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Old Mar 9, 2010, 3:36 AM   #11
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The pentax is a much smaller camera the the A500 or A550. So it may be a concern. But like TCav pointed out if you are not a sport/action or wildlife shooter. The bit better low light performance would give the pentax a edge over the canon. But if you are shooting in really low light in Africa at night. The AF system on the canon will allow you to get a AF lock, where the pentax can not.
forgive me if it's a silly amateur question but if the pentax is unable to AF is it really that big a problem? can i not just manually focus? or am i oversimplifying it a bit?
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Old Mar 9, 2010, 7:29 AM   #12
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A camera's autofocus system is faster and more accurate than anything you're likely to be able to do by hand, but, certainly, you can always focus manually. But in conditions where the camera will have trouble focusing, you are likely to have some trouble yourself. In the days of manual focus cameras, the focusing screens had multiple features that gave the photographer tools for obtaining an accurate focus. In autofocus cameras, those tools for manual focus interferred with the autofocus system's ability to obtain an accurate focus, so those tools were removed. So manually obtaining an accurate focus in an autofocus camera is not as easy as it might seem.
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Old Mar 9, 2010, 8:10 AM   #13
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My budget low light system is the Kx, an outstanding low light camera at an incredible low price, and a Vivitar 24mm f2.8 manual prime, that can be found on the web for under $100. Using catch-in-focus simplifies using manual lenses. Below shot during Christmas with this setup at ISO 12,800. I wanted to push to Kx to its extreme to see what it could do. Not perfect, but very, very good for the money. I routinely shoot at ISO 1600 with a Tamron 18-250 with good results. An excellent article on using manual lenses on Pentax is at www.robertsdonovan.com/?p=1181.
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Old Mar 9, 2010, 1:29 PM   #14
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forgive me if it's a silly amateur question but if the pentax is unable to AF is it really that big a problem? can i not just manually focus? or am i oversimplifying it a bit?
The problem is if the camera can not get a AF lock, it is most likely you will not able to mf it correctly as it is so dark for you to see. When the k-x has that issue, it is really dark. In most low light, it will not have an AF issue. I just put myself into really dark shooting situations at times.
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Old Mar 11, 2010, 10:36 AM   #15
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i think stretching to the a500/a550 is just too much given the difference between that and the pricepoint of the pentax, although the appeal of minolta compatibility is attractive. the d5000 was at the top end of my budget as it is.
I remembered this thread when noticing a new sale from Sony. They've knocked $100 off the price of the A500, bringing it down to $649 body only, or $749 including the 18-55mm kit lens.

http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/...6&N=4294954522

You should be able to find the same prices at dealers that carry Sony products.

Note that Sony does this kind of thing on a very regular basis (sale prices on dSLR models). Ditto for other manufacturers. For example, if you check the prices on the Nikon D5000 right now, you can find some very good deals after instant rebates.

I'd try out the models you're interested in to see how they feel to you (size, weight, ergonomics, etc.). For example, I prefer a body the size of my A700 (slightly larger than the A500 or A550 models). But, some users may prefer a smaller and lighter body like the Pentax K-x; or some users may prefer a camera like the D5000 you're looking at. I'd also consider lens costs for the types of photos you're interested in.

Personally, if you decide to go with a Sony solution, I'd keep the Minolta 28mm versus selling it, as IMO, 28mm is a really good focal length on a camera with an APS-C size sensor for most purposes (giving you roughly the same angle of view you'd have using a 42mm lens on a 35mm camera). Of course, I'm probably biased since I shoot with a Sony A700 (and I also have a couple of old Minolta Maxxum 7000 bodies like you've been using that get a workout from time to time).

It's hard to go wrong with any of the models you're considering for most purposes. So, again, I'd try them out in a store to figure out what you're more comfortable with. Ditto for the features you're interested in, weighing things like Live View performance (with the Sony solution being much better than other dSLR models) against the ability to record video (which the Sony doesn't offer).

Ditto for features like the Sony's Auto HDR (pretty slick, in that it can take two photos that are up to 3 stops apart, automatically merging them in camera, compensating for minor framing differences to reduce the need for a tripod). Most other similar implementations don't have that ability (auto alignment of images in camera). But, if it's not a feature that you're going to use very often, it may not be important.

IOW, I'd figure out the features you plan on using more often when comparing cameras, trying them out in stores to see how they work, to help decide if a given camera model is a "good fit" (or not). Each user is going to be different and prefer different things in a camera (features, ergonomics, size, weight, etc.).
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Old Mar 11, 2010, 1:09 PM   #16
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Just remember the pentax also has hdr and the 2 lens kit with the longer zoom of 300mm is still less then the sony if price is a concern.
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Old Mar 11, 2010, 1:20 PM   #17
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Just remember the pentax also has hdr and the 2 lens kit with the longer zoom of 300mm is still less then the sony if price is a concern.
Some Pentax models have a similar feature. But, they don't do the auto alignment for you like the Sony models with Auto HDR to reduce the need for a tripod (with the Sony models automatically compensating for minor framing differences in camera when combining images, which is something you don't get with Pentax models incorporating HDR in camera).

As I've mentioned once before, I do know of one user that bought both the Pentax K-x and a Sony A550 (the K-x is for his wife), and he said this about it in his first impressions (and note that the A500 has mostly the same feature set as the A550):

"A550 has great customization options as far as shadow/highlights go. DRO+ is GREAT on snowy days, HDR handheld is awesome. Seriously. AWESOME. K-x has similar options but not nearly as neat as the A550 and not nearly as well implemented as A550 "

He made similar comments about the Sony being better for Auto White Balance, Autofocus speed and general speed of camera operation (indicating that the Sony was much faster in those areas), live view usability and more.

But, he noted that the Pentax model had lower noise at higher ISO speeds (and also noted that that Sony Auto ISO tended to go with a higher ISO speed than he thought was needed in some conditions). But, I suspect he left DRO (Dynamic Range Optimization) turned on with the Sony (which will increase noise levels if you don't turn it off at higher ISO speeds), as the Sony models default with it turned on.

He also said that both he and his wife were 100% satisfied with both cameras, and although he thought Sony was is little better camera, the Pentax K-x definitely takes the bang for the buck crown.

IOW, bang for the buck would go to the Pentax, and it would be great for low noise levels at higher ISO speeds. But, given that the OP already has a nice Minolta 28mm AF lens he could use with a Sony model (sharing lenses between a Maxxum 7000 and a newer dSLR), I would take a look at the Sony models to see how it feels (trying them out in a store, along with trying the features that are more important to the photos he wants to take).
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Old Mar 11, 2010, 1:27 PM   #18
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I guess it comes down to what the OP is looking for, is the 28mm something he will use more then the 55-300mm zoom. That will equate to which one would be a better choice.
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