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To switch or not to switch

javam 13 1.1k 19 United Kingdom
1 Feb 2008 5:59PM
Well time for a discussion I had not admitted to myself was necessary until recently, is it time to switch from Pentax?

Some points of clarification up front are probably in order.

Do I think buying semi-pro or pro camera will make me either a semi-pro or a pro - NO. This is about me having the tool that enables me to get the shot I want and (as I hope my PF shows) am capable of, more of the time.

Am I finally seeing the light and admitting Pentax cameras are second rate - NO. They are a perfectly viable option at the price point they compete at. However apples can only ever be compared with apples no matter what Ben says.

Have I been persuaded that I will only be taken seriously if I own a Canon - NO. If someone judges my work based on what it was taken with then I have no time for them or their opinion.

The fact is that good camera though it is, I am hitting limits with what the K10D can do and although I have waited patiently for news of the K20D, now it has arrived, I do not think it is going to solve them.

The main one is the AF system, which is easily eclipsed in speed, accuracy and low light by Canon and Nikon offerings and sadly, exactly the bit Pentax have not invested any money in upgrading for the K20D. This has given me issues both at airshows and low light shooting of moving objects. And air shows are one of the highlights of my photographic year.

On more general issues, I am also concerned that as a brand, Pentax are always going to remain an also ran, with a slow lens development programme and (for the foreseeable future) no upgrade path for body.

So I am now seriously considering parting ways and moving over to either a Nikon or Canon.

So my question is, given my investment in Pentax kit (14 lenses including 2 DA* and 3 limiteds) is switching the right decision?

If I sell up everything, I figure on having about 4-5000 to spend.

So I am looking at either a D300 or 40D, 4-5 zooms to cover 10mm through to 400mm, a couple of quality primes and a top end flash.

The D300 appeals more than the 40D at the moment, but I have to say the L glass is a consideration as the offerings seem a better match for what I want at the telephoto end in particular, but I would be hankering after an upgrade to a 1d MkIII probably quicker than I would a D3 if I went with the D300.

I would welcome your honest opinions.



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Coleslaw 12 13.4k 28 Wales
1 Feb 2008 6:02PM
I am in the same dilemma, do I want to switch to Nikon.

If you buy my Canon system off me, then I can switch to Nikon. It is a win-win situation, Neil..Smile
uggyy 12 2.1k 9 Scotland
1 Feb 2008 6:36PM
I like Nikon but at the same time Im not that biased in either way when it comes to opinion.

D300 or 40D, right now I would say the D300.

For you I take it speed at times is of essence, they both are about 6fps, though the canon is slightly faster. Saying that the Nikon with the grip goes up to 8fsp. So its pretty neck and neck on the FPS.

Glass wise, you got a lot of nice nikon glass and a lot of nice canon L glass, though I got to admit I agree with you glass wise on the L Glass at the telephoto end. Then again if the money can get to enough for the Nikon 200-400 its an amazing lens.

Its a tough one, one I would say if your looking to invest this much, I would try and find a way to get your hands on one of each and try them out if possible.

In the end there both real nice cameras but the Nikon D300 prb has the edge but then again its is higher priced...

csurry 16 9.2k 92
1 Feb 2008 6:43PM
Oh dear this thread could incur both the wrath of Pete (editor of Pentax User) and Benjikan (Mr Pentax).

Seriously the best thing is to go along and try both. As for glass, Nikon lenses tend to be more expensive for the best quality than the "equivalent" L lens. I say equivalent, meaning of a similar focal length and nothing else.

Have to say that certain lenses in both ranges can not be matched by the other.

D300 is a great camera. I've never used a 40D, but it also fairs well in reviews.

Canons and Nikons have a different feel, and a lot of photography is about being comfortable with the camera when it matters. So really there is no substitute for trying them.

I was lucky and got to play with a D300 for two days, it impressed me enough to buy one.

It really has to be your choice and nothing we say here will change that fact.
Brom 13 804 United Kingdom
1 Feb 2008 6:50PM
having done the same from Minolta to Nikon I would guide you that way. Ive been very pleased with the extra range of lenses and accessories available
javam 13 1.1k 19 United Kingdom
1 Feb 2008 7:13PM
Thanks for the comments.

Taking in order Wink

Cole - I will bear it in mind Wink

Tommy, thanks for your thoughts. The 200-400 is sadly out of reach and from what I read the 80-400 is a bit slow on the AF front, hence the lure of the 100-400L. But on the face of it the d300 really is a fine camera.

Absolutely right about trying before I buy though. I have considered renting both and comparable lenses for an airshow weekend to see how it goes and if it is enough of a step up from the Pentax to make the effort of selling so much kit worth it.

Cheryl, I know I may not improve my popularity and to a degree I am shooting myself in the foot as Pentax is far and away my best customer, but I suspect Pete is objective enough to see where I am coming from and I would certainly welcome his views. As for Ben, I have more time for him than a lot on here as I think he is a bit misunderstood and prone to slightly dubious comparisons. However my cynical side tells me it is a lot easier to sing a brands praises when they give you all your kit for free.

One thing I particularly like about the pentax is how it feels. It is a great bit of ergonomic design in my opinion and the control wheel set up is very intuitive and flexible, so that is going to be a major consideration when looking at alternatives.

Anthony - thanks for your input. Good to hear from another switcher. Canon also have the range so either way it will be a step up.

I have to confess the Nikon feels like the right way, but I am not pinning myself to any brand just yet.

