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Old September 10th, 2009, 05:17 PM   #1
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Nikon 300s or Pentax K7

At the moment, I am equally invested in legacy Nikon and Pentax glass. Up until now, these have been mated to film cameras, and I am looking to step up to a VDSLR. Now, I think both are stellar cameras and I fully believe the stills capabilities of both would fulfill my needs, so I'm wondering which one provides the best combination of stills and video (or best compromise, if that's the better term)? Obviously, Nikon has a little more experience in the medium with the D90, but the K7 seems to provide some very competitive specs. 24P is not a necessity for me, as I'm not looking to do narrative work. This camera would be for nature/landscape work and portrait work. I would think the K7, with its top-notch environmental sealing, would be a good choice, but there is so little being said about the camera from a video standpoint and so little footage online with which to make reasonable comparisons. Any thoughts from you folks? Again, I'm not asking which is the best video-only camera, but the best compromise or combination of video and stills for my use? Or should I just ditch it all and go 7D? I've thought about that, as it seems to be such a winner, but how long am I going to have to wait to get one from B&H (I have a large credit at B&H, so whatever I get will have to come from there). D300s and K7 can be had today, which means I can begin shooting tomorrow, so to speak. 7D would mean waiting until....?

Thanks.
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Old September 10th, 2009, 10:04 PM   #2
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I am also looking for a DSLR mainly for shooting video. I wanted a Canon 5D MKII, but felt like I would wait a while. But now is the time!!! And I have 3 candidates: K7, 7D or D300s. From the footage I have seen so far, Nikon is out (and all my lenses are Nikon) still jello effect. I am debating about getting the Pentax K7 or the Canon 7D. You might want to check out these videos with the K7:

The Pannzian Masterplan on Vimeo
?? (PENTAX K7 MOVIE) on Vimeo



And the 7D:
Perya (Town Fair) - a Canon 7D Short on Vimeo

All I can say is that it will be a tough decision, Pentax K7 is really amazing, least expensive, it's got a nice image feel but on my part, wished it had 24p, manual iso and manual shutter. Will they come up with a new firmware??? I also have over 30 16gb SDHC cards.

On the other hand, the Canon 7D is a great camera as well, don't know much about availability....It's kind of pre-order now or otherwise it might be a while before you can grab one!
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Old September 11th, 2009, 10:58 AM   #3
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I should be an easy sale for Pentax, having a number of Pentax cameras and bodies, but...
after seeing this thread I worked up the following worksheet. Read and comment, please:

Pentax K-7

Power
1. Rechargeable Li-Ion battery D-LI90
2. D-BG4 Battery Grip (optional) for second D-LI90 battery or 6X AA batteries
3. AC adapter available

Flash Card
SD, SDHC

Image Stabilization:
In Camera Body

Codec (Video)
AVI (Motion JPEG ~72 Mbps)

Clip Size/Length
4 GB or 7+ minutes

Frame format/rates
1. 640x416 p30
2. 1280x720 p30
3. 1536x1024 p30

Exposure Methods:
1. Auto, but you can lock it.

Canon 7D

Power
1. One Battery Pack LP-E6
2. AC power can be supplied via AC Adapter Kit ACK-E6 With Battery Grip BG-E7 attached

Flash Card
CF Card Type 1 & 2

Image Stabilization
In Lens

Codec (Video)
MOV (Image data: H.264, Audio: Linear PCM) 40 – 50 Mbps

Clip Size/Length
4 GB or 12+ minutes

Frame format/rates
1. 640 x 480 (SD): 60p (59.94) / 50p
2. 1280 x 720 (HD): 60p (59.94) / 50p
3. 1920 x 1080 (Full HD): 30p (29.97) / 24p (23.976) / 25p

Notes: I am a hobbyist, not a professional, so I have no illusions about ever going to theatrical/movie release. This means I am looking for a tool that provides compatibility to TV standards. Living in the USA, this means I will be shooting either 60i or 30p.

