Sound Advice: Only basic cable tier under local rules

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Question: When I lived in Rockford, Ill., about 15 years go, the local 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. The pricing was around $12.95 as compared to the standard package for $19.95. These packages were not advertised and people would find out about them mostly by word of mouth.

When I queried the 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 and if so, are they really illegal? I tend to think the different local government bodies only allow one high-priced package to keep the revenue up.

Your thoughts?



Answer: According to the FCC, local governments can only regulate 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 to learn more.

Question: I'm torn as to what new digital SLR to buy. I'm a longtime Canon and Nikon user. I'm very 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 some air shows, about 80/20 stills to action.

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



Answer: The only reason I can see where you may be better off 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, the systems are very broad and have lots of specialized tools available for pros who need them. Though the Olympus OM-D EM-5 and EM-1 are starting to make inroads with pros seeking a smaller system that is easier to carry, in the pro market Canon and Nikon reign supreme.

You don't seem to be headed in the pro direction, and I think you would be better served with Pentax. I love Pentax and have used it for years. It is what I use myself for a DSLR system. I love the picture quality and the great lenses, and the sensor-based Shake Reduction means every lens you use is stabilized. There are also a wide range of excellent prime (nonzoo) lenses, which makes the system very poplar amongst lovers of photography.

I am very fond of the Pentax 55-200. I have used the 55-300 as well, and it is 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 the lens provides pro-level image quality, if not the pro-level mechanical construction that comes with an expensive, overbuilt lens.

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Read product reviews by Don Lindich at

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