Today I found another camera store not too far from where I live. Talked to someone over the phone and all they had left in ways of the k20d was their demo model, and they aren't going to restock. But at least I finally got the opportunity to handle it!
So go to your local dealer and check:
the camera with a lens - how well balanced in your hand?
the viewfinder - how clear and easy to read?
the hardware buttons - are they well placed and right under your fingers?
changing the lens - how easy and fast?
the grip - does it suit your hand?
Hmmm... the bullets didn't transfer when I copied that quote.
Anyway, the camera was very well-balanced in my hands. A little weighty, perhaps, but even mounted with the DA* 50-135mm it wasn't overwhelming. The viewfinder was clear, no worries there, and changing lenses was a breeze. But then I ran into three issues.
I changed up a bunch of the settings, and found that the front dial on the camera was a bit of a reach for my index finger, based on the way I was holding it. Trying to change the ISO using the "ok + front dial" method wasn't nearly as fluid as I would have liked. The second problem was the grip. When I initially picked the camera up it felt okay, but the longer I played with it in the store the less certain about it I became. It wasn't uncomfortable, necessarily... it just wasn't perfect.
The biggest issue, however, was with the AF. I didn't think it very dark in the store, but it seemed to take an inordinate amount of time for the camera to AF, especially after zooming in or out. Even the DA* lens wasn't particularly fast. I'm not sure if it was something I was doing, or perhaps that whatever SD card they had in there was really slow to write, or the camera itself. But it unnerved me, because I envision myself taking a lot of photos of birds in flight, and fast AF would definitely help things along.
Of course, they were out of stock for the D90, so I couldn't compare them side-by-side. Figures...
I can't say I'm any further along in my decision. The grip and AF troubles do bother me, and make me sway a little more towards Nikon. But the weathersealing in the Pentax still gets me. Of course, the guy at the store reminded me that I'd need the DA* lenses (which I can't afford) to have a completely weathersealed kit.
So I have a couple more questions now:
-Is it still beneficial to have weathersealing in the body, even if my lenses won't be protected?
-How do the AF systems of Pentax and Nikon generally compare? Is the k20d known to have sluggish AF?
Thanks again for all your input. I really just want to make a decision and get all this over-analysis over with!
Nikon D300 / 35mm f1.8 / 300mm f4 / TC-14E II
Pentax K200D / DA 18-55mm / DA 55-300mm