What I like about Pentax:
1. Power, easier to hook up to an AC outlet
2. With an external grip, ability to use rechargeable NiMH AA batteries.
3. Use of M-JPEG codec means you don’t need a super-duper high powered computer to handle it.
4. In camera image stabilization. Pentax calls it Shake Reduction. So this important feature is not dependent on the lens.

What I like about Canon:
1. Flexibility of formats. Pretty much anything short of 1080i60 or 1080p60, it provides.
2. Use of a lower bitrate (relative to Pentax) translates into longer time length clips or less storage needed for the same amount of time.
3. My own impression is greater detail in Canon footage, but the Pentax is very good.
4. Greater manual control over ISO, shutter, aperture while shooting.
5. Being Canon, you will get greater after market support than with Pentax.

What I don’t like about Pentax:
1. You don’t see this in web video BUT if you expand that maximum 1536x1024 frame to fill a 1920 x 1080 TV frame so your final output is not pillar-boxed, almost a third of your horizontal lines will have gone off-screen. That’s a fair amount of resolution you are losing. Is that acceptable to you?
2. You don’t have as much exposure control over the image.
3. Your clip length isn’t as long as the Canon.
4. They are in financial trouble - Hoya has publicly announced they would like to sell Pentax to someone else.

What I don’t like about Canon:
1. To tap into AC power you have to buy an extra accessory besides the AC power adapter. You need the Battery Grip BG-E7 attached as well.
2. To handle high bitrate H.264 you will NEED, not want, a high powered computer to play and edit the footage.
3. If you want image stabilization, is that built into the lens(es) you already have?

Last edited by Bill Koehler; September 11th, 2009 at 06:41 PM. Reason: typo
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Old September 11th, 2009, 03:00 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Koehler View Post
What I donít like about Canon:
1. To tap into AC power you have to buy an extra accessory besides the AC power adapter. You need the Battery Grip BG-E7 attached as well.
Bill, thanks for your detailed layout, very helpful.
But from what I can see in the D7 manual, correct me if I am wrong, but the Battery Grip BG-E7 must be removed from the body in order to attach the adapter.

The kit sells for 119.95$ at B&H, which I find reasonable

canon ack e6
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Old September 11th, 2009, 04:24 PM   #5
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Hi Guys,
I played with both cameras over the past couple weeks.

I found the K7 super easy to use. The controls just work for me. It's almost a one handed camera. The menus flow and are simple to navigate, with very few levels to get into. I had the two new Weather Resistant lenses, which had a good feel, and are small and light. Didn't actually leave them out in the rain, like this guy did, but the seals look reliable (for whatever that observation's worth). Aperture, WB, color and focus are set before each shot in Movie Mode. There are several great Still modes like ISO based control. It's a small, light, form-factor, great for back country work out in the wild. The AVI files were easy to work with in FCP6. You can find a couple clips at my scottbrickert account on YouTube. Shake Reduction is truly impressive (check out the fishing video). It turns every lens into a stabilized lens!

What killed the K7 for me was low light noise. I really liked the camera and wanted it to work, but it just reaches for the noise to easily, reminding me of the GL2, another lightweight wilderness unit that just suffered when the dark clouds move in. Also, none of my old Nikon primes or zooms would fit the K7 reliably.



The D300s is full-sized in form and weight. I found the menus more difficult to navigate, being vertically oriented and requiring multiple levels to access various settings. It requires two hands to adjust ISO or WB, and multiple buttons are placed on the left, out of reach of the right hand. It has four modes Program, Aperture, Shutter and Manual. WB can be custom set, although it's more than a push button operation as found on even the lowly HV20. I never did figure out what's customizable for Movie mode. It might be fully Auto only. I was able to set everything on the screen (Shutter, Aperture, ISO) and during recording, but it did not seem to translate to the picture.

The D300s does really well in low light. It reminded me of the PD170. Very trustworthy.

I ended up returning both in favor of the 7D. Hopefully Canon will produce enough to meet demand. B&H is reporting October delivery as of now.

