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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 6:30 pm 
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Location: Northern Sweden
Hello!

First of all I want to thank the crew behind Camera Labs for an excellent website and forum.

Even though I’m new to the world of DSLRS I’m a frequent user of tech forums, and as such I know that if you want input you better make a detailed and thorough initial post. So pour yourself a cup of tea ( or coffee if you prefer ) and prepare for a long read.

I've spent the last months reading reviews and forum posts on this site and other sites on the net, and I feel that I've ran into the dilemma. The more I dig down in specs of different camera models the more uncertain I am of which will be the perfect fit for me. When ever I've found a camera I'm happy with it is only a matter of days before a different model seems to be more interesting.

What I'm looking for is basically a camera that doesn't exist. A list of the specs I'm looking for.

- A camera with a comfortable grip
- Has a slightly smaller form factor since I will bring it with me on hiking in the outdoors. The D90 is an example of a camera that is too bulky.
- A good optical view finder.
- Has a kit lens that is OK or better than the average kit lens.
- Good battery life
- Preferably don't cost more than $800
- In house mechanism to counter camera shake.
- Live view is a plus, but is not crucial.
- Some what up to date with for example anti dust facilities.
- Some form of protection against the elements. I live in northern Sweden, so I'd like to be able to use the camera in serious sub zero temperatures.

Models I've been interested in so far are Nikon D40/D60, Sony A350, the Canon 450D and the Pentax K200D. Most tick of some of the points on my list but fail on others. I've been to camera stores in town and have had the opportunity to hold all the cameras except the K200D.

The Nikon D40/D60 has the right size, outstanding grip, but lacks live view and feels a bit out of date. The D60 does however has an anti dust system, which is a plus.

The Sony A350 also has an outstanding grip. It also offers a fast live view system. But it seems like the 18-70 mm kit lens is a serious bottle neck and the small optical view finder is another dilemma.

The Canon 450D ticks of several of the specs on my list. But there is one big problem. I really don’t like the grip or the general feel of the camera.

The Pentax K200D is the only camera of those I've been looking into that offers some form of weather sealing. But I don't like what I’ve seen of the menu system and it's harder to find Pentax lenses on the second hand market, at least here in Sweden.

The ideal camera would be a Canon 450D, with the grip of a Nikon D60 and the built mechanism to prevent camera shake and protection of the elements of the Pentax K200D. But since that camera doesn't exist I suppose it's a matter of compromising. My gut feeling at the moment says the D60 or the 450D, but I simply can not make up my mind.
:roll:

The kind of photography I would use the camera for is mostly landscape, architecture and portraits.

All form of input is welcomed, but I’m particularly interested in the experiences of those of you who have similar needs and found a camera that works great for you.

Thank you in advance.

/Roger


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:03 pm 
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Hi Roger,

Many people have this dilemma. I myself went through a very similar process. The more I looked into each model the more confused and unsure I became.

Ultimately, I chose the k200d. There were many reasons for my choice. Among these:

1. The camera fit my hands very well.

2. The build quality is superior to other entry-level models (i.e. 450D, D40/60, a350). This includes the kit-lens, which, unlike many other entry-level cameras, has a metal mount.

3. The camera is weather-sealed. I shoot almost entirely outdoors, and I get a certain peace of mind knowing that the body will stand up well to the elements, particularly water and dust. Pentax also has a range of weather-sealed lenses.

4. The viewfinder is much larger and brighter than many entry-level models.

5. The camera takes AA batteries. Some people much prefer Li-ion battery packs. But two sets of rechargeable AA's are generally much less expensive than battery packs, and in my opinion the battery life is comparable. Additionally, there's the added benefit of being able to purchase a set of AA's in a pinch. I do a lot of travelling in remote locations. I've found over the years that even small villages that lack electricity will generally have AA's for sale somewhere. Just nice to know I'll likely never be stuck without power.

6. In-body antishake. This is nice with the k200d because it supports legacy lenses... virtually any lens Pentax has ever made will fit the body. Since the IS is in-body, every lens you put on will be stabilized.

7. Top LCD screen. It seems like a little thing, but I've come to love the top LCD screen, something lacking on other entry-level models. Changing and checking the settings is both easy and convenient using the top LCD, and I wouldn't buy a camera without one now.

As for the issues you've mentioned with the k200d:

1. The menu system is actually more intuitive and easier to use that you might think. There are a variety of easy ways to switch many of the settings without going into the menus, including exposure, shutter speed, and aperture, and if you shoot in RAW you won't need to worry about changing white balance. I haven't had any issues with the menu. I was concerned about it when I purchased the camera. In general I would say that Nikon has the best menu layouts/most intuitive controls. But the Pentax menu system hasn't been a hindrance at all for me.

2. As for finding second-hand lenses, they are a lot more prevalent online than anywhere else. Ebay usually has a decent selection, as does Adorama, and, ocassionally, B&H. Obviously, both Canon and Nikon have a much greater market coverage. So it's true that you might have to look a little harder for second-hand Pentax lenses. But they are out there!

