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I use Pentax manual focus (A series) equipment. For the most part I am happy with it. The bodies are compact and the lenses are excellent. However, every once in a while I become frustrated with Pentax. It is more difficult to find used Pentax gear than it is to find used Nikon gear.
In my opinion, Pentax doesn't have a very good line up of autofocus bodies. In fact, they are discontinuing the one good body, the PZ-1p, that they do have! I would like a newer body that works well with manual focus lenses, including the requirement of a good viewfinder that has focus aids that I like. It should also have a reasonable feature-set. Pentax's best AF body, the PZ-1P has slow autofocus, doesn't accept AA batteries, and is known to have problems with metering with older lenses.
Every once in a while I wonder if I should switch to Nikon, More seriously, when I am looking for a lens for Pentax that can not be found or doesn't exist, I often consider picking up a Nikon body and the corresponding Nikon lens to fill in the "hole" which Pentax has left in my needs. So far I haven't done anything, but the availability of the Nikon gear, both used and new, and the variety it is available in, are just enormous compared to Pentax.
This choice would be easy if the Pentax equipment wasn't so good. I often think I should save for that battleship of cameras, the Nikon F4, so I can just get and use some readily available Nikon lenses when I can't get the equivalent Pentax equipment. The combination of a modern body, interchangeable viewfinders, and advanced features make this route quite tempting.
As I mentioned above I was looking at Nikon before I ended up with Pentax gear. A friend found a Pentax SMCP-FA 1.7x AF teleconverter NIB at a local camera store for a reasonable price. Although I don't have any Pentax AF gear, such a gizmo has been on my "look out for this" list for quite some time. Off I went to pick it up and check out whatever used Pentax glass they had.
Lo and behold, sitting right over the box of Pentax stuff was a used Nikon F4 in very good condition. About two days worth of thinking a lot and a test roll of film and I fell afoul of the dreaded problem of having two different camera systems. I really like the F4 body -- it is everything I have read about over the years. Although I've had it only a three weeks as I write this, it fit my hands like a glove. It really is a quite well designed!
The downside of the F4 is the weight. For example, if I put the Motor Drive A on my Super Program it weighs about 1/4 pound less than the F4s. However, I can choose to remove the motor drive and I have an incredibly small and light weight camera. Even if you replace the MB-21 with an MB-20 on the F4, it still is much larger and heavier.
I 'gotta run for now, I hope to write some more on this in a bit.
I think that the SMC, Super Multi-Coated lenses are excellent. It is amazing how badly you have to do to have lens flare show up. The optical quality of Pentax lenses is also excellent. One of the best examples, is the lens I keep on my bodies for general purpose use; the Pentax SMCP-A 35-105 f/3.5 zoom. In my opinion, it is as good as a prime lens at any focal length.
In addition to quality, Pentax also has variety that other manufacturers lack. Their lineup of optical accessories, lenses, and flash equipment is very good. Pentax also offers medium format equipment, including an autofocus 6x4.5 system! Pentax has accesories that other manufacturers don't provide any more! ... And it is good quality stuff. The variety and capabilities of the equipment are just outstanding.
However, this comes with a downside. I don't think Pentax makes very good bodies. The best bodies made aren't available, and even those bodies could stand to be worked on to make them excellent instead of just good. The modern Pentax bodies don't really compete with the Nikon bodies in the capability (shutter speed, flash sync) and feature set (multiple exposure, data imprinting, interchangeable viewfinder) that I would like to see. In fact, Pentax is retrograding their bodies; the next body is supposed to have a slower top shutter speed and slower flash sync than their current top-of-the-line body!
Here is a bunch of info about Pentax photographic equipment.
People from the pdml mailing list.
Actual manufacturer pages are found later. These pages are mostly FAQs and other publically available information.
Unfortunately Olympus has announced the end of their fine SLR bodies and lenses. This was announced in the spring of 2002; sales of some lenses will continue until March 2003. Though I do not own any, I have heard of their fine quality and respected the innovations they have made to the SLR field in both camera bodies and optics design. Long after Pentax stopped producing the LX, Olympus was producing the OTF metering OM-4 body. They also produce a number of fast, affordable primes that you do not see from other manufacturers. Hopefully they will continue their fine Digital series of bodes, the E-10 and E-20 and perhaps develop an Digital SLR based upon that technology and their excellent Zuiko glass. I am sorry to see them go.
This section is a real mish-mash of things that don't fit neatly into another slot in this page. That's probably due to a lack of direction in the WWW page as much as any other factor.
These are photographers or agencies that I have stumbled across when looking at things photographic. Some of the Pentaxians are also professional photographers .. but they get their place of honor among the other Pentax users.
Both software which aids traditional photography, and digital oriented software are included here.
You can see my commentary on publishers, authors, and particular books if interested. It is small for now, but I hope to add more. Problem about commenting on books that you have already read a while back is you need the find the time to do a good review afterwards, when the quantitative essence is no longer in your mind.
At the moment the Olympus E-10 and E-20 look to be the best bet for SLR-like digital camera bodies. I've tried using P&S like digital bodies, but I just detest them for their form factor and lack of heft, but not for their features. I also miss the availability of decent glass for the lenses ... although the Nikon CoolPix family has quite the line of accessories, including some really wide-angle lenses which Olympus lacks.
The Nikon CoolPix family of cameras is fairly nice. I was leaning toward a CoolPix 995 until I actually tried one and found it uncomfortable to use. Nothing wrong with the camera, it is similar to any point-n-shoot. However, I don't like point-n-shoots; I like SLRs with solid feel and heft and non-menu controls.
The CoolPix 5000 was quite interesting; it has a decent wide end on the zoom (28mm equivalent), though it sacrificies optical zoom range compared to the 900 series CoolPix cameras. I really liked the heft and hold-ability of the body; it seems like 1/2 of an SLR! The 800 film speed equivalent and noise reduction mode are good steps forward for the CoolPix line. Unfortunately the lack of TTL flash, the poor position of the flash sensor, and the limited zoom range and compatability with the CoolPix lens accesories was a bit of a turn-off.
The Olympus cameras have a decent availability of glass; including a 400mm f/2.8 telephoto for $400.00! The handling and heft and controls are similar to an SLR. The film "speeds" are sorta low (80, 160, 320), presumably due to the pellicle-mirror like beamsplitter which robs the CCD of some light. On the other hand there is no mirror (a moving part) to go wrong. Autofocus is split between an active IR system (such as a point-n-shoot has) combined with a "real" edge-detection through-the-lens system as you would find in any autofocus SLR. In addition, Olympus supports real TTL flash on these digital bodies, unlike other digital bodies ... which only do flash sensor flash.
A short list of scanners which have caught my interest. If I find some good reviews I'll add links, but these rae ones that interest me some. The various acronyms for these are:
As amusing as it seems the moon, being so close, is somewhat difficult to photograph. From reading some of the following articles, it can be seen that ordinary (50-200 mm) lenses can often be used to capture distant stellar phenomena with a decent image size!
The (Xxx,YY) notation denotes City Xxx in USA State YY. The (YY,Xxx) notation denotes City or Province Xxx in Country YY.