K20D, is it worth buying now?

Started Sep 19, 2011 | Discussions
cutterpup
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K20D, is it worth buying now?
Sep 19, 2011

When I was shooting film my favorite camera had been the Pentaz PZ1. When I switched to digital i could not afford the K10D and bought an istDS. Well, I'm finally going to upgrade and am trying to reconcile what I want with what I can afford. What I can afford is a new K-r, or a used 20D or with a stretch, possibly a used K-7. What i want is a camera that feels and handles more like the old PZ1 rather than the istDS.

So my question is simple. Is the 20D even worth considering anymore?

hayslip
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In reply to cutterpup, Sep 19, 2011

cutterpup wrote:

When I was shooting film my favorite camera had been the Pentaz PZ1. When I switched to digital i could not afford the K10D and bought an istDS. Well, I'm finally going to upgrade and am trying to reconcile what I want with what I can afford. What I can afford is a new K-r, or a used 20D or with a stretch, possibly a used K-7. What i want is a camera that feels and handles more like the old PZ1 rather than the istDS.

So my question is simple. Is the 20D even worth considering anymore?

Sorry I don't know much about the Pz1 or istDS, but I've used a K20D for years and love it. It was a huge, great step up from the K100D I started with. Faster focussing, better ISO, better frame rate and much more. Tried a K7 when they came out, but the ISO wasn't enough of an improvement for me to bite. Have a K5 now and love it to.

If I had to pick now between the K20D and K7, I would stretch to get the K7. I like the body better, faster focussing and better frame rate among other improvements.

Just my opinion.

Peace - Roger Hayslip

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Underdog 3000
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Re: K20D, is it worth buying now?
In reply to cutterpup, Sep 19, 2011

Is your intent to prevent a door from closing?

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CharlieDIY
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Re: K20D, is it worth buying now?
In reply to Underdog 3000, Sep 19, 2011

Underdog 3000 wrote:

Is your intent to prevent a door from closing?

So the K20D is a doorstop now?

That is beyond silly.

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james laubscher
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Re: K20D, is it worth buying now?
In reply to CharlieDIY, Sep 19, 2011

CharlieDIY, that seems more like a sense of humour to me and yes, that is how 'humour' is meant to be spelled.

Back to the question - K20 is out of date - of course you can take pictures with it but the newer models offer:

better noise signature,
better AF,
better exposure metering,
extended iso range,
better live view.

all of the above are significant, not minor improvements.

The k20 has the mass of a brick - sometimes useful for using with long lenses for stability but a real pain in the neck, literally, if you plan to walk around with it. Or use it as a door stopper!

The K20 belongs to the history of Pentax cameras. Unless you are a recidivist or a luddite, why consider it when there are so many advantages to the KX or K5?

CharlieDIY wrote:

Underdog 3000 wrote:

Is your intent to prevent a door from closing?

So the K20D is a doorstop now?

That is beyond silly.

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Gerry Winterbourne
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Re: K20D, is it worth buying now?
In reply to cutterpup, Sep 19, 2011

cutterpup wrote:

When I was shooting film my favorite camera had been the Pentaz PZ1. When I switched to digital i could not afford the K10D and bought an istDS. Well, I'm finally going to upgrade and am trying to reconcile what I want with what I can afford. What I can afford is a new K-r, or a used 20D or with a stretch, possibly a used K-7. What i want is a camera that feels and handles more like the old PZ1 rather than the istDS.

Digital is different enough from film that you'll never get a full match. I started with a DS and never liked the single-dial controls, which need a lot of menu-diving. The twin-dial controls of K10/20, K-5/7 are (for me) much, much better. So if it is this aspect of your DS you don't like, you need to avoid the K-r because although it is better in many ways it still shares the single-dial control system.

So my question is simple. Is the 20D even worth considering anymore?

Yes, it's certainly worth considering. In terms of useability and IQ it was among the best when it came out; and that was pretty good. OK, newer models are better but for the great majority of shots you won't see a difference.

However, even though it is worth considering I'd actually recommend a K-7 instead. On paper the K-7's IQ is a small step bacweard from the K20 but in practice I've never been able to see a difference (I have carried both together to save changing lenses so I have a fair number of cpmparable shots). K20 and K-7 are both heavier than PZ-1 and DS (800g and 750g compared to 650g and 605g). The K-7 feels a lot lighter than the K20 even though there's only 50g difference.

I used a K10 and then K20 (identical handling) for 2.1/2 years. After the first day with my K-7 I found going back to use the K20 felt awkward and clunky - the K-7 is generally more refined.

