Life after Pentax?

polymoog

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I have a Pentax *ist DL which I bought in June 2006. It is currently in for repair (new shutter release button), and during that time (a week) I have tested a couple of Nikons.

I mostly take pics of motorsport, ie cars, bikes, snowmobiles. Every time I've asked at a camera shop what they would recommend for this type of photography they always say Nikon D100/D200/D300 (depending on the year it was when I asked ...)

I use Sigma glass - a 17-70 2.3-4.5 and 70-300 4-5.6.

My main concerns when photographing motorsport with this setup are, as I expect you can guess, speed and accuracy of autofocus, and pics per second (a humble 2.7 at the moment).

After having read some reviews, there is nothing that would encourage me to buy a newer Pentax, based on those requirements. The "Flagship" K20D still only offers 3 fps for example. And Pentaxs own lenses usually do poorly in reviews, with the conclusion being that unlike other own brand makes, they are not worth the extra money.

So the point is this. Am I misinformed/miseducated and/or not getting the most out of my current setup, should I buy a faster lens, be it Sigma, Pentax or someone else, when I get the *ist DL back?

Or should I save up and buy a mid range Nikon eg D90 or second hand D80 (or maybe Canon, but have no experience of those at all. Nearly all my photo friends use Nikon, incl all the motorsports ones) and some fast glass for that instead?

I tested a D40x a week ago and found it to be quite fast but the lens was a Tamron 50-200 and it had some colour issues such as chromatic abberation. That can be fixed in PP but it would be nice to get a lens that doesn't have that prob to start with ...

This weekend I have been testing a D80 and same thing there, a Tamrom lens, this time 28-200. The camera could take up to 6 pics in a row but since I had no indication from the camera where the focus point was each time (and that's hard to see when you are panning) the pics were mostly unusable. Of course I am not used to this with my own setup anyway, so is that just my lack of pratice? Usually I just prefocus or manage to get the focus on the object so I can get one shot, I rarely use burst mode on my camera.

I have tested a D90 in a shop, with a Nikon 18-105, but to be honest I felt a bit limited in what I could test in there, esp with an expectant sales person in attendance ...

At least if I buy mid-range Nikon it'll be the same type of mem card, not looking forward to everything else having to be bought again ...

BTW, I bought the Pentax because it was the cheapest DSLR available at the time, and I didn't know I was going to get into motorsports in quite the way I have ...

I just feel a bit frustrated when I see what everyone else can do with their Nikons, I appreciate it's their skill as well but I do sometimes wonder what it would be like. I wasn't happy with my work from either Nikon test, I know it was the first couple of times using Nikons but only a bad workman blames their tools and after 2.5 years of digital photography I don't think I can blame the results purely on a different menu system ;-)

Sorry for the long ramble but any advice would be much appreciated. :)
 

JustAnEngineer

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Try an EOS 40D with an f/2.8 or faster lens attached. Six frames per second is impressive.
 

Mike_E

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D200s are cheap now. Get your hands on one of those and an f/2.8 80-200mm. Sigma is fine if you like that brand, although a used Nikon should be about the same price.

The AF is good and there is more to being fast than just the AF, buttons instead of menus for instance. Menus are for tourists, if you know what you want you shouldn't have to look for it now now should you? Push a button, spin a wheel and be done with it! ;)
 

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Nikon's auto focus is certainly faster than Pentax's. If you're worried about focusing speed, D300 is definitely an amazing performance camera.

I don't know where you read your reviews on Pentax lenses though, I've gotten to try out a lot of their glass, and a lot of sigma for that matter, and Pentax blows them out of the water. In all cases except maybe their 12-24 vs Sigma's 10-20. And Pentax's DA* lenses aren't exactly expensive, as far as lenses go. Their most expensive lens is one that's just being released, the 60-250 4.0, and it's still cheaper than Most of Nikon's pro glass.
 

