Despite currently shooting with Canon, I hold no brand preference and probably actually preferred Pentax but changed when deciding to shoot almost exclusively Macro. Some of my favourite shots (still) come from my Pentax.
The unit I began with was the K200D 10.8 MP with 18-55mm kit lens, 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens. A quick search shows that this the kit sells on Ebay for an incredible $400!!! This is the price of a good point and shoot! For those with any doubts, don’t hesitate!
One of the best features of this camera is its weatherproofing. In an experiment I would not like to repeat I was hiking around a lake when there was a heavy rainstorm. The water level rose by several feet and I was trapped on the other side of the lake, forced to wade through chest deep waters, across streams holding my camera equipment above my head. Anyways, I fell in a trench and my Pentax and 5D mark II camera got dunked. I didn’t dare power them on, but waited until I made it across to the other side of the lake. There, I set them both out in the sun and dried by towel what I could. When I deemed them sufficiently dry, I found the Pentax had withstood the bath, but the 5D II succumbed.
It functions off of 4 AA batteries. For some this might be a pain, but for me it was great. It allowed me to standardize all my batteries to AA’s and not have to worry about additional chargers. On 4 Eneloops, while using the flash, I could get in 800 photos or so.
Takes an SD card. I prefer these to compact flash since they are cheaper, not as bulky and if you use a microSD you can also use this across several different platforms, like for GPS.
Pentax is also known for its backwards compatibility. If you want to use a lens from anytime in the past, it is possible to mount it without a problem.
Lastly I really like the image stabilizer which was built into the camera. This means that any lens that you use will be image stabilized. Why Canon and Nikon haven’t done this is probably because it allows them to charge a premium on IS lenses.
The shots from my Borneo stream were shot exclusively with this combination. Please keep in mind that I hadn’t yet developed my photographic style so the quality of the images will not be to the same standard to my current work. Also, the vast majority of my photographs were taken at night and so don’t show a fine bokeh or background. In addition all I used was an undiffused onboard flash. This is the most basic, most unrefined setup that you can get, and I am still amazed at the photos that are produced. I will let the quality of the pictures speak as an endorsement for the setup.
Some of my better examples are: