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Old Feb 13, 2011, 8:45 PM   #11
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so it looks like there are indeed choices for the Pentax shooter (other than Pentax), but how about price range. Can I buy an acceptable flash or 50/1.4 for the same money between the two brands?
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Old Feb 13, 2011, 8:48 PM   #12
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pentax vs canon? well, i have a sony dslr. everything i want to buy is out-of-stock/special order/not available/etc. it's a real pain and let's say i wanted a new lens monday for a shoot on tuesday, i would probably be out of luck. pentax is even more a bit player. if you're ok with buying online or used, i'd say this is no problem. if you want instant gratification, like me, since you're just starting out, get your canon.

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Old Feb 13, 2011, 8:52 PM   #13
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Pentax was one of the last of the big film camera manufacturers to come out with a dSLR, but the one that they did come out with was very well received by those that bought them. As has been noted, Pentax was a small company (it's now owned by Hoya, who bought them several years ago) and didn't have much for marketing. However, they put their money into r&d and have come out with several excellent cameras. They don't have lots of models like Canon and Nikon (or Sony) do, but their cameras have always been very good quality and usually excellent value (cost to performance). The Kx has been a particularly good value.

Pentax dSLR cameras can use any Pentax lens ever made. M42 screw-mount lenses require an adaptor but all K mount lenses retain whatever capability they had when they were made (unlike some other camera manufacturers where they either changed the mount completely in later film days, or else have changed some things in their cameras so that older lenses might only work with some digital cameras or lose their ability to auto focus). A manual lens doesn't suddenly become auto focus/auto exposure though. But they still work (I was shooting yesterday with a K lens that I originally purchased in 1980, just had to remember to set the aperture on the lens and push a button so the camera could meter and set the shutter speed).

That ability to use old lenses USED to mean that you could get an outstanding lens collection for not a lot of money compared to the Nikon and Canon, since there are so many old Pentax lenses out there. However, Pentax dSLR cameras have become popular enough that the prices of good used lenses went through the roof long ago, and top quality lenses don't come on the market like they used to.

Flashes aren't a real problem - both Metz and Sigma make flashes that work on Pentax cameras if you want to save some money compared to the Pentax flashes. Most other accessories are generic. If you are really big into flash and special capabilities, Nikon has the best flash system. But the Pentax system is good enough for most people (certainly it's enough for my limited needs).

As far as modern lenses go, I have the focal range between 10 and 300 covered completely (and in some cases, with more than one lens). I know people that go from 10-500. I shoot mainly travel, landscape and macro, with other stuff thrown in as my interests and desires change and I feel no limitation with my Pentax equipment. I have bought much of my equipment from 3 on-line sources - Amazon, B&H and Adorama, though the last camera I bought locally at Samys, a Southern California store that carries Pentax. If you want to see pictures by various Pentax shooters, scroll down to the Pentax dSLR section - there's a very active group that loves to post pictures and talk about Pentax equipment.
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Old Feb 13, 2011, 9:01 PM   #14
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wow, thanks everybody for the info. I keep reading that you are "buying into a system" with your first camera. If that's the case, I know there are many higher priced Canon cameras out there that are highly regarded. What about Pentax?
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Old Feb 13, 2011, 9:04 PM   #15
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Well canon has Full Frame camera in the 2500 and up just for the body. And they have a huge pro lens selection that goes into the 10's of thousand of dollars. So only nikon comes close to canon in that department.

Now most consumer and prosumer grade cameras are aps-c. And the canon 7D is the top APS-c camera currently. And nikon has the D300s. Pentax has the new K-5. And they are all very good cameras.
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Old Feb 13, 2011, 9:08 PM   #16
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I just bought a pentax k-x that is suppposed to arrive tomorrow. I bought it because of the great reviews and the excellent price, especially considering all the features. My dad has a bunch of old pentax lenses that he said I could have. I'm a total beginner, but it's nice to know I've got a stash of lenses to play with as I start to learn how to use the camera. I also looked at a couple canons and a nikon, but in the end, I felt that pentax was the smartest choice for me. Since I haven't received the camera yet, I don't know if I'll like it or not. I just thought I'd throw in my two cents as someone who recently purchased one of the cameras you are considering. I will mainly use my camera for taking pictures of my family...kids, husband, dogs, etc., as well as landscape photos in the woods near our house. I'll let you know what I think of it after it arrives and I get a chance to take some pictures.
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Old Feb 13, 2011, 9:30 PM   #17
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The upgrade path has a number of factors to it. Pentax doesn't have a full frame camera, it has both the APS-C sized sensors and a medium format camera (that's just awesome, would love to have the money to buy one). It has two different levels of APS-C cameras.

I got the chance to play with a full frame Canon that belongs to a friend of mine. I was reviewing some shots he took, along with looking through the viewfinder and seeing how it was to handle. It got very heavy, very quickly - there's no way I could imagine taking it out for a day-hike or carrying it all day while being a tourist somewhere (my two favorite activities). Plus, with the grip I found my short fingers couldn't handle the heavy weight and operate the zoom, too. Granted, I'm a small female and these are objections a big, strong guy wouldn't have but they are a very significant disadvantage for me.

