Why use Pentax?

Started Mar 18, 2013 | Questions
Jake64
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Why use Pentax?
Mar 18, 2013

I am a Nikon user but I am far from a fanboy.  My question is, why do people choose Pentax over big hitters like Nikon and Canon? I don't think I have ever seen anyone using a Pentax DSLR in person or in a photo. I have combed through dozens of photos of photographers but they all apper to be using Nikon and Canon products. I also looked into wedding and studio photographers. The ones that do mention what equipment they use, it is never Pentax.  Is that initself the allure; that few use it and it feels more special?

Thanks!

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bettyswolloks
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Re: Why use Pentax?
In reply to Jake64, Mar 18, 2013

I picked Pentax because it just made the most sense. When I was shopping for a decent DSLR, the K10 jumped out at me because it had in camera sensor shift, a feature that the others charge a premium to get. The range is solid to, with the canikon crowd they have a top of the range camera for a week before they bring out another version of the same thing. With pentax the range is simple. I have a K10 which was top dog for a while, I jumped a few to the K7 then jumped again to the IIs. And as you say, there aint many pentaxians out in the wild, an exclusive club it is :O)

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steephill
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Re: Why use Pentax?
In reply to Jake64, Mar 18, 2013

If you want to see what Pentax cameras and photographers are capable of try Pentax Photo Gallery .

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klavrack
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Re: Why use Pentax?
In reply to Jake64, Mar 18, 2013

I like my Pentax system, but wouldn't try to talk you into the expense of changing systems.

Pentax strengths--

-IB stabilization gives stabilization to any legacy lenses.

-K-5iis or its replacement arguably the best ASPC on the market

-Limited prime lenses, if that kind of shooting appeals to you

-about 25000 more shots per sensor cleaning than the D600

Weaknesses--

-B&M availability

-few lenses in mid-long telephoto range

-weaker flash system

-no full-frame path as yet

I'm probably overlooking many points both pro and con, but that's what occurs to me.

-relative unpopularity limits lens borrowing from friends, etc.

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MightyMike
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Re: Why use Pentax?
In reply to Jake64, Mar 18, 2013

When i switched from bridge camera to DSLR years ago there were a few reasons i chose Pentax, those reasons aren't necessarily the reasons i will stay with Pentax however.

1) I didn't want to follow the crowd and buy a Canon, I'll admit this!

2) Nikon really just didn't have anything i wanted, seriously they were either lacking at the time or you had to pay big bucks to get something more desirable

3) The Pentax K10D at the time checked all the boxes i was looking for in a camera, both abilities and ergonomics

4) Just before i bought the K10D the Oly E510 came out and that gave me a little pause, I have to say i'm so happy i didn't go the Oly route.

Now little did i know back then that buying into a Pentax system would be the best photographic decision i was to make. I'm sure this would've been true of any brand but the Pentax allowed me to do so much more, learn so much more but on top of all the usual stuff...

it opened the door to using cheaper older manual focus lenses, it allows for focus trap, not just focus confirmation. The ability to have stabilization on all lenses, something i was used to with the bridge camera. The ability to experiment a lot more easily with my own optics projects. Also  the dreaded and yet wonderful LBA (Lens buying addiction) sure other brands claim it exists but with Pentax it infects nearly 100% of the users. Now i have a full list of lenses from 8mm to 800mm, AF and MF. I've played with many unique and different lenses, I have a collection of 1950's lenses i can still use. This collecting has spread into 4 35mm film SLR cameras from different eras, 3 medium format film cameras from different eras and a small auto 110 kit. The Pentax system has afforded me so many opportunities to explore and experiment that i couldn't imagine my life without Pentax. Now had i gone Canon or Nikon I still would've developed in photography, I'm sure i still would've experimented in optics but far less and I know I just wouldn't have had as much fun and growth over the last 6 years.

Pentax isn't for everyone but it sure hit the spot perfectly for me. No other camera company would've nurtured my growth on photography and photographic/optical understanding as Pentax did. If it weren't for the possibilities of the Pentax system I'm sure I wouldn't have stayed as enthusiastic about photography as I have. I'm also somewhat of a problem solver, the few lackings in the Pentax system became my problems to overcome, this is something i did in spades!

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Jake64
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Re: Why use Pentax?
In reply to klavrack, Mar 18, 2013

klavrack wrote:

I like my Pentax system, but wouldn't try to talk you into the expense of changing systems.

Pentax strengths--

-IB stabilization gives stabilization to any legacy lenses.

-K-5iis or its replacement arguably the best ASPC on the market

-Limited prime lenses, if that kind of shooting appeals to you

-about 25000 more shots per sensor cleaning than the D600

Weaknesses--

-B&M availability

-few lenses in mid-long telephoto range

-weaker flash system

-no full-frame path as yet

I'm probably overlooking many points both pro and con, but that's what occurs to me.

