Why I bought a Pentax K200D

Pentax K200D and Tamron 70 - 300 mm Macro Zoom

Pentax K200D and Tamron 70 – 300 mm Macro Zoom

I bought my first DSLR about a year ago and my choice was a Pentax K200D.

I’ve always been interested in photography, probably because my Dad was a keen photographer and also a keen antiques collector. Not expensive, valuable antiques, but lots of items bought from the local sales rooms including plenty of box cameras and bellows cameras. I quite often saved my pocket money to buy a roll of 120 film to put through whichever of these he would let me borrow, and then spent happy hours in a blacked out bathroom with a little contact printing kit I got for Christmas one year. After out-growing the box cameras I inherited my dad’s Zenit-E SLR (which we called a zenith) and again had many happy hours snapping away mostly with black and white film because I could develop those films myself using dad’s tank and enlarger. After the Zenith I had a Petri, an Olympus OM-20 and then finally a Canon EOS300 (which I’ve still got, although not used for years).

I didn’t get round to buying a DSLR however until last year, mainly because they weren’t really good enough – at least not the ones I could afford. When I did buy one I went over all the specs to see which would suit me best. For a long time I was set on getting an olympus E-520 but in the end I was concerned that the slightly smaller 4/3 sensor could lead to noise problems. I have a panasonic DMC-FZ8 which I’ve always found to give noisy images if used in anything other than bright light. I know the 4/3 sensor in the olympus is much bigger than the standard ‘super zoom’ sensor, but I didn’t want to fork out a lot of money and then be disappointed with the results. In the end I got the Pentax because

  • It has an APS-C size sensor.
  • It has all the features I could use.
  • Shake reduction is built into the body so works with all lenses.
  • It has a good view-finder.
  • There are thousands of good second-hand lenses available which will work with it
  • It is a strong weather-proofed camera
  • It had good reviews

At the same time I bought the pentax 55 – 200 mm zoom telephoto lens and I’ve used that for the last year, recently supplementing it with a Tamron 70 – 300 mm macro telephoto zoom which I find particularly useful for nature pictures. It’s not as good as a proper 1:1 macro lens, but it was only £80 so it enabled me to take macro-esque pictures at a fraction of the cost of a true macro.

Since I bought the Pentax I’ve been mostly very pleased with it. Because of the sensor size (and therefore the lens size) I can get good ‘bokeh’ with it in a way I couldn’t with the FZ8. Also the noise performance is very good, although I suspect that any of the good makes (ie Canon, Sony/Minolta, Nikon) would be good in this respect. The only slight disappointment I’ve got is that it doesn’t support Live View. At the time I was looking for a DSLR I discounted live view because I couldn’t see a time when I’d need to use it. As far as I was concerned you look through the viewfinder to compose an image and live view is a gimmick carried over from cheap pocket cameras. However I’ve since found one real use – when you are photographing insects or flowers on a tripod with the camera quite low near the ground. Without live view I have to also get low and that’s getting harder and harder !

Overall I think the Pentax K200D was a good choice for me and I’m looking forward to using it for the next couple of years until I upgrade to a K-7 !



Categories: Pentax, Photography, Reviews

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2 replies

  1. Interesting post Simon, and glad to see you're getting on with the Pentax. Love the stuff on Flickr. I went for a Micro Four-Thirds camera myself and just over a year on, haven't been disappointed. Noise only seems to be a problem at ISO1600 and above, and I rarely need to go there. When I can afford the F1.4 lens, I certainly won't. I've had some pretty good stills from it, and the HD video is astounding.

  2. Thanks Chris. I suppose one of the other slightly concerning issues was making sure I could throw the background out-of-focus on portraits which is directly related to the sensor size (well aperture size but it's obviously related to the sensor being used). I've subsequently seen lots of shots from the olympus E-520 where this hasn't been a problem so that probably isn't really a concern.Cheers

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