Your mate who is buying their first DSLR as a kit camera may have heard of the Pentax name some years ago in the film era. It was hard to find a camera club, school, or group of enthusiasts in which a Pentax 35mm camera was not in use. That may have eased off a little in recent years - and I am not going to fire up speculation about why - but there is no reason why you should not set your friend out to look at the Pentax K-70 kit.
Note that the pictures of the cameras this week show the boxes they come in. Not just to make use of the designer's art - this is to give the purchaser some idea of the size of the packaging that these kits require. You'll see that the Canon and Pentax offerings come in one box while the Nikon camera is separated from the lens. Makes no difference? Well, consider how much extra trouble it would be to haul that camera box through the airport, airplane, customs, hotel, etc if you were required to take it with you everywhere on your holiday...
Hint: If you buy the camera kit here in Perth a week before you go on the airplane you DON'T have to take the blessed boxes with you. More space for duty free.
Okay, back to the camera body. It seems heavier than the Canon, though the lens is just as light. The mounting of the lens requires more force and makes more whizz-click noises but once it is on you need do no more. Remember that we encouraged you to get your mate to leave it undisturbed for the duration of the trip to avoid dust leakage into the mirror box.
The Pentax is also a swing-screen camera and as such does not put any control buttons down the left-hand side of the back. Some find this a help - some not. No southpaws are really catered for by the camera makers anyway so maybe it is just academic. The physical size of the Pentax and the shape of the hand hold mean that you do get a solid grip on the camera.
As your mate's mentor you are going to faced with a challenge - there are a lot of control options in the menu of a Pentax that are highlighted with interesting descriptions. They are tempting and will beckon to those who are attracted to bright colours. Once onto that pathway, your friend may customise their way to the point where the camera thinks that it is Salvador Dali and starts to make art instead of images. Teach them about the "reset " button that returns it to the factory formula and show them how to get out of trouble.
Note that with the Pentax as well as any other camera, you are going to have to remind them to charge the battery and insert a memory card - and make sure that the memory card does not have the lock slider pushed down. If it does, the camera will neither format the card nor take a picture. You might think it is broken straight out of the box but the truth is it is just waiting for a sensible command from you. ( Don't ask me how I know this... ). Battery charging is about 90 minutes for these cameras so you can also do your mate a favour if you tell them to get an extra battery..
An electrical aside...the Canon, Pentax, and Nikon batteries for this week's cameras are all about the same size and weight. The casual user who looks at their images on the back screen or uses a lot of Live View might get 250-300 shots from a charge. At least all the cameras have a positive on/off switch and are unlikely to be left discharging the battery when they are put back in the case.
The other danger that the novice runs is the wonderful feature that Pentax put on the LHS of the camera - a dedicated RAW button that means you can crank in a RAW shot in the middle of a JPEG series. This is great for you but may lead to frustration for your friend if they hit it unknowingly. At the least sign of a developing photo enthusiasm, of course, you can turn them on to RAW processing, but be ready to have them change their image editing program if it cannot keep up.
Okay, be prepared to sort a lot of things out photographically when they get back from Thailand or Bali but hope that the automatic setting will have been in operation most of the time.
You have the backup of Camera Electronic and the Pentax importers if you buy it here and remember that they really do back their warranties.
Labels: auto focus, automatic, DSLR, family photography, jpeg, Pentax, RAW, tourist, travel photography