Longish: Nikon D50 or Pentax K100D?

Discussion in 'Pentax' started by Eric Babula, Oct 17, 2006.

  1. Eric Babula

    Eric Babula Guest

    If some of you remember, I've been asking about getting my first dSLR,
    and have been leaning toward getting the Nikon D50. My issues were
    varied, so I've been learning (thank you!) about the different lenses
    that I might want to get, and doing a lot of reading about the various
    cameras in my $1000 price range.

    Here are the kinds of things I need to take pics of:

    General vacation pics (camping trips to Glacier Nat'l Park, Rocky Mtn
    Nat'l Park, etc., Disney, whatever). Love to take pics of the Grizzly
    Bears at Glacier (and other wildlife, of course)!

    Normal family pics (parties, holidays, birthdays, etc.)

    General use - every day pics.

    Yes, I could use any digicam for this, and I have the Panasonic FZ5
    which does an excellent job at this kind of photography. I love my FZ5
    for most pics I take. Of course, if I could get even better pics from
    the dSLR, that certainly would be good! I'd like to learn more about
    real photography, too, not just point and shoot photography.

    But, then there are the special needs:

    Indoor volleyball. Crappy low-lit gymnasiums. Fast action. Arms
    swinging. Bodies running, diving and jumping. Volleyball moving very
    fast. No flash allowed in most cases. I'm sitting in the stands, not at
    courtside. This, I'm finding, is a very tricky set of circumstances, and
    I'm having an impossible time getting results from my FZ5 that satisfy
    me. This is a very big concern for me, in getting the dSLR. It HAS to be
    much better than my FZ5, or I'll be in the doghouse for spending the
    $1000+ for nothing.

    Macro photography of coin collections. Camera would be on a copy stand,
    taking pics of coins, some quite a bit smaller than the current US dime.
    My FZ5 takes quite good pics here, but, I've seen what the Nikon D50
    (with the 105mm macro lens) does, and the D50 is just much better.

    Anyway - so I went to my local camera store and ask questions to see
    where they lead me. I tell them my desires of what my new dSLR should be
    able to do - similar to what I've outlined above. I did mention that I'm
    leaning toward the Nikon D50. The guy starts out by telling me that he's
    a 'Nikon guy all the way' (Nikon is what he uses) and that the D50 is an
    excellent camera. He pulls it out of the case and puts it in front of
    me. 'But,' he continues, 'for what you've just explained to me, I'd
    highly suggest the Pentax K100D.' And, he pulls that one out, and puts
    it next to the D50. He goes on to explain about that camera instead -
    its in-camera SR (Shake Reduction - big selling point!), the claim that
    you can go down 2 stops slower than normal, the quality glass (the 17-
    55mm and 50-200mm kit lenses are possibly even better than the D50's kit
    lenses), the AF features, the different modes, etc. He said that, dollar
    for dollar, the K100D would give me more bang for the buck, and that
    it's an excellent camera, and Pentax makes excellent lenses, and that
    this camera can use every lens that Pentax has ever made.

    He did a good sales job on me. The K100D sounds (from his description)
    like at least an equal to the D50, if not even better! The in-camera SR
    is very cool - you don't have to spend tons of extra $$ on VR lenses -
    the SR will work with any lens that fits the camera.

    So, then of course my pessimistic side goes into overdrive once I leave
    the shop. Just a sales job? I started to read some of the reviews
    online. Seems that the K100D is pretty new, so there aren't too many
    really indepth reviews out there, or I just didn't look hard enough,
    yet. But, what I did read kept saying this camera is good and worth a
    look. None of the reviews were exceptionally high on the camera, though.
    Seems that the D50 has been getting better reviews, or at least better

    What do you all think about all this? Anyone using this camera? What do
    you think of it? For what I outlined above, would the K100D outperform
    the D50? Up until now, I was only reading about the Nikon D50, the
    Pentax istD, the Canon XTi, and that's about it. Now, a new camera comes
    into play to muck up the waters a bit more.

