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01-07-2017, 02:28 PM   #1
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AF.S vs AF.C on K1 with DA200

I just received a DA200 purchased from a forum member. I was blown away be the quality, size and weight of this lens, BUT, as I experimented with the auto focus with some birds at my feeder I ran into some issues. Using the default setting of AF.C for the Phase Detection AF, the auto focus will not lock on to the birds. I Switched to AF.S and it was better and I was able to get some nicely focused shots but the AF does not function as well as my DFA 28-105. Is this normal? I do have more experimenting to do before I reach a judgment on this lens, but any suggestions? I want so badly for this lens to work but I am having my doubts. I would appreciate any help.

01-07-2017, 03:16 PM   #2
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I would not fault the lens until you have done more shooting with the DA 200. I too find that AFS works better than AFC on K1 for all lenses.
01-07-2017, 03:29 PM   #3
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I started a similar thread last month regarding autofocus speed of the DA* 200. I have one and it is not the lens I use for photographing birds unless you focus on a stationary object near the bird. The SDM on mine works but it is just plain slow whether I use AFS or AFC on my K-3. I did use it for birds but that all changed when I got my 55-300 PLM. That lens is a quantum leap faster autofocus and can get birds in flight. I still like my DA* 200 but it is far better for stationary objects when I need F 2.8.
01-07-2017, 04:33 PM   #4
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From my personal observations it is not the lens that slows down focusing. Its the camera body. I have the da55-300 that works really fast on my K-x than on my K-5. I really did not want this to be true. But in reality I have more success of flying bird shots with K-X + DA55-300 thank with K-5ii+55-30. The new PLM may be different though and I have no experience with that new lens.
I did use K1+DA200 on my last trip to Florida. tried a few bird shots in AF-C but not much success. I think it just wants to keep focusing without yielding much.
DA*200 is a resolution monster on K-1 though. I was bleeped at how much it resolves on a K-1 for its size and weight. I debated buying the DA*200 over DFA*70-200 at one point.
But then I realized one cannot replace the other unless all my business was around 200mm FL.
I did not try K-x with DA*200 (recent purchase) though which I may the next time I am planning to shoot birds in flight.

01-07-2017, 04:35 PM   #5
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If I were testing the lens in AF.C, I would test it by choosing an object which had contrast, was well lit, not too distant, and was stationary. I would focus on another object first which is at a different distance, then point the camera directly at the stationary test object to so see how fast and accurately the camera focuses on it. If it does (focus reasonably), I would not evaluate the lens as not having the capability to focus on stationary or moving subjects. As in any shooting, moving or not, if you have normal light conditions and you use the proper ISO, shutter speed, and aperture, along with proper tracking by the user of the subject, chances are you are going to get some focused shots with depth and detail. You can set your AF Mode to "Spot", Metering mode to "Spot", "1st Frame Action in AF.C" to "Release Priority", and "Hold AF Status" to "Off" to aid in moving subject shooting while in AF.C.

Last edited by C_Jones; 01-07-2017 at 04:42 PM.
01-07-2017, 05:58 PM   #6
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Thanks for comments so far. I am using Spot mode. My problem is not with the auto focus speed - the autofocus would not lock on at all with birds at my feeder. Of course they were moving some but they were NOT in flight. It will focus on large stationary objects with a little bit of hesitation but I have a MF 200mm f2.5 that I can use for that. I bought the DA200 for its autofocus!

So, DDorm, you also have found that AFS works better? I wonder why?


Maybe I am just going to have to bite the bullet and buy the FDA 70-200 to get adequate performance.

Last edited by sibyrnes; 01-07-2017 at 06:05 PM.
01-07-2017, 06:47 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by sibyrnes Quote
Maybe I am just going to have to bite the bullet and buy the FDA 70-200 to get adequate performance.
Question...what are you expecting the camera to "lock" focus on and what reason would you give that it should do so? I am not trolling or baiting you. The question is fundamental in regards to AF expectations. For sure the in-lens motor might be too slow, but the DA* 200mm has been used for "birds-at-feeder" with good results by other users on this site for years. Also true for years are user expectations that the camera will consistently find faces, eyes, running dogs, active children, monkeys, and individual cyclists out of dozens of others in the peloton. Truth be told, the camera will attempt to attain focus on the first AF point that has adequate contrast for an attempt and will abandon that attempt if the presumptive subject moves off that point. If able to track, it will try again on the most likely point. Note that nowhere in the last two sentences did I suggest that the camera knows that the bird is the subject.

I will confess to not owning your camera, not shooting birds-at-feeder, and not usually being in the habit of expecting the AF system to choose the subject unless that subject is obviously unambiguous or I am forced to simply trust the camera and spray-n-pray. Having made my confession, I am hoping that @normhead drops in on this thread. He owns the DA* 200, owns a K-1 and APS-C bodies, regularly uses all for shooting birds, and is happy with his gear and his results.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/122-lens-clubs/73997-da-club-293.html#post3827506




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Last edited by stevebrot; 01-07-2017 at 06:54 PM.
01-07-2017, 06:52 PM - 1 Like   #8
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AF.C is for birds in flight with a 9 point focus array, at least that's the way I use it.

I have so many DA^ feeder bird images...
By itself....
DA_200 Slideshow by Norm_Head | Photobucket

With the 1.4 TC
DA-star-200-and-1_4-TC-4-280mm Slideshow by Norm_Head | Photobucket

With the F1.7x AF adapter
DA-star-200-plus-1_7x-AF-adapter Slideshow by Norm_Head | Photobucket

With the 1.4 and 1.7 stacked...
DA-star-200-plus-1_7x-AF-adapter Slideshow by Norm_Head | Photobucket\\

Those all taken with a K-3. To my mind the 200 on a K-1 is too short for birds. To my mind my A-400 is too short for birds on a K-1. My Tamron 300 with the 1.7 on it to give me 510mm is getting close.
It's not fast focussing, but it's a lot faster than manual focus. To get fast focusing I'm guessing you have to go to the DFA 150-450. SDM just isn't lightning fast.

An image taken with my A-400 on the K-1

The original image, notice how much is cropped. The actual field of view is more like an 800mm lens.


On a K-1, 600 is a real nice size for birds.

Today with the K-1 and A-400 and 1.7x TC, for 680mm, here's a combo that can actually take advantage of the K-1s resolution. It is uncropped. But the little guy is 10 feet away. Long lens and close subject makes for good bird photos.


Some other things to consider... are you shooting at longer than the minimum focussing distance? With some lenses I had to move back from the glass.
Where are you locking focus? Consciously lock on something that will take advantage of your depth of field, but, you must keep the eye in focus, I have more ruined images because I locked focus on the shoulder and my DoF was so narrow the eye was out of focus, probably more than any other reason. Small birds are not the right shape to be easily photographed. You have to make the camera do what you want to do,

My theory is anticipate where the bird will land, then when he lands in your viewfinder, try and lock focus on or near the eye. If you try and do too much, you'll never catch small birds. The fact that you can see them doesn't mean you can follow them in the viewfinder. I always try to use a tripod. I don't lock the tripod, I want the head free to move so I can frame, but it still provides a lot of stability. Essentially, you should be using the same technique you use with your manual focus lenses and using the AF of the DA* to add the finishing touches. And I have to say, the most frustrating thing about using a K-1 for birds is the slow burst rate. Birds are often, bobbing, chewing or landing or taking off. A fast burst rate let's you capture poses you didn't actually see. That's what is frustrating about small birds with a K-1. Small buffer and slow burst. The above was a part of an 8 shot burst, one other was salvageable, the rest went straight to the trash. I bet with my K-3 I would have had 2 keepers and another 2 salvageable in the same time period.. With small birds, you really want to pile up as many exposures as you can. A lot of them are going to be garbage no matter what you do. Head turned away from the camera, butt pointed straight at the camera raised in the air, motion blur. I don't like to come in before I have 80-400 exposures.

And last but not least, shooting through windows, you have to be sure reflections aren't messing with your AF. Back when I did that, I couldn't shoot in the afternoon. The light coming through the windows reflecting all over the place was just one more thing to deal with.

SDM focus speed is pretty much the last of my worries. If you're used to catching the little guys with MF, the DA*200 is a huge improvement.

I have had absolutely no issues with AFS and single point focus. Bird movement is another issue.

I threw out 149 images today and kept 6. Don't expect too much. The odds are against you.

Any more discussion will require you posting photos I can analyze.


Last edited by normhead; 01-07-2017 at 08:02 PM.
01-07-2017, 08:29 PM   #9
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Stevebrot, I am not expecting the lens to "choose the subject". I am capable of doing that. I am just comparing the auto focus performance of the DA200 to my 28-105 "kit lens" on my K1 or even my 18-55mm on my K200 and I am disappointed . I am requesting some useful info that might help me, not criticism.

And, the birds at the feeder are just an example, not a big priority for me. Sorry if I was not clear on that.

---------- Post added 01-07-17 at 09:04 PM ----------

Normhead, I just want to say I respect and appreciate your comments and you have proven what you can accomplish with the DA200. I just have to wonder what you(or I) can accomplish with something like the FA 70-200 instead.

Last edited by sibyrnes; 01-07-2017 at 09:48 PM.
01-07-2017, 09:46 PM   #10
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I was contemplating both these lenses at one point.

