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02-26-2012, 12:02 AM   #1
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Upgrade? or switch

Hi all,
I have a K-x which I am now comtemplating to upgrade to the k-5 or switch platforms and here's my primary reason.

The k-x doesn't always nail the the focus.

I have a f35-70mm lens on it and I absolutely love it!
I have been starting to make money taking portraits and have been disapointed with many of the shots.
In order to nail the shot, I need to focus, again 2 or 3 times untill the camera doesn't readjust, then I know I will nail it.
needless to say this is very frustrating!

I have heard that Pentax is slower in this respect, is this true?
So now I'm at a crossroad.
Go to the k-5 and hope it's going to address my issue, and Nail it the first time,
or start over with a Nikon or Sony product.
I have not overly invested in lenses, but I stuck with Pentax since my film days.
Please give your feedback on the k-5
Thanks Jake

02-26-2012, 12:19 AM   #2
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The K-5 focuses much more accurately than the K-x, so you should definitely see an improvement in that respect. It won't necessarily be faster, but but it won't hunt nearly as much. If you do want a lens that focuses quickly, though, try the 18-135mm!

Intro-level Nikon cameras are really no better than Pentax cameras, if at all. I would stick to Pentax unless you plan on picking up a higher-end Canikon body

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02-26-2012, 12:38 AM   #3
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Assuming there is nothing wrong with your camera or lens, I think this might be a case of slightly unrealistic expectations of any camera. AF "points" are not discrete points, they're more like smallish zones, and you may not always land the focus right where you want initially (especially apparent when shooting at larger apertures, as DoF is narrow). This is true of any camera of any system, though.

That said, the K-5's AF is supposed to be significantly better than the K-x, and in terms of IQ and ISO performance, it's a big step up. The upgrade is worth it if you can afford it, especially if you're doing paid work.
02-26-2012, 12:51 AM   #4
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You already received some solid advice. I may add a few suggestions:

- Centre focus tends to focus faster than multiple points.

- SDM lenses (incl. the 18-135mm) focus faster than other lenses.

- Try another lens. It is not normal that you need to focus 2-3 times until it is spot on. It may be an issue with the lens (FF or BF), or the combo lens+body.

- Use continuous shooting; this gives you a few shots and may help to compensate for lack of focus or slight motion of photographer. I ogtne like to shoot 2-3 photo burstys whcih nearly always give me at least one good keeper.

Food for thoughts. Hope that this might help....

02-26-2012, 01:15 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
- SDM lenses (incl. the 18-135mm) focus faster than other lenses.
Actually non-DC lenses (aka all normal SDM lenses) are about 10% slower than screwdrive with the same throw. Sort of makes you wonder what SDM is even good for

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02-26-2012, 01:51 AM   #6
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Adam, in real life the SDM performs well enough. More accuracy, less hunting, less vibration from the gear is affecting the camera. It is in some cases not faster to focus from minimum to infinity, if that is what you speak about, but for realistic photography situations it is usually performing better than screw drive.

To OP: I believe I know what you are talking about. The K-5 allows so called microadjustment for focus accuracy problems. For me it helped with all my lenses that had these problems with K10D. With lenses calibrated this way it does not readjust as much as the K10D did.
On the contrary going to Nikon won't help you, unless you buy a camera in D300s class or better. Affordable Nikons do suffer from these problems as well (or in case of D40x and alike even more).
02-26-2012, 01:55 AM   #7
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Sounds like good advice - I have a K-x and would upgrade up to K-5 if I had the budget at the moment.

If you mainly use one lens then another option, if you have not already tried it, is tune AF in debug mode. See: RiceHigh's Pentax Blog: K-x Debug Mode Tutorial - AF Adjustment
Helped me but unfortunately you can not tune AF for each lens - it just one adjustment for all lenses.
02-26-2012, 02:06 AM   #8
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If your looking in the price range of a K-5, it is definitely hard to beat.. the D7000 is a touch cheaper but is not without it's minor issues as well, It probably has a bit better AF than the K-5, and better video ( not that it should really matter).. at the cost of slight hit in dynamic range. I chose the K-5 over the D7000, but now with lack of an upgrade path I'm moving to a D800.. so if you also look at yourself as wanting to move into FF (Which I never thought I would want to when I first chose my K-5) then a D7000 would make more sense, as the lenses can still be used on their FF cameras.. as for quality old glass.. sure you would loose PK mount glass, but M42 is adaptable to almost every camera body.
Even with the K-5's micro AF adjustments I would strongly recommend an aftermarket viewfinder or split prism (like a Katzeye) and some shims. The DC motor in the 18-135 is very fast and silent.. rarely hunts unless it's very poor light.. too bad they don't have specs on what COULD be a DA* 20-75mm f2.8 WR (FF compatible) lens coming down the pipe..