-relative unpopularity limits lens borrowing from friends, etc.

I am very happy with the Nikon system but I was just curious what Pentax owners have to say. It seems like it's just the Nikon/Canon show just about everywhere. I'm not just talking professionally. I work in a large tourist attraction and since I am a camera guy, I keep a keen eye on what products people are using to take photos. It's mostly Canons. Canons, Canons everywhere. All the young folk seem to have them and never anything above a 7D but most have the Rebel line. Here and there I willl see an older person with a semi pro Nikon. Never in my five years here, have I seen a Pentax.

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waxwaine
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Re: Why use Pentax?
In reply to Jake64, Mar 18, 2013

This is Photounivers, a youtube photographer guy that made a comparison between Pentax and Canon pro-gear. He sounds very clear for me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jH3WevFWbzw&list=UUnGQjVXHOC7lGSr3R9wxuaw&index=1

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BobORama
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Re: Why use Pentax? In body stabilization!
In reply to Jake64, Mar 18, 2013

Jake64 wrote:

I am a Nikon user but I am far from a fanboy. My question is, why do people choose Pentax over big hitters like Nikon and Canon? I don't think I have ever seen anyone using a Pentax DSLR in person or in a photo. I have combed through dozens of photos of photographers but they all apper to be using Nikon and Canon products. I also looked into wedding and studio photographers. The ones that do mention what equipment they use, it is never Pentax. Is that initself the allure; that few use it and it feels more special?

Thanks!

I like the K-5 as it allows you to combine several function / modes together in useful ways.   I use it foe time lapse, and being able to do a lot of the corrective work in camera is valuable - who wants to process 12,000 stills.

In body stabilization lets me use a prime lens made in 1950 and get stabilization.   This is a 400mm club:

Attached to my K-5...

That takes pictures like this HANDHELD using the in body stabilization.

( Yes, its a terrible picture, but no motion blur!   Imagine what a decent lens can do....   This is from a s-m-c Pentax A* 300mm f/4, again. hand held.   No post processing...

No, really, take a look at the original....

The ability to take a good, cheap, older lens and get another 2 or 3 stops out of it makes some nice glass affordable.

I was a Fuji shooter, and I'm still somewhat nostalgic for "Fuji colors" but I've found that some of the older Takumar lenses have color rendition that somewhat compensates.   Plus they are cheap, built like tanks, and are great for the time lapse work I like to do...   OMG a bird pooped on the lens as it was baking in the sun?   No big deal.

Its one of the more affordable weather sealed offerings on the market.

The NR tends to give a more film like appearance by reducing chrominance noise at the expense of luminance noise.   Luminance noise, while more visible, is also more natural, and we mentally filter it out better.   I love the way the K-5 deals with noise.

Anyway, the K-5 was my first digital from Pentax, and I'm still happy with the purchase 3 years later.

There are some bad parts to Pentax, namely its a niche brand.   Expens of new lenses, variety of new lenses.   I think Ricoh will eventually turn things around.   But Pentax has been struggling as a company for a couple decades.

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beholder3
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Re: Why use Pentax?
In reply to Jake64, Mar 18, 2013

Read this blog series from lensrentals:

https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2013/02/roger-buys-a-camera-system-refining-my-choices

And you'll see that even though Roger dindt choose the Pentax in the end, it was the only APSC that did make it to the finals.

And you can't say, he does not have a good insight into camera equipment.

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Jim in Hudson
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Re: Why use Pentax?
In reply to Jake64, Mar 18, 2013

Jake64 wrote:

I am a Nikon user but I am far from a fanboy. My question is, why do people choose Pentax over big hitters like Nikon and Canon? I don't think I have ever seen anyone using a Pentax DSLR in person or in a photo. I have combed through dozens of photos of photographers but they all apper to be using Nikon and Canon products. I also looked into wedding and studio photographers. The ones that do mention what equipment they use, it is never Pentax. Is that initself the allure; that few use it and it feels more special?

Thanks!

IMHO, the biggest reason you see Canons and Nikons everywhere is their retail presence and, to a lesser extent, their marketing.

At equal cost, a Pentax is fuller-featured and the image quality is tops. The Canon Rebel line doesn't use a pentaprism but instead a pentamirror. Go into any camera shop and you'll see the difference immediately. Also, Canon APS-C image quality lags behind Pentax and Nikon.  Last I looked, all of the lower tiered Nikons use pentamirrors, too.

Every Pentax DSLR has dual control wheels, weather-resistance, and in-body image stabilization. Hard to beat that.

