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09-03-2018, 12:41 PM   #1
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How best to use a HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited

I recently bought a used HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited in near mint condition for $250. I really like the idea of a wider angle, but I am having trouble using it. Can anyone please give me some tips? Specifically, it doesn't seem to get light metering done properly. No matter how I meter it, multi, center-weighted or spot, it doesn't seem to balance it right. Yesterday I spot metered on a face in the foreground, daytime, outdoors, with the day sky in the background, and the face was very dark after multiple attempts. If anything, it seems darkest using spot metering. Center weighted seems to work best. In general, if the subject is not in direct, bright sunlight, the results seem dark. I haven't gotten any photos yet that I would call spectacular. Any suggestions will be appreciated. Thanks

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09-03-2018, 01:05 PM   #2
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Congratulations on getting the HD 21mm Limited for that price -- it's a great little lens. I really enjoy mine.

I don't have a K-70, but would offer a comment on your images.

Image 1: I would guess that you centered and focused your frame on the person's face, and then moved the camera to 'recompose' with the center on the distant scene. To use spot metering, the exposure should be 'locked' on the first spot area -- the K-70 has an 'AE Lock' function, I think (refer to the users manual). Otherwise, the metering system simply took the exposure on the distant building or sky. For this scene, I think you were correct to use spot metering to properly expose the subject's face.

Images 2,3: The exposure looks pretty good to me. It's reasonably balanced, perhaps slightly dark. You could brighten the shadows a bit in post processing.

Last edited by c.a.m; 09-03-2018 at 01:17 PM.
09-03-2018, 01:45 PM   #3
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The lens doesn't meter any different from others. But with a wide angle, the dynamic range of what's in the frame is usually wider, especially during broad noon/daytime when shadows are harsh. Experiment with exposure compensation, bracket +/- one or two stops if you need to, and try raw processing to mitigate the broad dynamic range by compensating shadows and highlights ( the camera also has this but it's not as controlled).
09-03-2018, 02:08 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by bmesc Quote
I recently bought a used HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited in near mint condition for $250. I really like the idea of a wider angle, but I am having trouble using it. Can anyone please give me some tips? Specifically, it doesn't seem to get light metering done properly. No matter how I meter it, multi, center-weighted or spot, it doesn't seem to balance it right. Yesterday I spot metered on a face in the foreground, daytime, outdoors, with the day sky in the background, and the face was very dark after multiple attempts. If anything, it seems darkest using spot metering. Center weighted seems to work best. In general, if the subject is not in direct, bright sunlight, the results seem dark. I haven't gotten any photos yet that I would call spectacular. Any suggestions will be appreciated. Thanks
Hi Congratulations on your DA21 - it's one of my favourite lenses

When you spot-metered on the face, did you use AE-L exposure lock to keep the metered exposure?

09-03-2018, 02:35 PM   #5
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We need to see the light as camera meters do, assess the light values as such, our eyes are attached to a brain, usually which compensates for shadow areas, if you like, we see into shadows, film or sensors don't, it just plain records the light. we can look at how many stops between the low lights and highlights, assess what is more important and compensate that way with our choice of exposure (aperture, shutter, ISO) or pick a value in the middle and adjust in post processing, just the same as we did back in the film days.


One way to get a handle on it is (sunny 16 rule) and to take random exposure readings starting at ISO 100 and shutter 125 see where the f stop lands in any given light, do the same for the low lights, that way we learn just what exposures may be required, eventually we can see a light, judge it to be x,x,x values and adjust from there. Out side here at present it is overcast, raining, the light is flat but even, as such, I'm judging at ISO 100 it would be somewhere like 125 at f4, just went out with my hand held exposure meter, did an incident reading and in fact it is 3 points short of f4, but I was pretty much on the money.
Hope this helps.

With this information it becomes apparent that mid day sun can be quite harsh lighting, in comes quality of light, the lovely early morning and late afternoon light, influences when we actually press the shutter button, and placement of the subjects in question, and what is in the background etc. etc. etc.

