K20d vs Nikon D90

Started Nov 3, 2009 | Discussions thread
photogerald Senior Member • Posts: 1,798
My K20D tips

Martin_UK wrote:

Thanks chaps.

I've been having a good fiddle with the camera tonight and I have a LOT to learn! It really is a step above anything I've used in the past wrt control and flexibility. I love the sensitivity priority mode - it just makes so much sense to have that on a digital camera. Why it isn't on other makes is a mystery. As you say the hyper programme is a revelation - it appears Pentax use "joined up thinking" when they design a camera (they must have a woman in charge of design and development!) - to actually design a system that effectively becomes mode dial independant is inspired.

The HyperProgram and HyperManual modes have actually been a signature feature of Pentax for quite a while - I enjoyed using these modes on my old PZ-1p back in the film days. I think that anyone who gets to understand these modes ends up loving them. As to why Canon or Nikon don't see the value in them, perhaps they felt that these would only confuse more "average" users?

The new sensitivity-based modes (Sv and TAv) are natural extensions of this concept to the digital world.

I can't believe how solid this thing feels in your hand, like a well balanced lead brick. The kit lens is way too small for the body; it really needs something more substantial stuck on the front (like a good 90mm apo refractor as soon as I've bought a M42 adaptor for it!). There's one really great thing about this camera - if I get bored taking pics with it I can use it as a really solid hammer!

I agree - the K20D feels very well-built. I think it beats the 40D (I haven't used any of the newer APS-C Canons) and 5DMkII in this regard. Not to mention that the ergonomics are much better on the Pentax.

If anyone has any tips about getting the best out of the K20D it would be much appreciated - now I've actually bought it I'll search the forum, but if there's anything that's passed into K20D folklore and everyone on here takes for granted I'd love to hear about it (one obvious one from reading reviews and posts on here is to dial in a little positive ev for most shooting)

I have a few tips which may help...

1) I use center-weighted metering most of the time now, and apply exposure bias when I see the need. Matrix metering does ok most of the time, but sometimes it just gets it totally wrong. So that's why I've switched to center-weighted - also, this forces me to think a bit more. In challenging situations, I'll switch to spot metering.

2) Check for back focus or front focus with your lenses, and make necessary corrections using the focus adjustment item in the custom menu. This probably won't be an issue with the kit lens, but once you start getting longer and/or faster glass, focus accuracy becomes critical. Doing this will ensure you get the sharpest results.

3) Related to the above, switch to manual focus and use live view mode when critical focus is required. The magnified view in LV mode won't show you more details, but you can better judge contrast differences which will tell you when you have the focus spot on. This technique can also be used when using older non-AF lenses (see point 5 below).

4) When shooting at high ISO, shoot RAW and use GordonBGood's RAW Border Correction Tool to clean up the noise at the borders - you will gain about 1.5 stops improvement. There's a link to the latest version of the program here:


The tool is useful even when not shooting at extreme ISOs, when you know that you will be pushing the shadows in PP. You can see an example of this usage here:


5) Finally, it's all about the lenses (have you heard of LBA?). There's a wealth of legacy, but good, lenses that can be used on the K20D. Some of the best Pentax glass from the manual focus era are unrivalled even to this day (though these will command top $). Even the more reasonably priced glass should serve well for your usage - the lack of AF shouldn't be a problem for your astrophotography.

Anyways, I hope this helps and welcome to the forum!

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