Which camera to buy. Life's full of choices, and choices are not necessarily the best partners with limited cash and a frugal account book.
After toying with thoughts of the Nikon D80 and the tempting Canon 400D (tempting in the sense that the kit costs only RM 2800++), I finally came back on earth and stop daydreaming of something so not in my budget at all. There, began my real quest for a proper beginner's DSLR.
Options are Canon 350D, Nikon 40x and Pentax K100D Super. All below RM 2500 for body + 18-55mm kit lens + other standard accessories. If I bargain further, I believe I can pull down the price even further. But the real problem is, after much scrutiny, I really dont know what should I buy.
I was and am still not a big fan of Canon. I know Canon is famous and great photographers like Micheal Yamashita lives by a Canon. But after reading so many mixed reviews on the 350D, I really dont think it's that good a bargain after all. First of all, it doesnt even have any special function, not even a sensor dust reduction system (unlike its bigger bro, the 400D) and the kit lens is nothing to shout about (although it's a Canon). I know I can get just the body and a separate lens, say a better Canon or even a Tamron, but since I am looking at something that I can carry around and is multi-function, I reckon, what could be better than to bring around the kit lens which if is a good one, would be sufficient for my needs for the time being, no?...
The Canon 350D, from my survey at a shop near my office, is currently selling at RM 2099 (kit). Tempting, but at this price or lower, there are other cameras which I feel, will be a much better buy than this.
Enter the Nikon D40x, an upgraded version of the D40. I dont mind either one, really, and both have received excellent reviews in terms of image quality (partly thanks to the kit lens) and the camera functionality. But what refrains me from jumping into the D40 is the fact that the camera was not built in with focus drive motor, which means it can only auto focus with very, very limited lenses. If I were to stay contented with my level of skill and will not upgrade in the future, perhaps, I would consider this a fantastic deal, RM 2088 body + 18-55mm Nikkor lens + other standard accessories. But I cannot deny the possibility that I may, upgrade in the future and the D40 will not be able to cope with the changes and I will be plagued by the dilemma of having to sell off the D40x and to fund another camera body on top of the new lenses that I might want to buy.
Money is a scarcity and should not be spent without wisdom and proper planning yah.
The final contender is the Pentax K100D. Everything is right for this camera, the price of RM 2200 for body + 18-55mm Pentax DA kit lens + standard accessories, the cam has functions that not any other budget cameras have, like the built-in sensor shift image stabilisor AND dust removal technology. Even the Pentax kit lens had some credible qualities in it, unlike other famous brands that gives chepo quality kit lens. Someone somewhere on the internet even quoted that Pentax is a poor man's Leica and we all know that Leica lenses are one of the best in the world. The camera would have been a perfect buy if only it doesnt run on AA batteries.
Now, i've had bad experiences with AA batteries in camera. My first digicam, the Oly C350Z used to eat batteries like cookie monster devouring Christmas cookies, barely 10 shots and I found myself running out of power. And I was using GP 1800 rechargables! I remember the trouble of having to carry the camera, 8 AA batteries and 2 bulky chargers for every trip I made with the camera. I dreaded the experience and from then on, I told myself, no more AAs for me.
But how can I resist the K100D Super? I've done some research and people actually recommend using Eneloops which apparently has a very efficient self-discharge rate. Price is OK but problem is, its not easy to get those from a proper and reliable shop. But it's not really a big deal, just that it's got to worth the hassle that I have to go through just for the batteries alone. And from my past lesson, i better get 8 batteries at least. Once bitten twice shy. The savings that I get can be pumped into getting an external flash (2nd hand perhaps) and a polarizer filter.
But then again, Pentax is not exactly a very famous brand for the novice; say Pentax and everyone will go 'huh?' and immediately conjures the image of some plasticky looking rejected toy camera from the 80s. Pentax makes very very good lenses but the only problem is the BRANDING. Why is Canon so famous? Just say Nikon and everyone will go ooh-aah. Branding. Both brands have very famous ambassadors but not Pentax. They have aggresive marketing too. And because Pentax isnt very widely marketed, other lens makers just dont quite bother to make lens with Pentax mounts. Hence, people shy away from buying a Pentax at the prospect of not having compatibility with other cheaper and good lens. Just my two cents worth.
So in the meantime, I will look around for better deals, and new launches. But in my heart, I think I have more or less decided on .........