Here are a couple frame grabs taken during a concert using the K7 and D300s side by side. I did my best to let them both shine, hoping the K7 would look good :)

HTH.
Attached Thumbnails
Nikon 300s or Pentax K7-k7-djangofest-wide-02.png   Nikon 300s or Pentax K7-d300s-djangofest-wide-02.png  

Nikon 300s or Pentax K7-k7-djangofest-medium.png   Nikon 300s or Pentax K7-d300s-djangofest-medium.png  

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Last edited by Scott Brickert; September 11th, 2009 at 04:44 PM. Reason: more info
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Old September 11th, 2009, 06:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert St-Onge View Post
But from what I can see in the D7 manual, correct me if I am wrong, but the Battery Grip BG-E7 must be removed from the body in order to attach the adapter.

The kit sells for 119.95$ at B&H, which I find reasonable

canon ack e6
I can be wrong, but my information was quoted/copied from Canon's information page.
Maybe I misread it. Here's the page:

Canon EOS 7D Digital SLR

Look under 'Power Source'.

For what it's worth, here's the Pentax equivalent AC adapter, at less than half the price.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...apter_Kit.html

Last edited by Bill Koehler; September 11th, 2009 at 06:47 PM. Reason: Added Pentax AC adapter price information.
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Old September 12th, 2009, 09:15 PM   #7
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Boy did this thread go quiet...I guess we're all waiting for the Canon 7D, aren't we?
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Old September 13th, 2009, 03:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Koehler View Post
Boy did this thread go quiet...I guess we're all waiting for the Canon 7D, aren't we?
I guess so, still need few more days to sort it out.

I really liked the Pentax K7, working with SDHC cards and .avi files, no need to convert to anything, just transfer and edit! The footage I saw from that cam was really impressive.

But what is most likely killing the K7 for me is the low light noise from Scott's frame grabs and not being able to use my Nikon's prime lenses.


So it may well be the 7D......!
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Old September 13th, 2009, 07:36 PM   #9
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Have you seen this one?

LE CHAGRIN Test Pentax K7 on Vimeo

Low light. Sure there's noise, but it doesn't bother me so much. It even adds a nice texture in this case... to my eye, at least. I'm sure if you grabbed a still, it wouldn't be so nice...but in motion, not too bad.
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Old September 13th, 2009, 08:03 PM   #10
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Just read in the Pentax K7 manual p. 48:

"To prevent a decrease in image quality, allow the camera to cool down between long exposure shots and movie recording......live views can be displayed for up to five minutes."

or even less if a temperature warning...

Wonder if any K7 owner could comment on this?


Canon seems to have the same problem with Live View and image quality at high ISO, only they don't have a set time limit.

Last edited by Robert St-Onge; September 13th, 2009 at 08:53 PM. Reason: added info
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Old September 13th, 2009, 11:38 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trip Gould View Post
Have you seen this one?

LE CHAGRIN Test Pentax K7 on Vimeo

... Sure there's noise, but it doesn't bother me so much. It even adds a nice texture in this case... to my eye, at least....
I watched it - I thought the noise was objectionable from about 1:15 to 2:09, especially during closeups. This coincides with a B&W segment.
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Old September 14th, 2009, 01:17 AM   #12
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I'll be working on the K-7/HV20 footage for a short clip of the concert early this week.

You can also see other low light concert footage, albeit rendered and compressed for H.264, here. (read the paragraph on YouTube for some production details)

In the mean time, Falk Lumo, an early reviewer of the K-7, and a physicist (IIRC) wrote an IN-DEPTH review of the K-7, putting it through the wringer. He partly addresses the heat issue. The three part video coverage begins here.

HTH
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Old September 14th, 2009, 03:33 PM   #13
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I agree that the noise is somewhat pronounced, and certainly not as clean as Canon or even Nikon or even Panasonic. I'm wondering how much this is the result of extreme low light conditions, though. In most scenarios, will the Pentax perform admirably? Especially considering my needs for nature/landscape work and available light portraits/street photography...I wonder. I mean, even film will have a certain amount of noise/grain in low light such as the Le Chagrin piece...the B&W portion kind of reminded me of my days of 16mm film work.

