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Author Topic: D40 vs. K100D vs. XTi  (Read 38272 times)
Fnarf
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« on: March 13, 2007, 03:51:57 PM »
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I'm sure this has been asked a million times before, but I'm asking again. I'm looking at buying a new DSLR for general purposes: travel, snapshots, landscapes, portraits, weirdo art photography, you name it.

I currently shoot a 40-year-old Nikon F, which is pretty much bomb-proof, and have a large collection of lenses, finders, and other gear that's not going to help me at all. I customarily scan my film and am pretty adept in Photoshop CS2. I also shoot an older Panasonic wide-zoom point and shoot digital (FZ3) and a large variety of weird cameras, junkstore stuff, half-frame (Kyocera Samurai), pinhole, etc. etc. My favorite setup of all is the Nikon F with a gigantic "Speed Magny" polaroid back on it. I'm not very talented but I have a lot of range! But I want to get a bit more serious.

I don't have a lot of money. Discussions of the merits of the Canon 5D versus Nikon D2 are of no use to me. The cameras I'm looking at are the Nikon D40, the Canon Digital Rebel XTi, and the Pentax K100D, with some sidelong glances at the D200 (can't afford it) and the Pentax K10D.

I don't care about megapixels. My primary output is on the web.  10 MP isn't really anything more than a pain for me, as it means more cards and more processing time (a lot of which is just throwing pixels away, yawn). What I DO want, and can't get from any P&S, is: decent glass, shooting in the dark, shooting wide and very wide, and the flexibility of changing lenses.

The D40 sounds perfect. The only problem is, its $200 price advantage over Canon disappears when you factor in the 12-24mm lens that works with it, which is $200 more than the comparable (and apparently significantly better) Canon 10-20mm EF lens that works with the XTi. The fabulous new 18-200mm lens from Nikon is moot, because it's out of stock everywhere and it's too expensive. So I'm thinking about the D40 with the kit lens plus the 12-24mm, and then adding the new 55-200 VR lens later when I can afford it. Wide is more important to me than long, at least at first.

I know everyone says Canon kicks %$# in the high ISO category, but in my price range I've looked at the test shots everywhere and I just don't see it. They look very close to me. Especially at my expected output resolution I think it's better to have the 3200 ISO option than not.

But then I started look at the Pentax. It has virtually every feature I want except RGB histograms. I think I can live without that. If I change my mind, or you change it for me, there's always the K10D, which has that nice weatherproofing too. And Pentax has a VERY INTERESTING lens selection: good ranges, good primes (there are no primes for the D40), and great prices, because the anti-shake is on the camera. Assuming Pentax doesn't get blown out of the DSLR market, this looks like a system I can build on, maybe upgrading my body in a few years. The same applies to Nikon and Canon, but the lens choices are more expensive like-for-like. Causing me further pain is Pentax's extensive rebate program right now which is making it very hard not to just pick up the phone and max out the credit card this minute, even though that means most of my photographs will be of me sitting in my new post-divorce apartment.

Comments eagerly awaited. Particularly bitterly partisan ones from the legions of Canon and Nikon zealots!
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2007, 04:27:07 PM »
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The Xti is a nice camera but the viewfinder is insanely small.  I know nothing of the d40 but if you want bright lenses you usually want primes and, well, good luck with that.  If I was starting over I'd get the pentax for the great primes and those two new f2.8 zooms they've got coming in may.
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Fnarf
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« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2007, 04:37:10 PM »
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The Xti is a nice camera but the viewfinder is insanely small.  I know nothing of the d40 but if you want bright lenses you usually want primes and, well, good luck with that.  If I was starting over I'd get the pentax for the great primes and those two new f2.8 zooms they've got coming in may.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=106516\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Thanks. I'm really leaning Pentax, for the glass, right now. There is Nikon and Canon glass as good (not primes though) but not at a similar price -- those VR-on-the-lens motors are expensive.

The XTi feels really bad in my hand, I have to say, while the Nikon feels great even though it's tiny. The menus, meh -- I like the Nikon better but it's not a huge difference. I haven't handled a Pentax yet. My pro-photographer buddy of course says stuff like "go Canon all the way, that's all anybody uses now, the 5D is what you want", but he is strangely unwilling to hand over the extra dough required to buy the thing.

When people say "Canons are flat-out better in low light, high-ISO situations" are they referring only to the 5D or better?
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2007, 05:00:51 PM »
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I have a Canon 5D and a fair amount of expensive Canon glass, and I love it all.

I used Pentax film cameras for many years and found them (and the lenses) excellent. If they had gotten into serious digital a bit earlier, I wouldn't have ditched all my Pentax gear for Canon.