    Ok, enough rambling - time to get back to some more reviews...

    TIA for any help.
    Eric Babula, Oct 17, 2006
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  2. Eric Babula

    Jeff R. Guest


    Hi Eric.

    I've got a Pentax *1stDS and a Nikon D50. Heve used and loved Pentax SLRs
    since the early 70's.

    My choice now? The D50. Hands down.

    Reasons are long and varied and probably boring, 'cause I guess they boil
    down to: "the Nikon *feels* better."

    (and I take better pix with it)

    In-camera IS is no big deal, IMNSHO, and who cares for copystand coin shots,

    Your choice, though, Eric. Hold 'em in your hand and decide. Compare the
    auto-focus behaviour. Trust not the chap who gets the commission.
    (You *could* look at resale, too, if you need another reason.)

    Jeff R., Oct 17, 2006
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  3. Eric Babula

    Paul Rubin Guest

    I don't think the in-camera IS will help for volleyball since the
    players will be moving around pretty fast. There is no substitute for
    fast shutter speed, which means fast lenses and high ISO.

    As for the macro coin shots, you'll do fine with either camera, the
    macro lenses available for either are terrific. I believe the K100D
    can use the old manual focus K-mount lenses and you can find a lot of
    good ones very cheaply on ebay, even cheaper than the corresponding MF
    Nikkors. Here's a 200/2.8 Soligor that's at $39.99 with no bids and
    1.5 days to go:


    Of course that's nowhere near as good a lens as the Nikkor 180/2.8 but
    the auction will probably finish under $100, and the Nikkor would be
    several times that.
    Paul Rubin, Oct 17, 2006
  4. The Pentax will be good but how did it feel in your hand compared to
    the d50? That's what matters to me. I do prefer the sturdy feel of the
    D50, your taste may be different. I did like the new, more upmarket
    K10D though. It feels good.

    Something else: personally I would choose a camera from the 2 leaders:
    Nikon or Canon. Together I think they have something like 80% of the
    market. Meaning, they will definitely be around for a long time. Yes,
    it's cynical, but remember: Minolta stopped (ok it's now a Sony but
    still) and years ago in the 35mm era Olympus stopped making their
    -excellent- slrs, to concentrate on compact cameras. Contax is gone
    (and I miss 'em).
    In short, you don't want to end up with a dodo system.

    I read rumors that Nikon is about to release a D60, a cut-down D80.
    Which is well possible. So, if you've been waiting for a long time,
    maybe you won't mind waiting for another month...

    All these observations aside, it is indeed a pity that currently nor
    Canon nor Nikon have bodies with built-in vibration reduction systems.

    regards, Tom
    corto.maltese1, Oct 17, 2006
  5. Regarding your specific needs, the Nikon 60mm macro lens is universally
    regarded as one of the world's very best lenses. In digital, it's a
    nice portrait lens as well.
    I don't know about the quality of Pentax macro lenses, probably good
    but they never build up the reputation of the micro nikkor.

    For the indoor volleyball, the nikon 85mm f1.8 is relatively cheap,
    it's very good and in digital will be eq. 135mm, quite useful with the
    f1.8. Pentax has probably a similar lens (I didn't check).
    corto.maltese1, Oct 17, 2006
  6. Regarding your specific needs, the Nikon 60mm macro lens is universally
    regarded as one of the world's very best lenses. In digital, it's a
    nice portrait lens as well.
    I don't know about the quality of Pentax macro lenses, probably good
    but they never build up the reputation of the micro nikkor.

    For the indoor volleyball, the nikon 85mm f1.8 is relatively cheap,
    it's very good and in digital will be eq. 135mm, quite useful with the
    f1.8. Pentax has probably a similar lens (I didn't check).
    corto.maltese1, Oct 17, 2006
  7. I am in the same situation. I have decided on the D-50 and will use the
    money saved for lenses. For that I have chosen the Nikkor 18-135 and
    the Nikkor 70-300. The 18-135 does not have VR but the 70-300 does.
    Neither of these lenses are available in my area yet so I have not made
    the purchase.

