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Monday, March 19, 2007

Viewfinders, Round 12

I was able to compare the viewfinders of the Pentax K10D and Nikon D80 today, and discovered that they are exactly the same size.


ADDENDUM: I didn't shoot with these cameras or do any sort of detailed comparison, and am not prepared to write a full review of either of them, separately or together. Although I agree it would be an interesting article.

One thing I can say is that the D80 feels markedly more comfortable in my hand and held to my eye, although I could certainly live with the Pentax. This is not a judgment of either camera, really; it's simply personal preference, and you might feel the same or the opposite. It does underscore the need to "heft and hold" a camera yourself before making up your mind about it. When the Nikon D70 and Canon XT were current, I knew people who strongly preferred the ergonomics and hand-feel of one, and other people who felt the same way about the other. It's still an important consideration for most people even though it's completely subjective.

ADDENDUM 2: Oh, and for what it's worth, the salesman was concerned when I asked to see the K10D and the D80 together, apparently fearing that the D80 would suffer in comparison. He suggested that the D200 was a more appropriate comparison for the K10D, and pulled one out and set it on the counter for me without being asked.


Blogger Richard Ripley said...

Hi Mike:

Have you had a chance to compare the D80 with the Pentax K10? I'm thinking about upgrading from my D70 and I've been considering the D80, K10 and the Nikon D200. I know it is all about the pictures but I would like to hear your $.50 worth (or more for that matter).

BTW, I finally had a chance to get your photo framed and it looks great. Thanks!

12:08 AM  
Blogger said...

but are they ... the same brightness?

Cue ominous music.

1:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What is your conclusion about these accessories ???

5:47 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"but are they ... the same brightness?"

That I couldn't compare, as they didn't have identical lenses mounted.


6:31 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"What is your conclusion about these accessories ???"

What accessories?


6:33 AM  
Blogger Glennsp said...

Richard, as you already have a Nikon, and therefore Nikon glass, unless you consider the Pentax K10 to be significantly better wouldn't it make sense to stick with Nikon?
Please understand there is no implied criticism of the fact you asked and my question is based on curiosity.
Personally I would consider choosing between the D200 and the K10 to be a difficult choice to make.

Aha, I know, shoot the bank manager and get both.

7:27 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

There you go, dissing Canon again!*

7:36 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Geek alert! If you take the magnification, coverage and FOV crop figures, (taken from DpReview)magnify the first two and divide by the crop factor, you arrive at the following, relative to 35mm:

D80: 0.94 x 95% / 1.5 = 0.595
K10D: 0.95 x 95% / 1.5 = 0.602
30D: 0.90 x 95% / 1.6 = 0.534
E1: 0.96 x 100% / 2.0 = 0.480

Unfortunately for the E1, despite it's excellent spec. viewfinder, the 4/3rds designers are up against it on this issue.

Let's hope the D80 and K10D set the new standard for the other manufacturers to follow.

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Viewfinder brightness is an important issue. I have been a Canon user for a number of years and in order to get a bright viewfinder in a Canon dslr you need to purchase a 5d or ID series camera. These bosies are out of the price range of most buyers. I don't know why Canon negelects this in their lower priced bodies while Nikon and other brands don't. Of course this may not be a make or break decision for some one who already has a number of Canon mount lenses, but it certainly should be an issue for someone who is selecting their first dslr camera body with interchangeable lenses. As a Canon user I wish Canon would get more competitive in this area.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Player said...

Mike, that saleman was trying to tell you something: GET A NIKON! ;)

C'mon, we all know Nikon is the best.* :)

*TA (troll alert)

9:33 AM  
Blogger Paul M said...

Michael Digital,

I don't think that the viewfinders are less bright on the smaller frame canon cameras. For me the difference comes from using far faster lenses on the 5d then I was using with my rebel xt. The 17-85mm f4 lens that I used on the XT was claustrophobic to use. The 50mm 1.4 or 35 f2 that I use on the 5d are bright and big.

That to me is the biggest reason to prefer fast glass over IS. There is a big difference in what you see when you are using a fast lens vs. a slower zoom.


11:09 AM  
Blogger DarkPenguin said...

I'm using the 400d right now. I think its viewfinder is made of plywood.

11:10 AM  
Blogger J said...

Viewfinder brightness is an important issue. I have been a Canon user for a number of years and in order to get a bright viewfinder in a Canon dslr you need to purchase a 5d or ID series camera. These bosies are out of the price range of most buyers.

An astute comment, but with one addendum. The 1 series bodies are expensive if bought new. However, a used 1 series body is just now coming down to the price level of a new or lightly used 20D/30D/XTi. I started with a RebelXT and loved everything about it, especially after I added a grip. However, after trying a friend's 1D I was shocked. I immediately sold my XT and found a good used 1D. While my new-to-me 1D may not magically make my pictures better, the experience of the big viewfinder (and autofocus) makes taking those pictures much more enjoyable. I'm stepping up to a camera that may not measure up to the latest in megapixels, lcd size, battery life, etc but far outclasses my old XT in overall feel and performance. And I'm doing it for less than than $1K. There are options if one is willing to forgo the absolute latest and greatest.


11:34 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...


Actually, I probably would if they'd put VR in a body or two. Those who live without VR in the body are sadly ignorant of what they are missing.


*TR (troll response)

3:01 PM  
Blogger dkloi said...

I've been told that viewfinder brightness and focus accuracy are hard to simultaneously satisfy. I'd be interested in how the K10D and D80 compare with the ML screen on the 7D in these regards. Since I hardly use small aperture zooms, the reduced brightness is not such an issue but I can manually focus f/1.4 or f/2 lenses quite accurately with the ML screen. I even get better manual focus on the 7D than on the 7 with the standard G screen.

I hope the new Alpha cameras will have interchangeable screens, just to make manual focus feasible.

3:07 PM  
Blogger ribbit said...

Hey Mike

I don't have VR in my camera body - how would they manage to get it to work in a 5x4 field camera anyway? :)

3:13 PM  
Blogger mike said...

Regarding purchasing a used 1D series Canon body - I don't feel comfortable buying a professionally used camera body for that sort of pricing. Those cameras are used hard, often with very high shutter counts.

I'd rather buy a new camera (even with less features) that has a warranty and no use.

3:33 PM  
Blogger PK said...

I also looked through a D80 and a K10D viewfinder side by side... and what I couldn't help noticing was, that the D80 viewfinder had a green cast.

The other thing I noticed, separate from the viewfinder, is that the K10D (which I ended up buying) exposes in a way that much more aggressively protects highlights. With some kinds of contrasty scenes it could expose almost two stops dimmer than the nikon did.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"I've been told that viewfinder brightness and focus accuracy are hard to simultaneously satisfy."

This can be true, but only when you're focusing manually. I know that's probably what you're talking about, given the rest of what you said, but I thought I'd point it out for others, just to be clear.


3:40 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"VR in my camera body - how would they manage to get it to work in a 5x4 field camera anyway?"

Heh. Your VR has three legs!


3:41 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

D80: 0.94 x 95% / 1.5 = 0.595
K10D: 0.95 x 95% / 1.5 = 0.602
30D: 0.90 x 95% / 1.6 = 0.534
E1: 0.96 x 100% / 2.0 = 0.480

Given the above, it's amazing how well the 7D (announced Feb. 2004, reviewed Jan. 2005) holds up against the other APS cameras:

KM7D: 0.90 x 95% / 1.5 = 0.57

The published eye point of 25mm also seems markedly better than both the 30D and the D80 (around 20mm). I couldn't find the K10D's eyepoint listed anywhere convenient, but based on the previous comments it seems it must be similar to that of the D80.

This is not the first time that I regret skimping and getting the 5D instead of the 7D. But this was right before the buy-out and I thought a 7D sucessor was going to be forthcoming at the 2006 Photokina.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Player said...

"Those who live without VR in the body are sadly ignorant of what they are missing."

Mike, I find this comment troubling, especially considering the source. I wonder how photographers lived without this feature for over a hundred years, yet still managed sharp pictures, and the greatest photography ever produced? With that in mind, VR doesn't seem essential, just nice to have. Or am I wrong?

9:13 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"Troubling"? Why?

Were photographers of any age unhappy with the truly useful advances of their respective eras? The Daguerreotypist welcomed positive-negative processes, with their promise of multiple prints; the albumen photographer was only too happy when he no longer had to coat his plate in the field, so it would be wet during exposure; flexible film made it unnecessary to cart around heavy, fragile glass plates; the advent of enlarging made smaller, more portable, hand-held cameras practical; fast lenses and faster films made indoor and low-light photography without tripods possible; Kodachrome made vivid color feasible for the first time; Polaroid made it possible to get near-instant feedback. Digital photography means no more expense, effort, and long waits for processing. All I can say about IS is to repeat what I said about it in this blog back on Feb. 22, 2006:

"...AS/IS/VR, or whatever they want to call it, is something I'm personally totally sold on. It has proven more useful to me in my own photography than almost any camera innovation I can think of in my entire lifetime; that includes autofocus, built-in motor drives, "Matrix" or multi-segment evaluative metering...even digital capture itself! All those things (and a dozen other innovations I've watched go by) are useful and meaningful advances in varying degrees too. But day in, day out, image stabilization is more useful to me than any other single technological advancement."

C'est la. Your mileage may vary.


11:08 AM  
Blogger Player said...

"'Troubling'? Why?"

Mike, "troubling" in the sense that I shoot Nikon, and my cameras don't offer VR (if, indeed, I am "ignorant" of what I'm missing). :)

I totally respect your opinion, and I know how much thought and research you put into everything you conclude, but I always saw VR as being akin to autofocus: I have AF, obviously, but I could live without it, it's nice to have. I have a hard time seeing VR as being as revolutionary, as say, the introduction of film, but that's exactly what you're saying. Troubling!

12:22 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Well, I think I've covered this before, although it may have been in my BWP magazine review of the K-M 7D.

It mainly depends on what your work is like. If you shoot in the studio with strobes all the time or whatever, then IS/VR won't make any difference to you. If, like me, you've been struggling against the limitation of low available light for 20 years, then IS/VR and high DSLR ISOs will make you feel like you've died and gone to heaven. So it all depends.

And I need to learn to stop using loaded words like "ignorant." Let's just say you don't know what you're missing. That's a nicer way of putting it, with no insult embedded in the phrasing.


1:44 PM  
Blogger Player said...

Thanks for taking the time Mike. Your explanation is clear, and that's fair enough.

BTW, I didn't know I was being insulted, either implicitly, or explicitly. :) To me, "ignorant" is an apt way of implying "a lack of knowledge."

Thanks again!

2:26 PM  

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