Hope you're not getting jaded about the K20D-fest here at TOP, because we've still got a ways to go yet. Carl's next installment will be published on Monday morning.
In the interim, he's asked me to post the following:
"The Pentax Browser and Photo Lab software disc that shipped with the K20D/K200D has a problem. It can't carry out an installation on Macs. The solution is to go to www.pentaximaging.com, locate the K20D product page, scroll to the bottom and click software update. You can then download the software with installer. The download and installation just went successfully with an iMac G5 and iBook G4."
Personally, I've been advocating for cameras that shoot DNG (Adobe Digital Negative, an open-standard raw format) for a long time, and the K20D has a menu setting for native DNG. Select it, and you're done. The files open right up in my not-so recent copy of LightZone and in my aging version of Photoshop. They'll open in Lightroom, too. Done and done, as far as I'm concerned. I'm sure our brain trust (i.e., you readers, collectively) can come up with a dozen reasons why it might be better to use some other workflow for raw capture, but personally I'm not the type to make exhaustive / neurotic comparisons of the myriad ways of getting from capture to picture editing app. Irresponsible reviewing not to examine all the possibilities, you say? Well, heck, I still haven't learned all the features in Photoshop. I don't know about your life, but my life's too short.
[Note: I'm afraid I have to go back on these statements somewhat. I've since had some problems with DNG files in programs where the specific camera I'm using, the K20D, is not supported. So please don't assume from my comments here that opening the K20D's native DNG files in programs in which the K20D is not supported will be problem-free.]
Six is good
The weather here has been lousy for two days, so I've been discouraged from shooting more with the DA 35 Macro, despite a rather uncommonly itchy shutterfinger (hey, that's the title of my friend Gordon's new blog). So here's one more example from the other day.
This was taken with the lens wide open at ƒ/2.8, ISO 400. My friend Nick, among many other things, is my one degree of separation from Henri Cartier-Bresson, arguably one of the two greatest photographers of the 20th century—Nick knew Henri personally.
Based on this one shot alone, I might rate the 35 Macro's bokeh at about a 6 wide open, in terms of my standard Bokeh Ratings. That's good for wide open.
And here's a detail of a little area of Nick's right shoulder. (Here we go—blatant pixel-peeping.) To be honest, I don't know how to ensure that any given TOP illustration will reliably open at a set magnification on your monitor (I've probably been told, and forgot), but if you click on this, it should be somewhere around 150%. At any rate, it shows the tight, clean, film-like grain that Carl was talking about the other day (Part II —> Noise).
Johnston's Theory of What-to-Buy
So, don't I have anything more to say about the camera itself, apart from the lens? I'm sure I will—not having enough to say is something of which I'm seldom accused. But I'll mention my basic impression based on my new theory of what camera to buy.
Recently I've been trying to analyze my camera-buying advice to actual individuals, compared to what they actually bought. I came to the realization that a) I'm usually trying to get people to buy bigger cameras, and b) people will almost always actually buy based on size—they'll buy the biggest camera they feel they want to deal with.
For some people, having a camera in the cellphone is just as much as they want to deal with. They already carry a phone, a personal organizer, an iPod, this'n'that little electronic gewgaw, and they just don't want to carry an extra thingy for picture-taking, even if it's the size of a pack of playing cards.
One step up, and you find the people who will carry the camera that's the size of the pack of playing cards, but they just don't want to move up to something the size of, say, the Canon G9—because it doesn't fit in a shirt pocket. That disqualifies it for them. Then you have the people who will deal with the G9 but not, say, the Olympus E-410. Next comes a slew of folks who will deal with an entry-level DSLR but not the mid-level ones. And so on.
At the apex of this taxonomy are pros, who not only carry a camera body "the size and weight of a telephone book," as I once put it (exaggerating as usual), but maybe even several of them.
Curiously, Ansel Adams—the other greatest photographer of the 20th century, in my view—was asked incessantly what kind of camera he used (I confess I asked him that myself—lame!). He had a standard answer: "The biggest one I can carry!" When he was young and vigorous he carried an 8x10 view camera, and in his later years, the "biggest he could carry" was a Hasselblad medium-format outfit.
There's an obvious penalty for choosing a camera that's too big: it sits at home.
So anyway, that's my new theory of camera-buying advice: I'm going to advise people to carry the biggest camera they feel they want to deal with. I haven't made very many actual recommendations based on this new theory yet. I'll let you know how it goes.
So anyway, all the foregoing is a very long-winded preamble for my very first first impression of the K20D and 35mm Macro: I think the combo is really just at the outside edge of bigness for me. It comes up to the very verge of being too big but doesn't go over.
One thing I learned about my Konica-Minolta 7D and 28–75mm zoom was that it was just plain too big, speaking for my own self. I just didn't like carrying it places. I resisted taking it with me. I never got over that. But with the K20D I've already caught myself climbing into the car and thinking, crap, better go get the camera—what if I see something? So far, I'd rather have it with me than not…this being the crucial test of Johnston's Theory of What-to-Buy.
More soon. In the meantime, have a nice weekend, and good light.
Featured Comment by Bill Pierce: "Different raw processing programs (Photoshop vs. Capture One Pro, for example) can actually interpret camera raw files a little bit differently even when they are DNG files rather than the proprietary raw files that a lot of cameras produce. I'm sure the folks who produce these programs would say the difference is significant and their program is best. I've just found them different, not better or worse, for the kind of photography you and I do. Let's put it this way—the difference is far less than shooting the same scene on Kodachrome, Ektachrome and Fuji—and we didn't use to whine when we did that."