Having said all that, I would suggest going with the Nikon if that feels good in your hands. Nikon and Canon both make excellent lenses and cameras and some dogs as well. Pentax is playing catch up, and I hope they succeed. But since you are familiar with Nikon already, and the D40 feels "right", why not go for it?

There seem to be many more Canon users than Nikon users on the LL forum, but the Nikon users include some very fine photographers (I think immediately of Bernard L. and Lisa "NNiko", though Bernard also sometimes uses some fancy zip-whiz Medium Format monster with 19 gazillion megapixels.)

Good luck in your quest, and let us know what you decide on.
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2007, 05:02:53 PM »
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Everyone is catching up.  The 30D should be better in low light than the Xti.  The 20D certainly is.
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pcrov
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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2007, 07:42:34 PM »
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I gotta say I love my K10D. I use it extensively with the 12-24mm and classic limited series primes and it's absolutely a dream to handle. If I was shopping for a travel rig I wouldn't hesitate to go with the K100D and trio of limited pancakes. (And for going wider the 14mm prime would balance on the smaller body better than the 12-24.)

That said, if you're happy with Nikon now you're not likely going to be disappointed in any of their current offerings. There's not a bum in the lot.

Both Pentax and Nikon make damn fine cameras (and Canon makes a pretty good sensor.)
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Fnarf
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« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2007, 09:03:35 PM »
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Just to reiterate -- the Nikon I am "comfortable with" now is forty years old, fully manual everything, heavy and strong enough to pound tent pegs in with. All my lens are Non-AI, which means they are never going to be useful on any Nikon digital offering. So I'm hardly locked into anything. Well, I suppose I could use my circular polarizer....

The Pentax is making me sweat right now. I need to go look at one. The viewfinder is apparently not too hot, about like the XTi. That's a good idea, mix the 14 prime as my superwide instead of the zoom. I'm not super concerned about balance, having experience with crazy-heavy and weird setups. I'm not really familiar with zoom; my Panasonic point-and-shoot has electronic (lever) zoom, which is very different, and frankly I like the mental focus of a prime. Those pancakes look sweet.

I'm narrowing it down. I don't think the Canon is going to work; I just can't get into a higher price point on a body, and I don't want to live with the XTi for X years just so I can get into that very nice super-wide zoom of theirs.

Does anyone have any experience with Pentax's 16-44mm f/4.0 wide zoom? It's a little pricier than the kit lens.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2007, 09:12:15 PM »
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There seem to be many more Canon users than Nikon users on the LL forum, but the Nikon users include some very fine photographers (I think immediately of Bernard L. and Lisa "NNiko", though Bernard also sometimes uses some fancy zip-whiz Medium Format monster with 19 gazillion megapixels.)

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=106523\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thanks Eric, laughed out loud in the office when reading that.

If I were to start from zero today, I would seriously consider Pentax, because they make nice camera, and also to help them balance up the playing field a little. 3 competitors are better than 2.

Now, it is true that Canon and Nikon offer more complete systems which could help enabling some types of photography (like low light photography with the 5D for instance). If you pick the Nikon route, make sure to also consider the new D40x (10MP version of the D40). Amazingly, the guys who wrote the PMA report for LL didn't even mention it, but it will be available for sales in one week from now.

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: March 13, 2007, 09:14:43 PM by BernardLanguillier » Logged

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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2007, 11:17:55 PM »
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Amazingly, the guys who wrote the PMA report for LL didn't even mention it, but it will be available for sales in one week from now.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=106551\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Maybe the LL Canon censors made them cut all references to Nikon.  
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brycv
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« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2007, 12:01:28 AM »
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The Pentax is making me sweat right now. I need to go look at one. The viewfinder is apparently not too hot, about like the XTi. That's a good idea, mix the 14 prime as my superwide instead of the zoom. I'm not super concerned about balance, having experience with crazy-heavy and weird setups. I'm not really familiar with zoom; my Panasonic point-and-shoot has electronic (lever) zoom, which is very different, and frankly I like the mental focus of a prime. Those pancakes look sweet.

I'm narrowing it down. I don't think the Canon is going to work; I just can't get into a higher price point on a body, and I don't want to live with the XTi for X years just so I can get into that very nice super-wide zoom of theirs.

