Pentax as first DSLR?

Started Jul 17, 2013 | Discussions thread
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yardcoyote
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Pentax as first DSLR?
Jul 17, 2013

I recently made my first post over in the beginners' forum, but here's a recap: I was an enthusiastic amateur film photographer for many years, then stopped shooting entirely at the beginning of the digital age.  Last year I started a blog and began taking pictures again so I'd have something to post, using a point and shoot (Canon Powershot SX150 IS) and the camera in my iPod Touch.  Now, of course, I want something faster and better.  I am debating between going with a serious compact, probably the Fuji X20, since I like the optical viewfinder (and yes I do know it isn't a proper rangefinder, just a high quality point and shoot dressed as one), or jumping in with both feet and getting a DSLR.

I was assuming if I did that I would go with a Canon, probably the Rebel T3i, since the bodies and lenses are common as dirt and easy to find new and used at more or less reasonable prices, and the camera has a good reputation.  Then I saw that letter K ... and the old K mount fever was reignited.  Back in the day, I was all Pentax all the time-- slice me through and you'll still see "Asahi Pentax"  engraved on my heart.  I'm sure some of you feel the same way.

So what do you think of a K50 or K30 as a first DSLR? From looking at the specs, there is a lot to like about these cameras-- big bright rangefinders, image stabilization in the body, the AA battery option-- and the reviews seem to agree that they offer excellent IQ for the money, particularly for still photographers. The cameras are kind of weird looking, but in an interesting way, and I love the idea that I can get one that isn't black. But the lens selection seems to be skimpier than Canon's, and there are disturbing grumbles about declining optical quality.  Would you recommend buying into Pentax at this time?  If you have experience with both the Pentax and the Canon, which would you recommend to a DSLR newbie who has some basic knowledge of photography?

What are the major differences between the K50 and K30 in actual use?  The K30s seem to be being blown out and prices are dropping.  Would it be a mistake not to buy a K50?  How is the kit zoom to work with, and what are the differences, optically and in daily use, between the WR resistant version of that lens and the standard version?

And finally, how practical is it to use the old manual K mount lenses on a modern DSLR? My modest but optically excellent collection predates any kind of autofocus. If there is an easy way to use them to make interesting images, that will be a big boost to choosing the Pentax. I'm assuming if I am willing to do my own focusing, the camera will take care of the exposure, but I have no idea how that would actually work.  If I'm used to using a split image focusing screen, is something similar available on a DSLR?

Thanks ahead of time for answering any of these questions!

 yardcoyote's gear list:yardcoyote's gear list
Pentax K-30 Pentax smc FA 50mm F1.4 Pentax smc DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited Pentax smc DA 35mm F2.8 Macro Limited
Canon EOS 600D (EOS Rebel T3i / EOS Kiss X5) Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Fujifilm X20 Pentax K-30 Pentax K-50
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