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Russell Evans
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Re: Why use Pentax?
In reply to Jake64, Mar 18, 2013

Jake64 wrote:

I am a Nikon user but I am far from a fanboy. My question is, why do people choose Pentax over big hitters like Nikon and Canon? I don't think I have ever seen anyone using a Pentax DSLR in person or in a photo. I have combed through dozens of photos of photographers but they all apper to be using Nikon and Canon products. I also looked into wedding and studio photographers. The ones that do mention what equipment they use, it is never Pentax. Is that initself the allure; that few use it and it feels more special?

Maybe you should turn your observation around and wonder why you need to see other people using a product to feel safe about its use?

Most, if not all, Pentax shooters have bought into Pentax after looking at everything else. They found some combination of value that other brands didn't offer, although if you ask each one, I'll bet none will have the same combinations of reasons. If you think about the one thing all Pentax shooters have in common, it is the ability to see for themselves what works for them. No advertising, no sales pitch, no automatic peer acceptance just because of branding, they thought about it, maybe were about to try it, maybe they owned it from long ago, and still came to see it was a good choice for them.

I've seen a couple of people post they like owning a brand that others don't, and I've always thought it was a stupid reason to buy into Pentax. These people are worse than the marketing sheep that just buy what their neighbors buy, because they are really doing the same, just believing that they aren't. If you can't determine value for yourself, then I'm not sure how you can "live" the rest of your life.

Thank you
Russell

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markusm
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Re: Why use Pentax?
In reply to Jake64, Mar 18, 2013

Hi

Jake64 wrote:

I am a Nikon user but I am far from a fanboy. My question is, why do people choose Pentax over big hitters like Nikon and Canon? I don't think I have ever seen anyone using a Pentax DSLR in person or in a photo. I have combed through dozens of photos of photographers but they all apper to be using Nikon and Canon products. I also looked into wedding and studio photographers. The ones that do mention what equipment they use, it is never Pentax. Is that initself the allure; that few use it and it feels more special?

Thanks!

Well, you must be in the US. Here in Europe, there is always _someone_ else around with a Pentax

My first DSLR was (and is) the K-5. I didn't have any old lenses but had used my girlfriend's Canon from time to time. I wasn't happy at all with the Canon user interface (what's that wheel doing there?). If my girlfriend had had more lenses, I might have gone with Canon nevertheless. I considered a used 40D for a while as the 7D was really pricey. Also looked at a used Nikon D90. However, the K-5 really convinced me. Initially I thought it was too small, but after handling it for a while I found that it was really comfortable. And in contrast to Canon it had an intuitive interface. I also liked that the mode dial didn't have any special sports/night/panorama/... programs (that I wouldn't use anyway). The WR sealed the deal (pun intended).

And yes, a tiny part of the allure is using more "exotic" equipment

Markus

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CeeDee
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Re: Why use Pentax? Good Combos...
In reply to Jake64, Mar 18, 2013

K-5IIs + DA* 60-250mm

View original! Press below

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Cane
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Re: Why use Pentax?
In reply to Jake64, Mar 18, 2013

I think Canikons non-pro models both feel cheap compared to Pentax. And neither make the small metal Pentax limited's and pancake lenses. The Canikon lenses are usually big and usually plastic, unless you go top of the line. Canon finally made 1 pancake and Nikon doesn't seem the least bit interested in small sizes of anything.

I also never wanted to follow the herd. I could also get into a K-r with a better feel, image stabilization, in body lens motor, ability to use old Pentax glass, and better high ISO for a cheaper price than the equivalent Canikons. The body was also slightly smaller, and with the small lenses, was a way smaller package.

Bottom line, whenever I am at a store and play around with a Canikon, it just never excites me and never feels right. It always reminds me why I like Pentax, even when I am frustrated with them.

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SRT201
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In reply to Jake64, Mar 18, 2013

It all comes down to value. If the image quality was not there then there would be no excuse to shoot Pentax but it is.

So then it is a value equation. Since Pentax does not have to artificially differentiate 5 or 6 tiers of DSLR's you won't find yourself frustrated by the omission of obvious features just to make you buy the slightly better model. Pentax, AFAIK, has never produced a DSLR without spot metering.

Also, when you combine very high performance imagers with features like in-body lens stabilization then Pentax really starts to look good.

Yes, Canon and Nikon both make some great cameras. I'm not a fanboy either but for me Pentax made the most sense in the value equation.

PS - There are also other factors like ergonomics and size.  Here I think Pentax shines as well.  To get most of the capabilities of the K5 for instance you have to reach for one of the bulky tanks in either Canon or Nikon's stable.  No thanks.  I love the way the K-5 handles.

