Friday, November 15, 2013

Pentax K20D - Still Loving It

Pentax K20D - Still Loving It

Yeah it's five years old, and this is my third K20D. And yes, Pentax has the new  K-3 out there now. There are those that wonder why I still hold onto some older DSLR cameras when there are so many new and shiny DSLRS's available on the market, especially with the Pentax K-3flagship dangling in front of me. The answer in short, is that I reserve the right to have specific tastes. I've liked many cameras and have loved but a few. I won't talk about the one's I've hated- it's pointless. My needs are as specific as anyone else's and, just as unique. Sometimes we photographers agree on our tastes/needs and sometimes we don't. That's life. With that said, I find great satisfaction in sharing my opinion with others, and, at the same time, I find equal satisfaction in listening to theirs. Humans can be a fickle species, and I'm no different. Needs and desires change all the time, admittedly desires more than needs, but nevertheless we all have that in common to one degree or another.

In my review of the Pentax K20D I raved about everything I liked and mentioned some of the areas I wish were improved. Today, I'm just having an open dialogue about the K20D and why it's a special camera to me. This camera takes a permanent seat in my all time ten greatest cameras I've ever used or owned.

On quiet mornings alone in the mountains or deserts, I exist with my camera. Clouds threaten, but I've expected this. I'm out there at 5:45am to experience these beautiful places and try to capture rare lighting as a prize for all of my efforts. Alone in the wilderness or desert can play tricks on your fears or instincts, weather can be a real concern too. Even a small injury far out in these places puts me in serious danger, especially considering if I've no way to communicate to the world.

My alone time is infinitely valuable. The last thing I want to do out there is worry about equipment being unable to handle the environment I've chosen to be in. Whether it be cold, rain, dust... whatever, my equipment should handle it. Also, when moments present themselves, I don't want to be using a camera that was designed by salesman and not photographers. Salesman never get camera design right. Photographers know that everything rides on your equipment working as it should, when it should, and it should perform second nature to all of your efforts.


Comfortable grips, smooth  lines, plenty of easy to use external controls, and a really big and bright view.


The K20D is one such camera that never seems to get in my way when I'm shooting. I don't have to worry about it handling the same elements I choose to thrust myself into (sometimes extreme), and I don't run into frustrating moments operating it-ever. It's extremely comfortable to use with both hands, gloves on or gloves off. The view through the viewfinder is large, bright, and crisp. The battery life is most pleasing as well, one less thing to worry about. There are plenty of features available that adapt to my needs as light changes, and as my desire changes.

This is when camera design counts the most, when you are in the midst of shooting. When all the efforts you've made to be out there collide in a moment you see with your eyes that need to be photographed. A camera should become part of you, part of the process, it should be personal. Photography, is personal. A camera should never frustrate you or get in your way of making a photograph of a decisive moment. Some cameras may perform better in certain aspects than the K20D, but few, if any, are as second nature to use for me as the K20D is.

That, is what really counts. Spec sheets won't win you the prize of a beautiful photograph. Bragging points won't put a 24x36" print on your wall or studio. If you abandon a camera you love to use  for one you wont because it has a better spec sheet, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.  Photographs should be the goal of all of our efforts, mentally, physically, and monetarily. Right? Don't let temptation ruin a perfectly good relationship.

Good advise to be used for many different circumstances in life, I think.

At the end of the day, the K20D is more than capable enough to fulfill nearly all of my photographic needs, both in the field and on prints. It's a special camera that I enjoy using. And while I review cameras here on a very regular basis, there are few that I've loved using more than the K20D. Yes you could say that in the end, as odd as it may sound, I love the K20D. And I probably will till the day I'm no longer here.

Enjoy photography.

-Carl Garrard





12 comments:

  1. Excellent story. My K5 replaced my K20 several years ago as my main camera but I still use my K20 and enjoy it.

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  2. My K20D is still going strong and I enjoy shooting with it. Yes, It has a few weak points if we compare it with newer bodies - but that won't be a fair comparison :) Thanks for this commemorative review, I agree with it 100%!

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  3. I bought my K20D on internet. Exellent condition and only 3000 pics. on the counter. Price: 400$.
    Great story,great camera. By the way,I still have my Pentax Spotmatic I bought in Japan back in 1974.
    That too a great piece!

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  4. ha ha... same story here. I have my third K20D. I have bought the last one this summer and it was unexpected. Just saw it on the second hand market: body +battery grip, looks like new, only 10.000 shutter actuations for about 350 bucks/270 euros... and I could'nt resist. I had Kx, K7, K5 but I allways was missing those lines, control layout and feeling of the camera in the hands... I know, even Kx is much more better technically (high ISO performance, dynamic range, despite KX sensor produces only 12bit raw files), but the colors and rendering of that samsung sensor in the K20D is something what I like very much... Just don't go above ISO 800 and K20D will do the job well.

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  5. Hi Carl,

    Happy New Year.

    I enjoy reading your blog and was wondering if we can expect any more activity?

    Thanks.

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  6. thank you yes indeed, working on multiple things right now... more is coming, I promise!

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  7. Carl, you've inspired me to get a K20D. I have been shooting Sony, but still have my Kx and a few nice old primes. I found a K20D at a great price with a grip, extra battery and only 3500 shutter actuations. Thing is, the shutter sounds funny to me. There is a kind of chirp or squeak as the shutter is going back up. I asked a couple of guys at my the shop (where I bought the camera) and they thought it sounded ok. Is that really normal for this body? I could post a recording to Soundcloud or YouTube. Thanks

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  8. Hi Troy, no that's not normal that sound, almost like something needs to be lubed on the mirror lift linkage... :(

    Glad you got one though, its a great camera...

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  9. I agree overall, even though I don't shoot with the K20D much at all anymore. OK, probably not at all honestly. Still, it has more of a pro feel to it than any camera I've owned - which includes an LX and a Canon 5D. Nothing ever goes wrong, never freezes up (unlike the K-30). Put that 16mp sensor in the K20D, I'd be a happy camper.

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  10. I agree overall, even though I don't shoot with the K20D much at all anymore. OK, probably not at all honestly. Still, it has more of a pro feel to it than any camera I've owned - which includes an LX and a Canon 5D. Nothing ever goes wrong, never freezes up (unlike the K-30). Put that 16mp sensor in the K20D, I'd be a happy camper.

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  11. I agree overall, even though I don't shoot with the K20D much at all anymore. OK, probably not at all honestly. Still, it has more of a pro feel to it than any camera I've owned - which includes an LX and a Canon 5D. Nothing ever goes wrong, never freezes up (unlike the K-30). Put that 16mp sensor in the K20D, I'd be a happy camper.

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  12. what a wonderful story about a wonderful camera. I'm just learning about the k20 after a year of it over my shoulder. I'm constantly looking online at fuji and sigma and...well something better for sports or better low light. And I just can't pull the switch. My k20 is my companion and expresseswho I am in evry shot I squeeze off. people complain about lugging around a heavy camera and a bunch of lenses. I feel just the opposite - the k20's character and lovely artistic approach to the world is the best.

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