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02-24-2012, 01:00 AM   #1
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K5 - nighttime exposure problems

Hi all,
I have finally acquired a K5, and been playing around with it for a couple of days. A very good camera in most respects, but one thing puzzles me. I thought the K5 should be really good for nighttime shooting due to its high ISO capabilities, but it isn't up to it (for me at least). I have taken it out with the FA 50 1.4. When it's really dark - only a few light sources like windows and street lamps - it refuses to expose, or rather the values for exposure time, aperture and ISO are blinking together irritatingly. The same indoors in rather dark rooms. Pumping up ISO doesn't help either.Is this normal?
I have tried all the different exposure modes, but it's the same all over the board. I have tested my old Leica Digilux 3 under the same conditions, and it behaves rather differently, that is simply making a long time exposure, and not blinking at all.
Maybe it's a bug and I should return it. Or maybe it's me who makes same mistake. Any advice?
TIA
Peter

02-24-2012, 02:04 AM   #2
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Off-hand, I should say that there is nothing wrong with your gear. You say, that the blinking occurs under very dark conditions - and it is simply the camera's way to tell you: "There is not sufficient light for the meter to work properly". In a similar situation, I guess your Leica just gives up and provides you with the longest exposure time it can?

No built-in light meters that I know of will perform adequately in very low light situations - and if you try to do some fully manual shots, you will also discover that there isn't really any "correct" exposure. What is "correct" exposure for a few bright windows and lamp posts against a starry sky? Night time photography IS (to me at least) a purely manual business.

Of course, there are external (costly) light meters to be found that may assist you.......
02-24-2012, 02:19 AM   #3
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If the camera can't set exposure itself you might want to use the bulb setting and time the exposure yourself.
02-24-2012, 03:19 AM   #4
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Well, if it is truly dark, bulb setting and exposures of several minutes may be required. But even if you are in the range 1 - 30 seconds of required exposure time, Manual Mode and a few trial-and-error shots will (to my experience) usually produce the best results.

02-24-2012, 06:31 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Soligor Quote
Hi all,
I have finally acquired a K5, and been playing around with it for a couple of days. A very good camera in most respects, but one thing puzzles me. I thought the K5 should be really good for nighttime shooting due to its high ISO capabilities, but it isn't up to it (for me at least). I have taken it out with the FA 50 1.4. When it's really dark - only a few light sources like windows and street lamps - it refuses to expose, or rather the values for exposure time, aperture and ISO are blinking together irritatingly. The same indoors in rather dark rooms. Pumping up ISO doesn't help either.Is this normal?
I have tried all the different exposure modes, but it's the same all over the board. I have tested my old Leica Digilux 3 under the same conditions, and it behaves rather differently, that is simply making a long time exposure, and not blinking at all.
Maybe it's a bug and I should return it. Or maybe it's me who makes same mistake. Any advice?
TIA
Peter
Most likely, it's you who is making the mistake. Your camera can meter down to about EV-1. Below that, the meter will respond as you describe. This is not a bug or a fault, this is the bottom end of the meter's range.
02-24-2012, 04:57 PM   #6
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Before we blame the workman, I think it may be the tools - the FA50.

'It refuses to expose' - by this do you mean it refuses to take an exposure or picture? The camera won't release the shutter if the subject is not in focus.

Unfortunately, the FA50 is a very old design and is not a good lens for auto focusing at night. I can only use mine manual focus in low light. Try turning on the AF assist lamp in AF-S mode this may work if you're close to a clear subject. Failing that, If you switch to manual focus, you can make an exposure.
Try a different lens, preferably a modern DA lens. The cheap 18-55 has no problems auto focusing at night and will lock focus quickly when the FA50 won't even attempt to focus.
02-25-2012, 03:53 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by calsan Quote
Before we blame the workman, I think it may be the tools - the FA50.

'It refuses to expose' - by this do you mean it refuses to take an exposure or picture? The camera won't release the shutter if the subject is not in focus.

Unfortunately, the FA50 is a very old design and is not a good lens for auto focusing at night. I can only use mine manual focus in low light. Try turning on the AF assist lamp in AF-S mode this may work if you're close to a clear subject. Failing that, If you switch to manual focus, you can make an exposure.
Try a different lens, preferably a modern DA lens. The cheap 18-55 has no problems auto focusing at night and will lock focus quickly when the FA50 won't even attempt to focus.
I have checked it with various other lenses (also with the DA18-55) with the same result.

