question for PENTAX dSLR users

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by GuyNextDoor, Sep 30, 2008.

  1. GuyNextDoor macrumors member

    Jan 30, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    OK, first my situation:
    I am looking at getting my first dSLR (actually, my first digital camera of any kind), so I'm completely uncommitted to any brand in terms of already owning lenses, accessories, etc.

    I had a Minolta X-700 film SLR, years ago, in the pre-autofocus age. So I've used SLRs and like the control and IQ they offer. I've also had a chance to play with my brother's Sony a200 recently.

    I find myself drawn to the PENTAX cameras by the weather-seal issue and the bang-for-the-buck factor. But I hesitate due to the modest market share and lens selection. I'm most interested in landscape and city-scene photography, and would like to experiment with shooting live theatre. Right now, I'm probably looking at the K200D, possibly with an upgrade from the kit lens. K20D would be a bit of a stretch.

    So my questions to PENTAX users are thus:
    Do you ever regret you decision to go with PENTAX?
    Are there deficiencies or limitations you wish you had known about before you made you choice?
    Are there circumstances where you'd recommend against going with PENTAX?

    Thanks, any feedback at all would be greatly appreciated.
  2. greg555 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 24, 2005
    I've been a Pentax film camera user for over 20 years. This year I bough a K20D.

    Pentax's autofocus tracking is not up to the best that Canon and Nikon can do. So if you shoot sports then I would recommend against Pentax.

    If you want a camera that uses AA cells then Pentax is for you. (You can use rechargables like Eneloop NiMH, disposable lithium cells or alkaline in a pinch).

    If you like small lenses and excellent backward compatibility then Pentax is for you. Go to DPReview to see the tiny 15mm f4 that Pentax announced at Photokina.

    If you need to shoot at ISO 6400 then Pentax probably isn't for you. ISO 1600 is very good on my K20D but 3200 is probably only good for a 4x6 and 6400 not even for that. Canon will do better at those high ISO settings. But on the other hand they don't have any image stabilized f1.4 lenses, so Pentax (and Sony) win there.

    Just a few thoughts - Greg
  3. SolracSelbor macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2007
    Pentax is indeed excellent! If this is you first DSLR i would highly suggest waiting for the release of the new Pentax K-m/k2000. Heres more info:
  4. Buschmaster macrumors 65816


    Feb 12, 2006
    If you're getting something in the K200D level then I would say it's the best camera in that range. I wouldn't worry about the amount of lenses since Pentax has by far the most lenses available. Any lens that was ever made for a Pentax can be used on their current cameras. I went into a store called National Camera and Video (I don't think they're all over the country) and bought a used 50mm manual focus lens for $30 and it's become one of my favorite lenses. To help you get an idea just of the Pentax lenses available you can have a look here:

    The only regret about the Pentax would be that they don't have a professional level camera but that doesn't effect me since the K20D would be more of a camera than I'd need anyway. And soon I'm sure they'll have their pro-level camera, too.
  5. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

    Nov 19, 2007
    Portland, OR
    The K200D is a mean camera, I don't think that based on your stated interests you'd find it to be limiting. Pentax's AF speed is not as fast as NIkon and Canon so if you want to use it for sports you might not have as easy of a time as you would with a D40 or Rebel of one stripe or another. But then again, the burst rates and AF points on those cameras aren't up to snuff for sports anyway so I think it's a non-issue even for sports.

    As far as architecture and general photography, I'm of the opinion that Pentax is a very tough brand to beat both for value and for features. And the Image quality is on par with anything else from anyone else out there!

    Check them out!

  6. legacyb4 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 13, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    I've used Pentax cameras since the early 90's (with a short hiatus in the Canon camp when the DSLRs first came out). Because of the great Pentax lens collection I had built up, I finally crossed back over to the Pentax camp just recently and have been loving the used K10D (cost me $525 including the battery grip) because it's a really great camera for photographers.

    I've never regretted my choice of Pentax except for they were late to the DSLR game which forced my hand to go Canon. The K10/K20 series are also the first bodies to use LI-on battery packs which, unlike a lot of Pentax folks, is a must for me.

