Choosing a digital camera system that will work for you

I received this question from a former SAIT student, which I thought would make a great post.

Hey Marlene, I have a question in regards to cameras. The new Pentax K-7 has caught my attention based on its features. What is your opinion on the Pentax camera and lenses? I was hoping that Nikon was going to replace the D300 with a supposed rumored D400 but nothing yet, and tired of waiting.

The new Pentax K-7 camera

This is an excellent question!

It’s a big decision to switch camera systems, especially if you’ve started acquiring lenses and accessories for your current brand.

I recently did it myself when I switched from Canon dSLR to Lumix Mirrorless camera system.

Most people would say that going from Nikon to Pentax was a step backwards from a professional line to a consumer line of equipment. That being said, you need to assess your own situation at this time and your future plans to see if the Pentax system has all that you need. You need to consider camera bodies, lenses, flashes, customer support, the works. Chasing features is not the only reason to buy a whole new camera system, as typically every manufacturer eventually has the same or similar options. You need to get a hands-on experience.

I’m assuming you’ve done all the usual research online (dpreview.com, forums, etc.) and in camera shops and have done test shots with the Pentax K7. If not, take a memory card and your current camera and best lens into your favorite camera retailer.

  • Take some jpg and raw photos using your current camera and lens combination and the one you are considering buying
  • Use a similar lens if possible (maybe you can borrow a high-end Nikon lens from the retailer if you don’t own one)
  • Take 10-20 properly exposed photos outside in daylight with each camera (You may have to take the sales person with you)
  • Look for brightly coloured scenes, and some with deep shadows
  • Do a mix of close ups and distance shots
  • Use largest and smallest aperture
  • Post process similarly, and compare the results by zooming in to the files 100% or more in Photoshop
  • Compare shadow and highlight detail, edge to edge lens sharpness, those sorts of things
  • Though this is not the only test you can do, it is a starting point

Similar to test driving a car, sometimes it’s just how a camera feels that seals the deal.

Also, check the lens reviews. Pentax offers a lot of superb lenses, including highly rated super zooms and primes. From my quick searches this morning, it seems there is a lot of excitement about this camera.

Like the current Nikon and Canon offerings, it also shoots HD video. I’ve always liked that the Pentax captures DNG files instead of NEF (Nikon raw) or CR2 (Canon raw), so that all the popular raw converters can open the files without hassles.

One feature that caught my eye is that many of the camera controls are on the exterior of the Pentax K-7 body instead of buried in the LCD menus. As a teacher, I find that many of my students are confused by the menus and sub menus of typical digital cameras. I know I haven’t really answered your question directly, but hopefully I’ve given you a few ideas on what to look for when choosing what camera system to invest in.

Keep in mind, it is costly to switch back and forth between camera brands, but if you are just starting out and haven’t spent much on your Nikon gear yet, this might be the time for you to make the leap. Let me know how it turns out.

Check out my Digital Camera Buying Guide. Free download. No strings attached. No email or anything.

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