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K20D...honest appraisal from users please...

Posted 26/01/2009 - 16:41 Link

I am a long term Contax film user and want to go much more digital, I am considering the K20D & the Olympus E-3. Could K20D users please give the honest pluses AND minuses of the camera.

And some specific questions:

1. How many shots from a battery do you get typically?
2. How do you change the ISO and is is fast & easy?..I believe it is menu driven on the K20D, whereas most DSLR's have a simple & fast button.
3. How easy is focus with manual focus lenses? does anyone use a different focus screen in their K20D?
4. Anyone use the Voigtlander SL2 lenses? and how well do they work with the K20D?

cheers Steve.M.
Daniel Bridge
Posted 26/01/2009 - 17:03 Link
2. ISO

I have the K10D, but regarding ISO change, this aspect is the same on the K20D.

If you're in Av or Tv mode, you can have one of the command dials set up to adjust ISO. So, like me, while you might be using the rear dial to adjust aperture, the front dial controls ISO (or vice versa). Dials can also be set to adjust exposure compensation if you'd prefer. Pressing the Green button resets the ISO to Auto (within whatever range you've set it to).

Excellent, simple and very fast - not even any buttons to press.

Obviously there's Sv (sensitivity priority mode), where you set the ISO (again with one of the dials) and the camera picks the correct aperture/shutter combination, depending on the program line you've set.

In manual or Program mode, if you press the 'OK' button, you then adjust the ISO using the front command dial. So no different from having a dedicated ISO button.

You can also adjust ISO by pressing the Function button, then the right arrow on the 4-way controller. Bit more long-winded that way.

So in answer to "I believe it is menu driven on the K20D, whereas most DSLR's have a simple & fast button", the K20D is even faster in some modes, or the same in others.

Hope that helps!

K-3, a macro lens and a DA*300mm...
Posted 26/01/2009 - 17:03 Link

1. Not sure - but loads! Having a CMOS sensor (as opposed to CCD) means you get a lot! Several hundred shots - and if you use the grip then you can fit a second battery.

2. Out of the box it is menu based (press the Fn key). However, you can easily assign it to one of the wheels. I normally use "Av" mode, with aperture on the rear dial and ISO on the front. Pressing the "Green" button switches to Auto-ISO, and rotating the front dial switches immediately to a selected ISO rating. All values shown in the viewfinder too. (No other dSLR does this!)

3. Manual focus is fine - you can even use the AF system as a focus confirmation with manual lenses. With AF lenses you can use "auto focus on demand" by making use of the dedicated "AF" button on the rear.

4. Sorry - no experience here.

EDIT: Overall I love the K20D. The flash metering and wireless control with P-TTL could be better (Nikon have the best control as far as I can see). However, the range of lenses, the quality of the CMOS sensor, and the low-light capabilities and the sheer value for money make the K20D a "no brainer". Printed results from RAW are superb (even if I say so myself! ).

Hope that helps!
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Edited by MattMatic: 26/01/2009 - 17:05
Posted 26/01/2009 - 17:12 Link
I dont have any experience going from film to digital so ill just answer the questions that i can

1. Ive only taken about 200 photos so far, ive not had it long but battery is still showing full.
2. I find the ISO easy to change, its only 2 button presses away.

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You press the FN button on the back, i marked it with red. Then you get to this menu, and you use the right arrow to select ISO option. and then you get a drop down list that you can choose your ISO from.
Daniel mentioned the other ways of setting up ISO.

3. Ive got no experience atmo with manual lenses or different focus screen but i found this link very useful.

Hope thats some way helpful

Pentax K20D | 18-55mm II | 50-200mm | SMC A 50mm f2 |
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Posted 26/01/2009 - 17:15 Link
K20D + grip 1 battery in each, shooting a wedding 850 shots and still showing 3/4's full on the battery meter Beats the Nikon D200 hands down for IQ and Power usage.
Posted 26/01/2009 - 17:26 Link
The fastest way to change the iso speed “ press the OK button and turn the front wheel, to return to auto iso press the green button while holding the OK button” no need for the fn menu.
Posted 26/01/2009 - 17:31 Link
Hi Steve

I am new to DSLR and the K20D is my first one. I can tell you about the battery life though, I have shot in excess of 1400 pictures with it, all at premium jpeg quality **** and have charged the battery twice, once the first time I unpacked it out from the box and then couple of days ago again. And at the moment the battery is still showing full. I have been using frequently the 16-45 lens and the 55-300 along with the other ones I have (I am thinking depending what lens its being used with and the autofocus demands of it the battery drain might vary, but this is just me speculating, I am not an expert in the technical aspects of it, yet ). But my most used lens is the 16-45 one so if this is the case you can calculate. Oh and the flash, yes, almost forgot that. At least 60% of my photos, if not more, but just to be on the conservative side, were taken indoors and using the incorporated flash.

Hope this helps.

Others might give you a better feedback regarding other issues.

Posted 26/01/2009 - 17:38 Link
ISO: The front and rear e-dials are programmable and either (I think) can be set to adjust ISO.

When in M(anual) exposure mode, normally you'd have the rear e-dial set to adjust aperture, and the front, shutter speed. In this case, pressing the OK button on the back changes the front e-dial to ISO adjustment.
Peter E Smith - flickr Photostream
Daniel Bridge
Posted 26/01/2009 - 17:46 Link
Depends on your budget, but bear in mind the cost differences between the systems too. The E3 is about twice the price of the K20D, and a lens like the Olympus 7-14mm f4 is £1259 from Warehouse Express, whereas the Pentax 12-24 f4 (nearest equivalent) is £484.

