM   #18
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jvanwees wrote:
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Thanks for all your comments. Does live view mean that you can only use the viewfinder to take a photo & not the LCD?

Is the telephoto 70-300 lens good for taking macro shots if I don't want to purchase a macro lens.? I was told the macros are about $1000.
Again we will need more information. Unfortunately Macro is a very vaguely used word.

A true macro lens will give you a reproduction ratio of 1:1 or more. For example if you took a picture of a dime with a 35mm camera then laid that dime next the resulting negative. The dime in the neg would be as big or bigger than the real thing.

True macro lenses are expensive and non of them are zooms that I know of. Most lenses labeled "Macro" are in fact "close focusing" lenses.

So it depends on what you plan to photograph. If you intend to shoot bug or similar sized objects you will need to put out for a true macro (there are other less expensive ways but we can get into that later if you need to know) If you intend to shoot flowers a good close focusing lens should do. Then again it depends on the size of the flowers. You may find your kit lens will do just fine

As for the 70-200 we would have to know which 70-200 there are many of them.

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Old Feb 18, 2009, 11:36 PM   #19
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I had to laugh when I read that a camera salesperson actually recommended you buy Pentax - so often the sales people push Canon and Nikon and tell everyone how Pentax or any other make is no good (all of which isn't true at all!). I shoot Pentax and have been very happy with my cameras (I own the older K100 and the K20).

I don't think the Pentax live view is all that much worse than anyone other than Sony (which uses a second sensor for it, and compromises by putting a smaller viewfinder on the camera. I found it difficult to use because of that). I have it on the K20 (it's not available on the K200) and have used it only a couple of times. The one time I found it actually useful was indoors - outdoors the LCD is hard to see for much more than framing your picture, and a dSLR (any dSLR) is really too heavy to hand-hold at arms length. Try holding 2 cans of beans out at arms length, then try fiddling with it like you would the controls of a camera for 5 minutes - I'm not that strong.

As far as macro lenses costing $1000 for Pentax - that's true if you want to buy the Zeus 100mm macro lens (manual focus and supposed to be an awesome lens). I can't afford that so I spent $250 for an unsold older macro lens (Vivitar Series One 105mm) that I really love. For under $500 (looked at B&H for prices) you can get one of the 90 or 100mm macro lenses from Sigma, Pentax or Tamron, all of which are well regarded and do 1:1 (a 1 cm subject will take up 1 cm on the sensor). If your primary use is going to be macro, I'd buy one sooner, rather than later. If it's a secondary use, then perhaps get the Tamron 70-300 to begin with. It's inexpensive, a reasonable quality telephoto lens and does 1:2, pretty good macro for a zoom lens.

I don't disagree with anything that JohnG had to say about using a tripod. In fact, I'm thinking about getting one myself now, though I'm having a tough time convincing myself to spend the money to get something I'm likely to actually carry with me and also because I've done reasonably well without one so far (SR does help, but its not the end-all. It won't allow you to get a sharp picture using a 300mm lens and a shutter speed of 1/60 sec). I do lots of day-hiking and road trips, and the most I've ever carried is a walking stick/monopod, which is what I use most of the time for macro (and will probably continue to use much of the time).
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Old Feb 20, 2009, 3:59 PM   #20
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I went back to the camera store today & must clarify that the salesman I talked to has nothing against Nikon, he just doesn't like the D60 which is the Nikon they have that would be in my price range. I'm pretty sure I'm going to go with the Pentax 200. I found out today that he can order a package for me that includes both the 18-55 lens & 50-200 lens or the 75-300 lens and I would save about $200 as opposed to buying the camera with the 18-55 lens & ordering the other one separately.
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