Here are some useful responses in this regard. https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/190-pentax-k-1/333685-da-200-f2-8-k-1-samples-anyone.html
After owning both I realized thy have completely separate uses. D-FA70-200 is a beast and slightly shorter than DA*200 but more versatile and a portrait choice. DA*200 has tad bit of PF, more portable but you are stuck at 200mm. But my question was not considering bird shooting. For birds you absolutely need the rich. That means 200mm is short on K-1 as @normhead already mentioned. Look at 300/f4 or even DA55-300 isn't too bad on K-1 @300mm. You almost always end up cropping bird shots and the vignetting should be a moot point in that case.
01-07-2017, 10:02 PM   #11
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Again, please let me clarify - bird photos are not my priority. They just happen to be my first test subject of the autofocus capabilities of my new DA 200 and I'm afraid it flunked the test. Though it is beautiful lens and one I hoped would be "good enough", I have found(so far) that it can't compete with newer designs.

I'm sure that many of us can get good photos on any lens- that is not the point! As one who has come from the film era of MF lens, I want any new purchases to maximize the benefits of AF and I'm afraid I made the wrong choice with the DA200.

Last edited by sibyrnes; 01-07-2017 at 10:11 PM.
01-07-2017, 10:14 PM   #12
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Like was mentioned, making sure you are not too close to the subject with the lens for it to be able to focus is a scenario to avoid if you want your camera to recognize a subject. If you do experience AF focus completion by your K-1/DA200 combo in most cases, there is most likely nothing wrong with the lens overall, otherwise if the AF just does not seem operable in most cases, the lens may be mechanically deficient. The 70-200 is the newer, more advanced lens which was created for the K-1 technologically including the latest functionality/performance features, so it has the advanced edge on any other earlier lenses such as the DA 200 even though the DA 200 may have performed well for past users and still does for present users.

---------- Post added 01-08-17 at 12:16 AM ----------

Nice shots normhead.
01-07-2017, 11:16 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by sibyrnes Quote
Normhead, I just want to say I respect and appreciate your comments and you have proven what you can accomplish with the DA200. I just have to wonder what you(or I) can accomplish with something like the FA 70-200 instead.
Not the topic of this thread overall. Sorry to have read you wrong. Good luck.


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01-08-2017, 06:52 AM - 1 Like   #14
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If your question is does the 70-200 focus quicker, I would expect it does. How much that might improve your photography is the next question. Technique trumps, camera specs in almost every occasion faced by the average shooter.

But if you're going for latest and greatest, the 70-200 is the latest greatest. Was there really a need to ask that?

The 200 and all SDM are older and slower..... and it's been stated many times. Given your mindset, the only lenses yu should be considering would be the DFA 150-450, DFA 70-200 and DFA 28-105. They are the hotshot lenses specifically designed by Pentax to take advantage of the K-1.

Anything else is probably going to be slow compared to your 28-105, or noisy screw drive.

As for what I could accomplish with something else, you seem to think fast AF speed is the only factor in getting great images. It might be a factor on occasion. But so is having a lightweight had holdable system, giving you faster movement and response time, and the ability to carry the lens held up close to your eye without getting tired. I miss shots with my Tamron 300 because it's too heavy to take off the tripod and stalk with. I'd miss shots with the 70-200 for the same reason.

So, that would be entirely speculation. Every different direction you take has it's own compromises. Personally I bought the DA*200 for the weight. I didn't really care about AF which is unimpressive. The reviews I read before I bought, made that clear. To me, that's unimportant. But if maxing out AF speed is important to you, you have three choices. You're wasting your time with the 200.

But, the other issues which you did in fact mention, not locking on the subject etc. those are on you and your technique, not the lens. It's slow focusing, slow being a relative term, it actually is quite functional, not inoperable.

I'm also amused at your "oh , I just thought I'd point the camera out the window and take bird pictures" scenario. I spent about a year learning to take good bird pictures through a window, you greatly under-estimate the complexity of the task, you selected as your "ho hum" example.

I'm glad there wasn't a hundred meter dash or hurdles competition going on outside your window.

The trick is to find a test that uses skills you actually have, in the style you usually use the camera.

Then you can determine if the lens will be useful to you.

Oh and as a general rule, don't test your AF through a glass window.
It's also much easier to lock focus with a physically shorter and shorter focal length lens. The longer the lens, the better technique you need to lock focus. If you aren't steady enough to lock focus with a DA*200, it's quite possible you won't be steady enough with a 70-200 as well. It could happen that the extra focusing speed is made moot by the extra barrel length and more exaggerated movement of the image on the sensor.

As you get longer and longer glass, you need better and better technique. That you are able to lock focus with a 105 mm lens, doesn't make you proficient with a 200mm lens.

I taught high school photography for 15 years, but never really used lenses over 150mm. It took me a long time to figure out my Sigma 70-300, and when I did part of what I learned was it wasn't the right lens for me. Life's like that.. But I was probably an expert on what you can accomplish with a K-1000 and A-50 ƒ2.

Last edited by normhead; 01-08-2017 at 08:48 AM.
01-08-2017, 10:37 AM   #15
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I guess I have done a really bad job of explaining myself. I was just trying to test the autofocus performance of a new lens. I have shot strictly manual focus for over 25 years so I certainly don't "think fast AF speed is the only factor in getting great images".


Thanks to all that have responded.
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