Pentax DSLR vs Nikon vs Canon
June 3, 2009 6:21 AM   Subscribe

Digital SLR - does anyone have experience with the Pentax K2000 (comparing with the Nikon D40)

This recent DSLR question was timely, as I'm looking to buy one as a gift soon and I was looking at entry-level Canons and Nikons.

However, the giftee has a Pentax film SLR and along with it a couple of lenses - a basic lens and a telephoto/zoom lens (sorry, I don't know what they are exactly). From what I'm reading in the other thread, it makes sense to buy the camera you already have lenses for, so I'm taking a look at the Pentax K2000.

A lot of people I know have a Nikon or Canon, but I don't know anyone with a Pentax DSLR. Is it just as good, generally speaking, as an entry-level DSLR? Any warnings?

And if I do decide to go with the Pentax, would it make sense to buy just the camera body (vs a kit) and save some money, since she already has a couple of lenses?
posted by mikepop to Technology (7 answers total)
I have an older Pentax dSLR, the K100D, and I love it. They're not "professional" cameras, but the image quality is very good and construction quality is excellent.

Some selling points for Pentax over the competition:
-You can use any lens designed for any Pentax camera, ever. This is not really true for Canon/Nikon. I did actually have one salesman warn me against this ("the new bayonet mounts are slightly different from the older ones, you're going to get your lens jammed!") but I have never had a problem and up until recently I only owned 20+ year-old lenses.
-Anti-shake is built into the camera. Canon and Nikon build it into the lenses. The result is significantly lighter and cheaper lenses.
-Generally less expensive than Canon and Nikon, and built like a tank.
-Uses standard AA batteries, so you're not tied to the manufacturer's custom battery packs.

Some criticisms I have of my camera - high ISO/low light shooting is pretty grainy, but I'm not sure how well that's been improved over the past couple years. My camera doesn't support SDHC cards, so I'm stuck with lots of small-capacity cards. (I've also heard criticisms of using SD over Compact Flash on dSLRs, but I have no idea why.) The menus are a little clunky. Otherwise, I love it and if I had $1300 to burn I'd definitely buy the newest model.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:39 AM on June 3, 2009

I would say that depends on how serious she is about her photography. Canon and Nikon definitely make a wider array of high quality lenses than Pentax does. I think there are fewer than 30 lenses in entire the Pentax line. You can find well over 100 different lenses for Canon or Nikon.

I believe the longest Pentax telephoto is 300mm, as opposed to 600mm (or longer) for Canon and Nikon. I also don't think the third party lens manufacturers (Sigma, Tokina, etc) make lenses that fit a Pentax mount. Although, I'm not positive about that.

Personally, I would always go with Canon or Nikon when purchasing a dSLR. Their predominance in the market just makes it easier to find accessories and lenses.

However, if your friend is just a casual hobbyist that just enjoys taking photos on her vacations and activities, the Pentax might suit her just fine. From what I've read in reviews, Pentax cameras perform decently in tests. Popular Photography magazine has lots of reviews. Maybe check them out at
posted by MorningPerson at 6:40 AM on June 3, 2009

If the giftee has a Pentax SLR already, then yeah, definitely go for the K2000. It does support SDHC unlike backseatpilot's older one. Not sure about low-light noise, but I'd be surprised if it was meaningfully better or worse than the Nikon D40 or Canon 500D. I shoot Canon myself, but that's partially because my father gave me a fantastic super-pricey zoom lens when he was moving to primes (non-zoom) only, and Pentax makes great cameras. Go for it.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:43 AM on June 3, 2009

Here's the K2000 review at It sounds like a nice, well-specced little camera. If they're a really serious photographer then they'd probably be better served by going for Canon or Nikon, because there's a clearer and smoother path to high-end photography, but for the enthusiast I'm sure it'd be great. It's certainly a better camera than the D40, which is getting pretty long in the tooth these days.
posted by Magnakai at 6:59 AM on June 3, 2009

I shot Pentax film cameras. When I switched to digital, I only *barely* chose Canon over Pentax. With IS built-in, I might have gone the other way if I were making the decision today.
posted by notsnot at 7:15 AM on June 3, 2009

I used to lurk on the pentax-users mailing list, and was seriously considering ponying up the money for one of the Pentax DSLRs. The consensus amongst Pentax users is that the Pentax DSLRs tend to have brighter viewfinders than their Nikon/Canon counterparts, and that the Pentax bodies tend to be smaller / less conspicuous.

Pentax makes far few lenses than Nikon and Canon, but many people believe that they go for quality rather than quantity. Their DA* Limited and FA* Limited (not sure about the nomenclature exactly) range of lenses are supposed to, at the very least, equal the performance of their Nikon and Canon counterparts. I remember reading somewhere that Pentax also tries to make their lenses render images in a more 'film-like' manner. Also remember that 3rd-party lensmakers like Tamron and Sigma may also manufacture high quality lenses for the Pentax mount.

Obviously if your friend already has a collection of Pentax lenses this would significantly weigh things in favour of the K2000. But if you are still on the fence, a trip down to a camera shop that allows you to handle and compare the ergonomics/viewfinders of both cameras should be helpful.
posted by nihraguk at 9:12 AM on June 3, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone for advice and links to reviews. She is more enthusiast than pro, so between that, the existing lenses and the image stabilization I decided to go with the Pentax.
posted by mikepop at 5:06 AM on June 4, 2009

« Older This music that makes you feel you can fly?   |   Insulate my grill hood? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.