Does anyone have any experience with Pentax's 16-44mm f/4.0 wide zoom? It's a little pricier than the kit lens.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=106550\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I love my Pentax K10D and K100D bodies. I find the viewfinder excellent in both cameras. I added Katz Eye Optics custom focusing screens which give me the feeling of the old manual cameras and I love it. I find the Pentax DA 12-24/4.0 to be a superb lens. Although I own one, I rarely use my Pentax DA 16-45/4.0 lens these days. I have lots of great shots that I have taken with it and the Pentax *ist D I used to own. I mostly use the three DA Limited pancakes and a few other primes. The DA 16-45/4.0 gets great comments on other forums and seems to be an excellent choice. I like mine and find it excellent but I just prefer prime lenses these days.

My opinion is that you can't go wrong with the Pentax K100D. I have two K10D bodies and I still find myself carrying the K100D around. It just takes great pictures with very little effort. The sensor does a great job and I find the results very pleasing. The K10D does a great job as well but is a little bit larger and doesn't fit as well in my pocket. I often just carry the K100D with the DA 40/2.8 Limited lens.

As far as ergonomics go, I love the K100D and K10D. Pentax seems to have a better grasp of the importance of how a camera feels than either Canon or Nikon. Of course that is just my opinion but I also have two Canon EOS 20D bodies and they are no comparison to the Pentax K10D or K100D in ergonomics. I jumped ship to Canon just a little too soon and then jumped back with the Pentax K100D. I have not held the Nikon D40 or Canon Digital Rebel XTi but the Canon's predecessors felt awful in my hand.

The other thing that I love about my Pentax system is the availability of used lenses on eBay and other sites. You can find all kinds of neat stuff for reasonable prices. Through this search, I was able to add the Pentax A* 400/2.8, FA* 80-200/2.8, FA* 28-70/2.8, A* 200/4.0 Macro, and a number of other lenses. Anyway, those are just my thoughts. Good luck in your decision.

Bryan
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2007, 03:32:45 AM »
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Maybe the LL Canon censors made them cut all references to Nikon.   
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You said it Eric.

It isn't that bad... It just reminds me of an article about a game between Russian and the US.

The American team had won, but the way it was reported in the Russian press was "The Russan team finished second and the Americans next to last"...

Cheers,
Bernard
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2007, 09:06:09 AM »
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You said it Eric.

It isn't that bad... It just reminds me of an article about a game between Russian and the US.

The American team had won, but the way it was reported in the Russian press was "The Russan team finished second and the Americans next to last"...

Cheers,
Bernard
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=106575\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Thanks for passing that one on. I love it!

Actually, I try to be tolerant of those second-place Nikon users, since my brother is a Nikonite.

Eric
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NikosR
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« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2007, 10:38:14 AM »
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My primary output is on the web.


Get whatever fits your hands and eye better and just feels best.


PS. For somebody with no dSLR experience and whose primary output is the web, you seem to have very strong opinions. Re. the Canon 10-22 is significantly better than the Nikon 12-24.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2007, 10:39:04 AM by NikosR » Logged

Nikos
Fnarf
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« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2007, 11:51:44 AM »
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PS. For somebody with no dSLR experience and whose primary output is the web, you seem to have very strong opinions. Re. the Canon 10-22 is significantly better than the Nikon 12-24.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=106604\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That's not what I said--I said "apparently significantly better"; you dropped "apparently" and added the bold. I'm just repeating what I've seen in my research. Even a strong Nikon advocate like Ken Rockwell says it's a much better lens, because it has much less distortion at the low end, and makes even him claim to think he might switch to Canon if he was just starting out. If someone here feels differently I'd love to hear it.

See, megapixels don't matter to me, but barrel distortion does. So does really wide angle; I can crop down to simulate a really long lens but even in Photoshop it's kind of hard to fake the parts at the sides that didn't make it into the picture.

As for the Nikon D40x, it isn't going to be a finalist, because the only real difference between it and the D40 is 10 MP vs. 6, and I don't care about megapixels, so for me, it's just $200 for nothing.

I have to say that I've been in a few large electronics retailers lately, taking advantage of their hands on (aside--I will never actually buy anything in Best Buy after the way they treated me a few years back, and actually went so far as to cut up my BB credit card and mail it to the CEO), and there has been a constant stream of people fondling the D40, and one or two looking at the D200, and nobody at all looking at any of the Canons (or Sonys or Olympuses or Panasonics). I think Nikon's got a genuine hit on their hands. I haven't found a Pentax on display yet.
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NikosR
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« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2007, 02:53:34 PM »
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That's not what I said--I said "apparently significantly better"; you dropped "apparently" and added the bold. I'm just repeating what I've seen in my research. Even a strong Nikon advocate like Ken Rockwell says it's a much better lens, because it has much less distortion at the low end, and makes even him claim to think he might switch to Canon if he was just starting out. If someone here feels differently I'd love to hear it.