    The 18-135 will be the keep on the camera lens and should cover about
    80% of what I would plan to shoot. I would take the 70-300 any time I
    know I will be using a long lens (outdoor, wildlife etc) and if a need
    arose to shoot something close, the 70 end should do.

    Of course, there are rumors of a Nikon D 60 possibly for xmas. I
    imagine it will be a D-50 will more megapixels and a bell or whistle or
    two from the D-80. Perhaps it will be available by the time the lenses
    Ockham's Razor, Oct 17, 2006
  8. Eric Babula

    Paul Mitchum Guest

    More advice: Be sure and look through the viewfinder. You'll find that
    the Pentax is much easier to see through.
    Paul Mitchum, Oct 17, 2006

  9. It's funny you should mention how it feels in the hand. When I was a
    kid (I'm about to show my age here) all my relatives were into
    photography, so I had ready access to several fine cameras. They
    included a Nikon F, both with standard prism and photomic, a Heiland
    Pentax a Minolta, an Alpa 6C, a Nikon SP and a Leica M3.

    When it came time to buy my own, I chose the Pentax, for a couple simple
    reasons. First, it felt great in my hand and second, I got wonderful
    pix with it because it didn't seem to get in the way of my photography.
    So I would agree that how a camera feels in your hand is as important as
    any other measure- if it feels 'just right' you'll get better pix.

    As an aside, of the above cameras, the Leica and Alpa were superbly
    built with wonderful optics, the Nikon SP was the fastest, and the F was
    my least favorite. Of the rangefinders, the SP would have been my
    Richard DeLuca, Oct 17, 2006
  10. Eric Babula

    Frank ess Guest

    So here are _my_ questions, Eric: How long have you been sifting
    through your correspondents' ideas and opinions? Do you remember when
    it was you first "TIA for any" help'd? Even with the reams of help
    afforded you by the patient and prolific posters here, have you
    actually moved a mm closer to decision and purchase?

    I think not. I think you'll gather information forever, sifting and
    sorting, adding and deleting, wearing the letters off your keyboard.
    I'll bet someonr reading these threads today could leave and return in
    six months' time and find the same sad scenario: you'd like to swim,
    but don't want to get wet.
    Frank ess, Oct 17, 2006
  11. It's a bit like Harry Potter chosing his magic wand. In a way, the wand
    also chooses the owner. It's the same with cameras. If it feels right
    for you, then it probably is. And the lenses of the major brands are
    all good enough to state that in 99.5% of the cases, it's the person
    that makes the difference, not the camera brand.

    Alpa... wonderful. I once fondled a 35mm Alpa at a camera fair and it
    was special. Luxurious precision. More recently I have to say that the
    incredible quality perception you get when handling the modern medium
    format Alpas is waaaay beyond any other brand. It was the camera that
    made the strongest impression on me at Photokina. And at the Photokina
    2 years ago. I haven't made pictures with it, but I sure would like to
    try one. Unfortunately buying one is impossible to justify when you're
    an amateur, even a keen amateur. For those who don't know: have a look
    at www.alpa.ch

    Another favorite of mine when it comes to "feel good" is the classic
    Rolleiflex. I have two of them, they're getting real old but the
    pleasure of using them is incredible. Does that impression let you make
    better pictures? Perhaps. What does cause me to make better pictures is
    the relative slowness of working with a Rolleiflex with a hand light
    meter. Or an old Nikon FM. I also have a Fuji AF 645 medium format
    camera which is another gem that oozes quality when handling. Compare
    to my first digital camera: the Nikon 5700 which I bought for almost
    the price of a D200 body when it was released. Well, I made a decent
    number of good pictures with it but the damn thing was never a pleasure
    to use. Buttons everywhere and a terrible video viewfinder...

