Gripngrin on Nov 25, 2006November 25th, 2006, 12:31 pm EST
"I've been thinking of upgrading to something digital for my nature/stream photography, but at this stage of my life am on something of a budget. I currently use Pentax compatible lenses and would like to continue to do so with a new camera body. Do any of you have specific recommendations for a good used camera? Which is better, a digital SLR or straight digital?"
Gripngrin on Nov 25, 2006November 25th, 2006, 12:54 pm EST
If your Pentex lens work on their new digi bodies (K2, K, KA, KAF, and KAF2 Mount), certainly consider that choice. Their new body is a serious contender feature wise, and has garnered good reviews. See: www.steves-digicams.com/2005_reviews/istds2.html
For this quality of a DSLR, the price is very competitive, around $400 I think.
I shoot Canon. During my transition from film to digi, I originally shot a Nikon D100 because of a decent lens collection from film days. After a year it became obvious that Canon has many advantages over Nikon and sold my Nikon system. Both Nikon & Canon lens' are comparable, quality wise. In my opinion, Canon's imaging processing technology is superior. Nikon shooters please chime-in here.
Again, if you have some decent lens that will work on a new body, do it! A decent P&S digi cam will cost as much as the strait Pentex body.
Troutnut on Nov 25, 2006November 25th, 2006, 2:14 pm EST
Going strictly by picture quality, a DSLR is your best bet. It's also best if you're looking for maximum custom control over all the camera's functions. I don't know the specifics of Pentax equipment at all because I use Canon, so I'll defer to Mike's judgement on that.
There are a few exceptions, normal digital cameras with very high quality and plenty of custom control over exposure parameters. The Panasonic Lumix DLC-LX2 comes to mind, based on the reviews I've seen (I haven't used it). But as a general rule DSLRs are better.
Portability/durability is a really big factor, too. It's a real pain to carry a DSLR everywhere you go, and it's a big enough investment you'll want to be very careful with it (which gets annoying around the water). A compact digicam is easier to carry around all the time and to protect, especially if you get a waterproof one (like the Pentax waterproof line).
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist