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06-14-2012, 10:26 PM   #1
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Which AF mode do you use the most?

I only got my K5 in January and used the K10D for 5 years before that. After a year of use, I was so tired of getting OOF shots because the multi-point AF system would sometimes focus on the wrong thing. So for the past four years I've been shooting in single point/single mode for portraiture, or single point/continuous for moving subjects.

But the more posts I read the more I begin to think I missed how the AF system actually functioned. I've seen many posts suggesting 5 points was superior. Today I looked at a 200% crop of a portrait I did with the K5+FA77 and even though I am 100% positive I focused on the eyes with the central point on my viewfinder, the face was not in perfect focus at 100%.

I went back to the K5 manual to read the description of the modes again, but it wasn't illuminating.

Yesterday I shot a dance concert with a K5+DA*50-135 and a K10D+DA12-24 combo and was shooting in continuous/single-point mode on both cameras. After I discarded the lemons out of the 900ish shots I had taken in 2 hours, 548 good ones remained. I always thought single point would be the most precise way, but upon looking at 100% crops of my DA*50-135 low light shots especially, I was shocked to realize the focus was sometimes not good at all, in spite of acceptable shutter speeds (like 1/250s) at ISO3200 or in some instances, ISO5000 (I never went beyond ISO1600 on the K10D for obvious reasons).

I think I missed something on my dSLR education when it comes to autofocusing modes

06-14-2012, 11:42 PM   #2
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Hi Francis,
I usually use single point auto focus but I hate to say this Pentax auto focus sucks. Slow and not very accurate especially in low contrast situations. Though I miss a lot of shots going manual focus but the shots I do get are usually spot on where I want it to be in focus especially when my lens is wide open say f1.4. I find I get more keepers in auto focus mode using my Canon EOS cameras. You ever wonder why in fast sporting events Canon EOS is a dominate player and even more so than Nikon?

Last edited by radium; 06-14-2012 at 11:49 PM.
06-14-2012, 11:56 PM   #3
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The K5's AF system is definitely better than the K10D's but I was forced to use both the DA*50-135 and DA12-24 wide open with a high ISO for the dance show (the guy doing the lighting was a total amateur) so wide open glass + high ISO + dimly lit scene with fast moving subjects... I was doomed from the start, wasn't I?

90% of my work is done in studios so this was new territory for me.

Client was happy, I delivered some good shots, but I was personally very disappointed.
06-15-2012, 12:01 AM   #4
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I grew up with handheld metering and guess-the-distance rangefinding. Then I graduated to center-weighted metering and center-focus composing. Now, 95% of my lenses are MF, and I use CIF a lot, which means center-focusing on my K20D. With my longer AF glass (between 30-500mm) I stick to centered AF. With the shorter lenses (10-17 FE, 10-24 UWA) I use matrix AF, which works quite well with their deep DOF. But mostly I follow a strict rule: Nail the subject; all else can be fixed in PP. So I mostly stay centered, wait for focus confirmation, and crop as needed.

06-15-2012, 12:04 AM   #5
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Yes, sounds like a challenging photo shoot. Well it is a good thing your client was happy.

Btw hello neighbor. I am from Ottawa and living here in Hong Kong
06-15-2012, 12:43 AM   #6
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AF-S Single point for stationary subjects, AF-C multi point for moving subjects is what i use.
06-15-2012, 02:33 AM   #7
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I've only just recently upgraded from the K10D, and before that I mostly shot with a Canon 5D Classic, so it's interesting seeing how different the AF implementations are.

I use the K-5 with AF-S + Select Point + Shutter Release Priority.

AF-S only because I don't trust AF-C. AF-C was borderline useless on my K10D. I've tried out AF-C on the K-5 for literally just a few seconds, and it seems to be quite a bit better, but I couldn't say for sure until I go birding with it. That said, until then, AF-C isn't really something I touch. AF-C on the K10D always managed to get every single thing except what I wanted in focus. It was like the scene in Through the Looking Glass where Alice was in the shop, and no matter where she looked, the shop's shelves appeared to be empty in her line of sight, but full in the periphery of her vision. Or something like that. To be fair, however, the 5D's equivalent to AF-C never really worked, either. The 5D's AF was about as good as the K10D's.

