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Old Aug 30, 2006, 10:46 AM   #1
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I know, I know...DSLR are better than fixed-lens. I'm currently looking at the Pentax K100D with 18 - 55mm lense for $608. This is supposedly a great camera. It's DSLR, so according to all I've read, it's better than any fixed-lens "all in one" camera ...right? The thing is, a 55mm lense is roughly a 3X zoom if I'm not mistaken. I already know (from a past poin-n-shoot) that a 3X zoom is NOT good enough for taking shots of my son playing football. If I go DSLR I will have to spend a lot of additional moneyfor a good telephoto lens. Then I will have to decide, each time I head out the door with my camera, which lens I'm likely to need or carry along a buch of accesories. I was also dissapointed to learn that most DSLRs cannot use the LCD as a veiwfinder. I have gotten used to that over the last few years, and I kinda like it; especially for macro shots.

I can spend the same$600 and get a Fuji S9100 and have a greatzoom range all built in. The problem with that is that I highly doubt the picture quality will be as good. Do Iwant a DSLR or not? :?


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Old Aug 30, 2006, 11:20 AM   #2
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gadgetnut-

A lot of folks use the Pentax 18-55mm kit lens paired with the Pentax 50-200mm lens. Those two lenses, which are very small and compact, and they cover a focal length of 28 to 300mm just like the Fuji S-9XXX series, with much better quality photos. The 50-200mm lens is selling for $230-$250 right now.

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Old Aug 30, 2006, 11:25 AM   #3
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If you cannot live without a live preview or withsmall sensor formats, then the Sony DSC-R1 fix lens prosumer will be the best bet.

It has a large APS-C size 10.8 MP live view CMOS imager with a 24-120mm F2.8 - F4.8 / F16 zoom. The C.Z. lens of the R1 is a very high quality one and it can only be comparedto the $1000 or higher quality glasses out there for a dSLR.

The K100D and the R1 are different cameras so it won't be easy to compare them. It won't be correct to say that the K100D is better than the R1 fix lens either.

You have to see what suits you.

Clearly with the R1, you don't need to depend on an extra lens. With a dSLR, you will need atleast two lens to cover the R1's 24-120 mm F/2.8-F/4.8 lensrange. Keep in mind that only good quality lenses can match the superior C.Z. Vario Sonnar *T lens of the R1.

Look in here for a review & test of the R1's lens. See the type oflens comboa dSLR must have in order to provide you with the R1's type of coverage:

Here is the review page:

http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/R1/R1A.HTM

The print-optimized version:

http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/R1/R1P.HTM

Scroll down to the "Lens Test"

Code:
With all the above as a caveat, when we look at the R1's optical test results, we see graphs so good that they're almost boring. Sharpness across the frame and across the aperture and focal length range is almost perfect, as shown by the exceptionally low and uniform blur numbers.

Worst-case chromatic aberration is likewise low, and the average CA numbers are lower still, indicating that what CA is present doesn't extend very far into the frame. Shading (or vignetting, as it is more popularly called) is also very low, reaching a maximum of about a third of an f-stop at the 24mm equivalent focal length and maximum aperture, but in all other cases being less than 1/4 stop.

Worst-case geometric distortion is about 0.8% barrel, at maximum wide angle, dropping rather rapidly to about 0.2% pincushion at 20mm actual/35mm equivalent focal length, rising just a bit at 50mm equivalent, and then gradually decreasing to nearly zero at maximum telephoto.

To understand just how good these results are, you'll need to visit SLRgear.com and look at some of the test results for the more expensive lenses there. Even a cursory comparison will reveal that you'd easily have to spend several thousand dollars on lenses alone to get this kind of optical performance with a conventional digital SLR.
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There are certainly cheaper lenses that will cover the same focal length range, but their optical performance doesn't approach that of the R1.







