Random DSLR questions/thoughts

Don Simon

TPF Noob!
Jul 4, 2005
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Heeelp! After borrowing a few DSLRs, and trying out a few more in shops (and thus angering assistants who know I'd buy it online anyway) I'm still none the wiser about what to go for. My problems here are...
  1. I'm invested in Pentax glass (both K-mount and screw covering most focal lengths).
  2. I'm semi-invested in Minolta AF glass (a couple of lenses).
  3. My budget is limited; I can afford to spend up to around £600 for a body and can't afford to buy into a completely new lens mount yet.
Now I refer to the first two as problems because I'm dubious about how good Pentax's DSLRs are, and while I'm less so about the digital Minoltas the company is gone and I'm wondering if it's a good idea to buy into that system not knowing how good or affordable Sony's compatible lenses and accessories will be.

I've tried the Nikon D50 and D70 and been very impressed by both, however I have no Nikon glass at all and for that reason I don't think I'll be going for a Nikon DSLR.

Canon is another matter; the 20D looks so good in every way that I'd be prepared to spend my whole budget on the body and just use m42 lenses with an adapter until I could afford some better lenses later (I could then use Canon, Nikon and M42 lenses). On the other hand if I went for the 20D I would definitely spend my whole budget on the body, and even then I'd be lucky to find it for the price.

Meanwhile Pentax would be the best from an economic point of view since I wouldn't have to buy any new lenses at all. On the other hand I'm very unsure about their current *ist range. I've only tried one (the DL) and am having great difficulty understanding why the DL2 currently sells for £350 new (a price that's pretty much unheard of for DSLRS here) while the original DS sells for up to £200 above that. Is the DL2 such a bad camera that they can only sell it for that price, or is it more a case of it being good value for the money? I'm also not sure why none of these cameras go below 200 iso, and am wondering whether that would bother me as much in practice as it does in principle - are there any *ist users here? Does the lack of lower iso levels bother you? And why isn't the DS2 sold in the UK?

Finally, the Konica Minoltas. Both the 7D and the 5D look like great cameras to me. I could use my existing Minolta glass as well as M42 (again with an adapter). I tend to stick with a few good lenses so it wouldn't bother me that there's not as much range as with Canon or Nikon lenses. But should just the fact that there is no KM any more (and therefore no firmware updates etc) put me off?

Sorry for the length of the post and randomness of the questions... I know no-one can choose for me... but that's kinda what I was hoping for. :lol:

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.
I would stick with Canon or Nikon regardless of equipment owned or cost. I don't know if you heard or read but Pentax and Minolta are sellouts they hooked-up with Samsung and Sony to make there DSLRs. They may be good digitally, however I doubt if you'll ever see a lens, accessory lines and factory support like Canon and Nikon offer already. I look at it this way Canon and Nikon have been making professional cameras, lens and accessories for decades with no plans of selling out to a Tv, radio ,dishwasher and general electronics company. As a pro I am loyal to Canon...Hoped this helped a little ,good luck. I would **** die if I ever seen a Canon coffee pot..
With respect for Skully's opinion - 'sell out' is a game played by the rich and the principled. I mean, that's a great opinion, and I respect it, but it has nothing to do with cameras or glass.

You have Pentax glass. You have Minolta glass. Buying a Canon or Nikon system would be foolish for you unless you want to start over with lenses.

As to support - Pentax dSLRs currently support every single Pentax lens ever made. Canon cannot say that, Nikon cannot say that. And yes, I mean even Pentax 67 and 645 and M42 lenses with a simple adapter that Pentax makes.

Nobody else does that for their entire series of glass, period. Nikonians claim backward compatibility - yeah if you send the lens back to the factory to get rechipped and such things. I read one website that had people filing on the lens with a file for crying out loud. Not backward compatible. Pentax lenses - if they're K mount, you just mount them. If they are M42 or medium format lenses, you put the adapter on and then mount them. You still get TTL focus lock and TTL metering in AE on the *ist DS. Show me that on a Nikon.

And let's face it - the Pentax Super-Multi-Coated 50mm f/1.4 M42 mount lens is the best prime optic ever made in 50mm, ever, ever, ever. Nothing touches it. Not Leica, not Nikon, not Zeiss. It is the best lens ever made in 50mm. OK, OK, that's just my opinion...hehehehe.