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math guy
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Re: Why use Pentax?
In reply to Jake64, Mar 18, 2013

The reason I bought into Pentax in the first place was comparing its entry-level body (K-x at that time) with those from Canon, Nikon, and Sony, I liked the in-body stabilization (also available on Sony), the customizability, and the ability to use legacy lenses.

The reason I have stayed with Pentax is simple: the DA 70 Ltd and DA 21 Ltd lenses. To be honest, I would probably like Nikon's flash system better. And if I were willing to upgrade to a better body, I imagine Nikon's AF system would be a little faster. But I just can't imagine giving up those two lenses. I'm sure Nikon has some great ones as well, but I don't think any other brand has anything like the limiteds -- fantastic IQ packed into pocketable lenses.

I could easily see myself adding a Nikon body to do some for-pay kids sports shooting. But for hiking/family/vacation shooting, I love my Pentax limiteds!

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klavrack
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Re: Why use Pentax?
In reply to Jake64, Mar 18, 2013

I would credit marketing efforts with much of that.  The number of Pentax dslr's I've seen around seems roughly proportional to the number of advertisements I've seen for them.  But again, the actual merits/demerits in my view are those I cited, and if I hadn't already had Pentax lenses, I'd likely have picked Canon, if for no better reason than my positive experience with their printers and scanners.

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In reply to Jake64, Mar 18, 2013
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judith1600
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Re: Why use Pentax?
In reply to Jake64, Mar 18, 2013

I very carefully considered all my options when I decided that when I retired it would be photography that would sustain me both finanically and emotionally.  Having used several different brands over the years (mostly Oly), I settled on Pentax to fulfill the above.

Pentax offers me the particular rendering in a photo that pleases me and my clients: it can be quite painterly when I want it to be.  I do not photograph sports or portraiture, however, my K-5 is capable of dealing with those subjects.  For what I do photograph on a pro basis, the prime lenses (31, 43, 77) are my workhorses.  Yes, I use 17-70, 50-135, 60-250 when called for, but the primes are my go-to lenses.  I consider them to be the abolute best for MY uses.

As for travel photography, the combo of K-5 and 21mm is unbeatable: it is light, battery life is exceptional so I can travel as lightly as possible, street photography is easily accomplished; shooting in all kinds of inclement weather is not problemmatic.  I have found Canon shots to be, occasionally, on the "plastic" side; Nikon doesn't do it for me; the larger DSLR Olys have finicky menus.

If I must err on the side of discretion, then I will take either my old Leica or a much newer Oly XZ-2.

It is not so easy to define what brand works for an individual.  I don't run with the herd; I prefer a certain look to my photos; I initially took the time to reflect on what would best suit my particular photographic needs - and went with that.

Have a look at Benjamin Kanarek's site.  He excels at fashion photography.  There are many others as well who use Pentax for what the conditions dictate at the time.

Regards,

Judith

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Mike Hiran
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Re: Why use Pentax?
In reply to klavrack, Mar 18, 2013

klavrack wrote:

I like my Pentax system, but wouldn't try to talk you into the expense of changing systems.

Pentax strengths--

-IB stabilization gives stabilization to any legacy lenses.

-K-5iis or its replacement arguably the best ASPC on the market

-Limited prime lenses, if that kind of shooting appeals to you

-about 25000 more shots per sensor cleaning than the D600

Weaknesses--

-B&M availability

-few lenses in mid-long telephoto range

-weaker flash system

-no full-frame path as yet

I'm probably overlooking many points both pro and con, but that's what occurs to me.

-relative unpopularity limits lens borrowing from friends, etc.

I would add to the pros:

size - pentax gear tends to be much smaller and lighter than their canikon equivalents.  which means I can carry more gear which means more lens options or I can carry the same gear further.

weather sealing - when I travel, who knows what the weather will be like, but I know I will not let weather stop me from taking pics of places I may never be at again.  and Pentax makes weather sealed lenses (a rubber o ring at the bottom of the lens does not make a weather sealed lens) that are affordable - their 18-55 and 50-200 are both below $250 ea.

ergonomics - many reviewers comment that Pentax DSLR's feel like they were designed by a photographer.  the controls are where they should be and the options to customize buttons are well thought out

value - take a look at the k30 for example.  it's a midrange camera that has weather seals, dual control wheels, pentaprism viewfinder, and focus peaking.  these are features you'd have to pay much more for in other brands, particularly nikon and canon.

in body stabilization - every lens I mount, even legacy glass, is stabilized.  if you ever shoot when light is dimming and you don't want to incur a noise/resolution penalty from bumping up the iso, you'll be glad you have this feature.  Plus it makes lenses smaller and lighter (and in theory less expensive, though that's not always the case)

Pentax Limited Primes - amazing picture quality, small size, awesome build quality.

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