Art and Photography

Comparing Cameras for Travel to Southeast Asia

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  • May 25th, 2019 3:00 pm
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Comparing Cameras for Travel to Southeast Asia

Hey RFD,

We're heading on a trip for the month of July to Southeast Asia and I've just recently got a bunch of cameras on deals from bestbuy. I had a $400 gift card and decided to purchase:
1) Nikon D3500 + 18-55mm kit lens + 70-300mm kit lens for $549+tax
2) GoPro Hero7 Black for $413+tax

And was given the following from my mother:
1) Pentax K-50 + 18-55mm kit lens + 28-135mm manual focus vivitar lens

I'm debating if I should keep the Pentax K50 and return the Nikon and keep the gopro for going to the beaches, or just keeping the Nikon and returning the gopro and the Pentax. I'm more concerned about the photo quality and I'm just not sure which is better the Pentax or the Nikon. But keeping the Pentax would let me keep the GoPro without feeling too guilty about the $$.

What do you think?
39 replies
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Apr 18, 2012
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Main differences are:
-sensor resolution better for Nikon = 24mpx vs 16 mpx for Pentax (doesn,t mean photos are better in higher mpx)
-connectivity with smartphone/tablet, where the Nikon has bluetooth
- This Nikon model has probably more recent technology as it more recent... the K-30 was released in 2013... and should probably be conmpared to a Pentax K-70... if that would be the case, the K-70 would clearly be a winner.

Oherwise both would be pretty similar performance-wise... but it depends what type of photography you intend to do overthere: Nature? Landscapes? Macro (yes you should bring a macro lens too... ) Portrait?

You could Keep your money and but get an AF long zoom for the Pentax on the used market for cheap... (such as a 55-300mm WR)

Otherwise, maybe a bridge that would allow you to do all this could be an interesting option (such as a Nikon P600, P900 etc) or similar models, such as Panasnic Lumix Tz-80 or similar compact models, all depends what you want to photograph... only drawback, is their sensor size...
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Pentax K50 is a very decent camera, it is weather sealed as well, no problem on beaches. D3500 is a very entry level model, nothing special about it other than slightly more mp.
Lenses will influence image quality more than the body. Any modern sensor is capable enough, but you need good lenses and learn to use the camera settings.

I would keep the K50 and get a couple of nice lenses, depending on what you plan to shoot.

https://www.ephotozine.com/article/pent ... view-22468
Last edited by RFDQ1016 on May 13th, 2019 10:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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[OP]
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cotesyl wrote:
May 13th, 2019 10:39 pm
Main differences are:
-sensor resolution better for Nikon = 24mpx vs 16 mpx for Pentax (doesn,t mean photos are better in higher mpx)
-connectivity with smartphone/tablet, where the Nikon has bluetooth
- This Nikon model has probably more recent technology as it more recent... the K-30 was released in 2013... and should probably be conmpared to a Pentax K-70... if that would be the case, the K-70 would clearly be a winner.

Oherwise both would be pretty similar performance-wise... but it depends what type of photography you intend to do overthere: Nature? Landscapes? Macro (yes you should bring a macro lens too... ) Portrait?

You could Keep your money and but get an AF long zoom for the Pentax on the used market for cheap... (such as a 55-300mm WR)

Otherwise, maybe a bridge that would allow you to do all this could be an interesting option (such as a Nikon P600, P900 etc) or similar models, such as Panasnic Lumix Tz-80 or similar compact models, all depends what you want to photograph... only drawback, is their sensor size...
Thank you for the detailed reply! I'd mostly be shooting landscapes but would also want to shoot some wildlife as well as we're planning on visiting a few sanctuaries. For that reason the 70-300 lens seemed like a great option and only reason I was leaning towards Nikon. I've also noticed slightly clearer photos on the d3500 vs the k50 but it may be down to me vs the camera. It's the auto focus that doesn't seem as crisp on the Pentax. Though I really do enjoy the manual focus lens.

Is a bridge camera basically a set purpose camera? I'd be open to more lenses for the Pentax just wasn't sure if it was worth the investment. Would you lean towards k50 for landscapes?
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RFDQ1016 wrote:
May 13th, 2019 10:41 pm
Pentax K50 is a very decent camera, it is weather sealed as well, no problem on beaches.
While the K50 is weather sealed, I wouldn't say that it's no problem on beaches as the beach sand will eventually work it's way into everything whether it's weather sealed or not. In addition, as DSLR, the mount is one of the main points of entry especially if you change the lens when you are at the beach.
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barqers wrote:
May 13th, 2019 10:47 pm
Thank you for the detailed reply! I'd mostly be shooting landscapes but would also want to shoot some wildlife as well as we're planning on visiting a few sanctuaries. For that reason the 70-300 lens seemed like a great option and only reason I was leaning towards Nikon. I've also noticed slightly clearer photos on the d3500 vs the k50 but it may be down to me vs the camera. It's the auto focus that doesn't seem as crisp on the Pentax. Though I really do enjoy the manual focus lens.

