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07-26-2011, 01:26 PM   #1
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K5 Ergonomics helped on Monday shoot...

Frequently i read this thing about Pentax ergonomics being very good. In the past, I've thought "thats nice" and gone on to other subjects. After Monday, i'm rethinking ergonomics and its importance.

Last week i got an email from the media director asking me to arrange for photography for a promo shoot of an outdoor play on Monday at high noon (actually 12:30 ). So i asked Harry and he confirmed. Harry(not his real name) has been one of the best shooters and uses a Nikon D300s.

It rained that morning, so i checked my email and no cancellations, so drove the hour drive and arrived on time. In 10 minutes, the actors had their costumes on and we started shooting. Harry's not there yet since he assumed the rain would cancel. By the time he made his calls, the sun had come out and he arrived. maybe 20 minutes late.

The Media Dir. had warned us he needed to get some pics out to the newspapers by the next evening, so we agreed to upload our best to his online album by the next day.

I uploaded 19 out of the 170 i shot and this morning. I look at Harry's and he's uploaded 29 and 10 of those are soft. i'm not talking soft backgrounds but soft critical areas like the faces. Only about 5 of my 170 were soft and none of my 19 submittals were soft.

Clearly Harry had a bad day and i would expect him to bounce back next time. That's one of the reasons i try to schedule 2 photographers, even if someone's off, the job gets done.

But i keep wondering about Harry. Did he get rattled by being late and then made bad parameter choices? I won't ask because i don't want to offend him and i know he'll do better the next time.

But then i wonder, do Pentax ergonomics allow one to have an easier time of it when shooting. I used TAv throught the 90 minutes we were shooting. I set 1/250sec for the shutter because I've lost too many pics in the past in this kind of shooting with slow shutter speeds. We didn't have a lot of time to check the photos we were getting, the play director had definite setups he wanted to shoot and moved us quickly from one setting to another. snooze and you lose.

Lessons Learned:
A. "F8 and be there". The old photojournalism cliche. be there, be there, be there...

B. Be there ahead of time to double check your settings and take test shots. I got there on time but didn't have time to take test shots. My K5 started selecting 12,800iso in TAv, i think because of spot metering so i fixed it and had no other problems.

C. How a camera handles in field conditions counts for a lot. Don't discount how a camera fits your hand and how easy it is to change settings.

I'm not saying that Pentax is better than Nikon, i am saying that on Monday there was this complex interaction between photographers, cameras, directors and actors, and on this specific day, the Pentax images were consistently sharp (K5 and Tamron 28-75 by the way)


Last edited by philbaum; 07-26-2011 at 01:41 PM.
07-26-2011, 01:39 PM   #2
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Good for you.


On B. ste your iso limits in the menu under the infoknob.
07-26-2011, 02:19 PM   #3
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Thanks, good read and congrat on a job well done.

At the risk of repeating what you wrote, I see two important points that you made and I agree. TAv mode is one of the best features on the Pentax DSLR with 2-dials, it is often one of the reasons people choose Pentax. In TAv mode, you can also use EV to get to the finer degree of control. Nikon has the similar auto ISO feature on the high end models but I am not sure if it is the same or identical as TAv mode (but not on the mode dial). My understanding is that with auto-ISO one can not deliberately underexpose (not able to verify that). Another main point you discussed was spot metering, which can be forgiving or disastrous if you are not being careful, which I agree. IMHO, center-weigh is the probably the best. All the controls you mentioned can be changed without taking your eyes off the viewfinder, that's why I think the k-7 and k-5 are among the best ergonomically.
07-26-2011, 03:03 PM   #4
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Thanks for the comments Ron and Aleonx3.

I changed my upper iso limit to 10,000iso for theatre shooting as Ron implied, frankly, the theatre folks aren't nearly as critical pixel peepers as some on this forum , so that ought to work better.

Another feature of the K5 is under the shooting menu, page 3, besides iso range, they give one the feature to choose "slow, normal, or fast". I assume that means the rate at which the iso increases to the final limit. I would like that to be a slow increase, i.e. rather the pics get a little darker than up the iso too fast and burn out high tones. Anyone know if this rate option actually does anything?

I agree with Aleonx3 on TAv value; i'm going to be more judicious in choosing an upper iso limit. If its choosing a real high value, i want to know about that by the blinking the camera does if the setting is out of limits. Spot metering, as you said, can be pointed at a dark area and cause a high iso limit to be chosen automatically. Not good for IQ, of course.

07-26-2011, 03:38 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by philbaum Quote
Another feature of the K5 is under the shooting menu, page 3, besides iso range, they give one the feature to choose "slow, normal, or fast". I assume that means the rate at which the iso increases to the final limit. I would like that to be a slow increase, i.e. rather the pics get a little darker than up the iso too fast and burn out high tones. Anyone know if this rate option actually does anything?
What controls the darkness of the photos is your exposure compensation setting, and not the "AUTO ISO Parameters". If you dial in -0.5 EV compensation it would make the pictures darker overall and protect the highlights from blowing out. What this "AUTO ISO Parameters" setting controls is the camera's bias between a slower shutter speed or a higher ISO.

Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems like in TAv mode, this setting has absolutely no impact on the exposure since the camera simply chooses the correct ISO to match the selected shutter speed-aperture pairing.

The "AUTO ISO Parameters" setting only comes into play in Av mode with AUTO ISO turned on, when the camera has the choice to increase ISO or slow the shutter speed in dim lights. Regardless of the "AUTO ISO Parameters" setting however, the tones in the exposures will be identical, with the noise and the motion blur being the difference in output.

Maybe it has an effect in other situations that I haven't tried, but I just pulled out my K-5 and FA31, and set to Av mode (f/5.6), Auto ISO and "Slow" it gave an exposure of 1/30s, ISO 140. Set to "Fast" it gave an exposure of 1/125s, ISO 560, which are equivalent exposures.

(Edit: It might work in Tv mode to set the bias between widening the aperture or raising the ISO. I don't use Tv so I don't know for sure. Anyway, my point was that it has no effect in TAv mode, and if you want to protect highlights, negative EV compensation will do the trick)

Last edited by darrenleow; 07-26-2011 at 03:43 PM.
07-26-2011, 04:51 PM   #6
hcc
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Congratulations for this excellent post. A lot to read and to learn about.

I would be interested to know what body (K-5) and lenses you used during the shootout. Could you comment on your selection of lens(es)? How did it affect your shooting?

I shoot outdoor with my K-7 (same body as K-5) in foul weather, sometimes in rush (or at short notice), and often during poor conditions incl. rain, sand storm and co. In each case, the key issue is: will I have any decent shots ? If yes, what will be the 'keeper rate' (how many will I keep) ?

My own experience taught me a few things:
(a) choose well in advance your lenses - it is not just about the camera body but also about lenses; there is nothing worst than have the wrong lenses at the wrong time whe everything goes wrong;

(b) on the day, select the right lens for the right job - if you have a couple of lenses, which one is the most suitable at a point in time?

(c) it is too easy to get the wrong the settings by mistake: e.g. by touching inadvertently the front and rear wheels by mistake - do not be afraid to push/reset the green button and be prepared to use the Green mode in emergency situations: there is nothing stupid to use the Green mode in an emergency as a safety;

(d) have a backup card - I missed a beautiful series of shots last year because I had a pb with my card and no backup.

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Last edited by hcc; 07-28-2011 at 12:08 AM.
07-26-2011, 07:37 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by darrenleow Quote
What controls the darkness of the photos is your exposure compensation setting, and not the "AUTO ISO Parameters". If you dial in -0.5 EV compensation it would make the pictures darker overall and protect the highlights from blowing out. What this "AUTO ISO Parameters" setting controls is the camera's bias between a slower shutter speed or a higher ISO.

Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems like in TAv mode, this setting has absolutely no impact on the exposure since the camera simply chooses the correct ISO to match the selected shutter speed-aperture pairing.

The "AUTO ISO Parameters" setting only comes into play in Av mode with AUTO ISO turned on, when the camera has the choice to increase ISO or slow the shutter speed in dim lights. Regardless of the "AUTO ISO Parameters" setting however, the tones in the exposures will be identical, with the noise and the motion blur being the difference in output.

Maybe it has an effect in other situations that I haven't tried, but I just pulled out my K-5 and FA31, and set to Av mode (f/5.6), Auto ISO and "Slow" it gave an exposure of 1/30s, ISO 140. Set to "Fast" it gave an exposure of 1/125s, ISO 560, which are equivalent exposures.

(Edit: It might work in Tv mode to set the bias between widening the aperture or raising the ISO. I don't use Tv so I don't know for sure. Anyway, my point was that it has no effect in TAv mode, and if you want to protect highlights, negative EV compensation will do the trick)
Thank you!!! That makes sense - i learned something new.

QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
Congratulations for this excellent post. A lot to read and to learn about.

I would be interested to know what body (K-5) and lenses you used during the shootout. Could you comment on your selection of lens(es)? How did it affect your shooting?
....
My own experience taught me a few things:
(a) choose well in advance your lenses - it i snot just about the camera body but also about lenses; there is nothing worst than have the wrong lenses at the wrong time whe everything goes wrong;

(c) it is too easy to get the wroig the settings by istake: e.g. by touching inadvertently the front and rear wheels by mistake - do not be afraid to push/reset the green button and be prepared to use the Green mode in emergency situations: ....

(d) have a backup card - I missed a beautiful series of shots last year because I had a pb wth my card and no backup.

Thank you for sharing your experience.
hcc, good tips,i always carry a spare card and battery both.

I only used the one lens, the Tamy 28-75 f2.8. They had some fight scenes in their setups that made it hard for the wide end of the tamy to catch it all. I had a wider prime in the bag but not the time to put it on. It'd be nice to have one of the 17-70's out there, or maybe the new Pentax slow zoom. I had a Tamy 18-250 which would have been great, but gave it away to nephew who's enjoying it . The photos were good enough, though.
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