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02-29-2012, 08:29 AM   #1
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Manual Focusing Problems with the Pentax K-5

I am getting sharp photos using the K-5 and Da 50-135mm lens in automatic focus mode but am having trouble doing so with manual focusing. Is anyone else having this problem? I have the lens and camera set to manual focus and have been attempting to manual focus using the LCD screen in live view and magnified. Granted my eyesight is not what it used to be but even with a 10x loupe and corrected reading glasses I can't seem to get a sharp focus on the LCD screen or in the resulting images. Per the reviewer of the K-5 at dpreviews.com the LCD does not give a very sharp image. Is this the problem or is something else going on here? Any help would be appreciated as I prefer the manual work mode rather than automatic. I'm using a good tripod and am using mirror lock up with shake reduction turned off per instructions if using a tripod. Thanks.

02-29-2012, 09:12 AM   #2
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Hmm. I've had no trouble getting perfectly focused results using my K-r and my K-7 before, without a loupe. I think they are the same screens, but I haven't tried manual focus on anything other than a Pentax. When I had a K-5 briefly, it was the AF that gave me trouble and the reason I sent it back to Adorama.
02-29-2012, 09:59 AM   #3
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I do just what you are doing but with a 7X loupe, works for me. Sometimes I just use a big magnifying glass so I can use both eyes from about a foot away. The viewfinder sometimes is best. Depends on subject and lighting conditions.
02-29-2012, 11:33 AM   #4
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When I use the LV with Magnification there is a range in which the image appears in focus to me. I have started to take photos at the beginning, middle, and end of that apparent focus range in order to capture the sharpest shots and that has helped. Depending on the throw of the lens the range of what appears to be "in focus" can be very narrow or rather broad.

02-29-2012, 12:04 PM   #5
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I don't often use liveview, but I recently did while doing some macro. With the camera on a tripod I didn't notice any problems achieving focus. In fact, with the camera mounted in an awkward position and pointing straight down, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to focus.
02-29-2012, 12:09 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by wasser Quote
I don't often use liveview, but I recently did while doing some macro. With the camera on a tripod I didn't notice any problems achieving focus. In fact, with the camera mounted in an awkward position and pointing straight down, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to focus.
Yes, I used to use liveview with my Sigma 24mm macro. I got very good handheld newspaper shots, or whatever else, with liveview and manual focus.
02-29-2012, 03:28 PM   #7
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Thank you to those who have replied. I think Docrwm came the closest to what I have been experiencing. His method of taking photos at 3 different points of focus range sounds like a method I might try. I also read that magnified areas of the subject on the LCD screen in live view mode will not appear sharp if the lighting is too bright or contrasty which may be part of what I was experiencing.
02-29-2012, 04:01 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Photo Traveler Quote
Thank you to those who have replied. I think Docrwm came the closest to what I have been experiencing. His method of taking photos at 3 different points of focus range sounds like a method I might try. I also read that magnified areas of the subject on the LCD screen in live view mode will not appear sharp if the lighting is too bright or contrasty which may be part of what I was experiencing.
That could well be part of the issue as you are using a CF detection process in LV. Please let me know how the 3 point system works for you. Part of why I am resistant to going back to film, despite having an excellent SF1 now that came as a rear lens cap to a superb F35-70, is precisely this issue. With digital I can shoot without a concern in the world as to cost, but with film........

03-01-2012, 08:07 AM   #9
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I could never trust the tiny image on the LCD screen for accurate focus no matter how much it is magnified.

Mickey
06-28-2012, 06:59 AM   #10
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Any Updates?

Are there any updates here? I am currently going through this same awful dilemma. I do not yet have a digital camera (though I ordered a K-5 and some other equipment, and then cancelled the order), but these same issues are just about driving me crazy. I have been (and love) using manual focus lenses now for about ten years. I enjoy the high magnification and easy focusing with 35mm film gear. I really like using the DOF scale and aperture ring on these lenses (things modern AF lenses do not have). However, I absolutely *hate* the issues I see with lab processing--if it is not one thing, it is another: specks, dust, and other artifacts. The latest one I have seen is that when comparing the negative and print, the print has a small amount of the frame missing or cut out on either side. I had thought I had made an error in composing the shot, but the negative shows it the way I had composed it. Also, I simply do not have time to develop and print at home. I do not have the equipment, either. I barely have enough time for shooting.

In any case, these issues are driving me to a K-5, but I just cannot spend $1,400 on a camera/grip/lens purchase. I am thus interested in using a K-5 with some M and A series lenses, but the price seems too high. Perhaps I should consider the "cost" of all my frustration here? I welcome your comments.
06-28-2012, 07:24 AM   #11
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there are a couple of points here that should be addressed, which can greatly impact the performance of manually focusing with any DSLR.

- the viewfinder (if you are using it) needs to have the diopter set accurately set to your own eyesight.