I say this as a Canon fan. I've had Canon FL and FD mount bodies and lenses since high school way back in the '70's. I love Canon. But the EOS mount does not support the fine old prime FD mount lenses without losing infinity focus or putting a lens (reverse magnifier) in the path.

I bought my *ist DS a year or so ago, after a lot of looking and a lot of asking questions and reading reviews. I also liked the Minolta 7D like you, especially for the anti-shake body, but the difference in price was huge for me - nearly double.

I looked at the Canon Digital Rebel - the XT was not out at that time. The viewfinder was like looking at a postage stamp through a tunnel. I could see to frame and compose, but not to focus manually. Sorry, just can't do it. I found out later that the Digital Rebel has no pentaprism - it has a pentamirror - not as bright.

That's the major difference between the *ist DS and the DL - pentaprism versus pentamirror. If you're going to use existing Pentax glass, manual focus may be an issue for you. The DS has a user-removable focus screen (I can do it with my thumbnail if I'm careful). Pentax makes a number of screens for it, but no traditional film-based SLR split image rangefinder types - they claim it will mess up the AF and the AE. However, there are two third-party companies making them, people swear by 'em. I'm planning to get one...when I can afford it.

I think it is hard to go too far wrong with a good dSLR these days. If you were starting with no lenses and did not want to do manual focus, I'd say shoot, the sky is full of ducks. Canon is nice - the 20D is lovely. A friend has the Nikon D200, what a nice camera. But even as a life-long Canon fan, the Pentax sold me.

Yes, the ISO is only 200 at the lowest. I have not noticed a problem with that. However, the top ISO is 3200, and a clean 3200 it is, too. I use it all the time - no problems. I shot a couple of plays, ISO 3200 and prime glass on a tripod, using RAW - no problems with available light.

6.2 megapixel not enough? Yeah, you're probably right there. I can only print my *ist DS prints at 30 x 20 inches (LOL). However, truthfully, I have to be somewhat cautious in cropping - a scanned 35mm frame has much more cropping ability (I shoot digital and film).

I *think* that the only difference between the DS and the DS2 / DL and DL2 is that the LCD is bigger. I think. Could be wrong.

I think the price points are all confused because Samsung is in the middle now, apparently taking over the DS2 and DL2 and leaving Pentax with the newer K100, K110, and yet-to-be-named 10 megapixel dSLR and medium format dSLR. Of them, the K100 is known to have anti-shake in the body, sweet. The K110 seems to me to be more or less a DL2. Not sure what's different there.

I highly recommend the *ist DS (or DS2). The DL is fine, but I need the focusing ability for manual prime lenses as well as my AF kit. I need a backup dSLR, since I also shoot weddings. I am planning to pick up another DS, maybe used. I have 7,000 shots fired on my *ist DS in one year, and no problems at all to report.

PS - I also like the Sigma P-TTL flash for this camera, and by the by, SMC AF lenses for Pentax film cameras are dead cheap on eBay and man are they good glass. How about a nice 100-300mm SMC coated AF f4 for $30? That's what I got. With 1.5 crop factor, it's a monster bird lens.

PPS - If I had it to do over again right now, starting from dot, I'd also consider the Olympus Evolt E300 or E500. Really cheap body only, 8.2 megapixel, and lens adapters available from just about everything to the 4/3 lens mount system. What's not to like? Olympus never did a real AF mount of their own in film cameras, so no legacy film AF lenses to buy for cheap. Otherwise, nice kit.
Thanks for the replies. Skully that was one of the more, er, strident pro-Canon/Nikon posts I've seen in a while. :lol: Minolta a sell-out for hooking up with Sony? I wonder who made Nikon's sensors... :mrgreen:

