Professionals and amateurs alike are still faced with the same challenges when choosing their camera system, but the world of digital marketing has changed how that challenge is presented. In the film days size, durability and features were the prime considerations, and how the camera feels in your hand was the other side of that coin. These are still the prime considerations, but those problems are obfuscated by the clever marketing words camera companies use to sway us to their team.
I prefer Pentax cameras. Like most DSLRs, Pentax offers a camera that takes great pictures. Most cameras take great pictures, especially if you're doing portraits or prints at 8x10 or smaller. So, what makes one camera better than another? It all boils down to how the piece feels in your hand, and the subtle features that you don't think you'll need, until you need them.
I currently use the Pentax K-3.
The weather sealing on the K-3 is pretty awesome as well. I love taking pictures in the rain without having to worry. Waterfalls and rivers pose no problem either. If you're wondering if the weather sealing actually works, it does. I've drenched my camera while shooting away having a great time.
The K-3 is made of a pretty rugged metal, which means my clumsy self has NOT broken my camera despite dropping it on many occasions.
The subtle features of Pentax make me love this camera even more: The three customizable user modes are awesome. I have one set up to take black and white images that replicate my favorite b&w film, one custom mode that is full manual, but the top lcd panel lights up (I keep the top lcd off to save battery - I take a lot of pictures), and custom mode 3 is TAV mode with the top lcd on. TAV is a great mode that allows you to set the shutter speed and aperture, but allow the cameras built-in meter to decide the ISO. I don't let the lack of light stop me from taking pictures, so being able to turn on the top panel LCD with a switch is a beloved feature for me. The great high-ISO performance of the K-3 helps me keep shooting even in the dark.
One of the features the Pentax K-3 (and the K-50, K-500, K-5, K-7 etc.) have that I prefer over all other cameras is the location of the shutter/aperture dials. Unlike one very popular camera, Pentax puts the shutter speed dial on the front, where your index finger rests, and the aperture is on the back. I don't know why, but this has always been my preference. Even on film cameras I like to control the shutter speed by finger rather than thumb.
Another feature unique to Pentax digital SLRs that I absolutely LOVE is the way you stop down. Most cameras have a button somewhere around the lens mount that stops down the aperture so you can get a depth-of-field preview in the viewfinder. I hate that. The Pentax K-3 uses the off/on switch that surrounds the shutter button. You turn it towards the right to get your DOF preview - once again, I like doing things with my finger, especially when it can be done without taking my finger off the shutter button.
Even if all these little features didn't tickle my fancy, the K-3 feels great in my hands. I love holding the camera, it feels like it was made specifically for me. This is probably the single most ignored consideration when buying a camera, and it's the most important to me. If you use your camera every day, it should feel like a part of you, not like a pain that you have learned to tolerate, but like something you were born with. When people ask me what camera they should buy, I always suggest holding a ton of cameras first. Decide what feels good in your hands and narrow it down from there.
To see what other gear I use, click HERE. Use the comment section below to tell me what camera YOU love, and why, and to ask me what you would like me to tell you about the world of photography and cameras.