A couple of posts have suggested that the K20 is a brick. These people obviously haven't compared it with, say, the Nikon D300 or basic FF models but it certainly feels noticably bigger in the hand than other Pentax models. Some people like this because it helps them balance bigger lenses: I hold bigger lenses under the barrel so I've never wanted a heavier body. It's worth thinking about your own preference.

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Lars Holte
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Re: K20D, is it worth buying now?
In reply to cutterpup, Sep 19, 2011

cutterpup wrote:

When I was shooting film my favorite camera had been the Pentaz PZ1. When I switched to digital i could not afford the K10D and bought an istDS. Well, I'm finally going to upgrade and am trying to reconcile what I want with what I can afford. What I can afford is a new K-r, or a used 20D or with a stretch, possibly a used K-7. What i want is a camera that feels and handles more like the old PZ1 rather than the istDS.

So my question is simple. Is the 20D even worth considering anymore?

Since you have managed to stay with the istDS for so long, I think the K20D is worth considering, if you can get one for considerably less than say the K-7.

IQ is great, high iso performance is better than the DS and much better than the K10D, dual control wheels and separate green button will be a great step forward, as will a larger and better LCD screen.

[Edit: why considerably less, when I still like my K20D? - because the K20D belongs to an older generation than the latest generation, magnesium body K-7 and K-5, and the price ought to reflect that]

I used the istDs for a couple of years and still use it when light weight and compactness is a consideration. Otherwise I use the K10D and the K20D and like both a lot. Haven't upgraded to K-7 or K-5 yet, so I must be a recidivist or a luddite

The K-7 didn't tempt me much, as the K20D was so good and shared the same layout as the K10D.

The K-5 is very tempting, though, as it as come down considerably in price lately ...
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Jonathan Mac
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Re: K20D, is it worth buying now?
In reply to Lars Holte, Sep 19, 2011

I would take a used K20D or K7 over a new K-r any day. People go on about improvements (and that canĀ“t be denied) but ignore what has been lost in that time (at that price) - great handling & really solid build.

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welshwizard
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Re: K20D, is it worth buying now?
In reply to Lars Holte, Sep 19, 2011

YES!

I still have my K20D and haven't felt the need to upgrade to the K7 or K5, since the cost to upgrade would cancel out the benefits, and I think both K10D and K20D have stood the test of time extremely well.... if you overlook the fact that AF and FPS have improved immeasurably since the launch of the K20D, both still take excellent images. Both cameras are relevant today if you are not interested in Live view or video.

Did the K20D have fewer problems on launch than the K5 or K7? Thus, if you are in the market for a used camera I would be more relaxed with a K20D knowing it's less likely that it will have been returned to Pentax for replacement/repair.

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cutterpup
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Re: K20D, is it worth buying now?
In reply to welshwizard, Sep 19, 2011

Thank you all for your replies..I did forget to mention that I did not factor on live view or video as it never occured to me to want them. I still have some time to think. And think i will.

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newmikey
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In reply to cutterpup, Sep 19, 2011

cutterpup wrote:

What I can afford is a new K-r, or a used 20D or with a stretch, possibly a used K-7. What i want is a camera that feels and handles more like the old PZ1 rather than the istDS.

So my question is simple. Is the 20D even worth considering anymore?

It most certainly IS. The newer models have all improved ISO capability with the exception of the K-7 which fails to impress. I still love the feel and stability of the K20D and the way it handles with some of the bulkier glassware around. Its IQ is nothing to be ashamed off right up to ISO800, more so if you shoot RAW to squeeze the last bit of resolution out of its 14.6 MP.

The K5 is extremely tempting but like you, live view and video really don't mean much to me and pixel/dollar rate doesn't come close to the K20D.

The only reason to want a K5 over a K20D/K7 would be said high-ISO performance but if you are on a tight budget you should find the K20D a tempting proposition, miles ahead of your current gear.

Good luck with your choice...

Mike

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wll
wll
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it sure is !
In reply to cutterpup, Sep 19, 2011

Yes, have a few of them. Just used one to do our 2012 catalog.

I have the K-5 also, and that is in a league by itself, .... I have K20D's after I had K10D's (which i was never happy with, very poor high ISO noise).

I did not buy the K-7 becasue high ISO noise was worse than K20D.

K20D does not do video and live view is bad, but as a camera it offers full controls, good high ISO ability, ability to use battery pack (for me very important), and is a workhorse camera body.