As for support, one of the reasons I'm looking at a Pentax is I can use all my manual focus Pentax lenses on a Pentax DSLR and have TTL metering. As I understand it some Nikon DSLRs won't even work with Nikon's own manual focus lenses. They (along with M42 lenses) will work on a Canon however, which is why I've been considering a Canon although I ruled out Nikon pretty early. On the other hand the 350D and even 20D have viewfinders that IMO would make it difficult to focus manually... the same is not true of the Pentax DSLRs. The ability to manual focus is important to me since I have several good manual focus lenses in both Pentax K-mount and M42, including the f/1.4 Wigwam mentioned. With glass like that I have no real incentive to buy into Nikon just to spend much more on new glass that does the same job as the old glass. Which brings me to another point. Yes there are lots of Canon and Nikon lenses and anyone who's anyone uses them. But that's the problem. Everyone wants this Canon lens or that Nikon lens. Even used the prices are high. IMO the advantage of sticking with Pentax glass is that it's not popular enough for everyone to be after the same thing, yet it's not rare enough to be 'collectable', so the used prices are very reasonable indeed.

I'm still not sure about the whole 'sell-out' business. Why would it bother me that Pentax allows Samsung to rebadge their cameras? If the hardware remains largely unchanged then anyone who knows their stuff knows it's really a Pentax. If Pentax were having another company make inferior cameras and selling them as Pentaxes then I would understand, but they're not; Pentax made a quality camera and they're allowing Samsung to sell it as a Samsung. That doesn't undermine the quality of the product. And since when do either Minolta or Pentax make coffee pots?
Canon fan here who collects Pentax. Another vote for the Pentax with agreement to what Wigwam posted. Pentax K-mounts are very nice quality lenses and nothing to sneeze at. Since you stated that your are invested in K-mount's there is no reason to stray away from a system you know very well. Selecting a camera is as much a personal choice as a technical one. Nothing beats sticking to what you already know and comfortable with. The fact that every K-mount lens mounted to the newest Pentax body will be image stabilized is a huge plus.
Thanks for confirming my thoughts there. I'm keen to use my K-mount lenses, however my best lenses are M42 so I'd be willing to go for another mount if I could use M42s just as effectively with an adaptor. The image stabilisation you mentioned is definitely something I'm looking for. True the best form of stabilisation is a tripod, but then I can't carry a tripod with me all the time and I very much like the idea of being able to shoot handheld at slow speeds, which is not something I've ever been particularly good at. For me that probably narrows it down to the new 10mp models from Pentax or Sony. I'd like to see how effective the stabilisation is with the Pentax, whether Sony will come to their senses and give us back the ISO 3200 from the previous KMs, and of course how the viewfinders compare for manual focusing. I think I can manage to control my urge to buy until both of them are out... well, I hope so anyway... :lol:
Just to be clear - just about every modern dSLR will mount an M42 lens and have infinity focus with an adapter. I think Nikon may be the only one that cannot. So if you wanted M42 *and* body-based anti-shake, then you are looking at the newer Pentax K100D, the Sony Alpha (nee' KonicaMinolta) with Super SteadyShot and the forthcoming Leica dSLR based on the Olympus Evolts with OIS.

The newer K100D from Pentax with anti-shake is *not* the 10mp model - it is also the 6.2 mp model. The forthcoming 10 mp model has not been seen in completed form yet, I think, so we don't know if it has a) anti-shake or b) glass pentaprism rather than penta-mirror.

Well anyway, there are a lot of good choices out there. I made my choice and I'm happy, but I would have also liked the KonicaMinolta 7D if I had had the bucks...for M42.

With K-mount lenses as well - the decision was made for me - simple! And I love that everything Pentax just works. No fun and games, no metering problems, no setting weird settings or compensation or whatever - just pop it on and take photos. Nifty.
Nikon's dSLRs AFAIK will take recent Nikon lenses and not a hell of a lot else. I find that very limiting and it's one of the reasons I find it hard to understand the constant pushing of Nikon on the basis of lens availability.