Last edited by beachgardener; 09-03-2018 at 09:00 PM.
09-03-2018, 05:23 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by c.a.m Quote
Congratulations on getting the HD 21mm Limited for that price -- it's a great little lens. I really enjoy mine.

I don't have a K-70, but would offer a comment on your images.

Image 1: I would guess that you centered and focused your frame on the person's face, and then moved the camera to 'recompose' with the center on the distant scene. To use spot metering, the exposure should be 'locked' on the first spot area -- the K-70 has an 'AE Lock' function, I think (refer to the users manual). Otherwise, the metering system simply took the exposure on the distant building or sky. For this scene, I think you were correct to use spot metering to properly expose the subject's face.

Images 2,3: The exposure looks pretty good to me. It's reasonably balanced, perhaps slightly dark. You could brighten the shadows a bit in post processing.
There should be a menu item that locks exposure when focus is locked.
09-03-2018, 05:40 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by LightBug Quote
There should be a menu item that locks exposure when focus is locked.
With the K-70, like other models where the AE-L button has variously assigned functions, it may not be set up for its labelled function, so it did not lock in your spot-metered exposure. That is what I see in your first photo.

Your other photos using matrix metering look as expected in terms of balance between light and dark areas, but they do seem a bit underexposed to me, especially the ballpark scene. Almost to the degree similar to my old K200D.

The only way to tell if this is a lens issue is to take the same scene, same framing, with no change in lighting with the DA 21mm and another lens set to the same aperture and shutter speed.

I've had this lens for some years, used first with my K-5 which does also tend to underexpose very slightly, but more accurate than the K200D, and have gotten great images with it, even without careful metering under normal conditions.

Actually, in looking again at your first picture- I wasn't there to see the lighting conditions in reality, but my guess is by spot metering off her face, which was very much in shadow, if it went the way it should, it would greatly overexpose the rest of the scene. Her face is a comparative extreme in the overall lighting. All you want to do is open up her facial shadows to a degree, so her face is more visible. If using spot metering, it would be best to meter off a mid-tone in the scene, like off of a lighter area of the building on the right, or even off of the better-lit gray pavement of the street below, lock exposure, or use the green button to do your spot metering in "M" mode and see how that turns out. The other way is to simply use a pop of fill flash with the camera in "M" mode and metering for the entire scene first, using the green button then popping up the flash, since the flash would not affect the more distant part of the scene. You can also modify flash output by using the flash comp control, according to the effect desired, and the ambient lighting of the scene compared to your subject.

I find it desirable as a general rule to use flash when subjects are close even in an evenly well-lit outdoor scene anyway, as this will put a catchlight in the eyes, and more evenly reduce harsh facial shadows from downward or sideways lighting. Especially also when subjects are wearing hats or caps, which can easily darken the face.

Last edited by mikesbike; 09-03-2018 at 07:24 PM.
09-03-2018, 08:29 PM - 3 Likes   #8
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The biggest thing about the 21 that is special is you can put the sun in the frame without flare. Try shooting in better light, when the sun is low, and get the sun in the frame.





09-04-2018, 05:04 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by bmesc Quote
I recently bought a used HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited in near mint condition for $250. I really like the idea of a wider angle, but I am having trouble using it. Can anyone please give me some tips? Specifically, it doesn't seem to get light metering done properly. No matter how I meter it, multi, center-weighted or spot, it doesn't seem to balance it right. Yesterday I spot metered on a face in the foreground, daytime, outdoors, with the day sky in the background, and the face was very dark after multiple attempts. If anything, it seems darkest using spot metering. Center weighted seems to work best. In general, if the subject is not in direct, bright sunlight, the results seem dark. I haven't gotten any photos yet that I would call spectacular. Any suggestions will be appreciated. Thanks
Ok, so all good stuff, thank you. As noted in several of the replies, I reexamined my settings and discovered I did not have set it to "AE-L with AF locked" as I thought I did. This should solve most of my issues.
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