Maybe I expressed myself unclearly. The shutter is released, thus this is not about AF.

It is the blinking of the three values that is strange to me because

1) It is hard to understand what the "blinking" actually indicates. Is it a "use a tripod" warning or does it mean "now it's too dark to take a shot even with a tripod"?
2) it does not only occur in nighttime situations but also during daytime in certain dark corners indoors (could that be below EV 0?),
3) I encounter it also in M mode, and
4) the phenomenon is nowhere mentioned in the manual, what is mentioned is the blinking of only one of the three values, not all three of them together.

Peter
02-25-2012, 04:24 AM   #8
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Thebliking is here to say you that the metering system is not able to determine a correct exposure because of darkness, the light level is out of scope for the exposure meter; the system will allow to shoot at least in M mode, or in Av mode;

02-25-2012, 05:28 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Soligor Quote
It is the blinking of the three values that is strange to me because

1) It is hard to understand what the "blinking" actually indicates. Is it a "use a tripod" warning or does it mean "now it's too dark to take a shot even with a tripod"?
That is explained pretty well in the manual.
Page 108,

QuoteQuote:
Exposure Warning
If the subject is too bright or too dark,
the aperture value will blink on the
status screen and LCD panel and in
the viewfinder. If the subject is too bright, choose a faster shutter speed. If it is too dark, choose a slower shutter speed. When the aperture value indication stops blinking, you can take a picture with proper exposure.
Use a commercially available ND (Neutral Density) Filter if the subject is too bright. Use a flash if it is too dark.
02-25-2012, 05:49 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by amoringello Quote
That is explained pretty well in the manual.
Page 108,
Not at all. Page 108 mentions (as I wrote) the blinking of only one value, not three:

"If the subject is too bright or too dark the aperture value will blink ..."
02-25-2012, 06:23 AM   #11
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Ah! Yeah, the manual doesn't cover that at all as far as I can tell.
But that behavior, as stated earlier, is because the metering system is incapable of determining much of anything.

You will get the same thing if you leave your lens cap on.
Or if you put your hand over the lens. You can slightly remove your hand until enough light comes in such that only one or none of the lights blink.
It appears that the camera tries to determine if there is latitude in one of the settings to allow for proper exposure and give you some feedback as to how bad the situation is.
02-25-2012, 07:19 AM   #12
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OK , I get it.

Sadly that means that the low-light capabilities of the K5 are rather disappointing. I did expect that a camera with ISO up to 51200 together with a fast lens like 1.4 would be perfect for low-light photography. Perhaps I have to return it.
02-25-2012, 08:00 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Soligor Quote
It is the blinking of the three values that is strange to me because

1) It is hard to understand what the "blinking" actually indicates. Is it a "use a tripod" warning or does it mean "now it's too dark to take a shot even with a tripod"?
The blinking is telling you Read the Manual !!

Sorry Peter, couldn't resist as it is pretty obvious and explained in the said manual
02-25-2012, 08:06 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Soligor Quote
OK , I get it.

Sadly that means that the low-light capabilities of the K5 are rather disappointing. I did expect that a camera with ISO up to 51200 together with a fast lens like 1.4 would be perfect for low-light photography. Perhaps I have to return it.
*Stunned*

It isn't the camera. If the K5 can't focus then it's the lens, you (wrong settings) or the conditions. And pretty much no camera is going to function as you are expecting it to.

I use the Sigma 10-20 ( a slooooow lens) for interior real estate shots, when I have a dark unlit room (read : so dark I can't see a damn thing) I set the camera to AV, jam the camera against the doorframe and press the shutter, usually the camera will pick a shutter speed from 1/5 to 1/15 and I get a perfectly exposed shot of what was a dark storeroom.
02-25-2012, 08:33 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Frogfish Quote
*Stunned*

It isn't the camera. If the K5 can't focus then it's the lens, you (wrong settings) or the conditions. And pretty much no camera is going to function as you are expecting it to.

I use the Sigma 10-20 ( a slooooow lens) for interior real estate shots, when I have a dark unlit room (read : so dark I can't see a damn thing) I set the camera to AV, jam the camera against the doorframe and press the shutter, usually the camera will pick a shutter speed from 1/5 to 1/15 and I get a perfectly exposed shot of what was a dark storeroom.
*Misunderstanding*

The K5 can focus, as I pointed out previously (I apologize if my English is not perfect). It is the threefold blinking that puzzles me. So when you do your interior shootings do you experience the blinking of all the three values?
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