Q: I’m torn about which new digital SLR camera to buy.

I’m a longtime Canon and Nikon user. I’m familiar with both and currently have a D5100. I’m really intrigued by the Pentax K30 and K50. I can get the former with 18-55 and 55-300 kit lenses (non-WR) or the K50 with 18-55 and 55-200 WR. Either is $626. If not, I’d get the D5200 or T5i.

I shoot mainly family, trips, auto racing and air shows, about 80 percent stills and 20 percent action.

Is there any reason I shouldn’t switch to ­Pentax?

A: The only reason I can see where you might be better with Canon or Nikon is if you someday plan on buying expensive, pro-level bodies and want to have access to exotic, specialized lenses. There’s a reason most pros use Canon or Nikon. Not only is the gear excellent, but the systems are broad and have lots of specialized tools available for pros who need them. Although the Olympus OM-D EM-5 and EM-1 are starting to make inroads with pros seeking a smaller system that’s easier to carry, Canon and Nikon reign supreme in the pro market.

You don’t seem to be headed in the pro direction, so you would be better served with Pentax.

I love Pentax and have used it for years. I love the picture quality and the great lenses, and the sensor-based Shake Reduction means every lens you use is stabilized. There is also a wide range of excellent prime (non-zoom) lenses, which makes the system popular.

I’m fond of the Pentax 55-200 lens. I’ve used the 55-300, too, and it’s excellent, but the 55-200 is light and fits perfectly in the hand and fits easily with the camera in a small bag. What’s more, tests have shown that the lens provides pro-level image quality, if not the pro-level mechanical construction that comes with an expensive, overbuilt lens.

See more at www.pentaximaging.com and www.pentaxphotogallery.com.

Basic cable isn’t always cheap

Q: When I lived in Rockford, Ill., about 15 years go, the cable provider had several classes of service that were below the standard package at a reduced price. You would get local stations and a few cable stations. It cost about $13 a month, compared with the standard package for $20. These packages weren’t advertised; people would find out about them mostly by word of mouth.

When I asked local government officials about the availability of these packages, I was told that the federal government had made them illegal.

Have you ever heard of these different levels of service packages? If so, are they really illegal?

A: According to the FCC, local government can regulate only the basic tier, which is what you are describing. Everything above the basic tier is unregulated by federal or local government, and packages may be designed and priced however the provider wishes.

Cable regulations are confusing enough without misinformation thrown in the mix. Visit the FCC at www.fcc.gov/guides/regulation-cable-tv-rates to learn more.


Send questions to Don Lindich at donlindich@gmail.com. Get more recommendations and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.