    The less than blinding-focus speeds was known but I'm not a sports photog so it's less critical of an issue. Having said that, don't be fooled by the salesfolks at the big box stores who know nothing about photography and earn their living on selling Canon/Nikon gear for commissions. Current day bodies are compatibles with nearly every lens Pentax has made which means there is a HUGE aftermarket of lenses looking for a new home. Also consider that the cost of Pentax glass (which is easily comparable in image quality) is often 2/3rds the cost of equivalent N/C glass. Kit lenses, sure, but I'm talking about the really good prime lenses. The Pentax 50mm F1.4 is under $200 new versus Canon's 50mm F1.4 which lists around $330 new.

    Circumstances against Pentax? If you like spending more money, then Pentax is probably not for you as you will quickly get drawn into the lens buying addiction (a.k.a. "LBA") that is so common among us users.

    Check out forums like; you'll find that Pentax owners are as passionate about their gear as we are about our Macs.

  7. jpfisher macrumors regular

    Dec 5, 2006
    New Jersey
    I often do similar photography, cityscape and landscape, with Pentax as my SLR system. I'll also shoot medium format film when I feel like dealing with lugging a tripod around, getting film developed, and then scanning it...

    Yes and no. I went with a Pentax DSLR because I had an old Pentax film SLR (1970's vintage) with a lot of glass -- all fully manual stuff, but that didn't bother me. As I've grown as a photographer over the past few years, I've augmented that with more modern lenses, autofocusing and all that, and moved from a *ist DL body to a K10D.

    The no regrets first -- the K10D doesn't autofocus as quickly as a D3, but it's adequate for my uses. I very rarely do any sort of sports or wildlife shooting. When I do, I generally use my only zoom lens (the DA* 50-135mm), which has an in-lens motor -- it seems to lock on faster than lenses that use the screw-drive for autofocus.

    Also, I'm a bit of a lens snob, and I'll be the first to admit that. The FA 31mm Limited is on my camera about 85% of the time. I use the 77mm when I want to go longer, and actually just got the 43mm this week, but haven't got a chance to shoot with it yet. The rendering characteristics of the 31 & 77 are very special -- I can't always put my finger on it, but the color reproduction and contrast that these lenses produce just really suits my sense of aesthetics. Images I've seen taken with the 43mm also represent this, and I'm hoping to get some first-hand experience with it this weekend.

    For really wide-angle landscapes I generally use the DA 14mm, which I'm actually thinking of getting rid of. Everything I've seen shows the 12-24mm to be just as good in most situations, and I really don't need the extra stop for something that wide....

    Now, the regrets --

    I'd really love a DSLR with full 35mm frame coverage. The crop-sensor on the Pentax turns the 31mm into a normal, the 43mm into a short-telephoto, and the 77mm into a longer telephoto. As more of a wide angle guy, I'd prefer to have that trio represent wide, normal, and medium-telephoto fields of view. This is why I keep a film body & a few rolls of Provia in the fridge.

    The viewfinder. Ugh. This isn't a Pentax problem, it's a problem with DSLRs that aren't the D700, D3, 5D and 1ds Mark whatever (sorry A900, I was not impressed when I looked through your finder in comparison to the Nikons). I can't accurately manually focus with it. I had the Zeiss 50mm in the Pentax mount to evaluate for work and it was very difficult for me to nail focus consistently -- a problem I never have on a film SLR, medium format, or rangefinder. I really should swap out the focusing screen for a split-prism type, but for whatever reason that just hasn't happened yet.

    Nope. I did my research. You're doing yours, so hopefully you can answer that question the same way!

    Do you need full frame? Do you need an f/2.8 zoom that is longer than 135mm? Do you see yourself shooting a lot of fast action where fast autofocus and long burst shooting is critical?

    Those are the weaknesses. The strengths are in optics -- the aforementioned 12-24mm f/4, the 16-45mm f/4 (a great, budget-conscience alternative to the kit lens), the FA Limited triplets.... as well as compact optics if weight is a concern (the DA Limited primes -- 21mm, 40mm, and 70mm).

    I'm not a telephoto person, but you have the 50-135mm f/2.8, a 200mm f/2.8 and 300mm f/4. The unicorn-esque 60-250mm f/4 should be out this year (although put me in the "I'll believe it when I see it category" on that one).

    Also, if you ever want to do macro, the DA 35, FA 50 Macro & FA 100 Macro are all very good lenses.... and if you want to break the bank, the Zeiss 100mm f/2 macro is available in the K mount, though that's another case where you would want to install a split-image focusing screen for any serious work.

