Pentax Green Button Guide

A look at one of Pentax's secrets

By johnhilvert in Articles and Tips on Aug 15, 2016

Note how the green button carries no label

John Hilvert delves into the charms of the misunderstood "green button" on Pentax cameras.

It may not change your life. Yet with just one press it can reset your camera's exposure back to defaults, offer you a dandy spot meter for non-automatic lenses, support you when using manual mode, speed up settings adjustments in the menu, and a lot more!

Comprehensive SD Card Guide for Photographers

Become a memory card expert

By PF Staff in Articles and Tips on Jul 1, 2016

Ever since the debut of the *ist DS in 2004, Pentax DSLRs and compact cameras have used SD (Secure Digital) memory cards as their primary storage medium.  Because SD cards are subject to a continuously-evolving set of standards, we'd like to take this opportunity to shed some light on SD nomenclature and card types.  In addition, we will make recommendations to ensure that the card you pair with your camera delivers optimal performance.

By the time you finish reading this article, you'll be a SD memory card expert!

Physical Size

The first thing to note is that SD cards come in three different form factors: full-size, mini, and micro.  All Pentax DSLRs launched to date use full-size SD cards— the most common type.  Action cameras like the Ricoh WG-M2 use microSD cards, which are also frequently used in modern smartphones.  miniSD cards are comparatively rare and you won't find too many of them on the market these days.

SD card size comparison (Source, CC BY-SA 3.0)

An important characteristic of all three SD card types is that they conform to the same technical standards.  This means that physical size does not play a role in determining card capacities (i.e. number of gigabytes) or possible transfer speeds.  Consequently, step-up adapters can be used to enable the use of microSD or miniSD cards in a standard SD slot without any performance penalties.

The only difference in terms of interfacing is that full-size cards have a write-lock switch on the side.

microSD to standard SD adapter

So why not use microSD cards exclusively, along with an adapter?  In come cases, smaller isn't better.  These tiny cards are more susceptible to physical damage and damage due to heat, plus they're easier to drop or misplace.  Well-built full-size cards can be quite resilient; some professional variants are even marketed as waterproof, shockproof, and X-ray proof.

Since Pentax DSLRs only use full-size SDs, we will be focusing solely on those cards for the remainder of this article.  Just keep in mind that all the terminology we are about to discuss also applies to the smaller SD variants.

Creating Out-of-focus Backgrounds using Lightroom

Post-processing hacks #1

By johnhilvert in Articles and Tips on Jun 15, 2016

Don’t you love photos where your subject is so sharp, prominent and standing out from a blurry background?

Pentax public domain picThis photo of an old Pentax camera forces you to check out its 50mm F1.7 lens while blurring the camera body and beyond.

When light is less than optimal, your camera will expose for the larger apertures and depth of field becomes shallow especially with close-ups.  Note how the out-of-focus features seem to exude less saturation also contrasting against the more fleshed-out warmer tones of the book and lens barrel.

Had this been taken with an electronic flash, the chances are everything would be in focus. Yet the overall image may loses its character and depth as the aperture closes to F11 or smaller. It would make a great “record shot”.  It may be fine for presenting in a court of a scene of documentary interest to investigators. But its impact would rate a “meh” as it loses its art or feeling of depth and interest.

Yet there are several digital post-processing hacks that can assist.

Tethering Guide for the Pentax Lightroom Plugin

Control the camera and instantly import photos

By PF Staff in Articles and Tips on May 19, 2016

The Pentax Tethered Capture Plug-In developed by Ricoh Imaging allows you to easily tether the Pentax K-1 or 645Z using Adobe Lightroom.  While tethered, photos you capture are instantly imported to your computer for viewing and editing!

In this article, we'll show you how set things up and we'll present the plugin's key features.

Software Requirements

You need to have either Adobe Lightroom CC or Lightroom 6 to be able to make use of this plugin.  You can always install a free trial of Lightroom CC to test things out.

Supported operating systems include Windows 7/8/10 and Max OS X 10.9 or newer.

Setup Instructions

A quick installation, firmware update, and setting change is all that's needed to prepare for tethering:

Verifying that the plugin is running

Note that on Windows, if you installed the tethering plugin using the "Run as Administrator" option, you will also have to run Lightroom as an administrator.  The opposite also applies.

Smooth Trans Focus: The Ultimate Guide

Testing the Sony 135mm STF, and mimicing the effect on film and digital

By K David in Articles and Tips on Apr 14, 2016

You've probably heard the term "Bokeh", but have you ever heard of "Smooth Trans Focus"? Through one of our most comprehensive investigations, we describe what Smooth Trans Focus is, test a lens that delivers this effect, and most interestingly, show how this effect can be simulated without a dedicated lens.

Sony 135mm Smooth Trans Focus Lens

Two SLR lenses engineered specifically to be Smooth Trans Focus (STF) offerings currently exist on the market: the Sony (nee Minolta) 135mm f/2.8 [T/4.5] STF and the Laowa 105mm f/2 [T/3.2] STF.  For this article, we tested the Sony lens on film.  The Laowa has very recently been launched in the Pentax K-mount for those interested in the STF effect.

This article examines what makes an STF lens special and includes several sample photos and technical examples. We'll also look at how to capture and post-process digital files to simulate an STF lens. The Minolta Maxxum 7 film SLR shows that it's possible to simulate STF lens effects with a non-STF lens on a film frame, though no technical details were provided on how it's done. Through extensive testing, we found an approach that simulates STF images on film and detail how to achieve the result.

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