02-26-2012, 03:31 AM   #9
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If you're disappointed in your results, I recommend either a photography course or buying a few books on the subject. It's cheaper and will make more of a difference than new equipment. Remember many of the best portraits of all time were taken where auto-focus meant running a tape measure from the subject to the camera.
02-26-2012, 03:35 AM   #10
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I used a Nikon D300s today for a shoot, and it had a lot harder time focusing than my K-5 did in the exact same situation. I like how the D300s feels, but it's not as good a camera as the K-5. Unless you can afford a D700 or higher, the K-5 is going to be better. I suspect if you're using an old F 35-70 lens, that upgrading to a newer/better lens would also help.
02-26-2012, 04:14 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by FrumPilot Quote
The k-x doesn't always nail the the focus.
If the only reason you have to upgrade is for better AF accuracy then I think it might be worthwhile to refine your focusing technique first. You can get much more accurate and consistent focus when you know, and control, how your camera (any brand) behaves in different situations. The lens, the light and the subject are also key factors, and your experience and technique is more important than have a faster AF system.

If you are shooting portraits, then I'm assuming you may be shooting in low light and as you are not using a particularly fast lens then it is not surprising that AF performance is not great.

For portraits, I would suggest selecting a single AF point (SEL) and focus specifically on one eye (usually the closest one). AUTO mode will often focus on whatever is closest (nose) or the highest contrast (outline of head). For pinpoint focus control I always use a single AF point.

Also, I find that if the camera has not obtained an accurate focus first time then quickly focus on something else (maybe even your hand) and then refocus back on the eye.

I would try a few things and see what works best for you before deciding you need a better AF system. I hope that helps.
02-26-2012, 05:12 AM   #12
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As others have said, focus is often as much about technique as anything else. That said, I went from a kx to a k5 a couple of months ago and the difference between the two cameras was greater than I expected; autofocus being a case in point, it's much faster and more accurate than the kx. The massive increase in usable iso is very handy as well, I've found I get the same amount of noise on the kx at 1600 as I do on the k5 at 5000, and the general ergonomics and twin-dials all add up to making the camera more practical and fun to use. I'm still keeping my kx though as it's such a fun little camera that does produce superb results.

To repeat what Chex said, a split-screen is a must for me - to the point I had one on the way before I even ordered the k5 as I'd found the one I installed to my kx so vital.
02-26-2012, 06:13 AM   #13
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I'm gonna go against the flow and say get another one. Why? Well it seems you only have one lens, so there's really not much stopping you. Also a few of the people in the photography club I joined likes doing portraits using their flash with different flash units having different settings set from the camera, it really gives their portraits some nice lighting and effects. I believe Pentax can't do this ( I may be wrong ). It seems to be a general consensus that pentax's af and flash systems are behind compared to Nikon/canon. I personally am not into using flashes as I'm far too introverted to ever do portraits or shoot people in general but since you say you take portraits primarily then you may want to start getting into flash photography.

I also find my 16-50 focusing to be fast and accurate with my k-5. So it may be worth it to borrow a k-5 to test if you don't think you will do fancy flash setups
02-26-2012, 07:38 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Actually non-DC lenses (aka all normal SDM lenses) are about 10% slower than screwdrive with the same throw. Sort of makes you wonder what SDM is even good for
Excellent point. For portraits I might suggest manual focus lenses as a solution to increase quality, avoid the AF issue, and lower your cost. See if that route with a nice M50/1.4 or 1.7 doesn't produce more keepers.
02-26-2012, 08:29 AM   #15
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I find my K5 to be faster and more accurate than my previous bodies, but I never owned a Kx, so I can't compare. I can say that when I mount my Sigma 17-70 HSM OS on the K5 it is absolutely as fast as the same lens is on a friends D7000, and he agrees. I think it has a ton to do with the lens you are using as well as the camera body.
Although not my favorite lens for portraits, the HSM OS 17-70 is lightning fast and accurate on my K5....I normally just use the Pentax SR and not the Sigma OS, but it is fast either way....

Shot in poor lighting conditions in a Convenience Store......fast and accurate.
[IMG] [/IMG]

Regards!
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