    And then there's ergonomics, but that's a personal preference -- but if the lens line-up suits your needs, and you like the camera, and it suits your budget... well, it's your money to spend. :)

    And if you're not making a serious serious investment in glass, then don't let market share bother you too much. If it's the body & a lens, the prospect of Pentax going under (I don't see it happening in the near future) or the K-mount going away (which would require Pentax to go under & Samsung to give up on the DSLR market).

    Hope this helps.... any other questions, please feel free to ask...

  8. GuyNextDoor thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 30, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    Thanks all, for the info. Lots to chew on; will have to get to a good shop soon to start handling cameras for comparison.

    Saw the news about the K2000 and it looks interesting and will have some features that will eventually trickle up to the Kx00 and Kx0 bodies. But I expect to be using whatever camera I get for at least 5 - 8 years, so I hesitate to go to the low end of their line. Also, it looks like K2000 is not weathersealed, which is a big selling point for me.

    I find all the discussion of high ISO performance interesting; back in my 35mm days, I mostly shot Kodachrome 64 (with camera set at 100), occasionally Ektachrome 100 or print film at 100, rarely 200 or 400 print film. Lots of hand-held work. Do the ISO settings on digital faithfully line up with the old film settings? It just seems surprising to me that, other than sports and other high-speed scenarios or really low light situations, many people would actually need to shoot at 6400, 3200 or even 1600.
  9. gnd macrumors 6502a


    Jun 2, 2008
    At my cat's house
    Others have said a lot about the huge amount of lenses available. You have 30 years of lenses to choose from in the Pentax line plus all the 3rd party manufacturers.

    I take a lot of photos of statues in museums in very low light and I find in-body shake reduction invaluable. It works with every lens you use, even the 30 year old manual ones. You can't beat the combo of in-body SR and a fast wide prime in a dimly lit museum.

    All Pentax bodies also feel very sturdy, not plastic the least, feels like a tank. I tried a few different cameras in stores before making my decision and no other camera felt as good. It might be a bit heavy, but the build quality is superb.

    Regarding your questions, no, I don't regret my decision in the least. As a matter of fact, I'm even more certain I made the right decision now.
    I did my research and knew about the limitations, namely slow burst speed and AF, but that kind of photography is not my style anyway.
    Which answers your third question, if you're into sports photography then this is not for you.
  10. jpfisher macrumors regular

    Dec 5, 2006
    New Jersey

    Go to B&H!

    Sorry. Couldn't resist. But if you're in Brooklyn, that is your best bet to check out cameras hands-on.. They are closed for a good percentage of this month, though, for religious holidays.

    People love high ISO so they can shoot indoors without a strobe-- and yes, ISO is ASA 100. For daytime landscape work it's not so much of an issue. For cityscapes at night you need a tripod. Bear in mind, if you are someone who has taken really long exposures in the past, digital does not handle this as well as film. Sensors heat up and create noise & hot pixels. If you want to keep a shutter open for an hour, dig out those reciprocity tables and find some film. :)
  11. gnd macrumors 6502a


    Jun 2, 2008
    At my cat's house
    You mean GuyNextDoor, not me. I already have my Pentax :)
  12. jpfisher macrumors regular

    Dec 5, 2006
    New Jersey

    Apologies. I was abbreviating-- Apple has had my MacBook for the past two weeks (Bluetooth issues) and I'm posting from the iphone.

  13. MaddMacs macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2008
    Flagstaff, Az
    I just picked up a Pentax k200d, after doing some research as well. I read the Pentax fourm and studied the specs and prices. I went with Pentax because: 1) it will use my 20 year old lenses from my 35mm daze, 2) it uses SD cards (so it will interchange with my P&S) 3) It uses AA batteries, so no problems traveling and trying to charge a propiatary lithium battery. 3) it has image stabalization on the image sensor, and will work with any lens 4) it has weather sealing (I like to shoot outdoors) 5) I found the body only for $515 at Wall Street Photo, and 6) new lenses aren't over priced, and a decent selection between Pentax and Sigma. So far no regrets. Now I just need time to shoot. I'm looking forward to the fall foliage. By the way, according to the Pentax forum, the AF isn't a huge issue, some members comment that it isn't any worse than Nikon in low light situations. They say it varies with the light and lens just like the other brands.
  14. paenguin macrumors member


    Feb 20, 2008
    behind Torre Two
    didn't know this many pentaxians in the mac world. :D

    i dont think i can add anything more from what the guys said. to answer your question, if i regret it, yes.. because of the LBA!!! you gotta love pentax glass.. :p
  15. TheReef macrumors 68000


    Sep 30, 2007
    NSW, Australia.
    Shake reduction on any lens you put on is really really handy.
    Pick up a used f1.7 manual focus, and there you have a cheap low light lens with shake reduction, the results are great.