Thanks for your thoughts.

csurry 16 9.2k 92
1 Feb 2008 7:18PM
OOps Neil, looks like I forgot the smiley on the first line of my post Sad They were supposed to be humourous followed by a more serious take on your dilemma.
StrayCat 14 19.1k 3 Canada
1 Feb 2008 7:22PM
If you choose Nikon, you'll have a gap there if you can't get the 200-400mm. I have the 80-400mm, and it's too slow for any inflight or action shots. I think I might sell and get the Nikon 70-200 vr for inflight.

Good luck whichever way you choose.
javam 13 1.1k 19 United Kingdom
1 Feb 2008 8:03PM
Sorry Cheryl, I am obviously taking things too seriously for Friday night. Wink

Denny, one of the lenses I have been really pleased with on my Pentax is the Sigma EX 100-300 f4, so I was thinking about the HSM version of that or maybe stretching to the 120-300 f2.8 as options. The 70-200 looks like a great lens, but too short and I would rather only rely on a 1.4x converter occasionally rather than for the majority of my air show shots.


ripleysalien Plus
11 1.2k 11 United Kingdom
2 Feb 2008 9:54AM
I have a canon fit Sig 100-300 f4 for sale if you go that way.

strawman 14 22.1k 16 United Kingdom
2 Feb 2008 10:17AM
Is the pentax that bad? And do you live anywhere near Wiltshire, happy to meet up and swap cameras for an afternoon if you want.

40D to D300, in my view the biggest difference is the user interface and the focus system, plus the lens range. I think there is a lot of subjectivity in the differences. Image quality, from the back to backs I have seen it is a bit of a wash, Canon better high ISO, Nikon better low, but marginal. weather proofing well there are bags etc to cover this.

D300 has lots of controls on switches, the canon has the key controls on buttons and wheel controls. Having used Canon for a while I think either works, as you either get use to knowing where things are in the Nikon, or the Canon. In both you can set ISO, compensation etc without taking it from your eye.

I had a play with a D300, probably the one Cheryl is talking about and to be honest at first glance and try it came out as no better than my 40D, in that its AF performance impressed and disappointed me in 5 min.

Using the large AF sensor area, one time it grabbed the subject and tracked it like magic (but the grab subject time felt slow) another time it hunted all over the place. OK I could have selected a focus point, and that is what I would do with my Canon, but then the Nikon has lost the advantage of its complex AF system. I think to truly tell it will take a lot of time playing with the camera. It could be user error on my part.

I also belive you can group some AF sensor points, and this could deliver great tracking performance without the issue I experienced. For airshow use have a group of linked AF sensors could be a big difference in number of keepers.

On the few tests I can see the Nikon should track better, but, there are comments on its time to acquire.

In you shoes I would go on a meet and try borrow some Smile. Oh and lenses 100-400L yes its good for airshows, but having tried the 300f4 L I am still thinking. On paper the D300 should be better but you will need to balance that with what lenses you can afford
javam 13 1.1k 19 United Kingdom
2 Feb 2008 11:45AM
Thanks Steve, it would be an option, although I was considering the 100-400 if I went down the Canon route.

John, you are not a million miles away so I will bear that in mind, thanks.

No the Pentax is not bad at all, but it is also not all things for all people and with the K20D, they have decided to invest in the sensor and not the AF or buffer so their development route is diverging from my requirements.

Time to acquire is an issue, so I will definitely need to test the D300 in an air show scenario, if anyone could comment on if it is possible to group sensor points with the Nikon that would be appreciated.

I will be at Rowardennan in march so hopefully an opportunity to try out both cameras for ergonomics, UI etc if not tracking high speed aircraft Wink

Another option I am mulling over after a nights sleep is a partial switch - stick with Pentax for landscape and portraits and use another brand for airshow and wildlife shots.

This may seem a bit odd to some, but you have to try the Pentax limiteds (31 and 77 in particular) to truly appreciate what fantastic bits of glass they are and it would be difficult to part with them.


aftertherain 13 4.2k 2 United Kingdom
2 Feb 2008 2:39PM
I have a Nikon D200 and also a Samsung GX10 (same as Pentax) - I find they sit well in the hand and are both quite intuitive to use.
I think you would find it easy to find your way around the Nikon in a very short time.
strawman 14 22.1k 16 United Kingdom
3 Feb 2008 11:48AM
A side by side comparison 40D and D300 It's not as in depth as you may like, but it's message is that the 40D is not that much different in final performance from the D300.

It would also appear to agree with my view that the 40D locks quicker onto a subject in terms of AF, but the Nikon has a few tricks that may be of help for tracking. The USM Canon lenses may be a factor here.

So the Nikon is the most expensive and the best camera of the pair, but if your budget is an issue, it could be that the Canon with some lenses makes a better buy than the Nikon with the Nikon lenses you could buy for the same money. It could be argued the Nikon is a class above. The focusing of the Nikon would be a niggle for me, and I would want to play with it before spending cash on one.

Oh and your idea of keeping with Pentax and you wide lenses may not be daft. It is possible that the new Pentax could be a great high resolution low ISO performer mixed with your lenses.
uggyy 12 2.1k 9 Scotland
3 Feb 2008 2:40PM
Straw, I had read that review before and found it to be a little erm strange. It tells you on the one hand D300 is the best for XYZ reasons and then goes for the 40D.... on just about the last line Smile

I just don't think that ones a good unbiased review, still interesting read though...

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