Best inexpensive used DSLR, Pentax?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by teasphere, Apr 6, 2011.

  1. teasphere macrumors member

    May 19, 2008
    I really want a basic to decent DSLR for the occasional shot or two. Not for professional use or even moderate/heavy use. I just want to have the option to manually focus and set up some shots that require more attention than I can get from my P&S. I also would HIGHLY love a camera with a pinhole mode or ability to get a really nice retro look at times for use in some artwork I do.

    A standard lens with a decently wide angle, and possibly a macro lens is about all I'd need.

    The pinhole mode seems to be on many of the Pentax cameras, and they seem to fit the bill, but I just don't know enough to pick a brand and model. And I'd love to buy used. Inexpensive, but good quality photos is the name of the game. I really appreciate any help or insight!
  2. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Any DSLR that's 6+MP will give you good quality photos, a lot depends on if you intend to get a new camera in 5-6 years, and if so, what features will be important at that time. The only concern I'd have with Pentax is that Hoya has insisted for a while now that they can't really afford (and initially didn't want) the Pentax camera business without an additional partner, who has yet to shown up.

    If you're ok with the potential of an orphaned camera, then Pentax will give you more value for money than either Canon or Nikon, the two who own the lion's share of the DSLR marketplace. Given that the home market where most of the also-rans tend to make up some revenue is pretty-much devastated I think it's going to be a long row to hoe for Hoya/Pentax moving forward.

    Pinholes on DSLRs aren't really that good an idea- diffraction limits in digital sensors show up very visibly, especially on very high megapixels sensors. Retro is better done (IMO) with old film tonal curves and color palates. You can always blur a sharp photo after you take it- so I wouldn't limit the options based on the availability of something that'll show diffraction issues no matter what. Blur is easy to add post-production.

  3. gloss macrumors 601


    May 9, 2006
    I love my Pentax, for what it's worth. And they've got some really solid lenses available.
  4. teasphere thread starter macrumors member

    May 19, 2008
    Just to clarify, in case it helps, I wasn't looking to add a pinhole lens cover/adapter, just use a built in pinhole/retro mode. I totally understand it will not mimic a real pinhole or glass plate camera.

    Pentax has enough lenses out now that if they went under, I'd be fine with that. I have pretty simple needs.

    gloss or anyone else what particular model? There are a lot of models and I'm not sure which would be best as far as price/performance. K100?
  5. teasphere thread starter macrumors member

    May 19, 2008
    In searching, I found the Olympus PEN E-PL1 which is priced pretty reasonably and seems to fit my needs... would I be losing or giving up anything major going to this over say a Pentax K10D or similar?
  6. hayden.ostrom9 macrumors newbie

    Jul 17, 2010

    Hey, Just reading this article, and I reminded me of myself right before I bought a Pentax DSLR. I went with a Paentax k-x and I have loved every minute of it. For the quality of the pictures, and the features you get, I personally think this is one of the best low budget DSLR's on the market.
  7. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    You give up some sensor size, but gain multiple manufacturers for replacement bodies in the future. Since you generally get 5-7 years out of a digital body, despite the fact that I'm not a fan of u4/3rds, I'd probably go that way instead of Pentax at this stage in the game if forced to choose between the two. It's doubtful that both Olympus and Panasonic will tank.

  8. ChrisA, Apr 6, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011

    ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Nikon has the largest used market. Gear made in the 1960's will still somewhat work with new bodies. If you are going to be buying used equipment the "best" brand is the brand that is most common. Something like an old D100 body might be available cheap now and it would accept any lens Nikon ever made even 40 year old models from film SLRs Just checked eBay, you should be able to find one for under $200. This was a top pro model some years back and is built like a tank

    If you like the retro look, buy a film body and some black and white film. Or get a holga

    Or even better an older 4x5 view camera and some press camera lenses. You can get setup pretty darn cheap now
  9. Pikemann Urge macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2007
    For your needs, yes, Pentax seems the best choice. They're compact and inexpensive and have nice sensors. And their support for old and usually cheap legacy lenses is very good. Maybe better than Nikon. Plus, some Pentax bodies take AAs.
  10. TheReef, Apr 6, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011

    TheReef macrumors 68000


    Sep 30, 2007
    NSW, Australia.
    I would suggest the K10D, it's still a very capable camera today.
    The K10D had weather sealing, shake reduction (that will work with the many vintage lenses out there) and was built like a tank.