Enough said :- )

wll

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Gerry Winterbourne
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Re: K20D, is it worth buying now?
In reply to cutterpup, Sep 19, 2011

cutterpup wrote:

Thank you all for your replies..I did forget to mention that I did not factor on live view or video as it never occured to me to want them.

I've never had any interest in video (nor Super 8 film before that). However, LV can be very useful in some situations:

1. It allows you to get shots from places you can't see through the OVF. Without LV this would be a shot of some cars with parts of a cathedral behind.

2. In poor light the LCD compensates and looks brighter so you can compose a shot when the OVF just looks black.

3. It is useful for fine focus. This is especially true on a tripod; it is really helpful for macro shots.

The K20 was the first Pentax body with LV and it wasn't that good. For use 1 it is as useful as any later model; for use 2 it is OK; for use 3 it is sometimes better than using the OVF but just as often it is worse.

The K-7 is far better, partly because the LV processing has improved but also because the rear LCD is far better (920k v 230k dots). This is what a magnified view for fine focus looks like on K20

compared to K-7

These are 8X magnification extracts (the limit for K20; K-7 goes to 10X) and this is the shot itself

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brecklundin
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Charlie...you are correct the K20D is a wonderful body to buy
In reply to CharlieDIY, Sep 19, 2011

If a person has $400 to spend I don't think there is a better body to buy. I loved my Canon 40D and liked the 50D as well, but when it comes to image detail the K20D is so much better. I don't need lightning fast AF and find the AF in my the K20D just fine for how I use a DSLR.

I think sometimes people forget that the only reason the new bodies come out are not because people need the features but just to sell you something else. We not need most of the ancillary features added to bodies these days. What we all can use are advanced AF systems, bigger and brighter view finders to aid in manual focusing (but see companies don't want us buying old MF glass as it's just another lost sale to them if they improve that very important component so they don't.)

Sure there are changes in the K7 and K5 that are handy or fun, but really the changes or additions won't make a person's photos better.

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newmikey
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In reply to brecklundin, Sep 19, 2011

brecklundin wrote:

I think sometimes people forget that the only reason the new bodies come out are not because people need the features but just to sell you something else. We not need most of the ancillary features added to bodies these days. What we all can use are advanced AF systems, bigger and brighter view finders to aid in manual focusing (but see companies don't want us buying old MF glass as it's just another lost sale to them if they improve that very important component so they don't.)

You know you are right and I fully agree. Companies need something to make their customers change model every 18 months so they come up with stuff we didn't know we needed and they avoid stuff we really do need so they can pop that up when the crazy-ideas-well runs dry!

When DSLR's went movie, up came a whole new gadget industry with stabilized mounts, viewfinders, LCD screens, directional microphones etc. etc.

Sure there are changes in the K7 and K5 that are handy or fun, but really the changes or additions won't make a person's photos better.

Again, absolutely correct. Almost 90% of my images are shot at ISO400 or less. There are moments when I yearn for the high-ISO capabilities of the K-5 but they wouldn't impact those 90% anyway.

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audiobomber
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Re: K20D, is it worth buying now?
In reply to james laubscher, Sep 19, 2011

james laubscher wrote:

Back to the question - K20 is out of date - of course you can take pictures with it but the newer models offer:

better noise signature,
better AF,
better exposure metering,
extended iso range,
better live view.

all of the above are significant, not minor improvements.

I have a K20D and K-x.

  • The K-x has better noise performance by 2/3 stop. Nice, but not that big a deal.

  • The K-x has better AF in dim light. In decent light they are equal.

  • The K20D has more consistent and more accurate metering.

  • Extended ISO range means nothing. Boosting ISO beyond 6400 gives exactly the same results as boosting sensitivity in post processing.

  • Live view is better on the K-x and it has movie mode (which I've used a couple of times in two years).

  • K-x has faster frame rate (4.7 vs 3 fps), a feature I use rarely

A wash:

  • K20D has better white balance in daylight, K-x has better white balance in tungsten

  • K-x is more portable, K20D more balanced with larger lenses

The K20 belongs to the history of Pentax cameras. Unless you are a recidivist or a luddite, why consider it when there are so many advantages to the KX or K5?

The K20D is my main camera because of superior features vs the K-x

  • Superb controls and handling; buttons for SR, metering mode, AF select, User & TAv modes

  • Auto-focus adjust

  • Weather resistance

  • Works with flash cord (K-x doesn't. I've heard others mention this)

  • Battery grip

  • My little white K-x looks silly in a flash bracket

When I buy a new body, the K-x will go and the K20D will stay. The K20D is a better body for my uses.

