That's what owners of Pentax cameras liked to be called. They have something of an inferiority complex cause Nikon and Canon owners take great delight in dising their cameras.
Let's clear this up, Pentax cameras are not clones, copies, rip-offs or seconds of the Nikon and Canon cameras. They are an old and well respected brand. More photographers began their shooting experience with a Pentax K1000 than any other camera. Sure, when they could afford it they bought Canons or Nikons but not because their Pentax wasn't good enough. They were tired of being sneered at.
So be assured, the Pentax line has some of the best cameras made in the world and offers many innovations still not available on other brands. Buck for buck you cannot beat Pentax and the Pentax lens mount will allow you to use any Pentax lens made for any Pentax camera, except for the 645, more on that later, so you have a range of seventy-five years of lenses which you can chose from and do it for less dollars than the basic lenses for a Nikon or Canon.
So what of the many Pentax cameras should you chose? I'd say the Pentax k-x. This little gem will do anything the Big Guys will do and save you a bunch of dollars. I loved mine so much I got a second one for the Long Sufferin and damned if she doesn't take better pictures than I do, every now and then.
The K-x is a twelve megapixel DSLR with on board flash, self-timer, hot shoe and all of the bells and whistles you could ever wish. My single objection is that unlike it's bigger brothers it isn't weather sealed. I wish I had known when I was looking what a big deal this is for Oregon. It rains here you know.
But the K-x makes up for this one flaw by using Double A batteries for power. Now sure it is awfully nice to be environmentally friendly and use those nifty rechargeable, but you know they do use heavy metals which have to be carefully recycled when they die and they do a lot of damage to the environment in the manufacturing process and unless you are a working pro in which case you'll be using a Canon or Nikon D model and not giving a flip about any of this stuff anyway, Double A will supply all of the power you will ever need.
A regular set of Duracell's, I started using them so long ago I still think of them as Mallory Duracell's, will power you for several months. I use them as a backup for my cameras and the Long Sufferin's and carry a set just in case. The Long Sufferin doesn't take a hundred shot a day so rechargables work well for her but in case they run dry at the wrong moment, the Duracell's are there.
I power my own K-x with EverReady Energizer Ultimate Lithium Double A's and change them about once a year. Course I have the Duracell's ready in case but the Energizers have always given me plenty of warning.
I cannot tell you the flexibility Double A's offer. Try buying a Nikon battery in Powers on Thanksgiving weekend. But those Duracell's can be had at just about any Seven/Eleven anywhere in the world. And if you are flying and don't enjoy cavity searches, Double As will pass any but the most gimlet-eyed TSA tyrant, but two or three heavy metal, rechargables make little hall monitors dance around with glee, having caught a dangerous terrorist before they can spring their nefarious plan to bring camera batteries on board an airplane for God only know what sort of evil.
My K-x lives with a 55-200mm lens unless I need something with a wider eye, then I switch to a Pentax FA 28-70 so I can get the whole thing on frame. (I paid $17 for my FA, try that with a Canon or Nikon. Yes, it did have a bad review or two but I decided for $17 I could take a chance and see for myself. Guess what? I've had only one problem and that was when I forgot to switch back from manual mode to auto. Can fix the operator no matter how smart they make the chip.)
And the only difficult thing I had to learn was how to update the Firmware. That's the little program embedded in the camera hardware which tells all of the parts how to work together. It wasn't too difficult, if you have ever flashed the BIOS in your computer you'll be a natural at it. Do you have to do it? No. But you should cause it helps keep your camera up to date. Now the good news, the wild-eyed, techno-nerd, gizmo-crazy uber-geek who owned the camera before you, probably already did it.
That's another reason why it is a good idea top buy a camera which is a coupla generations behind the curve, the Geek Squad will have done all of the updates for you.
So, where should you buy it?
Not on Craigslist. I've nothing against the nice folks who are trying to clean out their closets but they do have a precious attachment to their gear, to the tune of a 20 to 50% markup. And you have no guarantee if something should go bad.
No you are much safer with KEH, Adorama, B&H or if you like Pentax, the Pentax Forum. Now this is a double secret place where the Pentaxians go to sell or trade off their gear and they offer two things you can't find anywhere else, an obsessive fixation with taking care of their equipment and a knowledge of the market which tells them that a six year old 12 megapixel camera is not a four thousand dollar item!
So being a sport I'll save you all of the hours I spent searching the Net for this and just tell you the double secret address
Not just equipment deals but all sorts of goodies like tips, reviews, T-shirts to announce your pledge of devotion to Pentax and inspirational or truly depressing photographs. This is the one resource every Pentaxian should have.
One last thing, Pentax cameras are made to last. I took a header last year and caught my K-x between me and the porch. The full weight of my doctor described obese body came crashing down on the little K-x and smashed it into the porch. I was not in such good shape, bruised ribs which hurt like billy-hell with each breath and every time I tried to move my arm, but that could not match the distress and anxiety over my camera. Surely I had destroyed it and not even a trip to the gnomes of Pentaxian mountain could restore it. It was Humpty-Dumpty all over again...but it wasn't. I knocked the lens hood off the lens but otherwise no damage at all. Now that sir is taking a licking and keeping on ticking. I've never had a second when I regretted buying my K-x and find delight in it each time I pick it up.
There is the possibility that the new K70 will drive the price of the K30 down and having a completely weather-sealed camera might be a really good idea here ...it rains in Oregon you know.