Is a bridge camera basically a set purpose camera? I'd be open to more lenses for the Pentax just wasn't sure if it was worth the investment. Would you lean towards k50 for landscapes?

The three things you noted - faster autofocus, better image quality, and longer lens - that you liked better (or noticed that were better) is extremely important as YOU like them better - ie not some internet article or some forum post. As such, you have already created a biased for the Nikon product and you may end up with some level of 'would have/could have/should have' doubt if you keep the Pentax and return the Nikon.

Note> I wouldn't keep the Vivitar lens... anything short of the older (and I mean older) Series 1 Vivitar series of lenses is basically crap. If you keep the Pentax, get rid of the Vivitar lens.
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barqers wrote:
May 13th, 2019 10:50 pm
Thanks! Saw this one but I doubted the accuracy because it says the sensor size is bigger on the k50? Seemed confusing since the Nikon has a higher mp count.
That's precisely why I hate those so-called comparison sites. What they are basically doing is doing some basic math without putting it into context - when you put more pixels in the same area, the pixels need to be smaller in order for those pixels to fit.

Now, why is this an important measurement? It comes down to the ability for the pixel to gather light - the larger the pixel, the more light it can gather so in theory, you'll have better low light performance with a larger pixel with all things being equal. Unfortunately, in this case, all things aren't equal. The D3500 is approx 5 years newer which means that you might be comparing an older generation of sensor to a newer one rendering a comparison of physical pixel size irrelevant...

For a better comparison of image quality, I typically use DXOMark to compare sensors. Currently, DXOMark hasn't tested the D3500 sensor yet but here's a comparison between the K50's sensor and the D3400 (Nikon's previous version of the D3500) - https://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare ... __890_1105

Notice that the overall rating for the D3400 is much higher than the K50. I would bet that the D3500 sensor's performance will be better than the D3400 when they finally test it.
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craftsman wrote:
May 14th, 2019 1:42 am
That's precisely why I hate those so-called comparison sites. What they are basically doing is doing some basic math without putting it into context - when you put more pixels in the same area, the pixels need to be smaller in order for those pixels to fit.

Now, why is this an important measurement? It comes down to the ability for the pixel to gather light - the larger the pixel, the more light it can gather so in theory, you'll have better low light performance with a larger pixel with all things being equal. Unfortunately, in this case, all things aren't equal. The D3500 is approx 5 years newer which means that you might be comparing an older generation of sensor to a newer one rendering a comparison of physical pixel size irrelevant...

For a better comparison of image quality, I typically use DXOMark to compare sensors. Currently, DXOMark hasn't tested the D3500 sensor yet but here's a comparison between the K50's sensor and the D3400 (Nikon's previous version of the D3500) - https://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare ... __890_1105

Notice that the overall rating for the D3400 is much higher than the K50. I would bet that the D3500 sensor's performance will be better than the D3400 when they finally test it.
It is true that bigger pixel has better light capability and it is very important for video from cameras that can't use the full width of the sensor and down sample. For stills, it matters little unless people only pixel peep. Looking at the whole pictures, you'll see that it look pretty much the same because the same sized sensors from or around the same year's technology will gather the same amount of light no matter the pixel density.

I like DXOmark a lot especially for their lenses tests. The way they score their cameras in the other hand can be a bit confusing. Color depth and dynamic range are scored with stops and low-light ISO are scored with some high numbers. It means that for every increment of 1, the color depth and dynamic range will have 1-stop of improvement. For ISO, to have 1-stop improvement, the numbers have to double. So for exemple, ISO 1000 vs ISO 1200, there is only 1/5 stop of improvement and that is almost not visible in real life use.

OP, you should pick the one with the best handling and the most accurate and fast focus between the 2 cameras.
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Isn't July rainy season in South East Asia?

Not that you'll be shooting in torrential downpours, but there might be times when you'd want to shoot in the rain, or aren't able to hit up the beach so you might as well shoot some photos. That might factor into it since the K-50 is weather sealed.
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Apr 18, 2012
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The differences in sensor sizes between the nikon d3500 and the K-50 are neglectable, so do not stick on that, they are both APS-C sensor (i.e. Crop-sensors). In order to really have a good interpretation of those compare sites, one need some background experience, so beware on the provided details (and I can agree, those site are not always 100% accurate. Always refer to the manufacturer's sites for specs in case of doubt)

One have to understand , as stated above, that Weather sealing is good, yes, but it depends on how you manipulate, and REQUIRES ALSO A WR LENS to be fully WR...
I forgot to say that in Pentax, the stabilization is done by the sensor, whereas on most other makes, it's an in-lens SR/VR you would require.

