[photography] Canon vs. Nikon vs. Pentax

[photography] Canon vs. Nikon vs. Pentax

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Up until about a week ago I was a Canon whore. I assumed that when I finally got around to buying a DSLR, it would be a Canon. The price, performance, and my ability to justify the expenditure had not quite met.

I discovered HDR - High Dynamic Range photography, largely thanks to [info]sensesurfer. In a simple example, you take one normally exposed shot, one under exposed shot (to get detail in the highlights), and one over exposed shot (to get detail in the shadows). These are all LDR. Then you load them into a program that merges them, resulting in more dynamic range than can be displayed on your screen or stored in a jpeg. Then you compress (tone map) the dynamic range. Like these: http://www.flickr.com/groups/hdr/pool/
(A bunch of these get overly creative with their compression to the extent that I'd call it digital art instead of compressed HDR photography).

In this simple example the three exposures can be taken automatically by most DSLRs via exposure bracketing. No canon can do more than 3. While looking into it I discovered that the Nikon D200 can do 9. And has weather sealing at less than 1/4th the cost of the cheapest Canon to have weather sealing. Nikon also has a made for digital 18-200mm lens that, while only f/3.5-5.6, is of a range that no other brand has anything near.

Then somebody in EFNet #DSLR, who had been planning to replace his two Canon digital bodies with a pair of Canon 1D mk III's, decided to get a pair of Pentax K10D's instead. He'll be receiving his first tomorrow. In addition to 5 shot exposure bracketing (more than Canon, less than Nikon) and weather seals (better than anybody else's - they actually advertise usability in rain), they also have in-body IS, and dual ISO / aperture / shutter adjustment wheels, and costs less than anything comparable. Oh, and their DA* lens series, specifically for their digital cameras, and weather sealed, appears to be intended to compete directly with Canon L glass.

The only complaint I've been seeing about the K10D is jpeg softness, which I've heard can be resolved by "Natural, Saturation +2, Sharpening +2, Contrast -1" or "Bright, saturation -1, sharpness +2, Contrast +1". Pentax's explanation is that less in-camera processing is better for post processing. This issue is not relevant if you're using raws.

The K10D (body only) is $849 shipped.
Body + 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 is $949 shipped.
Amazon is taking pre-orders for the first DA* lens, 16-50mm f/2.8, $899.95 shipped, "released on May 15, 2007".

I have no desire to change anybody's brand loyalty, but my eyes have been significantly opened to the options recently and I wanted to share. I'm all for people doing whatever makes them happy.

For now, [info]cathijosephine has pretty much given me free reign over her Canon 300D (original Rebel), so fortunately I can get some experience before I start investing.

In this week I've finally started understanding the relationship between apertures, shutter speeds, and depth of field. Largely due to this simulator: http://www.photonhead.com/simcam/
All photography knowledge appears to be linked (at least indirectly) from here: http://42explore.com/photog.htm

UPDATE: The Pentax K10D seems to have an interesting focusing problem under tungsten lights
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