Select Point AF for obvious reasons. Of course I know what I'd like to shoot better than the camera would! One of the few things I miss from the K10D, however, was the fact that I could select the AF point without having to first hit the center "OK" button. A very minor point, however. (I also preferred the K10D's focus switch - the K-5's focus switch is fine, but it seems needlessly tough to turn. Maybe I just have to get used to it.)

Shutter Release Priority is a new thing I've been doing. I'd rather catch the right moment than wait for the camera to figure out what's in focus. "Sharpness is a bourgeoisie concept", as the old saying goes - or maybe I just say that to justify the 18-55 WR.
06-15-2012, 02:46 AM   #8
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i think af sucks not only with pentax... a couple of days ago i was given the chance to try extensively a 5dmkii+24-105 in low light... and what i can tell you is that it sucked big time, i will dare and say that the k-5 with kit lens was locking faster with less hunting, both with multipoint and center only... maybe i was dissapointed because of the big expectations i had from a $2.5k camera.

What i use most is af-s, selective, i rarely use auto, althought at first i was using it all the time... i came to the conclusion that auto is not compatible with what i wanna shoot, it, almost always, focuses on irrelevant parts of the frame. After i had enough with auto, i started shooting with center point, focus and recompose, and still do it, its a little bit faster than select the point and compose, but when you use a tripod or something that makes you less flexible, you want selective point focus.


Last edited by obscura; 06-15-2012 at 02:54 AM.
06-15-2012, 03:59 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by FrancisK7 Quote
... I was shocked to realize the focus was sometimes not good at all,..
May I ask if you set the K-5's shutter to "focus priority"?

Cheers...
06-15-2012, 04:07 AM   #10
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https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-k-5/177572-all-fuss-about-auto-foc...ml#post1978017

Read this if you are not sure about the sizes of the AF sensors. 'Focusing on the eyes' is not very likely.

The AF seems plenty fast for subjects not changing distance too much. I am in AF-S with single point most of the time, as I want to control as much as possible exactly what the camera locks on.

Last edited by jmg257; 06-15-2012 at 04:59 AM.
06-15-2012, 04:23 AM   #11
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QuoteQuote:
i think af sucks not only with pentax... a couple of days ago i was given the chance to try extensively a 5dmkii+24-105 in low light... and what i can tell you is that it sucked big time, i will dare and say that the k-5 with kit lens was locking faster with less hunting, both with multipoint and center only... maybe i was dissapointed because of the big expectations i had from a $2.5k camera.
The 5D and the 5D2 both have notoriously terrible autofocus. To be fair to Canon, the 7D AF is quite excellent, although I haven't handled a 7D for long enough to get a firsthand impression.
06-15-2012, 05:07 AM   #12
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While we're on the subject...

I normally use center point AF, but I've played a bit with AUTO, and noticed that on occasions more than one of the red AF indicators light up. Does this mean that the auto-selected AF plane is somewhere in between, or???

Last edited by bxf; 06-15-2012 at 05:14 AM.
06-15-2012, 05:37 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteQuote:
I normally use center point AF, but I've played a bit with AUTO, and noticed that on occasions more than one of the red AF indicators light up. Does this mean that the auto-selected AF plane is somewhere in between, or???
My understanding is that this you're basically correct. The AF system weighs various factors in order to determine what to focus on. However, when it's too confusing to come up with a clear "winner," the camera will spaz out until the situation becomes more clear. This can be an issue when, say, you're a photojournalist shooting a busy event, where you may know that you want to focus on someone in the back, but the camera can't make heads or tails of which moving blob should be the focus of the scene.

Cambridge Color has a neat article on AF here.
06-15-2012, 06:03 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Leopardwizard Quote
Good link. Thanks.
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