I wouldn't also state that Older vivitar lens are crap... yes probably most zooms, but the Vivitar Series 1 macros (eg, the 105mm, or the "Bokina" 90mm has a really nice rendering and has you may figure out, a wonderful/creamy bokeh... so it all depends...

That is why I recommended a more recent WR pentax zoom with AF

When it comes times to compare those entry-levels camera, DXO comparisons is of little value IMHO... (best for lenses = yes I agree), you would get more confused than other...

Would maybe be better if you could get a hold on a used Pentax K-5 (or more recent models in APS-C, such as K-5ii/K-5iis, K-3/ K-3ii or KP) and some WR zooms.... now you would be in another class of bodies (semi-pro ratings and solid WR bodies)....
The very best being the K-1 (Full frame sensor)

I have been shooting Pentax since I moved to DSLR in 2012, you can see some examples in my photostream www.flickr.com/curculion and dont hesitate to ask if any question resides...

P.s. I use Pentax, because of the cost of ownership being lower... and many Pentax legacy lenses are working very good on modern bodies. They have implemented SMC coating for years, and it's very well handled by Digital bodies in general... , and the PK Mount is till compatible today...

It's not always the case with Canikons, you would need to upgrade your older lenses over time to get acceptable results (marketing / programmed obsolecense )
P.s. if I would go to other brands for DSLR, I would probably go to Nikon, but $$$ !!!
Last edited by cotesyl on May 15th, 2019 12:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Apr 10, 2012
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Are you backpacking? If so, I'm going to throw out a completely different suggestion: take a Sony Rx100 or Canon G9x, if possible.

I was backpacking in S.E. Asia and left my DSLR at home and picked up a used profession PnS, with a Gorillapod and loved it (with 0 regrets). The ability to just keep the camera in my pocket for shots was amazing. No lens swaps, no putting/removing cameras from bags, no extra gear to haul. And I still got the amazing shots I wanted.
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That's for sure, is a good point while travelling. If you want to do some landscapes, especially under low light situations, get a good travel tripod!!! Would be useful to increase DoF and the definition (ISO) under normal light condition...

Pentax has (had, because I think series is now discontinued) the Q series, with interchangeable lenses, which is very capable and has a bigger sensor that most bridges and point and shoot cameras.
https://ricoh-imaging.ca/en/products/ca ... 1/features

You may Look at Q7 or newer Q-S1 for example... (a Q7 can be purchased for 150$ or less on the used market).
These can fit in a very small package
https://ricoh-imaging.ca/en/products/ca ... ifications

And paired with the 06 zoom (15-45mm = FF equivalent of a 70-200mm f2.8 fixed aperture, for sale approx 150$ at amazon... see link below), the std zoom that normally comes with it, and, let's say the 01 prime lens, would be a nice kit...
https://www.amazon.ca/Pentax-Telephoto- ... B0099ORHB8

(Also do not forget some spare batteries! Whatever the camera)
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cotesyl wrote:
May 15th, 2019 12:36 am
That's for sure, is a good point while travelling. If you want to do some landscapes, especially under low light situations, get a good travel tripod!!! Would be useful to increase DoF and the definition (ISO) under normal light condition...

Pentax has (had, because I think series is now discontinued) the Q series, with interchangeable lenses, which is very capable and has a bigger sensor that most bridges and point and shoot cameras.
https://ricoh-imaging.ca/en/products/ca ... 1/features

You may Look at Q7 or newer Q-S1 for example... (a Q7 can be purchased for 150$ or less on the used market).
These can fit in a very small package
https://ricoh-imaging.ca/en/products/ca ... ifications

And paired with the 06 zoom (15-45mm = FF equivalent of a 70-200mm f2.8 fixed aperture, for sale approx 150$ at amazon... see link below), the std zoom that normally comes with it, and, let's say the 01 prime lens, would be a nice kit...
https://www.amazon.ca/Pentax-Telephoto- ... B0099ORHB8

(Also do not forget some spare batteries! Whatever the camera)
Pentax's Q series have a sensor of 1/1.7 inch, it's quite smaller than the RX100's sensor. I'll take a RX100, even the mk 1, before any Q.
15-45mm is not equal to FF equivalent of 70-200mm F2.8, but more like around 70-200mm F13 (the crop factor is 4.5 times). FF 70-200mm F2.8 lenses are way bigger than the Pentax 06 because of the physic of the light, they need to be this big.

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