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Old Aug 30, 2006, 12:00 PM   #4
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You've hit upon the reason why there isn't a correct answer for everyone. I had a Sony F717 for 3 years (before it developed some problems)and loved it, even though I found the 180mm (equiv) longest tele capability limiting. That's why I never considered the R1 - I knew that I wanted at least 200mm (equiv) and maybe more on the telephoto end.

Having been a former film SLR user, I was sure I didn't want a dSLR - really liked the convenience of the Sony (though unlike you, I hated using the LCD for a viewfinder except for some unusual, specific situations because I had far more trouble getting the lines straight with it). My first ever post here on Steves was "which non-dSLR camera has a mechanical zoom ring?" So I bought an ultrazoom, the Panasonic FZ30. I was SO disappointed with my pictures - the picture quality wasn't as good as my old Sony, and when I got looking at the sample pictures, the Fuji didn't look like it was much better. I ended up selling the Panny after a month and buying the Pentax DS at Costco, then buying the DA50-200 lens.

Conclusions from my experience: the person who bought the Panny is still happy with it, and the quality of pictures meets her needs perfectly. She'svery happy withwhat she has. I found that I don't mind carrying extra equipment half as much as I remembered from my 35mm days (and still carry several of those very same lenses as they all work), and it was a small price to pay for the extra quality.

Only you can decide if you will be like the person who bought my Panny and be happy with the lesser quality, or if you will be like me and discover that carrying the extra equipment isn't half as much problem as I remembered, and re-discover how much fun playing with photo equipment can really be. None of us can make that decision for you.
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Old Aug 30, 2006, 12:14 PM   #5
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That's some great info guys...thanks. I guess my real problem is that I don't know enough about lenses. My current digicam (Minolta Dimage Z1) has a 10X zoom which is supposed to be the 35mm equiv. to 300mm. I really like having that reach. I'd love to get the Pentax K100D, but then how much more will I need to spend to get that same reach? I don't care if it's auto focus. I'm kinda looking forward to using manual zoom and manual focus on lens rings. Again, I just don't know enough. For all I know, I DO want it to be AF.
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Old Aug 30, 2006, 12:41 PM   #6
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mtclimber wrote:
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gadgetnut-

A lot of folks use the Pentax 18-55mm kit lens paired with the Pentax 50-200mm lens. Those two lenses, which are very small and compact, and they cover a focal length of 28 to 300mm just like the Fuji S-9XXX series, with much better quality photos. The 50-200mm lens is selling for $230-$250 right now.

MT

There's a $50 rebate on that 50-200mm zoom lens as well (good through mid-October). That drops the price below $200.

Also, you can use just about any Pentax mount lens ever made. You can find longer telephoto primes on eBay for cheap prices, though they are usually manual focus (may not be good for real fast action, though you can focus to the middle of the field and catch lots of good shots). I use a Tamron 28-300mm zoom that I bought for $140 new (and it's a lot cheaper on eBay). The quality is about what you'd find in a super-zoom point&shoot. On the Pentax, the 300mm is equivalent to 450mm due to the crop factor.

So, if you go with the K100D kit, you'll pay $608 (plus s/h) at Beach Camera. Add another $150 for the long zoom and you're at $760. (Just buying the body would only save you around $50 and the kit lens is worth more than that, IMHO).

If you want to do more with your photos, the dSLR will grow with you (prime lenses, wide angle, etc). If you're documenting the life of your family and just want good snapshots, the nice point & shoot will serve you fine, thoughyou could outgrow it in the future. I find myself bouncing between the two modes. Right now (obviously) I'm more interested in learning more about photography as a hobby. I enjoy playing with the camera gadgets, but it doesn't necessarily mean I'll get that much better documentary shots of my family.

I think dSLR prices will continue to drop some, so you should still be able to get a nice (nicer?) dSLR rig next year for under $500. For my money, the K100D kit is hard to beat.