I thought I read somewhere that the new Pentax will have anti-shake like the K100D, but I'm probably wrong. I hope it does, and I hope it has a pentaprism too. Even so the choice between that and the Sony will be hard and I don't really mind waiting to try both... at least that way I can wait to see if the price drops a bit too... and why an expensive 10mp model instead of a great value 6mp? From a practical point of view I honestly don't know, I guess I'm just greedy. :mrgreen:
Zaphod, you've got it backwards. Canon DSLRs will only take their latest series of lenses. Nikon's maintained the F mount just about forever - take any Nikon Lens AI or newer and it'll mount and work on any Nikon DSLR. It won't meter light properly except on the D200 and D2 series, but it will shoot just fine in Manual Mode. The CPU lenses (1984 and newer or so) will work flawlessly on any Nikon DSLR.
Only back to 1984? Well I guess that's not too bad; only nearly 10 years less backwards compatibility than Pentax K-mount. :lol: Also you said yourself that with two exceptions you won't get TTL metering with the older Nikon lenses - and yet it seems several people here are using older Nikon lenses with TTL metering... on their Canons! Between the two brands I'd personally choose a Canon and have the choice of modern Canon autofocus lenses, classic Nikkor manual focus lenses (which I'd rather have than the older Canon glass) and M42. But then personally I wouldn't have either, for reasons mentioned elsewhere in the thread.
Zaphod, to use the old Nikons on Canons you need a $200 Adapter ring. If for some strange reason you really want to use a manual focus lens on a Nikon you can get it chipped for about half of that.
The fact that you say "for some strange reason" suggests we're not really getting anywhere with this discussion. Choosing to use manual focus lenses is a preference, and one shared by a not insignificant number of people. I like to have more control over focus than AF allows. And apart from anything else it is often much cheaper to buy older lenses used, and those older lenses are often very good indeed. If for some strange reason I really wanted to use slow zoom lenses instead of my fast primes, it would cost me more.

By the way, I think you made a typo and added an extra '0' to the price of the adapter ring. You can easily get one for $20.
Mr. Galactic president:

First, as a Km 7D owner, I too am skeptical of the Sony system.
As for Pentax, go with what you feel comfortable with.
As for the KM mount system, I took it for several reasons, and have even played with 'jumping ship' to Nikon or Canon.

I wanted to see what Minolta had in the way of a DSLR, and was pleasantly surprised with the result. The Anti-shake feature is what sold me, and given that I can mount any lens PERIOD onto the camera, WITH the anti-shake feature, I get the best of both worlds. (I have several Kiev 88 lenses, M42's w/respective adapters.) So there is a major advantage there. Minolta Glass isn't going away anymore than Small Block Chevy's are. The current as well as former glass is just fine, and can be had at good prices. Just have to roll with the current punches.

Recently I help a N/D2x, and a C/10D. I liked the 10D more than the D2x because it fits my hand. The weight was heavy, but that is what I liked.
Personally, I really was not impressed with the Nikon. The Canon seemed more like a 'Pro' camera than the Nikon did. (Sorry guys.)

But that is just me.

i am also a bit of a gun nut, and I have been asked advice by many a people who want advice on what 'toy' to buy. I always tell them DO NOT buy the latest and greatest just because the reviews said it was good.

I Tried this with a Ruger P89, and was sorely disappointed. I wound up buying a 1911 instead.

Stick with what you know, and what you have. The Pentax is something I know little about, so I will limit my comments.
First of all, thanks for addressing me by my proper title. :mrgreen:

I'm prepared to give Sony a chance, so I'll try the Alpha when it comes out. I'm definitely following your advice about sticking with my existing lens mounts though, so it's now just between KM/Sony and Pentax.

Thanks for the gun advice too, but I don't think it will be necessary - I think Tiberius and myself will just agree to disagree :lol:
My experience is the opposite as Wigwam's. I've always been a hardcore Pentax fan, with lots of Pentax screw mount, K-mount, and and 67 lenses, and I've always been a Canon hater. But when it came to DSLRs I had to go with Canon (20D), even though it meant buying into the hugely expensive Canon lens and accessory system. It hurts to say so, but the images from the Canon DSLRs just looked better ( particularly at higher ISO ), and the future of Pentax as a camera manufacturer is questionable.

While backwards compatibility was cool with film cameras, I think that digital technology is going to steer well away from traditional notions of camera and lens design in the near future. Whatever lenses or accessories you buy today, the chances of it being compatable with anything 10, or even 5 years from now may be as likely as mounting a 35mm SLR lens on a TLR or view camera (it can probably be done, but it's not meant to work that way).

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