To the OP, don't bother with K-x and K-r level. Go for the more important upgrades offered by the upper level bodies. You should look at K-7 vs K20D pricing. The K-7 has improved AF, more fps, more useful live view, and video capability. The only advantage the K20D has over the K-7 is about 1/3 stop of sensitivity. In your position I'd go for the K-7. It will be an upgrade over your DS, in every possible way.
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Faintandfuzzy
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In reply to cutterpup, Sep 19, 2011

I used my K20D for a two week trip to Death Valley and Lone Pine. With the 16-50, it is a superb combo for landscapes.

Here's two examples. The arch was printed on an Epson 9800 to 32"x40". The dunes was set up originally for 24x36....but I cropped top and bottom by 2" to make a slight panorama at 20x36.

They turned out as good as I could expect a 15mp sensor to perform. My wife owns the Pentax K-x, which is basically the same as the K-r. While the K-x is a decent camera, and performs better at high iso, for most shooting, the K20D is the better.

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Fl_Gulfer
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Re: You bet it is!
In reply to Faintandfuzzy, Sep 19, 2011

I own the K-5, K-R, K100D and had the K20D and the K-7 If you can't afford the K-5 then get the K20D,, also If you have Big hads you will like the K20D better than the K-7. I have large hands and I couldn't hold the K-7 or K-5 without the Optional Grip. I also liked the K20D Image Quality a little better than the K-7, don't ask me why..
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Gerry Winterbourne
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Too much cynicism
In reply to brecklundin, Sep 19, 2011

brecklundin wrote:

I think sometimes people forget that the only reason the new bodies come out are not because people need the features but just to sell you something else.

No doubt this is sometimes true, but most often makers improve their equipment because they want to provide a better service. New buyers (I mean new entrants to any sphere of activity) want the best that is technically feasible at a price they consider reasonable. This is the main driver for innovation.

Yes, makers are happy when older users want to upgrade but to suggest this is their only motive is plainly wrong and suggesting it smacks of over-ripe cynicism.

Apply your logic from the start of photography and we'd still be spreading our own chemicals on aluminium sheets. Like most of us, you don't want to do this so you've settled on using a particular level of technology. You could have picked a lower level but chose not to. You were happy to buy all the innovations that makers have selfishly introduced since Daguerre just so they could sell them to you.

We not need most of the ancillary features added to bodies these days.

We don't need cameras full stop - mankind durvived without them for a few million years. Look at this: it's a slide my Dad took about 1956. When he first showed it he said but there are horses running down that course".

It stuck in my mind (I was 14 at the time) that it was useless to take a photo if you couldn't see anything. 50 years later my brother scanned a load of Dad's slides. As soon as we saw this Dad and I said in unison "you can't see them but ..." The point I'm making is that he could remember what he saw so memory did the trick, not the camera. And I could remember the photo, if not what he saw.

Of course, we want photos for all kinds of reasons. One is to show what we saw to friends and family. With a bit of PP I got this and for the first time in 50 years I saw what Dad was trying to show,

And as I said above, we generally want kit that lets us take them was well as possile.

What we all can use are advanced AF systems, bigger and brighter view finders to aid in manual focusing (but see companies don't want us buying old MF glass as it's just another lost sale to them if they improve that very important component so they don't.)

More unwarranted cynicism. The reason makers don't provide brighter OVFs is the ampount of light that falls on an APS-C sensor (FF VFs are brighter). It is possible to make brighter VFs using EVF technology, and makers are putting a lot of effort into this. Quite a few of the new adapters are MF only, so using MF lenses is getting easier.

Sure there are changes in the K7 and K5 that are handy or fun, but really the changes or additions won't make a person's photos better.

I disagree for several reasons:

Fine focus using LV is much more accurate (using MF - another thing that negates your previous point). My macro shots have improved since I was able to do this.

We are all human and sometimes get things wrong. The K-5 is much more accommodating and allows decent inal images that with other cameras would be poor.

Sometimes the improvements aren't obviousin adjacent iterations but my K-5 and K-7 produce images that have better detail and colours than my DS. (I'm separating out the improvements that come from my own increased skill in PP - I often go back to reprocess my older shots and what I say is on like-for-like comparisons).

Sometimes having any shot is better than having none. Although the proportion is small (under 10%) there are shots that I take with my K-5 that the K20 (and K-7) just could't manage.

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Gerry

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Benjamin Kanarek
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Re: Too much cynicism
In reply to Gerry Winterbourne, Sep 19, 2011

All of my last VOGUE & Harper's BAZAAR shoots were done with the K20D. I will upgrade to the next generation after the K5 when that becomes a reality.
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