Thursday, July 17, 2008

Shifting Gear


Alpena: Field of Daisies
Originally uploaded by Apocaplops
Some of you may know, I am a user of the Pentax digital SLR range, or was until recently. I bought a K100D brand new a couple years ago, and it served me beautifully while I had it. Shots were crisp and the body was totally reliable, and the in-camera shake reduction and backwards lens compatibility were handy features I found myself using more often than I would have believed before buying the camera. A great introduction to digital photography.

So why then, do I find myself with a Canon Rebel XT, a body that is older and arguably "worse" than the K100D that I started out with? Well, I found a great deal on one at the right time for starters, but to be totally truthful, I found the Pentax didn't always do exactly what I wanted it to, every time.

When it comes to a dSLR, I have found that a body that produces predictable results is worth its weight in gold. The Pentax had white balance issues under many different light sources, its exposures seemed to be consistently underexposed, especially when using older manual focus lenses, RAW mode was unsupported by my older copy of photoshop, and perhaps most frustratingly, its NiMH AA batteries seemed to leak a charge and die before I picked up the camera to shoot, requiring me to keep a fresh set on the charger at all times.

Worst of all, in order to get decent results from JPG mode, I felt I had to set the camera to a flat tone and sharpness curve and adjust in post, almost processing each JPG image as if it were a RAW file. When processed, these files looked great - sharp, beautiful, rich, and contrasty. But it was the time that it took me to process even the quickest of snapshots that frustrated me.

With the Canon, I have found great shots that come right out of the camera, spot-on white balance and exposure nearly every time, and a great supply of new and used accessories and lenses that are, quite oddly, less expensive than their Pentax equivalents. So I'm a happy camper.

Not that I'm totally happy with the Canon - its tiny LCD is just about useless for critical things like checking focus, the viewfinder is at best no better than the Pentax, and I don't find its controls quite as intuitive. Plus, the body is that "sparkly silver" color that just screams amateur. But hey, I am an amateur right now, and it gets the job done. I saved a bundle on the body, so I have decided I will spend the cash on a decent set of lenses, where it counts. I started with the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, which I love so far.

More as it comes...

2 comments:

phule said...

[[RAW mode was unsupported by my older copy of photoshop, and perhaps most frustratingly, its NiMH AA batteries seemed to leak a charge and die before I picked up the camera to shoot, requiring me to keep a fresh set on the charger at all times.]]

1) Having RAW and having it not supported does stink. However, converting your RAW files to a DNG is a very viable option (and free).

2) NiMH AA's do have a self-discharge rate (about 10% a week I believe). This is part of their design. Most recently low-discharge NiMHs have been introduced. These will discharge about 10% a year!

3) Leaving your batteries on the charger all the time is probably the very best way to kill them. NiMHs should be charged and then removed from the charger. As there is no memory affect, putting them back on the charger to compensate for self-discharge is not an issue.

These are secondary issues, of course, but I felt needed clarification. These were not necessarily a problem with your Pentax.

Erich Zechar said...

I had a good-quality MAHA charger designed for trickle charging and high-quality batteries. I noticed the discharge rate when left in camera was more like 30% a week, and the DNG converter is good, but it's just one more step.

Nothing against Pentax, but I think the Li-ion batteries are superior.