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Stocks: Buy Low, Sell High

   After all my research, hesitation, and saving money, I finally purchased a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera - a Pentax K200D. First the story of how this occurred, and then a brief review of the K200D. I've only had the camera a couple of weeks, so the review will be a first-look for me kind of review, and also a Jeff learns about jumping into the digital age.

Pentax K200D DSLR
   The tale of the purchase tells some of the story of the struggles of small business brick and mortar stores. I saw an article in our local paper that my favorite photo shop was going out of business. I think all photographers have a local shop they go to when they want to talk photography, buy a lens cover, or get some expert advice. Shewmakers was that shop in Colorado Springs. The next day my wife and I went to see what bargains might be had as a result of this sad event, and to bid farewell to the local photo institution. As we entered the shop, my wife said “We have been into this store 12 or 13 times over the past two years, and never bough you a camera. If they have anything you can use, we're coming out of the store with one in our hands!” OK - I had been give the official ground rules for this shopping experience. We did find a camera that would be my first DSLR. As we checked out, and my wife negotiated the deal, I was unpleasantly surprised when the gent checking us out said that $560 was as low as he could go on cost because that was their cost. I don't know how this works, but I had seen K200Ds for sale at reliable online merchants for between this price and $600 and up. The online sellers must be making money at this price. So if Shewmakers paid $560, no wonder their prices are higher than the online guys, and after many successful years in our town, they were going out of business. I love getting bargains, but I do support the local merchants as best I can too. I really hate to see the best local photography hangout gone.

Top Screen
   Putting my conflicting emotions aside, what do I like about my new Pentax K200D? Like all Pentax cameras I've ever owned, including my cute point-and-shoot Optio, the K200D is well designed. The buttons are well placed and there are enough of them that you don't need to drill down through layers of menus to set or pick what you want. The menus are well organized, and colors and arrows guide you through them easily the very first time you pick up the camera. The clever folks at Pentax put the anti-shake in the camera, not in the lenses. They used the same bayonet quick-mount that my old film cameras have. This means I can use all those great glass SMC Takumar lenses I have from my days as a film photographer that I still use with my K2 and MX cameras. The K200D uses 4 AA batteries, which means that you don't need to carry a special charger around, and if you are traveling, and run low on power, any store that has batteries can get your camera going again. The K200D takes SD and SDHC memory cards, and these seem to be the most popular for mid-range cameras. The kit lens is a good lens, but not a great lens. The kit lens is slow, F3.5 is as low as the f-stop goes. Back in the film days, cameras usually came with a primary lens that was fast, like F1.4. Of course, the kit lens focal length goes from 18 to 55, which is the equivalent of 27 to 84 mm with 35 mm film. This is a nice range, and covers many photo shooting situations. The built in flash works well with the kit lens out to 5 meters (16 feet) which is adequate for most indoor shots. The K200D comes with a great, well-written users manual.

Click here for more screen shots
Info - Shooting Settings
   Shown here is the Info Screen, which is displayed at a single touch of the Info button. This shows all the info about Capture mode, which is when your taking pictures as opposed to Display mode when you are viewing pictures you have taken. This one screen alone gives you an idea of the complexity of even this beginners DSLR. But the little green triangle at the bottom of this screen means that if you push the down on the four-directional button on the back of the camera, you'll get a brief explanation of the currently set Shooting mode.
   What don't I like about my new K200D? That well-written manual is 262 pages long! My MX (the last film camera I bought) came with an entirely adequate pamphlet that was 35 pages long. Digital SLRs are much more complex than film SLRs. Because it is a bridge camera, my K200D has all those point and shoot modes with the pictures of people and flowers that I won't likely use. And the kit lens is OK, but not great. The good news is Pentax still makes some awesome good lenses - the bad is that, like the Canon and Nikon top lenses, these are not cheap. In short, the K200D is a great camera for those wanting to economically graduate from point-and-shoot into more capable DSLR photography.
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