See, megapixels don't matter to me, but barrel distortion does. So does really wide angle; I can crop down to simulate a really long lens but even in Photoshop it's kind of hard to fake the parts at the sides that didn't make it into the picture.


Please spare us the references to K.R. This is a serious forum. I still don't get why it is 'apparently' and 'significantly' better according to you.

With regards to the Nikon lens, the 12-24 has a lot of pretty satisfied professional users who use it for far more than web use. I can't comment about the Canon lens since I have no personal experience with it. Geometrical distortions are much easier to handle, whenever they are a nuisance, in the digital age. I routinely use DxO for that.

For a bit more objective assesment of the lenses (tested as lens/camera systems) look at the photozone.de tests. Main problem with them is that they base their results usually on a single lens sample. The Tokina 12-24 might be a better value for either of the branded lenses.

 I would urge you to try to get your hands on equipment and try them to form your own opinion based on your own needs and tolerances, especially on what is 'significant' or not,  rather than basing your judgement solely on web gossip, especially by people like KR.

Having said all this, my original advice still holds. Get whatever 'clicks' with you hands on.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2007, 02:57:50 PM by NikosR » Logged

Nikos
BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2007, 05:21:22 PM »
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As for the Nikon D40x, it isn't going to be a finalist, because the only real difference between it and the D40 is 10 MP vs. 6, and I don't care about megapixels, so for me, it's just $200 for nothing.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=106609\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Hum... except that distorsion nowadays can be corrected easily with software like DxO. A slight softness results from such corrections and MP are handy to reduce the impact...

By the way, DxO is also really useful to enhance 5D images it would seem.

Cheers,
Bernard
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Fnarf
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« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2007, 06:05:46 PM »
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For a bit more objective assesment of the lenses (tested as lens/camera systems) look at the photozone.de tests.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=106638\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Photozone appears to bear out the statement that the Canon lens has less spherical distortion at the widest angle than the Nikon. That's not the only criteria, of course, but it's a significant one for me. Photozone hasn't tested any Pentax lens. The Tokina will not work on the Nikon D40 (the comparable Sigma 10-20mm will), though

I don't get where your attitude is coming from; again, you introduced the concept of "relying solely on web gossip", not I. Apparently you have some kind of axe to grind, and are distorting my words in order to get a keener edge. Whatever, dude. I happen to like a fair amount of what Ken Rockwell says; I think philophically he's spot on target most of the time. I don't photograph a lot of test charts.

As for trying them out in my hand, I mentioned doing just that before you suggested it. I'm not an idiot, thanks. If asking here for additional thoughts and advice is annoying you in some way, I'm sorry. Maybe you should pretend I'm not here and let the other, very helpful, people comment.

As for DxO, I've never used it. How is it for complex "droopy-ends" curve correction (I'm sure there's a technical name for it, but I don't know it), rather than a perfectly even barrel curve? The Photoshop plugin, and the third-party plugin I used before (which I stupidly can't remember the name of) can fix the latter but tend to give the former "humps", which look worse than the original distortion.
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Fnarf
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« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2007, 06:18:14 PM »
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As for DxO, I've never used it. How is it for complex "droopy-ends" curve correction (I'm sure there's a technical name for it, but I don't know it), rather than a perfectly even barrel curve? The Photoshop plugin, and the third-party plugin I used before (which I stupidly can't remember the name of) can fix the latter but tend to give the former "humps", which look worse than the original distortion.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=106670\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
To answer my own question, it apparently does, and more. It looks awesome, in fact. Unfortunately, it doesn't work with every camera+lens combo; the D40 is still pretty lightly supported (though the kit lens is), and the Pentax not at all. Does anyone with experience know how often new models get added?
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2007, 11:01:32 PM »
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To answer my own question, it apparently does, and more. It looks awesome, in fact. Unfortunately, it doesn't work with every camera+lens combo; the D40 is still pretty lightly supported (though the kit lens is), and the Pentax not at all. Does anyone with experience know how often new models get added?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=106674\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

They are pretty responsive usually.  A few weeks after a release of a new body for a first minimal set of lenses (starting with the lens of the kit if any).

Then they add more lenses in the following months.

It took them about 3 months to produce a module for the 18-200 on my D80.

Cheers,
Bernard
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Fnarf
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« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2007, 11:34:35 AM »
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Neat, thank you. I've signed up for their email alert on the Pentax, just in case. I'm definitely leaning that way. Though if someone waved a D40 at me in a weak moment, I'd go for it. I'm really, really tempted by that 18-200; I only wish they offered it as a kit lens with the D40. As an add-on it's just a bit too much dough. I'm walking a fine line here between "camera" and "divorce"!
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