JustAnEngineer

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...buttons instead of menus for instance. Menus are for tourists, if you know what you want you shouldn't have to look for it now now should you? Push a button, spin a wheel and be done with it! ;)
That's one of the things that makes the EOS 40D more ergonomic than a Rebel... as long as I can remember which buttons and wheels do what in the mode that I'm trying to use. :lol:
 
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polymoog

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Thanks for all your input guys :)

@Mike_E : yes I did appreciate the buttons on the D80, much better than having to go thru menus as I do with the Pentax :)

@Tolyk : cool to hear from another Pentax user. Maybe I'll look into a better Pentax lense to start with instead ...

Will have to do some research into D200s and EOS 40Ds :D
 

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Thanks for all your input guys :)

@Mike_E : yes I did appreciate the buttons on the D80, much better than having to go thru menus as I do with the Pentax :)

@Tolyk : cool to hear from another Pentax user. Maybe I'll look into a better Pentax lense to start with instead ...

Will have to do some research into D200s and EOS 40Ds :D

Keep in mind that Canon has a cheaper and broader range of telephoto lenses than Nikons. You can get a 70-200 f/2.8 for $1000 where as Nikon's only 70-200 is the 2.8 VR version. If you're not shooting in the dark, then IS and VR might not do you any good.

That and their other longer lenses are cheaper....if you're going to spend $5000 on a lens that is...in that case, just get a used Canon 1D MKIII. :mrgreen:
 
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polymoog

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Keep in mind that Canon has a cheaper and broader range of telephoto lenses than Nikons. You can get a 70-200 f/2.8 for $1000 where as Nikon's only 70-200 is the 2.8 VR version. If you're not shooting in the dark, then IS and VR might not do you any good.

That and their other longer lenses are cheaper....if you're going to spend $5000 on a lens that is...in that case, just get a used Canon 1D MKIII. :mrgreen:

Thanks for your comments, to be honest, the thought of spending $1000 on one lens frightens the life out of me ... :confused: I realise that good quality doesn't come cheap, but I am only am amateur, I have never earned anything for my pics.

I couldn't find any Canon own brand 70-200 for that price, they were all from the L series and cost more ...

Sigmas 70-200 F2.8 also costs just under $1000 though I understand the autofocus wouldn't work with my older Pentax. It does have some issues, primarily CA (which can be fixed in PS, a pain but you get what you pay for) and slight distorsion at the long end, but if I got the Nikon version and bought the D80 secondhand for $500? I know people keep saying Canon is best for sport, but the EOS 40D doesn't come cheap and I haven't seen any secondhand here in Sweden. Also, it is an older model, I don't know if compatability might be an issue in the future .. here it costs almost the same as the D90 (houses only), so if I got the D80 second hand and then upgraded if needed in a year or so ... as I said, I can use the same mem cards as well if I stick to (mid range) Nikon.

Has anyone tested that Sigma lens, is it worth the money for being a 2.8 or are the technical issues too much of a drawback?

As I said, I do appreciate everyones advice, I know I keeping sounding like Nikon, Nikon, Nikon, but I haven't made any decisions yet :)
 

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I know people who still use Canon 20D's. They're completely compatible with all the new stuff. I have a 30D which is now my back up. People are still using original 1D cameras.

To become incompatible, Canon would have to scrap the EF/EFS mount entirely and start over with a new like of cameras and lenses. I sincerely doubt they'd be dumb enough to doom their position in the market by doing that after they tried it once already.
 

Mike_E

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Here's a used Nikon for $500 Us http://cgi.ebay.com/NIKON-ED-IF-AF-NIKKOR-80-200MM-1-2-8-ZOOM-LENS_W0QQitemZ250393693614QQcmdZViewItemQQptZCamera_Lenses?hash=item250393693614&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1205|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318|301%3A1|293%3A1|294%3A50

For sports the VR/IS isn't going to help that much because you are going to need a fast shutter speed to stop the action.

This lens and a D200 Would run you around $1200 US and for that you get a Great camera and f/2.8 glass and 5 fps to boot.

A decent noiseware product and you can easily print at ISO1000 at a nice size (11X17). With a TC 1.7 you get 340mm at f/4 or so (yes, you nearly double the light needed with the multiplier but you double the light let in with each successive step up the aperture scale so it works out) and not f5. With the crop factor you get an f/4 208-510mm rig at 5 frames per second.