    Nowadays with my D200 I make 200 digital pictures in an afternoon and
    when examining them critically afterwards I want to keep 3 of them. In
    35mm I kept 3 pictures out of a 36 exposures roll. With my rolleiflex I
    kept 3 pictures out of a roll of 12 exposures. Maybe I should forget
    about these newfangled digital gimmicks and move to a technical
    camera... :)


    corto.maltese1, Oct 17, 2006
  12. Eric Babula

    VK Guest

    Given what you state, the Pentax system will do just as well as the
    Nikon system.

    And based on what I've read of the 2 bodies, the K100D runs circles
    around the D50 - it appears to be current "best value" in the mid-range
    DSLR segment.

    Pentax glass is cheap, is very good and very easy to find. And the
    Pentax bodies are very well designed.

    Get the Pentax - that'd be my suggestion.

    VK, Oct 17, 2006
  13. Either camera will handle that fine. The Pentax being a bit smaller and
    lighter (depending on what lens you get) will probably feel nicer. If
    you like to zoom in on distant features, the SR in the pentax will be an
    The SR in the pentax will be helpful for this type of thing - indoors
    shots without flash.
    Either will handle that sort of thing.
    OK, here's the kicker then. Firstly, SR will be useless in a situation
    like this because of the subject motion. The abilities here will all
    come down to your lens. Basically you want a fast lens (low F number,
    such as F4 or F2.8), and a long lens (something in the 200-300mm range).
    With either camera, the kit lenses might _almost_ do, but they won't be
    real great. You will also need to lift the ISO to be able to use faster
    shutter speeds. Now buying a suitable new lens for this will be
    expensive, you may have better luck looking second hand. As for lifting
    the ISO, the Pentax will give you the option of lifting to 3200. From
    what I've seen of it, noise stays reasonably under control at that.
    I use a sigma 28-80 macro lens on my film pentax, and have come up with
    some quite good shots of ants - considering ants move, are much smaller
    than a dime, and lighting was outdoors dusk, I don't think you'll have
    any issues on a copy stand. Once again though, it all comes down to the
    lens, and I'm pretty sure you'll find the kit lenses won't do a great
    job. There are excellent lenses available for Pentax just as there are
    for Nikon.
    2-3 stops depending on lens and lighting conditions. It is a big plus
    for _some_ photography.
    No question about whether they are better quality than the D50's kit
    yes and yes (although some lenses need an adapter). And many of the
    Pentax lenses are considered amongst the best around - of course it
    depends on whether you have a use for that length lens, and if you want
    to spend the extra $$ for extra lenses.
    It is a very handy feature, not suitable for everything, but comes into
    it's own for things that suit it.
    D50 has just been out longer, and for a long time it had no equal.
    Remember the K100D is a completely different camera to the istDL. Any
    comparisons with the istDL are irrelevant to the K100D.
    Rule #1 of technology - there will always be something better and
    cheaper out soon. If you are always waiting for the next better thing to
    come along, you will never buy. The good thing about cameras (unlike
    computers), is that a camera that takes a good photo today, will always
    take a good photo. Pentax, Nikon and Canon have all been in the game
    long enough that they all have good systems that mean you are not likely
    to get stuck trying to get lenses, flash systems etc. Any camera from
    these will do a good job.
    Forget the reviews - go back to the camera shop with your $1k in your
    hand, and an SD card. Ask the salesman if you can have a good feel of
    the cameras and take some shots instore with them. If they won't let
    you, show them your cash and ask again. If they still won't let you,
    find another store. So once you have the cameras in your hand, feel
    their weight, their feel in your hand, the look through the viewfinder,
    with both lenses. Take some shots around the store, again with both
    lenses. Use the menus, get a feel for how easy it is to change common
    settings (such as switching from AF to MF, changing ISO, changing
    aperture/shutter, changing flash mode). Go and print the photos you have
    just taken (just remember which camera took which photos). Then weigh up
    the quality of the photos, the feel you got from the cameras, and make a
    decision on which camera, there and then. Don't second guess yourself,
    go with what your instincts tell you. Hand the salesman your cash, walk
    out with your new camera, and get snapping :)
    Graham Fountain, Oct 17, 2006
  14. Eric Babula

    rfk100 Guest

    I just picked up a Pentax *ist SD for $379.00, probably not as good as
    either but so inexpensive and has done every thing I have wanted, so
    look at all your options.
    rfk100, Oct 18, 2006
  15. Eric Babula