So that leaves me with the APS-C sized cameras. Pentax does have an upgrade path - they've always kept two levels of cameras - an entry level camera like the Kx and then a "higher", more feature-filled camera (currently the K5). Their higher camera has a great deal of capability - far more than what I'll ever be able to figure out, and it's been highly rated by professional reviewers. So in my opinion, having 5 or 6 models, the top ones being ones that not only can I not afford but also can't use because of the ergonomics doesn't seem to be a reason for buying that brand. Having an excellent camera with more features than I can figure out how to use along with all sorts that are very useful, and one that I can afford to buy means more to me. So I think, at least for me, the argument that Pentax doesn't offer as much upgrade path (i.e., no full frame camera) is over-rated. And if I want to dream, there's always the 645D to dream about.

If you think that you'll really need a full frame camera, can afford it and the ergonomics will work for you, then skip the Pentax. But since for my purposes I can see no advantage to full frame (there are others who need it by the way, I'm not saying that an APS-C camera can equal a full frame for certain things), it's ergonomics are all wrong for me and I couldn't afford one anyway, I'll stick with my Pentax cameras.
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Old Feb 13, 2011, 10:38 PM   #18
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About 5 years ago, I got back into photography by going digital and essentially had the same set of choices you are currently facing. Buying into a system is true, however that is not right off the bat. An entry level camera with the single or dual kit lens set is really not locking yourself in. The 2 lens kit (18-55 and either the 55-200 or 55-300) lens essentially covers everything and are readily saleable, if you choose to switch. Its the next set of lenses that essentially pulls you in.

Pentax does have some limitations - in the telephoto area, i.e., going to 400, 500 or 600mm. If that is your interest then its either third party lenses or older Pentax models (and they are wonderful glass), however - you are talking about lots of money regardless of what system you are using.

Pentax tends to have very ergonomically engineered cameras. Its in body stabilization system makes what ever lens mounted stabilized. Canon and Nikon are lens stabilized systems thus you need to buy their stabilized lenses.

The new K5 is the equal of Nikon or Canon at the high end. As mtngal wrote, if you need a full frame - Pentax is not the brand for you as I doubt that they will ever go full frame. However for a well built, APS-c sensor based camera, its the equal of the rest.

The Kx is the equal of the entry level end. What ever you get, will be superseded by someones new model within 6 months time. It does not mean that it will not take great pictures - it just means what ever camera you decide upon, start taking pictures and stop looking at bodies or you will get on the endless upgrade cycle.

There is a very good - actually wonderful Pentax group here. The images are stunning. Everyone is friendly and more than willing to help a beginner - since we were all there at one time or another. There is also another extremely active group at pentaxforums.com

Pentax is alive and kicking and I do not believe going away any time soon.

Here are a few galleries with Pentax input - and I did not look too hard....


Last edited by interested_observer; Feb 13, 2011 at 10:47 PM.
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Old Feb 14, 2011, 5:23 AM   #19
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Thank you all for the discussion. Since we obviously are allowed to use website names, I believe it was 18 months of pics on the Imaging Resource website that I observed and realized that almost nobody uses Pentax, or Sony, or Olympus, etc. But I have seen enough proof that pentax can take great pics that at least that is not a worry. And I'm 99% sure I will never need or want a full frame camera. I don't even know what they are used for. I wish like acscoggins I had all of my dad's old Pentax equipment, but it's all gone and I don't even know where.
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Old Feb 14, 2011, 12:37 PM   #20
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I've had Pentax slr and dslr's for over 40 years.

I stay with Pentax because of the lens quality. Check out some tests...fro example Popular Photography which rates the Pentax 12-24 as best in class and the 100 Macro WR as having magnificent optics.

The prime limited Pentax lenses are also...very highly regarded.

BTW I also have Leica 35 mm rangefinder and Mamiya medium format film cameras so top notch optics are an important criteria for me.


The other reason I've kept with Pentax is the durability and reliability of the equipment...bodies and lenses.


Back in 2007 I had to make a decision...do I stay with Pentax, or do I go with Canon or Nikon digital.

I looked at the Canon 30D and the Nikon D 200...both absolutely top notch, fine cameras.

I chose to go with the Pentax K10D...because of it's weather resistant seals, rugged body and the fact that it had won quite a few awards..internationally...for it's design and performance.

Even saying that no camera is perfect and the most important part of photography is the photographer.

But I have been very happy with the performance, durability, reliability and performance (picture quality) of both my Pentax bodies..the K10D and my KM (K2000).

Lenses have been great .

I also like Canon equipment. In fact I bought, less than a month ago a new Canon G12...which IMO...is a fabulous little camera. I use the G12 as my daily carry around and so far, am very satisfied.

So...both Canon and Pentax are excellent cameras...both have their advantages and disadvantages. Don't think you can go wrong with either brand.

But....in the past 2 years....I have advised new photographers to consider Pentax DSLR's. In fact as a result....one friend has a K200D, two other friends bought Pentax KX's.....all are very happy with their purchases.

Last edited by lesmore49; Feb 14, 2011 at 12:43 PM.
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