    I probably wouldn't worry about the older 6MP varieties - the Pentax *ist D, *ist DL, *ist DS, considering a K10D shouldn't cost you a significant amount more, and you don't get shake reduction or weather sealing with the older bodies.

    My K10D is a lot better to hold in hand than the old *ist DL, the *ist DL feels cheap and plasticy in comparison.
    Even if you don't need all the features of the K10D, you'll appreciate build quality in hand.

    The K200D would be another great choice - again weather sealed, shake reduction and built like a tank - it lacks dual control dials which the K10D has though. A few of my photographer mates use a K200D, again it's a great camera to use and hold, very satisfying.
    The K200D takes AAs, whereas the K10D takes a lithium cell.

    So my vote'd go to either the K10D or K200D, I've had my K10D for a few years now, putting tens of thousands of shutter actuations on it and still going strong.
  11. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."

    Has great used deals on Pentax...

    For pinhole effect, you can get a cheap body cap and use a drilll.... ;)

    Pentax also has a bunch of old K-Mount lenses you can use (like from Europe and Japan) you can use for that retro look...

    Good luck!
  12. bsamcash macrumors regular

    Jul 31, 2008
    Santa Cruz, CA
    I'm biased.

    I've been a Pentaxian for quite a while, and I can vouch for their quality. For more information on some bodies, check here, and for lenses, here.
  13. doug in albq Suspended

    doug in albq

    Oct 12, 2007
  14. ccd333, May 30, 2011
    Last edited: May 30, 2011

    ccd333 macrumors newbie

    May 30, 2011
    That's not a fair comparison. The only thing the K10D has over the DL in the general build is that it's bigger and therefore heavier. They both have the same stainless steel chassis and polycarbonate shell. I will give you the weather sealing and other touches on the K10D that make it better (because it's supposed to be), but to say the DL feels cheap and plasticky (even in comparison) is a gross misrepresentation.

    This user is moving up from a point and shoot and only needs a "basic DSLR for a shot or two", the K10D is not really a logical next step....the *istDL is a very capable camera. In fact, it bests the K10D is ISO range by a full stop....and it's an entry level DSLR. The JPEG's are much better than some users or critics report because they are going by the default settings. There are some minor tweaks to vastly improve the appearance of the JPEG's and the RAW shots are simply outstanding.

    Not only that, the lighter (30% lighter) weight and smaller size can be a benefit for some people. The K10D is a tank in comparison (and that is a fair one).

    Now, if you really want to talk cheap and plasticky (at least in feel), follow doug's advice about the Nikon D40. No steel chassis, and it looks and feels cheap (though to be fair it's a very nice camera for the money). So are the older Canon entry level cameras in this price range.
  15. runlsd macrumors 6502


    Mar 17, 2009
    I'd check Pentax Forums. Pretty extensive database of cameras, lenses, user reviews, and a marketplace as well.

    I had a Nikon D80, Panasonic GF1, D7000 briefly. Now I have a Pentax K-5 which is just a fabulous camera. But their older bodies can be had for much less and they're still very capable cameras.

    IF you're planning on doing a lot of video or going full frame in the future, I would think twice before you invest in Pentax. There's still no autofocus in video in their flagship K-5. There are full-frame lenses available, but no one really knows if Pentax will release full-frame cameras.

    Pentax as a system has an inexplicable appeal to me. Their DA, FA limited primes are fantastic in optics, build quality, and size. Some of them don't conform to the industry "norms" like 35, 50, 85... etc. There are 21mm, 40mm, 43mm, 70mm, 77mm primes. There's also a 15mm limited prime that shows very very little distortion for a wide angle.

    Anyway. Hope you find something you like. Soon.

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