Not too shabby, wouldn't you say?
 
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Village Idiot

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Here's a used Nikon for $500 Us http://cgi.ebay.com/NIKON-ED-IF-AF-NIKKOR-80-200MM-1-2-8-ZOOM-LENS_W0QQitemZ250393693614QQcmdZViewItemQQptZCamera_Lenses?hash=item250393693614&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1205|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318|301%3A1|293%3A1|294%3A50

For sports the VR/IS isn't going to help that much because you are going to need a fast shutter speed to stop the action.

This lens and a D200 Would run you around $1200 US and for that you get a Great camera and f/2.8 glass and 5 fps to boot.

A decent noiseware product and you can easily print at ISO1000 at a nice size (11X17). With a TC 1.7 you get 340mm at f/4 or so (yes, you nearly double the light needed with the multiplier but you double the light let in with each successive step up the aperture scale so it works out) and not f5. With the crop factor you get an f/4 208-510mm rig at 5 frames per second.

Not too shabby, wouldn't you say?

The D200 is still the CCD sensor correct? If that's the case, he'd be better off with a 40D if he was worried about noise. Better noise performance and 6.5fps. That or go with a D300. That one has the CMOS?
 

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A month or so ago I sold my K100D and all of my Pentax digital equipment (which, to be fair, consisted of the lenses from the two-lens kit and all the accessories I didn't need anymore like SD cards and the camera bag it all went in). I'm currently enjoying my 35mm cameras (including a K1000, some Ricohs, a Minolta, and a toy Fuji) but planning on moving to Nikon in May. As a Pentax user (and vocal Pentax apologist), I can tell you that the Pentax bodies (especially the K20D) will keep up in many respects and are often a much better value than the competition. Unfortunately, one of the areas where the Pentax digital bodies have fallen hsort is sports and fast action shooting.

As for glass, I have to completely disagree about the lenses being reviewed poorly. Like all lens manufacturers, Pentax makes some entry-level lenses with entry-level performance. That said, the Limited series are some of the best primes ever made (look up reviews for the 77mm Limited if you don't believe me), and I've heard plenty of Canon/Nikon shooters wish that they could mount them on their cameras. In the sports department, the 50-135 f/2.8 has been praised as among the best in its class, and literally every review on B&H is five stars (not the most technical or credible reviews, but those have been excellent as well). When price is factored in, it really becomes a great option.

That said, the K20D "flagship" is not much of a motorsports body. If you had $4,000 tied up in nice K-mount glass, it would probably be worth it, but you don't. I think it makes sense to consider something like a D200 or 40D. I'll be buying a D200 (have you ever held one? That sold it for me), but you can read all sorts of reviews to decide what works for you at your price point. Your real decision is Pentax or Other, and I think Other makes a lot of sense.
 

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Not to start any Nikon-Canon wars, but be aware that in low light situations a CMOS sensor outperforms a CCD sensor in terms of IQ and noise. The difference is significant at ISO's of 800 and greater.

The cheapest Nikon with a CMOS sensor is the D90 ... all Canon dSLR's are outfitted with CMOS sensors.

The first thing to look for when chosing a camera is "Will the camera do what I need it to do ...", the second thing is IQ. The final thing to consider is "feel". (90%+ of all humans will be able to easily adapt to whatever camera they select.)

If you're planning to share lenses with your buds ... then maybe Nikon is a way to go ... but if you want the most bang for the buck in IQ ... then Canon is the answer.

Gary
 
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polymoog

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Thank you all for your input, really nice to hear what other people think. :D I guess I had better read some more reviews about Pentax lenses :blushing: I just remember the last few I read in a photography magazine here didn't do very well, but they were entry or mid level models.

BTW I'm a "she" not a "he"
hihi.gif


And I take a lot of panning shots as well, this is an example which I took (freehand) with the *ist DL + Sigma 70-300, last summer :

sat068.jpg


This is sharpened in PS but it would be nice to get this kind of result directly, if possible. (Also, the air intake is still soft)
 

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