There are unique lenses in the Oly line up, wide apertures being a main feature (the 35-100 f2 being a case in point), but then there are unique ones in the Pentax line-up too.

The E3 has a higher frame rate, and I would expect a better Live view implementation. No idea what the viewfinder's like. Although the magnification of it is higher than the K20D, the focusing screens smaller in the first place. 'Only' 10Mp too, but that does me fine with my K10D.

Of course, who knows what the K30D will be like.

Sorry to be throwing in random things like this, but I think they're all things to be considered when choosing. Good luck with your choice.

K-3, a macro lens and a DA*300mm...
Posted 26/01/2009 - 18:20 Link
1. 700 or so is expected, I've never counted, but plenty that's for sure!

2. It's fast enough and second nature after a while.

3. If you adjust the dioptre on the viewfinder correctly the screen is sharp and easy to focus manually. I don't find a need for another screen, but some do. It depends on your eyesight perhaps.

4. Voigtlander lenses have an excellent reputation and should work perfectly well. Pentax lenses should be at least as good. There are also Zeiss lenses available in Pentax fit.
Best regards, John
Posted 26/01/2009 - 18:20 Link
An afterthought, if you move quickly you can still get the £100 cashback.
Best regards, John
Posted 26/01/2009 - 19:24 Link
1. I don't know yet. Only just got my K20D!

The other questions also apply to the K10D:

2. I have my front wheel set to change the ISO in most modes. Fast and easy. Also the Green button for Auto ISO.

3. Not bad, though I prefer to use the Katz Eye screen. Search this forum for "Katz Eye" and "Katzeye" for detailed comments.
Edited by iceblinker: 26/01/2009 - 19:49
Posted 26/01/2009 - 19:27 Link
Besides of the obvious things when comparing the 2 link
There is also the comparison of the APS-C vs the Four-Third system.
It's going to depened on what you want to shoot if the one is better over the other.
the plusses of the APS-C against the Four-Third are;
- lenses with a wider angle of view are cheaper
- narrower depth of field (depends on what you want to shoot if it is a plus or not)
- a lower degree of manufacturing accuracy is needed for the lenses
- ISO noise is lower
- viewfinder is bigger (most of the time)

Minusses APS-C vs Four-Third are
- narrow angle lenses are more expensive
- Lenses are most of the time more expensive because there is more material in them and are heavier
- bodies are mostly bigger (but the E3 is bigger and heavier then the K20D though )
- lenses take up more space in your bag

that's what i can come up with but probable someone else can give some more points.

I also just looked at the Olympus lens line up and if you want something fast like the 50mm f/1.4 pentax has you have a problem. The fastest Olympus has is a f/2.0 and hardly any lovely primes
They have some lovely zooms but when you see the price it isn't worth it I think.
The Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 150mm F2 for example is £1,779.00 and if you you want something similar for the pentax regarding angle of view and DOF you need a 188mm f/2.5 so the DA* 200mm f/2.8 comes close to that and that one is £645.00 almost a tirth of the price

looking a bit further;
- Olympus E3 Digital SLR with Olympus 14-54mm Lens £1,399.00
- Pentax K20D Digital SLR Camera with Pentax DA* 16-50mm and DA* 50-135 Lenses £1,489.00 - £125 = £1,364.00
that is quite a no brainer for me to be honest
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K10D, K5
DA* 16-50, DA* 50-135, D-FA 100 Macro, DA 40 Ltd, DA 18-55
Posted 26/01/2009 - 20:05 Link
Pro's.....far too many to mention, I could sing this cameras praises for hours and still find things to talk about.

Cons......Liveview could be a bit better, I use the DOF preview switch on mine a lot and having to go through the menus to switch it to live view then back again for DOF preview is a PITA. Fortunately I dont use it an awful lot. The PC socket for studio flash is also a bit fiddly trying to remove the screw-fit weather seal, I suppose this is an oversight on Pentax's behalf as it makes the camera useless if you want to use studio flash in the rain

My first Pentax DSLR was an istD, followed by the K10D then the K20D, I have been totally happy with all of them and the only reason I upgraded was for better specs.
My Names Alan, and I'm a lensaholic.
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Posted 26/01/2009 - 20:11 Link
bretbysteve wrote:

And some specific questions:

1. How many shots from a battery do you get typically?
2. How do you change the ISO and is is fast & easy?..I believe it is menu driven on the K20D, whereas most DSLR's have a simple & fast button.
3. How easy is focus with manual focus lenses? does anyone use a different focus screen in their K20D?
4. Anyone use the Voigtlander SL2 lenses? and how well do they work with the K20D?

cheers Steve.M.

Hi Steve,

1. I must admit, I've taken well over 1250 shots now, and only charged it twice, one of those was to cover myself on a long day out in case.
2. Can't beat Daniel Bridge's explanation.
3. I use the standard viewfinder with my manual lenses, no problems so far.
4. Not myself, so can't comment.


- Nice quality feel (although I can see it being too heavy for some)
- Superb pictures, it really is encouraging me to explore photography again.
- The kit lens has covered most of my shots, the others have been covered by my previously bought manual lenses (a definite plus)


- I've not got enough lenses (Lens Buying Addiction)
- I've not got enough time to take more pics
- Live View, but I don't think I'd use it anyway.
For the love of all things photogenic!

Pentax K20D | Pentax SMC II DA ALII 18 - 55 | Sigma 400mm AF f5.6 | Fisheye wanted for play time!

Centon K100 | Centon 50 / 1.7 | Centon 70 - 210 /4.0 - 5.6 (for my now retired film SLR).
Edited by rpk20d: 26/01/2009 - 20:12

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