    I like the feel of the larger Pentax bodies, more solid than others and weather sealing is excellent, you usually only find it on the very high end bodies. The competing brands at that level felt a bit too cheap and plastic for my liking. (Especially since I'm going to be keeping the camera for a while).

    Not that I use it all that often but the ability to capture straight to a DNG file saves your software needing the right RAW plugin.

    Great cameras, from my limited experience (a little over one year).
    No regrets at all.
  16. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    In truth, all major manufacturers make good cameras and you have a large selection of lenses that cover most situations. Pentax now uses Tokina lenses with ultrasonic motors (which Tokina lenses do not have). If you like Pentax and don't have any `special' needs (e. g. sports and action photography), you'll be fine.
  17. Chappers macrumors 68020


    Aug 12, 2003
    At home
    The advice here is all good - I just want to add something.

    These babies are tough. I had mine in a canvas bag (no padding what-so-ever) - was cycling to work and at approx 20mph I hit a pot hole. The bag + camera bounced out of my basket and landed on the road. I can still hear the sound of impact and my blood ran cold.

    But you've guessed it - not a mark on it and it still works just as it did. That was about a year ago.

    I wouldn't swap it or sell it. I may up-grade one day but I'll keep this one thank you.
  18. GuyNextDoor thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 30, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    Just read an article in Outdoor Photographer magazine about landscape cameras. Says 14-bit color preferable to 12-bit due to greater range of hues possible (at least theoretically), but still says favorable things about Pentaxes. Other sources I've looked at seem split on whether there's a tangible difference between 14 and 12. Any opinions, one way or the other?
  19. stevey500 macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2004
    Huntington, Utah
    I just bought the K20D... the 4th Digital SLR I have had from pentax...

    Love it, love the build, etc... I've always loved my pentax digital SLR's for the software speeds, power up time, image saving time, etc...

    But now when I play with the newer D90 from nikon it seems as if pentax is falling behind.

    I have a week or so if I want to trade my camera in for something else at inkley's, does anyone recommend me in trying something else? I have no other lenses that I have compatibility issues with... Any suggestions are beautiful.
  20. filmamigo macrumors member

    Sep 17, 2003
    No regrets at all.

    Two years ago I was shooting Nikon 35mm (with a nice F80 kit.)

    When it came time to go digital, I considered all the systems, and ended up with an almost-brand-new Pentax *ist DL. (After I test drove the K100D and liked it, the *ist DL was basically the same camera without shake reduction.)

    I've never regretted it. There were too many compromises from the other DSLR makers. Pentax had the best ergonomics for me, didn't cripple their low-end bodies, and was priced great.

    Compared to cameras in the same price range, (D40, Digital Rebel, etc) my Pentax focuses and exposes well.

    In fact, it focuses better than the D40, because I can use 20 year old AF lenses!

    And, it exposes better than anything below the D300, because it will meter with manual lenses! (That was a Nikon frustration with my F80 as well --- imagine having to hand-meter for such a beautiful modern camera... sigh...)

    I especially appreciate my Pentax everytime I spend a couple of dollars and add another classic K-mount or M42 lens to the collection.

    I don't understand the cries for faster autofocus and frames-per-second. My *ist DL is the equal to my Nikon F80 and my dad's D50. When I have tried the K10D in the store, it is just as quick and accurate as the D80 and D200 that I tried.
  21. budkid macrumors regular

    Oct 15, 2008
    I am still on the Pentax K10d. I really love it. I like going to thrift stores and finding $30 lenses I can still use on my Pentax DSLR. I just picked up a 28mm f2.8 for $20. It is manual focus, but it still takes great pics.

    I am going to have to wait to see what comes after the k20d.
  22. geese macrumors 6502a


    Oct 23, 2003
    London, UK
    Pentax k100d Super user here. I love it, although manual focusing on it is a bit difficult. I knocks the socks off my mates Nikon D40.
  23. dopeytree macrumors regular

    Jan 9, 2007
    Pentax is super! Just make sure you go to the shops and test out the cameras and see what feels right in your hands if you can?

    Check out my photography
    and let us know how you get on! :)

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