To throw another element into the mix for this thread, should we be including the T1i with this batch? It's $400 lighter on the wallet, better in low light (?), and you're buying into the Canon system which means easier upgrades (?) to 7D and the like in the future (if that's something that interests you) with an quicker learning curve, etc. I'm not saying I've been sold on the T1i, but is it worth considering? Now, what it doesn't get you is the pro-quality body of a K7 (weather seals, etc.), and many other high end features, including in-camera stabilization. I guess the question is, do those features equate to $400 for the K7 or almost $1000 for the D300s (without lens) or 7D (without lens)? Is the K7 too much in the middle? Would it be better to save $400 to put towards support gear and get a T1i, or spend a few hundred dollars more to get a 7D or equivalent (i.e., fewer compromises on the video side with manual controls and multiple frame rates and overall better performance)?

By the way, my current favorite T1i video on vimeo: Love | Canon 500D T1i on Vimeo
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Old September 14th, 2009, 08:03 PM   #14
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To throw another element into the mix for this thread, should we be including the T1i with this batch?
Very possibly.

Given the scaling issues I've pointed out with the Pentax 1536x1024 p30 mode, you could very well end up shooting 720p most of the time precisely because it eliminates those issues. At that point the T1i becomes a very viable alternative that allows you to buy into the Canon eco-system at a much lower pricepoint.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trip Gould View Post
I guess the question is, do those features equate to $400 for the K7 or almost $1000 for the D300s (without lens) or 7D (without lens)? Is the K7 too much in the middle? Would it be better to save $400 to put towards support gear and get a T1i, or spend a few hundred dollars more to get a 7D or equivalent (i.e., fewer compromises on the video side with manual controls and multiple frame rates and overall better performance)?
Of the big three manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Pentax) in-camera stabilization is unique to Pentax. For both Canon and Nikon it is something built into the lens, so it is an obvious enticement for those who already have a number of Pentax compatible lenses. But if you are thinking of ever changing systems, you will be buying new glass to go with it.

The big advantage of the Canon 7D over the Pentax K-7, in my eyes, is giving you standard aspect ratio (16 x 9) footage in all the HD formats it shoots, so you are never having to do weird re-scaling to get it to fit/fill the frame. In my eyes, that's a huge advantage.

Beyond that, only you can say what is worth it to you.
A better way of approaching the question might be, what are your clients most likely to expect?
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Old September 14th, 2009, 08:20 PM   #15
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Ah, yes, clients. Well, I don't have any. What I mean is, this is really for personal use. If I end up with something I could sell as stock footage, that is fine by me, but I don't plan on making any money with the stuff I shoot...well not a living, at any rate. I make my living as an editor and college professor. Photography has been a hobby of mine since childhood and I'm merely looking to continue to expand upon my experience and skills. I have worked professionally as a videographer, but that's not what this purchase would be for. If I were really trying to make some money with video, it would be with an HPX300 or HM700 or RED or maybe even a step up from all of those. If I ever get the urge to shoot a feature, I'll rent a bonafide cinema style video camera. It's not that I don't appreciate what VDSLRs have done for indie cinema...I think it's awesome. But, until real no compromise hybrid HD DSLRs come out, there's still something to be said for a purpose built video camera. Anyway...

For now, if the camera I purchase can take stunning stills and video (maybe not FF stunning, but stunning enough for mere mortals), can be easily packed up mountains and into extreme conditions, and not break the bank...I guess I'll be happy. If I ever want to take it a step further into pro territory...I'll just purchase the 5Dmk-whatever is out by then.

Also, I think a major consideration for me at this point is how long I'll have to wait for a 7D. Pentax, Nikon, T1i can all be had today...and there's a lot to be said for just getting out there and shooting. Right now, I have nothing but film SLRs (had a Ricoh GRD, but it is now defunct) and a mess of Pentax and Nikon glass sitting around.

Oh, and I did have a question regarding a point that was mentioned earlier with someone having trouble mounting Nikon glass to the Pentax. What was the issue? Why wouldn't Nikon glass mate to a K7 with an appropriate adapter? How was it unreliable? I guess I could sell my Nikon glass (gasp) and pick up some modern Pentax glass instead, but I was hoping to be able to use my long Nikon telephotos.

Thanks again to all for your interest in this topic.
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