- my experience with auto focus lenses is that while the focusing collar can be used to manually focus the lens, the focus throw is usually less than a manual focus lens at the same focal length, therefore getting close focus is quick, but accurate focus is almost impossible. I don't know how the 50-135 stands in this area, but my sigma 70-200 has a quarter turn from minimum focus to infinity.

- using the viewfinder, the red focus indication is only indicating what focus detector you are using, and is not, in itself, an indication focus is achieved. Focus being achieved is shown by the green hexagon.

- most viewfinders show more depth of field than is present, especially on fast lenses, due to the focusing screens used. if you are doing a lot of MF then I suggest getting a split image focusing screen

- there are occasions where the focusing screen might not be consistent with the AF indicator, this should be checked.

- you may have more success with the AF switch set to AF-S which interlocks the shutter with focus confirmation.

- if you are focusing on an edge, remember that the focus detectors are not infinitely small, some times they work better on a surface, because with an edge, you cant always be sure that they are looking at the foreground or background.

lastly be patient. it takes time to know your camera and when things are in focus
06-28-2012, 09:12 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by zx-m Quote
Are there any updates here? I am currently going through this same awful dilemma. I do not yet have a digital camera (though I ordered a K-5 and some other equipment, and then cancelled the order), but these same issues are just about driving me crazy. I have been (and love) using manual focus lenses now for about ten years. I enjoy the high magnification and easy focusing with 35mm film gear. I really like using the DOF scale and aperture ring on these lenses (things modern AF lenses do not have). However, I absolutely *hate* the issues I see with lab processing--if it is not one thing, it is another: specks, dust, and other artifacts. The latest one I have seen is that when comparing the negative and print, the print has a small amount of the frame missing or cut out on either side. I had thought I had made an error in composing the shot, but the negative shows it the way I had composed it. Also, I simply do not have time to develop and print at home. I do not have the equipment, either. I barely have enough time for shooting.

In any case, these issues are driving me to a K-5, but I just cannot spend $1,400 on a camera/grip/lens purchase. I am thus interested in using a K-5 with some M and A series lenses, but the price seems too high. Perhaps I should consider the "cost" of all my frustration here? I welcome your comments.
One cost to consider is film and processing. Megapixels are free. You can shoot anything you want to all the time and do 10 shot brackets to get it "just right". Many of us use a Katz Eye or other brand of split image focusing screens on our cameras to aid in manual focusing. My eyesight isn't what it once was but with a properly set diopter and split image, I can still use my MF glass with decent results.

After finally making the jump to digital 5 years ago, I have no regrets at all. Yes, DSLR bodies are more expensive than any film camera I ever owned but it also brought back a love for photography that was almost lost. You will have a bit of learning curve with photo editing software at the beginning but you will very quickly be able to shoot dozens of shots and have them loaded on your computer and ready to print the keepers with very little effort. There is a lot of help here on the forum too. I've always had a quick answer to any problem I've had.
06-28-2012, 09:36 AM   #13
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I thank you for your comments.

I have read that the Katz Eye requires some type of modification in order to be accurate (shimming, I believe). I probably would not care to do this, as it would would open another "can of worms" in regard to equipment (my used equipment has been a source of some problems over the years). Your points about being revitalized about photography are very significant. I am at a point where processing and equipment issues (used equipment sometimes fails) have made me want to give up photography.
06-28-2012, 09:53 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by zx-m Quote
I thank you for your comments.

I have read that the Katz Eye requires some type of modification in order to be accurate (shimming, I believe). I probably would not care to do this, as it would would open another "can of worms" in regard to equipment (my used equipment has been a source of some problems over the years). Your points about being revitalized about photography are very significant. I am at a point where processing and equipment issues (used equipment sometimes fails) have made me want to give up photography.
Don't give up on photography. I think you might be happier with the K-01 or a Sony NEX. Focus peaking is amazing and, in my opinion, better than even a film viewfinder for accuracy. You'll never be happy with the tiny viewfinder in the K-5 since you're a film guy. Either of those cameras will work with your Pentax lenses. Some say that the K-01's focus peaking implementation is even better than the NEX. With focus peaking I can nail low DOF shots, and both of these cameras have the same sensor as the K-5. The K30 will also have focus peaking so you can choose to use it or the viewfinder. It also has the dials you'd be looking for, and the K30 has hot swap-able focus screens, so you don't have to calibrate them.

85mm @ 1.2, on the Sony NEX 5N


Last edited by kenafein; 06-28-2012 at 09:58 AM.
06-28-2012, 03:20 PM   #15
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As the focus ring turns, my K-5 beeps when it detects focus. Then I rock the ring back and forth while really concentrating on what I see.

Also, I wear progressive lens glasses, so it helps to shift my head so that I'm using the top or bottom of my glasses as appropriate.

The wider rotation of the focus ring on manual-focus lenses certainly helps. Over time they have become the lenses that stay on the camera.
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