I want to return to the SLR fold

Started Sep 3, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Simon Holzman
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I want to return to the SLR fold
Sep 3, 2011

When I was a nipper, I inherited 4,000 quid from my Grandma and blew the lot in a year - roughly a quarter on fast living, a quarter on a trip to Paris (from England) with some friends and the rest on my first decent camera; a Pentax Super-A. I loved that camera from the moment I picked it up. Compared with the Canon A1, it was a little lighter, but MUCH better balanced, it fit my hand perfectly and it worked the way I expected it to without me having to think.

About five years later, the LCD inside the viewfinder broke and, being married and working, I mostly dropped photography. I tried again a few years later with a wiz-bang Nikon (by then Autofocus was starting to dominate and Pentax had started to lag badly in that area), but the Nikon was heavy, unbalanced and, not only unintuitive, positively contrary - to go from Manual to Shutter Priority, you had to switch the setting on the lens of course, but also switch the knob on the body.

I flogged it and mostly stuck with point and shoots.

But I have a daughter and she does all these school shows and compact cameras are amazing but simply have too little light to make a decent picture of her without me being in the front row. Plus, while it is great to have a pocket-sized camera always with me, the pictures are always snapshots. Good, bad, cute, funny... not complaining, but still snapshots. I feel the need for something with more Oomph.

Reading the reviews, Canon seems to be at the fore-front still, but every time I pick up one of their cameras, they are bulky, plasticky and they don't balance right. Even with an SLR, if I am walking down the street and see a great candid shot, I want to be able to raise the camera single handed and take the shot.

The Pentax SLRs seem to have caught up on the AF side and on the rest of the technology, give or take (mostly down to how you use the camera... it' ain't a camcorder so the limitations of video mode don't bother me while the great dynamic range IS important to me. I looked at a couple of Pentaxes a few months back and they fit my hand just right, balanced perfectly and all the buttons did what I expected, unlike the Canons and Nikons I also looked at.

Wierd though it may be, one had this great feature of zooming in when I half pressed the shutter so I could check the focus and confirm that it was focusing on what I wanted. I think this was the K-r, but I was just browsing at the time and (incorrectly) expected to be able to look at more Pentaxes in my hometown (now Palm Springs, CA) so I did not make a note. Thus, can anyone confirm whether this feature is only on one model or on others and, since I may not always want it although it really didn't seem to slow the shot much, whether it can be disabled ?

In my 35mm days, I lived with a 35-80 for daily regular use and a 75-200 zoom for events. I hardly ever pulled my 2X teleconverter out of my bag although I had one just in case. I mostly took streetlife shots or pictures at concerts and sporting events (not high speed; football and cricket mostly, with a bit of Equestrian events, but oriented around the situation rather than the action). I would like the option of some landscape and candid wildlife as well.

My budget is probably $1,500 to $2,000, but I'd like to keep it to the low end of that... got a wife and kid ! I'd expect to need a similar zoom range maybe to 300mm equivilent and a decent hotshoe flash that can handle TTL and fill-in and can be tilted to soften the light. In my Super A days, I had Sigma lenses as well as Pentax, so I'm not fixated on all Pentax all the time if the quality and price are right, especially since the available range from Pentax seems rather limited currently.

I am not in any great rush to buy, so can wait and see what is released in October, if anything.

From what I can see, the K-r seems to be the best choice for me - I would prefer that it took 1080 video however - I may not use it much, but when I do... The fewer metering points probably won't matter - I think the Super A only had 1 ! The slightly more limited viewfinder view may matter if I find myself using it but I can always crop the final image. The K-r is lighter, which is normally a plus, but it may lose balance with the long zoom. The Weather Proofing on the K5 is a nice to have, but I suspect that, like the Super A, the K-r is fine in light rain so long as you wipe it down with a soft cloth before packing it away.

Beyond that, any thoughts or suggestions ? Not sure when or if I'll be able to get my hands on another one before I actually buy it - there don't seem to be any Pentax dealer left outside major cities in America, so I may have to go the mail order route and I am relying on you guys to keep me from going too far astray !

Thanks !

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