Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Gadget Binge: Pentax K200D

The thought process behind the purchase:

Most people who have been in the loop of my camera buying spree know that it has been going on for eternity. Close to a year back, I finally decided to upgrade from my puny Olympus P&S C-370 to a DSLR. I still remember the excitement when I had laid hands on it; taking pictures of every Tom, Dick and Harry. (Most of the times, these would be names of insects on my wall) And some of them came out really well). And then, there were times when I would feel restricted by the Oly and wanted something which would give me complete freedom in taking my photographs. There was only one way ahead...the DSLR way.

Spoilt for choices. That's how you feel when you are out buying a DSLR. Sometimes, I really envy people who don't feel the urge to research extensively before buying something. It's so simple. Go to a Camera Review Site, click on the link "Popular Cameras", and order the one with the maximum ratings. Well, this works for many but not for me. I cannot buy something like this impulsively. I am confused even after going through hundreds of threads, reviews, news, deals and what-not.

I would segregate the DSLR options in the market as follows:

  • The popular Giants - Canon, Nikon - These are the mammoths in the market. The ones with the largest fan followings, the most variety of lenses, and the superlative for every other thing except, perhaps, the camera itself.

  • The Underdogs - Pentax, Olympus, Sony - They are the small time players which are overlooked by most people as 'nobody's! But believe me you, the innovation is happening here! Most of the new features in the DSLR segment are being brought out by these camermakers, be it Live-View, In-Body Image Stabilization, Lens Dust Cleaning Mechanism, etc, and at amazing prices too.

With dreams of making a career shift to photography over the following years and how a lens I 'll buy now should be usable even when I move on to $3000 monsters, as this was something which was discussed again and again in most of the forum posts, favouring Canon/Nikon. If you are looking at a career later, go for on of these. It was around this time last year that Pentax launched the Pentax K100D.

A quick run through on the specifications shows it is a decent 6mp DSLR with IS inbuilt into the body. This was the biggest attraction - IS in the body! Now, this is something which would save you lots of money later into your photography career. None of the Canon/Nikon fans enlightened me of this. And along with the 18-55mm kit lens, an additional 50-200 mm lens thrown in, the camera at ~$600 after the mail-in rebate was a steal.

The plans got shelved for a few months as I bought my car, and spent a fortune on the In-Car Entertainment. So, a couple of months later, on my visit to The USA [1] [2], the quest for the DSLR began again. By this time, Olympus had just come out with the new DSLR Olympus E-510. I was introduced to it at BestBuy during one of the evenings, killing time. And I was blown away. For $650, you were getting a 10mp DSLR with features such as Live-View and IS. The memories of the 6mp Pentax K100D were quickly erased, and this was the camera to buy. No doubts about it! Many of you would be wondering why I never considered the biggies such as a Canon 400D or a Nikon D80. Well, for one, I am really not the one to pay $200 more and miss out on some of the features being provided on the Olympus or the Pentax. And IS is a must-have for me. Apart from the initial higher costs, which I can still live with, I was thinking of the money I will be saving on each lens I buy - hundreds of dollars! Just compare a $100 Pentax 18-55 mm Kit Lens to a $175 Canon 18-55mm IS Kit Lens. Not for me! But alas, my photographic stars weren't in focus and thanks to Mr. Santa Claus, this camera was nowhere to be found. A waiting period beyond my stay in US killed it all.

A few months later, after being close to bankrupt, paying taxes and clearing up debts, yours truly receives his annual variable compensation and is, of course, ecstatic. Add to that the news that a close friend is coming from the US and there he is dreaming DSLR again. Just about to order the Olympus E-510, I come across a lot of talk about the new DSLRs launched by Pentax. A quick search on the forums revealed that the lens variety is far greater for Pentax than Oly. That gave Pentax a one-up. So, there it was, the Pentax K200D. 10 mp, weatherproof, inbuilt IS, the acclaimed sensor of K10D, but at a higher price. Comparing it with the Olympus E-510, I was losing out on the Live-View (not that I care about it much) and paying close to $200 more. This was going to require more research. What finally closed the deal were the rave reviews about the Pentax DA 13-55mm AL kit lens. So, a quick order was made, along with a Transcend 8GB SDHC CARD (SD 2.0 SPD Class 6), and a pack of 4 Eneloop Ni-MH AA batteries (Works on AA. Yay!). After a few nail-biting days and hoping desperately, that the order is delivered before the 5th of May, when my friend leaves, i get news that it's delivered.

A long post after a long time, I am waiting to get my hands on this beauty and will be updating the blog realy quick with the first few shots!

Coming Up: A post about the In-Car Entertainment mentioned above.


Hitesh Wadhwa May 6, 2008 at 12:43 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hitesh Wadhwa May 6, 2008 at 12:44 PM  

A good post.It might really help me deciding on my 1st DSLR.

No wonder IS is a must in DSLR, which Nikon & Canon don't offer in the camera, but through the lenses,which are quite expensive.

Good going ! Would love to hear more after you get your camera.

Anonymous May 6, 2008 at 2:13 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
GP May 6, 2008 at 4:56 PM  

Thanks for the comment, Hitesh! Do keep checking my blog for the pics! Soon! :)

Anonymous June 16, 2009 at 9:41 AM  

Nice camera! i'll buy one too ... after sometime!

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