3. The k200d lacks live-view. For me, this hasn't been a problem. I can definitely see situations in which it would be helpful to have, but I've gotten on fine without it.

I hope this helps, at least a little. I was sorely tempted by both the 450D and the D90 before I made up my mind, but in the end cost had a lot to do with it. The k200d body with two lenses was much less expensive than the 450D with two lenses, and even cheaper still than the D90 with two lenses.

Good luck with your decision, and be sure to let us know how you get on!

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:12 am 
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I choose k200d too, but make sure you like the grip.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:39 am 
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You may never find the "perfect camera"
I would say that the K200 is the one best suited for what you want.
I also find/found that reading too many reviews aggrevates/complicates things to no end :roll:

As for lenses Pentax is compatible with several thrid party lenses and there are plenty of those around.
I'd rather buy them brand new for what you may pay for a secondhand lens and know they haven't been misused or abused...and they are under warranty.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 3:02 am 
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My fellow Pentax users have pretty much said it all already. The K200D is built for traveling and has most of the options I think your looking for. Im new to the DSLR world and the K200D hasnt been tricky to learn on either. The menu's are easily laid out especially your basic functions. Plus it seems like everyday im finding something else the K200D can do that I didnt even know about.

My advice... you need to find one to hold it. And find a retailer that supplies pentax.

Happy shooting

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 6:55 am 
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Thank you for all your input. I really appreciate it.

The K200D does seem to be a very capable camera. It seems to really have an unique build quality for it's price range. A top LCD screen, big view finder and standard batteries are definitively two big pluses as well.

From what I've seen online, I suspect that the menu system will be something that bothers me. Two other problems is the very limited capability of shooting in burst mode, only 4 jpegs before the buffer memory is full, and the camera body is rather chunky and heavy in comparison with the 450D and D60.

I certainly will hunt down a K200D at stores so I can get my hands on it and try the menu system and the general feel of the camera.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 9:38 am 
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Hi Smirf,

May I offer you a warm welcome to the CameraLabs forum.

Out of interest you haven't mentioned either the Olympus E-520 or the Olympus E-620 which left me wondering if they were difficult to find or too expensive in Sweden.

I'm unfamiliar with the menu system on the Pentax cameras but I'd be surprised if it were a deal breaker. Isn't that something you would get used too? If the four frame burst mode limit of the K200D is a major issue but the camera otherwise ticks all the boxes then you might consider the slightly pricier K20D (review).

Bob.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 11:10 am 
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I'd recommend getting the K20D. It's quite good.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:26 pm 
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Location: Hamburg Germany
Get a K200D with the 18-55 or a used K10D and buy some nice lenses!

K10D is used a cheaper than k200D, has faster continous shooting with bigger buffer, better weather sealing and a supirior viewfinder. It's the same size as the K20D.

In favour of the K200D, it runs an AAs!

ciao,

Karhallarn

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:41 pm 
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The Pentax K200D is your best choice here.
Sony doesn't have good lenses at decent prices & Olympus has the 2x magnification ratio & a lower noise managment sensor than other brands.

I tested the K200D last year in the Pentax shop & it's a beautiful,very well built little camera. The included kit lens is pretty good too.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 4:31 pm 
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If I'm correct the main flaw with the pentaxes is the noise, so you may want to invest a bit in good noise reduction software :)

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 4:43 pm 
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Jag rekommenderar att du köper pentaxen, helt klart den bästa "outdoor" kameran av de du angav.
*såg att du var svensk....

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 4:53 pm 
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Thank you all for your help and suggestions.

Olympus was never an option for me since it's the brand with the worst second hand market in Sweden. I'm not a fan of buying things online without being able to meet the seller face to face and inspect the item before I pay in cash, so buying lenses on Ebay for example is not an option.

The Pentax cameras does match most of my requirements, and as I said I will try finding them in stores so I can get my hands on them.

However, there might be a better option. The Samsung GX20, the Samsung version of the K20D. It is slightly cheaper than the K20D, has all the benefits of the K20D and a slightly better menu interface experience with smother fonts. It might very well be the camera I've been looking for :D.

I'll certainly will keep you up to date of what camera I eventually buy.


Last edited by Smirf on Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:06 pm 
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Yes I have just investigated this Samsung version of the K20.. It is called the Samsung GX20 and is almost identical as the K20. You will find a video comparison here :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLSJhUwiMDQ

I've also looked up the specs of the GX20 and the camera is usable with Pentax KAF lenses which is an added bonus. You will find its specs here:

http://www.dpreview.com/news/0801/08012 ... nggx20.asp

If you think the samsung version will suit you and is a bit cheaper then the K20 then I would definetly consider the samsung as it is made by pentax anyway. The video explains how pentax and samsung have teamed up.

Good luck with your decision

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 6:25 pm 
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bigblocke wrote:
Jag rekommenderar att du köper pentaxen, helt klart den bästa "outdoor" kameran av de du angav.
*såg att du var svensk....


You advice him to buy the pentax, since it is the best camera to suit your needs. I say so in swedish?

Damn, I think I actually understood that?

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