    Eric Babula Guest

    Wow! What crawled up your butt and bit you??? Geez! I've just recently
    started researching dSLRs (what? about 2 weeks?), and am trying to learn.
    I have questions. Big deal. You have no answers. Get a better attitude or
    get lost!
    Eric Babula, Oct 18, 2006
  16. Eric Babula

    Frank ess Guest

    A ggroups search shows you've been gobbling up inordinate amounts of
    advice and bandwidth since March, 2005. My attitude aside, describe
    yours, eh Audrey II?

    Frank ess
    "One time, I got up the next morning and looked in the mirror
    and there were two of them up in my hair."
    - JEAN LEMEAUX, on the travails of removing those little stickers from
    fruits and vegetables.
    Frank ess, Oct 18, 2006
  17. Eric Babula

    Chris Hills Guest

    Relax... Frank is right. You can get "analysis paralysis" forever
    analysing and assessing but never taking the plunge. So don't bite his
    hand off.

    Do as some one else suggested. Take a memory card into the shop and try
    both. Go with whichever feels right regardless of the details of the
    Chris Hills, Oct 18, 2006
  18. Eric Babula

    mjancsics Guest

    Generally I have been posting on the various net forums, but figured I
    would check the NGs today as well.

    I just went through the same decision you did and opted for the K100,
    though from everything I learned either would make for a fine camera.

    Things which sold me were:

    Larger Preview LCD on the K100 looked nicer than on the D50

    Overall Build quality/feel of the pentax

    Viewfinder nicer on pentax

    Kit lens reportedly better

    SR available if I want it without spending a fortune

    Slight savings in price

    I will admit though the small buffer for action of the K100 had me
    worried but in talking to other owners I determined for me it wouldn't
    be much of an issue. I concluded the K100 was a bit more bang for my
    buck and an enthusiasts brand than the mass market NIkon or Canon
    (actually the latter wasn't much of a consideration as it felt like a
    piece of junk in the store)

    I think with whatever you choose you will be happy, good luck
    mjancsics, Oct 18, 2006
  19. Eric Babula

    Eric Babula Guest

    If you re-read those 2005 posts, you'll notice I was then buying my
    first digital camera - just a digicam. I got some great advice from some
    good people back then, and ended up buying the Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ5 -
    a very nice little camera that takes some great pictures! I really like
    this camera for most of my photographic needs.

    But, the FZ5, as do most digicams I'm guessing, has problems with
    indoor, low-light, action shots (indoor volleyball, in my case). Since
    my two daughters are now playing volleyball, I really want a digital
    camera that can capture great stop-action pictures of them as they play.
    So, now I'm looking for a dSLR, and was hoping to get some help beyond
    just reading the reviews or listening to the salesperson who works for
    commission. About 2 weeks ago, I started that research. I read some
    reviews. I asked some questions, and am learning about different cameras
    and different lens choices.

    Does that clear things up for you, Frank?

    I thank all the good people here who did give of their time to help me,
    rather than just be rude!

    If you don't like my questions or posts, don't read them. Better yet -
    just PLONK me so you don't have to see my posts. How hard is that?
    Eric Babula, Oct 18, 2006
  20. Eric Babula

    Eric Babula Guest

    Congrats on your new purchase! I'm looking at a lot of options, and
    trying to narrow them down. It's a bit more difficult when you're as
    much of a newbie as I am to 'real' photography (as opposed to point-and-
    shoot photography). But, I'm learning a lot!

    The goal is to purchase a dSLR by the end of the year - little Christmas
    present for me and the wifey!

    Eric Babula, Oct 18, 2006
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