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Jpl: You really couldn’t go wrong with any of those cameras. If they were all the same price, I would probably go with the Nikon D5100 since it has the superior Sony 16MP sensor. However, since the K-r is significantly cheaper, it bears consideration.
In terms of sensors, the D5100 wins, but it’s probably a toss-up between the K-r and T3i for 2nd place, although DxoMark does rate the K-r slightly higher. But the bottom line is, these are all incredible sensors that will take sharp, colorful pictures, even in low light.
You mentioned the articulated screen on the Canon (and the Nikon also has it). That can be a nice feature to have, but for most people it won’t be a deal breaker. It really just depends on the types of photography you do.
All of the cameras will take great video. While the Canon will have more features for the advanced video shooter, the K-r will do fine if you are just wanting to make some casual video clips of the family, etc.
Now the K-r, despite being $200 less expensive, does have some advantages.
The K-r bests the other two camera in continues high speed shooting, achieving 6fps, while the D5100 manages only 4fps and the t3i is at 3.7 fps. So if you shoot a lot of sports, this is a big advantage for the K-r.
Another big advantage for the K-r, is the fact that it has built-in sensor-based image stabilization. With the Nikon and Canon, you have to buy lenses with image stabilization. While most zoom lenses are available with image stabilization, a lot of primes (such as the very popular Canon 50mm f1.8) still lack it. With the Pentax, you don’t have to worry about it, since every lens is essentially stabilized. And believe me, once you’ve shot with stabilization, you won’t want to be without it.
I also like that the Pentax K-r can take either the proprietary battery, or standard AA batteries. If you’re ever out somewhere and run out of juice, you can always just buy some AA’s. Or you can use some great rechargeable AA batteries, such as Eneloops, as your normal batteries. These are the batteries I use for my K-x, and they’re great.
While these are all fairly compact cameras for DSLRs, the K-r is the smallest of the bunch. So if you like to keep your kit compact, the K-r would be the best choice. Pentax has a reputation for making their cameras smaller than their competitors.
Pentax DSLR’s also have the advantage of being able to use practically any Pentax lens ever made, even back to the 1960’s. I recently picked up an old Pentax 50mm f1.7 manual focus lens for almost nothing on Craigslist. It goes right onto my K-x, and takes amazing pictures. And it’s even stabilized!
Plus, Pentax DSLR’s have a cool feature called Catch-in-Focus for use with old manual lenses. I do not believe the Canon or Nikon have this. With CIF enabled, you adjust focus on the manual lens, and the camera will fire the shutter when it detects focus is achieved. Having access to thousands of great old lenses is a fun part of owning a Pentax DSLR.
As I said, you really can’t go wrong with any of the cameras, but with the Pentax K-r being $200 less and having some important advantages, I think it would be an excellent choice. And you could use the money you saved to buy some accessories, such as a flash or a nicer lens. And personally, I kind of like having a unique camera and not going with the crowd.
4:43 pm - Thursday, December 8, 2011
For your information, Adorama currently has the Pentax K-r w/18-55mm lens on sale for $539.95.
4:52 pm - Thursday, December 8, 2011
I just submitted a couple replies to your post, but the computer “thinks it might be spam”, so my posts are waiting to be moderated. How annoying.
4:53 pm - Thursday, December 8, 2011
thanks a lot Edgar for the info,very helpful
5:39 am - Saturday, December 10, 2011
thanks Edgar for your info, very helpful.How do you compare the sony A569 or A580 with those 3(canon t3i,nikon 5100 , pentax kr) in image quality and overall performance and features?
6:54 am - Saturday, December 10, 2011
I’ve had mine a year and still waiting for Pentax to fix the front focus problem in tungsten light.
Really nice camera but it cannot AF in this light at all Pentax have really let their users down big time with this fiasco.
12:55 pm - Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I am wanting to upgrade, still learning lots about photography. Any ideas which is better for a learner Pentax K-R or Nikon D3100?
8:11 pm - Wednesday, February 29, 2012
One thing you failed to mention is the ability of the Kr (and Kx) to take all the old KM manual lenses in manual mode——a chance to get superb optical quality and vastly improved performance at minimal cost by being these lenses second-hand. If you have a KM mount Pentax film camera—this digital camera is the one to go for.
2:26 am - Tuesday, May 8, 2012
I have a dilemma folks of which I need your best advice on please:
I currently have a NIKON D3,000 but I have decided to treat myself again and I have been thus seriously thinking on a new PENTAX K-R (I have read so many reviews and so forth that my jury is out!)
Would this do you think be somewhat of a wise purchase in terms of the ‘Tried & Tested’ NIKON.
Basically any solid advice would be very welcomed to ease my mind and be assured the PENTAX would be a reliable and overall excellent camera to purchase.
Many kindest thanks in advance of your replies and comments.
11:44 pm - Sunday, July 8, 2012
Have had the Pentax K-r for a little over a year and have just had my second problem with the shutter cycling on its own and can’t take a picture or video. Camera was sent for repair the first time under warranty and took 3 weeks to get back. Now not under warranty. On vacation when this happened on both occasions! Very dissapointed with my choice of camera!
8:02 pm - Friday, September 7, 2012
3 inch LCD,
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