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Old Aug 30, 2006, 12:42 PM   #7
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gadgetnut-

AsI mentioned previously. The second lens (it is a full auto lens)would cost about $230 and it would give you the same 10X optical zoom reach plus you would have a true wide angle, which you don't have now.

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Old Aug 30, 2006, 12:50 PM   #8
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gadgetnut wrote:
Quote:
I know, I know...DSLR are better than fixed-lens. I'm currently looking at the Pentax K100D with 18 - 55mm lense for $608. This is supposedly a great camera. It's DSLR, so according to all I've read, it's better than any fixed-lens "all in one" camera ...right? The thing is, a 55mm lense is roughly a 3X zoom if I'm not mistaken. I already know (from a past poin-n-shoot) that a 3X zoom is NOT good enough for taking shots of my son playing football. If I go DSLR I will have to spend a lot of additional moneyfor a good telephoto lens. Then I will have to decide, each time I head out the door with my camera, which lens I'm likely to need or carry along a buch of accesories. I was also dissapointed to learn that most DSLRs cannot use the LCD as a veiwfinder. I have gotten used to that over the last few years, and I kinda like it; especially for macro shots.

I can spend the same$600 and get a Fuji S9100 and have a greatzoom range all built in. The problem with that is that I highly doubt the picture quality will be as good. Do Iwant a DSLR or not? :?
Personally, I don't want a DSLR because I have 12X Zoom built in and a 1.7X TCON, so that gives me around 734mm all together and that will cost thousands with a DSLR. You could look at the Canon PowerShot S3IS, Canon PowerShot S2IS, Kodak Easyshare P850, Kodak Easyshare P712. There are more good cameras out there with 12 optical zoom, but these are some of the best.

shooting_rubber.


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Old Aug 30, 2006, 1:09 PM   #9
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rfortson wrote:
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I use a Tamron 28-300mm zoom that I bought for $140 new (and it's a lot cheaper on eBay). The quality is about what you'd find in a super-zoom point&shoot. On the Pentax, the 300mm is equivalent to 450mm due to the crop factor.

So, if you go with the K100D kit, you'll pay $608 (plus s/h) at Beach Camera. Add another $150 for the long zoom and you're at $760. (Just buying the body would only save you around $50 and the kit lens is worth more than that, IMHO).
Thanks, rfortson. I was looking at that Tamron lens too. Does it auto-focus with the Pentax? I was thinking the same thing you recommended (the K100d kit & the Tamron lens). I think it should cover most of what I want. Do you know if the 18-55mm lense the kit comes with would be any good for macro shots? I really enjoy taking those.
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Old Aug 30, 2006, 1:15 PM   #10
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personally i have the pentax *isd DL. consumer grade lenses made by Tamron and Sigma can be had used at www.keh.com or ebay for around or under $100 (sometimes much less!). for instance, i just got a tamron 28-200mm (which is actually 42-300mm) lens for $60 shipped used on ebay. It is not the most current version of the lens, but as has been previously stated, you can use any pentax lens (or non-branded) with a K mount.

I've spent about $100 and bought 4 lenses (make that $160 and 5 now!) - 2 of them I sold (lost maybe $5 between them reselling on ebay) because I didn't like them that much. With the pentax line of DSLRs, there is definitely a budget-minded route that you can take when it comes to lenses!

The newer version (XR is in the lens title) of the 28-200mm tamron (search 'pentax 28-200mm' on ebay) can be had for $110 shipped. Many people in the pentax forum have and recommend this lens, and it gives you about 9x reach in magnification(According to digicam standards). I would've gotten it myself but couldn't justify the extra $50 to get the current over previous model (as the only difference was a slightly smaller size and extra lens coatings - they both performed well in reviews i found online).

I've also purchased an old 50mm f2 pentax manual lens, and a vivitar 28mm f2.8 macro lens (both were $20) - using prime fixed focus lenses is a joy that consumer digital camera owners are deprived of knowing, they're both alot of fun to shoot with - they actually make you think about framing and get your feet moving!
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